Whenever I watch an Asian horror movie, it’s somehow always different from the ones we see made in Hollywood. Either it’s the make-up, or cinematography, the storyline or just the performance – everything is unique and unlike what we have seen before. Frankly, South Korean “Rampant” did not really look like it can offer something decent in terms of zombies or how the bitten people turned into one, but as soon as you start getting into it, it begins materializing into a serious film that will stun you and terrify you equally at the same time.
The story of “Rampant” begins when the state of Joseon is under the influence and power of the Qing Dynasty. When the turn of the fifth dynasty arrives, people have to pay more to the corrupt government, therefore, the number of unhappy and frustrated people keep rising. When the people realize that there is no other way to stand against the constant corruption, they plan a coup against their own supreme ruler. The loyal and true leader, Lee Yong, to protect the identity of the people, stands back and kills himself right in front of his own father, but before doing that he manages to send a letter to his younger brother, Lee Chung, asking him to figure things out. Lee Chung fulfills his brother’s wish, but before he completes the task, he needs to beat a dangerous virus that kills people faster than he blinks.
As the story unfolds, we learn that the virus that turns people into demons, aka zombies, was brought from Holland (I assume, Holland was already in trouble?) accidentally when a large number of guns was purchased to support the coup. Lee Chung, who is a Prince of Joseon, is a womanizer, gambler, and swears all the time. But he is also an excellent fighter and a swordsman. However, knowing about his personal qualities, he never appears as a good leader. But as soon as he starts facing challenges, he turns from an irresponsible young man into a caring and loyal leader to its people who start cleaning its path at night through demons, with their numbers growing every minute.
Co-written by Jo-yun Hwang, Shin-yeon Won, and Hwang Jo Yoon and directed by Sung-hoon Kim, it is an exciting, endlessly engaging dark thriller with elements of horror. It is full of political drama, takes you into the epicenter of the fight for power, and for life itself between betrayers and monsters at the same time. In the meantime, it offers lots of sword-fighting scenes, lovely cinematography, and the screenplay that is almost flawless. Films like these are absolute fun to watch and by the time when it ends, it always makes you want more. As for the ending that does not suggest a sequel, one can secretly hope that it does happen eventually. Because it has enough materials to explore, and we, as viewers, don’t mind learning more about the fascinating world of Joseon that must be shared with us through the silver screen.