The Battle Roar to Victory 봉오동 전투 (鳳梧洞戰鬪) (2019) - South Korea
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
In terms of cinematic achievements, Director Won Sin-yeon tries hard to bring the infamous epic battle of Fengwudong to life, but ends up falling over into pieces as the film fails to connect with the audience. There are so much at sake and odds on against the imperialist Japanese elite army, the film could easily have been a tense character battle with an epic showdown, instead it wielded over cliches, characters that are not memorable and more importantly, a clear lack of emotions to round out the proceedings.
Rising star Ryu Jun-yeol is far too stoic and often appear emotionless as the lead young leader of the Korean resistance. Veteran Yoo Hae-Jin and Jo Woo-Jin are suitably wasted as the swordsman and sniper. Meanwhile, the key Japanese villains played by Kazuki Kitamura and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi are nothing more than being one dimensional cliche characters.
All in all, “The Battle Roar to Victory” is grand in scale and contains well meaning messages, but ultimately feels rather empty. Director Won fails to deliver a coherent and entertaining affair as he gets muddled up with too many side characters and unimportant events. What could’ve been one of the most inspiring battle between the Korean resistance and the Japanese became somewhat cliche and disconnecting. As for the cast involved, they have all seen better days. Shame this didn’t work out better.
I rated it 5.5/10