Thursday 20 September 2018 photo 3/4
The Coast Guard Download Torrent
At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking youths jeer them. Two nights later, Kang follows orders, opening fire at a person who has infiltrated the border zone. It proves to be a young man, one from the earlier encounter, on a drunken tryst with his girlfriend, Mi-yeong. Kang is commended, yet horrified. Mi-yeong is unhinged. Kim tries to hold onto friendship, duty, and his humanity. While Kang retreats into bizarre behavior and violence, Mi-yeong becomes easy prey to soldiers. Sickness is all.
An incident that takes place at night in poor visibility and perpetrated by a rather over-enthusiastic soldier wreaks havoc on a local community. Mistaking a ground-level head that he sees in his night-vision goggles for that of a spy, the soldier opens fire, then as the poor guy crawls desperately away, he is blown to smithereens with a grenade. Presumably this is what the soldier is trained to do, as he is rewarded for his bravery and given a week's furlough to pull himself together.
Turns out the dead guy was an innocent local, who was killed as he was making love to his girlfriend in a forbidden area of the beach. Naturally, the girlfriend is traumatised by the incident which sends her mad. She starts hanging around the base, clinging to any and all soldiers she finds, mistaking them for her boyfriend. The soldiers are rather obliging, and she winds up pregnant.
The soldier, who also experiences an estrangement from rational thought, is discharged and he too begins to haunt the base, gradually becoming more and more unhinged, and taking revenge on the unit he feels has betrayed him.
Also known as The Coast Guard, this film sheds no new light on anything (unless you're unfamiliar with the existence of two Koreas). I could see no real point to it - all the themes it raises are not resolved. nor are the incidents at all realistic. If the aim of this film was to make a kind of fable, it's a failure. If you want to see a film that has heart, drama, reality and An Actual Point, see Joint Security Area - JSA (2000, director Park Chan-wook)
Perhaps the reason why this movie is getting such a bad rap is mainly a fault of its well-meaning, but still incoherent style and narrative structure. I have not read any articles on this movie or interviews with the director to know what his overt intention was, but in the end I think the movie falls short of its mark due to Kim's perennial fixation on obsession, whether it was his intention to delve into this subject matter or not. On most levels, obsession is a largely private affair, and any exegesis of obsession enmeshed within the loaded geopolitical situation that is now Korea would require a broader vision and canvas matched with a technical command of story telling than any that Kim has been able to provide here or elsewhere. However, one thing that I must praise Kim for is the reality with which he portrays military life in South Korea. It is, in my view, the grittiest, down-to-other depiction on the silver-screen of life as a grunt doing mandatory military service in Korea. I should know, since I've done my two years' service, as no doubt Kim also has. The situation might be unreal (a loose-cannon grunt suddenly acquiring the killing skills of Jason Bourne) but the military's reaction to it certainly wasn't. The ineptitude of the commanders to stop the problem, the fear of the soldiers and the conflict it breeds within, and, most important of all, the corporal punishment that gets amplified as it spreads down the chain of command.
So here's my recommendation: if you want a well thought out movie which pits issues of personal obsession against major geopolitical themes of our day, this movie is not for you. If, however, you want to see a curiosity piece about how troglodytic an existence military conscripts lead in South Korea, then you've come to the right place.
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