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Film / My Way

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My Way (Korean: 마이 웨이) is a 2011 South Korean war film inspired by the story of Yang Kyoungjong.

The movie is about two marathon runners, Jun-shik Kim (a Korean, played by Jang Dong-gun) and Tatsuo Hasegawa (a Japanese), who are fierce racing competitors from childhood. Years later during a marathon where Jun-shik wins, a riot breaks out when the Japanese judge declares Tatsuo the winner, wrongly disqualifying Jun-shik for cheating. Afterward, the riot instigators, including Jun-shik, are conscripted into the Japanese Army, where he is stationed at Nomonhan under command of the now Colonel Tatsuo. Jun-shik fights alongside Tatsuo during the Khalkin Gol campaign against the Russians in 1937. Both are captured by the Soviet Red Army and are sent to a hellish gulag. With the Soviet Union reeling under the weight of the German invasion in 1941, they are drafted at gunpoint to fight in the Battle of Hedosk. Tatsuo and Jun-shik survive and are then captured by the Wehrmacht, who in turn conscript them as Osttruppen. The film climaxes with D-Day as the Americans invade Normandy where Jun-shik and Tatsuo are stationed.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Tatsuo assembles an anti-tank suicide unit with explosives strapped to their chest. Their orders are to dive under Soviet tanks and pull the pin.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Tatsuo get this treatment combined with Break the Haughty upon undergoing a karmic Trauma Conga Line as a POW. Jong-dae also has this moment as he laments over missing Jun-Shik's sister to express how much he loves her as he dies.
  • Anachronism Stew: Iowa-class battleships are seen as part of the bombardment force covering the American landings on the beach during the landings on D-Day. In reality, all of the Iowa-class ships in commission at the time were either in the Pacific theaternote  or still in training back in the US.note  What's even worse is that the hull number of number of one of the ships shown was the yet-to-be commissioned USS Missouri.note 
    • Some of the Korean conscript soldiers during the Khalkhin Gol campaign carry Type 99 rifles, which are not anachronistic so much as unlikely, as they were just being introduced in 1939. It would be especially unlikely to see a newly-introduced rifle in a Korean conscript unit.
    • The map representing Jun-Shik and Tatsuo's train journey to the Soviet prison camp has place names written in pre-reform Russian orthography, particularly noticeable in the presence of the nearly-obsolete Russian letter Ъ at the end of many masculine words. Publishing in the pre-reform orthography was heavily discouraged, though not really illegal, after 1918. This was especially true in aspects of life where the Soviet government had the most influence, like in the military and in textbooks. So, even though the map is not technically wrong, the pre-reform orthography would be very unusual as late as 1939.
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    • During the battle in which Jun-Shik and Tatsuo fight for the Soviets, multiple Germans can be seen using MG42 machine guns. This is despite the fact that the battle is supposed to take place in 1941 or early 1942, before the introduction of the MG42. The Germans in this scene should use the MG34 instead.
  • Arc Villain: In the first act, Tatsuo acts as the Starter Villain for Jun-Shik. Then during the Soviet POW arc, Jun-Shik's friend Jong-dae act as this due to his cruelty towards then-Villain Protagonist Tatsuo and the other POWs (including turning against Jun-Shik upon getting called out).
  • Artistic License – History: Pretty much every battle sequence in general. See Artistic License – Military further down for more.
    • The "Battle of Hedosk" is fictional.
    • The Japanese and Russians certainly used human wave tactics to overwhelm the enemy, but neither would be anything like the ridiculous slaughter that happens in the Khalkhin Gol battles or in the Soviet-German battle. The Soviet-German battle looks more like a similar scene in Enemy at the Gates than it does real life. The Soviets also stopped using human wave attacks after Zhukov realized how utterly ineffective they were and continued to focus on their deep operation tactics, which encouraged extensive planning and organization, not just chucking men at the enemy.
    • When Tatsuo and Jun-Shik are in the Soviet prison camp, it's mentioned that Japan is now at war with the US, so they may be exchanged for Soviet prisoners so that the Japanese will have more men to fight the Americans. However, this is before anybody in the camp finds out about the German declaration of war on Russia, which happened five months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
    • The conditions at Normandy were cloudy with rough seas, non-ideal weather for an amphibious landing. The movie depicts D-Day with clear skies and relatively calm waves.
    • Foreign soldiers who served in the German military were only used by the SS, not by the Heer (army). However, all of the non-German soldiers serving in the Wehrmacht are wearing Heer uniforms.
    • Tatsuo at the end is captured by recently landed American paratroopers; no paratroopers landed during the invasion, only at pre-dawn and evening, and none landed anywhere near Omaha Beach.
    • Neither the tide at Omaha nor at Utah beach was anywhere near as close to the sea 'wall as in the movie. The beaches both would have had a small patch of shingle, a sea wall, and a stretch of sand without any mines or anti-tank hedgehogs on it. These are missing.
    • American soldiers fire grappling hooks up the hill into the German trenches. These were only used by Rangers at the cliffs of Point du Hoc. However, the American soldiers can be seen with 4th Division shoulder patches, and the German positions are captured very quickly, suggesting that the scene takes place at Utah beach. Then again, the high American casualties, which are easily in excess of 100 on screen and thus many more hundreds at other points along the beach, are much more like Omaha beach.
  • Artistic License – Military: So much it's hard to list:
    • The Khalkhin Gol battles are some of the worst examples of movie tactics. They consist of just one side or both sides charging towards the other, the two meeting, and then a massive scrum occurring in which soldiers of both sides are mixed indiscriminately and almost constantly within reach of an enemy. This tactic was never considered viable. The closest to it is probably the way trench raids were conducted in WWI, but even then the defenders would stay in their trenches, and the attackers would move as fast as possible to get out of the open field. Mixing together friendly and enemy like that, above ground, with no cover, would cause pretty much everybody involved in the mix to die, which makes it awfully hard to claim victory for either side. Ironically, a brief scene before the Japanese suicide assault on the Soviet tanks is far more accurate to what the actual battle was like.
    • The Soviet army, contrary to what Enemy at the Gates would have you believe, did not send masses of unarmed men towards well-entrenched Germans and execute any who retreated on sight. (Even the Japanese, who often did send large groups of men towards the enemy with the expectation that they would die rather than retreat, did not send them unarmed, and did not immediately execute people who turned around.) The Soviets were certainly willing to put men in battle with an absolute minimum of training, and often Soviet soldiers were badly under-supplied compared to the Germans (who also had tremendous logistics issues), but it was nowhere near the level seen in the movie. The Red Army, in fact, stopped using human wave tactics quickly and focused on extensive planning and organization. The lack of rifles is also quite inaccurate-once Soviet industry started running at full strength, there were enough Mosins produced to equip every Soviet conscript. As for the executions, this was only done with penal battalions, whose members were almost always fully armed and equipped. The penal battalions were made up of gulag inmates or soldiers guilty of retreating, and once a man had done enough service he could be sent back to the regular army.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the POW Japanese officers except Tatsuo and Jong-dae.
  • Bald of Evil: Jong-dae has a shaved head even when he reemerges as Anton.
  • Based on a True Story: Yang Kyoungjong, who was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army, then the Red Army, then the Wehrmacht before being captured by Americans after D-Day.
  • Beard of Evil: Jong-dae has a Yellow Peril-esque goatee upon becoming the Dirty Communist Fat Bastard Anton.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Being on the receiving end of several Save the Villain moments by Jun-shik was enough for Tatsuo to drop his vendetta against the former and the two to become Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Unlike Jun-shik who still kept his morale even when being treated poorly by others, Jong-dae becomes a Dirty Communist who is a little too overzealous in getting back at his Japanese oppressors who mistreated him as a "Korean dog" with sheer sadism much to Jun-shik's worry.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: When Tatsuo was the film's Starter Villain, he tried to go out of his way to become Jun-shik's Arch-Enemy, making his life hell in the military and even go so far to burn his running shoes to make himself Jun-shik's personal Hate Sink. Even after being imprisoned with Jun-shik in a Soviet POW camp following his failed defense counterattack, he still tried to go out for Jun-shik's blood to a point the overseers issued a sanctioned fight between them until Jun-shik decides to spare him. Tatsuo undergoing a brutal Break the Haughty Trauma Conga Line only makes him a Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain that even prompts Jun-shik to tried to protect him from further harm as he felt it had gone too far. After being saved several times by Jun-shik despite having treated his savior as garbage, Tatsuo relents from carrying out his petty feud against him and become Fire-Forged Friends with him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jun-shik dies, leaving Tatsuo only his name to live by. Tatsuo last scenes is him as Jun-Shik running and winning the 1948 London Marathon, fulfilling his friend's dreams.
  • Break the Haughty: Tatsuo, from a full blown Imperial Japanese officer into a mere private and POW.
  • The Brute: Jong-dae as Anton, he acts as the muscle for the Soviets as he beats his prisoners under his command.
  • Colonel Kilgore: Tatsuo when he becomes Colonel in the Imperial Japanese Army who bullies Jun-shik and even killed his own retreating men on the battlefield.
  • Creepy Crows: Crows are feasting on corpses on the Khalkhin Gol battlefield.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Tatsuo becomes Kim Jun-shik, justified in that Tatsuo is a Japanese name and a dying Jun-shik gives Tatsuo his name to avoid persecution from the Japanese-hating Americans.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Jun-shik, who dies, while Tatsuo who survives and is the actual protagonist.
  • Dirty Communist: Given this is a South Korean movie, it has the negative depiction of the Soviet Union and the chilling change of character for Jong-dae from a friendly Big Fun to a cruel and vengeful Fat Bastard upon becoming Anton.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: Jun-shik wins a marathon against Tatsuo, but the Japanese authorities refuse to allow a Korean to beat their champion, and disqualify Jun-shik by accusing him of cheating. A disgusted Tatsuo refuses the award and walks away, while the Koreans start to riot, ending with Jun-shik and several others being forcibly enlisted in the Japanese army.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Korean character Jong-dae becoming a cruel Dirty Communist Fat Bastard to a point he even turned against his fellow Koreans who were not communists foreshadowed the subsequent rise of North Korea and their animosity towards the anti-communist South Korea that even spawned the Korean War between them.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Jong-dae, who was captured several months before Jun-shik, beats a Japanese officer who referred to him as a "Korean dog," and after beating him, tells the others that as "Anton" he is now the boss of the captured Imperial Japanese soldiers.
  • Dramatic Irony: Anyone who knows anything about World War II will know that Karim's statement about Normandy being a safer place to be stationed than at Pas-de-Calais (where the Germans widely expected the Allies to land) around Summer 1944 is full of bull.
  • Dying as Yourself: Before expiring from his wounds, Jong-dae reconciles with Jun-shik for having Took a Level in Jerkass before and lamenting for not expressing his feelings for his sister.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Tatsuo is Jerk Jock who wants to beat Jun-shik in the marathon, even he absolutely disapproves of his Disqualification-Induced Victory that he turns down the reward because he did not beat Jun-shik fair and square.
  • Evil Former Friend: Jong-dae, when he becomes the Dirty Communist Fat Bastard Anton, becomes this to Jun-shik.
  • Face–Heel Turn: A personal morality example, Jong-dae serves the Soviet Union, who would technically be part of the Allied Powers against the Axis Powers, which the Japanese under his imprisonment is a part of. However, formerly friendly Jong-dae turned into a Dirty Communist Fat Bastard who abuses his prisoners.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Subverted, Colonel Takakura at the beginning of the film shows this, but is demoted and forced to commit suicide for "shamelessly retreating" from an overpowering Soviet armor attack.
    • Tatsuo's grandfather, General Hasegawa, was a very Benevolent Boss to the Korean servants on his estate, in contrast to the mistreatment Koreans usually suffered at the hands of the Japanese. This makes his Heroic Sacrifice all the more tragic, as his Korean retainers are just as horrified as his family.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Jun-shik (Korean) and Tatsuo (Japanese) start out as rivals during their sporting days and then enemies when the former is conscripted into the Japanese army and the latter is assigned as his officer. As they survive together through multiple battles and hardships in three different theaters of World War II, they become best friends by the end of the war.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Many, many examples.
    • Shirai uses a German Karabiner 98 kurz with a ZF 39 scope. The rifle is not inherently wrong, but the Kar 98k was actually rare within the Chinese military by that point, as many had been used by the Nationalist's few German-trained divisions, many who were wiped out in the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, two years before Shirai shows up. Both Nationalists and Communists also armed themselves with local copies of German rifles, the most widely used being the Type 24 and Hanyang 88. The scope is also a bit odd, for the same reason as the Type 99 rifle. What's really strange, though, is how a cartridge is seen ejecting from Shirai's rifle at the exact same moment as her gunshot is heard. The K98k is a bolt-action rifle, meaning that the shooter has to manually open and pull back the bolt in order to eject a round after firing. A cartridge won't eject from a bolt-action rifle at the same time as its fired unless there's something very, very wrong with the rifle. Either the locking lugs that hold the bolt in place would have sheared off, or the firing pin would have been improperly installed, causing the rifle to fire when the bolt isn't fully closed and thus not locked. Either way, something is very wrong with Shirai's rifle, and it would be very unsafe to fire the rifle again without fixing it.
    • MG42 machine guns throughout the movie are heard firing at about half their actual rate of fire, which should be around 1200 rounds per minute. The real thing is famous for its report, which is often likened to a chainsaw or a piece of cloth ripping, because the bullets are being fired so quickly after one another that the human ear literally cannot distinguish the individual sounds anymore. Here, not only does the gun fire way slower than it should, it fires slower than even the predecessor of the MG42, which was the MG34. The MG34 also had a slower rate of fire of 900 rounds per minute, so even if the MG42s we see are meant to stand in for MG34s, the sound is still inaccurate.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Jong-dae teams up with the Soviets to stomp out the Japanese oppression that infested his and his friends' country Korea, but in the process, he becomes a cruel Fat Bastard brute who tortures his prisoners (even turning against his own friends when they called him out on it).
  • Heel–Face Turn: Tatsuo undergoes Character Development from a typical enemy Imperial Japanese officer and a Jerk Jock when a marathon runner into a best friend of Jun-shik.
  • Heel Realization: Tatsuo has this during his time as a POW and witnessing the actions of a Russian officer on the battlefield mirroring his own that led to his imprisonment.
  • Hero Antagonist: Jong-dae technically act as this towards Tatsuo and eventually Jun-shik for interfering, as the prisoners he tortures are members of Imperial Japan.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tatsuo's grandfather throws himself onto a bomb to save Tatsuo and the other partygoers. However, this becomes Tatsuo's Start of Darkness.
  • Hollywood Tactics
    • See first point of Artistic License – Military above, just ordering your soldiers to charge to you enemies' position without any other instruction is a bad idea. Japanese Army and Soviet are guilty of this this film.
  • Honor Before Reason: Colonel Takakura is forced to commit suicide for retreating from an overpowering Soviet assault, despite the fact that the outcome would have been no different had they stayed. Also, earlier Tatsuo refuses the Disqualification-Induced Victory as he wanted to beat Jun-shik under his own terms. When Tatsuo later joined the military, he refuses to retreat when the enemy advances.
  • How We Got Here: The movie opens with the 1948 London Marathon and a "Kim Jun-shik" running past many marathon runners. The movie then flashes back all the way to 1928 explaining how he got there.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Shirai the Chinese sniper manages to shoot down a fighter plane with her rifle.
  • I Owe You My Life: Tatsuo becomes Fire-Forged Friends with his initial running rival Jun-shik after the latter Save the Villain towards him, especially after taking on Jun-shik's identity after his death in his memory.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Tatsuo ends up as this when he undergoes a relentless Break the Haughty Trauma Conga Line as a POW that helps his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Inspector Javert: From a certain standpoint, Jong-dae would qualify as he abuses prisoners who are part of the oppressive Empire of Japan (which includes Tatsuo, the Villain Protagonist).
  • Ironic Echo: As the Japanese/Korean POWs' are retreating from the well-entrenched Germans, Soviet barrier troops begin opening fire on anyone who runs away, which makes Tetsuo remember when he started shouting, and shooting, at conscripts whom he accused of cowardice for retreating away from the Soviet tank assault during the battle of Honohan.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Tatsuo's character arc, from a Jerk Jock and The Neidermeyer Villain Protagonist to a Lovable Jock who is Fire-Forged Friends with his Korean rival.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Tatsuo's grandfather, an officer in the Imperial Japanese Army dies when he jumps on a disguised package bomb (presumably sent by the Korean resistance), saving everyone attending his grandson's award celebration, but triggers Tatsuo's Start of Darkness.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Tatsuo and other Japanese officers use their shin-gunto swords to great extent during the battle at Nomonhan. At one point, Tatsuo climbs onto a Russian tank and stabs its commander with his. It's pretty obvious that Tatsuo is not classically trained with it, and pretty much just swings the sharp side at the other guy.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Colonel Tatsuo orders Jun-shik's running shoes burned just for the spite of it. It was his father's gift to him for the Korean marathon. This also doubles as a symbolic foreshadow to Jun-shik's death, as the burning of the shoes marks the beginning of the disintegration of the real Jun-shik's identity, while at the end Tatsuo, who had Took a Level in Kindness and became Fire-Forged Friends with Jun-shik, takes on the identity as the new Jun-shik in memory of the real one and to avoid anti-Japanese semitism.
    • Dirty Communist Jong-dae reveals the position of his friend who was stealing food to save his job, sentencing him to be executed; later he also excessively beats the men under his command. Ironically, he turned out to be much worse then Tatsuo above.
  • Language Barrier: Jun-shik tries to get a passing German convoy to help an injured Tatsuo, but is unable to pass the message (and being dressed in a Soviet uniform) and is taken prisoner by the POW convoy.
  • Meaningful Echo: 「謝謝你 (Xiè xiè nǐ)」(Thank you)
  • The Neidermeyer: Pretty much every single commanding officer Jun-shik follows.
    • Colonel Tatsuo forms suicide squads from his garrison and in the face of a hopeless battle against Soviet tanks refuses to call retreat for the remnant of the Japanese forces while opening fire at any retreating Japanese soldiers.
    • A Russian Commissar sends a group of POW conscripts into a kill zone of the German forces, also shooting anyone who tries to retreat.
    • Jong-dae, who excessively beats the men under his command.
    • At D-Day, a German officer locks Jun-shik and Tatsuo in a room with two machine guns, forcing them to fight off the American landing.
  • Never My Fault: Or more like "Never My Country's Fault," as while Tatsuo is nobly disgusted at getting a Disqualification-Induced Victory when the judges accused Jun-shik for cheating rather then beating Jun-shik fair and square, that does not stop him from mistreating him under his command in the Japanese Army, likely not just for his grudge against him for beating him, but for misblaming him for forcing the hands of judges who happens to be his own countrymen to stoop such lows in order to help him win.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Jun-shik's attempt to Save the Villain in the war mostly ends up bad as a result.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Tatsuo finds the brutality of a Russian Commissar very similar to his own, Which helps Break the Haughty.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on the Japanese faces at Nomohan when they fight a bloody battle against 30 or so Soviet tanks, only to see more and more cross over the horizon...
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Tatsuo wants to beat Jun-shik by himself at the marathon and is unhappy with his Disqualification-Induced Victory invoked by the judges. Mistreating Jun-shik under his command is most likely a substitute for him to beat him by himself rather then by anyone else.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Tatsuo, upon undergoing his Heel–Face Turn, survives the war and takes on Jun-shik's identity later in life.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Before succumbing to his wounds, Jong-dae apologizes for going all He Who Fights Monsters to Jun-shik and tells him to hide while Buried in a Pile of Corpses to survive once the futile battle is over.
  • Redemption Rejection: Despite becoming a brutal Dirty Communist Fat Bastard, Jun-shik tried to convince his Evil Former Friend Jong-dae to desert the Eastern Front with him to survive out of their friendship, but the latter refuses which gets him killed.
  • Save the Villain: Despite being enemies with Tatsuo, Jun-shik refuses to let harm come to him from warning him about the incoming Soviet forces to sparing him when in a sanctioned fight to saving him from being tortured by his vengeful Evil Former Friend Jong-dae to finally tending to Tatsuo's wounds on the Eastern Front. Jun-shik even tries to convince Jong-dae to escape the Eastern Front, but the latter refuses and gets killed as a result.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Tatsuo tries to get a retreating soldier back into formation to fight off the Soviet armored attack. The soldier promptly punches Tatsuo in the face and makes a run for it.
  • Slave Mooks: How the Japanese treat the Korean draftees.
  • Starter Villain: Tatsuo initially acted as this of the movie before his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Steel Ear Drums:
    • During the battle of Nomohan, Jun-shik is caught in about three different tank shell explosions and walks off without any visible hearing damage.
    • Averted at the Battle of Hedosk, where Jun-shik becomes deaf on his right ear from an explosion concussion and shrapnels.
  • Suicide Attack:
    • Tatsuo orders a special 50-men squad made as suicide bombers to fight Soviet tanks at Nomohan.
    • The Soviets orders Red Army conscripts made up of POWs to charge headfirst at the Germans at Hedosk.
  • Supporting Protagonist: At first, Jun-Shik appeared to be the main protagonist, while Tatsuo started out as the Big Bad, but later on it becomes clear the story follows Tatsuo's Heel–Face Turn Character Development from Jun-Shik's perspective.
  • That Man Is Dead: After Jong-dae captures Choon-book for stealing from the pantry, and later has him executed for it, Jun-shik calls out Jong-dae about how he could betray a friend like that, only for Jong-dae to respond that he is no longer the Jong-dae he used to know, but he is now Anton, overseer of the Japanese prisoners.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jong-dae, when he goes too far to Pay Evil unto Evil towards the Axis POWs after becoming a Dirty Communist.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Tatsuo, when he undergoes Character Development.
  • Tragic Bigot: Tatsuo's initial contempt of the Koreans is personally due to the death of his grandfather. Jong-dae himself would qualify as his viciousness as Anton towards the Japanese POWs with methods that would be in violation of the Geneva Convention is stemmed from how the Japanese treated him as a "Korean dog."
  • Translation Convention: Koreans and Japanese prisoners like Tatsuo and Jun-shik don't have much trouble understanding Russian at the POW camp from the moment they step in. Possibly justified, as it's unclear how much time elapsed between their capture and arrival at the gulag. Since the Russians captured them in 1937 and sent them to fight at Hedosk in 1941, they had some time to learn.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Tatsuo's beloved grandfather's assassination is what inflamed his hatred of Koreans and even takes out on his rival Jun-shik. However, after undergoing Character Development with a dash of Heel Realization, Tatsuo Took a Level in Kindness and becomes Fire-Forged Friends with his rival. Jong-dae's excessively abusing his prisoners is due to himself being on the receiving end of the Japanese's mistreatment of the Koreans.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tatsuo started out as this until his Heel–Face Turn.


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