71: Into the Fire

I have a queue of movies waiting to be watched, most of them Korean films. After watching a Filipino film with my mom, I decided to finally watch 71: Into the Fire (포화속으로). The movie stars Kwon Sang Woo (of Stairway to Heaven fame), Big Bang’s TOP (IRIS), Cha Seung Won (Dokko Jin! Best Love), and Kim Seung Woo (currently starring in the drama Miss Ripley) and tells the story of 71 South Korean student soldiers who are left to protect Pohang against the incoming North Korean troops while the rest of the South Korean and US soldiers protect the Nakdong River in order to keep Busan, the southernmost port city in Korea, out of the North Korean army’s reach while waiting for help from their allies.

Before watching the film, I’ve read a few reviews for it, and they weren’t exactly good. Because of that, I wasn’t expecting a lot from watching it. I know I’m sure to cry (I’m a crybaby; I cry over the silliest things), but acting-wise I wasn’t expecting a lot. I knew TOP and Kwon Sang Woo were in the movie, but I didn’t know Cha Seung Won and Kim Seung Woo were in it, so I was hoping for average acting, at the very least.

What happened? I cried. Tons. I know there are critics who say that it doesn’t have an emotional pull or that it’s hollow, but I actually felt something while watching it. Or maybe that’s just me and war films–I think I’ve watched more than a dozen war films and every single one of them has made me bawl out loud.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with TOP’s acting chops. He can act! I haven’t watched enough of IRIS to know if he can really act, but he was actually quite good in the movie, in my opinion. He held his own as the lead actor.

Also, he looks good. XD And super young. The moment he was shown on screen wearing that schoolboy hat, my first thought was, “how in the world did he look so young when this was released just last year?” TOP normally looks like a manly man to me, but in the movie he was a boy, especially during the first battle sequence when he was running around and being ordered to deliver more ammunition to the soldiers at the top of the building. He seemed like a scared little boy to me then, and I was moved. (It helps that I actually like TOP now, lol. Can’t believe I used to think he wasn’t good-looking…)

Doesn’t he look young here???

Also, I didn’t find Sung-beom’s (TOP’s character) flashbacks to his mother distracting or cheesy. It was his last memory of his mother before going off to fight in the war! Why shouldn’t his mind drift off to that moment?

There’s still not a war movie that can top Saving Private Ryan or La Vita è Bella (and even Grave of the Fireflies, if we add animated ones) in my list, because those were just so full of emotion and just. Gah. I can’t even explain how much I loved those movies, haha. Still, I digress. What I’m trying to say here is, 71: Into the Fire wasn’t a bad film, and I actually enjoyed watching it. I was a bit sad that the 71 student soldiers all died in the end, but it was to be expected really. I was actually amazed that they even held their own for 11 hours! The bravery of those kids…really, that’s the focal point of the movie, how 71 kids fought bravely until the end.

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