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[Herald Review] ‘The Roundup: No Way Out’ sticks to tried-and-true action comedy formula

By Kim Da-sol

Published : May 23, 2023 - 13:20

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“The Roundup: No Way Out” (ABO Entertainment) “The Roundup: No Way Out” (ABO Entertainment)

Don Lee is undoubtedly top dog when it comes to the crime action genre in Korea, and does little to disappoint fans with the third film starring combative detective Ma Seok-do.

Just like its smash-hit predecessors “The Outlaws” (2017) and “The Roundup” (2022), threequel “The Roundup: No Way Out” diligently adheres to the action comedy formula -- action-packed scenes and a simple but satisfying plot line of a lead character knocking down villains -- of course it’s far from something obvious or dull.

This time with his new squad, detective Ma chases down the drug ring, which involves two new villains -- Joo Sung-cheol (Lee Joon-hyuk) and Ricky (Aoiki Munetaka).

The film opens with detective Ma taking a disrespectful gangster harassing citizens on the street under his control, and then casually leaving the scene by saying that he is late to work. Having been set, the tone is not much different to what went before.

What’s upgraded in this third installment is Lee’s action repertoire, which shows a wider range of boxing techniques, as well as the more realistic and humorous dialogue.

“I focused on creating lines that sound like improvisations but also come up with brilliant adlibs while shooting. Director Lee Sang-yong and I went over the synopsis for so many rounds to upgrade the humor and lines,” the actor told reporters during a press conference held after a screening Monday.

Because “The Roundup: No Way Out” involves two villains for the first time, the number of action scenes doubled, but Lee said he makes sure that each fight sequence has detailed variation.

“Of course we wear safety pads or equipment when we shoot action scenes, because even if we act punching, organs inside the body still feel the impact,” said the actor, who has led the Korea’s most popular action comedy franchise since the first installment.

From left: “The Roundup: No Way Out” casts Aoiki Munetaka, director Lee Sang-yong, Ma Dong-seok and Lee Jooh-hyuk pose for a photo at Megabox Coex in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap) From left: “The Roundup: No Way Out” casts Aoiki Munetaka, director Lee Sang-yong, Ma Dong-seok and Lee Jooh-hyuk pose for a photo at Megabox Coex in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

Lee Joon-hyuk, who plays villain Joo Sung-cheol, said getting beaten by Lee, known in Korea as Ma Dong-seok, made him groan in a way that he has never heard before.

“One thing I told Ma since the casting was that I want to get beaten fearlessly,” Lee told reporters.

Aoiki Munetaka who stars as a lead yakuza Ricky said being punched by Ma was “hell” for his character, but for himself as an actor, it was “heaven,” extolling the chemistry between himself and Don Lee.

The two previous installments were both big hits, garnering a total of 19.5 million admissions. Don Lee said he did feel pressure to make the third one successful, but also showed great affection and passion toward the franchise.

“I had a passion from long ago to particularly create this genre as a franchise, and did extensive research by meeting with police officers to brainstorm storylines for up to an eighth installment. I think I can do it as long as audience wants (me to produce sequels),” he told reporters. He said that the 76-year-old US actor Sylvester Stallone who is actively on the scene including “Tulsa King” (2022) sets a great example for him.

“The Roundup: No Way Out” hits local theaters on May 31.