Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Roundup:No Way Out (2023)


With this third film in the Detective Ma Dong-seok series (after OUTLAWS and THE ROUNDUP) Don Lee is cemented in movie history as one of the screens great bad asses. Yea Lee has always been a great actor, but with THE ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT he steps into the rarefied company of the great screen action heroes.

Let's get this out of the way right at the top, as fun as ROUNDUP: NO WAY OUT is, it's not as good as the previous two films. To be certain the plot concerning 20 kilos of drugs lost by the Yakuza, and now being sold by a dirty cop to the Triads is good, but it's not as suspenseful as it should be. The film isn't about being a thriller and instead exists to be amusing and have Lee beat the snot out of as many guys as possible. It's not remotely bad, simply suffering from coming after two action classics  (both of the previous films were on my Best of the Year lists).  We've just reached the point where we aren't worried if there is going to be anyone left to be in a sequel, here there is no doubt who the baddest guy on screen is.

As always Lee is wonderful as he drops bad guys with a single punch. He also has a way with words throwing in a gosh at one point, and a steady stream of charming asides at others. You really like the guy. It's the sweetness behind the punches that makes the man even more likable.

Technically the film is a marvel. The action sequences rock. Filmed for maximum impact we feel each blow. The camera stays with the action in longer takes so we get the illusion the fights are happen right in front of us and not created in a series of rapid cuts. Its all staged for maximum effect. Blood, genuine real fake blood, is spilled in many of the fights and remains on walls and floors in later shots. That may sound like a minor thing but too often filmmakers mismatch shots or forget to add in the cgi blood spray.

What an absolute mindless joy this film is. It may be a step below what went before but its still way above most other recent action films. More importantly it will have you amped up  for the next film in the series.

Recommended-more so if you loved the first two films.

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