Kundo: Age Of The Rampant (Blu-ray Review)

KundoKundo: Age Of The Rampant, the international box office hit and Asia’s answer to Robin Hood, debuts on Blu-ray from Well Go USA Entertainment. Set in mid-19th century, the tongue-in-cheek historical comedy-action film depicts a power struggle between the unjust wealthy noblemen who run society and a group of righteous outlaws who steal from corrupt officials to give to the downtrodden and starving.  Directed by Yun Jong-bin, Kundo stars Ha Jung-woo, Kang Dong-won, Lee Sung-min of The Good The Bad and The Weird fame and Ma Dong-seok. When the film opened this summer, it broke all existing opening day box office records in South Korea.  Most notably for us over here in the states, it shattered Transformers: Dark Of The Moon‘s opening weekend record.

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During the tyrannic rule of the Joseon dynasty in 1859, officials have come to be an incredibly greedy lot.  They use their citizens and cities for slavery and to enhance their own wealth.  Hunger and death are at high numbers for villagers, but those in power continue to get wealthier and more powerful.  A group called Kundo has formed together to infiltrate these governments and rob them of their prestige and power, and give back to food and wealth to the people of the villages.  This story deals with Dolmuchi, a butcher who has had his life destroyed by an unjust ruler.  Dolmuchi becomes the newest member of Kundo, waiting for his chance to possibly have a crack at revenge on the evil Jo Yoon.

As stated earlier, Kundo is pretty much a take on Robin Hood, albeit it in a Korean setting focusing on Korean heritage.  The values are all present and some characters even seem to hinting toward others.  The priest character has to be the Friar Tuck, right?  And Jo Yoon easily our vile Sheriff of Nottingham.  However similar that mission statement and ideals, this won’t seem very familiar to the Robin Hood story at all.  The last thing this little spin is, is a rehash.  Kundo is a fully imagined work of its own, and in no way feels of a reboot, remake or that kind of thing.  It is much more of the “inspired” by fashion, if anything.

The film is a gorgeous looking epic that features some excellent photography and a grand scope.  Many of the on location scenes feature some well crafted sets and gorgeous locals.  There are some incredible and beautiful establishing shots throughout the film that almost make you feel as if you’re watching some sort of IMAX documentary just taking in scenery.  I’m not sure the budget on this film, but if feels like a big time film being made with very high production values.  Everything from the look, the sets, the costuming and just the overall feel of the film feel very high class.

But, fear not, its not some long drawn out period drama.  Kundo is very much a martial arts epic.  It features many spectacular fights and action scenarios that should impress the action enthusiast.  There are many intense sword fights and power kick action to keep you enthralled throughout.  Its not a very gory movie, but its not light on the blood either.  The visuals of the results of the violence (stabbings, limbs torn, decapitations), are hesitant, this stuff is shown, but its done in a matter of good taste.  This will definitely please the kung fu gore enthusiast, but is not going to offend the regular film watcher.

Kundo is no Michael Bay Transformers movie, but its pretty long and does feel that way in spots.  The story itself is a kung fu epic mixing plenty of period drama with kung fu action and a little bit of ancient Korea espionage.  Scope and action in the film are quite impressive an the film promotes some very high production values.  If you’ve got the time and you’re looking for a more than solid period drama or fresh martial arts adventure, then I definitely recommend you check out Kundo.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  Detail is pretty solid from an at times soft picture (likely intended).  You can make out blood on objects, see scuffs and nicks on blades.  Also clothing texture is quite visible.  Its a pretty picture that definitely compliments the cinematography.

Depth: There are many great establishing shots that bring the scale to full realization.  In particular, scenes with the birds flying among the mountains bring about wonderful dimensions.

Black Levels:  Blacks levels are accurate and help to craft a sharper image.  Minimal crushing present.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are lifelike and bold.  Mostly consisting of browns and yellows, there’s not much to talk about popping here.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones appear a little warm, but consistent.  Facial detail is fantastic in closeups.  Dolmuchi’s entire head is a marvel of detail in itself.

Noise/Artifacts:  None witnessed.

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Audio Format(s): Korean 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Korean 2.0 Stereo

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  This track is booming.  Its loud and well crafted.  Possibly the best track I’ve ever heard from a Well Go USA title.  Voice, effect and score are all distinct and very separate in the mix.

Low Frequency Extension: Action gets some intensity enhancements from the subwoofer and the score is boasted to more heights with it.

Surround Sound Presentation: During some battle scenes you can pick up action in the rear speakers.  Also, left and right action is pretty nominal featuring things like arrows traveling back and forth.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp, clean and clear.

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Wanna learn more about this film’s story and production?  Too bad 🙂

Trailer (HD, 1:57)

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Kundo is a very good (but long) Korean martial arts period epic that channels the ideals of Robin Hood.  There’s some great action coupled with sets design, costuming and photography.  Plus, there are some cool weapons in there too.  This Blu-ray features a great video and audio presentation that should have your home theater put to work with its awesomeness.  Unfortunately the extras only features a trailer for the film and nothing more.  That’s quite the bummer.  But if you’re in it for the film, you’re definitely going to be getting your full money’s worth on this disc, then.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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