Choi Min-sik

THE ADMIRAL

Admiral Yi Sun-shin (Choi Min-sik) was a revered Korean military commander, but after a Japanese plot involving false intelligence left him looking like a traitor he was relieved of duty and tortured by the men he had previously served and fought beside. The government’s attitude changes though when a second Japanese invasion heads towards their shores in 1597. The invaders sink most of the Korean navy and aim their forces for the capital, Joseon, leading a reluctant king to reinstate Yi as their last hope of fending off the enemy. He has his work cut out for him as only twelve ships remain in his ocean-going arsenal, a number that pales beside the 300+ Japanese vessels heading their way, but with the right strategy and the right location one man can fend off thousands. Well, that’s his working theory anyway. The Admiral — also known as the far more accurate and descriptive Roaring Currents outside of the U.S. — is a new South Korean film that tackles a legendary true tale from the Joseon Dynasty period, and it does so with historical detail and cinematic flair. In a way it splits those two attributes evenly into two halves of the film, and while both have their strengths they’re equally balanced by somewhat minor issues.

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CJ Entertainment

If you had to list the greatest naval warfare films — specifically ones focused on surface combat as opposed to submarine action — how many of them would be movies released in this century? You’ve got Peter Weir’s Master and Commander in 2001 and then… what? (Sorry, but the Pirates of the Caribbean films are not great, and I’m not currently drunk enough to allow an argument for the inclusion of Battleship.) The challenge grows only slightly easier if we extend the time frame to films released in the last fifty years and remove the “greatest” qualifier. For whatever reason, filmmakers just aren’t making ocean-set tales of war these days. Odds are it’s a cost issue, and that’s a shame as the sub-genre (not to be confused with the sub sub-genre) is one rich with exciting true-life stories and opportunities for incredible action and visuals. Happily, South Korean director Kim Han-min (War of the Arrows) didn’t get the memo on avoiding naval warfare movies. His latest feature, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, recounts one of Korea’s greatest military battles, a 16th century incident that saw Admiral Yi Sun-shin (Choi Min-sik) sink over 300 Japanese ships with only a dozen Korean vessels at his command. Check out the official trailer below.

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poster new world

New World is the new gangster epic from South Korea that follows an undercover cop’s struggle to do his job and stay alive while the criminal organization he’s a part of falls apart around him. My full review will be posted later, but I’ll say now that fans of Infernal Affairs and Goodfellas will definitely want to keep an eye out for this one. Keep reading for the full synopsis.

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The 11th Annual New York Asian Film Festival runs from June 29th through July 15th in NYC. South Korea, 2012 133 minutes, in Korean with English subtitles Directed by: Yun Jong-Bin Starring: Choi Min-Sik, Ha Jung-Woo, Jo Jin-Woong, Ko In-Beom South Korea existed beneath military dictatorships up until the 1980s, but that only encouraged black market dealings and illegal activity for illicit profit. In 1990 though, President Roh Tae-woo’s fledgeling democracy came out strong against organized crime and went so far as to declare war on the criminals behind it all. Caught up in the mass of arrests is the very unassuming Choi Ik-hyun (Choi Min-sik). He’s tasked with telling the police as much as he can about his time in Korea’s mafioso, but as his story unfolds from the beginning it becomes clear that Ik-hyun is either a criminal mastermind… or a bumbling idiot.

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published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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