Director: Kim Sung-hoon
Starring: Hyun Bin, Dong-Gun Jang, Eui-sung Kim, Ju-hyuk
Kim, Woo-jin Jo, Dal-hwan Jo, Derek Chouinard
This movie was produced by the same people who did Train to
Busan and I have to answer the question does it top that movie? Not really, but
it is a different movie and it seemed they wanted to go in another direction
In a bit of a confusing prologue a ship on fire is raided
and one of the party is attacked, only to turn and kill his whole family and
the village. Cut to three days before and we see the rebels meeting with the
smuggler on the ship to get weapons for a revolt.
The revolt is found out and the plotters are tortured to
reveal the ringleaders, but the crown prince wants to spare the plotters as he
is the real one behind it. He makes the ultimate sacrifice, taking his own
Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) arrives back in the country from
Qing unaware that any attack has taken place. He is attacked by assassins and
encounters the undead shortly after (they are referred to as ‘demons’ in the
movie.) He ends up being rescued by a group of villagers who explain what
happened and beg him to get help from the capital. He is a reluctant prince and
does not want to go but eventually agrees when he sees how desperate the
Cut back to the capital and the war minister is making plans
of his own including getting rid of one of the assassins who escaped the undead
and making sure a concubine is attacked by a demon to spread the infection.
The film slows down a lot every time it cuts from the scenes
with the zombies to the palace intrigue, it almost seems they are from
different movies or from one of the popular Korean historical TV dramas. It
seems to be something you would have in a TV series where you have more time to
tell the story and not a movie.
The prince leaves the village with some protectors but they
get stopped at a checkpoint and told only the prince can go to the capital. He
promises to return with some soldiers.
The stakes go up once the action moves to the capital as
there is an attack on the king and the zombie situation gets out of hand. The
war minister has planned this as he wants to start again from scratch and not
be subservient to the Qing dynasty.
They do have the guns from the smuggler by this point but
only the war minister and his cronies have them and the prince has to make do
with swords. After fighting all night they manage to beat back the zombies, who
retreat in the daylight as it burns them. Will they make it through the next
night? Will the zombies escape from the palace into the capital? What happened
to the village and the promise of the soldiers to defend it?
It is an interesting premise to have a zombie movie set in a
historical period but it does slow it down somewhat in this case with the historical
drama sections mixed in. The weapons they had to use were a bit basic. Surely
they would have had access to the Hawcha rocket arrow launcher to take out
hordes of zombies. The script writers seems to conveniently forgotten it. I
have no idea which years of the Joeson dynasty it takes place in though.
There was no problem with the costumes (I do love those tall
hats they wear) and settings as they all seemed to look good especially the
palace where some of the heaviest fighting takes place.
The characters seem to be archetypes with the bad guy being
stereotypically evil, the good buy being a reluctant hero and the other
characters filling the usual supporting roles.
In comparison to Train to Busan the stakes don’t seem to be
as high as you don’t get to find out enough about the characters to care about
them. The action scenes look cool and there is plenty of gore with the zombies
attack but it doesn’t seem to have the same impact.
I would still recommend this movie if you are a fan of
zombie movies and historical action movies. For the next movie they should do a
zombie movie in space to mix it up a bit.