SYNOPSIS: After a deadly earthquake turns Seoul into a lawless badland, a fearless huntsman springs into action to rescue a teenager abducted by a mad doctor.
Ma Dong-seok aka Don Lee (The Roundup, Eternals) replaces Lee Byun-hun as the lead in this supposedly follow up to the acclaimed Concrete Utopia. Other than the finale which took place at the same intact apartment building, nothing else connects to the events that happened prior.
In the post-apocalyptic world formerly known as Seoul, survivors gather in various camps surviving on minimal clean water and food. And in one such camp, there’s Nam-san (Lee), Ji-wan (Lee Jun-young), Su-na (Ron Jeong-eui) and her grandma.
One day, a group of mysterious survivors from the last standing apartment promises food, clean water and medical facility to Su-na and her grandmother, they took up the offer not knowing an evil doctor, Yang Gi-su (Lee Hee-soon) and his soldiers are kidnapping teenagers for horrifying experiments.
Together with an ex-soldier, Eun-ho (Ahn Ji-hye), the reluctant Nam-san has to spring into action to rescue Su-na in this action-oriented adventure known as Badland Hunters.
From a story perspective, Badland Hunters lacks the depth and social commentary of Concrete Utopia to make much of an impression. In fact, it’s best to leave the latter out of the picture if you want to enjoy the former.
The entire setup is basically a cut-and-paste exercise from other better similar-theme Korean and Hollywood movies. In a noble attempt to save mankind and his only daughter, the doctor becomes a modern-day Victor Frankenstein and turns people into mutated beings and zombies.
And with that, martial-arts director turned director Heo Myeong-haeng has to rely on the always watchable Don Lee and Ahn Ji-hye to keep the movie going. The action is insane and presented often in a bloody, violent manner and definitely not for the squeamish. Lee continues to smash his way through like a human bulldozer knocking out thugs, more thugs, soldiers and a zombified commander.
There’s little originality throughout with the exception of Lee’s character chopping off the head of a crocodile in the prologue. Perhaps it’s a better movie with Nam-san being a Korean version of Crocodile Dundee. Too bad, what you have in the end is a generic, zombie fighting actioner. Entertaining for sure but largely as empty as the vast wasteland.
Review by Linus Tee