Saturday, November 3, 2018

Review of RAMPANT: Undead Uprising

November 2, 2018

Very prominently placed in the poster is that this new Korean film out in cinemas now came from the makers of "Train to Busan" (2016, MY REVIEW). As unclear a reference as that was, I admit I probably would not have gone out of my way to watch this film if it were not for that association. The combination of Korean imperial history and zombies was too interesting and irresistible to ignore. 

Trouble was brewing in the Joseon court as King Lee Jo was being manipulated by his Minister of War, Kim Ja-joon, which led to the death of Crown Prince Lee Young. However, the spoiled, womanizing younger prince Lee Chung came back to court from his self-exile in Qing to fulfill the wishes of his departed brother. However, on his return, the countryside was terrorized with "night demons," zombies hungry for meat and blood, who continue to multiply in number with no end in sight.

Director Kim Sung-hoon cast Hyun Bin, the same young action star from his previous hit film "Confidential Assignment" (2017, MY REVIEW), as the reluctant hero Prince Lee Chung. This actor had a certain rascally bad-boy charm about him, just right for his hot-headed, arrogant character. Outstandingly resplendent in his white ceremonial robes, he cut a dashing swashbuckling figure in those breathtaking sword fights that he had against the zombies and other enemies. 

Jang Dong-gun played the sinister minister Kim Ja-joon in a slow burn manner, starting out as a nondescript bureaucrat later escalating into a full-blown monster. Kim Eui-sung (also in "Train to Busan") played the befuddled and deluded King Lee Jo. Jo Woo-jin played the most noble character of the film, Park Eul-ryoung, who displayed unwavering loyalty even in the face of death. The beautiful Lee Sun-bin also struck a heroic figure as the skilled archer and Park's sister, Deok-hee. Jeong Man-sik served as comic relief in his role of Lee Chung's effeminate valet Hak-soo

The telling of the political intrigue took a bit too slow to develop. It can sometimes be confusing at the start because of the unfamiliar names and faces. The zombies had an unclear and random origin, and shared the quality of being afraid of sunlight, once only a quality of vampires. The plot was all cleared up by the time the zombie horde overran the palace during an extravagant cultural show. From that part onwards, I was simply riveting all the way until that emotional patriotic ending (as any good Korean film).

As expected the whole film was a visual spectacle, with special effects by Yoo Daewon working so well with the cinematography of Lee Sung-je, the ornate production design of Chae Kyoung-sun and contrasting colorful costumes by Cho Sang-kyung. Kim Taekang’s action choreography really kept the momentum going with Kim Sang-bum's editing and Park Inyoung's musical score. 8/10. 

No comments:

Post a Comment