Steel Rain 2: Summit (Korean: 강철비2: 정상회담; Hanja: Gangchulbi 2: Jungsanghwedam) is a 2020 South Korean action thriller film written and directed by Yang Woo-suk.
It is a standalone sequel to the 2017 film Steel Rain. In the film, three leaders each from South Korea, North Korea and USA are kidnapped and held in a North Korean nuclear submarine during a summit between the two Koreas and the United States.
It stars Jung Woo-sung as the South Korean president, Kwak Do-won as the North Korean Supreme Guard Command Chief, Yoo Yeon-seok as the North Korean Chairperson and Angus Macfadyen as the United States president.
South Korea is invited by the US to join the Senkaku exercises as a member of the tripartite alliance but the South Korean President Han Kyeong-Jae refuses the invitation. In a briefing for Dokdo, Han learns about a month-old incident wherein a Coast Guard patrol vessel captain turned himself in to the NSO and explained about his meeting with a Japanese-Korean woman who lured into a debt as per which he was required to attack a Japanese ship sailing around the Dokdo, without any warning shots. The woman, named Ito Hideko, works for Yamato corporation, the bank for right-wing Japanese extremists. The ministers fear the repetition of the 2006 Dokdo War. On the other hand, a Japanese author named Shinzo Mori lays down the outline for a plot as per which Japan will pretend to engage in a war with China as per America’s wishes. Han and his ministers learn that the US State Department has indefinitely postponed its summit with the two Korean countries, citing issues with the procedure of nuclear weapon handover. Han asks for a video conference with the US President Willis Chatman Smoot who refuses to do so unless South Korea participates in the Senkaku exercises. Han reluctantly agrees, and learns about Yamato Foundation’s funding by the Chinese government.
The next day, the Chinese ambassador meets Han for luncheon in order to thank him for not partaking in the Senkaku exercises. When Han tells him he will, the ambassador warns him not to do so. Han proceeds to fly to Wonsan, the location of the summit where he meets Jo Seon-sa, the North Korean Chairperson. Later, Smoot arrives and the three go to a hotel where talks between Smoot and Jo seem to fail. On the other hand, the Supreme Guard Command Chief leads a coup in North Korea, believing that handing over weapons to the US would mean getting taken over by South Korea. Soon, he raids the hotel with his army and takes the three leaders hostage in the Paektu, the first North Korean ballistic missile submarine. They’re taken to a room by Jang Ki-sok, the former head of submarine command. A female press reporter contacts the White House from Wonsan, explaining the capture of the three leaders. The Vice President assumes command and demands for retaliatory actions against North Korea. Smoot is injected with a serum, making him reveal everything about operation Kagemusha which intends to destroy China. The US launches an ICBM for North Korea; eventually China reveals they have received an audio recording of Smoot explaining Kagemusha (sent from the submarine).
Learning the ICBM has hit North Korea, Chief forces Smoot to order the US forces to stand down. Chief further reveals Japan asked him to torpedo one of its own patrol ships near Dokdo and fire a nuclear missile at South Korea, for which he got paid $500 million; the war on Tokdo will result in Japan’s victory and annihilate South Korea’s military forces. However, it is overheard via radio by everyone aboard and Jang is revealed to be an agent when he sends a message for the leaders telling them not to come out of their room. The officers on board, convinced by Jang to rebel against Chief for their own survival, start a shootout that leaves many dead. Jang escorts the three leaders to a rescue sphere which allows space for only two. Han decides to stay, and helps the other two escape. Jang calls for a truce with Chief in exchange for medicine. Smoot and Jo are rescued, and a battle ensues both in and out of the Paektu as an American submarine approaches, with Han and Jang attempting to foil Chief’s plans. Eventually, Chief is shot dead but the rival submarine fires a final torpedo, and Han leaves a final message for his country. However, the torpedo is countered by a torpedo fired by the South Korean Navy that forces the rival submarine to back away. Shinzo Mori is shot dead as per orders of the Japanese Prime Minister, and Smoot and Jo sign the peace treaty. In the end, Han addresses the public about the unification of the two Korean countries.
- Jung Woo-Sung as Han Kyeong-Jae, the President of South Korea.
- Kwak Do-won as North Korean Supreme Guard Command Chief.
- Yoo Yeon-Seok as North Korean Leader.
- Angus Macfadyen as United States President.
Writer and director Yang Woo-suk wanted to offer a cinematic simulation on the future of the two Koreas. According to him, the previous film showed the outbreak of war between the two Koreas, while this film shows a “more realistic approach to the situation on the Korean Peninsula that involves more than just the two countries.” He also wanted to present the reality that the fate and stability of the Korean Peninsula are determined by other countries. He also explained the film’s division into three parts: the historical background and international politics behind the conflict, some black comedy elements and the battle sequences between submarine and underwater missile attacks. He was worried that the long dialogues in the beginning could bore viewers, but also found them integral for explaining the complexity of inter-Korean relations.
He further described the power struggle inside the submarine as a metaphor for the inter-Korean conflict, further hinting a future sequel might be about families.
Yang Woo-suk casted the same actors but changed their roles, especially their sides. A few changes were made in the other cast members for China, Japan, and the US. Yang deemed it a symbol of the current regional dynamics remaining the same even though South and North Korea change their approaches, since geopolitics in the region is decided by external factors.
Jung Woo-sung, who portrays the South Korean President, felt the film saw the Korean Peninsula from “a cool-headed point of view”. He studied a lot about the history of inter-Korean summits and presidents, and had to imagine what the leaders thought of the future, the Korean Peninsula and how they led the summits. He described the film as an action thriller instead of a moral lecture. Yoo Yeon-seok, who portrays the North Korean Leader, was initially reluctant to play the role as he couldn’t imagine himself playing a North Korean Leader. He said the film featured geopolitical situations in a realistic way, but its being fictional allowed him to create his own character: a leader who felt great pressure to retain the regime against regional superpowers. Scottish actor Angus Macfadyen was chosen to play the US President. He thought of his character as a vulgar and narcissistic man who thought of himself as always right and everyone else as wrong. Kwak Do-won, who plays the Supreme Guard Command, thought his character wasn’t merely a villain. Given that North Korea has shown different attitudes towards South Korea in the real world, he tried to depict an aspect of North Korea that contrasts with Yoo’s character.
The filming began on 27 August 2019. While filming on the sets, Yoo Yeon-seok felt “the psychological pressure of being in the dark, deep water.” He further added that the restricted location helped in portraying the slightest changes in power relationship and emotions more sensitively.
Steel Rain 2: Summit was released in South Korean cinemas on 29 July 2020. On 09 August 2020, Jung Woo-sung went to Lotte Cinema at Lotte World Tower in Seoul, to greet fans in person at the ticket counter.
Writing for HanCinema, William Schwartz felt the special effects spectacle overshadowed the film’s early summit scenes that showcased real issues preventing peace talks. He also pointed out a number of scenes had no relation to the film’s internal continuity.
The film debuted on the number one spot at the South Korean box office, attracting a million viewers in just five days of its release. Trade experts found the collections to be disappointing and lower than the prequel, but decent given the COVID-19 slowdown.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Yang Woo-suk.
- Producer(s): Park Joon-ho, Kim Tae-won, and Sun Young.
- Writer(s): Yang Woo-suk.
- Music: Kim Tae-seong.
- Cinematography: Lee Hyung-duk.
- Editor(s): Lae Gang-hee.
- Production: Studio Genius Woojeung.
- Distributor(s): Lotte Cultureworks.
- Release Date: 29 July 2020.
- Running time: 131 minutes.
- Rating: TV-MA.
- Country: South Korea.
- Language: Korean.