Korean WWII Film Promises Big Action, Bigger Drama

Director Kang Je-kyu unveils key footage of $24 million Korea-China co-prod.

BUSAN, South Korea -- A new World War II action drama with an Asian perspective promises never before-seen battle scenes rife with humanist messages.

After holding a large-scale press junket at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the makers of My Way held the first Asian media showcase in Busan on Saturday. Footages of the 28 billion-won Korea-China co-production were revealed during the event, featuring exquisite period details of 1930s Seoul to bloody battle sequences on European battlegrounds.

“We aimed to provide visual effects that haven’t been seen before in a war movie, but My Way is essentially a dramaabout humanist values,” said director Kang Je-kyu, who ends a seven-year hiatus since helming Taegukgi, a Korean War flick that became one of the highest-grossing films in local box office history.

“The film touches upon sensitive historical issues [involving imperial Japan colonizing Korea and China], but it’s not a conventional war story featuring perpetrators and victims. It strives to transmit humanist message, as it is about not giving up on your dreams even through the turmoil of war and even learning to forgive because of that dream.”

Kang reteams with Jang Dong-gun, who plays Jun-shik, a young man who dreams of becoming the next Sohn Kee-chung, a Korean marathoner who won the Olympic gold during the Japanese colonial period. He establishes a rivalry with Japan’s marathon champion Tatsuo (Japanese heartthrob Joe Odagiri), and the two go on to survive together as soldiers for not only Japan but also for the Soviet Union and even Germany as they become prisoners of war.

“My character never loses his dream for marathon-running,” said Jang.

The new film has been making headlines for bringing together three of Asia’s hottest superstars, including Jang, Odagiri and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

The film is slated to open in Korea in December and in Japan on Jan. 14, 2012. Discussions are underway for distribution dates in China and the United States, which are expected to fall sometime around mid-January next year.

“The difference from previous local films that showed abroad is that these are direct distributions rather than a result of foreign companies buying the distribution rights,” said Kang.