Search - Crossing the Line on DVD

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line
Actors: James Joseph Dresnok, Christian Slater, Daniel Gordon, Charles Robert Jenkins
Director: Daniel Gordon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
UR     2008     1hr 31min

An unforgettable documentary (New York Daily News), Crossing the Line is the absolutely fascinating (Hollywood Reporter) story of James Joseph Dresnok, a US Army private who in 1962 stunned the world by walking across the ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: James Joseph Dresnok, Christian Slater, Daniel Gordon, Charles Robert Jenkins
Director: Daniel Gordon
Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/08/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Korean
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Very insightful documentary
Torsten W. Krauel | Washington DC, USA | 03/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Technically brilliant, considering the subject -- fast-paced camera, excellent cuts, thoughtful shot angles.

Mr.Dresnok, living in Pyongyang since 1962, does the narrative himself. He comes across as a convivial, honest, lying, brutal character, you name it, and saddened beyond repair. "You do not like fishing?", a North Korean sitting next to him at the river remarks casually, causing Mr.Dresnok to ever so slightly draw a hasty cigarette drag.

There it is, the truth of a squandered life in an alien country. The Korean angler sensed it.

There is a certain twisted authenticity to him, a bullyish bonhomy that makes him look almost great to have a beer with at a sports bar at one moment, and look sadistic without further advance notice the next, with nothing but just seconds to spare inbetween.

The famous defector foe/friend (it's hard to tell at times) Robert Jenkins, now relocated to Japan, gets an earful from Mr.Dresnok for having spilled some truths. At that moment, Mr.Dresnok's outrage is a staged emotion, given the Party cadre sitting next to him. The documentary seems to not be entirely fair and balanced on this particular subject, although it serves as an interesting "audio et altera pars" to Mr.Jenkins' autobiography.

Mr.Dresnok, though, knows what his former rocky yet close relationship to the re-defected defector Jenkins calls for: some harsh words, that come across as totally insincere. In the end, this unhappy man is a simple soul who turned himself in for life at a moment's whim.

He genuinely loves his likeable grown-up son who has "Richmond, VA Caucasian college student" written all over his face, yet does barely speak English with a pronounced Korean accent and is going to be, of all choices, a North Korean diplomat.

Mr.Dresnok would also love to see his native Virginia one more time. He probably won't. He chokes up when the British filmmaker presents him with contemporary images of his childhood town, and lets him watch a Quicktime movie on an Apple notebook of former friends talking about him. Apart from his love for his family, that is the only genuine deep emotion Mr.Dresnok allows himself to show.

An excellent documentary about the strangest of fates young men can visit upon themselves."
An interesting look inside North Korea from a U.S. defector
J. Brandt | texas | 02/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I saw this documentary at a local video store and I am glad I rented it. James Dresnok (spelling?) had a less than stellar life growing up. Neglected as a child and never finding his way to the "American Dream" he ended up in the Army on the DMZ. A documentary crew was allowed to go to North Korea to interview Mr. Dresnok who has spent his life since 1962 in that Stalinist state. It's an interesting documentary as it also points out that three other soldiers defected to North Korea around the same time. Dresnok is an interesting interview and his "escape" across the minefields, his interrogation by North Korean leaders and his "fame" as a "movie star" in North Korea portraying the U.S. as the Imperalist Evil General in their movies was fascinating to say the least.

Dresnok is a likable person at times and at other times I sat and wondered just how sad he really is in his life. Still, he seems content and he paints an interesting portrayal of life as a man, a husband and a father to his children in North Korea. When the documentary was over I learned a little bit about North Korea and about an American who found his "peace" in that Stalinist regime."
P. McKenzie | USA | 07/11/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It was intereting to learn more about the soldiers that defected to North Korea but I have to say that James Joseph Dresnok came across to me as being very dishonest about North Korea. I tend to believe Charles Robert Jenkins story a lot more then Dresnok's. IM sure Dresnok said only what his "dear leader" would want him to say. I truely believe that he probably does eat, smoke and drink well only because it is Norht Koreas intentions to groom Dresnoks children to become spies for that country. It sounds like Dresnok pretty much failed at everything he did in life until North Korea saw a use for him to become a breeder of spies. Sure he had a rough life in America as a child and made some bad mistakes. I believe everyone still has a choice in life as to the kind of person you want to be. Sometimes "bad childhood" is too much of a crutch. Jenkins seemed to be the guy that deserved the spotlight in my opinion."
Excellent Documentary! A Must see!
V. Baltusis | Huntington Beach, CA | 07/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was always interested in finding out what prompted anyone wanting to defect to the most secluded country in the world being North Korea! This is the story of Army Private Joe Dresnok who defected to North Korea in broad daylight in August 1962. The documentary is very well done and shows the viewer the life that the four American defectors had to endure. After viewing this film, I got the sense that Joe Dresnok was simply an angry soldier who acted very hastily and thought that defecting to a communist country would solve his problem. The four Americans were never allowed to leave with the exception of Sergeant Charles Jenkins who was finally able to join his wife in Japan in 2005. Joe Dresnok chose his own destiny but I honestly believe that if he was allowed to leave North Korea that he would jump at the chance. Imagine having to live in a country that is virtually a prison where citizens are constantly under surveilance. "Crossing the Line" is a great documentary that finally gives the viewer a chance to see a glimpse of the most secluded country in the world!"