The numbers are in and apparently “Myeongryang: Roaring Currents” will be the most successful Korean film made to date with admissions rates estimated to be well over 14 million after just 18 days of release. The previous record was James Cameron’s “Avatar” in 2009 which had about 13.62 million admissions total, thus Roaring Currents will, excuse the expression, blow Avatar out of the water. So far, the film has brought in gross receipts of W109.7 billion for CJ Entertainment.
(Image from Soopi.com)
Sure, a competently done movie about Korea’s greatest hero fighting a near impossible battle against that perennial Korean enemy the Japanese would certainly expect to do well. It would appear that most critics believe the special effects to be quite good, even by Hollywood standards, however those same critics also believe the movie to have a healthy dose of nationalism. At least one Korean critic lambasted the movie for overly playing to nationalistic heart strings. However, the movie’s success may not be attributed to nationalism alone as some critics believe that the Korean population’s need for something inspirational after the Sewol disaster may be driving some of its admissions.
One half-Korean viewer took exception to the fact that many of the characters (both Korean and Japanese) took on familiar one dimensional caricatures. Commander Bae Seol (who deserted Admiral Yi a day before the battle) was portrayed by an actor who had an untrustworthy ferret face. The Japanese were, predictably a bit evil and/or crazy looking. Admiral Yi, predictably was appropriately heroic, serious and savior-like.
(Image from FilmsMash.com)
Out of all the articles I read about the film I thought the interview with an historian on the film’s inaccuracies was most interesting. Anyways, I saw the movie last week and I thought it was all right. To me it wasn’t any less nationalistic than say Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” or both the “300” movies. The battle scenes were competently done and exciting in my opinion. Listen, let’s not kid ourselves here. I agree with Jay Seaver over at eFilmCritic.com. It’s not going to be Academy Award winning material nor is it going to be a completely accurate historical documentary. It’s going to be crafted as an effects-laden crowd-pleaser and like “The Patriot” or “300,” historical license is going to be taken.