There is a way to make apocalyptic or dystopian movies that can be fun. Filmmakers add a bit too much gravity to the scenario, but Badland Hunters is cool for being adventurous and humorous about it. It does so in the way the characters react to the situation, always having room for levity. But there is an emotional core, especially with regards to Nam San’s character, that shines through, even after the mayhem created by the action scenes dominates the movie. This movie can be seen as the fight between a good father and a bad one, and it is fun to watch unfold even though it’s too obvious. The movie is set three years after the events shown in Concrete Utopia. The people who were fortunate enough to survive the great earthquake had set up their own society and were trying to get through life. But nearby, a mad scientist had found a way to let people live longer without food and water, and his ultimate goal was to bring his dead daughter back to life.
Don Lee As Nam San
The society we live in now and the society shown in Badland Hunters couldn’t be further apart. Think more in the vein of Mad Max to really get a grasp of things. But some people still remain who want to live like decent human beings and just want to help. Nam San is one of those people, and he had every reason to be bitter, but he wasn’t. He had lost his daughter, possibly to the cannibals and other men who had lost their humanity in an effort to survive. Nam San lived in a close-knit community, hunting for food with another fellow named Choi.
Nam was quite famous for his hunting prowess, and we are not talking just about animal hunting. He was a great fighter and could take on multiple attackers at a time. He must have honed his skills in these three years, or maybe he had them even before everything fell apart. Whatever the case, he was adept at fighting threats of any kind. He was protective of a girl named Su-Na, and this can totally be seen as the father in him taking precedence over anything else. Su-Na was a brave girl herself, as she was taking care of her grandmother alone. Choi fancied her and did everything he could to get her attention.
The community was getting better at dealing with the situation. But when a teacher arrived, asking Su-Na to live in another area where there was fresh water and quality food available for her and her grandmother, that is when everything changed. The teacher had arrived with ex-military personnel and guaranteed Su-na’s safety, but she refused when she was asked if Choi and Nam could come with her too. The teacher was allowed to take only teenagers and their immediate family. Su-Na was eighteen years old and was eligible for the stay. She hadn’t imagined in her wildest dreams that she was going into a hellish place and would soon lose her grandmother forever.
Nam didn’t show too much emotion, as he wasn’t Su-Na’s guardian. Choi, however, had followed Su-Na and found that the army personnel had murdered her grandmother along the way. Choi tried killing them, but they were invincible—well, almost invincible. Choi was fortunate that Nam came in at the right time and fought off the killers, but even he too couldn’t succeed in killing them. A woman named Lee had to enter the scene and finish them. She later revealed that attacking the head or severing it was the only way to neutralize them. Nam and Choi were told about the evil doctor Yang, who had created a serum to alter human beings. He needed young people to make his serum, which is why he sent the mild-mannered teacher to fetch everyone she could find suitable for the doctor’s needs.
Nam had lost his daughter and wasn’t about to lose Su-Na as well. He was willing to put his life on the line to get to the building, which had been turned into a military base and the last haven for unassuming folks who just wanted fresh water and food. Nam found a man who kidnapped children for Yang and beat him and his men up until they agreed to get him to Yang’s building. Choi and Lee helped, but it was Nam who was the leader of this cohort. Lee had once been part of the military but saw that the other guys had become monsters and were under the spell of Yang, whose ultimate goal was to regrow his daughter. His daughter was technically alive, as Yang’s serum had kept her heart beating, but her lower body had been severed during the earthquake.
Nam didn’t go into the details, and neither did he care. He simply wanted to get Su-Na out. Yang was of the opinion that the parents who were willing to give up their kids were degenerates themselves. His thinking was so warped that he couldn’t see that they didn’t even know what they were sending their kids off to. Yang was using the parents to work for him, while their children were used for experiments. If Yang had become an evil man, killing children for the sake of his daughter, there was Nam, who, even after losing everything, was trying to protect Su-Na, who wasn’t even his real daughter.
Su-Na was brave enough to fight Yang as much as she could, figuring out that he was an evil genius. But his downfall was that she hadn’t drank the water that was mixed with a drug necessary for Yang to create the serum. Without the spiked water in Su-Na’s system, Yang’s serum didn’t work and he started turning into a monster. There is a literal contrast here between Nam and Yang. Nam was getting closer and closer to acting like Su-Na’s dad, hence growing in love and responsibility, while Yang was becoming a reptilian monster without the serum. Ultimately, Nam killed Yang, who neither managed to save himself nor his daughter. Su-Na had lost her guardian, but she had Nam, who would always take care of her. Choi was alive too, but the best part of it all was that it had to rain for the first time in months. Nam took everyone back to their community safely, and their normal, if anything can be called that, life began again.