December 1, 2007

The Brotherhood of War: Boy's Life

I never considered that the love that dares not speak its name could be that between two brothers but such is the supposition of The Brotherhood of War, Kang Je-gyu's wacky war pic about two siblings drafted into service (and a weird battle of wills) during the Korean War. The opening sequence has the two young men feeding each other, sharing a popsicle, and fetishizing shoes. What with the string section in the background, you almost expect to see a class-usurping gay romance unfold before your disbelieving eyes. Instead, amid the prettily photographed explosions and hand-to-hand combat, what transpires is the making of a warrior—and a ruthless, bloodthirsty, wild-eyed one at that. Naturally, the younger, prettier sibling (Won Bin) is the conscience of the movie and the hunkier older one (Jang Dong-kun) is the fearless fighter. But the baby brother cries so much and seems so unappreciative of the butch one's self-sacrifices, perverse and self-aggrandizing as they might end up being, that you feel disappointed that the moralizer's head isn't blown off in some artful fashion with snow coming down from above and grenade-propelled dirt rising up from below. Can't blame communism for that.

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