Northern Limit Line (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 11, 2015 by Dennis Amith
“Northern Limit Line” is a powerful South Korean naval thriller that does a wonderful job in paying respect for those who died and also those who were wounded in battle in order to protect their country. But also showcases the tragedy that these individuals had to endure during battle and the aftermath of the unfortunate tragedy.
Image courtesy of © 2015 NEXT ENTERTAINMENT WORLD. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Northern Limit Line
YEAR OF FILM: 2015
DURATION: 130 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Color, 16:9 Widescreen, Korean DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: October 20, 2015
Based on the Novel by Choi Soon-jo
Directed by Kim Hak-Soon
Produced by Jung Moon-Go
Executive Producer Kim Woo-Taek
Music by Young-jin Mok
Cinematography by Kim Hyung-koo, Bill Kim
Editing by Steve M. Choe
Production Design by Shin Jeom-hui
Costume Design by Lee Jin-sook
Jin Goo as Staff Sergeant Han Sang-kook
Lee Hyun Woo as Medic Park Dong-hyeok
Mu-yeol Kim as Captain Yoon Young-ha
Chung-ah Lee as Captain Choi
Lee Wan as Major Lee Hee-wan
As the citizens of South Korea celebrate the FIFA World Cup, the North Korean navy sends two patrol boats to a disputed border in the Yellow Sea. The surprise attack on Battleship 357, now remembered as the Battle of Yeonpyeong, honors the men who bravely fought for freedom – on the Northern Limit Line.
With the end of the Korean War, a line was created to show which side in the ocean that North Korea can not crossover into South Korean waters and vice versa. While the line is not recognized by North Korea (they contend the boundary between both countries are farther south), often their fishing boats work close or pass the line and are chased by South Korean patrol vehicles.
The Northern Limit Line (NLL) has been a source of contention between both North and South Korea, with North Korea sending their patrol boats south of the NLL to enforce their claim that their line is further south.
Unfortunately, because of the NLL, there have been tensions between the two countries. In 1999, known as “The First Battle of Yeonpyeong”, four North Korean patrol boats and fishing boats crossed the NLL and it led to a gun battle leaving 30 sailors killed and 70 wounded.
On June 29, 2002, “The Second Battle of Yeonpyeong” took place during a time when South Korea was celebrating the FIFA World Cup, two North Korea patrol boats entered South Korean territory and when the South Korean Battleship 357 went to escort them back, they were ambushed by the North Korean vessels, which led to severe casualties on both sides.
To remember the men killed in action, a film directed by Kim Hak-Soon and an adaptation of a novel by Choi Soon-jo was filmed in 3D, and earned part of its budget thanks to crowdfunding and “Northern Limit Line” was released in theaters in South Korea in 2015.
The film topped the box office in South Korea and became the most-watched Korean film in 2015.
And now the film will be released on Blu-ray in October 2015 courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
The film begins in June 2002, Corporal Park Dong-hyuk (portrayed by Lee Hun-woo), a medic, has been reassigned to the Battleship 357 where his friend works but because he’s dedicate to his mother and writes to her often, he is often bullied by another shipment.
The ship has a new commander, Lt. Commander Yoong Young-ha (portrayed by Kim Mu-yeol) who is very strict with the crew. Meanwhile, he entrusts his helmsman Sgt. Han Sang-gook to keep the crew from trouble, but he has a problem with recurring hand tremors.
As the film explores a few of the characters experience at home. Because South Korea is celebrating South Korea’s success at the FIFA World Cup and the team is about to go against Turkey.
But while tensions are high on the sea and the North Korean military often challenging the South Korean navy over territorial waters, they purposely send two North Korean patrol boats to enter South Korea’s waters to spy on the weaponry used by the South Koreans.
As Battleship 357, warned the North Korean patrol boats to turn back, the North Korean boat scored a direct hit on the wheelhouse of the Battleship 357 causing severe casualties.
While the South Korean soldiers were armed with 40 and 30 mm guns, the North Koreans were fighting with RPG’s, 85 mm and 35 mm guns.
With the nearest South Korean ship a mile away, they are unable to shoot at the North Korean patrol boats because the Battleship 357 is in front of them. This leaves the Battleship 357 and its surviving crew to try and fend off the ambush by the North Koreans.
“Northern Limit Line” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is very good as closeups showcase fantastic detail. The actual battle sequence is well-done and while the original film was released in 3D, the Blu-ray release from Well Go USA Entertainment is in 2D.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the lossless audio, “Northern Limit Line” is presented in Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 While the film showcases a lot of dialogue as it tries to introduce each character and their life at home, the film immediately switches to a more intense war scene as a battle between South Korea’s Battleship 357 trying to survive the barrage from the North Korean patrol boats.
The lossless soundtrack is immersive as surround channels are active, dialogue is crystal clear and really good use of LFE.
Subtitles are in English.
“Northern Limit Line” comes with a theatrical trailer.
“Northern Limit” is a film that is touching but equally heartbreaking. For many South Koreans, the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong was a deadly battle and the news coverage of the distraught families at the funeral of the young crew killed in battle was aired throughout South Korea.
For those of us in America, we have had the opportunity to watch many war films which showcased veterans discussing their experiences in the war at the end credits and the film being a tribute to those who lost their lives.
“Northern Limit Line” is a film that focuses on a few of the crew members, six men who were killed and 19 wounded, but all who fought valiantly for their country while being ambushed by the North Koreans.
The film is not about hope, the film is about remembrance. Giving people the idea (through the use of 3D and violence as people are killed, limbs blown apart) of how dangerous the job is to protect the waters but also the reality of war.
And unfortunately, the hostilities over the NLL have continued after this tragedy in 2002, with many people being killed and unfortunately, there is no end to the tension between both countries. In 2015, the tension between both countries are still as strong as ever.
While the film is not presented in 3D, the film does capture the grave situation at sea and the unfortunate situations that come out of war.
“Northern Limit Line” takes several individuals, gives us a back story about their family life, their job and what happens to them from the days leading up to June 29, 2002 and unfortunately, not long after.
The film is no doubt a powerful film for South Koreans on the importance of mandatory enlistment to protect South Korea. But also showing these men as a family of brothers protecting each other. But knowing that for these individuals, there is no positive ending to this tragedy. It is what it is and there is no way to solve it, as the tensions between both countries exist.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and the lossless soundtrack, due to its action sequences, is quite immersive. Unfortunately, there are no special features but the theatrical trailer.
Overall, “Northern Limit Line” is a powerful South Korean naval thriller that does a wonderful job in paying respect for those who died and also those who were wounded in battle in order to protect their country. But also showcases the tragedy that these individuals had to endure during battle and the aftermath of the unfortunate tragedy.
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