We all root for the underdog. It is human nature to empathise with the one battling against the odds. And even if the underdog does not manage to tilt things in his favour, we still applaud the efforts and courage shown whenever a true fight has been on display. It is this love for an underdog’s tale that has formed the basis of so many Hollywood stories, factual and fiction alike. Not surprisingly, it is also a theme common in cinema across the globe. The latest such “against the odds” story has become a sensation in South Korea. That it is based on a true inspirational story from yesteryears, simply adds to the charm of the movie.
Myeongryang or Roaring Currents is the South Korean movie that has lately taken the country by storm. The movie is based on the age-old Battle of Myeongnyang of 1597, fought between the Korean kingdom’s navy and the attacking Japanese navy. As the legend goes, around 133 Japanese warships along with 200 logistical support ships were headed in support of the advancing land army towards the Korean kingdom’s capital. Little would they have feared the partly dozen Korean ships led by Admiral Yi Sun-sin which stood in their way. But history has had a special place for valiant underdogs, and such is the story here too. In something that would remind many Hollywood enthusiasts of the movie 300: Rise of an Empire, a battle of wits and valour was fought over the fast currents of the Myeongnyang Strait, where smart strategy outclassed numerical strength. To learn a bit more on this epic war, there is this Wikipedia page to look at, or better, grab your hands on this movie, if you do enjoy the flavours of foreign cinema.
Roaring Currents has already broken a number of cinematic records in South Korea. It has surpassed the Hollywood giant Avatar to become the highest-grossing movie in the country, and has earned close to $110 million in box-office collections. Needless to say, it is the biggest earner of 2014, eclipsing another Hollywood blockbuster Frozen. Roaring Currents has sold more than 14 million tickets, which is a first in the country, and that is a big figure considering the population of the country is about 50 million. It also now holds the records for the biggest opening and biggest weekend in South Korean cinema.
And a bit on the people involved with the movie. Roaring Currents has been directed by Kim Han-min whose previous work was another period film, 2011’s War of the Arrows which had earned much critical acclaim. The actor playing Admiral Yi Sun-sin in Roaring Currents is one of the top stars of the country, Choi Min-sik, who many would remember as the protagonist of the epic South Korean film Oldboy; he even marked his English-language debut in this year’s Hollywood hit Lucy.
Roaring Currents is going to go down in the history of South Korean cinema as an epic film. More importantly, it acts as a reminder of the fascinating battle fought in the lost pages of history which deserves to be rekindled time and again. Tales like these are after all the inspiration that makes the human race persevere against all odds. Lovers of cinema, for whom language acts as no barrier, keep your eyes open for Roaring Currents!