There is a quote on the back of the Rampant Blu-ray comparing the film to “Game of Thrones meets 28 Days Later,” and while I know this was meant as a marketing selling point, it did more harm than good to have these preconceived notions in my head. For one thing, “Game of Thrones” already has zombies, so the addition of 28 Days Later to the comparison is redundant at best. Also, nearly every element that is can be compared to “Game of Thrones,” including swordplay, politics, and zombie-like attacks forcing the living to band together, has been done better by the HBO series. While the quote on the back of the Blu-ray may inspire additional rentals and purchases, it is also likely to lead to more disappointing viewing experiences.
Like with the aforementioned television show, the emphasis is on a power struggle before the creatures even arrive. The Qing Dynasty is under siege, and the prince, Lee Young (Tae-woo Kim), makes himself a martyr in an attempt to open his father’s eyes to the impending threat. With news of this death, Lee Young’s brother and Prince of Joseon, Lee Chung (Hyun Bin), returns home. On the way to the palace, Lee Chung encounters a village that seems to be empty and discovers that a disease turning people into bloodsucking monsters is spreading across the land. As these monsters arrive at the palace gates, it coincides with an attempt to overthrow the crown.
Even the description of the movie feels incongruous to my experience watching it, because the premise was more promising than the execution. Perhaps part of the problem is that South Korean genre filmmaking has been so great recently, making this film pale in comparison to other recent horror releases such as Train to Busan or The Wailing. There aren’t many real scares, despite the inclusion of zombie-vampire hybrids in the narrative, the humor is often forced, and even the martial arts action has been better. Rampant feels as though it wants to be jack of all genres, while mastering none of them.
Blending too many genres isn’t necessarily a crime, as this is a common formula for nearly every
Hollywood blockbuster. And it makes
sense that a South Korean film would imitate that formula, as many South Korean
New Wave filmmakers grew up watching American cinema. Unfortunately, this
particular film also adopted the faulty logic that often also plagues Hollywood films. Rampant
sets up rules for the monsters, only to dispatch them when the screenplay hits
a dead end. The treatment of the main villain is reason enough to lose
suspension of disbelief.
The Blu-ray release of Rampant comes with a DVD copy of the film, along with the extras on the discs. There is a making-of featurette and behind-the-scenes footage, but it is all rather limited, in time and scope of the material. The only other extras are trailers.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Special Features: 2.5/10