January 6, 2023
SEOUL – Director Lee Soo-seong released his second zombie movie “Gangnam Zombie” Thursday, 13 years after he filmed “Mr. Zombie.”
The zombie apocalypse had been an omnipresent element in almost all types of arts from video games to music and movies, long before it pervaded Korean movies and dramas and became a prolific genre. And in recent years, zombies in films and dramas such as “Train to Busan,” “Kingdom” and “All of Us are Dead” have become global hits.
Despite Lee’s ambition to “contribute to elevating Korea’s reputation in K-zombie syndrome,” his new project “Gangnam Zombie” is poorly plotted and the action is sloppy.
“Gangnam Zombie” centers on two protagonists, Hyun-seok (Ji Il-joo) and Min-jeong (Park Ji-yeon), when a zombie apocalypse hits Seoul’s upper-class Gangnam neighborhood.
“13 years ago, I was reckless in making a zombie movie and I was turned down by so many investors due to the newness of the topic. But after ‘K-zombie’ became popular with various projects venturing into the new genre, I decided to make another zombie movie – I think I’m very attached to this topic,” Lee told reporters during the press conference held Wednesday.
The reason why he put Gangnam to the title was because Gangnam is Seoul’s most well-known neighborhood.
“Thanks to the song ‘Gangnam Style,’ many foreigners are familiar with the word Gangnam. I think positively about the movie release in various countries around the world and it will be a good chance to promote Seoul,” he said.
Prior to release, “Gangnam Zombie” confirmed movie distribution in a total of 134 countries including the US, Germany, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia.
But the film is unlikely to do much to promote the city. There is not much sense that the story is happening in Gangnam, or even Seoul, as most scenes are set inside a building.
Considering its low budget, it is understandable that the film’s special effects lack punch. But, sold as an action comedy, this film falls flat on both counts. The comedy is missing in action, while the action is uncomfortable, even embarrassing to watch at some points, as the main cast struggles to pull it off.
“Gangnam Zombie” opened in local theaters Thursday.