Generally favorable reviews - based on 14 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: This observational film provides a rare glimpse into North Korea, one of the world’s least known societies. The film following two young gymnasts, 13 year old Pak Hyon Sun and 11 year old Kim Song Yun, and their families for over eight months in the lead up to the Mass Games -- involving a cast of thousands in a choreographed socialist realism spectacular -- the biggest and most elaborate human performance on earth. (Kino International) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Despite the obvious cultural differences, what we come away with is a surprising sense of familiarity. Not even the widest political chasms, Gordon finds, can eradicate the universal pleasure of a young girl's giggle.
  2. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a quietly wrenching eye-opener.
  3. 75
    Has two especially memorable sequences: the eye-popping Mass Games and a visit by a group of schoolgirls to incredibly beautiful Mount Paekdu, which is revered by Koreans on both sides of the DMZ.
  4. Reviewed by: Jim Fusilli
    The girls' enormous appeal prevents the political subtext from overburdening the film.
  5. 70
    The result is a fresh, straightforward portrayal of what the film calls "the least visible ... least known ... least understood ... country in the world."
  6. 60
    Beautifully shot and crisply edited to emphasize the Mass Games' pageantry, but amid the synchronized blocks of performers, Gordon singles out the cranky coaches and giggling schoolgirls, subtly emphasizing how the individual endures even when she's trying hard not to.
  7. A rare and often chilling glimpse into the culture of North Korea.

See all 14 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. ZivS
    May 15, 2006
    It's almost impossible to get authentic footage and interviews out of North Korea. The level of access Mr. Gordon receives for this film (following his favorable depiction of North Korea in the soccer-themed "the game of their lives" documentary) allows for a truly unprecedented viewing experience. I've only seen glimpses of North Korea through some television programming before this. The look at the daily lives of people in this country through this film is on a whole different level. The politics of this country are quite fascinating as well. Important viewing! Axis of evil baby. Expand