As improbable as this all sounds, and I realise I’ve not actually told you anything yet, but, as improbable as what you are about to read sounds, this is actually based on a true event.
Director Kim Kwang-shik (“Tabloid Truth”, “My Dear Desperado”) takes control of this, over two-hour, epic that makes the army fighting scenes of Lord Of The Rings look like they couldn’t find enough extras.
The scale of the film is superhuman; from the massive construction of fighting machinery of the time, to the sheer number of extras involved in the army scenes.
The truth of the battle is played with, a lot, and so the historians amongst you will probably want to give The Great Battle a wide berth, as will those of you who struggle to suspend belief, as there’s a lot of that required, as four men make it, largely unscathed, through each and every battle and there’s even a Harold II, Bayeux Tapestry shot thrown in for further belief suspending.
However, if you can get past those things, you’re left with an epic in every sense of the word that is wonderfully shot, each arrow and sword slash is shown in all its glory, but fails in its attempt to shoehorn some heart into proceedings and the nationalistic sentiment throughout is as if the film was made by the North, not the South.
We are in South Korea, around June of 645. We’re at the Ansi fortress, a small, castle like fortress held by the Goguryeo Kingdom, one of three at the time.
Jo In-sung (“The King”, “A Frozen Flower”) is the Commander of Ansi and, according to the Emperor of Goguryeo, he’s also a traitor after refusing to follow orders and send reinforcements to a battle. The truth, naturally, is more complex then that as, regardless of whether he sent reinforcements or not, the battle was always lost.