Badland Hunters

황야 | Hwang-ya

Reviewed by   |  May 6, 2024

Slick, bruising, post-apocalyptic actioner sees everyone’s favourite one-punch man Ma Dong-Seok deck his way through an assortment of wasteland bandits and super-serum soldiers to stop a mad doctor from turning all the survivors of a recent mega quake into his own army. He plays Nam San, a handy hunter and all-round good guy who along with his plucky young sidekick Choi (Lee Jun-Young) attempts to eke out an existence in the now desert land of Korea. But when their close friend Han (Roh Jeong-Eui) is tricked into leaving their community with the promise of a new life by an unhinged doctor conducting nefarious experiments, Nam and Choi set off to rescue her from the evil doctor’s compound.

Billed as a sort of sequel to the recent blockbusting disaster flick ‘Concrete Utopia’ (this film being set several years later in the same quake-devastated world seen in ‘CU’), ‘Badland Hunters’ is a very different kettle of fish. ‘Concrete Utopia’ is a more serious look at the devastation caused by a mega quake, whereas ‘Badland Hunters’ is more like a spin-off than a direct sequel going all action horror hybrid as Ma Dong-Seok lays waste to super enhanced survivors. Slickly helmed by stunt guy and first-time director Heo Myung-Haeng, ‘Badland Hunters’ is some rollicking fun not to be taken too seriously. A fun and vivid ride through a desert wasteland, the flick might not be quite the full throttle Ma Dong-Seok vs desert zombies film the trailers suggest (though it does get to that!) but its post-apocalyptic sci-fi and mad doctor run amok slant is a lot of fun.

Heo Myung-Haeng and Ma Dong-Seok pepper proceedings with punchy-crunchy action before unleashing the big man going all punch crazy and pump action mad on the doctor’s souped-up-with-serum-army come the final 40 minutes. It’s a cavalcade of blistering action as Ma Dong-Seok and his team blast their way through the doctor’s compound to liberate Han and the other poor souls captured for experimentations. It’s all staged with kinetic verve and while Ma Dong-Seok is the main show there’s great action support from Ahn Ji-Hye (also seen recently in the similar super-soldier themed ‘Project Wolf Hunting’) as a kick ass soldier who refused to go along with the mad doc’s experimental plans.

It may drag a little in between all the slick action bits and Ma Dong-Seok may not be as front and centre as he is in his other punchy action flicks, but it’s fun seeing him lend his particular brand of action to a sci-fi/horror setting. He still punches a lot of people (including a scene where he lines up a group of bad guys just so he can knock them all out one-by-one!), gets to fight an alligator, and even punches someone through an intercom (!) making it hard not to have fun with ‘Badland Hunters’. Cool setting, great action, and slick direction from Heo Myung-Haeng makes for a fun flick and knowing the director is reteaming with Ma Dong-Seok for sequel ‘The Roundup: Punishment’ is a welcome reteaming of the two.

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