South Korea’s biggest box office silver producer this year and South Korea’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2022 Oscars, “Escape from Mogadishu” is a true story-based thriller whose pleasures are heavy.
Part disaster flick and horror comedy, the film, directed by Ryoo Seung-wan, takes place from the perspective of Korean diplomats caught in the sights of an armed uprising in Somalia’s capital in 1991 – an event which led to the ouster of President Mohamed Siad Barre by local insurgents.
Han Shin-sung (Kim Yoon-seok) and Kang Dae-jin (Zo In-sung) must evacuate their embassy and bring their employees and family members to safety, while confronting corrupt local police forces and rebels easy trigger. , plus a dwindling food supply and the threat of random fire explosions.
As Mogadishu crumbles, South Koreans, out of sheer goodwill (or perhaps out of ethnic solidarity), welcome vulnerable members of the North Korean embassy, stressing the values of inter-Korean cooperation that would innocently register without the context of Africans Know Bloody Fates.
With little interest in elucidating the ongoing conflict, let alone distinguishing between the various Somali parties at play, “Escape” is a wholly inadequate history lesson – it’s a silly blockbuster after all. More offensive is the film’s eagerness to reduce the traumatic episode of a nation to a setting of confectionery getaways, in which child soldiers are practically punch lines and corpses are obstacles rather than worthy people. ‘to be cried.
Towards the end of the film, there is an immersive car chase through the rebel-occupied streets involving a procession armed with books and sandbags. For a moment, I was taken out of the context of the film and plunged into the mode of a harmless action-adventure film. If only!