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The Roundup: Punishment

Format(s) Available
Opening Date
01 May 2024
NC16 Violence
103 mins
Korean with English & Chinese subtitles
Action, Crime
Heo Myeong-haeng
Don Lee, Kim Moo-yul, Park Ji-hwan, Lee Dong-hwi
Monster Cop Ma Seok-do (Don LEE) investigates an illegal online gambling business led by a former STS – Baek (KIM Moo-yul) and an IT genius CEO – Chang (LEE Dong-hwi), Ma proposes an unexpected alliance to Jang (PARK Ji-hwan) and begins hunting down the criminals.
By InCinemas  26 Apr 2024
109 minutes of epic action-packed entertainment.
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The Roundup: Punishment, the fourth instalment of the popular fun-filled crime action franchise, sees Don Lee back as Detective Ma Seok Do, who remains our lovable teddy-bear punching tornado, fighting more crimes. Directed by Heo Myung-haeng, the film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, which is a first for a Korean series film to be featured in the Berlinale Special Gala, depicts an intense crackdown on a massive illegal online gambling operation.
To-date we have seen Detective Ma and his tight-knit Metro Investigations squad battled triads from Mainland China, Vietnamese robbers and kidnappers and Japanese Yakuza in previous films. This time, the story kicks off with the brutal murder of a young Korean national in Philippines, which causes Detective Ma and squad to be drawn into investigating an online gambling racket run through the Philippines. Reuniting with the team is Jang I-soo (Park Ji-hwan), a petty hoodlum with a strange attachment to his designer Gucci man-purse “and driven by his secret desire to be a member of the detective squad, which Ma exploits hilariously throughout the film. The chemistry between Ma and Jang is so wonderfully charming and arguably one of the highlights of the film.
The compelling love-to-hate villains are IT genius CEO Jang Dong-chul (Lee Dong-hwi), who is not content with the zillions he rakes in which is laundered through his casino empire, is working to launch his own cryptocurrency.   Running the casino operation for Jang is Baek Chang-ki (Kim Moo-yeol) a former mercenary who is a cold-blooded blade happy sicko. Baek is ruthless and his methods to ensure their monopoly over the casino business include kidnapping IT nerds to forcefully make them work round the clock and mercilessly eradicating competition who dares to set up shop. 
The cinematography is spot-on, and the fight scenes are incredible. Heo Myeong-haeng, being an established stunt coordinator and efficient action director, creates plenty of highly stylised fighting scenes, much bloodier and more up-close and personal than simply using guns. The camera effectively captures and exploit the speed of Don Lee’s movements and his stoic expressions, as well as the incredible martial arts skills which the dozens of combatants bring to the table. It is a testament to the expert fight choreography that we believe each time detective Ma’s punch sends a bad guy flying through a wall or windshield. There is plenty of blood and gore to satisfy everyone without any direct showing of sliced open jugulars or huge gaping wounds. 
On the lighter comic side, our endearing Detective Ma, being a befuddled digital dinosaur with little or no understanding of digital technology, provides plenty of laughter at his expense. One running joke was his misunderstanding of “cloud” storage of data as “crowd” and imagines a lot of people will somehow be involved in the process of copying his contacts to a new phone. After adding a couple of members from the Cybercrime Unit, Detective Ma can settle down to errands more in his wheelhouse, ala Dirty Harry-style but with two fists instead of a magnum where he rips gates off their hinges and pummels the baddies to a pulp. He is adamant in bringing the perpetrator to justice as he had made a promise to the understandably devastated mother of the murdered Korean man who was enslaved by Baek. 
The Roundup: Punishment is 109 minutes of epic action-packed entertainment and is a film well-crafted with humour in an easy-to-follow story line. I have become a huge fan of Don Lee as he is perfect as Detective Ma, a perpetual bull in a china shop, smashing and breaking but with a loveable softie side. I am definitely looking forward to more punches from Detective Ma Seok Do in his next butt-kicking adventure!
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