Park Hae-il, Byun Yo-han, Ahn Sung-ki, Son Hyun-joo, Kim Sung-kyu
Down through the centuries since 1592, historians of naval warfare have whistled with admiration when they utter the name of Admiral Yi Sun-sin. The Joseon-era military leader’s balance of sagacity and audacity saw him undefeated through almost two dozen battles, turning certain doom into stunning victory more than once in the Korean kingdom’s campaigns against Japanese invaders. The most famous of his exploits was the Battle of Myeongnyang, where his tiny fleet repelled an enemy tenfold or more in number. That notorious clash was the subject of 2014’s THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS, an epic of wood-on-water warfare so spectacular that it quickly became the most-watched and highest-grossing film of all time in South Korea.
Five years before the victory at Myeongnyang Strait, Admiral Yi made his name with an engagement near Hansan Island, and almost a decade after THE ADMIRAL sailed into the history books, director Kim Han-min returns with HANSAN: RISING DRAGON, the long-awaited second film in his trilogy about the national hero Yi—and it’s not one drop less of an entertainment tidal wave. Surrounded by a cast of notable Korean stars, Park Hae-il portrays Yi this time. Park has been clocking in a lot of screen hours this year, appearing also in Park Chan-wook’s DECISION TO LEAVE and in this year’s Fantasia selection HEAVEN: TO THE LAND OF HAPPINESS, with Choi Min-sik (ironically, the Admiral Yi of the first film). There are few things in life as satisfying as a well-executed big-screen demolition derby between battleships, and they don’t come any bigger, better, or wetter than HANSAN: RISING DRAGON. – Rupert Bottenberg