'The Battleship Island' Is An Ambitious But Cluttered WWII Epic

This is better off as a TV mini-series.

The Battleship Island (NC16)

Starring Hwang Jung-Min, So Ji-Sub, Song Joong-ki

Directed by Ryoo Seung-Wan

This Schindler’s List-meets-The Great Escape WWII thriller is set on Hashima Island — a battleship-looking coal-mining atoll located off the coast of Nagasaki — where some 400 Korean prisoners plot to escape from a Japanese labour camp.

The movie is ambitious alright but also cluttered narratively, with multiple storylines — involving a jazz band leader and his tween daughter; a spy on a rescue mission; and a budding romance between a thug and a comfort woman — vying for breathing space.

They ultimately converge in one epic prison break scene soundtracked to the sweeping score of Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’, taken from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (Yes, it's the same piece of music Metallica used to open its concert.) (***)

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