Showing posts with label 12.12: The Day (Kmovie) 4.9 || 4.75. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 12.12: The Day (Kmovie) 4.9 || 4.75. Show all posts

23 June 2024

K Movie Review: 12.12: The Day (2023) 4.9 || 4.75

Whenever Oppa suggests a show or movie to watch, he would always have some sort of spiel to convince me that it's worth watching. It's not that I'm difficult to persuade. It's just probably his way of showing off that he's researched about that particular film or drama. :D

For this movie, Oppa's marketing angle was about how the story closely resembled the actual events that happened in 1979. And since we're interested in historical films, this one didn't stay that long in our to-watch list. 


12.12: The Day picks up where the story in the film The Man Standing Next left off. It takes us through the days after the assassination of South Korean President Park Chung Hee. The names of the characters were changed but most of them shared the same last name as the main political and military figures from that time period. 

After dictator Park's assassination, South Koreans were hopeful that more democratic times awaited them. They had a president and a prime minister and the Army Chief of Staff General Jeong (Lee Sung Min of Miracle: Letters to the President, Reborn Rich, Misaeng, and The Man Standing where he coincidentally played the role of President Park) was appointed as martial law commander. An investigation on President Park's killing was underway and it was headed by Major General Chun (Hwang Jung Min of Narco Saints: Suriname). 

Although General Jeong was at the Blue House when President Park was assassinated, the investigation committee initially cleared him of all charges connected with the killing. However, due to the uncertainties during those days, everyone felt some sort of distrust towards each other. Jeong was not exactly fond of Chun, who was known for his loud, strong, and corrupt personality. It didn't help that Chun had some sort of private army called the Hanahoe composed of military officials loyal to Chun. Even the United States Embassy released a warning for South Korea to watch Chun closely. 

Seoul, being the capital, was an important post in terms of security. Jeong, who preferred to be apolitical unlike other military personnel like Chun, chose to appoint a quiet but straightforward soldier Major General Lee Tae Shin (Jung Woo Sung) to lead the Capital Garrison Command (CGC). Chun and his minions did not really like Lee because he was inflexible and he was not their fellow alumni from the Korea Military Academy. 

Things got more serious when Chun realized that Jeong and other high-ranking officials perceived him as a threat and that they planned to kick him out to some far-off post along with other Hanahoe members. Chun gathered his loyalists and plotted a way to remove Jeong from his post. They planned a coup d'etat which would involve implicating Jeong in President Park's assassination, arresting Jeong, and Chun taking over the military. 

The story takes us through how Chun and his cohorts plan and successfully execute their coup, which brought back South Korea's dark days under dictator Park and delayed the country's democratic aspirations by a couple of years. 


I will always be a fan of how well-executed South Korean historical films are. I'm sure it's painful to tell the story of a horrific time period which happened fairly recent. Knowing how sensitive South Koreans are about historical stuff (even dating as far back as the Japanese occupation), I'm sure it's no easy feat to come up with something accurate and balanced. 

And 12.12: The Day is no different from all the films that came before it. This is a perfect sequel to The Man Standing Next because both movies perfectly encapsulate a very important part of the dictatorship years. 

The actors were great, as expected. Lee Sung Min was perfect as the level-headed General Jeong. Jung Woo Sung was really credible as a strict and patriotic general. Hwang Jung Min greatly showcased Chun's dictatorial tendencies in very subtle ways. Major General Noh (Park Hae Joon of 20th Century Girl, Tune in for Love, The World of the Married, My Mister, and Misaeng) made a good right hand man for Chun. Brigadier General Kim (Kim Sung Kyun of Secretly Greatly, Moving, D.P. 1 and 2, Hospital Playlist, Moon Lovers, Reply 1988, and Reply 1994) was admirable as the fierce and fearless provost marshal. Kim Eui Sung (Extreme Job, 1987: When the Day Comes, Train to Busan, and Mr. Sunshine) was extremely annoying as the coward and corrupt Minister of Defense. And of course, a movie can never go wrong with Jung Hae In (Tune in for Love, Snowdrop, D.P. 1 and 2, One Spring Night, Something in the Rain, Prison Playbook, Guardian, Reply 1988, and top on my Oppa List). His role was really more of a cameo as the loyal chief of staff of the Commander of the Army Special Warfare Command (Jung Man Sik of Escape from Mogadishu and Vagabond) who stayed with his boss until the end after everyone else abandoned them.

My key take away from this film is that I hate traitors. I am not going to second guess the intentions of Jeong, Lee, Kim, and everyone else on their side. After all, they might have ended up as dictators like Chun or even worse than him. But judging by how things turned out eventually, I firmly believe that Chun and his minions were not really motivated by love for their country as they proudly claimed. They were just greedy and hungry for power. And they didn't really mind using extreme measures to keep themselves in power. 

The movie portrayed Jeong, Lee, Kim, and their group as heroes who tried their very best to hold the line until the very end. I can't say for sure if they were heroes. But I feel bad with how their lives turned out. We don't see this in the film but I was so curious about how they ended up that I did my own research. They were arrested, jailed, tortured, etc. They wasted precious years of their lives when they were made to pay for crimes they never committed. Their lives were ruined. Real-life Lee's father died after undergoing a hunger strike and his son died mysteriously. Other people in their group (and their loved ones) had to battle with depression and suicide, among others. All in the name of greed and power of a few bad men.

Despite being historical (which some people might find boring), the movie does a great job in keeping things interesting and captivating. It managed to squeeze in essential events that occurred over a couple of days in a film that's a little over two hours. To me, this is one of Korea's historical masterpieces. A must-watch especially for foreigners who want to have a more in-depth understanding of Korean history, values, and character. 

Oppa says...4.9.

Noona says...4.75.