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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 7, 2023



“THE ROUNDUP” (also known as “Crime City”) is a Korean action thriller series that started in 2017. 

It was a hit, so a sequel was made last year and it’s an even bigger hit as the number one movie in Korea in 2022. So it’s not surprising that they’ve now quickly come up with a Part 3, “The Round Up: No Way Out”. 

And the franchise goes on as a Part 4 is now being made, titled “The Round Up: Punishment”, to be released in 2024. 

All the movies star Korean action star Ma Dong Seok (also known for his western name, Don Lee) who has his own loyal fans. 

He plays the lead role of Detective Ma Seok-do, whose mission is to hunt down ruthless criminals. 

In the first movie, he is caught in the turf war of rival Chinese-Korean gangs in Seoul’s Chinatown. 

In the second one, Detective Ma is assigned to go to Vietnam to extradite a criminal. 

But while he is there, he encounters the vicious killings of some Korean tourists by a deadly murderer (a plotline said to be based on the true story of some Koreans being kidnapped in the Philippines.)

The new movie is a pretty generic serving of action, car chase scenes, violent physical fights. 

It’s all spiced up with comedy and screwball type of gags to achieve a certain level of fun, with some compelling new villains thrown into the crowd pleasing recipe that obviously works for its writer and director. 

Ma is an uncouth gentle giant of a good cop who won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to take out the bad guys. 

As an action hero, he has no qualms about breaking the bones of thugs and body slamming them like they’re big beach balls thrown into walls, windows, etc. The best word used to describe this is the local term "bardagulan".

He might look intimidating with his hulking figure but he can be quite charming as he all he wants to do is just arrest thugs and doesn’t really want to beat up people knowing he can really hurt them easily.

He is also a no-nonsense law enforcer who doesn’t waste time explaining himself and what he does to his colleagues or his foes. 

He just doesn’t give a hoot to all those procedural red tapes imposed on cops that only impede them from doing their jobs in a jiffy.

One of the antagonists is a Japanese yakuza hitman, Ricky (Munetaka Aoki), who is sent to get an addictive new club drug called Hiper from their double-dealing Korean partner called the White Shark Clan. 

Ma finds out that the clan is under the protection of a corrupt cop, Lee Jun-hyuk as Joo Song-chu, who is very brutal and a really terrifying villain.

In his first scene, he is shown beating up another cop to death with a crowbar. 

The movie shifts from hilarious to violently gruesome scenes. In one scene, Ma wind up in a sex hotel with a rotating bed, played for laughs, followed by the Yakuza mercilessly tormenting and executing a traitor. 

Then we see Ma in a brawl, punching a thug so hard that the poor fellow can’t help but poop. This is juxtaposed with a scene where the bad guys torture then kill an innocent cop. 

It’s a delicate line to walk on but somehow, they manage to make it work as the pacing and the tone zip along and the cast does a pretty solid job. 

It all comes together into a neat package that accomplishes what it sets out to do and accomplishes it well.