[Kmovie Spotlight] Review of ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents’ (2014)

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the admiralBasic information
Title: The Admiral: Roaring Currents (명량)
Release Date: July 30, 2014
Genre: Action/ Drama
Director: Kim Han Min
Stars: Choi Min Shik, Ryu Seung Ryong, Jo Jin Woong

Although it has been two and a half years since its original release, but the impression/ memory/ impact that The Admiral: Roaring Currents had on me stills remains vivid and close to my heart OR The Admiral: Roaring Currents still has a very special place in my heart.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents tells the story of the Battle of Myeong Ryang against the Japanese invasion in 1597 under the leadership of admiral Yi Sun Sin.

Admiral Yi Sun Sin is one of the most legendary, iconic historical figures in Ancient Korean history – equivalent of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whom you learn about in every history class -. But Kim Han Min takes this story which has been retold countless times before, with a new, moving perspective.

In the following review, I have summarized three strengths and two weaknesses of the award-winning film that attracted the biggest box office revenue out of all South Korean movies.


Strength #1 Vivid depiction of both the physical and mental fight during the Japanese Invasion of Korea 1592-1598
Admiral Yi Sun Sin not only faced external struggle against foreign naval attacks, but also internal conflict as his own supporters argued and disagreed. Thus, the film not only highlights Yi’s military strategy but also his dedicated, sacrificial, and incredible leadership.

Strength #2 Fluid narrative that keeps the audience in suspense throughout the entire film
The grand orchestral soundtrack playing in the background during the battle scene adds to the intensity and emotional engagement. The setting jumps back and forth between Joseon’s leadership and Japanese leadership,, which enhances the climactic, suspenseful story telling.

Strength #3 Touching personal moments in the midst of a larger story
The relationship between Admiral Yi and his son moves the audience with the value of family and the heavy costs of war. And the sweet love story that sprouts in these harsh circumstances humanizes the war era.


Weakness #1 Lack of strong female characters
The scene in which Lee Jung Hyun, the mute woman, waves her skirt vigorously in an effort to signal danger was powerful and memorable. But it is quite disappointing that there was no other female character in the film.

Weakness #2 Meticulous historical detail leads to confusion
Korean geography, Joseon history, and military jargon definitely add complexity to the plot, but I found the high level of detail to be rather overwhelming and distracting to the central theme.

Overall, The Admiral: Roaring Currents is a must-see, especially given how culturally popular and monetarily successful it was. This is a movie that will continue to be discussed many years from now.

By Hajin Lily Yi