So, continuing the series of reviewing movies and shows during the lockdown period, our pick today is the Korean web series Kingdom, a period horror drama. The series is based on a graphic novel, The Kingdom of the Gods, written by Kim Eun-hee and Yang Kyung-il, and the adaptation has been written by Kim Eun-hee and directed by Kim Seong-hun.
What’s it about?
Set in the early 17th century, Kingdom tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang and his various attempts to save the kingdom from various internal and external threats. When the Queen stops Lee Chang from meeting his ill-father, the King, the crown prince goes on an adventurous journey to find out more about the disease which his father is suffering from; however, he soon discovers that there’s not only a political conspiracy brewing in the kingdom, but also a mysterious plague, which turns people into zombies, threatens to destroy the kingdom.
While there are quite a few period dramas about evil kings and politicians, Kingdom is one of the few shows which explores the palace politics within the context of the horror genre. Soon after the crown prince leaves the palace, he’s declared as a traitor by a rival clan, and it puts his life under threat instantly. With very few allies in the palace, Lee Chang has no choice but to earn the trust and support of smaller states far away from the capital, and he’s ably supported by his loyal bodyguard Mu-yeong. Together with a physician Seo-Bi and a powerful military officer, Lee Chang leads a fightback for the greater good of the kingdom. The series has a sense of urgency right from the beginning, considering the clever usage of the zombie attack, and it heightens the tension and drama in the story as it unfolds. Some of the best segments in the series have the lead characters struggling to survive with the numbers of zombies increasing day by day, and the horror element in the story never dips. On the same note, the palace politics too is effectively handled and it makes for an interesting watch.
The format of the show and the story has a few similarities with Indian period dramas, especially in terms of claim to the throne, and how it brings out the best and worst in people. A few TV enthusiasts have even compared the adventures of Lee Chang and Mu-yeong with that of Baahubali and Kattappa in Baahubali, and that’s more to do with the friendship and bonding which the two share. Kingdom doesn’t have the scale of epic TV shows like Game Of Thrones, but it makes great use of its resources in hand, especially when it comes to acting and writing. Ju Ji-hoon is extremely good in the lead role as the crown prince and Ryu Seung-ryong is terrifying as the main villain in the story.
Final word :
In a way, there are quite a few elements in Kingdom which remind you of how Coronavirus spread across different regions and what the local governments have done to stop the spread. Even if you keep the socio-political commentary, about how the poor always bear the brunt of war and disease, Kingdom is a richly satisfying TV series about a young prince’s relentless effort to save the people.
Season 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix.
123telugu.com Rating : 4/5
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