Liam Neeson is to play the famed American military leader General Douglas MacArthur in the South Korean war epic Operation Chromite, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Named after the codename for the Battle of Inchon, one of the Korean war’s earliest skirmishes, John H Lee’s film will focus on eight South Korean troopers who helped turn the tide against the communist northern forces during a covert operation that preceded the battle’s opening surprise amphibious attack on the city of Inchon. Lee will work from a screenplay by Lee Man-hee, with both film-makers best known for another war film, 2010’s well-reviewed 71: Into the Fire.
The Battle of Inchon resulted in a decisive victory for US and United Nations-backed southern forces, and paved the way for the liberation of Seoul on 25 September, 1950. It ended a string of victories by the north and resulted in southern advances until October, when the communist Chinese entered the conflict. Historians suggest MacArthur was the driving force behind the victory as general of the United States army.
A 12bn Korean won (£6m) film, Operation Chromite will go into production later this year, with its debut in cinemas set for 25 June 2016, the 66th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean war.
It is not clear whether Neeson will film his scenes in English or Korean, though it seems likely the film itself will be shot in Korean. Hollywood stars rarely appear in South Korean films, though Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton joined Bong Joon-ho’s English-language dystopian thriller Snowpiercer to critical acclaim in 2013. And producers of China’s upcoming Dragon Blade, a big-budget action epic starring Jackie Chan as a 1st century BC Han dynasty commander, have recruited John Cusack and Adrien Brody to play Roman warlords encountered by the Chinese near their western border.
Previous films that depicted the US war hero include 1977’s MacArthur, starring Gregory Peck in the title role; 1981’s infamous box-office turkey Inchon, which featured Laurence Olivier as MacArthur; and 2012’s Emperor, which was set in Japan during the aftermath of the second world war and featured Tommy Lee Jones as the general.