Platform : Netflix
Director : Seong-hun Kim
Writers: Eun-hee Kim
Genre: war, periodic, fantasy
Release Date: 23 Jul 2021
With it’s slow burning ,taunting storyline swinging through out the kings, wars and zombies, Kingdom series actually proved to be worthy shot for both critics and audience alike. While that journey went really good with series, this special movie actually put our lot of expectation most of the time into it, but just to wait patiently to see eh? or aah! moment, let’s see.
Most of the movie as the parent series went, goes in war torn, political Korean kingdom era and no new things from anything series has not given us regarding genre. But with almost same amount of war ,politics and zombie elements movie mostly goes to mixed genre zombie war drama.
Apart from series, this special movie or you call special long episode got it’s production dates set off from 2020 right after the rave reviews and reception for series. Seong-hun Kim returned to direct this after not returning to 2nd season of series. Most of the movie shoot happened in almost one place, Jeju Island of South Korea, as the whole story of movie revolves just around limited locations. This movie idea in particular came mid way after most of the shoot for series happened with an ideology to uncover the fact behind finding of plant which makes dead return. It took less time to makers to explore and make it on to the set once they chose it as important part of the story which helps to make season 3 of the series more interesting. Currently there are preproduction works going on for Season 3 of the series.
Ashin is elder daughter of Ta-hab, head of the low born Jurchen tribe living off the Joseon borders and works as spy to prove his loyalty towards Josean kingdom as Pajeowi hunters keeps on striking on Joseon kingdom. After Joseon military head finding out about death of 15 Pajeowi soldiers dead deep inside forests he make people believe that a tiger killed them. After an incident of an evil tiger breaking towards hunters of Joseon they all together kills tiger but find out it’s a dead tiger (resurrected) and Joseon people convinces pajowei that it’ not tiger but Jurchen people killed their brother. Ashin ,during her wild travels finds out there is a plant which resurrects dead by reading cave paintings deep inside near by forest and uses her idea to bring that plant to resurrect her sick mother, leaving her village and sick mother behind. By the time she returns with plant whole village got ravaged by Pajoewi and finds out that she is the only survivor. She goes back to Military commander of Joseon and asks his help to have her revenge, and starts her new life as servant among the soldier settlements of Joseon. How she will take her revenge on people who killed her father and villagers with skills she learned during her struggles is the ultimate story here to talk about.
Screenplay part of the movies is excellent we say as first of all the rights we seen. Events that made, the first ever zombie outcome designed in a way with utmost care and screenplay is excellent there with bending BG score. Story goes very smooth and calm as it is series gave us and writing is good for most of the part. once you are reaching towards end of the movie, then you will realize how neat they arranged screenplay. We can’t hesitate to appreciate that part specially. One amazing part of the movie using emotions rather than war and fights as heart of the story. Character development is not phenomenal but it’s good for movie, that too not side tracking from political events that made series more excited. We could not compare much with series in the aspect of writing, but this one looked different most of the time and that’s actually a pretty good part about film. Character performances really helped movie go in a theme synced with emotions of the screenplay writing and acts of the film.
No movies ever made comes with all pluses, Ashin of the North is no different too. What we really don’t like about the movie is declining curve of the excitement going towards climax. What we expect to see after enjoying moments of political fantasy elements in first act, dissolves completely in third act. As most of the third act stands solely on revenge of Ashin, you Might feel incomplete with ending. Though bit of drama they added between Ashin and herd of Pajeowi, it would not move us such strongly. That too that part gave more of silly feelings than excellent ending. Design of the lead character’s moments are excellent most of the time but we felt lead actor did not give us her best. whole climax episode of revenge killing is flat from lead’s acting perspective except her final act on last remaining soldier but thematically good overall script wise. We feel silly that a normal village child more about cave drawings than soldiers doing their duties around, but you can’t see any genius moments from Ashin except her revenge plan, making everything in control. Again we never understood why makers decided to show Ashin’s personal zombies 2 times including their presence at the end of season 2, that too making it as end event for both second season and movie, instead they would have shown with different scenarios as timelines are pretty far from what is between movie and season 2 like makers mentioned.
Acting wise we really disappointed with Jun Ji-hyun, as her part is just okay and we felt her best is still pending. She is no where near to what we have seen with Ju Ji-Hoon and Bae Doona has given us during series. Remaining actors gave their bests but Tiger and deer are the best of all performances, kudos to VFX guys. All the other actors just goes on and off and there is no real memorable moment for any of the actor.
Cinematography is excellent of all for this special movie even in comparison with screen writing. Art and set design along with Costume integrity and location development are fine to every moment of the movie, they are good. VFX are to be specially mentioned for their hard work on creature scenes ,especially with Tiger and deer scenes, they are phenomenal to the core of reality, animation and the gigantic performance on screen. SkyEdge Studios deserves the medal for that.
With it’s unnecessarily long movie based on the events of revenge with bit of zombie essence, Ashin of the North not really impressed on a whole with what series has given in comparison. If we say, this will be one time good entertaining story among many but not stood above or apart.
Accordingly our rating for this revenge zombie drama deserves no more than 5.0/10 for many wounds it have.