Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
There is unrest in Joseon. Some people fear that the king is far too interested in impressing the nearby Qing dynasty of China than furthering the cause of his own people. One who believes this is the Crown Prince (Kim Tae-Woo), who is determined to aid his people by the acquisition of European arquebuses. But the plot is discovered and the prince must commit suicide. Unbeknownst to him, the Europeans have brought more than guns, they have brought zombies.
The Crown Prince’s younger brother Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) has been in exile in Qing for some ten years, during which time he excelled at drinking and womanizing… and swordsmanship. He returns at his brother’s request to take care of the pregnant Crown Princess. But the Minister of War, Kim Ja-joon (Jang Dong-Gun) has no wish for that to happen. When Ganglim and his companion, Hak Su (Man-sik Jeong) arrive in Jemulpo, they are beset by assassins, and then find themselves up against zombies.
Having seen the demons first hand, Ganglim and Hak Su head to the capital to warn of what is going on. But things are worse than he expected. And no one believes him, not even the Minister of War. Which is odd as he is the one who brought it to pass. As the number of zombies continues to grow, Ganglim realizes it is up to him to save the kingdom.
I really liked this film. From the previews, I had thought it was a werewolf movie, but no, it’s zombies. It might not be quite as fast-paced as Train to Busan, but I was won over by Prince Ganglim as he turned from playboy to zombie killer, one worthy to be a king. His companion Hak Su is hilarious, and the repartee between the two is very funny. Well worth the watch. I give it 4 Stars.
Mike (James Le Gros) has been in a mental institution for about seven years, after telling the fantastic story of what happened to his brother, including the Tall Man and his evil dwarfs. Gradually coming to realize he has to tell the doctors what they want to hear, he manages to get released and heads immediately to the cemetery. Reggie (Reggie Bannister) finds him there. Reggie doesn’t really believe Mike and he’s just trying to protect him… until they reach Reggie’s house and see what the Tall Man has done! Now it’s war!
Mike and Reggie are determined to destroy the Tall Man, and he isn’t hard to follow, but he is hard to catch. Reggie picks up a hitchhiker on the side of the road who he is attracted to by the name of Alchemy (Samantha Phillips). There is something odd about her. Mike thinks she’s been in his dreams, but in those she’s been dead. Mike can’t help but think about Liz (Paula Irvine) and is intent on finding her. Unknown to him, her grandpa has died and she is helping her grandma through the ordeal of the funeral. Things go very wrong when her grandpa unexpectedly comes back from the dead, thanks to the Tall Man.
When Reggie and Mike take Alchemy to her hometown, she finds it sadly changed over the past ten
years. In fact, it’s become like a ghost town. They decide to stay at the bed and breakfast owned by Alchemy’s mother, although it too is boarded up and vacant. Now it’s time to deal with the Tall Man and his minions once and for all!
The second installment of the Phantasm franchise has its moments, both humorous and creepy. I’m glad Reggie survived the first film, he ends an element of both humor and humanity to the film which Mike lacks. I could do without his hitting on the first woman he sees, but whatever. What I don’t get is when Mike and Liz are reunited after seven years, how she recognizes him so quickly and how they feel compelled to suck face while standing inside an open grave, in the middle of dealing with the Tall Man. Call me crazy, but that sort of thing can wait, surely.
Angus Scrim as the Tall Man is the best thing about the film. More of the mysterious pronged orb that flies through air with reckless abandon and cores its victims. Now I am confused as to how it knows who to attack. See the movie and ask yourself the same thing. All in all, not bad. I’ll give it 3 Stars.