Film Corner: Rampant


Alright, people, I'm confined to bed and that means movie time. We will not, however, be doing a bad Amazon Prime movie. We will instead be doing a good Netflix movie that was recommended to me after I asked if there were any historical setting zombie movies. TURNS OUT THERE IS.

Today's movie is called RAMPANT. "When Prince Lee Cheong returns to Joseon after his brother's death, he finds the kingdom plagued by deadly creatures--but they're not the only threat." I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS MOVIE, Joseon era movies are my fucking favorite movies period, and someone put ZOMBIES in one. This is catnip for me. I'm so happy.

We start with a ship which is VERY on fire, on account of the archers shooting fire arrows into it and its crew. The crew is scrambling to escape. One of the crew investigates something on the deck of the ship and is bitten by a blood soaked feral man. Never a good sign in these movies. His crewmates rescue him and haul him away. An indeterminate number of hours (days?) later, he's back home in his crowded village and burning up with hunger. That night he goes full zombie and-- oh shit. His wife and infant son don't fare well at all. He runs out into the night, leaving a trail of carnage behind.

3 days earlier! We're back on the boat!

There's a guard dog on the ship and some lovely arquebus guns that are matchlock instead of the older wick kind, and let me tell you that "John Wick" has made googling gun wicks nearly impossible and I'm annoyed by that. The captain is selling the guns to someone who wants to besiege the palace. He also has a sick man in a cage. The man begs to be killed and the captain asks him to hold out just a little longer. Is he thinking he'll find a cure for zombism?

The backstory indicates this is set just after the Qing dynasty invaded Joseon; the guns were apparently ordered by conspirators in the palace who are seeking to expel the Qing sympathizers. UNFORTUNATELY, the conspirators have been caught and the sample gun confiscated. The Crown Prince comes out and reads his dad the riot act, saying that HE (the prince) is the lead conspirator and that the others are innocent and just wanted to expel the Qing. Emperor Dad is understandably upset. This isn't going to end well.

He begs that the others be released, and then kills himself as punishment for the conspiracy. I liked him, I'm sad now. Meanwhile, it seems exceedingly unlikely that the captain will find a cure, just saying.

The younger prince is recalled from Beijing to return home, in the wake of his brother's death, and he's very worried that there might not be pretty woman to swive. His attendant begs him to at least try to act dignified. Both the prince and I are a little alarmed and confused why no one whatsoever was sent to greet him at the docks. That's weird. Given that this is a zombie movie, it's also ominous.

I think we may have passed the three days ago flashback? In that case, I think we can safely assume that the emperor learned the location of the boat, and was the one who torched it, sacked the guns, got someone bitten, and then let the bitten person go back home. Like, we saw all that happen, and it's easy enough to connect the dots as to why and when. So I think we're all caught up from the flashback now, and the prince is wondering why the village by the docks has been sacked and there's not a soul left alive. Not even a rat or cat.

We cut back to the palace and the emperor is startled to learn that his son will be landing shortly. OH NO. He wasn't called for; he took the initiative to come back when he heard of his brother's death. Whoooops. Back at the palace, a pregnant princess is being confined to her apartments by which I mean they're literally boarding up the doors with her inside. I think she's the Crown Prince's widow.

Back at the ruined village, it's night and the prince is hungry. While looking for food, his attendant is grabbed by a bloody hand. Oh god my heart is pounding, and they cut away. Back at the palace again, the Prime Minister flings a headless chicken into a cellar and locks the doors back up immediately. ...what's down there? Zombies and cellars are a bad combination. The minister orchestrated the princess' confinement, and he says the younger prince will never reach the palace. That's ominous.

BACK AT THE VILLAGE. The attendant is ok, but terrified. Riders approach him and the prince, claiming to be royal escorts. The prince points out that they didn't bring him a horse and they don't look like an honor guard. Aww shit, they're assassins! This could be bad, but the sounds of battle draw out zombies. Ok, these are legitimately the creepiest zombies I've ever seen and they can stop moaning like that now. *shiver*

A peasant girl has appeared to help the prince! They've apparently figured out how to distract and draw zombies to the sound of-- it's an arrow, but with a couple iron rings that vibrate with the vibration of the arrow and make a sound? I think? She has friends! The prince is a little miffed at being spikred to like an equal, and they have a bit of a standoff. They're giving the prince the rules of zombie engagement.

Oh god, they've been quarantined to die without aid. They're begging the prince to do something, since nobody else at the capitol cares what happens to them. I mean, a quarantine makes sense in a situation like this, but god how gut wrenching. The prince is upset; he doesn't really want to even be here, and now there's zombies and assassins. He only came, he reveals, to take his brother's widow back to Beijing with him. That's interesting; we'd assumed he wanted to rush here and curry favor with his dad for a crown prince position but noooope, he's just doing a favor for his brother and leaving again. He doesn't want to be here.

Back at the palace, the Prime Minister is like gosh thank you for your report, Assassin, your reward is very definitely in this cellar. Yeah, there's zombies down there. Only question is how many. Welp, the minister just used the cellar contents to infect the emperor's wife. That was unkind.

Back at the village, the prince is offering to take the cute peasant girl back to Qing where she won't know hardship anymore. She shames him for not caring about his homeland. Oh oh oh oh but he saves her without thinking when a zombie grabs her. HOLY SHIT. In the most terrifying sequence ever, the infected wife turns during breakfast and bites the emperor. So that was the Minister's plan for getting rid of the emperor. He wants to replace him with himself.

The prince has promised to go to the palace and come back with help. ...sorta. He's still a little reluctant about all this, lolsob. Oh shit, the prince didn't know that his brother died FOR his people. Oh, this sweet boy with so much to learn. I'm a sucker for stories about princesses/princes learning to care about their people. Or, really, ANYONE learning to care about people.

Oh, motherfucker!! The Minister has somehow convinced everyone that the quarantined province just has a plague and not zombies. Not really sure how he did that but NOT COOL, DUDE. The prince has arrived before the emperor and right there in court is like yeah assassins tried to get me and then zombies, here's what they look like. Ballsy as fuck. I'm a little troubled that no one is yet connecting the zombie description with what happened to the one lady, but admittedly it was a private-ish dinner between the emperor and his wives, so most of the advisers may not even be aware of what happened exactly.

Oh, man, the prince is going ALL IN on the minister. He is just taking no shit at all and I love him. Oh oh oh oh now he's checking on his sister in law who they boarded up. He's so gentle and reassuring. He points out that before they can help anyone else, they have to survive. SECURE YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK FIRST. The minister is forcing the prince and princess to attend a banquet (ominous) and the prince is warning him that he's (the prince) is more dangerous to the minister than his older brother because HE has nothing to lose. Good man. The minister says if the prince will just walk away and return to Qing, then he'll let the prince live. Daggers are stares at each other.

Oh shit, the cellar is open.

Oh shit oh shit, there's a LOT of them. How exactly does the Minister plan to not get eaten??? Zombies aren't exactly known for their loyalty. The emperor turned and attacked a performer. The minister stabbed him, as calm as you like. That surprised me; I figured he'd let him run amok a bit more. Oh for ducks sake, he's a calm megalomaniac. He thinks having hordes of zombies descend on the Qing ambassador party will earn him respect from the Qing emperor. I mean, it might work; I too would not want much to do with a country full of zombies, but STILL. Talk about setting your own country on fire just to make it an unattractive target to invaders.

Oooooh, his survival plan is "really good guns".

BLESS THIS PRINCE who is plowing a path through zombies whilst protecting his pregnant sister in law. God, it's SO nice to see a protagonist protecting a woman for some reason other than because she's a love interest. He's protecting her because she's family. Oh, how clever! They're going to try to trap all the zombies in the palace so they can't leave and continue terrorizing the countryside. (These zombies are burned by light, so there's a good chance that morning will take care of a lot of them IF they can't disappear back into the forest.)


Ah, omg, this is so tense.

PHEW, ok, everything is still a mess but SO FAR everyone we care about is still alive!!

I wish more movies understood that keeping your characters alive is WAY more tense than predictably picking them off like candies out of a candy bowl. Ok, good news: it's morning. Bad news: these fuckers can climb walls and cling to rafters like fucking sloth bears.

The Minister is bitten (YEAH FUCK YOU) and has to kill all his guards and the other ministers before they kill him. I think he's going to amputate his bitten hand, but we've already seen that only slows the infection, but doesn't stop it. The prince is calling in reserve troops but they won't reach the palace by sunset. They gotta find somewhere safe to flee to. The princess refuses to flee, pointing out that if the demons leave the palace, Joseon will be overrun. I have NO IDEA what they're going to do, this is so exciting and tense.

Oooh, they're going to try to lure all the demons to one building and set it on fire. Good plan.

The minister isn't doing so hot.

No no no no no don't go down into the creepy cellar no no no. Oh, the Minister killed the prince's good Attendant.

Night falls and the zombie invasion starts again. This is legitimately terrifying. You'd think the sunlight allergy would make them less scary, but the race against the clock makes it MORE tense. Oh gosh. They're discussing their last stand. The prince doesn't want to be king. He only saved them out of pity. But they point out that no one else had pity for them. Only he did. And that's what makes a great king. Such very good politics in my zombie movie.

Oh no oh no oh no, Evil Minister has showed up to ruin the trap and Peasant Girl's Father's noble sacrifice!!

JESUS MOTHER FUCKING CHRIST!!!!!!!!!! Watching a zombie movie, at night, and suddenly the power goes out and warning sirens go off. Took five years off my life. Christ on a cracker, my heart is pounding and my hair is gray.

Oh my god, this is the most tense sword fight scene I've ever seen in my life.



And he brings back an army to save the quarantined area, just like he promised!!

Oh oh oh oh, that was SO GOOD.

That was, like, everything good about a good Joseon era politics movie PLUS a really good zombie concept.


Hey, @netflix , stop fucking autoplaying Black Mirror after every damn thing I watch!


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