THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT (범죄도시3) (2023)

Genre: Action/Crime
Director: Lee Sang-yong
Cast: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Aoki Munetaka, Lee Beom-soo, Kim Min-jae, Lee Ji-hoon-II, Jun Suk-ho, Ko Kyu-pil, Park Ji-hwan
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: NC16 (Coarse Language & Some Drug Use)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 22 June 2023

Synopsis: Detective Ma (Don LEE) is back again, now as part of the regional investigation unit. With a new team, he has to catch a new villain (LEE Jun-hyuk). On the other hand, Riki (Aoki MUNETAKA), the Japanese gangster, adds suspense by joining this fierce battle. Just after “THE ROUNDUP” became the biggest blockbuster of 2022 in Korea, the director LEE Sang-yong and Don LEE team up again to keep up the momentum.

Movie Review:

Amidst the excess of superhero movies and special-effects driven extravaganzas, last year’s Korean box office domestic champion ‘The Roundup’ stood out as a glorious throwback to the sock-em-up crime actioners from the past. Its success had everything to do with its lead star Ma Dong-seok (also known as Don Lee), whose self-deprecating charm, understated comic delivery and tree-trunk-like biceps proved to be an irresistible winning formula in himself.

‘The Roundup: No Way Out’ sticks closely to the tried-and-tested formula of its predecessor, and while that may be disappointing for some, we suspect many – us included – wouldn’t mind the familiarity. Ma reprises his role as hard-hitting detective Ma Seok-do, whose latest target is the Japanese yakuza and their thieving Korean partners. An apparent suicide of a young woman found with high levels of narcotics in her blood leads Ma to investigate those responsible for peddling the addictive new club drug named Hiper, unravelling a web of double-dealings, betrayals and corruption within the police force itself.

There isn’t anything particularly sophisticated about the plotting, which like the previous movie, is intended to set up different groups of baddies for Ma to pummel in succession. That list includes the local gangsters running the nightclub which the woman had visited just before her death, the local syndicate in charge of distributing the drugs to various nightclubs in the Cheongdam district, the yakuza fixer Ricky (Munetaka Aoki) and his henchmen sent from Tokyo to retrieve a missing bag of Hiper worth US$30 million, and last but not least the corrupt Guryong district cops led by Captain Joo (Lee Jun-hyuk) in cahoots with the yakuza.

To his credit, writer Kim Min-sung stuffs the narrative with just enough complications to keep the wheels spinning throughout the movie, so there never is a dull moment even in between the fights. Credit for that also goes to the colourful opponents which director Lee Sang-yong has lined up for Seok-do’s signature bruising; and in particular, both Aoki and Lee inject plenty of menace and swagger into their respective roles to make their eventual ass-whopping (by Seok-do) all the more satisfying.

Speaking of the whopping, let’s just say that each of the set-pieces packs more than a couple of rewarding punches. Though in his 50s, age has not slowed the former aspiring boxer one bit. Indeed, Ma still moves with impressive speed and agility for someone of his size, and it is guilty pleasure watching him toss around large, physically imposing heavies as if they were man-sized beachballs. Ma is front and centre in each and every one of the scenes, and the deft camera work tracks his movements closely so you can appreciate his physical work in its full glory.

Oh yes, Ma is through and through the star of this ‘Crime City’ franchise, and this latest entry re-affirms just why. Not only is it great fun to watch him dish out some literally hard-hitting justice, Ma carries the movie with a gruff, understated charisma that is utterly endearing. Like we said, some may be disappointed that ‘No Way Out’ is content to stick to the formula of its predecessor, but those who enjoyed last year’s banger will for that same reason find this the perfect sequel to Ma’s unique brand of cops-versus-thugs caper.

Movie Rating:

(Familiar but no less fun, this sequel to last year's Korean box office champion rests yet again on the massive shoulders of Ma Dong-seok)

Review by Gabriel Chong

You might also like:


Movie Stills