'The Roundup: Punishment' keeps the comedy and noir aspects in fourth 'Outlaws' film

The cast of “The Roundup: Punishment” pose for cameras in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul, on Wednesday. From left are actors Don Lee, Kim Moo-yul, Park Ji-hwan, and Lee Dong-hwi and director Heo Myeong-haeng. [NEWS1]

Local smash-hit film franchise “The Outlaws” is returning with a fourth installment in hopes of filling the empty post-Covid theaters with rolls of laughter and feels.

“‘The Roundup: Punishment’ maintains the same comedic tone beloved by the audience over the years, but has also newly incorporated some heavier action scenes and emotions,” Don Lee, the film’s lead actor and producer, said during a press conference held in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul, on Monday.

“In line with what Ma Dong-seok [Don Lee’s Korean name] said, I’m a personal fan of the noir genre and wanted to add that dark feel into the film,” director Heo Myeong-haeng said.

Heo is directing the franchise for the first time, though he has been part of the franchise’s three previous films as the martial arts choreographer. "The audience will be able to enjoy a lighter and more joyful mood as well as a noir atmosphere through the films alternating mise-en-scène.”

Poster of "The Roundup: Punishment" starring Don Lee [ABO]

The new movie is a continuation of the story of “monster cop” Ma Suk-do, played by Don Lee, who this time chases after the nation’s most notorious illegal online gambling organization headed by drug lord Baek Chang-ki, played by actor Kim Moo-yul, and cryptocurrency entrepreneur Chang Dong-cheol, played by actor Lee Dong-hwi.

It is slated for release in Korea on April 24 but is already creating a buzz following its global premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival last month. It was screened in the festival’s Special Gala category.

“I was amazed at how well-received our film was there,” Don Lee said. “I was worried that some of the humor wouldn’t translate to the English-speaking audiences, but I saw people laughing a lot and genuinely enjoying the film. I can’t wait to showcase it to Korean audiences as well.”

Don Lee talks to the press about the upcoming film "The Roundup: Punishment" on Wednesday in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. [NEWS1]

“It was a night when I felt proud to be a Korean actor,” Lee Dong-hwi said.

“Like the Berlin Wall, it felt like the language barrier crumbled down and everyone enjoyed the film together,” Kim Moo-yul said.

Kim is newly joining the franchise with high praise by Don Lee, who regularly touts Kim as the best action actor in Korea.

Don Lee, left and Kim Moo-yul talk to the press about the upcoming film "The Roundup: Punishment" on Wednesday in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul. [NEWS1]

Kim said that there was both a sense of pressure and joy when he learned that he had been cast in the film.

“I was a fan of the series since the first installment, so this is all very exciting for me especially,” he said.

“The Outlaws” franchise kicked off in 2017. Its sequel “The Roundup” came out in 2020 followed by “The Roundup: No Way Out” in 2022. The third movie garnered 12.69 million viewers in Korea alone, becoming the only domestically-produced film to have drawn more than 10 million theatergoers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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