Noob Reviews: Kingdom (Seasons 01 and 02)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Kingdom?
Kingdom is a Netflix original series based in Korea’s medieval Joseon era and follows the adventures of The Crown Prince of Joseon, Lee Chang who stumbles upon a disturbing plague that can reanimate the dead. Unfortunately, when trying to bring this to his father’s attention (the King of Joseon), Lee Chang is denied access and must take off on his own and continue his investigation into the plague. Where did it come from? How did it begin to infect people? And is there a cure for it?
All the while, as Lee Chang seeks to save his father’s realm and subjects within its borders, many would see the current royal family removed and a new one installed in their place.
How many seasons are there so far?
There are currently two seasons available to watch right now.
What are the different seasons about?
Season one introduces us to the main characters that we will be following through the seasons and begins the adventure that sees Lee Chang and his faithful bodyguard Mu-yeong take to the countryside to seek out the origins of the plague and if possible, secure a cure.
On their travels, the duo will come across many a new ally. Whether it be a fearless (and equally mysterious) tiger hunter by the name of Yeong-shin or the physician in training Seo-bi, it is up to the small group to not only save Joseon but go head to head with agents of Queen Consort Cho and her father Lord Cho Hak-ju who wish to see the Crown Prince kept from ascending to the throne after his father’s rule ends.
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
You can also find season one of Kingdom on Netflix here.
After the nail-biting finale to season one, season two picks up immediately from where season one left us, with the group left fighting for their lives alongside the forces of Lord Ahn Hyeon - who are trying to stem the tide of the undead sweeping across the countryside.
In addition to fighting for their survival and still on the trail of a cure, Lee Chang must also return to claim the throne as his own, snatching it from the grasp of Queen Consort Cho and Lord Cho Hak-ju. Whilst contending with the schemes of magistrate Cho Beom-pal and an unknown traitor amongst his parties ranks.
With Queen Consort Cho’s baby son destined to take control of the throne though, it will be a tough fight to see the Cho clan’s will overruled.
- The official trailer linked from Netflix’s YouTube channel -
You can also find season two of Kingdom on Netflix here.
When was Kingdom released?
Season one was released in January 2019 and season two was released in March 2020.
How many episodes are there?
Both season one and two have six episodes each, bringing it to twelve episodes to date. Each episode’s run time can vary quite a lot with the longest episode being fifty-six minutes and the shortest only running at thirty-six minutes.
Has a third season been confirmed?
At the moment there has been no official announcement for a third season, but one has been requested by fans and critics alike. That mixed in with the exceptional reception Kingdom received for both seasons, makes it very likely a third season will be commissioned in the not too distant future.
As a side note, there is meant to be a Kingdom special episode, entitled Kingdom: Ashin of the North released in 2021.
Who are some of the actors and actresses that we might know?
Bae Doona (Seo-bi)
Ju Ji-hoon (Lee Chang)
Kim Hye-jun (Queen Consort Cho)
Kim Sang-ho (Mu-yeong)
Kim Sung-kyu (Yeong-shin)
For a full cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think of Kingdom (Seasons 01 and 02)?
When first seeing the trailer for Kingdom, what instantly grabbed my attention was the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon themed setting and martial arts combat versus the zombie horde. Admittedly, Kingdom is Korean as opposed to Chinese, but you get the point.
When it comes to the story behind Kingdom, the main story (which I won’t do too many spoilers for) is absolutely fantastic and sees Lee Chang travelling the kingdom from the large cities to smaller towns. And remote medical clinics surrounded by beautiful rolling fields and picturesque woods. The character arcs are equally brilliant, detailed and well-paced as to drip feed you just enough to keep you invested but on tenterhooks to have so many questions answered, such as why are each of the party members really there? Who is scheming against who? And just why did well-respected generals and politicians seek a life away from the capital? Although you may think many of the answers are simple, watching the truth unfold is terrific with many acts of misdirection masterfully implemented to throw you many a curveball.
Unfortunately, I do not speak Korean so had to watch in original audio with English subtitles but found the actors and actresses to have a great range of emotions that you could really pick up on - when they were delivering their lines and on-screen. Many of the actors and actresses, such as Lee Chang, Kim Sun and Min Chi Rok I loved as they played their roles brilliantly - appearing to toe the Cho clan line and further their agenda, but secretly working to their own ends right under the Cho clan’s noses. Many of the piece’s villains were also equally fascinating, such as the Queen who uses the promise of an unborn son to keep control over the kingdom in Lee Chang’s absence. Lord Cho Hak-ju gave me genuine shivers at times with how driven and ruthless he could be. And Lee Do-jin the head of the palace guard dispatched to find Lee Chang was genuinely blinded by his loyalty. The way he displayed his unquestioning loyalty was intriguing to watch.
In addition to the story and the acting, Kingdom has some beautiful backdrops and breathtakingly recreated sets to suit the period. The cinematography was always on point and caught the best shots at the perfect time, and the choreography team for the fight scenes and action sequences did a very high-quality job. Whether it be for the episodes in general or specific characters, hardly any screen time is ever wasted. The Asia Contents Awards also seemed to agree with this as Kingdom has won an array of awards for best actor, best writer and the best technical award for things like visual effects, the cast’s makeup, the costumes used and sound effects/audio engineering.
Although Kingdom is a little bit of a slow starter, taking an episode or two to really get going, overall there are minimal issues I could pick fault with and thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of Kingdom. One of the main niggles that rubbed me the wrong way slightly was at times Kingdom got very political, and some of the takes on social divide and the suffering masses could have been portrayed a little more realistically.
If I were going to do a final thoughts type ending to this, I would have to say that season one is a lot more story-based and season two has many more action sequences. But the way they complement each other really sets (and keeps to) a solid, reliable pace that just kept me hooked. A third season has not been announced officially, but I will definitely be watching it if one does drop, and I can honestly say Kingdom is a series you should give a watch if you are a fan of historical dramas, zombie romps or the martial arts. There is a little bit of something for all, and you may be pleasantly surprised what a good watch Kingdom can be.
What rating would you give Kingdom (Seasons 01 and 02)?
I would rate the first two seasons of Kingdom as an exceptional 4.8 out of 5 bananas.
Whether it be an immersive world, wondrous story or fascinating take on the zombie genre by mixing martial arts, zombies and medieval Korea - Kingdom has a little bit of something for everyone. Will you laugh? Cry? Or scream for the head of those that would see Lee Chang harmed?
Although the lengths of the episodes can be all over the place at times, with there been quite significant differences in the length of the episodes, Kingdom is perfect for binge-watching and is definitely a unique and well-received series I hope we get to see more of in the future.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Kingdom (Seasons 01 and 02) and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion. You can check it out on Netflix here.