the roundup no way out

Detective Ma Seok-do, the fist-hander, is back in action for the third time through The Roundup: No Way Out. Now the “Crime City” trilogy is complete, after the success of The Outlaw (2017) and The Roundup (2022). No Way Out is still being worked on by filmmaker Lee Sang-yong and produced by the star Ma-Dong-seok alias Don Lee. With the support of the same filmmakers and cast, can this film match the success of the previous series?

Starting from a murder investigation, Detective Ma Seok-do (Don Lee) now has to deal with local and Japanese gangsters distributing a new drug type. With his characteristic investigative and interrogation style, Det. Ma and his colleagues are trying to dismantle this entire network of illicit drugs down to their roots. The trouble is the police themselves are involved in this lucrative illegal business.

One big reason people are watching this is the figure of the charismatic actor Ma Dong-seok aka Don Lee (his character’s name is similar to “Ma Seok-do”). It didn’t take long for the audience to see how mighty the detective’s fists were. Wherever the character goes, not one criminal escapes his deadly punch. As before, a tough and brutal figure who becomes a rival is presented, and now there’s not just one. The more challenging the opponent, the more satisfied we are to see our heroes with their actions. Guaranteed, the fans of the star will be delighted.

From a story perspective, the plot line is close to the previous two series, which involved a full investigation from the detective. The story moves from one character to another to provoke the tension side of the story. Both the action and investigation sides are equally fascinating. Even though it is clear that the audience is waiting for the action side, the comedic inserts provide a touch of humor that makes the drama aspect far from boring. The only weakness is the story’s direction, which is not difficult to anticipate, especially for viewers who are already fluent with the previous two series.

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The Roundup: No Way Out still relies on the actor’s charisma through his fist fights with typical gangster plots similar to before. The figure of Don Lee is indeed reminiscent of the figure of the matchless actor Steven Seagal in his golden era in the 1990s. But unlike Lee, Seagal is a godlike fighter who hardly ever scratches in his films. It would’ve been phenomenal if these two figures were pitted in that era. One mid-credits scene gives a hint that there will be a sequel in the future. Anyone who enjoys the detective’s actions will enthusiastically look forward to it.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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