Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Silmido 2003

Directed by Kang Woo-Suk

Korea In Korean with English subtitles
135 minutes CinemaScope



Kim Heui-jae. Based on the book by Baek Dong-ho


Kim Seong-bok


Go Im-pyo


Jo Yeong-uk


Seol Gyeong-gu
Ahn Sung-ki
Heo Jun-ho
Jeong Jae-yeong


This mammoth production knocked over every box-office record in Korea, leaving Titanic and LOTR: Return of The King in its wake. Based on the 1999 bestseller that exposed a 30-year-old shameful secret, this brutal adventure reveals the true story of 31 death row prisoners secretly trained for a do-or-die mission to assassinate a Korean leader. Recalling men-on-a-mission films like The Dirty Dozen, this character-driven nail-biter becomes more engrossing as we get to know each of the inmates and their military-brass counterparts. The men are taken to Silmido, a deserted island where they are broken down and then rebuilt as killing machines. The fact that this mission from hell happened in the first place is hard enough to grasp, but just wait until you see how this incredible story eventually pans out. In a hundred years of cinema, Hollywood’s best scriptwriters have never matched the twists in this astonishing true story. — Ant Timpson