The Battleship Island (2017)

Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan

History | War | Thriller


During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island to mine for coal, attempt to escape.  Lee Kang-Ok (Hwang Jung-Min) is a bandmaster at Kyungsung Hotel. He decides to go to Japan to protect his daughter, but he is drafted into Battleship Island by force, being deceived by talk to send him to Japan. On Battleship Island, he does anything to protect his daughter.  Choi Chil-Sung (So Ji-Sub) is the top fighter in Kyungsung (old name of “Seoul”). He makes troubles on Battleship Island, but he has a warm heart.  Park Moo-Young (Song Joong-Ki) belongs to the Korean Independence group. He sneaks onto Battleship Island to rescue a member of the independence group.

Length 132 minutes


Kim Soo-an | Yoon Dae-Yul | Lee Jung-hyun | Song Joong-ki | Hwang Jung-min | So Ji-sub

Viewing Notes

Intense and brutal as hell. Pretty much what the trailers and history suggest; this was not a pleasant time for the Koreans forced to work in the mines or the comfort stations at Battleship Island towards the end of WWII. How they crafted a story from real life events works within this framing to depict the horrors of what life was like for these people. That is really the takeaway here; this island has a bloody history that the Japanese don’t promote for a reason.

The final sequence may be the best of the year. When the Ennio Morricone’s The Ecstasy of Gold starts playing I first thought it was a weird choice. But that with the visuals brought tears to my eyes.

There are scenes in this movie that had me cringing and turning away from the screen. With a packed theater of Koreans I’m curious what they think.


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