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R-point
Genre: War Horror/Ghost Story
Director: Su-chang Kong, 2004
Starring: If you're not a serious K-films fan, you'll have no clue who these guys are
TL;DR: An excellent addition to the "War is Hell...now with demons" genre.  Tight, creepy, and atmospheric.
Note: Film is in Korean, with english subtitles.

I love war horror as a genre; there's just such a perfect conjunction between the cinematic themes of war films depicting the terrifying cruelty of man via man and the destruction worked on social relationships and the individual soul, and the horrors waiting for us in the darkness on the other side.  It makes me wonder how willing we would be to go to war if we knew the angry dead would rise again and consume us.

Anyways, R-point is a fantastic addition to the genre.  I love how Asian horror films have continued to be found of the long, establishing atmospheric shot instead of adopting the quick-cut as the be-all-end-all of horror film techniques.  They're also a lot less willing to show the monster, or even to have a visible monster, and it works beautifully here.

The basic premise is that during the Vietnam War, a south korean platoon thought killed/lost in action sends a radio message to their HQ asking for help.  The ROK brass decide to assemble a special squad to go in after them and extract them.  Of course, once the unit reaches the location, they learn that things are really really not what they were told to expect. 

Smartly (possibly due to having served), the director makes the film rest entirely on the relationships between the soldiers.  There is no trust in this band of brothers.  None of them have served together before.  One of them used to belong to the missing unit a long time ago, and cares more for them than his new squad-mates.  Others are only there for excitement, or a promise to be shipped home.  The lieutenant, a war hero with a bad reputation for getting others killed, has one batch of orders.  The sergeant has different secret orders.  This would not be a formula for smooth sailing under normal circumstances, let alone what they would run into.  So when faced with the otherworldly events that destroyed/disappeared the missing unit, all the relationships between these soldiers begin to fracture catastrophically. 

R-point suffers a little in that it's set up like an ensemble movie, but it's really only about a couple of the characters; some of the squad mates receive so little screen time it can be hard to remember who they're supposed to be.  Also, fans of the big monster genre may be disappointed; R-point's monsters prefer to remain unseen.  

Overall, however, highly recommended.
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February 2012

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