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Korean War Movies

Below you will find lists of Korean War movies and documentaries along with a description of the film. Check the Product Review pages in the future for my reviews of the movies I have seen, as I haven't had the chance to see all of these myself unfortunately.

Also, I recommend trying a search for 'Korean movies', 'war movies', or 'Korean war movies' on Google to find good sites about these different kinds of movies.

Google

Documentaries

The Korean War: Fire and Ice

The Korean War: Fire and Ice

When North Korea surged across the 38th Parallel into the south on July 25, 1950, it marked the first full-scale confrontation of the cold war. In the years to come, Korea's divided country would became a global political chessboard with the communists backing the offensive North and the U.S. and United Nations supporting the defensive South. What would follow were among the most brutal battles in the history of global warfare: the Pusan Perimeter, the Inchon Invasion, Pork Chop Hill, the Iron Triangle, and Heartbreak Ridge.

The Korean War: Fire and Ice, the four-part History Channel series, explores the historical factors, political entanglements, and military strategies of this pivotal struggle in exceptional detail. Rare black-and-white footage is combined with a diverse and knowledgeable group of veterans to paint a gripping, complete perspective of the Korean conflict. From its politically intertwined beginnings through the brutal battles and the unsettling truce that would leave more than 2 million lives in its wake, the Korea conflict would set the standards of East and West relations for the next 50 years. In spite of its political, historical, and military significance, the Korean War remains one of the least examined incidents in modern warfare. The Korean War: Fire and Ice is an excellent telling of military history as it was encountered by those who were there. --Rob Bracco

The Korean War in Color

The Korean War in Color

*First off, I would like to say that Korean War in Color is my favorite Korean War documentary I have seen. I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning a lot of material about the Korean War.

From the Back Cover
Korean War in Color documents war-torn Korea the way the soldiers saw it-in full, shocking color. This digitally mastered DVD presents a true picture of war-full of terror, chaos, blood and courage. Many of the images included here have never been seen by the general public before, having been dept top secret for decades by military officials for fear of a public backlash.

Here are just a few of the color highlights: M.A.S.H. units in action-no Hawkeye, B.J. Radar or Klinger here-these are the real men and women who saved thousands of lives. Also, the daring Inchon invasion, the battle for Seoul, the Naktong River campaign, winter along the Chosin Reservoir, War in the Skies, and legendary director John Ford's rare footage of the 1st Marine Division in action. Additional bonus features include Marilyn Monroe in Korea, an exclusive collection of personal films shot by real soldiers, an interactive timeline with a dozen bonus newsreels, and more. It is remembered for being forgotten. But after this, you will never forget the Korean War again.

Korean War Stories

A PBS documentary describing the history of the Korean war through actual veteran stories.

Korean War Stories

Modern Warfare: Global Technologies and Tactics

Modern Warfare

This collection covers international wars and conflicts, from the Korean War to the constant battle against terrorism. The box set features six discs: "Korea & the Vietnam War," "The Six Day War & Yom Kippur War," "Iran/Iraq & Russia in Afghanistan," "Falklands & Lebanon," "The Persian Gulf War," and "Terrorism & Special Forces."

The Korean War: Our Time in Hell

The Korean War: Our Time in Hell

This two-tape boxed set, subtitled Our Time in Hell, provides an excellent chronology of the conflict in Korea. Produced by Discovery Channel, it makes good use of interviews with Korean War veterans from both sides of the fighting, as well as extensive use of archival footage. Rare film shot early in the conflict, in 1950, by a crew from NBC News, provides vivid testimony about the ferocity of the fighting. The video offers a very solid history of the conflict (the late historian Clay Blair, an expert on the Korean War, served as a historical consultant for the video production) and is particularly strong at providing a lucid account of how the tide of battle repeatedly surged back and forth between the Communist and United Nations forces during the first year of the war. The roles of two central figures in the war, General Douglas MacArthur, a legend of World War II, and President Harry S. Truman, are examined in some depth, and the global importance of the conflict is also explained capably, but for the most part the film focuses on the fighting men themselves. Watching the extensive combat footage, one can't help but appreciate the suffering borne by troops who had to endure savage fighting in horrifically cold weather. The Korean War: Our Time In Hell is a first-rate production, serious history given a gripping presentation. --Robert J. McNamara

MacArthur

A biographical film of General MacArthur, beginning in 1942 and lasting until he is forced to resign.

MacArthur

Movies

The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show

Like Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch, and The Graduate, The Last Picture Show is one of the signature films of the "New Hollywood" that emerged in the late 1960s and early '70s. Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry and lovingly directed by Peter Bogdanovich (who cowrote the script with McMurtry), this 1971 drama has been interpreted as an affectionate tribute to classic Hollywood filmmaking and the great directors (such as John Ford) that Bogdanovich so deeply admired. It's also a eulogy for lost innocence and small-town life, so accurately rendered that critic Roger Ebert called it "the best film of 1951," referring to the movie's one-year time frame, its black-and-white cinematography (by Robert Surtees), and its sparse but evocative visual style. The story is set in the tiny, dying town of Anarene, Texas, where the main-street movie house is about to close for good, and where a pair of high-school football players are coming of age and struggling to define their uncertain futures. There's little to do in Anarene, and while Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) engages in a passionless fling with his football coach's wife (Cloris Leachman), his best friend Duane (Jeff Bridges) enlists for service in the Korean War. Both boys fall for a manipulative high-school beauty (Cybill Shepherd) who's well aware of her sexual allure. But it's not so much what happens in The Last Picture show as how it happens--and how Bogdanovich and his excellent cast so effectively capture the melancholy mood of a ghost town in the making. As Hank Williams sings on the film's evocative soundtrack, The Last Picture Show looks, feels, and sounds like a sad but unforgettably precious moment out of time. --Jeff Shannon

Pork Chop Hill

Pork Chop Hill

This gritty, grim Korean war drama presents the grueling ordeal of a platoon charged with taking a hill of no military value during the final days of the war. While diplomats and generals argue over peace negotiations (in an appropriately wordless montage under the opening credits), tough but compassionate Lt. Joe Clemons (Gregory Peck) leads a unit of 135 men up a well-guarded hill while miscommunication--and at times no communication--cuts them off from reinforcements and regimental command. Shot against a bleak, battle-scarred mountain of white dust honeycombed with black trenches, director Lewis Milestone presents the devastating battle as a meaningless sacrifice of hundreds of lives spent in a political game of chicken. Peck leads a terrific cast of young talents and character actors, many of them just starting their respective careers: Rip Torn, Harry Guardino, Martin Landau, Norman Fell, George Peppard, Gavin MacLeod, Bert Remsen, Harry Dean Stanton, plus veteran stalwarts Woody Strode, James Edwards, Robert Blake, and Bob Steele. Milestone had previously directed the pacifist WWI classic All Quiet on the Western Front and the compassionate WWII platoon drama A Walk in the Sun. Pork Chop Hill adds one more antiwar classic to his rsum, the angry power of his drama overcoming the hollow patriotic voice-over (reportedly added by Peck) that concludes the drama. --Sean Axmaker

Men In War

Men in War

Lieutenant Benson finds himself trapped behind enemy lines on September 6th, 1950, along with his platoon. Sergeant Montana soon joins them, and although the two do not get along at all, they must learn to set aside their differences and make it to Hill 465, where they hope they will find the rest of their division.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

A powerful study of courage in the face of irrational odds, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (based on James Michener's novel) is no less patriotic than many other war films, but it dispenses with gung-ho bluster to focus instead on the very real and tragic consequences of war. This is also one of the first films to openly criticize the morality of the Korean War while praising the honor and integrity of the men who fought it. Lt. Harry Brubaker (William Holden) is one of those men, with one difference: A lawyer with a loving wife (Grace Kelly) and two young daughters, he's been recalled to duty from the Navy Reserve, and reluctantly accepts his mission to fly with a bomber-jet squadron over one of the Communists' most heavily protected targets--the strategically vital bridges in the Korean canyon of Toko-Ri.

Brubaker has his own noble protection, from his fellow pilots (including Charles McGraw in a fine supporting role), his admiring admiral (Frederic March), and from the helicopter scouts (Mickey Rooney and Earl Holliman) who've saved his life on previous missions. But his ambivalence--and his fear that the Toko-Ri mission will be his last--is what gives the film its potent emotional impact. Holden is perfect in his role, and director Mark Robson steadfastly avoids any false sentiment or macho theatrics that would diminish the film's devastating climax. The Bridges at Toko-Ri is also a superlative showcase for Naval operations; the aerial sequences earned an Oscar for special effects, and complete Navy cooperation assures total authenticity in the "flat-top" aircraft carrier scenes. For these and other reasons, this will remain a timeless classic for anyone seeking to comprehend the emotional maelstrom of warfare. --Jeff Shannon

The Manchurian Candidate

The Manchurian Candidate

You will never find a more chillingly suspenseful, perversely funny, or viciously satirical political thriller than The Manchurian Candidate, based on the novel by Richard Condon (author of Winter Kills). The film, withheld from distribution by star Frank Sinatra for almost a quarter century after President Kennedy's assassination, has lost none of its potency over time. Former infantryman Bennet Marco (Sinatra) is haunted by nightmares about his platoon having been captured and brainwashed in Korea. The indecipherable dreams seem to center on Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), a decorated war hero but a cold fish of a man whose own mother (Angela Lansbury, in one of the all-time great dragon-lady roles) describes him as looking like his head is "always about to come to a point." Mrs. Bates has nothing on Lansbury's character, the manipulative queen behind her second husband, Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), a notoriously McCarthyesque demagogue. Digital video disc extras include interviews with Sinatra, producer George Axelrod, and director John Frankenheimer, and audio commentary by Frankenheimer. --Jim Emerson

Sayonara

Sayonara

Based on a novel by James Michener, Sayonara earned a fistful of Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Director, and Actor) in 1957 and wound up winning statuettes for supporting actors Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki. Marlon Brando plays a Korean War fighter pilot, the son of a general, reassigned to Japan, where fraternization with local women is taboo. After breaking off his engagement to another general's daughter, he finds himself falling for a Japanese entertainer (Miiko Taka), then struggling with his own bias. Subplots deal with other servicemen (played by Buttons and James Garner) who also fall for Japanese women. Directed by Joshua Logan from a script by Paul Osborn, the film takes a then-daring look at prejudice as well as post-war racial bias against the Japanese. Brando's Southern accent makes him sound like Matthew McConaughey, while Buttons is actually touching as tough, tender American struggling against racism. --Marshall Fine

War Hunt

A movie showing the interaction between a new member on the front line (Robert Redford) and a crazy killer (John Saxon) who has an attachment to a young Korean orphan. It takes place near the end of the war.

War Hunt

Battle Hymn

Battle Hymn

Dean Hess is a character who had become a minister to repent for bombing an orphan house in Germany during war. He ends up training pilots for the Korean War, and finds orphan kids rummaging through the garbage at the air base. He decides that he should set up an orphanage. With the aid of a Korean teacher, he does so, but it comes with consequences.

M*A*S*H (Five Star Collection)

MASH

It's set during the Korean War, in a mobile army surgical hospital. But no one seeing M*A*S*H in 1970 confused the film for anything but a caustic comment on the Vietnam War; this is one of the counterculture movies that exploded into the mainstream at the end of the '60s. Director Robert Altman had labored for years in television and sporadic feature work when this smash-hit comedy made his name (and allowed him to create an astonishing string of offbeat pictures, culminating in the masterpiece Nashville). Altman's style of cruel humor, overlapping dialogue, and densely textured visuals brought the material to life in an all-new kind of war movie (or, more precisely, antiwar movie). Audiences had never seen anything like it: vaudeville routines played against spurting blood, fueled with open ridicule of authority. The cast is led by Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland, as the outrageous surgeons Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre, with Robert Duvall as the uptight Major Burns and Sally Kellerman in an Oscar-nominated role as nurse "Hot Lips" Houlihan. The film's huge success spawned the long-running TV series, a considerably softer take on the material; of the film's cast, only Gary Burghoff repeated his role on the small screen, as the slightly clairvoyant Radar O'Reilly. --Robert Horton

The Hunters

The Hunters

One of the first films showing planes used for war. Much of the movie is based on aviation (F-86 Sabre Jets). One pilot (Robert Mitchum) has a love affair with the wife (May Britt) of another pilot. He must put his feelings aside however as he goes to war. To add in an extra twist, he ends up flying with that other pilot.



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