Sunday, November 04, 2018


Can I take back a little bit of my getting worked up about Well Go stacking their Korean movies too closely? It looks like The Burning is scheduled for next week, though we don't know if it will get a Boston release yet. They've got another one scheduled for the end of the month which basically looks like Ma Dong-seok punching a lot of people, and, sure, I'll take that.

Chang-gwol (Rampant)

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 3 November 2018 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, DCP)

You might reasonably expect a fusion of palace intrigue and supernatural action to be a lot more exciting than Rampant turns out to be, or at the very least more crazy. Maybe that's an inevitable peril of setting this sort of horror movie in a time when people mostly believed in demons - they are just not going to yell "what the hell?" when discovering that they're in the middle of this crazy mash-up the way the audience is - but either half could certainly be a better take on its genre.

As things start, the Joseon kingdom is already on shaky ground - Kng Lee Jo (Kim Eui-sung) is weak and easily manipulated by cabinet minister Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-gun) and fortune-telling concubine Jo So-yong (Seo Ji-hye), enough that Crown Prince Lee Young (Kim Tae-woo) is supporting a revolt, something he knows is dangerous enough that he's written brother Ganglim (Hyun-bin) to bring his pregnant wife Kyungbin (Han Ji-eun), to safety in Qing. But when Ganglim and servant Hak-su (Jeong Man-sik) arrive, the port town of Jemulpo is abandoned - at least until nightfall, when the zombies that Young's aide Park Jong-sa (Jo Woo-jin) and sister Deok-hee (Lee Sun-bin) have been defending the town from come out of hiding.

There's a couple ways this can go, ideally - even if the filmmakers don't go the full From Dusk Til Dawn route of not springing the genre change on the audience without warning, there's usually a point where the viewer gets caught up enough in the conventional part of the story that the strange catches them by surprise. Rampant never quite manages that - it dives full into zombie stuff early on and then steps back to the nobles which is never quite so fast-moving. Writer Hwang Jo-yoon eventually stitches both halves into a single story that doesn't feel too much like cheating but only fitfully ever has either half feel like it's doing anything special, beyond being combined with the other.

Full review at EFC.

No comments: