Between me (Cecelia) and Lindsey, F-BOM could easily become a zombie fan site. I don’t like horror but make an exception for zombie. I love every part of zombie shows: the initial death that teases the zombie outbreak, the main character crossing paths with the zombies for the first time, and learning the hard way they need to be hit in the head (preferably with a Double Tap), joining up with an unlikely band of survivors…and the moment when it turns out that living breathing humans are the real danger.
When a friend of mine recommended Kingdom to me, I looked up the trailer and was only able to find a trailer for something called “Rampant“. I was confused by the name difference but the plot looked right–in Joseon-era Korea, the prince must battle a plague of zombies while palace conspiracies threaten to topple the dynasty. At first, I chalked it up to different translations of the name from Korean, but eventually I realized that we American zombie-lovers had actually been blessed with TWO Korean-zombie period pieces. One, Kingdom, is a six-episode first season of a TV show (2019), while Rampant (2018), is a two-hour-long movie.
So naturally, I watched them both. I’m going to review them together here, to help clear up the confusion for others and help you figure out which one to watch. Put on your gat and hanbok and get ready to fight some zombies:
Not offensive to women = 1/1 pt; Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2/2 pts; Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test = 0/3 pts
As far as I saw, neither the movie nor the show passes the Bechdel-Wallace test. This is not because women characters do not talk to each other but rather because there are so few *named* women characters. The named characters who do speak to each other have often either just met (brought together by the male MC), or are discussing the health and wellness of men.
Neither show has any LGBT rep, and as far as I could tell, there was little racial diversity.
Both Kingdom and Rampant have female supporting characters. In Kingdom, Bae Doona (of Sense8 and Cloud Atlas), plays the village healer who is at the forefront of the defense of her isolated, zombie-ridden county, whereas in Rampant Lee Sun-bin plays the village archer at the forefront of the defense of her isolated, zombie-ridden county (I did admit they were similar!). Both Kingdom and Rampant have pregnant royal women, a Royal Consort and a Crown Princess respectively. The Royal Consort in Kingdom is an active and important part of the conspiracy, while the Crown Princess is more of a figure to be rescued, and remind the errant prince of his duty to his country.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4/4 pts
This is the section where the differences between Kingdom and Rampant are revealed. Kingdom, being a TV show, has more time to develop the court intrigue and the mystery and mythology of the zombie plague. It takes its time, and zombie-lovers who like a slow burn will get to follow along for the ride. And because it’s a TV show, the final episode ends on MULTIPLE cliffhangers. Kingdom and Rampant have a similar zombie type (sprinter zombies that don’t come out during the day), but Kingdom‘s imagery is creepier.
Rampant has an arguably harder job: creating a complete storyline that wraps up the zombie outbreak and the drama in two hours. This means the plot isn’t interested in wasting any time…and it also doesn’t need to save any characters for later. The movie is the bloodbath you’d expect of a zombie flick. It also has a great villain.
I’d say Rampant leans more action-horror, while Kingdom is more political drama with a heavy helping of horror. But both are definitely horror, even though they both appreciate a little comedic break.
Both Kingdom and Rampant do their jobs very well. I thought Kingdom ramped up the tension well, while Rampant accomplished a lot in its two hours. So, I recommend both. If you like Kingdom and need to pass the time before the next season, Rampant can tide you over. And if you like Rampant and NEED more zombie action, Kingdom‘s six hours will do it for you.
‘Illuminae’ combines zombie action with sentient computers. Check out our review here.
Above and Beyond General Media = 2/5 pts
Here’s where both films falter. I threw them a couple points collectively because the women characters as a whole were very distinctive personalities, and none of them have a romantic arc. But there isn’t much else to recommend them, since “not offensive” is already the lowest bar (that’s why we give it one point on the Scale). In Rampant, women characters play a crucial role in the ending, but they do not have any complex inner lives or character development, and their actions are to boost the male main character. In Kingdom, we get a deeper look into the thoughts of the women characters, though not as much as the male characters. Kingdom has a chance to improve as the seasons go on, so hopefully it will.
There you have it! On the outside, these two might seem similar, but in fact they have enough differences in tone and theme to make them both worth a watch. It helps that they are both entertaining, too! And with all the cliffhangers, I’m looking forward to Kingdom Season Two.
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