Bando – To Live or Not to Live?

South Korean cinema is unfamiliar to the European audience – many films do not even reach our movie theatres. This does not mean that the bar is low – Parasites by Bong Joon-ho won the Oscar for the Best Picture in 2019, and Train to Busan in 2016 formalized the status of one of the best zombie virus movies. It seems that everyone is sick of the apocalypse – 2020 has already become the ambassador of the end of the world. However, the sequel to the legendary zombie-movie will appear on August 20 – Bando will be released worldwide.

by Naya Guseva


The trailer looks as a spectacular catch-up with zombies in an enclosed space became an ordinary action movie with the most banal plot. It seems so in the first twenty minutes when the movie gathers all the clichés of its genre – now it's not drama, but an action movie. Former military Jeong-Seok is psychologically traumatized, liaises with the local mafia, and they send him and a group of professionals to the contaminated area to pick up a roundabout truck with no one else's money. Naturally, this idea cannot end quickly and easily, although at first everything goes too smoothly.

The most horrifying thing in this film is not zombies at all – everyone got used to them a long time ago, and it is hard to intimidate with screamers. This time director Yeon Sang-ho returns to the worst thing that exists on the planet – now people become bloodthirsty.
A gang with the strange name «631» loots catches the survivors like stray dogs and puts on violent shows for their own entertainment. Each gang has a captain and in movie gangs everybody else doesn't like this leader trying to overthrow him. «631» is not an exclusion – their captain,who drinks the remains of Black Label, would long ago resign and leave everyone to be eaten. According to the same genre classics, two sides meet - Jeong-seok with his already new survival band, which we won't tell you about, and the captain with his thugs.
Korean cinema has a certain feature that allows it to enter our screens – the drama is not exhausted and pompous, but quite understandable and realistic. Two-minute scenes in slow motion are hard to perceive when it comes out between action scenes, but here they are organically interwoven, so the viewer can have a pause and take a break. What's even more appealing is the realism of what's happening. It's hard to connect it with the catastrophe-movie, where the country is being poached by a zombie virus, but still the characters are not heroes and their motives are quite understandable.
The only thing that spoils the picture a little is special effects that don't look natural after all. However, you can turn a blind eye to it when it comes to a very spectacular scene for which you would have to hit someone with a car. The soundtrack is also gem-selected – sometimes it sends us back to the first part and the viewer can get nostalgic.
The film is a good ending of the director's trilogy about the virus-affected Korea. The fear of turning the movie into a cheap action film is false – the director beautifully misleads the viewer for the first twenty minutes and then gives a good slap as if telling us to wake up. We can definitely say that Bando is an unusual film about zombies where not only heroes but people in the audience need to escape from the apocalypse.
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