The Admiral: Roaring Currents

The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014)

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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 783 users
Reviews: 2 users

The story of Korean history’s most astonishing military victory by its greatly revered strategist, Admiral Yi Sunshin. The film focuses on the admiral's legendary victory in the Myeongnyang Strait (near Jindo Island) against the Japanese navy. It was a decisive maritime moment that had significant consequences for not only Korea, but also the whole region as one man, commanding just 13 Panokseons, comprehensively defeated Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 133 Japanese warships (with at least read more200 ships supporting his fleet).

  • Native title:

    명량, 회오리 바다
  • Also Known as:

    Myeongryangm heuiori bada; Battle of Myeongryang, Whirlwind Sea;

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8 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Mar 29, 2015
  • Overall 10
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 10
To say I loved this movie is an understatement. Maybe it was the surround sound of seeing it in a theater. Maybe it was the fact that it was my first ever Korean movie to watch in the theater. Who knows either way I went into this not really sure I would like it. Historical war movies are not usually my thing. In fact I usually stay the hell away from them read more because they're just too sad and depressing. It is entirely possible that this does not bother me with this movie because I do not know enough of the history. Whatever it may be I loved it. The scenery was epic and completely brought to life the movie, not to mention that the sound effects were perfectly on point. The amount of great acting in this film was superb and only diminished slightly by the fact that they had only one actress with a semi-speaking part in the whole thing. However, I feel like you do have to take into account the history in this regard as most men at this time and in this region would not have put any store in what a woman has to say. The plot could have been confusing for a foreigner to keep up but it wasn't. The director managed to keep my attention on what was the important plot points. It may not be exactly accurate but in this case my lack of knowledge on the subject works in the movies favor.
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1 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Apr 16, 2017
  • Overall 7.5
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.5
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 7.5
This had so much potential. It should've been great as a film--it had all the elements: a great historical story worth telling, a talented director/writer, some great veteran actors, a high budget, etc. So I hate that I'm in the Super Disappointed camp and not the This Was a Masterpiece camp. I guess my melodrama tolerance is too low, and my expectations were too high considering how great Kim Han Min's last read more movie was and how iconic this film is always going to be in Korean film history. I mean, pretty much everybody went to go see it when it came out. I love historical films...especially epic historical films...but this one just left me feeling let down, considering how great it should've been.

I felt like the downfall of what could've been truly an epic, emotive film were these two things: a seriously mediocre script and melodrama overkill. So I get that filmgoers would have already known the story from history, and I get that in some ways the first half of the script's very sparse storytelling decisions were somewhat typical of this genre for a well-known historical event. But I thought the script was such a waste for the most part, and not only messed up the pacing of the first half, but kept us from being fully invested in compelling character roles.

Here we have in the historical story such complex and rich conflict...but in the film, it hardly plays out in an emotive or visceral way, except for Admiral Yi's inner conflict (which Choi Min Shik did an admirable job showing with very little to work with in the script) and the too-few scenes with Im Joon Young and his wife. No one else's character is remotely developed, and sure, 2 hours isn't a lot of time, but it's plenty. With better writing that first half could have been so compelling instead of dragging like it did. As a result I just didn't feel as much as I should have. The stakes were high, but the storytelling didn't let me actually feel with the characters, and the few that had the potential just weren't capitalized on.

The themes had a ton of potential too. I did like that it went a bit further beyond the typical "stand and fight never bow down" thing (which I do think epic Korean historical films are great at doing in emotive ways). There was that, and it was fascinating to wonder what the admiral would think of next or how he would solve his next impossible problem of doom rather than give in like everyone wanted him to. And on that front, there were some nice plays on typical Art of War strategy ideas. I always enjoy that in war movies, where there's a subtle debate over the philosophy of a particular one. But I thought so much more could have been done with those themes, and so many small relationships and overall plot points that were totally ripe for development. That was disappointing...and ultimately why even the cool plot turns were just cool and not emotionally satisfying.

Instead, there was wayyyyyy too much time spent on melodrama overkill. So Korea does melodrama oh so well and I realize my personal taste has a pretty wobbly line that gets easily crossed. So if your tolerance is way high or you're Korean and super patriotic, you may love what I did not. But I found myself continuously pushed out of the story by the way too loooong shots of Choi Min Shik staring all heroically into the camera or to the side or the way too long slo-mo scenes of battle that actually made some of the otherwise good fight choreography look distracting/ridiculous [e.g. watch soldier stunt man unconvincingly get his brain bashed out with the same move for like 30 seconds instead of 3]. I should note, however, that the battle scenes were for the most part really well done considering how tough it must have been to direct in the studio. Kim Han Min really excels with action scenes.

That said, his War of the Arrows is proof that incredible action/cinematography/direction coupled with good writing goes so much further (he also directed and wrote that script). I don't know for sure, but I'm wondering if more of the script was written by co-writer Jun Chul Hong who also wrote Kundo: Age of the Rampant...another film with tons of potential but similar script flaws.

I was really let down by the acting too. Choi Min Shik was totally the best person for the role of the grizzled leader pressed against the wall, and I was impressed with what Ryu Seung Rong did with his character (the badass enemy Kurushima), who didn't have any interesting dialog but whose presence totally seethed. Otani Ryohei had little interesting dialog too, but had great presence, as did a couple other secondary officers I didn't totally recognize. Jin Goo (the scout) was so good in his few scenes, and his character interesting enough that I was sad we didn't really know who he was in spite of the heroic role he ends up playing on numerous levels.

And while normally I'm not too bothered by Korean actors playing Japanese characters with horrible Japanese accents (especially when it's only a small part of the story), I did not get the choices made here. I mean, there was a ton of Japanese dialog, and there are quite a few excellent Korean actors who speak excellent Japanese. I don't get why they cast Kim Myung Gon in a role many others could've played when he sounded soooo bad it was totally hilarious...and even the actors who were well cast (like Ryu Seung Rong and Cho Jin Woong) are very proficient speakers, and big names, their still-not-convincing accents were pretty distracting...I don't understand why they couldn't at least dub some of the more sub-standard lines in post production like the Chinese do for less-than-fluent second-language speakers? I realize not everyone cares, but sheesh, with such a high budget and so much Japanese dialog, why not do it right?? I mean, this film had a release in Japan, after all.

As others have said, the epic OST was on point. SO good! Emotional without being too melodramatic, and dramatic without being exhausting...and a great theme. One you'd want to listen to over and over. If anyone knows who the composer is and what other film scores they've done, I'd like to know.

The naval battle direction in the second half was pretty great and worth rewatching. And if you're not familiar with the story, it's also worth rewatching so you can actually get what's going on in the first half, which can be slightly confusing as there's very little character introduction or set up.
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Comments (39)

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  • Reply
    SUNNY May 18, 2017

    Beautiful cinematography, great acting and excellent sound track makes this a must watch for Korean historical drama.

  • Reply
    Panda Apr 24, 2017

    Liked it gave it 9/10. The acting and music and battle scenes are perfect and a lot of smart dialogues

  • Reply
    souldoc70 Oct 3, 2016

    Great movie. The naval battle scenes were epic , I am comparing with other Asian movies as Hollywood is a class of its own. The cinematography is beautiful and acting from Choi Min Sik, Ryu Seung Ryong and Cho Jin Woong was badasss .

  • Reply
    kit1186 Jan 25, 2016 - edited

    ehh don't really see why this was the highest grossing film in Korea. They had better movies. The music was great though. Korean movies never fault in that area.

    • Reply
      Narco Mar 29, 2016

      They liked it more than you probably because its their history. I find it epic, even thought, based on wikipedia, its not completely historical accurate but its still damn epic. And the music, as you said, they never failed in that area.

  • Reply
    Kudo_Lelouch Aug 16, 2015 - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
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      JustJackieB Jan 11, 2016
      Reveal Spoiler »
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      Kudo_Lelouch Jan 11, 2016 - edited
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      JustJackieB Jan 13, 2016
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  • Reply
    tae1213 Jul 26, 2015 - edited

    garbage. the most disappointed film ever.

    • Reply
      Tika Oct 19, 2015

      couldn't agree more with u, so disappointing, I expected more than this tbh since now it's highest-grossing movie on kr (as well ode to my father, such overrated)

    • Reply
      Lyrical Oct 22, 2015 - edited

      tae1213 Really? Where you there? Of course you weren't. Were you the Admiral's friend? Of course you weren't. Did you read all the books about the Admiral? Yeah right. Suuuuure. The fact you are Korean doesn't mean a thing here. And who the heck is ADMIRAL LEE? I think you mean Admiral Yi. You don't even know his name and you say you know more about him than all of us??? Did you even WATCH the Movie? LOL You critic the hard work of the director almost saying he's an idiot. I already told you. If you think you are so high and mighty go study movie making and become a director yourself. We'll see how you do this movie. Yeah try making this movie again and if it's better then i will apologize to your geniusness your ego or wathever you are affected by.

    • Reply
      Tika Oct 24, 2015

      hello lyrical...I can't speak Korean but I know very little about 이. As much as I know Lee is typical romanization of 이 but it's pronounced 'E' therefore sometimes it's also written Yi, so it's same hangul but different romanization.
      And second, I did not defend his saying, because I personally won't compare this hard work of all director and crew with word garbage. But personally I found this movie so underwhelming, with high budget, star-studded actor, and moreover it's currently high-grossing film in Korea.

    • Reply
      tae1213 Oct 25, 2015 - edited

      Lyrical/ To criticize a movie I should become a directer? Your childish logic feels me sick. Just fuck off. At least I spent my money to watch this movie. What did you spend for his hard work? Illegal downloads?

    • Reply
      Lyrical Oct 25, 2015 - edited

      Just watched it free in streaming. :) Internet is a wonderful thing. You can find movies or series free to watch. Sorry if you had to spend money to watch it. You could have waited 3 days after the release and find it online free instead of go,pay and cry later cuz you didn't like it. Maybe if you watched it for free you wouln't be so upset even if you didn't like it.

  • Reply
    fadetoblack May 3, 2015


  • Reply
    Cheer Apr 7, 2015

    The all-time most-watched film in South Korea was actually great. Badass and completely absorbing. I had high expectations for this picture and wasn't disappointed.
    As usual, Choi Min Sik ahjussi was parfect as Yi Soon Shin while Ryu Seung Ryong ahjussi was absolutely badass. Although the latter's character isn't exactly like its historical counterpart.

    There were some exaggerations in the historical part. Yi Soon Shin had only 12/13 ships which is true but the Japanese navy was only 130 to 133 not 250. That's totally not true. Yi Soon Shin destroyed about 31 ships or so in historical tellings.
    Let's not forget some dramatic confrontations that never happened in real life.

    But all in all, the film was mostly faithful to real events. A Korean film with all its standards. No wonder it crashed 17.5 million tickets nationwide.

  • Reply
    realdeal Feb 17, 2015

    So that baddass Japanese villain here is the mentally challenged guy in miracle in cell 7..what an actor.

  • Reply
    Rascal Jan 23, 2015

    the subtitles on myasiantv is not good enough..

  • Reply
    AISHA Jan 18, 2015

    wow a masterpiece

  • Reply
    dore430 Jan 17, 2015

    AMAZING! SIMPLY AN AMAZING MOVIE! Everything about this movie was first rate... more like a Hollywood production than other Korean-made movies I've seen. Amazingly realistic! This is a Must See movie ...

  • Reply
    BB26 Jan 15, 2015

    I've got goosebumps all over for the past two hours... DAMNNN

  • Reply
    Ryu Jan 14, 2015 - edited

    this is a masterpiece.awesome action and story

  • Reply
    WhiteCloud Jan 4, 2015

    Great and epic movie


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Release Date:

    Jul 30, 2014
  • Duration:

    2 hr. 8 min.


  • Score:

    8.6 (scored by 783 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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