Hansan: Rising Dragon (2022) 

The second in a trilogy, this war epic shows the Battle of Hansan Island and the events surrounding it.  

Directed by Han-min Kim, Hansan: Rising Dragon is the follow up to The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014) and can be watched independently or in succession. The story here is very much one of war with everything from planning to the actual war. The story itself is historical, but as it is not something that is taught in schools around the world, many won’t be familiar with the facts, so it’s hard to say how close to the actual historical facts it is. That being said, the fighting is well directed and well shot.  

The cast here is strong, making one wish there were easier to find complete list of who plays who but that is sadly not the case. However, the few names easily found are Park Hae-il, Taecyeon, Yo-Han Byun, and Sung-Ki Ahn and it can easily be said that they all do good work. The acting is strong throughout the film, so props all around.  

One of the great aspects of this film is the visuals. The cinematography here is phenomenal and the visual effects are quite strong with a few moments of not-quite-on-point when watched in HD, but overall, the visuals are top notch. The cinematography, in particular, shows a carefully attention being paid to details, leading to images that are breathtaking at times. This style of filming goes throughout the film, through battles and setting up, through more personal sequences and everything else. The film really makes the most of its images through cinematography by talented hands/eyes.  

Now, onto something that is a bit glaring as one watches the film: The runtime of 2 hours and 9 minutes. Normally, a long runtime is no issue. Normally, for a war epic, it’s highly warranted, but here, it just feels much too long. The film’s pace is a massive issue. While the battles and the war and the fighting are all important, it eventually becomes monotonous and leads the viewer to stop paying attention. And at over 2 hours, there will be little to no inkling to rewind the film to catch up with the missed scenes. In fact, it’s not needed. Entire sequences can easily be skipped and the film will still make sense, which heavily indicates that it could have, and probably should have, been cut down by at least a solid 20 minutes. 

Hansan: Rising Dragon is a stunningly well-crafted film that ends up an utter bore after about 40 minutes. There’s a lot in here and some of it, like the dragon head attack ship getting tangled the first time, is absolutely fascinating to watch, but it is what’s in between these sequences that loses the interest. The mood is too even, too controlled. There should be a want, a yearning to see the battles and the wins, to see where it all goes and this all gets lost in the meanderings of the film.