Under the Radar

The Korean Take on Incheon: 'Operation Chromite'

Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite is a South Korean movie about a covert operation to infiltrate North Korean headquarters and acquire the intelligence that made the 1950 Incheon invasion one of General Douglas MacArthur's great military successes. The movie is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

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Liam Neeson stars a General MacArthur. He stays at headquarters growls and declaims a lot while he fiddles with his corncob pipe. It's the least interesting thing about the movie.

The heart of the film is the South Korean unit that goes behind enemy lines. Led by Navy Lieutenant Jang Hak-soo (played by Lee Jung-jae), the “X-Ray” intelligence unit finds a tough opponent in North Korean commander Lim Gye-jin (played by Lee Bum-soo). In classic Asian action picture style, Jang Hak-soo and Llim Gye-jin stare each other down and each is forced to wonder if his enemy is really so different before they get down to the business of taking each other out.

Since everyone knows that the mission ultimately succeeded, the movie becomes a question of who will survive. It's shot in a heavily processed video game style that both gives a surreal quality and hides budget limitations.

The film is dubbed in English but it's really much better if you can watch it in Korean with subtitles (Neeson's headquarters scenes are in English either way.)

Like the Russian production Stalingrad that came out in 2014, it's interesting and useful to see how the other countries involved portray the wars we've fought. This is South Korea's version of a big, mainstream popcorn movie about the Korean War and, for that reason, it's worth a look.

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