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Ko - production in Busan
  • KIM Sung-hoon of RAMPANT
  • by KIM Hyun-su /  May 09, 2018
  • Mission: To Make an Exhilarating Action Film

    The Kingdom of Joseon is plagued with mysterious creatures known as ‘night demons’ endangering the lives of the common people. While the throne is jeopardized by political conflicts, the fate of the Kingdom is left in the hands of a character named Lee Cheung (Hyun-Bin), who does not seem fit to be a hero. After Confidential Assignment (2017), set in a contemporary Korea fraught with tension between North and South, Rampant marks another collaboration between director KIM Sung-hoon and Hyun-Bin, this time using a social conflict in the Joseon era as background.

    Rampant tells the story of people trying to get free from ‘night demons’, a component of horror films, but this one is set in the Joseon era. Where did you get the idea for this new film?

    I was at a scenario meeting one day when someone from a distribution company shared a very brief story about zombie-like creatures appearing in a royal palace. The zombie creatures have been widely explored and subjected to variations over time so I wanted to give them a new look under the name of ‘night demons’ and connect them with social issues.

    The title of the film in Korean can be understood in various ways. It could mean "the spread of an epidemic" or could hint at the start of a new world.

    It’s because we came up with that title during the planning meeting that I decided to take on the role of director for this project (laughs). The title instantly helped me get the hang of it, so to speak. The premise of the story brings together such disparate of elements as the Kingdom of Joseon and the night demons. Spatially and visually, the story takes place in a world we’ve never come across before but at the same time, Koreans are already quite familiar with the social hierarchy of the Joseon era. Therefore, instead of taking a classic approach, I wondered if I could introduce characters who seek good leadership and a new world for themselves in this existing world.

    I heard the shooting was mostly done at night. I am looking forward to seeing the film’s action sequences.

    You won’t find the kind of speedy, big-scale action of Hollywood films in this one. Instead, the action sequences are more realistic and have a more intense three-dimensional effect. I suggested to my action director that he use as few shots as possible and refrain from including the all so common sword action.

    Why did you decide not to include any sword action?

    Generally speaking, when you have a swordfight in a film, the movements of the swords are only expressed in terms of lines. But in Rampant, I take a more modern approach to action, where each and every movement is closely observed. What distinguishes traditional and modern types of action is the question of emotions and power. In other words, the key lies in the way we receive the action and react to it. Rampant focuses on maximizing the power of action.
    Hyun-Bin and you previously worked together on Confidential Assignment.

    In creating the character of Lee Cheung, I was very much influenced by the informal, everyday aspects of Hyun-Bin. I wanted to ensure that this new character would give the actor a chance to show a side of him he's never shared before. 
    The role of KIM Ja-jun, Lee Cheung's enemy, went to JANG Dong-gun.

    As soon as he saw the scenario, he asked ‘Why are you offering me this role?’ (laughs). I wanted to avoid shaping KIM Ja-jun into a fragmentary villain that's why I chose to portray him as a multi-faceted character instead. I have no interest in characters that are born evil. What fascinates me is the question of how and why a person becomes evil. I hope KIM Ja-jun is seen as an extension or an evolution of CHA Gi-sung, the character played by KIM Joo-hyuk in Confidential Assignment.

    With this background of political strife and epidemic outbreak, can we expect to still find both emotional and entertaining elements in the movie?

    When the planning stage of a new project starts, I consciously avoid looking at any reference materials so as not to be influenced by them. With Rampant, my goal is to present an entertaining film telling the story of people during the Joseon era who are fighting against night demons and work on resolving the disastrous situation they are in. I hope the film conveys the spirit of those people rather than simply showing how they overcome hardships. Rather than a film that analyzes some grand discourse, I hope to make, with this new ensemble of actors, an exhilarating action film.
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