The Perfect Political Zombie Thriller: Kingdom Review

Where do I start? I love this series so much that I’m dying for a third season. If it doesn’t get renewed, I’ll probably mourn for a few days.

Kingdom is a Korean original Netflix series and based on a web comic called The Kingdom of the Gods. Set during Korea’s Joseon period, a nation struggles with political chaos and a mysterious plague that no one understands yet. The rulers only care about power; the citizens turn against each other. Indifference, stupidity, and self-interest leads to the massive spread of this novel plague, and our group of protagonists see no end in sight.

Major spoilers ahead.

Not even five minutes into the film, we already know something is wrong. Kingdom starts in the royal palace at night. The palace guards force an underling to bring a bowl of blood to the king, and the underling immediately gets pulled under. No one, not even the Crown Prince Lee Chang, may see the king.

It’s later discovered that the king’s inner circle is keeping the king’s condition a secret and presenting their own schemes as the king’s wishes. The Queen Consort is apparently pregnant with the king’s child. If the Crown Prince dies or gets imprisoned, her child will become the heir to the throne, and the treacherous Chief of State Councillor would run things on the infant’s behalf.

Lee Chang and his loyal bodyguard, Mu-yeong, travel to a remote province to investigate the report of a mysterious disease. They meet two physicians, Seo-Bi and Yeong-Shin who survived a night of horror the day before. The people of this province lived in poverty, and just a day before, they unknowingly ate the body of an infected man, thus turning them all into zombies.

It’s frustrating to see how quickly this plague spread because people in power wouldn’t listen. The first instance was the physicians warning the nobles about the zombies. What’s interesting about the zombies is that they are active during the night and dormant during the day.

However, this change in season two, after Seo-Bi discovers that it’s the temperature keeping them active not because they are nocturnal. When the nobles saw corpses buried underneath a shack, they immediately dug them out and ignored the warnings that the dead would rise at night.

The disparities in social class was a powerful element for the show.

As the plague spreads, we quickly see three types of people. First is our protagonist group: Lee Chang, Mu-yeong, Seo-Bi, Yeong-Shin, and a few others they meet along the way. This is the group that wants to stop the plague, learn about the plague, and protect the people.

Second is those that just don’t listen. They don’t really know anything about it and ignore the warnings of those who do. When terror strikes, they save their own hide because they have the resources and leave the rest to die.

The last group is those that want to use the plague to their advantage. However, this tactic turns on them horribly.

While the plague itself is terrifying, Kingdom does an outstanding job of showing human nature and its dark consequences.

The zombies in this film also deserve a round of applause. They run and are obviously aggressive. Some scenes were also graphic. One slit his throat to prevent being eaten; another got his tongue bit off by a zombie. The series really didn’t hold back on the gore.

I really enjoyed the fantasy element in this series, and this would make an amazing season three. Seo-Bi discovers that a plant is how the dead comes back to life. By the end of season two, Lee Chang and Seo-Bi embark on a mission to discover where this plant came from. This leads them to a mysterious merchant who knew about the effects of the plant and was selling it to people. And that was the end of season two.

By now the plague is under control, the Queen’s infant son was born and survived a zombie attack, and is now the new king. However, during the attack, he was bit by the infected. While Seo-Bi saved him, some essence of the plague remains within him and has spread as he grows older.

Maybe he’ll become some hybrid zombie human. That would be interesting.

What I didn’t enjoy about the series was the last bit of season two. It was a standoff between our heroes and a zombie hoard from the palace. Lee Chang and his team had torches and standing on a frozen lake. Their plan was to melt the ice and send the zombies to their icy demise.

But they waited until the zombies were running at them to break the ice. The ice was thick, so it took a lot of manpower to break it. Despite their efforts, the infected bit all of them. Some of them were getting devoured. It wasn’t until Lee Chang flipped a heavy zombie to break the ice… which magically broke the surrounding ice. I mean… yeah, okay. I’ll take it, I guess.

While season one and two focused on the plague, season three is likely to focus on the origins, which would make an amazing continuation. And with a new king and a recovered nation, I’m excited to see where the creators take this story.

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