A period action film centered on a militia group who turn against an unjust nobility.
There are some truly amazing South Korean movies out there but I have to admit, “Kundo: Age of the Rampant” is one of the very best I have ever seen. It is chock-full of some of the most spectacular martial arts fighting and choreography in recent memory and even though the movie’s runtime borders on close to two and a half hours, believe me, you won’t feel the time going by as this is a truly epic movie, in every sense of the word. It is one of the most breathtaking and invigorating martial arts movies I have seen and believe you me, I have seen quite a few. Director Yoon Jong-bin has constructed a film full of incredible action sequences and creates authentic characters who give deep and emotional performances while cinematographer Choi Chan-min gives the movie a visually stunning look, accompanied by some intermittently astonishing glimpses of South Korea and its rugged but beautiful scenery.
The story takes place in 1859 where the tyrannical Joseon dynasty rules the land with brutality and cruelty. Its people are poverty-stricken and suffer at the hands of the ruling nobility. During these tempestuous times, a gang of bandits, known as ‘Kundo’, rises up and dares to fight back against the corrupt officials who care only about themselves. One man, Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo), a former butcher, vows revenge against Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won), the evil and barbaric king who killed his family so he joins up with the Kundo where he learns how to fight and waits until the time is right for the bandits to attack, where he will take his revenge. The movie owes very much of its visual style and presentation as well as its musical score, to the late Sergio Leone, the director of such classics as “One Upon a Time in the west”, “My Name is Nobody” and the unforgettable, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.
While the movie has its own unique style and overall look, the musical score by Jo Yeong-wook is obviously very heavily influenced by Ennio Morricone and any one of his spaghetti western scores. It is a very odd combination, to say the very least but it’s one that actually works. Other Far Eastern movies such as “Seven Warriors”, a poor rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”, tried desperately to incorporate the spaghetti western musical score, complete with acoustic guitar and failed miserably. In the end, “Kundo: Age of the Rampant” is that rare find that infuses so many different genres and does so successfully. It is getting a limited theatrical release in Dallas, at the AMC Mesquite 30 and I would highly recommend seeing it on the big screen before it makes its way to DVD and Blu-ray. A gem of a movie.
In select theaters including the AMC Mesquite 30 now