The Admiral: Roaring Currents

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The Admiral: Roaring Currents
Battle of Myeongryang poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Revised RomanizationMyeongryang
Directed byKim Han-min
Produced byKim Han-min
Written byJeon Chul-hong
Kim Han-min
StarringChoi Min-sik
Ryu Seung-ryong
Cho Jin-woong
Music byKim Tae-seong
CinematographyKim Tae-seong
Edited byKim Chang-ju
Big Stone Pictures
Distributed byCJ Entertainment
Release date
  • July 30, 2014 (2014-07-30)
Running time
127 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
BudgetUS$18.6 million
Box officeUS$138.3 million

The Admiral: Roaring Currents (Korean명량; Hanja鳴梁; RRMyeongryang), or simply The Admiral, is a 2014 South Korean epic action-war film directed and co-written by Kim Han-min. Based on the historical Battle of Myeongnyang, it stars an ensemble cast led by Choi Min-sik as the Korean naval commander Yi Sun-sin.[1][2][3] The film was released theatrically in South Korea on July 30, 2014.

The film recorded 10 million admissions only 12 days after its premiere and set a record for achieving such a high number of viewers in the shortest amount of time. The movie also surpassed Avatar’s record of 13 million viewers to become the most-watched and highest-grossing film of all time in South Korea with 17.6 million admissions and a worldwide gross of US$138.3 million.[4][5][6]


The film revolves around the titular Battle of Myeongnyang around 1597, which is regarded as one of legendary Joseon Admiral Yi Sun-sin's most remarkable naval victories. He led only 12 ships, which remained in his command, to a heroic victory against an invading Japanese fleet of 333 vessels.[7]

At the onset of the battle at their base in Haenam, the Japanese invaders under Tōdō Takatora are confident that their planned expedition to Hansong to capture King Seonjo will meet with success. However, they remain reserved over the news that Joseon's greatest admiral, Yi Sun-sin, has been restored to his former command after the disaster at Chilcheollyang, which has reduced the Korean navy to a mere dozen battle-ready ships. To ensure the success of the operation, Hideyoshi sends one of his finest naval war leaders to Joseon, Kurushima Michifusa, the commander of the Murakami Clan Navy and an expert in naval combat, but he, enjoys a shaky reputation among his fellow daimyō as a pirate. One of the admirals of the Japanese Left Army, Wakizaka, first meets Kurushima and his lieutenant, Kimura, while he finishes off the remnants of a group of Joseon soldiers. He especially distrusts Kurushima and draws his sword on him several times, especially after the latter insults him by shaming his defeat at Hansan Island. Later, Kurushima and Haru, his sharpshooter, drink sake as Kurushima elaborates on his personal vendetta against Yi Sun-sin, stating that his brother Michiyuki had been killed by the latter earlier in the war.

In the meantime, Yi Sun-sin is facing the despair mounting among his officers and troops. Facing an enemy force that far outnumbers them and seeing no reasonable chance of success in the inevitable clash even with one single turtle ship remaining, many consider the fight lost before it has even started. Despite his outwardly-indifferent demeanor, Yi is hard-pressed to maintain morale among his men and desperate to find a solution for his problem. However, the breaking point seems reached when General Bae Seol, the deserter of Chilcheollyang, burns the turtle ship and has his men try to assassinate Yi. Although Yi escapes, and Bae is killed for his act of treachery, the ship is lost, which boots confidence among the Japanese and further dispirits Yi's troops. To seek an answer, Yi travels to the Myeongnyang Strait, an area notorious for its strong and treacherous currents, which the Japanese intend to cross on their way to Hansong. Later, he confides in his son Hoe that to win the fight, he must turn the fear paralyzing his men into courage. Upon hearing that the departure of the Japanese attack fleet is imminent, Yi abandons his base and moves to Usuyeong after burning the naval facilities to the ground.

The next morning, Yi's fleet arrives in the strait and is shortly met by the Japanese, who are using the morning tide to move into the channel, with Kurushima leading the avantgarde force. Yi engages Kurushima's fleet in battle, but as the other Korean commanders are still hesitant to involve themselves, Yi's flagship is quickly surrounded and attacked by boarding parties. In the apparently-hopeless situation, Yi commands several cannons to be fired from the rower deck's port hatches in a concentrated volley by using their recoil to blast the ship free of its encirclement. As Yi has hoped, that bold act of survival inspires the rest of his countrymen to take the fight to the enemy.

When the tide turns and forms a whirlpool in the middle of the channel, thus solidifying Yi's defensive position, Kurushima orders an all-out attack with the rest of his ships. Despite the efforts of Haru and a ship loaded with black powder charges, the renewed courage of the Koreans prevails though heavy sacrifices are made. Kurushima's now-desperate situation is observed by Todo, who merely laughs at Katō's suggestion of reinforcing him. Kurushima, realizing that he is now on his own, boards the Korean flagship but is decapitated by Yi himself after he takes several arrows from Korean archers, and his head is hung from the tip of the ship's mast.

When Yi's ship itself is caught in the whirlpool, his civilian navy servants and local fishermen courageously drag the vessel back to safety. Joined by the rest of the fleet, Yi leads a counterattack, which deals the Japanese forces a crushing blow, forces them into retreat, and leaves the Koreans triumphant. The film ends with the reminiscence to the first encounter of the Japanese with the turtle ship in 1592.

Historical background[edit]

In the 16th century, General Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan, and the long civil war in Japan was ended. At that time, most Koreans did not think about any possibility of invasion from Japan and ignored its readiness for war. Therefore, the army and the navy except for Admiral Yi Sun Sin were not prepared for any invasion from Japan. Only Admiral Yi Sun Sin prepared for a war against Japan by building up ships and developing weapons. In 1592, the Imjin War broke out when Japan invaded Korea. From the beginning of the war, the Japanese army, which were well experienced as a result of their civil war, were easily defeating the Korean army and quickly advancing to the north. However, at sea, Admiral Yi Sun Sin's Joseon Navy destroyed the Japanese naval fleets in many consecutive battles and so the Japanese navy's advance to the west and the north was frustrated, and Japanese supply lines on sea routes were not open at all.

However, in 1597, due to a Japanese espionage plot and political conspiracy in the Korean royal court, Admiral Yi Sun Sin was imprisoned by the Korean government and another admiral (Won Gyun) was appointed to command the Korean navy. Admiral Won, in his first and last naval engagement, attacked the Japanese navy but was seriously defeated by Japan and lost most of the warships, more than 200 of them. Won was killed in action.

After that defeat, the Korean government released Yi and put him back in the position of admiral, but the fleet consisted of only 12 warships because of the prior defeat. The Korean government suggested that Yi forgo sea warfare and join any land-based battle. However, Yi believed that he should instead prevent the Japanese navy from advancing via the sea. He knew that not everything consisted in the number of ships, but a correct strategy would give him the victory although he did not count on the support of his men. He did not let himself be overcome and he overcame the fear. In October 1597, a Japanese fleet of 330 ships tried to attack the small Korean fleet of 12 ships.

As the Japanese moved toward the Korean fleet, Admiral Yi enticed the Japanese fleet to a long and narrow strait with a fast and strong current. He also hampered the Japanese fleet's navigating by blocking the strait with steel chains. (Whether that actually happened is uncertain.) Therefore, many Japanese ships were gathered and stuck in the narrow strait, as the tide turned.

The cannons on Korean warships outside the strait bombarded the Japanese ships. The Japanese fleet, having lost more than 31 warships, retreated to the east, and it finally gave up advancing toward the west by sea.[8]




Country Date Released Release title
South Korea[11] 30 July 2014 명량
US 15 August 2014 The Admiral
Vietnam 5 September 2014 Myeong-ryang
Netherlands 12 April 2015 Myeong-ryang
Germany 20 July 2015 The Admiral : Roaring Currents
Japan 12 August 2015 バトル・オーシャン 海上決戦
("Battle Ocean Kaijō Kessen")
Philippines 2 September Myeong-ryang
Germany (extended version) 14 March 2016 Myeong-ryang
Brazil August 2014 O Almirante: Correntes Furiosas


  • CJ Entertainment (2014) (Korea) (theatrical)[12]
  • Big Stone Picture (2014) (Korea) (theatrical)
  • Cj Entertainment (2014) (Korea) (theatrical)
  • CJ CGV Viet Nam (2014) (Vietnam) (theatrical)
  • CJ Entertainment America (2014) (USA) (theatrical)
  • CJ Entertainment America (2014) (USA) (theatrical) (subtitled)
  • CJ Entertainment (2014) (Worldwide) (theatrical)
  • Min Gyo Tour (2014) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Viva International Pictures (2015) (Philippines) (theatrical)
  • Madman Entertainment (2015) (Australia) (DVD)
  • New KSM (2015) (Germany) (DVD)
  • Twin Co. Ltd. (2015) (Japan) (DVD)


Film Festival
13th Firenze Korea Film Festival (2015)[13]
19th Busan International Film Festival (2014)
2nd Silk-Road International Film Festival (2015)


Box office[edit]

South Korea[edit]

The Admiral: Roaring Currents drew 682,882 viewers on its first day in theaters on July 30, 2014, grossing US$4.77 million. This was the all-time highest opening day box office in South Korea, for both a foreign and domestic film, breaking the previous record set by Kundo: Age of the Rampant.[14][15] It went on to set other new records: highest opening weekend, with 3.35 million admissions (US$25.94 million), surpassing Transformers: Dark of the Moon's record of 2.37 million (set in 2011) by 41%; biggest single day for a film in South Korean history with 1.25 million admissions (US$9.71 million); the first time that a film generated over ₩10 billion in a single day; and the quickest film to reach 10 million admissions.[16][17][18][19]

By August 15, The Admiral: Roaring Currents became the all-time most-watched film in South Korea, breaking the previous record held by Hollywood blockbuster Avatar (13.62 million). By August 17, it became the first film to sell more than 14 million tickets in South Korean theaters and the first domestic film to exceed the US$100 million mark.[4][20][21] At 17,607,820 admissions,[22] it has grossed US$132 million in South Korea.[23]

Korean Box Office Chart : [1][edit]

Date Number of Screen Number of play Income Viewers Total Income Total Viewers Ranking
First day(07/30) 1,159 6,147 4,708,879,000 682,701 4,881,110,000 705,201 1
Second day(07/31) 1,202 6,258 5,243,409,900 705,070 10,124,519,900 1,410,271 1
Third day(08/01) 1,300 6,699 6,918,410,307 867,437 17,042,930,207 2,277,708 1
Fourth day (08/02) 1,494 7,605 9,826,541,209 1,232,529 26,869,471,416 3,510,237 1
Fifth day(08/03) 1,587 7,963 10,031,212,500 1,257,380 36,900,683,916 4,767,617 1
Sixth day(08/04) 1,443 7,551 7,455,501,400 990,022 44,356,185,316 5,757,639 1
Seventh day(08/05) 1,507 7,779 6,511,760,400 869,153 50,867,945,716 6,626,792 1
Eighth day(08/06) 1,221 6,788 5,273,445,400 702,887 56,141,391,116 7,329,679 1
Ninth day(08/07) 1,239 6,776 4,892,511,700 652,776 61,033,902,816 7,982,455 1
Tenth day(08/08) 1,278 7,026 5,493,530,692 690,123 66,527,433,508 8,672,578 1

Regional Total Viewers and Income [2][edit]

Region Number of Screen Total Income Total Viewers
Gyeonggi-Do 360 31,089,294,900 (22.9%) 4,051,862 (23.0%)
Gangwon-Do 51 3,651,401,100 (2.7%) 485,685 (2.8%)
Chungcheongbuk-Do 61 3,653,185,700 (2.7%) 497,938 (2.8%)
Chungcheongnam-Do 52 4,117,556,000 (3.0%) 550,058 (3.1%)
Gyeongsangbuk-Do 73 4,971,368,900 (3.7%) 631,366 (3.6%)
Gyeongsangnam-Do 103 7,991,499,700 (5.9%) 1,043,045 (5.9%)
Jeollabuk-do 60 4,333,219,300 (3.2%) 581,423 (3.3%)
Jeollanam-do 39 2,814,587,500 (2.1%) 399,688 (2.3%)
Jeju 22 1,457,782,500 (1.1%) 191,760 (1.1%)
Busan 128 10,646,578,200 (7.8%) 1,384,083 (7.9%)
Daegu 112 7,925,679,600 (5.8%) 1,017,360 (5.8%)
Daejeon 43 4,782,608,000 (3.5%) 628,648 (3.6%)
Ulsan 28 3,066,071,200 (2.3%) 382,935 (2.2%)
Incheon 76 7,082,728,000 (5.2%) 902,944 (5.1%)
Gwangju 73 4,834,892,500 (3.6%) 671,037 (3.8%)
Sejong 5 209,480,000 (0.2%) 30,367 (0.2%)
Seoul 301 33,125,286,210 (24.4%) 4,164,840 (23.6%)


It opened in limited release across 30 theaters in North America, beginning August 15, 2014.[24] Due to favorable reviews from critics and moviegoers, it expanded to 42 theaters on its second week, and its first week gross of US$1.18 million surpassed the previous record held by Masquerade (US$923,442) as the highest-grossing film directly distributed by a South Korean distributor.[25] The film has grossed CN¥26.53 million in China,[26] US$2,589,811 in the United States,[27] and US$138.3 million internationally.[28]

Critical response[edit]


  • Naval battle scene
    • Korean Economies' Song Ji-hyun said, "61 minutes of naval battle scene was not boring at all."[29]
    • Seoul Economies' Choi Su-moon said, "[b]y only showing navy's efforts not chains, like a theory from historians, it upgraded the movie's quality."[30]
    • Heo Ji-woong, in Seol Jeon, said that "61 minutes of naval battle scene is hard to figure out in Hollywood, and it was great."[31]
  • Amazing casts and acting ability
    • SBS funE's Kim Ji-hye said, "[n]ice casting and amazing acting ability upgraded the movie's quality. Actors feelings were well delivered."[32]


  • No-cut News' Kim Hyun-shik said, "[b]ecause it only followed history, there is no impact, although there are romance going on."[33]
  • MBN Yoo Myung-joon said that "[t]he movie was so focused on Korean navy, especially Yi Sun-sin, and Japanese navy seemed insignificant."[34]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
23rd Buil Film Awards[35]
Best Film The Admiral: Roaring Currents Won
Best Director Kim Han-min Nominated
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lee Jung-hyun Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Tae-seong Won
Best Art Direction Jang Choon-seob Won
Best Music Kim Tae-seong Nominated
Asia Star Awards[36][37]
Actor of the Year Choi Min-sik Won
34th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards[38]
Best Actor Won
Best Art Direction Jang Choon-seob Won
Critics' Top 10 The Admiral: Roaring Currents Won
51st Grand Bell Awards[39][40][41][42][43]
Best Film Won
Best Director Kim Han-min Nominated
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Won
Best Cinematography Kim Tae-seong Nominated
Best Lighting Kim Gyeong-seok Nominated
Best Art Direction Jang Choon-seob Nominated
Best Costume Design Kwon Yu-jin, Im Seung-hee Nominated
Best Music Kim Tae-seong Nominated
Technical Award Yun Dae-won (special effects) Won
Best Planning Kim Han-min Won
35th Blue Dragon Film Awards[44]
Best Film The Admiral: Roaring Currents Nominated
Best Director Kim Han-min Won
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Tae-seong Nominated
Best Lighting Kim Gyeong-seok Nominated
Best Art Direction Jang Choon-seob Nominated
Best Music Kim Tae-seong Nominated
Technical Award Yun Dae-won (special effects) Nominated
Audience Choice Award for Most Popular Film The Admiral: Roaring Currents Won
6th KOFRA Film Awards[45]
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Won
10th Max Movie Awards
Best Film The Admiral: Roaring Currents Won
Best Director Kim Han-min Nominated
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Won
Best Supporting Actor Ryu Seung-ryong Nominated
Best Trailer The Admiral: Roaring Currents Nominated
Best Poster Nominated
20th Chunsa Film Art Awards[46]
Best Director (Grand Prix) Kim Han-min Nominated
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Nominated
Technical Award Choi Tae-young (sound) Won
9th Asian Film Awards[47]
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Nominated
51st Baeksang Arts Awards[48][49]
Grand Prize (Daesang) for Film Won
Best Film The Admiral: Roaring Currents Nominated
Best Actor Choi Min-sik Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Lee Jung-hyun Nominated


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  2. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (30 June 2014). "Joseon's war hero back on screen: Choi Min-sik's Roaring Currents retraces 16th century maritime battle against Japan". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  3. ^ Chung, Joo-won (19 June 2014). "Choi Min-sik, Ryu Seung-ryong pose for Roaring Currents". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  4. ^ a b Lee, Hyo-won (17 August 2014). "South Korean Box Office: Roaring Currents Beats Avatar to Become Biggest Film of All Time". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-08-19.
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  32. ^ 김지혜, Jihae Kim. "[리뷰] '명량', 이순신을 되살려낸 김한민·최민식의 정공법 [Review] 'Roaring Current', standard tactics of Hanmin Kim·Minshik Choi brought back Lee Soonshin back to life". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  33. ^ 김현식, Hyunshik Kim. "졸작? 명작? …'명량'의 작품성 논쟁이 의미 없는 이유 Rubbish? Masterpiece? ... the reason why 'Roaring current's cinematic quality controversy is useless". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  34. ^ 유명준, Myeongjun Yu. "[M+리뷰] '명량', 이순신이 이끌고 민초들이 만들었다 [M+ Review] 'Roaring Current', led by Yi Soonshin and made by grass roots". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
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  37. ^ Shackleton, Liz (5 October 2014). "Busan's Asia Star Awards honours Chan". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2014-10-09.
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  39. ^ Kim, June (12 November 2014). "The 51st Daejong Film Awards Nominations Announced". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
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  41. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (23 November 2014). "Roaring Currents takes 4 trophies at Daejong Awards". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-12-11.
  42. ^ Conran, Pierce (24 November 2014). "ROARING CURRENTS Tops 51st Daejong Film Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  43. ^ "Roaring Currents Named This Year's Best Film". The Chosun Ilbo. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  44. ^ Kim, June (18 December 2014). "35th Blue Dragon Awards Names THE ATTORNEY Best Film". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2014-12-18.
  45. ^ "Han Gong-ju picked as best film of 2014 by Korean film reporters". The Korea Herald. 16 January 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-27.
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External links[edit]