Rampant takes a while to get where its going but there’s enough swordplay and demon/zombie slaying action to make it worth checking out.
Plot: A darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation.
Review: I go into some spoilers here so if you haven’t seen the movie then best to avoid reading.
I bought Rampant on Blu-ray a while back but never sat down to watch it until this morning; I didn’t know that much about it other than it was from the people behind Train to Busan so I knew it would be of a certain quality and in that regard it didn’t disappoint.
I read some hilarious reviews for Rampant on Google and some people actually complained that the movie wasn’t realistic enough… it’s about zombies… of course it isn’t realistic.
The word “zombie” is admittedly never used and the flesh eating creatures are simply known as “demons” but that’s just semantics as they are essentially zombies.
Rampant isn’t all that scary and the pacing is a bit off in the first half but it established the world of ancient Korea nicely and introduced us to our main characters. Our protagonist is Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) who is a womanizer and partier who wants nothing to do with becoming king. Once his brother is murdered he vows to take his pregnant widow to safety but is attacked by assassins, then saved by a group of people who need his help… then they are all attacked by demons so they don’t have the best day.
Ganglim’s journey through the film has him change from the womanizing and fun loving Prince to a noble warrior who will do anything for his people and Hyun Bin makes him sympathetic even if he is a little wooden.
A lot goes on in the story in terms of political intrigue with Jang Dong-Gun playing the malevolent Kim Ja-Joon who wants to overthrow the king and rule the country with his undead army, which is fair enough if you ask me. Kim is just a hateful bastard in this movie and he’s the type of villain that is too stubborn to die so just when you think he is going to get his comeuppance something happens but it eventually comes and is mostly satisfying.
There is an annoying (kind of) comic relief character called Hak-Soo( Jeong Man-Sik) who feels like he belongs in an 80’s action cartoon as he is a one note coward who whimpers his way through the film and just pissed me off but he does at least die which made it tolerable.
As I stated the first half has a few pacing issues but I found the second is when the action really kicked into high gear with some spectacular battles between the people and the demons. There is plenty of hacking and slashing with impressive sword work and choreography that’s never overly flashy.
It’s beautifully shot with attention to period detail and some wonderful camera work making this far more stylish than your average zombie/demon flick.
Overall, Rampant has its flaws but it looks fantastic and the second half has enough action to make it work checking out. It’s not as good as Train to Busan but it tries something a little different with an already tired genre.