Are you looking for a little kung-fu with a lot of heart? Look no further than this must see video release.
Part of the fun of the barrage of film and TV streaming services has been finding something new and off the beaten path. I discovered the Korean action piece: ‘Kundo: Age of the Rampant.’ This 2014 released action/adventure movie, is light on historical accuracy and heavy on the excitement. The film attempts to carry its heart on its sleeve, but is at its best when it just lets the swords and the multitude of other weapons fly.
Dochi (Ha Jung-woo) is a butcher, a member of Korean society’s lowest caste during the late Joseon Era. Circumstances result in catching the ire of Jo Yoon (Kang Dong-won), resulting in the death of his family and a death sentence. With help he escapes, badly burned, and joins the Kundo, a bandit clan. Dochi is bent on revenge and the Kundo is determined to bring Jo Yoon down.
This film introduces a lot of characters and I feared on more than one occasion, that the need for everyone to have at least a touch of a backstory, the film was going to get away from its initial conceit. However, even though the second quarter of the film does bog itself down, by film’s end there has been more than one occasion for heroic daring-do.
The practical effect work and kung-fu skills give us plenty of amazing stunts, particularly Jung-woo’s skills with his butcher cleavers; making the film have the feeling of hyper-realism and some good old-fashioned violence. The film breaks some of the surprisingly brutal violence, with hints of real emotion and some great, but surprisingly not out-of-place comedy. Heck this movie even finds time for a training montage!
The thing that makes this film a lot of fun is that it borrows profusely and with great abandon from several genres. Keeping kung-fu films, the Robin Hood mythos, sweeping historical epics and just about every late era spaghetti western (including cheesy musical cues) all in mind and melding them into one pot could be overwhelming. However the film’s makers keep the film direction on point, even when the films length feels a bit too much (138 minutes).
‘Kundo: Age of the Rampant’ is a good movie with hits, heart, and its butcher cleavers in the right place. The movie is the story of a man and a people coming into their own and breaking free of the bonds of society and culture, what can be wrong with that? I recommend that you also watch the film with subtitles instead of the dialogue being dubbed. A lot of character nuance can be lost in translation. I give the film three stars and worth your time in adding to your rental queue.