If you’re enjoying the South Korean zombie series KINGDOM, set in the 1500s, you’ll love MONSTRUM (2018), a film set in the same time period about a mysterious monster that is plaguing the kingdom. I had a lot of fun with this one.
The year is 1527 during King Jungjong’s reign, where plague is spreading in Joseon. The king wants to rule on behalf of the people, but the prime minister and his cabinet keeps thwarting him, creating a power struggle. The prime minister invents a monster to terrify the people and turn them against the king, but investigation reveals the monster is quite real. (Real historical reports of a monster in the kingdom inspired the film.)
Leading the investigation is Yun-kyum, the greatest warrior in the kingdom, aided by the clownish but capable Kim In-kwon, his equally capable adopted daughter Lee Hye-ri, and royal guardsman Choi Woo-shik. They’re all instantly likeable, and the film does a great job investing you in them winning.
The political machinations are handled similarly to KINGDOM, that is, very simply and without distracting from the action. The fight scenes with Yun-kyum and Kim In-kwon are incredible. Then the monster is finally revealed, and wow, it’s extremely cool, an unstoppable juggernaut of brutish rage. I hadn’t seen a monster done so well on film since THE RITUAL. The story winds up pretty much how you expect but in a very satisfying way. Recommended.