Director: Lee Sang-yong
Cast: Don Lee, Son Sukku, Choi Guy-hwa, Heo Dong- won, Ha Joon, Park Ji-hwan
Runtime: 1 hr 46 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures and Clover Films
Opening Day: 26 May 2022
Synopsis: 4 years after the events of Garibong district round up operation, Geumcheon Police’s Major Crimes Unit is given a mission to repatriate a fugitive who fled to Vietnam. Beast cop Ma Seok-do (Don LEE) and Capt. Jeon Il-man (CHOI Guy-hwa) intuitively realize that there’s something wrong with the suspect’s willingness to turn himself in and uncover crimes committed by a terrifying killer named Kang Hae-sang (SON Sukku). Ma and his unit begin their investigation across two countries and follow the bloody breadcrumbs left behind by Kang… No borders in catching the bad!
After joining the Eternals for a brief saving-the-world mission, Don Lee aka Ma Dong-seok is back with his familiar ass-whopping policing methods in a long-awaited sequel to The Outlaws (2017). Despite being touted as a sequel, you do not need to catch the first in order to fully enjoy The Roundup which more or less retained the action-heavy formula and the genuinely likeable onscreen presence of Don Lee.
Set in the year 2008 where flip phones were the in-thing and four years after the gang turf war operation, accompanied by Captain Jeon (Choi Guy-hwa), Major crimes detective Ma Seok-do (Don Lee) is assigned to Vietnam to repatriate a fugitive. After a round of hilarious interrogation, it turned out the suspect is in fact hiding from a dangerous criminal, Kang (Son Sukku) when a kidnapping went south with most of his accomplices ended up being slaughtered. Kang, a psychotic ruthless criminal who preys on rich innocent tourists has just murdered the scion of a rich Korean banker and now the latter has hired mercenaries to go after him.
With his ransom being taken away by the mercenaries, Kang decides to smuggle back to Korea to go after the old rich man. Ma equipped with his great sense of detective has to lay a trap to capture Kang and his two equally crazy henchmen with the help of the wife of the millionaire and an unlikely ally, Jang Isu (Park Ji-hwan), an ex-crook who now runs an employment business.
As expected, there’s little about the storytelling that suggests it’s going to be a smart suspenseful action thriller. Kudos at least need to go to the screenwriters for setting part of the story in Vietnam which shed light on the increased number of crimes committed by Korean thugs there. Again, the filmmakers have no intention to make this into a serious, award-winning crime drama thus most of the time, it’s just Don and his hands doing all the “talking” while Captain Jeon has to helplessly look on as they ran from location to another in search of Kang.
First and foremost, there is legitimately a number of solid, well-choreographed fight scenes throughout. Assistant director Lee Sang-yong making his directorial debut knows how to keep the pacing tight and taut without first sacrificing the narrative and comedy. Do note that it’s mostly Captain Jeon providing most of the comic relief as Ma is too busy knocking people out. Even with a vicious villain in the picture (Son Sukku is damn scary and nasty as the villain), there’s no doubt the attention is focused fully on Don Lee who never disappoints once he strides into the room. He punches hard and throw his opponents around liked rag dolls. At the same time, the man is a lovable, gentle giant who never seems to work up a temper in front of his superiors and colleagues.
There’s a heart-pounding scene midway which sees Ma going mano-a-mano at Kang. The fight is overall visceral and bloody brutal all thanks to the lush wide-shots and sleek editing. Just when you thought Ma has run out of punches, the finale sees him and Kang pulling off yet another thrilling fight in a bus. And on the topic about bus, this is definitely on par with the sequence seen in Nobody but far better than the one in Shang-Chi.
The crime story might be a bit generic for those looking for something more. As an action thriller, Lee and also producer Don Lee does a great job in entertaining you with lots of bone-crunching fight scenes. Lee already has eight sequels in mind and we gladly sign up for them if they are as good if not better than this outing.
(We need more old school actioners liked The Roundup!)
Review by Linus Tee