Friday, June 02, 2023

The Roundup: No Way Out

Forget Fast & Furious and Mission Impossible. The most reliable international action franchise is Don Lee’s “Beast Cop,” Ma Seok-do. He is more rock than The Rock, more diesel than Vin Diesel, and at least ten times the size of Tom Cruise. When his fists connect, people go flying. That happens a lot in Lee Sang-yong’s The Roundup: No Way Out, which opens today in New York.

The criminals of Seoul have nightmares of Ma, but his fellow cops often tease the good-natured giant. Joo Sung-cheol does not get to do that. Ma can tell his colleague is dirty, but he cannot prove it yet. Ma’s team started investigated the negligent murder of a woman who overdosed on “Hiper,” a new designer drug, which led to a Japanese Yakuza-controlled drug ring. The operation is secretly under Joo’s control and it has been skimming pills for extracurricular sales.

Having figured out their books do not balance, the Yakuza has sent Ricky the enforcer to teach Joo and his gang a lesson. It is a really bad time for Ma to start sniffing around, especially when his supply of pills goes missing. However, he profoundly underestimates the humble Ma. Their resulting cat-and-mouse game is a bit
Columbo-like, but physically, it is much rougher.

The great joy of these films is watching Don Lee (a.k.a. Ma Dong-seok) punch, pile-drive, and power-slap his way to the truth. Lee has a big, “happy warrior” screen persona that is even more entertaining than Schwarzenegger in his 1980’s prime. The Ma-Beast Cop films are perfect vehicles for his size and chops.

Compared to the first two films,
The Outlaws and The Roundup, Ma Seok-do’s latest case constitutes a much simpler story, but Lee’s charm and action cred remain undiminished. Lee Jun-hyuk also makes a relatively worthy villain as recklessly arrogant Joo. He definitely needs a good beating and Ma is just the cop to give it to him.

Despite all the bodies Ma sends flying, he and his team are not supermen. They all get banged up pretty good, but obviously, it takes an awful lot to stop Ma. Like the two previous outings,
The Roundup: No Way Out is just a ton of fun. It should cement Don Lee’s reputation as the biggest action star of the last five years. Seriously, just look at him and watch. Very highly recommended for action fans, The Roundup: No Way Out opens today (6/2) in New York at the AMC Empire.