Tartan Video // 2002 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 12th, 2012
They're watching the border. Who's watching them?
The Coast Guard is the Korean equivalent of Redacted. Director Kim Ki-Duk obviously doesn't think a whole lot of Korean military personnel. Similarly, the disc cover designers for the Blu-ray release don't think much about your time, because they put this thing together so it looks like it's an action movie. Dudes are running through the water with their guns, planes are flying in the air and a battleship is exploding. On the flipside of the case are another plane and another battleship, both exploding.
Garbage. The Coast Guard is not an action movie. Not even close. What it is, is a character study of traumatized victims and the douchebags who victimize them.
Private Kang (Jang Doung-Kun) is a livewire, tasked with patrolling the barbed wire fence along the coastline of the Korean peninsula. Maybe it's the paranoia of fearing North Korean spies sneaking onto the mainland, but Kang is wound way too tight, and snaps when some local youths make fun of him. Later that night, when Kang stumbles on the same kids fooling around on the beach, he takes revenge on his hurt feelings and murders one of them, spattering his brains on the poor girl. From that point on, everyone unravels until the end, when the U.S. Congress votes to completely cut off all foreign aid to South Korea.
I'm making up that last part, but these characters come off as such reprehensible a-holes, I think I just might have to go and petition my senator tomorrow morning.
This is an examination of how a) someone suffering a traumatic experience can deteriorate emotionally and mentally and b) some people, specifically Korean coast guard soldiers, are terrible. If that's enough for you, then The Coast Guard will deliver. I had no use for it.
Tartan's Blu-ray is extras-laden, but only so-so as far as the technical achievements. The 1.85:1/1080p transfer is mediocre, often times looking just a few degrees nicer than an upconverted DVD, and the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track (Korean), frankly, doesn't have a whole lot to do. Extras: commentary, a director's interview, photos, a music video and a 30-minute making-of documentary.
There might be an audience for this film, but it's going to be small and not made up of anyone who enjoys exploding battleships. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tartan Video
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Korean)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video
* Photo Gallery