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Kundo: Age of the Rampant ("Gundo: Minraneui Sidae")

Canadian Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2014
  • 120 mins
  • DCP
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)

The Joseon dynasty, in 1859, is in its late stages. It is a time of turmoil, a time of tyranny. The harvests are poor, the stores run dry. While the people throughout the land suffer and starve, their betters among the nobility enjoy abundance — privilege maintained at the point of a sword. But the sword can cut both ways. A ragged band of rebels has emerged, fierce outlaws who rob the wealthy and dispense their gains among the downtrodden. They are known as Kundo. Ripples of fear pass through the aristocracy, right up to the royal palace itself. New to the ranks of Kundo is Doimuchi, a butcher of low birth. He will dedicated his fearsome meat cleavers to the cause, but what drives him is vengeance. The handsome, heartless young aristocrat Jo-yoon, a master of martial skills but twisted by bitterness, must be made to pay for what he has taken from Doimuchi.

Robin Hood may be the Western touchstone for the rebellious outlaws depicted in KUNDO: AGE OF THE RAMPANT, but merriment isn’t on the agenda. KUNDO sees Yoon Jong-bin at the helm, having previously brought an unflinching eye to crime and corruption with 2012’s hit NAMELESS GANGSTER, and the dehumanization of military training with his 2005 debut, the award-winning THE UNFORGIVEN. Now he explores the action-packed period piece, spinning a dramatic yarn tough as leather in which the good guys have a bit of bad in them and the bad guys are as bad as they get. At the eye of the storm are Doimuchi and Jo-yoon, played by Ha Jung-woo (THE CHASER, THE BERLIN FILE) and Kang Dong-won (WOOCHI: THE TAOIST WIZARD, HAUNTERS) — key figures in the firmament of Korean movie stardom, and ideal for their roles here. Yoon chose a very volatile moment in Korean history in which to situate his rough and ruthless adventure epic, but it’s a perfect canvas for a universal theme — righteous fury in the face of deep injustice.

— Rupert Bottenberg