Kundo (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 26, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“Kundo” is an action film from South Korea that is entertaining, action-packed and not afraid to surprise viewers with its use of tragedy. “Kundo” is no doubt, one of the better action films I have seen from South Korea in quite awhile, so if you are into action films, especially with wonderful fight choreography, “Kundo” is a film for you! Recommended!
TELEFILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 138 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Korean DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Korean 2.0 stereo with English Subtitles
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Directed by Jong-bin Yun
Written by Cheol-Hong Jeon
Produced by Hyun Kang
Music by Yeong-wook Jo
Cinematography by Chan-min Choi
Edited by Jae-beom Kim, Sang-beom Kim
Jung-woo Ha as Dolmuchi
Ye-ri Han as Gok-ji
Dong-wong Kang as Jo-yoon
Hae-Suk Kim as Dolmuchi’s mother
Seong-gyoon Kim as Jang
Kyeong-yeong Lee as Ddaeng-choo
Sung-min Lee as Dae-ho
Dong-seok ma as Chun-bo
Ji-hye Yun as Ma-hyang
1859. The last days of the Joseon Dynasty, where the wages of greed bring poverty and death. A pack of bandits calling themselves KUNDO – rise against the tyrants, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. In an era where status is decided by birth, this band of thieves risks their lives for honor, in the name of the poor and oppressed. But for one man, a debt of bloody revenge is owed to the aristocrat that robbed him of his family and his name.
From Jong-bin Yun (director of “The Unforgiven”, “Beastie Boys”, “Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time”) comes his action film “Kundo”.
Written by Cheol-Hong Jeon (“The Admiral”, “Heaven’s Soldiers”, “Crying Fist”), the film would star Jung-woo Ha (“The Chaser”, “The Yellow Sea”, “Time”), Ye-ri Han (“As One”, “Commitment”), Dong-won Kang (“Woochi”, “Haunters”, “Secret Reunion”) and a large cast of supporting talent.
The film broke records in South Korea set for all-time highest opening day for a box office beating out all domestic and foreign films when released and now, “Kundo” has been released on Blu-ray in the United States courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
“Kundo” takes place in 1862 (late Joseon dynasty) during an era of social and economic unrest and during a time of tyranny when rulers kept rice for themselves, rather than give them to the starving villagers. As villagers suffer from natural disasters, poverty and famine, death runs rampant. But a group of fighters known as Kundo have risen against the authority and have helped the impoverished.
We are the introduced to two people who were brought up differently on two ends of the economic spectrum and their paths will cross.
Dolmuchi (portrayed by Ha Jung-woo) is a butcher (considered as the lowest economic class next to slaves during the Joseon Dynasty and barely surviving. One day, he was offered money to go to the mountain where monks live and kill a young woman. But in the process, Dolmuchi failed and because of the failure, he and his family were burned. While Dolmochi was able to escape, he suffered major burns throughout his head and body but his family were killed. As he tried to avenge them, he tried to challenge Jo Yoon in a fight but due to Jo Yoon’s superior fighting skills, Dolmuchi was easily beaten. Torturned and nearly killed, Dolmuchi survived and was taken in by the Kundo and is reborn as Dolchi.
Now Dolchi wants nothing more than to avenge his family and take down Jo Yoon. But as Dolchi joins the Kundo and hones his use of fighting with butcher knives, can the Kundo help tame his bad temper?
As for Jo Yoon (portrayed by Kang Dong-won), he is an excellent martial arts fighter who has passed the highest level of military exams and wants nothing but to be the successor of corrupt and aging former governor Lord Jo Won-suk of Jeola province.
Jo Yoon was Lord Jo’s illegitimate child, But when Lady Jo finally gave birth to a baby boy, the boy received love from his family, while Jo Yoon would exhibit of anger and hostility. Nearly killing his baby brother, his mother mother was blamed and killed and left in darkness. But many years later, Jo Yoon returned home to find out his half brother and Lady Jo has died and with his older father old and distraught, this is his time to take control of the family.
As the tyranny by the corrupt officials have increased suffering towards the poor villagers (making them slaves to harvest and not giving them any food or money) is at its all time high, can the Kundo help the poor and helpless and save them from the tyrannic Jo Yoon? And will Dolchi get his revenge?
“Kundo” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). Detail of the film is fantastic as you can see the skin pores and details of an outfit quite clearly. Colors and skintones look natural and overall picture quality is fantastic. I saw no signs of banding or artifacts during my viewing of the film.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Kundo” is presented in Korean 5.1 DTS-HDMA and Korean 2.0 Stereo. The film features crystal clear dialogue and the English subtitles are easy to read. There are moments of surround channel use, especially LFE use but this is a film in which the action’s soundtrack is not much of a focal point as there are dialogue or narration during those action scenes at times.
“Kundo” comes with a theatrical trailer.
“Kundo” comes with a slipcover.
As an action film, “Kundo” is one of the more exciting action films I have seen from South Korea, let alone Asia, in quite some time. It’s a film in which the director and writer knew that cast members (many that you root for) are expendable and to avoid the banality of everything goes perfect, many times, the film takes off in a direction where bad things happen to the good guys. And each tragic moment, literally makes your blood boil and you can’t wait for the epic battle between Dolchi and Jo Yoon.
While the film does harken to other storylines such as “Robin Hood” and the Kundo are responsible from stealing for the rich and give to the poor, the film revolves around Dolchi’s quest for revenge and Jo Yoon’s quest of usurping his father and becoming a tyrannical ruler.
If anything, Director Jong-bin Yun and screenwriter Cheol-Hong Jeon does everything possible in order to make you dislike the antagonist and many times, making it seem as if Jo Yoon is indestructible.
You know that Dolchi is a great fighter but not at Jo Yoon’s level and the only way the Kundo has a chance is by strategy and major planning and this is where I applaud the film as it takes you through the planning and shows you how things are executed versus just giving you a simplistic popcorn action film storyline.
If there is one thing that some viewers maybe turned off by is Dolchi’s behavior, which comes off like a smart mouth gangster and trying to interject several scenes for the purpose of comedic flair, you either enjoy it or get turned off by it. I personally felt the humor, especially in the beginning of the film, made the film different and I appreciated “Kundo” because of that. But I can see those who may feel the humor and Dolchi’s rude behavior can turn off those who wanted this film to be more realistic in some sense.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic as colors and skin tones are natural and the Blu-ray offers great detail in HD. As for the lossless soundtrack, the soundtrack is crystal clear but it’s not a film that one can expect great use of the surround channels, especially as many of the action scenes have narration during those scenes. And also, one of the negative things I can think about this Blu-ray release is its lack of special features.
Overall, “Kundo” is an action film from South Korea that is entertaining, action-packed and not afraid to surprise viewers with its use of tragedy. “Kundo” is no doubt, one of the better action films I have seen from South Korea in quite awhile, so if you are into action films, especially with wonderful fight choreography, “Kundo” is a film for you!
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