Since its inception, Kingdom, the Korean period zombie drama, has firmly established itself as royalty among many zombie fans and it’s no wonder – of all the great zombie shows to come from Korea, Kingdom distinguishes himself by a great setting, and a number of diverse characters who unite behind the heroic crown prince, Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who seeks to save his kingdom from the invading undead. At the end of the second season, the story ventures north, and viewers meet a new character, Ashin (Jun Ji Hyun / Gianna Jun).
Coming as a big reveal at the end of the season, Gianna Jun’s performance was both a revelation and a treat for K-drama fans, as it marked her return after a 4 year acting break.
From her turn My Sadistic Girl, one of the highest-grossing Korean romantic comedies of all time, and My Love From The Star, which won the actress Daesang (Grand Prize) at the Baeksang Arts Award, Jun is not an unknown star, meaning that the producer of Kingdom – Ashin From the North clearly using his presence to set the series on for bigger things to come in season 3.
However, as part of a side story, Kingdom – Ashin Of The North, quite a lot of filler and not much take advantage of all the mainline goodwill Kingdom series has collected.
Directed by Kim Seong-hun, who helmed both seasons of the series, this 90-minute episode expands on the origins of the purple awakening plant, which appears to be the cause of the plague, and how Ashin was instrumental in sending the Korean peninsula into chaos.
If you want to watch Kingdom – Ashin From the North Due to your love of zombies, you will be able to find a lot of material to enjoy.
But, what makes Kingdom interesting in the first place is all the political drama that runs parallel to all the action-heavy scenes. without it, Kingdom – Ashin Of The North, does present itself as somewhat empty, for there is a small stake beyond the motive of direct revenge.
As audiences follow Ashin’s exploits and experience his trials and tribulations from childhood to adulthood, it’s easy to feel the anger that has simmered beneath the surface.
Gianna Jun has certainly nailed her performance as the main character, as we slowly see her faith in humanity slowly fade with each progressive disappointment. It seems that the thousand yard gaze is a popular look with anti-heroes these days, as he is channeling his inner Eren from Attack on Titan throughout the show and series marketing materials.
While we soon realize that Ashin’s character is defined by adversity, his lack of trust in authority figures in society is not unfounded.
The appearance of military man Min Chi Rok (Park Byung-eun) and how he plays a decisive role in Ashin’s life is crucial to his development after the disappearance of his father, Ta Hab (Kim Roi-ha) at the hands of the Pajeowi tribe.
Both Park and Jun share good chemistry together as each tries to hide their growing involvement in the conflict in the region. But because of their position in society, there are actually few day-to-day interactions that help advance the plot and fuel Ashin’s motivation.
For the most part, Ashin’s anger was exhaled by Chi Rok indirectly through his actions which did not stem from malicious intent but due to practicality and circumstances. It is at this point that the characters in the spin-off are simply drawn by the plot, as opposed to having their own agency to make their own big moves.
Thankfully, Ashin finally broke out of this rut when he planted the seeds of discord that drove the plant of awakening into the game. so far Kingdom – Ashin From the North furthermore, seeds are not the only thing being planted, as we see the introduction of Ai Da Gan (Koo Kyo Hwan), who appears to be the leader of the Pajeowi tribe who is interfering with Ashin’s life.
However, throughout the episode, he barely utters a word and instead opts for pure cool school through friendly eye arrows and a few action moves here and there. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in Kingdom season 3.
Acting is not the weakest link for Kingdom – Ashin From the North but it’s the lack of proper character development and conflict that makes the spinoff sick. It becomes clearer if fans are looking for something fat when this episode could have been better fleshed out in an alternative form, like a comic book.
However, since Kingdom is one of the most expensive shows a streamer has ever made, Netflix probably wants to get the most out of it. No cost is wasted or lowered as this spin-off retains the same high visual fidelity of the original and will make for an enjoyable spectacle.
It gives us the feeling that the show’s producers want to maximize how much time they have with the cast and crew, so Kingdom – Ashin From the North may have been put together with all the material that didn’t make up the final cut of season 3. After all, the show’s setting and premise have been set, but new character backgrounds may have been removed to help move the main character. series together at a much faster pace.
Either way, if you’re looking for more zombie content to take you after Army of the Dead, Kingdom is the perfect series to whet the appetite. With a widely recognized weight Kingdom leaning on his shoulder, Kingdom – Ashin From the North took the baton with little effort, given that a solid cast made the best of a rather weak script.
Having said that, we have to remember this episode is mostly a bridge for things to come and when viewed in the wider context of the series, it’s definitely setting up season 3 in a big way. Without political intrigue, Kingdom – Ashin From the North suffer and become the generic zombie genre, something we all know it can and has done better in the past.
Stopped by for a quick tasting, Kingdom: Ashin of the North might make you re-watch the first two seasons Kingdom but offers little beyond that.