Escape From Mogadishu is South Korea’s Argo. Director Ryoo Seung-wan has masterfully told the dramatic story of the 1990 revolution in Somalia and the impact of the Diplomatic missions of North and South Korea. This Well Go USA release is based upon a series of real events that brought the rival diplomats of a formerly unified country together to save the lives of their women and children through a daring escape.
The film is set in 1990 Somalia as the South Korean government is attempting to garner the essential support of African nations for its bid to become a member of the United Nations. This task was made significantly more challenging due to the concerted efforts of the North Korean government to persuade African nations to block their entry.
Amidst all of the political wrangling between the two countries a brutal civil war breaks out in Somalia, endangering the lives of the diplomats of every nation that maintained a Diplomatic presence there. Black Hawk Down (2001), an American made, award winning film covered a later chapter of the same conflict, and its impact on the American Soldiers there.
The heart and strength of the film surrounds the need of the diplomats of the two separated Koreas to join forces to Escape from Mogadishu, Somalia’s Capital city. In this effort, through the brilliant Directing, award worthy acting, and visually gripping cinematography we are immersed in the conflict between a deep seeded mistrust of two nations and the desire of individual human beings to protect their loved ones and fellow citizens. I am not sure how much of the details are true, but the film really shines a light on how easy it is to forget the problems between nations are just that, and even at the highest level of diplomacy, that without our humanity we are lost.
Escape from Mogadishu (2021) is as good a film as you will see this year. There is no shortage of action, nail biting drama, and emotionally gripping moments in this laudable film. While not set in the Shah deposed Iran of the 1970’s, this film still reminded me of Argo, the 2021 Oscar winning Best Picture. Both were based on historically dramatic incidents where the filmmakers adeptly told their compelling stories through the experiences of the diplomatic survivors of these respective incidents. Both films are equally Oscar worthy.
Sadly, the film also painfully reminded me of the recent chaos in Kabul as diplomats and citizens attempted to flee Afghanistan, in the midst of its own regime toppling. While the images were starkly similar, the film was made well before the incidents of earlier this Summer; which, somehow, made its accuracy more shocking.
Kim Yoon-seok and Huh Joon-ho play the Somali ambassadors from South and North Korea, respectively. Their ability to convey the fear and mistrust the people of a, once united, country feel towards each other with subtlety and humanity is pivotal to the film’s emotional depth. While this film is an action film about Somalia, it is more profoundly a film about the sad divide along the Korean Penninsula.
The entire ensemble cast of this film is praiseworthy; whether playing the North and South Korean Diplomats and their families, the Somalia government soldiers, or the key rebel soldiers. All are in top form and immerse the viewer in a world of chaos, fear , and confusion that is unmatched by the majority of films of the past decade. This entire is a first rate cast.
Escape from Mgadishu is subtitled.
For Taekwondo enthusiasts look out for a key fight scene as the movie kicks into high gear.
Review by tkdlifemagazine