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Film Review: 'The Admiral: Roaring Currents' Is The Best Korean Film To Hit The U.S. In 2014

BY Adrienne Stanley | Aug 19, 2014 01:45 PM EDT


The Battle of Myeong Nyang was a surreal naval conflict which took place in 1597, during the Japanese invasion of Korea. Admiral Yi Sun Shin conquered a fleet of 330 Japanese warships with a meager 12 Korean battleships, in the treacherous waters of the Myeong Nyang sea.

Admiral Yi was a legendary leader of the Korean naval army whose battle technique was reliant on reinforced turtle ships. During The Battle of Myeong Nyang, Admiral Yi was forced to confront the opposing forces without his turtle ships, with the odds clearly against him.

Acclaimed actor Choi Min Sik (Old Boy) leads the cast of “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” as the heroic Admiral Yi. Choi Min Sik is also one of the stars of the Luc Besson science fiction film “Lucy,” which is currently screening in the U.S. and worldwide.

The caliber of acting established by Choi Min Sik is complemented by that of Ryu Seung Ryong (Miracle in Cell No.7), who portrays the nefarious Japanese pirate turned mercenary, Kurushima.

K-Drama viewers will recognize Ryu Seung Ryong for his performance as a mercenary leader in the 2009 KBS drama “IRIS.” Ryu Seung Ryong was also Choi Do Bin, the man who was romantically interested in Lee Min Ho, in the 2010 drama “Personal Taste.”

Ryu Seung Ryong channels chilling ruthlessness into Kurushima, whose blood lust for Admiral Yi was driven by the need to avenge the death of his brother. Kurushima is hired by the Japanese empire to defeat Admiral Yi and to conquer the Joseon Dynasty, through force.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” opens with Admiral Yi presiding over a meager and defeated Korean naval army. Although, Admiral Yi has been revered by his army for his past accomplishments, it is obvious that he is at the latter portion of his life. His closest advisers are skeptical of his tactics, which are heavily reliant on a lone turtle ship.

Admiral Yi is faithfully accompanied by his son, Yi Hwoe, who is portrayed by Kwon Yool (She is Wow, Tabloid Truth). As the film progresses, it becomes apparent that even Yi Hwoe doubts the capability of the ailing Admiral Yi.

The Japanese naval fleet continues to advance upon Admiral Yi and his troop, an accomplishment which becomes easier with the addition of Kurushima and his mercenaries. Kurushima is aided by the assassin, Haru. No Min Woo (God's Gift-14 Days) cunningly portrays Haru, who with Kurushima, is one of the most visually interesting characters in “The Admiral: Roaring Currents.”

The special effects within the movie are complimentary to the level of acting and are the primary motivation for audiences to see “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” while it is still playing in theaters. With its sweeping maritime scenes, the film is best viewed on a large screen with a premium sound system.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” is now the most watched film in Korean history. To date, the film has sold over 14 million tickets in Korea.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” opened on thirty screens in the United States and was able to place within the top 20 for films which opened in the past weekend. The film has now surpassed the success of the 2004 Kim Ki Duk film “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring,” which was previously the highest grossing Korean film in the U.S.

Due to the success of the film, additional screens and show times have been added by CJ Entertainment.

“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” is a unique production for American viewers, due to the fact that the majority of Joseon Dynasty films are firmly set on land, with few venturing into sea warfare. Due to its time frame, “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” explores the impact of gunpowder and the evolution of modern weaponry on both long range and close combat. The close combat scenes are some of the most visually stimulating and will attract the interest of K-Drama viewers who have been watching shows such as “Joseon Gunman.”

Run Time: 127 minutes Rating: Not Rated 

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