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Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War

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Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (also known under the British title Brotherhood) is a 2004 epic Korean War film, directed by South Korean director Je-gyu Kang. It was a bestseller in Korea and a moderate performer overseas, becoming one of the highest-selling South Korean films of all time. In Asian cinema, this title was widely seen as South Korea's own Saving Private Ryan reflecting the pain and anguish of the Korean people, but also showcasing epic Korean War battle sequences, bringing attention to what has long been deemed "The Forgotten War" outside of the Korean Peninsula.

The story, told in retrospective from a Korean War veteran, follows the experiences of two brothers who survived World War II and the waning years of the Japanese occupation of Korea, only to be plunged into the madness and chaos of the Korean War (1950-1953). Two brothers are tricked into 'enlisting' by boarding the wrong railroad car and are not allowed to return home to take care of their family. The older brother Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) volunteers for all of the dangerous missions he can get, committed to win the Korean equivalent of the Medal of Honor (a loophole in Korean Military rules allowed a winner of such a medal to send his siblings home). However, upon winning the Medal, the younger brother Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) refuses to return home. Horrified at the realization that Jin-tae no longer fights to help their family, but fights because he enjoys killing, the increasingly chaotic tides of war will challenge both the relationship between the brothers and their relationship to their country.


The following weapons were used in the film Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War:

Handguns

Colt M1911A1

The Colt M1911A1 is the standard-issue handgun for the South Korean ROK Army officers and NCOs, mostly being the sidearm of Sergeant Huh (Kil-Kang Ahn) and briefly wielded after taking the pistol from ROK militia officers by Private Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won), Sergeant Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) and a North Korean prisoner during the mass retreat. Like the U.S. forces in WWII, the Colt was the main sidearm of the American-supplied South Korean forces, both historically and in the film.

World-War-II-issued Colt M1911A1 Pistol - .45 ACP
A South Korean officer fires his M1911A1 from a trench before he is killed.
During the chaos of an enemy artillery attack, a North Korean prisoner manages to grab Sergeant Huh's M1911A1 pistol from his holster and holds him at gunpoint.

Nambu Type 14

A Japanese handgun of the WWII era, the Nambu Type 14 is seen in the hands of a North Korean captain who in one sequence tries to escape the South Korean forces during the October 1950 battle of Pyongyang, and then is subsequently chased down and captured by a glory-hungry Jin-tae Lee. While seemingly out-of-place at first glance among the Soviet-supplied North Koreans, the Japanese military did in fact conscript Koreans into their military during WWII before the Japanese occupation of Korea ended, and this weapon could well be a physical remnant of that period.

Nambu Type 14 - 8x22mm Nambu
The wounded North Korean captain grabs his Nambu Type 14 pistol.
A wounded North Korean lieutenant fires his Nambu Type 14.
Jin-tae Lee presses the Nambu Type 14 pistol to its former owner's throat.

Submachine Guns

M3A1 Grease Gun

The M3A1 Grease Gun is infrequently seen amongst South Korean soldiers in the film, mostly because it was mainly carried by officers and NCOs, notably by Sergeant Huh (Kil-Kang Ahn) during the Battle of Pyongyang, replacing his M1 Garand from earlier in the mine planting. The main usage of the M3A1 Grease Gun is appropriate during the Korean War as it was the standard issue submachine gun after WWII where it replaced the M1928A1 Thompson and M1A1 Thompson submachine gun family, however both saw wide usage together in both the Korean War and later on in the Vietnam War.

M3A1 "Grease Gun" - .45 ACP
South Korean NCO Sergeant Huh (Kil-Kang Ahn) fires his M3A1 "Grease Gun" during the fierce urban combat of the Battle of Pyongyang before moving up under Sergeant Jin-tae's DP-28 covering fire on the roof. From the 17th-19th October 1950, the United Nations managed to secure victory in Pyongyang which would later prompt involvement of the Communist People's Republic of China to aid the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea by moving as many as 300,000 soldiers into Korean territory as the UN drove further in North Korea, resulting in the PLA pushing the UN forces back in a mass retreat in December 1950.

PPSh-41

Produced by the millions by the Soviets for their "Great Patriotic War" (the Soviet term for WWII), it is no surprise that by WWII's end they still had enough PPSh-41 submachine guns to generously equip their various client states for the opening years of the Cold War. In this film, the PPSh-41 is a common sight amongst North Korean soldiers.

Soviet PPSh-41 Submachine Gun - 7.62x25mm Tokarev
A North Korean soldier fires his PPSh-41 during a close-range ambush, its role would excel in for years to come, being a compact fully-automatic weapon with a generous magazine capacity.
A North Korean soldier firing his PPSh-41 in Pyongyang battle sequence.
A North Korean army lieutenant with his PPSh-41.

Rifles/Carbines

M1 Carbine

The M1 Carbine is the standard-issue carbine of the ROK Army soldiers, including radio operator Yong-goo. A majority of the South Korean militias also carry M1 Carbines with 30 round magazines while arresting suspected communist sympathizers/collaborators. Like the U.S. forces in WWII, the M1 Carbine in the Korean War fulfilled the same role it played in being issued to second-line troops and those expected to see short-range combat for the American-supplied forces of South Korea. While the M1 Garand was standard issue, the M1 Carbine was generally favoured due to being lightweight and handy for South Korean soldiers, much like for the South Vietnamese later on in the Vietnam War.

Korean War Era M1 Carbine - .30 Carbine
Radio operator Yong-goo stands guard carrying his M1 Carbine as Jin-tae Lee's squad finish planting landmines on a road. Most of the ROK soldiers carry the carbines with the standard 15 round magazines.
South Korean soldiers celebrate the news of the successful landing of the US Marines at Incheon, as American F-86 Sabres fly overhead. Many M1 Carbines are visible as they cheer for their allies in the sky.
A South Korean Private fires his M1 Carbine in an over-the-shoulder view as he returns fire at the North Koreans.
Post-war M1 Carbine with 30-round magazine and metal barrel shroud - .30 Carbine. Reference for the carbine used by uniformed ROK militia, excluding the heatshield.
Uniformed South Korean militants fire their M1 Carbines at fleeing civilians suspected to be communist sympathizers/collaborators. During the chaos of the Korean War, paranoia about communism in then-right-wing South Korea motivated several massacres of civilians suspected of communist support, all without trial, and in some cases still without official recognition from the South Korean government. This scene in this film depicts some vigilantes driven by this paranoia using M1 Carbines to execute suspected communist sympathizers/collaborators in Seoul. These Carbines have the 30 round magazines issued after WWII, but are still M1 Carbines, not M2 Carbines, since they lack the selector switch.

M1 Garand

The M1 Garand is the standard issue rifle of the South Korean ROK Army soldiers, including brothers Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) and Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won). PFC Yong-man (Hyung-jin Gong), Private "Uncle" Yang and several ROK soldiers participating in the Battle of Pyongyang also use M1 Garands rifles. M1 Garands are also fitted with M1 bayonets during close quarters battle with the North Korean DPRK soldiers. South Korean militias also carry M1 Garands when arresting suspected communist sympathizers/collaborators. As was the case in WWII only five years prior, the M1 Garand remained the standard-issue rifle for the American-supplied forces of South Korea as depicted in the film until upgrading to the M16 rifle during the Vietnam War.

M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle with leather M1917 sling - .30-06
A close-up of a M1 Garand carried by a ROK soldier.
A South Korean soldier responds to a North Korean ambush with his M1 Garand.
Private First Class Yong-man (Hyung-jin Gong) fires his M1 Garand in the Battle of Pyongyang.
Seargeant Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) carries his M1 Garand while clearing a building during the battle of Pyongyang - while this might seem like a bad idea in modern CQB/MOUT doctrine, the building in this scene has partially collapsed and thus offers plenty of room to aim his M1 Garand freely.
Lee's rifle squad, including his brother Private Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) and Private First Class Yong-man fire their M1 Garands back at North Korean snipers during the street fighting in Pyongyang.
Private Jin-seok Lee with his M1 Garand during the mass retreat.

M1 Garand Blank Adapters

Uniformed ROK militia irregulars hold their M1 Garands on the head of Pvt. Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) when he intervenes in the summary execution of suspected communist sympathizers/collaborators during his brief mid-war return to Seoul - a personal stake he has in this situation is that one of those about to be executed is his brother's girlfriend. This close-up shot allows the particular blank adapters for the M1 Garand used in the film to be easily seen. They are externally-attachable BFAs that extend the end of the rifle by a 0.5 inch.

Mosin Nagant M38 Carbine

A carbine-length variant of the ubiquitous Mosin Nagant rifle, the M38 Carbine is occasionally seen in the film, primarily in the hands of the Chinese troops sent to intervene in North Korea by October 1950.

Mosin Nagant M38 Carbine - 7.62x54mmR
When Sgt. Lee breaks into the North Korean Field Headquarter, there is a lineup of M44 and M38 Carbines against the wall.
The Chinese PVA storms the UN lines at the Yalu River. Though hard to see in any particular shot, most of the troops in the front of this human wave are carrying M38 and M44 Carbines. For whatever reason, this sequence is the only time Chinese troops intervening in the Korean War are depicted in this film.

Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine

Another carbine-length variant of the long-serving Mosin Nagant rifle, the M44 Carbine makes occasional appearances in this film, primarily among the intervening Chinese troops arriving to the war in October 1950.

Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine with attached side-folding bayonet - 7.62x54mmR
A whole lot of M44 Carbines in the hands of thousands of Chinese troops, the only time forces from that country are depicted in this film.
A North Korean soldier fires a Mosin Nagant M44 Carbine.

Mosin Nagant M91/30

The standard-issue Soviet rifle in WWII, the Mosin Nagant M91/30 "reprises" its role in this film as the standard-issue rifle amongst the Soviet-supplied North Korean troops.

Full-length Mosin Nagant M91/30 - 7.62x54mmR
A squad of North Korean soldiers fire their Mosin Nagant M91/30 rifles.
A North Korean soldier fires a Mosin Nagant M91/30 rifle.

M1903A4 Springfield

A South Korean soldier riding on an American tank in this film is seen with an M1903A4 Springfield sniper rifle, but without a scope.

M1903A4 Springfield without a scope - .30-06
A South Korean soldier riding on an American tank has an M1903A4 Springfield rifle without a scope.

Machine Guns

M1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle

The Browning Automatic Rifle is the standard-issue squad automatic weapon of the ROK Army, notably carried by Private Tae-soo during the mine planting scene. The BAR in film is appropriately firing at the slow controlled automatic fire. At the ending of the revenge montage on the retreating North Koreans for killing and booby trapping South Korean civilians, Sergeant Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) takes Tae-soo's BAR after his M1 Garand runs out of ammo to finish off DPNK survivors from the prisoner line up, where it appears to be he is firing it on the fast automatic mode. Like the U.S. forces during WWII, the BAR served as the infantry light machine gun to the American-supplied South Koreans.

Browning Automatic Rifle - .30-06 Springfield
South Korean soldier Private Tae-soo on the left carries his M1918A2 BAR slung over his shoulder after planting mines with his squad mates.
Private Tae-Soo responds to a North Korean ambush with his M1918A2 BAR.
During the mass retreat, a South Korean soldier can be seen carrying his BAR.

Browning M1919A6

Browning M1919A6 machine guns are used by South Korean troops as belt-fed light machine guns in this film, taking a page from their American military suppliers.

Browning M1919A6, late WWII manufacture - .30-06
South Korean troops ready an M1919A6 for a nighttime assault.
South Korean troops ready an M1919A6 for a nighttime assault.
South Korean troops fire an M1919A6 during the night assault.
Close-up of the M1919A6 firing.
A South Korean soldier aims the M1919A6 machine gun during the street-to-street fighting in Pyongyang, October 1950.

Browning M1917

A Browning M1917 makes an appearance in the film. It is most prominently used by a recently-crazed Sgt. Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) during the climactic battle.

Browning M1917 Machine Gun - .30-06. Unlike many later machine guns, the Browning M1917 was often deployed with its WWI-style water-cooling barrel jacket even in WWII and both the Korean and Vietnam Wars - this "old-fashioned" feature of its design allowed it to provide sustained fire for longer periods than later air-cooled machine guns could (the latter are usually dependent on designs that allow overheated barrels to be quickly swapped out, while older water-cooled machine guns generally only needed to change barrels after their rifling grooves wore down too far to provide accurate fire).
A mud-, blood-, and soot-covered Jin-tae Lee comes to his senses after a tearful reunion with his brother (whom he thought was dead in a building fire), and does a chamber check on a tripod-mounted Browning M1917 machine gun.
Looking much like the beast of war he has become, Jin-tae Lee turns the Browning M1917 machine gun against the attacking North Koreans in a desperate bid to buy time for his brother to escape.

Browning M2HB

On the Allied side, the Browning M2 heavy barrel machine guns are most commonly seen mounted on US Army Sherman tanks.

Browning M2HB Machine Gun - .50 BMG
An American tanker fires a Sherman tank-mounted Browning M2HB.

Browning AN/M2

The rusted remnants of a Browning AN/M2 heavy machine gun are excavated by archeologists and South Korean soldiers at a battle site in 2003.

Browning AN/M2 Machine Gun - .30-06
A rusted and disintegrating AN/M2 machine gun is removed by South Korean soldiers at a 2003 archeological dig, depicted at the beginning of the film.

Degtyaryov DP-28

The standard-issue Soviet light machine gun from WWII and widely issued to Soviet client states in the early years of the Cold War, the Soviet DP-28 makes an appearance in the hands of many North Korean soldiers in this film. These differ from the more common DPM by the lack of a pistol grip, a differently shaped stock, and a bipod that mounts below, not above, the heat jacket of the barrel.

Degtyaryov DP-28 light machine gun - 7.62x54mmR
A North Korean DP gunner fires at the attacking South Korean army.
A North Korean DP gunner fighting in the October 1950 battle of Pyongyang.
Sgt. Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) captures a DP from a rooftop position and turns it against the fleeing North Korean soldiers in battle of Pyongyang sequence.
A squad of North Korean soldiers fire their DPs at strafing F4U Corsair planes.

Fake Soviet KPV Heavy Machine Gun

A mockup of an anti-aircraft gun, that resembles a cross between the 14.5mm KPV heavy machine gun and the 12.7mm NSV heavy machine gun is made from a disguised Browning M2HB. M2 machine guns are commonly used to impersonate foreign heavy machine guns like in Rambo III and The Beast of War.

KPV heavy machine gun on wheeled carriage mount - 14.5x114mm
A North Korean anti-aircraft crew fire the fake Soviet KPV heavy machine gun.
Close-up of the barrel.
Close-up of the chamber.
North Korean soldiers abandoning their position as a stricken Corsair on a Kamikaze run bears down on them.

Maxim M1910/30

A Soviet-updated version of the venerable water-cooled Maxim heavy machine gun, the Maxim M1910/30 machine gun makes an appearance amidst North Korean forces in this film in its "Sokolov" wheeled mounting. Historically, this machine gun was widely used by Russian/Soviet forces in World Wars One and Two, and also used by their client states in the opening years of the Cold War.

Maxim M1910/30 Machine Gun - 7.62x54mmR
A North Korean soldier fires a Maxim M1910/30 machine gun from a bunker while defending from a nighttime assault.
A North Korean machine gun crew in action during the fighting in the Pyongyang battle sequence.
A North Korean machine gun crew fire at the attacking F4U Corsair planes.
North Korean troops fire a Maxim M1910/30 at the attacking South Koreans.

Grenades

Type 67 Stick Grenade

The Chinese Type 67 stick grenade is used by various North Korean soldiers in the course of the film. It is also commandeered by various South Korean soldiers against their former owners as well.

Type 67 High-Explosive Fragmentation stick grenade
Jin-tae Lee holds a Chinese Type 67 stick grenade during a nighttime assault.
Jin-tae Lee prepares to throw two Type 67 stick grenades from a rooftop in Pyongyang after clearing his immediate area of North Korean soldiers.

Mk 2 Hand Grenade

The standard-issue WWII hand grenade used by US forces and their allies in the Cold War, the Mk 2 hand grenade is frequently seen used by Jin-tae Lee and other South Korean soldiers in the film.

Mk 2 Hand Grenade
Close-up of a Mk 2 hand grenade.
Jin-tae Lee pulls the pin from his Mk 2 hand grenade in the most ill-advised way possible, with his front teeth. This is NOT recommended in real life - the pin is configured to require deliberate effort with both hands to pull from the grenade (so as to minimize the risk of accidentally arming it), and the force required to pull it can break one's teeth if they used in this manner.
A Mk 2 hand grenade hangs off of Sgt. Jin-tae Lee's jacket as he waits to receive his Medal of Honor.

Launchers

M20B1 "Super Bazooka"

The M20B1 "Super Bazooka" rocket launcher is used in this film, seen most prominently during the Pyongyang battle sequence.

M20B1 "Super Bazooka" - 3.5" Rocket
A South Korean soldier blasts away at an enemy rooftop position during the savage street fighting in Pyongyang with an M20B1 Super Bazooka.
A South Korean soldier fires an M20B1 Super Bazooka, just before being blown apart by a recoilless rifle.

M20 Recoilless Rifle

The M20 Recoilless Rifle is seen in the film, but is never fired onscreen.

M20 Recoilless Rifle - 75mm Rocket
A South Korean soldier carries an M20 Recoilless Rifle over his shoulder.

Artillery

M101 Howitzer

The M101 Howitzer is seen in the film during scenes depicting them providing artillery fire support.

M101 Howitzer - 105mm
South Korean soldiers fire an M101 Howitzer.
An artillery battery of M101 Howitzer guns firing.
A South Korean artillery crew in action.

Others

M2 Flamethrower

An American WWII-issue flamethrower, the M2 Flamethrower appears in the film. It is most prominently seen during a sequence in which the brothers' unit clears abandoned communist positions and use the flamethrower to flush out potential enemy hiding spots.

M2 Flamethrower
After his squadmates throw two grenades inside, a South Korean soldier from the brothers' unit fires his M2 Flamethrower into a tunnel to deplete the oxygen inside and threaten any hiding enemy forces with a firey death. But instead of hostile soldiers, the brothers make a surprising and divisive discovery.
Another view of the same scene. In a nod to realism, the flamethrower's burst in this scene lasts only 7 seconds, the maximum length of time real-life M2 Flamethrowers could sustain a stream of napalm.

Vehicles

Normally IMFDB does not list vehicles unless they are associated with being gun platforms, either as field modifications or from the factory. So in the case of most films, civilian cars and trucks are not eligible for listing, but many military vehicles are.

BA-64 Armored Car

The BA-64 Armored Car was a Soviet-made vehicle used during WW2, and used by North Korean forces in the film. Its main armament was a 7.62mm DT machine gun with 1260 rounds, mounted inside the top turret.

A BA-64 Armored Car - 7.62x54mmR DT machine gun as main armament.
A BA-64 Armored Car behind a sandbagged position.

F4U Corsair

The F4U Corsair is a turboprop plane commonly seen deployed for close air support in the film, most commonly seen using their 20mm cannons to strafe North Korean lines and entrenched soldiers. A critically-damaged F4U also makes its own "Kamikaze" run at a North Korean gun emplacement in the climactic battle. The World War II Vintage aircraft were used by the US Navy in support of ground operations in Korea until the North Koreans started using the MiG-15 Jet fighters. This effectively ended the F4U Corsair's involvement in the conflict as the US Armed forces switched to their own designs of Jet aircraft.

Vought F4U Corsair serving in close support - Main armament four 20mm cannons
F4U Corsairs strafe North Korean positions.
An anti-aircraft gun fires at the Corsairs.
F4U Corsairs drop bombs on the North Korean positions.

GMC Truck

An American GMC truck can be seen in the film.

A GMC truck can be seen on the left.

M38 Jeep

An American M38 Jeep, first used in the Korean War.

An M38 Jeep moves by a column of infantry, in the center of the image.

M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo Tank

A post-WWII version of the M4 Sherman tank with a much more squared turret. The main gun of the version used in the Korean War is the elongated 76mm variant rather than the shorter 75mm guns of WW2.

Sherman tanks spearhead the invasion of Pyongyang.
A Sherman tank in Pyongyang.
A Sherman tank fires its 76mm cannon.
A Sherman tank in the climactic battle.

M8 Greyhound Armored Car

Constantly seen backing up the Sherman tanks during armored attacks.

An M8 Greyhound in the forward right.
An M8 Greyhound in the battle of Pyongyang.
An M8 Greyhound can be seen on the right.

Trivia

Dummy stunt rifles

Since there are so much hand-to-hand combats in the film, the filmmakers made lightweight dummy Garands and Mosin Nagant Carbines out of wood and metal parts. In close-up their fake natures are obvious (the fact that the actors swing them around like they weigh nothing is also a clue). The Russian Carbines are odd looking and looks like a hybrid M91/30 and an M38/44 Carbine.

Two soldiers fighting each other.

Anachronisms

In one scene, Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) gives his dejected brother Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) a Hershey's chocolate bar to cheer him up after their first mission together. However, the candy bar in the scene is the "King-sized version" that Hershey introduced in 1980, nearly thirty years after the Korean War. The anachronistic 'nutritional content listings' on the back of the bar (introduced in the 1990s to combat overconsumption of junk food) are also visible, as is the bar code (which would require the invention of bar code readers, along with their associated "precursor" technologies such as microchips, scanners, and the necessary software programming, to be useful).

Jin-tae Lee offers his brother a 21st-century chocolate bar in a scene set in 1950.

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