Forgotten History

Students landed on Jangsari’s beaches in 1950, creating a diversion for the American’s landing at Incheon. They attacked with hardly any training. Battle of Jangsari depicts this as if shot-for-shot swiped from Saving Private Ryan. Mounted gunners fire at South Korean troops, helmets sway in bloody water, limbs detach, and a mortar shell deafens a soldier as slow motion violence continues.

It’s clear from this outset Battle of Jangsari aims for an American audience, as if Megan Fox’s casting didn’t make that apparent beforehand. Her reporter character hardly warrants mention; Fox’s scenes detach from the war front, clearly filmed separately. Other than one interview where she chastises a South Korean commander for sending kids to die, her stilted dialog is dismal. If her scenes go, nothing is lost.

Battle of Jangsari feeds on melodramatic dialog though. The heavy jingoism brings tears, thick in messily constructed character backstories. For relief, some cliché comedy including the overweight soldier who pleads for food and eats rice cooked with salt water. When not in combat, South Korean troops succumb to in-fighting, further building to dramatic crescendos. Sacrifices come in packages.

Battle of Jangsari does proudly tell this minimally known story

While familiarly filmed, Battle of Jangsari stages a wartime underdog story with impressive battles. Lagging visual effects weaken scale, although numerous battles do utilize troves of extras. Explosive blasts drive energy into the scenery, creating the spectacle demanded from war cinema.

This is sandwiched between thick, derivative soldier tragedy. Families separate, allegiances fall, and still others question why they fight. Battle of Jangsari stands for South Korea, and in the end, a thinly defined American commander makes this battle all about America, suppressing the Jangsari story as to embellish western success in the region. How that’s displayed only furthers the South Korean nationalism.

For its faults though, Battle of Jangsari does proudly tell this minimally known story. Through Fox’s casting, it’s likely to reach western eyes, often in need of remembering Korea – too often a lost fight in the post-WWII reconstruction. When needed, it’s convincing and harrowing. Heroes stand out from the troop, and the final images recall a Korean classic in Tae-Guk-Gi. And while yes, that’s cribbing from yet another war film, it’s delivered tastefully with appropriate emotional weight.

Video

Well Go brings Battle of Jangsari to US Blu-ray in mostly untouched quality. A few instances of blocking obscure finer detail, although images remain clear from a digital source. This brings pleasing definition, protruding even from night scenery. Wide shots deliver scale without loss, the source resolution enough to define hundreds of soldiers.

Heavy color grading gives Fox’s scenes an ugly green glow. War scenes push toward hearty oranges. Primaries rarely – if ever – show up in full. The vintage sepia look dominates, with a reprieve given during night; those scenes shift toward blue.

Black levels disappoint, far too light and limited in density. Contrast is high with the beach pouring on sun, yet shadows wane. That’s consistent throughout, although inviting only a minimum of noise. The loss comes from weak dimensionality, souring nighttime scenery.

Audio

Loose LFE misses a chance, gurgling when supporting the score and minor in bolstering mortar/tank shells. Planes fly overhead, their engines lightly accentuated in the lows. If anything, Battle of Jingsari sounds compressed, but this is DTS-HD.

However, surround and positional use makes up the difference. This is active mixing, even by war movie standards. As expected, bullets pass via surrounds and stereos, well split. Sand debris fills the soundstage when kicked up. Even ambiance wins out, with expertly done waves crashing onto the shore to maintain the location. Incoming aircraft first pop up in rear speakers, and boat interiors swell with activity.

Extras

A pithy three minute making of and trailers. That’s it.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Battle of Jangsari
  • Video
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3

Movie

Battle of Jangsari recalls a forgotten part of the Korean war, using Megan Fox for star power, but throws its potential away.

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