Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Kino on Video presents
Crossing the Line (2006)

"I have never regretted coming to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. I feel at home."
- American defector Joe Dresnok

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: January 07, 2008

Stars: Christian Slater, James Dresnok, Charles Robert Jenkins, Kim Jung Il
Director: Daniel Gordon

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:30m:16s
Release Date: January 08, 2008
UPC: 013131139693
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-B+B- C+

DVD Review

The practice of defecting from one country to another now has an almost nostalgic, Cold War ring to it, bringing with it associations of artists or scientists from behind the Iron Curtain jumping the fence and seeking a better life in the West. Only a handful went the other way, forsaking Western freedoms for the glory of the people's revolution—they seem like historical curiosities, those taken in by the rhetoric of Communism while maintaining a willful blindness to its practice. And then we can forget about them, especially now that the binary East/West axis is no longer the dominant storyline in international relations.

But that doesn't do much for the casualties of the last war, and this documentary is a grimly fascinating look at the very few who threw off the shackles of America for subservience to Dear Leader in North Korea. Specifically, the film focuses on Joseph Dresnok, who as a PFC left his U.S. Army unit and went over to the other side. It's easy to cobble together the thumbnail psychological profile of Dresnok: abandoned to the orphanage by his father after his mother died; marrying young and joining the Army, then spending two chaste years away from his wife while stationed in West Germany, only to find out upon his return that she's thrown him over for another man; re-enlisting and being dispatched to Korea, and succumbing to the welcoming oratory north of the DMZ. Dresnok's defection was clearly more of a propaganda triumph for the North Koreans than a boon to their military intelligence—Dresnok's low rank and apparent lack of curiosity saw to that. But then after the headlines subsided, this great big American had to make a life for himself in a land where his home country was hated, where fulminating against the U.S. was a kind of civic religion—and watching Dresnok contend with his conflicting memories is what makes so much of this so gripping.

There were in fact three other American soldiers who defected, and the quartet were yoked together, and there's a dark movie in there somewhere about the madness inside this sad little platoon. They didn't seem to like each other much in the first place, and this metastasized into contempt and outright hatred; their North Korean masters apparently kidnapped women of various ethnicities from around the globe to serve as their wives; and at one point the four even tried to defect *again*, this time to the USSR. But in a country in which popular culture seems to be devoted in large measure to America bashing, these four found a new calling: as screen villains in North Korean propaganda movies. (Dresnok's biggest triumph was as a sadistic POW commander, apparently a North Korean variation on Otto Preminger in Stalag 17.) It's lunacy, and riveting for being nothing but true.

The film seems to be a purgative experience for Dresnok—he gets to speak English with others, he gets to unload on his enemies, he gets to revisit the memories of his childhood, with the film crew, and though he doesn't articulate it, you can see him reassessing his life, wondering what might have been if he had made a different series of choices—he's high status in North Korea in a way that he was unlikely ever to have been in the U.S., but he's also clearly something of a freak on the streets of his adopted country, and getting a few extra rice rations only points out what a life of deprivation he has led. There's some hypnotic post-Cold War drama when the fellow defector that Dresnok hates most goes back to the West, and the recriminations on both sides are blistering—but that's only the most recent chapter, and the overall portrait of what happened to Dresnok when he crossed over is a singular and disturbing one.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Good strong transfer; there's a lot of archival footage, which obviously varies in quality, but even just the glimpses of life on the streets in Pyongyang are fascinating and well shot.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Christian Slater once again gets his Jack Nicholson on with the narration track, which can be oppressively loud on occasion; volume levels are a little all over the place.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. stills gallery
Extras Review: In an accompanying interview (14m:19s), director Daniel Gordon discusses the many obstacles to getting access to Dresnok and his compatriots, and talks us through the preparation for the shoot; but on a documentary, of course, events are likely to overtake your best laid plans, and they certainly did so here. The disc also includes a stills gallery, mostly snapshots of Dresnok in the Democratic People's Republic through the years; most appear in the feature.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Wheedling into the good graces of the North Korean government has paid off for director David Gordon and his documentary crew, for their portrait of a troubled young man renouncing his country for the Democratic People's Republic and then growing old as a North Korean propaganda prop is as unsettling as it is unexpected.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store