The first installation of Steel Rain was released about three years ago, carrying geopolitical action thriller genre movie to its home country and global audiences. Even through it can be said to achieve commercial success, it was unfortunately overshadowed by other movies that were released couple of weeks in prior, which are 1987: When the Day Comes and Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds. It’s a pity that the three have similar narrative, thus the reception is positive but considerably muted.  Now in 2020, the sequel titled Steel Rain 2: Summit is released with the same theme, casting list, and director. However, this movie seems to make a reborn of itself and exceeds its predecessor in various aspects.

Steel Rain 2: Summit is a standalone for its prequel. This action-thriller movie brings again the same casts. Carrying a dramatization and action-filled plot of South Korea with other East Asian countries, it brings fresh depiction on the confliction matter, even though some may say it’s too leaning against the left-wing followers of South Korea by portraying over idealistic nationalism.


Steel Rain 2: Summit Synopsis

Steel Rain 2: Summit follows a story of high-tension submit between East Asian countries leader, along with United States. The summit is meant to bring resolution for regional treat of nuclear non-proliferation. This is the event that would lead to the Korean War’s end – even though in reality the war was never ended, at least officially, since the 1953’s agreement.

Each country, including China and Japan, are depicted to have their own interests as involved parties, regarding of what may happen and come out from the summit. These countries’ leaders are gathering in North Korea – a location called Wonsan to be exact. The discussion went vulnerable and slow at first, but the intensity level picked up when the North Koreans act on a coup and perform abduction over the leaders then bring them in secret to the nuclear submarine of this country.

In the midway of Steel Rain 2: Summit, the plot pretty much revolves around how the leaders have quarrels amongst themselves inside a cramped cabin. The scenes somehow seem so thrilling but humorously clever by how the location background is set and planned. The final section is probably the most interesting, as the situations become more bombastic. The film serves a more conventional pattern as finally the countries leaders are joining forces to fight against the circumstances and face the North Korean hardliners, while the sea is on rampage with torpedoes to add the feeling of climax to the movie.


The Characters and Castings

As mentioned before, the sequel once again brings the similar casting list. However, despite of this fact, Steel Rain 2: Summit apparently only borrows the genre and title from the prior movie, as the characters are freshly written. For example, Jung Woo-sung no longer plays as the fighting machine who takes side of North Korea, but he turns into the President of South Korea with idealistic views. Kwak Do-won, who previously acts as the security advisor of South Korea, turn into the guard commander with little to no hesitation to put out his gun and execute his subordinates were the situation turns against him.

Steel Rain 2: Summit is also starred by the wonderful addition of three. Yoo Yeon-seok takes a place in this movie with inner conflict and is written wonderfully compelling. Angus Macfadyen performs a superb acting sequence as North Korean leader who may remind the viewers of Trump presidency in the U.S. Another welcomed addition is Shin Jung-geun, the veteran actor who now plays as obedient sub-captain in North Korean.

Here is the castings and characters list of this movie.

  • Han Kyeong-jae, played by Jung Woo-sung as President of South Korea
  • Chief in Command of Supreme Guard in North Korea, played by Kwak Do-won
  • Jo Seon-sa, played by Yoo Yeon-seok as the Chairperson of North Korea
  • Willis Chatman Smoot, played by Angus Macfadyen, as U.S President
  • Jang Ki-sok, played by Shin Jung-geun as the former submarine captain
  • First lady of South Korea, played by Yum Jung-ah
  • Han Young-hee, played by Shin Soo-yeon
  • Shinzo Mori, played by Hakuryu
  • Prime Minister of South Korea, played by Kim Yong-rim
  • Head minister of national defense, played by Ahn Nae-sang
  • Submarine captain of South Korea, played by Jo Woo-jin
  • Chief Han, played by Go Yoon as the head of presidential protocol


The Reception and Box Office

The genre of romance between South Korea and its North counterpart is currently on the peak of popularity, thanks to the release of well-received Crash Landing On You drama. On the Korean movie side, it doesn’t limit itself to only romantic plot between two lead characters, but also the bromance between two countries.

Steel Rain 2: Summit debuted on first position of box office in South Korea. It successfully attracted more than one million cinema goes only five days after the initial release. The movie is also knocked out the highly anticipated Peninsula who has been perching on top position for couple of weeks. The Steel Rain sequel opens in more than 2,100 screens across the countries and represents over 60% of cinema attendees during the weekend.

According to Lotte Entertainment, the Wednesday release has gained 663,000 admissions ticket admission on weekend, resulting in $4.92 million. Just after five days, it earned a total of $7 million from more than one million sales of ticked. Compared to its predecessor that tells the story about military confrontation between South and North Korean intelligence agents, the earlier is raked 4.5 million ticket admissions and gained about $29 million.

Although the numbers on second installations is lower than expected, probably almost disappointing, it is understandable given the country and the world is still contemplating with the pandemic outbreak. That’s why Steel Rain 2: Summit receives a dampening result when the two are put into comparison, which is not really unfair considering the situation.

In terms of critical reception, even though the movie is still well-praised, there are plenty of reviews that put emphasizes on how the characters are written. Some famous reviewers deemed the characters to be written in too two-dimensional way, thus failed to give relatable vibes to the viewers. It probably has to do with how the movie deals with complicated issues and topic, so it has to sacrifice not only the characterization, but also story depth.


The Movie Review

At a single glance, it seems like Steel Rain 2: Summit puts a lot of energy in conveying how the East Asian country geopolitical matters work. There is heavy similarity with the real world, drawn from both subtle and unsubtle references. This 130+ minute’s movie is clearly ambitious on what it covers and portrays.

It shouldn’t be surprising that a South Korean movie leans heavily towards its country’s point of view, but it is especially crystal clear that the film reflects of the left-wing nationalists of South Korea. It shows a great level of sentiment intensity compared to the average movie from the country, which plenty of already leaning toward the left.

The viewers may need some time before they are able to tune into the political angles, evasion, and wavelength of the movie. Luckily, the characters help, not to mention the sprinkles of comedic humor that makes the absorbance of information less painful. However, once the movie moves to the underwater set, the real fun begins and it brings the head-spinning issues regarding diplomatic matter between the countries.

It can be concluded that Steel Rain 2: Summit serves as entertainment that would be enjoyable to the South Korean left-wings. It is educational, but can be over idealistic at some points. It is good that the movie has strong foundation based on real-world facts, but the outcomes and interpretation may come off to unrealistic for some.

However, it is safe to say that while it serves as weakness to others, it is likely built by design. Film exists to inspire its audiences to steer the world and reality to the direction that are yet to exist, and this movie has successfully achieved this goal. Even for political and war movie enthusiasts outside of South Korea, it can carry fresh education and entertainment that otherwise hard to compete by Hollywood movie.


More about the Movie

If you haven’t watched the prior installment of Steel Rain that’s released on 2017, it may be the perfect movie to follow. Its plot is different from the sequel, as the first movie feels more like a story about how a kingdom has collapsed due to military conflict and coup that happened. Meanwhile, Steel Rain 2: Summit serves more positive approach on the existing situation on Korean Peninsula, taking the background of approaching ending of Korean War.

Yang director himself has extended idea about the crisis and regime of North Korea for more than a decade, which has been brought into two movies and three webtoon series already. The early film is plotted based on the similarly titled 2011 webtoon series, while the later film takes adaptation from his most recent webtoon series that can be accessed through South Korea’s portal site Daum.

For those of you who took liking in Steel Rain 2: Summit, it’s recommended to search for South Korean movies with background stories and genres of political thriller, action thriller, nuclear war, spy, psychology, and crimes against society like Inside Men (2015), and The Spy Gone North (2018). These movies contain the same suspense, captivating, and tense plotline about rivalry, crimes, dangers, murder, and dishonesty which are common topics in the cinema genre of action and thriller.