Neither Kevin Costner or Cary Elwes make an appearance in this Robin Hood story. From American distributor Well Go USA Entertainment, comes this South Korean import of a hierarchical time of tyranny and the warriors who rose against the wealthy to empower the lower classes. In his fourth outing, director Yoon Jong-bin confidently follows in the footsteps of recent Asian epics, a la Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers. With more aesthetic grandeur and matured filmmaking, these imports with their lush visuals and nuanced emotionality make Hollywood’s found footage and handheld films look like juvenile student films. The sensibility is undeniably different, and most people might still want Costner or Crowe to play the Prince of Thieves, but Kundo delivers on an exciting, vibrant ride.
Dolmuchi (Ha Jung-woo) is a poor butcher’s son, the lowest rank in the 1859 Joseon Dynasty. With the era’s days numbered, he finds in upper class Jo Yoon (Gang Dong-won) a lifelong adversary. Jo Yoon, illegitimate heir to the throne, hires Dolmuchi to kill his stepmother, who turns out to be pregnant, threatening Jo Yoon’s ascension. Dolmuchi has a crisis of morality and his family pays the cost. Turning to a band of brigands, Dolmuchi becomes the warrior Dolchi and fights his way back to a final confrontation with his sadistic foe. Setting a record for the biggest domestic or foreign box office to that time in South Korea, Kundo found a loyal audience in its home country. Imports always struggle in America, mainly, it seems, because most of this country cringes at the thought of reading subtitles. It’s a shame to think more people won’t pick Kundo, because they really should.
BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES
"Kundo" is on sale October 21, 2014 and is not rated. Action, Adventure, Foreign, Martial-Arts. Directed by Yoon Jong Bin. Written by Jeon Cheol-Hong. Starring Gang Dong Won, Ha Jung Woo.