The Shore of Rescue (1990, English Subtitles)
Alternate Title: Bereg Spasenya
This was the last Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea/Union of Soviet Socialist Republics co-production, and is based on a true story. This is an epic taking place during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. It involves four parties. The first is a group of five Russian sailors who are marooned on the Korean peninsula after their ship, the Svetlana, is destroyed. Their objective is to hike north to Vladivostok, so they can return home. The second is a group of Japanese bandits who want to pillage the tomb of a local king. The third is a Korean village who are angered by the death of a local. They presume that the Russians killed him. The last party involved is a female hermit, who wishes to return to the village after being banished because her father is believed to be a traitor.
The female hermit’s aunt is killed by bandits, but the Russians attempt to save her in the nick of time. The female hermit sees their kindness, and offers to lead them home. She tries to enlist the help of the villagers, but they refuse to believe the Russians didn’t kill the local. Eventually, the hermit departs the Russians when they venture too far north of her homeland. They are immediately captured by the Japanese, who claim they will hang the Russians by sunrise if they don’t divulge the location of the King’s tomb, which they stumbled upon earlier. The Russians are freed overnight by a Korean monk, who also arms them with rifles. The enraged Japanese respond by attacking the local Korean village. The Russians charge in and manage to save the village in the nick of time, convincing the villagers of their good intentions. The villagers also realize, through talking to the aforementioned Korean monk, that the female hermit’s father wasn’t a traitor, and agree to let her live in the village. Just then, one of the Russian sailors is shot by a Japanese bandit. The remaining sailors, the villagers, and the female hermit take revenge on the Japanese, killing them all. The final scene depicts the funeral of the dead sailor, and the remaining sailors getting a friendly farewell. They’re supplied horses and presumably head north, to Vladivostok.
This film has many propaganda-like elements. The Japanese are shown to be greedy savages. This film also takes the oft-used tactic of characters misunderstanding each other in order to create tension. Interestingly, in an American film, the female hermit would probably be accepted back into the village regardless of her father’s status. In this movie, she is only let back into the village when her father’s name is cleared. This would go along the lines of how people are presumed to be treated in the Soviet Union and DPRK, because a whole family suffers if one of the parents is a traitor.