The Roundup: No Way Out (2023) 

On Blu-ray and 4K UHD April 9, 2024, from Capelight Pictures 

Taking place 7 years after the first film, this sequel takes the loved-against-all-odds detective and sets him up with a new band of misfits to investigate a murder. 

Written by Kim Min-Sung and directed by Lee Sang-yong, this sequel is one that is easy enough to follow to watch it without seeing the first. Of course, it helps, but it’s not necessary. The story here is almost a standalone one, skipping a few bits of details here and there as they should be known to those who have seen the first, but nothing major that would hinder following the action and enjoying the film. The sequel aspect here does influence the story a little bit and leads to the story being a bit repetitive if you look only at story beats and how it is built around its star and his capabilities. Overall, the story has enough twists and turns that work, some surprises, and plenty fun for cast and viewers alike. The direction works here, keeping the film coherent and moving.  

The cast here is led by Ma Dong-seok (aka Don Lee) who does what he does best here, punch people, hard, to get them to tell him what he wants to know. He’s also a decent actor, so don’t let that reputation fool you. His acting here is as expected, solid for the material, but not exactly Oscar-worthy, but Oscar-worthy is not what most of the audience will come to this film for. The film makes great use of his skills, and he does the most ouf of the part. The rest of the cast is good enough, but to be honest, they are very much interchangeable with the cast of the first one. This is not to say they aren’t talented because they are, but somewhere between their performances and how their characters are written, it’s made clear this is not a starring vehicle for them, but one for Lee. To this point, a few days after watching the film, it is difficult to remember specifics of each character and performance beyond Mr. Lee. 

On the technical side, the film is shot really well, well edited, it’s dynamic, the look is just right, allowing the audience to see a great majority of everything (with a few moments where the editing gets a little “extra”). It’s a solid film in terms of general filmmaking skills, showing why Korea has become a solid source for action films and films in general for many cinephiles. 

The Roundup: No Way Out is a fun action film with some bits of drama here and there to try and make it more than just a beatdown by one character on all the others. The story is decent, can stand alone without the first film easily, and one that is fun to watch. The direction works and so does the editing. The performances are not all memorable, but the lead is solid, and this movie is all about him after all.