A year after working together on Confidential Assignment, actor Hyun-Bin’s latest return to the screen proves continually fruitful once more with Kim Seung-Hoon on period action adventure horror, Rampant. Why the film underwent three title changes is beyond my own understanding, though Rampant definitely sticks both creatively as well as applicably with respect to the narrative preset in Hwang Jo-Yoon’s screenplay.
Ramapant immediately immerses you into its murky Joseon-era milleu with the fiery high-seas raid of a merchant ship and a violent attack on one of the raiders. That exposition sets up the rest of the film in which we meet King Lee Jo (Kim Eui-Sung) as he’s embroiled in the urgency brought about by potential traitors in their midst, including the crown prince himself.
We later catch up with the other prince, Lee Chung (Hyun-Bin) finally released from Qing captivity after ten years as he and his servant, Hak-Soo (Jeong Man-Sik) make their way back to the palace. On their way, they land in a desolate, eerie village in which they are later attack by assassins – all of whom are then swarmed by a mass of undead villagers. Park Jong-Sa (Jo Woo-Jin) and his band of warriors staging their fight against the undead soon land in Chung’s throes, convinced that he is the heir of the Joseon throne despite Chung’s own mindset.
The big picture, of course, is the mysterious plague that keeps turning villagers into bloodthirsty zombies and finding a way to spread the word fast to the palace for reinforcements. In the midst of this, Chung’s purpose further unravels whilst further minding the business of the king’s war minister, Kim Ja-Joon (Jang Dong-Gun). However, time is running out and Joseon’s teetering stability will soon rest in the hands of rebels fighting for their homeland, and a reluctant man of royalty who must choose his destiny against a dangerous puppetmaster usurping his way to power.
There’s not much to wage in terms of caution. As such, Rampant graces amply with an exciting action adventure moviegoers can sink their teeth into. Hyun-Bin positively shines as the reluctant heir, charming with an air of nonchalance in his demeanor while strong and convicting in his poise when needed, and an ably-skilled pugilist to boot. The supporting characters in their respective presentations provide some purely exciting entries within the first half-hour when the film delves into an actual fracas between human characters before the battle with undead ones – or “demons” as they’re addressed in the film.
Jo Woo-Win is a rewarding casting sight to see after watching his performance as Lee Byung-Hun’s co-star unfold in the Netflix/tVn drama, Mr. Sunshine. Actress Lee Sun-Bin adds to the hero muscle as Deok-Hee, the archer of the small group with Jo Dal-Hwan donning Monk attire as Daegil. Kim Eui-Sung shepherds the usual not-so-Shakespearean arc that ensues as the horrific reality of a zombie apocalypse sets in along with what plays out as a brilliantly-stoked B-story that puts much more emphasis on Jang Dong-Gun’s role of Kim.
The writing and drama are generally delivered quite well, save for Jeong’s etching of servant role Hak-Soo who means well, though not without the irking wonder of how some situations would look if he just let Chung be. Those moments will have you either laughing or hoping he dies soon and lo and behold, you’ll get a result either way considering how often ironic the bumbling supporting character in films like these tend to surprise more often than not.
Practical and visual effects are delivered without too many frills and tropes cluttering Sung-Hoon’s pallette. The action isn’t as heavy on blood as some might prefer, but there’s plenty of the red-stuff doled out in spades overtime as zombies are laid waste forthwith per the usual stabbiness and decapitations. Immolations also ensue as one of the principle means of trying to take out the undead army – notably shot with a tone that grimly signifies almost strikingly as a consequence of the King and his hapless rule and the corruption in his midst.
Kim’s choice of shots and color are all-inclusive in the splendid cinematography that captures the action and upheaval with fitting wide shots and close-ups that don’t interfere much, if at all. Couple with a median score that does the trick from time to time, Rampant envelopes our characters in a well-packaged display of horror/fantasy and martial arts thrills that give Hyun-Bin the kind of action star caliber worth championing.
Like this Article? Subscribe to Our Feed!
Rampant is a full-fledged, strong and exciting period thriller for its target audience at home and abroad, and wholly worth seeing in theaters or bringing home on Blu-Ray.
- Hyun-Bin and Jang Dong-Gun rule as the film gives moviegoers a sprawling and often fun action adventure thrillride. Jo Woo-Jin's entrance is one of the best moments of the film next to Lee Sun-Bin and Jo Dal-Hwan.
- Some fans might want more action than what the film offers as the sequences deal mainly in sword battles and zombie killing. Some of the right might lag a bit, although it's a nitpick not too worth nibbling away at.
- My Verdict