With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Korean action film KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT is now available

 Well Go USA
Kundo: Age of the Rampant / Kundo: min-ran-eui si-dae
Directed by Yun Jong-bin
Starring Ha Jung-woo, Kang Dong-won,
Lee Sung-min and Ma Dong-seok
South Korea, 2014, 138 minutes

Kundo: Age of the Rampant (also known simply as Kundo) debuts on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital today, Tuesday, October 21st from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on a screening I went to this past September and on watching a Blu-ray screener.

Kundo: Age of the Rampant is another great action film from South Korea. It delivers not just exciting action, but also has a great story, fine acting, and a delightful sense of humor. It's a terrific period film set in the 1860s, near the end of the Joseon Dynasty. Commoners are beset by famine and plague as well as unrelenting exploitation by corrupt official and noblemen. The Chusal Clan, a large group of righteous bandits, have set up a base on Mt. Jiri,  From there they steal from the rich and powerful and give to the poor and weak. The story line clearly bears a strong resemblance to Robin Hood.

Dae-ho (Lee Sung-min)

The bandits are led by Dae-ho (Lee Sung-min). The other significant members are:
- a fearsome monk (somewhat analogous to Friar Tuck in the Robin Hood saga)
- Tae-gi - who is good at impersonating a nobleman
- Chan-bo -  a heavy-set and fierce fighter
- Ma-hyang - she is skilled fighting both unarmed and with a bow and arrows

Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo)

The protagonist of this tale, however, is Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo), a lowly butcher. After tragedy befall his mother and sister, he joins the clan, where he is renamed Dochi, meaning "inversion." After a lengthy period of training, he becomes the most feared fighter in the clan. He's particularly adept at wielding two short and broad swords, which he spins in his hands much like a cowboy twirling a pair of six-shooters.

Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won)

The villain of the film is Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won). His mother, a courtesan in a brothel, sold him as a child to his father Jo Won-suk, a corrupt former governor of Jeloa province. Won-suk's wife had produced only four girls, and he desperately wanted a male heir. Jo Yoon is a natural born martial artist and fanatically determined to be named family heir, despite the belated and unexpected birth of a son, Jo Su-in, his step-brother, to Won-suk and his wife.

Disc Stats:
 - Audio Options:
   - Korean 5.1 DTS HDMA
   - Korean 2.0 Stereo
Subtitle Options:
   - English
   - Off
   - Kundo: Age of the Rampant trailer
   - Preview trailers for three other Well Go USA releases

Kundo: Age of the Rampant opened in theaters in the U.S. this past August 29th, and there was a free screening of it at the Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night this past September 9th, which is where I first saw it. The film is set to open this year's London Korean Film Festival on November 6th. (Read about the LKFF here.)

Having seen it twice, I can attest to its repeat viewing value. If anything, I enjoyed it even more the second time I watched it, and I look forward to seeing it again. It's got great action and real heart. The combination of the Robin Hood-like theme regarding the Chusal Clan's acting on behalf of the poor and Dolmuchi's personal quest for revenge for what had befallen his mother and sister dovetail perfectly.

AsianCineFest Rating: 4 out of 4 stars; most highly recommended.

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