By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, May 9 (Yonhap) -- Korean action star Ma Dong-seok returns as the "beast cop" chasing down a local drug ring in the third series of a crime action franchise, "The Roundup: No Way Out," featuring new types of villains.
Ma, also known by his English name Don Lee, is the lead cast member and producer for the gritty action series that began with "The Outlaws" (2017). Its sequel "The Roundup," released in May 2022, topped the annual domestic box office with 12.69 million admissions.
Directed by Lee Sang-young behind the second edition, Ma plays Ma Seok-do, a rough and tough cop who teams up with the Regional Investigation Unit to chase down a local drug cartel.
Lee Joon-hyuk plays Joo Sung-cheol, a mysterious drug kingpin, while Japanese actor Aoki Munetaka is a Japanese gangster named Riki who smuggles new types of drugs into Seoul.
Ma said the latest series will give viewers an adrenaline rush with intriguing narratives and upgraded action scenes. Unlike the first two films that are rated R, the third edition will be available for those aged 15 and older.
"There are new types of crimes and villains in the movie. We expanded (the franchise's) universe and tried to show new elements in terms of story and action scenes," Ma said during a press conference Tuesday.
"While I mostly showed one punch scenes in the past two films, I threw more rhythmical, successive punches in the movie. It will be fun to watch a new combination with villains of different personalities," he added.
Lee, who starred in the blockbuster fantasy "Along With the Gods" (2017) and its 2018 sequel, said he joined the team at the request of Ma and bulked up more than 20 kilograms to match up with the muscular cop character.
"Joo Sung-cheol is a mastermind of drug crimes, largely living in the shadows. He is very smart and violent. If this kind of person is around you, it would be very scary," Lee said. "As I shouldn't look so awkward when fighting with Ma, I gained a lot of weight and intensively practiced boxing to get ready for the character."
"The Roundup: No Way Out" hits local theaters May 31.