Kingdom Ashin of the North Review: Sorrow and violence amid zombies
The origin story that we were all waiting for
A side story of the original Netflix’ series Kingdom (2019) based on the Korean Webtoon of the same name and directed by the same filmmaker Kim Seong-Hun, Kingdom: Ashin of the North explains the origin of the zombies and how they spread.
The start of all sadness and chaos
Focusing on the character Ashin [Kim Si-a (child), Jun Ji-hyun (adult)] who fans would have recognised at the end of the second season of the series, the story reveals Ashin’s connection with the resurrection flower and her exceptional skills. An increasing tension between rebellious minorities and the Joseon Kingdom increase, leading to an incredible number of deaths. Devastated by these cruel deaths, Ashin engulfed in a journey of revenge that will take her years of suffering and preparation, becomes more than just the nightmare of the Joseon soldiers.
A psychological dive into Ashin’s suffering
For the people who watched the series, this special feature is a gift that we have waited for, as we wait for the third season of the series. This feature explains thoroughly many questions from the series and leaves a cliff-hanger that hopefully will continue in the series.
Disturbing and violent scenes that make your mouth drop shape this feature and the life of Ashin. Numbed by all the suffering and tired of injustice, Jun Ji-hyun does an excellent job of portraying no emotions. With revenge and sorrow, her eyes burn. Kim Si-a, who plays Ashin as a child, cries and shows all the emotions that adult Ashin buries in herself. It’s a journey through the psychological growth and damage of Ashin and her relationship with death (and resurrection).
Half of the feature’s time is Ashin as a child and the other as a grown-up. This pace and distribution of the storytelling develop in a natural manner in the story’s transition, which is fundamental to understand in-depth adult Ashin and the rest of the series.
Ambient music that gallops with the action and sets the right tune between epic, sad and melodramatic accompanies Ashin’s journey, culminating in a devastating no-mercy end.
Violent action and miserable dramatic scenes come and go throughout the feature, making it an enthralling watch that knows when to present each type of scene.
One little minus point is several plot-jumps nearing the end. These are abrupt (as the story needs closure) and remain without explanation of her reasoning. But perhaps this is the charm of Ashin, a mystery overtaken by sorrow.
Kingdom: Ashin of the North does not disappoint. For the fan of the series, this is a perfect continuing (or should a say pre-continuation) that explains numerous of the unanswered questions in the series. Besides this, the feature is excellent by itself if you haven’t watched the series yet.
Entertaining, filled with emotional scenes, violence and a well-built character development that allows one to understand the why of her actions without becoming too personal or intrusive. The fitting music, fantastic editing, and great acting help to build a credible and grabbing watch.
First published on Surrounded by Films (17 Aug. 2021).