Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
With this year's Jewish International Festival underway, SWITCH has checked out the program - click here to read our reviews.x
review, Rampant, Rampant, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Hyun Bin, Jang Dong-Gun, Jo Woo-Jin, Jeong Man-Sik, Lee Sun-Bin, Kim Eui-Sung, Jo Dal-Hwan, Park Jin-Woo, Seo Ji-Hye, Han Ji-Eun, Kim Sung-Hoon, Action, Horror

CHANG-GWOL

★★

HO-HUM HISTORICAL KOREAN ZOMBIE THRILLS

KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL IN AUSTRALIA REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
23rd August 2019

Director Yeon Sang-ho's ‘Train to Busan’ was one of the biggest box office successes in South Korean history, maybe the best zombie movie of the decade and one of the most searing social commentaries of the 21st century.

The film wastes no time getting to the point - the build-up only takes a few brief scenes, then the madness captivates the rest. We see the outbreak from beginning, middle and end within the narrative’s run time. You have time to develop empathy for each character, their backstories, and connections to one another fleshed out in small bursts throughout the film. While the human condition is in question, the narrative also explores societal themes, which are all perfectly juxtaposed with gory yet skillfully crafted action sequences.

Coming from the same studio that gave us ‘Train to Busan’, Kim Sung-hoon’s ‘Rampant’ obviously has a lot to live up to.

In the Joseon dynasty, King Lee Jo (Kim Eui-sung, ‘Train to Busan’) is viewed as overly deferential to the nearby Qing dynasty of China. His son, crown prince Lee Young (Kim Tae-woo, ‘Joint Security Area’), engages in a plot to buy European arquebuses to drive away the Qing. The plot is exposed by sinister Minister of War Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-gun), who holds influence over the king and frames it as a rebellion. Kim meets the Europeans and learns that they have brought zombies (called "night demons"). Locked away on the arms dealer’s ship is an infected man in a cage - the patient zero of ‘Rampant’.

'RAMPANT' TRAILER

Meanwhile, the crown prince left a request for his wife Gyeong-bin (Seo Ji-hye) and unborn child to be brought by his younger brother Ganglim (Hyun Bin, ‘Confidential Assignment’) to China for their safety. Ganglim had previously been left out of Joseon's order of succession and grew up abroad in the prosperous Qing. The youngest prince returns with his (tiresome) companion Hak-Su (Jeong Man-sik, ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’). They land in Jemulpo and are immediately attacked by Joseon assassins sent by Minister Kim and other ministers who are plotting a coup. The noise of the battle draws an attack by zombified villagers.

Ganglim is quickly joined by a noble group of rebels hellbent on defeating the zombie plague and putting an end to Joseon’s political corruption. A smug, shallow womaniser but a skilled warrior with a funky-looking sword, the prince inevitably learns the importance of fighting for something greater than himself - he becomes a leader who has earned the right to serve the will of the people.

So far, so similar to the action / horror series ‘Kingdom’ on Netflix. Luckily, the production design in 'Rampant' is exquisite, with grand sets for the towns and the palace, and elaborate traditional costumes that transport you back in time. The choreography is sometimes stunning, with the demons’ bodies twisting as they seize upon their victims, and the warriors flying through the battle and running up walls while lopping off heads with oversized weapons like there’s no tomorrow.

Although it is slick and polished, ‘Rampant’ feels reluctant to commit fully to the more intriguing aspects of its premise. It excels neither as a zombie film, nor a throne-room drama, while its clumsy subtext lacks any real bite.

Although it is slick and polished, ‘Rampant’ feels reluctant to commit fully to the more intriguing aspects of its premise. It excels neither as a zombie film, nor a throne-room drama, while its clumsy subtext lacks any real bite. There is an opportunity from some 'Train to Busan'-style bold sociopolitical statements and critiques of the South Korean social hierarchy, but 'Rampant' largely ignores them. The film avoids wading too deep into governance and the divide between the rulers and the suffering populace.

What is on offer is mild thrills and uneven pacing. Nobody in the cast transcends the limitations of their generic roles: the villain has no motivation, there is a goofy servant that serves as the comedy oaf sidekick, and a generic party of warriors (an archer, a swordsman, and a warrior monk) straight out of your average game of 'Diablo'. Prince Ganglim gets a small character arc as he must learn to grow out of his immature, rascal ways and accept his responsibilities towards his people.

Watching characters plot and scheme a political upheaval will never be as exciting as seeing a zombie invasion - unfortunately, this invasion seems to take forever to arrive. When it does, what it lacks in originality is made up for with gruesome visuals and cold-blooded savagery. The film calls these creatures "demons", but they seem to be a vampire/zombie hybrid. They can be killed by sunlight just like vampires, and you can kill them by destroying either the brain or the heart. Physically, though, they behave like traditional zombies. Essentially, they act as a thinly-veiled metaphor for the endemic corruption that ravages King Lee’s court but they are mainly just fodder for some relentless ‘Dynasty Warriors’-style hack-n-slash action, capped off with a final boss video game-type battle.

While ‘Rampant’ is a watchable zombie flick with a few exciting moments, it ultimately never reaches its potential due to poor pacing, stock characters, and uninspired writing.

FAST FACTS
AKA: Rampant
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 2h 1m
CAST: Hyun Bin
Jang Dong-Gun
Jo Woo-Jin
Jeong Man-Sik
Lee Sun-Bin
Kim Eui-Sung
Jo Dal-Hwan
Park Jin-Woo
Seo Ji-Hye
Han Ji-Eun
DIRECTOR: Kim Sung-Hoon
WRITERS: Hwang Jo-Yun
Won Shin-Yeon
PRODUCERS: Lee Han-Seung
Kim Su-Nam
SCORE: Inyoung Park
Rampant2018
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Korean Film Festival in Australia reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw - Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham's action-packed spinoff
TRENDINGWIN FAST & FURIOUS: HOBBS & SHAWDwayne Johnson & Jason Statham's action-packed spinoff
Charlie's Angels - A new generation of Angels, another barrel of fun
TRENDINGCHARLIE'S ANGELSA new generation of Angels, another barrel of fun
Judy & Punch - A fierce, darkly comic and epic revenge story
TRENDINGWIN JUDY & PUNCHA fierce, darkly comic and epic revenge story
Sliders: The Complete Collection - The entire classic sci-fi series in one big box set
TRENDINGWIN SLIDERS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTIONThe entire classic sci-fi series in one big box set
Farming - Caught between two worlds in an mournfully true story
TRENDINGWIN FARMINGCaught between two worlds in an mournfully true story
And Then We Danced - A passionate and remarkable classic in the making
TRENDINGAND THEN WE DANCEDA passionate and remarkable classic in the making
Marriage Story - Simply extraordinary
TRENDINGMARRIAGE STORYSimply extraordinary
Ford v Ferrari - A racing biopic that's right on track
TRENDINGFORD v FERRARIA racing biopic that's right on track
Double Lover - Softcore pornography for cinephiles
TRENDINGDOUBLE LOVERSoftcore pornography for cinephiles
Jewish International Film Festival 2019 - The reviews
TRENDINGJEWISH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019The reviews
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
The Irishman - Kissing Scorsese’s ring (again)
TRENDINGTHE IRISHMANKissing Scorsese’s ring (again)
God of the Piano - A tale that tickles the ivories
TRENDINGGOD OF THE PIANOA tale that tickles the ivories
Locusts - A low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
Basic Instinct - 25 years of the erotic thriller
TRENDINGBASIC INSTINCT25 years of the erotic thriller
Emu Runner - Another great win for Indigenous storytelling
TRENDINGEMU RUNNERAnother great win for Indigenous storytelling
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - A perfect film on the language of desire
TRENDINGPORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREA perfect film on the language of desire
Daffodils - New Zealand Musical almost in full bloom
TRENDINGDAFFODILSNew Zealand Musical almost in full bloom
Promised - Flashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
TRENDINGPROMISEDFlashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us