Inspired by a true story. Jun Shik works for Tatsuo's grandfather's farm while Korea is colonized by Japan, but he has a dream to participate in Tokyo Olympics as a marathon runner. Tatsuo also aims to become a marathon runner, so the two are in rivalry. But war breaks out and they both are forced to enlist in the army. Tatsuo becomes the head of defense in Jun Shik's unit and he devises a scheme but fails. Jun Shik and Tatsuo are captured by the Soviets. They run away but soon are captured by Germans and forced to separate. In 1944, they meet again at the shores of Normandy.
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My first thought was of Frank Sinatra's song of living his life, conquering massive professional and emotional hurdles, thriving on his terms, in hindsight, satisfied.
"My Way" is Kang Je-gyg's epic of WWII from the Korean/ Japanese perspective; at times melodramatic, testing one's believability in the quasi nonfictional story of two young men, privileged and poor, wizards at running, competing for the "gold" in marathon matches: "Joon-sik" ( Jang Dong-gun) a Korean boy whose family is indentured to "Tatsuo's' (Joe Odagiri) Japanese, entitled clan. They meet in 1928 and we share the next twenty years in their hostile, tempestuous, torturous, eventually glorious relationship.
Quite simply, although flawed, I simultaneously savored and cringed , during this exhilarating visceral spectacle of war and it heinous results. The blood- thirsty will be satiated with battles eliminating thousands; matching the invasion of Normandy flicks like "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan" the filming is breathtaking, realistically depicted. Viewing the atrocities and barbarism of the Japanese toward the Koreans and Chinese; Russia, systematically killing their prisoners of war; a myriad of examples of "man's inhumanity to man"; climaxing on the beaches of Normandy where the nightmare of Hitler's Third Reich is dealt a hemorrhaging, mortal wound.
Reminded of a quote by Bob Riley, "hard times don't create heroes, it is during the hard times when the hero is created"; it was deliciously entertaining watching two boys become men; multiple vicissitudes erased their disparate lineage resulting in two individuals ultimately living "their way".
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!