My Way is a powerful WWII drama that is based on amazing true events that you probably never knew about.
It's pretty incredible to think that a Korean ended up on the German side in Normandy when the Allies came ashore during WWII. Director Kang Je-gyu's (Shiri, Tae Guk Gi) My Way is based on that event. It tells the story of two childhood rivals growing up in the 1920s. One, Tatsuo Hasegawa (Joe Odagiri) is Japanese, while the other Kim Jung-shik (Jang Dong-Gun) is Korean. The Japanese have occupied this portion of Korea at this time, but the two remain competitive friends, bonded together by their passion for long distance running. For the most part, Jung-shik is the faster, somehow always finding a way to dig deeper and win. Time marches on, and after a tragic accident kills Hasegawa's grandfather, the friendship between Kim and Tatsuo abruptly ends. Not long after that, Hasegawa and many of his friends find themselves assimilated into the Emperor's army. Meanwhile, Tatsuo has become a colonel in that army, and a ruthless one at that -- hell bent on destroying the Soviets.
Kim's indomitable spirit remains despite these hardships. It's amazing to see his true character remain the same, despite the ever-increasing difficulties he suffers as he goes from a restricted citizen to a Japanese soldier to a Soviet soldier and eventually, a German soldier. The trials and setbacks and trauma -- physical and mental to be sure -- that Kim and to a similar extent, Tatsuo endure, is stunning. This is one of those war movies that really tears at your heart as you see how people change, and become desperate when their faced with death and with agonizing conditions. It makes you wonder what could have been done to prevent all of the slaughter and bloodshed, something which My Way does not sugar-coat for viewers. This is a violent, sad, and trying movie, but what stood out to me the most was the inner strength of Kim.
My Way is a very pretty movie as well, although there are some violent scenes that are a little hard to shake. Still, the locations used for Korea, the Soviet Union, and Normandy are all excellent. Some excellent camera puts you right in the heart of the cold Russian winter or in the gleaming sunset in Normandy. In HD, it's a crisp, colorful, and techincally sound presentation that impresses from start to finish. The original Korean audio, or English dub provide the perfect compliment to the powerful visual presentation.
A few extra features round out the release, including:
-Trailers (HD) - Three trailers, including the international release.
-Making Of (SD, 9m) - An unnarrated behind the scenes look at how some of the main scenes in the movie were created, including the Japanese/Soviet battle and the snowy Soviet prison camp.
-Interviews Kang Je-gyu and Jang Dong-Gun (SD, 6m) - Not very long at all, and I would have liked to have seen Joe Odagiri included as well, but the interviews are worth watching nonetheless.
To the summary...