The Roundup: Punishment - A Thrilling Korean Cop Sequel That Packs a Punch

by KoreanCinephile

May 6, 2024, 7:02 p.m.


Discover "The Roundup: Punishment," the latest Korean cop thriller starring Don Lee. This action-packed sequel follows the monster cop Ma Seok-do as he hunts down a ruthless ex-mercenary while setting box office records. Explore our comprehensive review here!

Korean action cinema continues to captivate global audiences, and "The Roundup: Punishment" is no exception. The third installment in the popular "Roundup" series, directed by Lee Sang-yong, follows a familiar yet enticing formula with its gritty blend of crime drama and explosive action sequences. Despite its strengths, however, it falters slightly, leaving viewers both satisfied and yearning for more. Here's a closer look at this latest entry.

The Plot and Characters

Ma Dong-seok, better known as Don Lee, returns as the powerhouse detective Ma Seok-do, nicknamed the "monster cop." This time, he faces Baek Chang-ki (Kim Mu-yeol), a cold-blooded ex-mercenary running a lucrative online casino in the Philippines. When Baek murders one of his captive employees, he inadvertently draws Seok-do's relentless fury. What ensues is a wild pursuit filled with grisly murders, high-octane chase scenes, and chaotic combat.

Baek isn't alone in his underworld dealings. He's backed by Chang Dong-cheol (Lee Dong-hwi), a cunning IT expert, and Choi Yu-Seong (Bae Jae-won), one of Baek's closest associates. While Seok-do and his team try to apprehend the criminals, small-time crook Jang Yi-soo (Park Ji-hwan) gets roped into working for the police, adding comedic flavor to an otherwise intense narrative.

Action Meets Comedy: A Balancing Act

While "The Roundup: Punishment" is action-packed, it struggles to deliver the same level of thrill that its predecessors managed. The action choreography is polished, with Seok-do's boxing prowess taking center stage. He throws villains across rooms and bulldozes through barriers with ease. However, the climactic showdown with Baek falls short of expectations, feeling more self-serious than exhilarating.

Don Lee's comedic flair remains a highlight throughout. Whether he's tricking Choi Yu-Seong into joining him in the back of a minivan or bungling an inspirational speech, his impeccable timing provides welcome levity. Unfortunately, when the comedic focus shifts away from Lee, it falters, especially with Park Ji-hwan's character, Jang Yi-soo, who never quite hits the mark.

A Villainous Disappointment

Baek Chang-ki, the film's primary antagonist, is intriguing but ultimately underdeveloped. His ruthless demeanor and icy glare make him a formidable opponent on paper, but the character lacks depth, leaving viewers wanting more substance. Similarly, Chang Dong-cheol's dialogue doesn't possess enough bite to make him a truly detestable villain.

Box Office Success Despite Flaws

Despite its shortcomings, "The Roundup: Punishment" dominated the South Korean box office, earning $55.8 million in just 12 days and securing its place as the second-highest-grossing film of 2024. On its 13th day of release, the film surpassed 8 million viewers, marking the fastest achievement of this milestone in the series.

This achievement beats "Exhuma" (2024), which reached 8 million in 18 days, and outpaced the series' highest-grossing predecessor, "The Roundup: No Way Out" (2022), which took 18 days to reach 8 million viewers. It also shattered the record set by "The Roundup: No Way Out" (2023), which reached the same milestone in 14 days, by a whole day.

Thanking the Fans

In celebration of this remarkable success, the cast of "The Roundup: Punishment," including Ma Dong-seok, Kim Mu-yeol, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Ji-hoon, Kim Do-gun, Lee Joo-bin, Kim Shin-bi, and Kim Ji-hoon, released a special thank-you video for their fans. They humorously recreated a scene from the movie where a food delivery app notification leads them to a crucial clue in the investigation. Together, they expressed their gratitude to the 8 million moviegoers who made this success possible, saying in unison, "Thank you to the 8 million audience members!"

What's Next?

As "The Roundup: Punishment" continues to break box office records, it shows no signs of slowing down. The film amassed a total of 7,963,149 viewers in its second week, surpassing the cumulative second-week figures of "The Roundup: No Way Out" (6,546,674) and "The Roundup 3" (7,782,660). The film even overtook "Exhuma" (6,033,171), solidifying its position as the year's highest-grossing and fastest-grossing film.

In "The Roundup: Punishment," Ma Seok-do (Ma Dong-seok) returns with his team to combat Baek Chang-ki (Kim Mu-yeol), an ex-mercenary who controls a vast illegal online gambling network. With the help of IT genius Chang Dong-cheol (Lee Dong-hwi) and returning ally Jang Yi-soo (Park Ji-hwan), Seok-do leads a relentless pursuit against the criminals. The film is now showing in theaters across South Korea.

Final Thoughts

"The Roundup: Punishment" delivers on its promise of a gritty, action-filled cop thriller but leaves room for improvement. Don Lee's undeniable charisma keeps the film engaging, and the chase sequences offer plenty of excitement. Yet, with a stronger focus on Lee's comedic talents and a more fleshed-out villain, this sequel could have been a knockout. As the series continues, we can only hope that future installments will give Lee the comedic and action-packed starring vehicle he truly deserves.

Tags: Kfilm

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