The war film has become increasingly popular in South Korean cinema in recent years, and the Korean War is often an easy starting point for many of the narratives. With American involvement in that war, it also opens up the opportunity for cross-cultural casting and the occasional co-production between nations. Operation Chromite (2016) dealt with General MacArthur’s Incheon Landing Operation, and it cast Liam Neeson to play the role. Battle of Jangsari is about a battle used as a diversionary tactic to help MacArthur’s mission succeed, and while Neeson does not return, this time we have George Eads, who left his role on “MacGyver” to play General Stevens. As a bonus, Battle of Jangsari also has Megan Fox as a tenacious reporter advocating for the lives of the minimally trained students sent into battle.
Fox’s role is an amalgamation of two real-life United States female reporters, and she mostly serves the purpose of letting the audience know the ways in which both South Korean and American military let down the inexperienced battalion of soldiers sent to Jangsari. The main focus of the film remains with the soldiers themselves, and in doing so create the typical themes bonding young men (and one woman) from different backgrounds together in the brutality of war. Some of these storylines can feel a bit like tropes, and they definitely play up the melodrama throughout, but inoffensive in its predictability.
Where the film does shine is in the battle sequences. While South Korean war films have been quite common in recent years, few are as brutal as the presentation of the early scenes. Unfortunately, some of the production elements drop off for the staging of the final scenes. Something gets lost in the choreography and editing, not to mention a dip in the effectiveness of the CGI. But if you can forgive the slight technical missteps, there is still plenty to offer fans of war films.
The Blu-ray release comes with a making-of featurette. It isn’t much, but the upgrade is worth it just for the high definition presentation. Although not entirely original, the battles are intense enough to warrant seeing them in the best quality available. The Blu-ray release also comes with a DVD copy.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 3/10