Actors: Ha Jung-Woo, Kang Dong-won, Lee Sung-min, Cho Jin-woong
Director: Yoon Jong-bin
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dubbed
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Run Time: 137 minutes
Originality is something hard to come by in period martial arts movies, mostly because there have simply been so many of them. With the historical events of the Korean Joseon Dynasty, which resulted in a major division between peasants and the wealthily oppressive royalty, Kundun has the perfect scenario for a Robin Hood type narrative. Unoriginal as it may be, this is cinematically a perfect match, providing plenty of action and a reason to root for the vengeance of the good guys.
Although the second half of this lengthy amps up the energy with plenty of action sequences, Kundo takes its time in setting up the narrative. We are given equal amount of character development for the villainy of nobleman tyrant as we are the wronged butcher who becomes a leading rebel seeking justified revenge. Allowing the back-stories of these characters to develop gives weight to the film’s drama, also balancing the action-heavy second half of the film.
After watching his family unjustly destroyed, a butcher named Dolchi (Hang Jung-woo) joins a band of rebels known as Kundo with intentions of seeking retribution from the evil nobleman Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won), whose precarious relationship with his own family has made him a hardened man capable of great violence. These two will inevitably battle it out several times throughout the film, giving the narrative its main source of conflict, among many additional characters and minor subplots. As enjoyable as the action and some of the slightly campy elements of the film are, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a stronger film with a bit of restraint. Never during the 138-minute running time was I bored, but the emotional resonance of the main characters is spread bit too thin amongst all of the rest.
The visuals are spectacular enough to warrant recommendation of high definition viewing, but unfortunately there is little else to make the Blu-ray worth purchasing. The only special feature available is a trailer, which seems odd for a film boasting record-breaking box office numbers in
. South Korea
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6.5/10
Special Features: 1.5/10