Director:  Huh Jong-ho
Year: 2018
Rating: 7.5

Country: Korea

It is surprising that after the huge success of The Host in 2006 that it wasn't followed up by a rush to make other monster movies. But it really isn't a genre that Korea has embraced in their film history. There was Yongary made in 1967, then the strange case of Pulgasari produced in North Korea in 1985 helmed by a director who was kidnapped from South Korea and then there was Dragon Wars in 2007 produced by a Korean company and directed by a Korean but it mainly takes place in the USA and has American actors. Maybe giant monster films just feel too much like Japan's bailiwick in Korea. And both in The Host and in this film, the monsters are more down sized - they are not big enough to stomp on cities but large enough to cause havoc and terror. 

This one has the added interest in being a period film during the Joseon era in which the usual court intrigues and conspiracies are taking place. That is the case it seems in nearly every one of these period films revolving around the King. But I eat this stuff up. I love the historical setting, costumes, customs and sword fighting. It just has a great look to it. This has all of that plus a monster or Monstrum. Or is there? No one has seen it but numerous groups of people have been found in the forest torn apart sometimes with plague bubbles popping up on their skin. The Prime Minister is doing his best to spread rumors of the beast in order to undermine the King.

The King in response calls in his retired former head of the Royal Guards Gyeom (Kim Myung-min - Detective K trilogy) who after being forced out of office lives the quiet life of a small farmer and hunter with his former second in command and his adopted daughter who is a fine archer. The King's Emissary comes to the daughter and asks for the great martial artist who lives there - she laughs - no one like that here - just my father and my uncle. The four of them - including the emissary - go off on an adventure, a quest - to save the King and slay the monster. Because the monster is very real - a feral mutated slobbering beast about the size of a double decker bus but with much sharper teeth. They have more than the monster to deal with but also the deceitful Minister and his many troops who want to kill them.

A lot of the plot is predictable but sometimes that can be in a film's favor - and it does a nice job with the Monstrum, the suspense builds up at times to a nice pitch, a few near death experiences, the action scenes are excellent, production values are topnotch and our foursome are quite appealing. An all around good adventure film.