ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – The Battleship Island (2017) Movie Review

Director: Seung-wan Ryoo

Writer: Seung-wan Ryoo (Screenplay)

Starring: Jung-min Hwang, Ji-seob So, Joonh-Ki Song, Jung-hyun Lee, Su-an Kim

Plot: During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island (“Hashima Island”) to mine for coal, attempt to a dramatic escape.


Tagline – 1945 Hashima – We called it hell on earth.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Bleak War Story

Story: The Battleship Island starts as we see one of the daring escapes from Hashima island, we move back to mainland South Korea to meet entertainer Lee Gang-ok (Hwang) who gets drafted, Choi Chil-sung (So) a street fighter who causes trouble and Park Mu-young (Song) who is planning a rescue of more of the prisoners on the island.

They find themselves taken to Hashima Island, forced into the coal mining by the Japanese. As the conditions worsen, the South Koreans look to work together on a daring escape from the island.

Thoughts on The Battleship Island

Characters – Lee Kang-ok is the leader of a band, he is travelling with his daughter, when they get forced into the mining camp, he tries to keep the people entertained, he has the added skills which could help him survive the translation divide, but what is most important, finding and saving his daughter. Choi Chil-sung is a streetfighter that sees the problems in the mine, he looks out for his people and will stand up against anybody who makes the life even harder. He will help the people that are suffering the most. Park Mu-young has sneaked onto the island to locate somebody, he ends up leading the Koreans in their escape plan. Mallyon is one of the many women that are on the island, they are used for entertainment and pleasure by the Japanese, she does what she can to try and guard on young So-hee.

PerformancesWe have excellent performances from the whole cast, each one shows the different levels of desperation to survive the people are suffering through, what it will mean and what they are willing to give up.

StoryThe story here focuses on the Korean prisoners forced to work under the strict Japanese reign on Hashima Island during World War II and how they ended up fighting back in a daring escape plan. While the events of this story are fictional, the reality of what the island was used for is true. Seeing the hardship the Korean were forced into is a hard watch and like any revolution story, this shows what it means to escape a life they should never be forced into.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film shows us just what the war like battles would have been like for the slave labour needing to find a way to beat the military trained soldiers, which does put a huge spotlight on the historical moment in time.

SettingsThe film keeps us on the island that shows us everything the Koreans would have gone through, we see the tight living space, the horrendous mine conditions.


Scene of the Movie – Bathroom fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The subtitles, not that we have them, that they are so small and hard to read.

Final Thoughts This is a hard to watch war story that will fill in a history lesson for what the people had to suffer through and fought for when they wanted freedom.

Overall: Strong war drama.