Now that was different. Feeling in a Halloweenish kind of mood I was hunting for a movie that would go well with the occasion and I must say R-Point aka Ghost Soldiers was an excellent choice. And a very unusual genre blend at that. I don’t think that there are a lot of horror/ghost war movies out there or Vietnam ghost war movies to be more precise. Korean filmmaking is famous for its horror movies and that’s why I think this movie will appeal to war movie fans and aficionados of Korean cinema alike.
Vietnam 1972. R-Point is a strategic area some 100km outside of Saigon. It’s not a combat zone but Korean, US and French troops stayed there for various amounts of time. The Vietcong are present as well but there is no talk of real fighting. Despite that fact, a whole platoon of Korean soldiers has never returned from their mission. Nobody gives this too much thought until high command receives radio transmissions from that platoon six month after their disappearance and decides to have someone investigate what happened to them. Have they been killed or are they still alive? Lieutenant Choi is designated to lead a squad of eight officers and to rescue the missing soldiers.
The moment they arrive at R-Point they get under heavy fire. It’s an intense moment and it takes a while until someone takes the shooter down. What follows is reminiscent of the end of Full Metal Jacket only here the men let the shooter die on her own. They enter farther into the area until they find a tombstone indicating that Chinese killed Vietnamese and dropped them in a lake. The men find this quite spooky and heavy fog and drizzle makes it even worse.
I don’t want to spoil the movie and will only mention that Choi’s squad finds an old mansion that seems to have grown out of the fog and takes quarters in it. From that moment on weird things start to happen. They don’t seem to be alone. American soldiers come to the mansion in the evening, French soldiers transmit messages on the radio, a woman in a long white nightgown appears at night, people get lost, someone from the missing platoon follows them. The tensions between the soldiers are high and when the first one of them turns up dead, they get really scared.
I’m glad I watched this, it is very interesting and I could say a lot about it but it’s not possible without spoiling it. It’s unusual and well worth watching and says a lot about the wars in Vietnam. There are better Korean movies out there but I couldn’t think of another ghost war movie.
Sounds really cool. Definitely want to see it. Hopefully Netflix has it.
It’s really different. It’s not going to make your Top 20 but it’s interesting. Besides, i think there were a lot of ghost soldier stories circulating in Vietnam. Or in any other war…
The idea is indeed a good one, and I liked the first third or so, including the obvious Apocalypse and Full Metal quotes. Yet at this point it got lost, and eventually was hardly scary. It’s too bad, because it had great settings – the surrounding countryside and the building(s) – which with a more inspired director could have provided ample thrills and far more substance without over-complicating things. Think of the way Kubrick used architecture in Shining for instance…
Yes, still, I thought the idea was great and the beginning grabbed me, so i pretty much forgave it the rest. And I still remember it.
Hi… funnily enough. . I was in that mansion (it’s a derelict hotel) looking down on all the actors when they were filming… 🙂 .. we were surprised to see a korean film crew !! Now I know what the film is about. ..
The hill is Kampot Hill in Cambodia…
That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂
You are welcome.. and although there was a mist rising up the sides of the hills… they did have their own mist machine to supplement it.. I’m going to have to check the scene where they are all lined up in front of the hotel to see if i can see our faces looking out of the window.. 🙂
We hired a motorbike to get to the top of this hill .. the film crew were camping up there…
Here’s the hotel – Bokor Hill Station
and a great picture of ‘in its day’ here:
Thanks for both links, very interesting. I remember that scene with the mist. I remember the whole movie. I found it was very eerie.