"Rousing Historical Drama for Adults"
What You Need To Know:
BATTLESHIP ISLAND is packed with action, great plotting and an uplifting spirit of heroism. The movie expertly balances tension, tenderness, surprising bursts of violence, and occasional moments of humor, while constantly managing the humanity of its characters. Multiple plotlines merge to create an exciting and touching finale. BATTLESHIP ISLAND has a strong moral, patriotic worldview, but there’s a significant amount of strong foul language and references to the abuse Korean women suffered under the Japanese. Extreme caution is advised.
(BB, PPP, ACACAC, LLL, VVV, SS, AA, MM) Strong moral, patriotic worldview in a fictionalized historical drama imagining the escape of hundreds of Korean prisoners from evil Japanese captors during World War II through an elaborate plan involving an uprising on a prison island, including the story of a father trying to save his daughter at all costs from Japanese captivity and an extremely patriotic spirit; at least 35 obscenities (including about 20 “f” words), six GDs and several light profanities; some very strong and lots of strong, mostly action violence includes three brief brutal fistfights that result in bloody bruising, action-movie shootouts and implied rape; implied rape and references to Japanese soldiers using Korean women for forced prostitution; no explicit nudity, but imprisoned Korean women shown in skimpy outfits or wrapped towels; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and, double-crossing and backstabbing by prisoners with conflicting escape plans and agendas.
THE BATTLESHIP ISLAND is a fictionalized historical drama imagining the escape of hundreds of Korean prisoners from Japanese captors during World War II through an elaborate plan involving an uprising on a prison island known as Battlefield Island. Exciting and heroic, BATTLESHIP ISLAND has a strong moral, patriotic worldview focusing on the efforts of a father trying to save his daughter at all costs from Japanese captivity, but it has lots of strong foul language and references to the abuse the Japanese inflicting on Koreans during the war.
Battlefield Island was a colony west of Japan which was forced to support the nation’s war efforts, including supplying forces to fight the Emperor’s battles and workers to mine coal that would fuel Japan’s war machine. The movie imagines what might have happened if the Korean forced laborers had managed to strike back against their oppressors.
The epic tale finds its center in the story of Lee Kang-Ok, a Korean bandleader during World War II, who is also a single father to Lee So-hee, a talented girl who sings and dances with his band. Hoping to take his daughter and band to Japan for safety reasons, they accidentally wind up on a prisoner ship to Battleship Island.
Lee manages to save his bandmates from hard labor by offering them as official musicians to the Japanese prison overlords. He gets his daughter in what initially seems like a safe position as a performer and server girl under the care of “comfort women” prostitutes.
Meanwhile, a Korean gangster named Choi Chil-sung fights for the right to become the Koreans’ de facto leader, which might endanger Kang-Ok’s attempts to get off the island with his daughter. An American-trained Korean agent who slips into the prison posing as a worker adds to the intrigue, plotting the escape of an elderly Korean resistance leader.
With the Japanese leaders realizing they are in danger of losing the war, tensions escalate since they feel they’ve got nothing to lose. Multiple plotlines merge to create an exciting and even touching finale, as the father-daughter bond at the heart of the tale provides an extra layer of human intrigue to the tale.
BATTLESHIP ISLAND adds to the expert string of films coming out of South Korea over the past decade. Director Seung-wan Ryoo balances tension, tenderness, surprising bursts of violence, and even occasional moments of humor with expert aplomb, while continuously managing the humanity of his characters.
Packed with action, great plotting and an uplifting spirit of heroism, BATTLESHIP ISLAND is one movie worth braving two hours of subtitles to enjoy. However, its frequent use of foul language, sporadic moments of brutal violence and the themes of how comfort women were sexually exploited make this movie suitable for adult viewers only.