Who knew zombies running amok in medieval Korea could be so much fun! Netflix’s new series, Kingdom, is chocked full of political intrigue, betrayal, and a horde of the undead who forgot how to do the zombie shuffle. It’s a mix of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones that will leave audiences hooked from start to finish.
In the medieval Kingdom of Joseon, the king is secretly being treated for an illness and no one is allowed into the palace by order of the queen. Crown Prince Chang (Ju Ji-Hoon) suspects the pregnant queen is plotting against him.
Assisted by his personal guard, Moo-Young (Kim Sang-Ho), Chang infiltrates the King’s Palace and steals his father’s medical journal.
He discovers the last physician to treat his father is no longer in the city, and has returned to his faraway clinic. Chang and Moo-Young decide to seek out the physician for an explanation.
Their departure is fortunate as a faction loyal to the queen soon discovers Chang was plotting to seize the throne for himself. A detachment of palace guards is dispatched to hunt down Chang and return him to the capital for trial.
The long journey of Chang and Moo-Young ends at the physician’s abandoned clinic, where they discover mounds of corpses under the floorboards of the compound. The bodies are brought to the local magistrate, where it’s discovered at sunset, they awaken and attack anyone in sight.
At the break of dawn, the undead crawl into dark places under houses and in caves to hibernate for the day. Unable to find and dispose of all the undead, the horde grows with each passing night. With the queen’s forces on their heels, Chang and Moo-young will have to figure out a way to stop the horde before it devours the entire kingdom.
The story is full of twist, turns, and betrayal that will keep viewers emotionally engaged. The fate of the king, a secret about the queen’s unborn child, and the unknown spy in Prince Chang’s group working against him set the tone for the season. Everyone is jockeying for power while trying to work around the zombie onslaught wreaking havoc across the land.
Kingdom starts at day one of the zombie outbreak and doesn’t keep the catalyst a mystery. It shows in gruesome detail how and where the infestation started. Unfortunately, things never really play out to conclusion and the season ends on a cliffhanger.
It was disappointing because the final episode builds up this massive battle that never comes. With the horde upon the defenders, the credits roll, and audiences will be left waiting until next season.
Having a zombie apocalypse set in ancient Korea makes for some interesting design choices. Eastern architecture is always fascinating, and the King’s Palace is beautiful, inside and out.
The vibrant colors of the costumes worn by the wealthy are beautiful while the pheasants were clothed in earth-toned rags. When the journey moves away from the larger settlements, you get a dose of the beautiful Korean countryside with mountains and grassy valley floors.
The terrifying zombies look like they’re going into convulsions with bones creaking and cracking as they wake up from their slumber. Unlike their slower shuffling cousins, these zombies run at a mindless breakneck speed mowing down anything in their path.
It’s funny to see a horde chasing down their next prey, only to have the leader fall down, which leads to a conga line of bodies tripping and flying over each other. One scene has a zombie tumbling down a hill, only to spring up and run headfirst into a tree. Unfazed it leaps up and continues its murderous rampage without missing a beat.
The fights are intense, fast-paced, and chaotic. The best being a night battle in the middle of a field on fire with swords and a horde of ravenous zombies. It was excellently choreographed into a scene of horrific eye candy full of blood and body parts.
Kingdom is a great zombie series that gives The Walking Dead a run for its money. The story is full of political intrigue, mystery, and an enormous amount of violence. The zombies are like rabid wild animals that run down and devour anything that moves. The final episode ends on a cliffhanger, that could be a negative for some people.