Needless to say, I’m not an expert on 16th-century Korean War history, but if “Hansan: Rising Dragon” is anything close to what happened back in those days then perhaps I should be.
In 2014, a film called “The Admiral: Roaring Currents” was released to be the first of a long trilogy by writer and director Kim Han-min. Eight years later, we finally got the second film of the series with “Hansan: Rising Dragon.” Based on the career of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the film focused on the Battle of Hansan Island in which You proved himself and made his reputation.
In the year 1592, two navy admirals from opposing fleets engaged each other in battle. Yi Soon Shin (Park Hae-il) leads the Korean navy fleet while Wakizaka (Byon Yo-han) leads the invading Japanese fleet.
“Hansan: Rising Dragon” is an absolute spectacle of a movie. The film’s three-part act is clear and defined. The first act of the film focuses on the setup of the conflict between the Japanese in the Korean Naval forces. After suffering a major loss in the sea to the Korean battleships, Japan is preparing an attack that’s going to put the Korean leaders in danger. While the Korean side has the most effective ships in the fleet, they are completely outnumbered by their Japanese counterparts.
Their only plan of attack is to cut off the Japanese Fleet and ambush them, but if things go wrong, the Koreans are looking at a massive Slaughter. The second act of the film revolves around the planning stage of the attack. Internal politics and a number of Japanese spies have caused a massive amount of conflict within the Korean ranks and leads to leaders questioning their loyalty to the war.
The final act of the film is where we get to the spectacle, a massive all-out war on the sea that is visually engaging and stunning for audiences. Not to mention that the scale of this battle was done with a budget of only 24 million dollars American. The production values of “Hansan: Rising Dragon” are stellar from its CGI, choreography, and cinematography. The costume designer of this film is very impressive and draws a lot of comparisons to the 2018 film Rampant which was one of my top 10 best movies from that year.
While not on the cinematic level of modern war films such as Dunkirk or 1917 due to its characters’ presentation flaws, what the film lacks is one-dimensional characters it gains in tension and excitement throughout the course of the story.
Kim Han-min has a knack for over-the-top wartime spectacles and it is a shame that many theaters here in the United States don’t have the opportunity to see this film in IMAX in 4DX because its visual storytelling is just what those formats desperately need.
“Hansan: Rising Dragon” Is an all-around Stellar film and is certainly a top pick for the year. you may not have too long to go watch a movie theater so instead of wasting your time watching Thor Love and Thunder, watch a film that accomplishes one of the best visual spectacles this year with only 1/10th of a Disney budget.