The tale of two siblings press-ganged into fighting for the South in the Korean War, Brotherhood is unusual in only one respect: it's an Asian film that rips off an American source. From its English-language title through to the shamelessly slushy score, Kang Je-Gyu's film sticks to the Spielberg brand of conflict-management suggested by Saving Private Ryan and Band Of Brothers. As a result, it merely resembles any other movie battlefield of the last ten years.
Director Kang Je-Gyu has clearly invested in DVDs of Full Metal Jacket, Black Hawk Down and Gladiator to go alongside Spielberg's benchmarks. Yet, just in case all this second-hand carnage appears impersonal, he's trowelled the sentiment on thick. Lee Dong-June's music goes beyond the call of duty at the sight of an old man's shoes. Making the soldiers literal brothers - impulsive Jin-Tae (Jang Dong-Kun) and sensitive Jin-Seok (Won Bin) - only gives rise to further soap.
"STUCK IN NO MAN'S LAND"
After two-and-a-half hours of bloody violence and no-less-gratuitous violins, it's clear Brotherhood's real interest in history extends only to past box office successes. So clearly tailored is it to Western audiences, it's a surprise the film hasn't been released in a dubbed version, like the equally costly German production Stalingrad. As it is, it's stuck in no man's land, with nothing in its artillery but some very familiar manoeuvres and a whole lot of tear gas.
In Korean with English subtitles.