My Way (DVD)

For a number of years Asian films, while incredibly successful in their own countries, have generally only appealed to a select audience in the U.S. This started to change over the last decade or so with the growing interest in Asian Horror films (often sparked by their less impressively made American remakes).  American audiences are now beginning to appreciate the fine films that are being made overseas and realizing that the emotional depth of some foreign made films can be every bit as powerful as the often overblown visuals of a Hollywood Blockbuster.

“My Way”, a war epic directed by Kang Je-Kyu, starts off in 1928 and sets its stage by introducing the rivalry between Korean born Jun-Shik (Jang Dog-Gun) and Japanese born Tatsuo (Joe Odagiri) as runners competing to become Gold Medalists. It is a rivalry they carry through their lives and into the nightmare of World War II.  Once embroiled in the war, both men find themselves in situations that they could have never foreseen and in spite of their lifelong rivalry, begin to understand the  only way to survive… is to work together.

I recently kicked back to watch the recent DVD release of “My Way”, of course setting it to the original Korean language w/ English subtitles. I’ve never been a fan of dubbing, because it always loses something in the translation. What I experienced was a film Steven Spielberg would be proud of. I later understood that it had been compared to “Saving Private Ryan”, but I’m not sure I agree with that comparison with the exception of its pure visual scope. The battle sequences, of which there are many, are mind-blowingly realistic and harrowingly powerful to watch. There were lengthy scenes where I held my breath for what seemed like impossibly long minutes.

But where the film excels in its stunning cinematography and powerful acting by both lead actors, it lacks ever so little in its script.  Occasionally the story seems a bit disjointed, and there are situations that seem a little forced, and perhaps unbelievable.  However, it is a time of war and unpredictability was probably the menu of every day for those who were there.  It just did not perfectly translate to every scene of the film.

In spite of these weaknesses, “My Way” still exceeded my expectations and held my often rapt attention throughout its 143 minute running time. It is an amazing, if not perfect, film.

The DVD offers a fantastic image, and while Bluray would undoubtedly be even better, today’s technology allows DVD to still deliver a clear and crisp picture. The sound is equally powerful and delivered me right into the middle of the horrific action I was watching.

There are few extra features, including a brief ‘making of’ documentary and a couple of interviews, but that is about it.  A film of this magnitude certainly deserved better in the features department.

Directed by: Kang Je-Kyu

Starring: Jang Dong-Gun, Joe Odagiri

Special Features: Behind the Scenes; Interviews with Jang Dong-Gun and director Kang Je-Kyu; Trailers

Rated: R (Realistically Graphic Scenes of War and Violence)

Studio: Well Go USA

http://www.wellgousa.com

 

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