When my son and I left for our vacation, the Korean movie 명량 was yet to be shown in theaters. After almost a month of showing, the movie has broken several box-office records in Korea.
명량 is titled as “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” in English. However, 명량 is actually the place where one of Admiral Yi Sun Shin’s famous battles took place. Even if I’m not currently in Korea, I managed to see the movie in Koreatown in Los Angeles. It has been showing at CGV Cinema since August 8th but I only saw it on the 19th. The cinema is almost full at 10:30 in the morning and the audience is mainly composed of elderly Koreans. I even saw one woman wearing a hanbok.
“The Admiral: Roaring Currents” stars Choi Min Sik as Yi Sun Shin and Ryu Seung Yong as Admiral Gurujima among others. The movie is directed by Kim Han Min who also directed the movie “War of the Arrows”. It centers on that one battle where Lee Soon Shin’s fleet of 12 ships fought against Japan’s 300+ in Myeongnyang that happened in 1597.
Since I watched in Los Angeles, the movie is subtitled in English. The Japanese characters spoke in Japanese and subtitles are provided in English and Korean. The movie succeeded in showcasing Chosun in the 16th century with the production design. The costumes of both the Chosun and Japanese soldiers were meticulously done.
The movie is not inundated with too much visual effects, except for the scenes showing a seascape of the battle location and the “roaring currents”. There were a lot of swordplay and use of cannons that made the choreography of the battle scenes a little more interesting. There is gore but I don’t find them too objectionable. (I’m a GOT fan, BTW.)
So how did Admiral Yi Sun Shin defended the western sea of Chosun against all odds ~ a huge enemy fleet, an unsupportive government, a small army of soldiers with low morale and a failing health? Well, that’s for the moviegoers to find out.
Even if I have learned about the “Battle of Myeongnyang” from several sources, I still found myself getting thrilled before the battle scenes started. There were a few parts of the movie that I find a bit melodramatic (like the scene between a man and his wife), but the movie is entertaining as a whole and its significance makes it worth a second viewing. That is exactly what I intend to do when I go back to Korea in September. When the ending credits started rolling, I saw several in the audience wiping tears off their faces. The movie evoked a sense of nationalism and pride in its Korean audience. I’m not Korean but I felt pride too witnessing on the big screen how another “David” won against a “Goliath”.
To fully appreciate “The Admiral: Roaring Currents”, it is advisable to read about the life story of Admiral Yi Sun Shin as well as the story of the “Imjin” War. I saw the KBS Drama “Immortal Yi Sun Shin” several years ago and from that time, I wanted to learn more about the man who never gave up on Chosun and became one of Korea’s most important historical figures.
To learn more about the movie, visit CJ Entertainment page.