Actor Ma Dong-seok grateful for chance to continue ‘The Roundup’ franchise

Ma Dong-seok, the star of South Korea's highly successful crime action film franchise "The Roundup," expressed gratitude Thursday for the opportunity to continue the series, as its new installment is set to open in local theaters next week. "It has been a dream of mine to develop a film franchise since the inception of the first movie, and I'm grateful to see it keep going," the actor, also known as Don Lee, said during a group media interview at a cafe in Seoul. The actor-producer of the franchise unveiled that he is now working on the fifth to eighth installments while awaiting the release Wednesday of "The Roundup: Punishment," the fourth installment. The movie revolves around rugged cop Ma Seok-do (played by Ma Dong-seok) as he pursues a ruthless global drug kingpin, Baek Chang-ki (Kim Moo-yeol), and a cryptocurrency entrepreneur, Chang Dong-cheol (Lee Dong-hwi), who employs illegal online casinos for money laundering. Expectations for the film's box office success are high, given the immense success of the franchise's previous three installments -- "The Outlaws," the first installment, attracted 6.88 million viewers in 2017, while the subsequent installments, "The Roundup" and "The Roundup: No Way Out," each drew more than 10 million moviegoers in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The film had its global premiere at the special gala section of this year's Berlin International Film Festival in February. However, he remained humble when asked about his goal for the new film. "Our only goal and wish is that the film crosses its break-even point, and we don't know what would come next," he said. "We don't aim for any specific numbers because it's up to the audience to decide." The movie's break-even point is set at 3.5 million moviegoers, according to the actor. While the series is rooted in the core narrative of the righteous cop Ma taking down villains with ruthless punches, Ma endeavors to introduce variations to each installment through diverse characters and action styles. "I don't like being bored," h e said. "In a way, I'm also compelled to do so because different events take place and emotions (experienced by the characters) are constantly evolving." The fourth film focused on showcasing potent boxing sequences in harmony with the tone of its weighty and dramatic narrative, he explained. When asked about the film's emotionally charged scenes apparently intended to humanize the protagonist, the actor said: "I understand real detectives get that immersed in their cases. This aspect was shown briefly in the movie, but in reality, they even put the victim's photo as their phone wallpaper and look at their last message every night before bed. I had to touch on this only briefly in order to spare more time for action scenes." Source: Yonhap News Agency