Kang Je-kyu, a South Korean film director famed for his box-office hits "Shiri" (1999) and "Tae Guk Gi--The Brotherhood of War" (2004), has centered his latest piece around the lives of two young men from Japan and Korea whose fates are thrown to the wind by World War II.
"My Way," which has been showing across Japan since Jan. 14, features Japan's Joe Odagiri and South Korea's Jang Dong-gun and also counts China's Fan Bingbing among its female cast.
"Odagiri's acting is delicate and careful," Kang said approvingly. "On many occasions, other actors and staff members clapped their hands instinctively after watching how he acted."
The story revolves around Tatsuo Hasegawa (Odagiri), a grandson of a Japanese military police commander, and Kim Jun-shik (Jang), a son of Tatsuo's family servant. They share an excellence in running since childhood, and they go on to compete with the goal of competing in the Olympic marathon. However, ethnic differences prevent them from nurturing a friendship since Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.
With World War II approaching, Tatsuo gives up his passion for running to pursue a military career, while Jun-shik is forcibly conscripted by the Imperial Japanese Army.
The two are captured by Soviet troops and are enlisted into the German military after they escape, where they are forced to fight Allied forces at the 1944 Normandy invasion.
Kang developed the plot on the basis of a true story. He got his inspiration for the film after learning of an Asian man, who appeared in a photograph of German soldiers captured by U.S. troops, and from a documentary program that searched for his identity.
"I found it more dramatic than most novels," Kang said. "I developed a desire to use cinema to tell the story of young men who are constantly in a life-and-death situation and traverse the Asian continent."
Kang incorporated some of Odagiri's suggestions during filming.
"I was initially focused on portraying Jun-shik's inner feelings," Kang said. "But I came to feel unsure that the spectators will be able to empathize with him, because Jun-shik is a character who never wavers in his will even at times of extreme difficulty. I changed my mind halfway through, and became more focused on how Tatsuo transforms himself. Odagiri approved that opinion of mine."
Scenes of battles--including the Normandy landing and the 1939 Nomonhan incident, fought between Japan and the Soviet Union in northeast China--are so compellingly real that they are a good match for the D-Day battle scenes in Steven Spielberg's 1998 war epic "Saving Private Ryan."
Asked about why he was so eager to pursue reality, Kang said: "Battles are cruel and terrible. They are not the same as in games, so you cannot film them halfheartedly. The authors have to feel really bad creating them, and the spectators also have to feel really bad watching them. You should not glorify war."
- « Prev
- Next »