The Front Line


There’s a jolting moment in one of The Front Line’s early battle scenes in which a soldier rises from behind a barricade to throw a grenade, and has his hand shot off by the opposition. Director Jang Hun doesn’t linger on this shock of violence, however. In fact, it takes place in such a frenzy of action that if you blink you might miss it. Such quick, unexpected flashes engross the viewer in this Korean War tale even as the script is filled with conventional war movie tropes and types. Hun, working from a screenplay by Park Sang-hyeon, focuses on the little told (at least on film) story of the brutal and bloody end of the war. When Kang (Shin Ha-kyun), a South Korean lieutenant, is sent to the frontlines to investigate the possibility that soldiers are colluding with the North, he discovers an old friend he thought had died as a POW years before, as well as a relationship between North and South soldiers that is surprisingly layered, complex and humane. But he’s also pulled onto the battlefield where his naïve notions of honor and fair-play put himself and others in danger. Tightly directed and well acted (even though many characters are cut-outs from every war movie you’ve ever seen), The Front Line shoehorns little known history into a familiar format, and it works.