Roaring currents tells the story of one of the greatest naval battles in the history of Korea, when in 1592, during the Japanese invasion, 12 ships, under the command of the admiral Yi Sun-Sin, had won against the Japanese fleet of 300.
As unbelievable as it sounds, the movie is showing us, step by step, how the victory had been achieved. Avoiding the Hollywood cliches of love triangles aka Pearl Harbour film focuses solely on the battle and its strategy, and through action introducing us to the admiral Yi Sun-Sin and various other characters. Roaring currents is not a biopic, and maybe this is the reason it makes such a compelling viewing. There are barely any subplots, the movie only showing us one battle and its course. The characters are only important as the course of the battle. Surprisingly they are well developed. As we decide whether we like them on not, basing on their actions, it makes us learn about them and recognise them quicker than if we had a lengthy backstory.
The Japanese invaders are not shown as particularly infernal, but they are a smug enemy, too sure in themselves for their own good.
The visual effects in the movie look fantastic, and even the fleet of 300 ships is as real as it can possibly be on the wide screen. The scenes on water are the most expensive and difficult ones to shoot, the water in CGI also usually looks terrible. While I am sure GREEN SCREEN had been used in many scenes, the movie avoided the ugliness it is known for, with the light and the backgrounds looking natural and realistic.
ROARING CURRENTS is full of action, but it is the sentimental messages about conquest of fear that gets under your skin. Without barely a love storyline in this war film, I could see a few ladies in the theatre wiping their faces. This may be a boys kind of movie, but will also appeal to the girls if given a chance.
The soundtrack is rich and intense and will surely make for good stand alone listening.
Unlike many Koreans films THE ROARING CURRENTS does not experiment with the genre and does not run for long. It has an intelligent and concise screenplay which is nearly perfect for what it is designed to achieve - create an eye popping spectacle and memorable characters through action.
ROARING CURRENTS was the very first film in South Korea that had grossed 100 million USD - five times its modest budget, maybe because it has a great repeat viewing value. A modern viewer had seen all the spectacles in the world, so the value now is in a good script. ROARING CURRENTS is this kind of a movie.