Last Thursday, I was invited to a special prescreening of CJ Entertainment‘s newest release, The Admiral: Roaring Currents, sponsored by KCCLA (Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles) and CJEntertainment America. It’s rare that a movie can grab my attention so completely, but this truly epic movie has!
Let me say this now before I delve any further into the review of the movie: If you are able to see the movie, go see it!
It’s THAT. GOOD.
Title: The Admiral: Roaring Currents
Release Date: August 15, 2014 (in select cities across North America) and July 30, 2014 (in South Korea)
Director: Kim Han Min
Cast: Choi Min Sik, Ryu Seung Ryong, Cho Jin Woong, Kim Myung Gon, Jin Gu, and Lee Jung Hyun
Running Time: 127 minutes
Rating: Not rated (Beware of violence associated with war.)
Synopsis: The year is 1597, and the small peninsula of Korea (during the Joseon Dynasty) is under its sixth year of attacks from Imperial Japan. Legendary Admiral Yi Sun Shin has just been released from brutal interrogation and torture to be reinstated as admiral of what remains of Joseon Korea’s “navy,” a mere 12 battleships. In the ensuing days and nights leading up to the historic Battle of Myeong Nyang, one of the world’s greatest naval battles, Admiral Yi Sun Shin fights forces from within and from without to clearly show what the human spirit is capable of and how something utterly impossible can become so humanly possible. Demonstrating unprecedented daring and vision, Admiral Yi Sun Shin personifies the best of the enduring human spirit as he shoulders the burdens of his country and never wavers from his abiding love for and loyalty to his country, regardless of the apparent worthlessness of its king and its people.
Some may argue that it’s difficult to ruin a movie when the subject matter is as great as the life and character of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, but I’ve seen dramatizations of far more famous historical figures flounder and flop as B-rated independent movies.
Thankfully, The Admiral: Roaring Current is most definitely not one of those unfortunate efforts and instead does its subject matter proud, mainly due to the painstaking efforts of its skilled director and superb staff and all-star cast, in particular famed actors Choi Min Sik and Ryu Seung Ryong.
But more than anything else, what resonates and lingers with the viewer long after the movie’s end is the sheer humanity of the man Yi Sun Shin and the steel-like resolve of the admiral Yi Sun Shin. We are treated to glimpses of the heavy burdens that must have weighed on Yi Sun Shin’s soul. In one incident, he is awakened in the middle of the night to hallucinations of dead sailors who had served under him and now commission him to avenge them. As admiral, Yi Sun Shin is forced to contend with harrowing assassination attempts, sheer intimidating odds of defending his country against a naval attack by 330 battleships, demoralizing insubordination in the midst of battle, etc.
Throughout all of this, what centers him is his clear vision and understanding of his role in persevering his country and how humankind thinks and acts. This keen understanding of the human spirit is probably one of the admiral’s greatest strengths.
Needless to say, there is much more that I plan to say about this movie in the weeks and months to come, but suffice it to say that if you see any movie in 2014, this is THE movie to watch. And I would highly recommend watching it on the big screen/theaters. In fact, I plan on taking my father to see this movie next Sunday; it’s so good that I don’t mind a second viewing…and possibly a third, fourth, fifth….
Like the sword that Admiral Yi Sun Shin wielded so masterfully during his lifetime, his words of wisdom that have transcended time now sharply pierce our dulled minds and spirits, urging us to live greater lives, dream bigger dreams, and hope for better things.
In short, the movie immortalizes a man whose spirit is, for all intent and purposes, now immortal.
*Photo and video are credited to CJ Entertainment.