The Fortress

Watch The Fortress

"The fate of the nation is in their hands"
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 2 hr 19 min
  • 6.8  (3,043)

The Fortress is a 2017 South Korean historical drama film directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and starring Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yoon-seok, and Park Hae-il. The film is set in 1636, during the second Manchu invasion of Korea, and follows a group of Korean officials who take refuge in a mountain fortress called Namhansanseong while waiting for the Korean king to negotiate a peace treaty with the invading Manchus.

The film begins with the Manchu army approaching Namhansanseong, a mountain fortress located on the outskirts of Seoul, the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. The Chief State Councillor Choi Myung-kil (Lee Byung-hun), the Defense Minister Kim Sang-hun (Kim Yoon-seok), and the Royal Secretariat Seo Nai-saeng (Park Hae-il) decide to defend the fortress against the invading army, despite their limited resources and manpower. They know that their mission is to buy time for the Korean king to negotiate a peace treaty with the Manchus, but they also realize that if they fail, the entire country will be destroyed.

The film then focuses on the experiences of the officials and their families as they endure the harsh winter, shortage of food and water, and the constant threat of invasion. The officials struggle to maintain their authority over the soldiers and commoners inside the fortress, some of whom doubt the king's ability to protect them. Meanwhile, the Manchu army surrounds the fortress and launches a series of attacks, testing the officials' resolve and loyalty.

The film's central conflict is between Choi and Kim, who represent two opposing views on how to defend Namhansanseong. Choi believes that they should fight to the death, using every available resource to repel the invaders. Kim, on the other hand, argues that they should consider surrendering, in order to save the lives of their soldiers and civilians. Their arguments reflect the dilemma facing many Korean officials at the time, who were torn between loyalty to their king and their duty to protect their people.

As the siege drags on, the officials face new challenges and dilemmas. A young girl, who was once a servant in the palace, appears at the fortress, begging for food and shelter. The officials debate whether to let her in, knowing that she could bring disease or betrayal. They also discover a hidden tunnel that leads outside the fortress, and debate whether to use it to launch a surprise attack on the Manchu army or to evacuate their people.

Despite its grim subject matter, The Fortress is a visually stunning film, with breathtaking shots of the Korean landscape and intricate details of the fortress's architecture and weaponry. The film combines historical accuracy with dramatic tension, creating a portrait of a desperate moment in Korean history that feels both authentic and engaging. The film's cast, particularly Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yoon-seok, give powerful performances that convey the complexity and depth of their characters' dilemmas.

Overall, The Fortress is a deeply moving and insightful film that explores themes of loyalty, duty, sacrifice, and survival. It is a testament to the resilience and bravery of the Korean people in the face of adversity, and a reminder of the importance of courage and leadership in times of crisis. The film is a must-see for history buffs, fans of Korean cinema, and anyone who appreciates a well-crafted and thought-provoking drama.

The Fortress is a 2017 war movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 19 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8.

The Fortress
Where to Watch The Fortress
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 19 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (3,043)