Here’s a really old-fashioned war film, a recent hit at the South Korean box office, but creaky and clunky, weirdly reminiscent of big-budget prestige movies of years gone by such as The Longest Day, which used to always crop up on bank holiday TV. Yet this has the faintly sepia-digital tint of a modern period blockbuster. It’s set during the Korean war in 1950 and is all about the secret spy mission that preceded General Douglas MacArthur’s high-risk plan to attack North Korean-held territory at the Port of Incheon. CIA-backed South Korean partisans risked (and lost) their lives behind enemy lines posing as military officials, gathering intelligence about mine placements and other fortifications. Lee Jung-jae plays Jang, the undercover operative working for the west; Lee Beom-su is the brutal North Korean colonel Kim, and Liam Neeson telexes in his silly performance as MacArthur, posing with borderline ridiculous dark glasses and corncob pipe, often finishing a scene with a ferocious scowl, like Lloyd Bridges in Airplane! On the bridge of a warship, MacArthur says things like: “Age may wrinkle the skin, but, if you give up your ideals, it will wrinkle the soul!” Doing too many movies like this could necessitate some kind of spiritual moisturiser.
Peter Bradshaw is the Guardian's film critic