A South Korean Air Force team trains, laughs, loves and always has each other’s back in R2B: Return to Base.
After pulling a dangerous stunt at the public air show, Tae-hun (played by Cobert-rival Rain) gets kicked out and demoted into the combat unit. Wanting to get back into the elite air show team, he butts heads with his new team leader Cheol-hui and sets his goal to winning the annual Air Force flying competition.
The squad is thrown into chaos when an enemy North Korean fighter jet enters South Korean airspace and fires on them causing them to lose one of their own and having another go missing in the DMZ. Tae-hun and Cheol-hui volunteer to complete an unsanctioned mission to rescue their lost team member.
In short, the film is very popcorn fluffy fare. It pulls the audience along in various stand alone scenes with different characters and attempts to weave their stories but ends seeming more like a patch quilt. All the characters are relatively likeable, which was important for the audience to buy into for the last 30 minutes of the film where there was finally some decent drama.
Production on this film was reportedly intense as the cast had to undergo G-force training. This was to prevent them from losing consciousness and vision due to too much acceleration force in the high speed jets. It is said that a typical person can withstand 5G before losing consciousness, Rain shocked his co-stars when he passed the 9G pressure test.
For the aerial fighting sequences, the production team turned to Wolfe Air Aviation (Iron Man, Inception, Transformers) for their aerial camera work. The result is very fun and action packed viewing not normally seen in Korean cinema.
I think my main issue with the film is that there was no real change within the character of Tae-hun. While many of the supporting characters grew and matured, Tae-hun was left relatively unchanged at the end as if he learned nothing and there was no inner conflict he had to overcome.
All-in-all, it’s entertaining, but only if you’re a fan of Rain.
R2B: Return to Base opens in select theatres across North America on August 24th: