Once again, I am pleasantly surprised by this offering from North Korea. Obviously, you have to judge this film – which I imagine most would find hard to sit though, even at 78 minutes in length – with a different criteria than you would a film from a more developed country.
The key to the enjoyment I got out of the film was its pure simplicity: a squadron of North Korean soldiers during the Korean war must scramble across dangerous terrain to cut off an American attack (with only the eponymous 12 hours in which to do it). With a commander whose health is failing him, a group of young but fiercely patriotic soldiers and a character who is perhaps the closest to comic relief I have seen in a North Korean film to date, the DPRK army manage to hold off the Yanks (who foolishly informed the press of their planned attack before going through with it).
You actually have a pretty dramatic and action-filled movie on your hands, but what the film is most notable for is the first appearance I have come across of James Joseph Dresnok.
Dresnok is notorious for being one of six American soldiers who defected to the North during the Korean war. He was the subject of the excellent documentary Crossing the Line, in which he spoke about his experiences living in North Korea, a place where he was able to carve a niche for himself as the foreigner in a number of films.