BTS, the biggest boyband in the world, are “on hiatus” for mandatory South Korean military service. BTS’ fans, ironically known as “ARMY”, have had since June 14, 2022 to deal with the news, and Jin, now 30 years old, became the first to enlist, on December 13, 2022. The group’s final concert took place in the enormous Busan Asiad Main Stadium on October 15, 2022, and this worldwide limited release cinema event captures it.

Unlike previous concerts, BTS’ stiltedness and awkwardness is completely gone: all seven members seem to be loving every moment. Some of the choreography has been simplified from their music videos, but BTS are still giving it their all in every song, despite barely leaving the stage for a hundred minutes straight.

There are no fancy costumes, just relaxed denim and t-shirts, and natural, uncoloured hair (for possibly the first time in their 12-year career). They might be reading from a script, but their goodbyes are sincere, as is their sense of playfulness with each other.

It is fantastic to see a diverse band of live musicians featured on stage, for a change. However, the film’s sound mixing is designed to mimic the acoustics of the outdoor stadium: the vocals are crystal clear, but the drums especially sound like they are miked in a distant cavern. Props for the realism, but we don’t need permission to dance.

Playing at selected cinemas 1 – 5 February 2023.

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