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71: Into the Fire - A Review of the Korean War Film

71: Into the Fire is a 2010 South Korean war drama film directed by John H. Lee and starring Cha Seung-won, Kwon Sang-woo, Choi Seunghyun (T.O.P), and Kim Seung-woo. The film was made in commemoration of those who fought during the Korean War. The film is based on a true story of a group of 71 undertrained and underarmed, outgunned student volunteer soldiers of South Korea during the Korean War, who were mostly killed on August 11, 1950, during the Battle of P'ohang-dong. For 11 hours, they defended the local P'ohang girls' middle school, a strategic point for safeguarding the struggling Nakdong River perimeter, from an attack by overwhelming North Korean forces, specifically the feared 766th Unit.

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The Plot

The film follows the story of Oh Jang-beom, a student volunteer soldier who is one of the only three survivors of a battle in Yeongdeok. He is assigned to lead a newly-raised Student Volunteer Forces, composed of inexperienced and reluctant students, some of whom are former criminals. They are sent to defend the P'ohang girls' middle school, which is located near the Nakdong River front line. There, they face constant attacks from the North Korean army, led by Major Park Mu-rang, a ruthless and skilled commander. The students struggle to overcome their fear, lack of discipline, and internal conflicts, as they try to hold their ground against the enemy. Meanwhile, Captain Kang Suk-dae, a regular army officer who is Jang-beom's mentor, tries to get reinforcements and supplies for the students, but faces bureaucratic obstacles and limited resources. The film depicts the courage, sacrifice, and camaraderie of the student soldiers, as well as the brutality and horror of war.

The Cast

The film features a star-studded cast of popular Korean actors. Cha Seung-won plays Major Park Mu-rang, the main antagonist of the film. He portrays a cold-blooded and charismatic leader who is determined to break through the Nakdong River defense line at any cost. Kwon Sang-woo plays Ku Kap-jo, a former gangster who becomes one of Jang-beom's subordinates. He initially challenges Jang-beom's authority and causes trouble for the unit, but later develops respect and friendship with him. Choi Seunghyun (T.O.P), a member of the K-pop group Big Bang , plays Oh Jang-beom, the protagonist of the film. He delivers a convincing performance as a young and inexperienced soldier who has to overcome his guilt and fear to lead his fellow students in battle. Kim Seung-woo plays Captain Kang Suk-dae, a veteran officer who supports and guides Jang-beom throughout the film. He shows his loyalty and dedication to his men, as well as his frustration with the military hierarchy.

The Production

The film was directed by John H. Lee, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Lee Man-hee, Kim Dong-woo, and Jeong Tae-won. The film was produced by Taewon Entertainment and distributed by Lotte Entertainment. The film had a budget of US$10 million and was shot in various locations in South Korea. The film used realistic sets, props, costumes, and special effects to recreate the atmosphere and details of the Korean War era. The film also employed extensive CGI and sound effects to enhance the action scenes and explosions. The film's music was composed by Lee Dong-joon, who created a stirring and emotional score that matched the tone and mood of the film.

The Reception

The film was released on June 16, 2010 in South Korea. It received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. It was praised for its gripping story, impressive action sequences, authentic production design, and powerful performances from the cast. It was also commended for its respectful portrayal of the student soldiers and their heroic deeds during the Korean War. The film was a commercial success at the box office. It grossed US$42.1 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing Korean films of 2010. It also won several awards and nominations at various film festivals and ceremonies, including the Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Grand Bell Awards, and the Asian Film Awards.

The Conclusion

71: Into the Fire is a film that pays tribute to the student soldiers who fought and died in the Korean War. It is a film that showcases the talent and passion of the Korean film industry. It is a film that delivers a thrilling and moving experience to the viewers. It is a film that deserves to be watched in high quality, whether it is 720p or 1080p.


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