Following up The Admiral: Roaring Currents, the naval warfare blockbuster that remains the most successful Korean film of all time, was never going to be an easy task. Yet director Kim Han-min returns to the legendary exploits of Joseon Era admiral Yi Sun-sin with a prequel story that is just as sweeping and even more focussed than the hit that spawned it.
Set in 1592, six years before the events of The Admiral: Roaring Currents, the film depicts the lead up to and Admiral Yi’s explosive exploits during the Battle of Hansan Island, when he led a small fleet against a vast Japanese armada.
In a banner year for Park Hae-il, who also leads Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave, the actor takes over the mantle of the admiral from Choi Min-sik. Portraying Admiral Yi during an earlier naval campaign in his career, which also saw him heavily outnumbered by a Japanese armada, Park imbues the historical figure with staunch solemnity.
Teeming with white knuckle tension, Hansan: Rising Dragon steers us through an impeccably realised and epic David vs Goliath struggle out in the open sea.