Netflix’s Korean action-adventure film, ‘Badland Hunters,’ takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where an Earthquake has rendered Seoul into a ruinous wasteland with dwindling survivors and resources. However, amidst the destruction, one doctor, Yang Gi-su, emerges with his maniacal plans for human evolution. As a result, his men end up luring a young woman, Su-na, to the doctor’s famed community built around a lone-standing apartment complex. However, once Su-na’s friend, Nam San, the closest thing the girl has to a father, realizes she’s in danger, he embarks on a mission with young Ji-wan and Eun-su to rescue Su-na from Gi-su’s clutches. In this life-threatening undertaking, Nam San and his comrades face many great threats while Su-na discovers menacing secrets about Gi-su and his community until both narratives come to a head in the end. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Badland Hunters Plot Synopsis
Gi-su’s obsession with achieving humanity’s medical excellence started way before the Earthquake that shook the entire country. However, before the authorities could put a stop to his inhuman, fanatic experimentation, the enormous Earthquake hit, sending the entire country into ruins. With apartments and buildings collapsed onto the ground, Seoul becomes a wild, vast desert, survived by the few fighters who get by in communities through old-fashioned hunting.
One such hunter, Nam San, remains beloved within his community for his consistent ability to bring meat to the Bus District, where the locals trade with him, often paying him with whatever useful item they can scourge. Meanwhile, individuals usually collect and filter drinkable water, a valuable resource, on their own. One of Nam San’s regular customers and close friends, Su-na, an 18-year-old girl & her grandmother live away from the central District population, maintaining their distance for safety.
Although Su-na has grown up to become cynical and weary of outsiders, she trusts Na Sam and his teen rookie hunter, Ji-wan. In turn, the two men remain protective of the girl. Soon, a unique opportunity knocks on her door when a group arrives at Su-na and her grandmother’s house. A teacher informs Su-na about a heavenly apartment complex in the distance, with free running water and supplies, where her organization is striving to restore society as it was three years ago.
In their mission, the organization is prioritizing young survivors. For the same reason, Su-na has been chosen to live in the apartment, accompanied by her grandmother. The pair ends up agreeing to the ordeal, encouraged by Nam San. As a result, Su-na and her grandmother depart from their home with promises of visitation from Nam San and Ji-wan. However, halfway through their journey on foot, the grandma becomes exhausted, alongside another elder belonging to another recruited family.
Consequently, the two elders are separated from the group to be taken to a medication center nearby. Still, the teacher assures Su-na she will be reunited with her grandma at the apartment. Nonetheless, unbeknownst to Su-na, the elders are really taken to a deserted area to be killed. Coincidentally, Ji-wan walks into the hushed execution. Although he fails to save the grandma, the following altercation makes the boy and Nam San realize that the teacher and her men lied about their intentions. Furthermore, they realize that the organization is armed with lethal means since their agents seem to be indestructible. Thus, it isn’t until another stranger, a woman named Eun-su, interferes that the men realize the agents can only die via beheading.
As it turns out, Eun-su is also after the fabled apartment complex since the community’s head, Doctor Yang, has been partaking in experiments to bestow immortality upon humans. So far, the man has only succeeded partly but has been keeping Eun-su’s comrades hostage. For the same reason, the woman teams up with Nam San to infiltrate the apartment. Afterward, Nam san seeks out a local feared gang leader, Tiger, his old nemesis, to compel him to share the apartment’s location with them. Consequently, within a day of Su-na’s capture, Nam San arrives to save the girl.
Badland Hunters Ending: Does Nam San Save Su-na?
Nam San and Su-na’s strong bond remains evident through their early interactions. Although the story never divulges much information about Nam San’s past, we’re told about the mysterious death of his daughter, whom Nam San couldn’t save. As such, even though the man doesn’t consider himself a good enough protector for Su-na, he remains protective of her. From pinning her sketches on his walls, like art on the fridge, to threatening criminals away from her, the man always looks out for the young girl.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Nam San immediately makes up his mind about a rescue mission once he realizes Su-na may be in danger with the stranger teacher. On the other hand, Ji-wan is also eager to rescue Su-na, the girl he has a crush on. As a result, it doesn’t take long for Nam San, Ji-wan, and their newest team member, Eun-su, to figure out a way into the apartment.
Meanwhile, Su-na catches up to Doctor Gi-su and his suspicious behavior. Therefore, her inherent distrust of the facility led her to attempt an escape on her first night at the apartment after her education lessons. Nevertheless, the doctor ends up catching her, rendering her his next and immediate lab rat.
Back in the desert, Nam San comes up with a reckless rescue plan, employing gangster Tiger’s reluctant help to sneak into the apartment. Even though the plan goes south, Nam San barges into the closed-off community, alerting the security of his presence at once. However, no soldier follows after them when they venture into the bleak basement. The reason behind it becomes evident when a horde of human/lizard hybrid zombies attack the trio. The ensuing fight is brutal, especially for Eun-su, who realizes the associates she came for have turned into zombies. In the end, the trio overpowers their adversaries and splits up to cover more ground.
After a few more violent interactions, Ji-wan manages to locate Su-na on the building’s eighth floor, strapped into the doctor’s experiment table. Although he attempts to save her, Gi-su’s goons catch him by surprise. Yet, Gi-su’s experiment on Su-na has already failed. Furthermore, the doctor can tell the tide has shifted against him. As a result, he decides to flee the scene once Nam San arrives, deactivating a grenade in his escape.
Nonetheless, Ji-wan and Su-na manage to survive the explosion, only retaining slight injuries as the rubble crushes them. Therefore, despite its hiccups, Nam San’s reckless rescue plan works. Furthermore, Su-na’s own quick thinking saves her from falling victim to Gi-su’s desperate experiment, which fails, consequently sparing her life.
What Is Gi-su’s Experiment? Does He Save His Daughter?
Gi-su’s experiment takes flight even before the Earthquake strikes Soeul, leaving the world ravaged in its wake. During that time, the doctor loses his daughter, Yeon-so, but refuses to accept her death. As such, he ensures her body holds on to the barest thread of life while he experiments on the reptilian species, presumably to replicate their self-healing abilities. In his experiment, the doctor sacrifices many lives but arrives at a promising place on the day of the great Earthquake.
Yet, moments before the tragedy, the authorities knock down his door in an attempt to stop him. As a result, when a natural disaster strikes, taking almost every building down with it, Gi-su loses some of his research. Nevertheless, he manages to survive the wreckage on account of the enhancement serums he uses on his body. Furthermore, he also salvages just enough of Yeon-so’s body to keep her heart beating.
From there, Gi-su’s obsession grows, and he dedicates himself to achieving a new evolution for humanity. The mad doctor walks around with his daughter’s preserved remains in a suitcase until he comes across a military-run apartment for survivors. Due to his position as a medical professional, a rarity in the post-apocalyptic world, the doctor soon gains control over the facility. Nevertheless, one military personnel, Eun-su, remains weary of him.
Gi-su has been abusing his position at the survivalist facility to further his human experiments by abducting the resident’s kids. Since these kids’ pituitary glands ensure the ideal biological environment for Gi-su’s serum, the man has been using them as subjects in his quest to develop a cure for death. Although his existing formula can provide individuals with self-healing abilities, a tool he uses to create an indestructible army around him, Gi-su is desperate to find a way to bring his daughter back.
For the same reason, Gi-su immediately employs Su-an as his test subject. Nevertheless, the girl had caught up to his evil in the short time she spent at the facility. As such, she manages to trick him by refusing to consume the necessary sustenance provided to every teenager to ensure their biological compliance with the experiment. As such, Gi-su’s experiment fails on Su-an.
Moreover, Nam San’s abrupt takedown of the apartment helped the medically manipulated teenagers’ families realize they no longer wish to remain under Gi-su’s rule, wherein they aren’t even allowed to see their kids. For the same reason, once Gi-su attempts to make his escape, a crowd of angry parents surround the doctor. In retaliation, Gi-su loses his temper and fires a machine gun wildly at the crowd. However, in the massacre, some of Nam San’s bullets accidentally catch his own suitcase.
Thus, Nam San ends up destroying the fragile protection he had established around his daughter’s dead body, robbing himself of the chance of ever saving Yeon-so through whatever immoral methods. Ultimately, Nam San’s desperate experiment of undoing death and achieving immortality fails.
Is Gi-su Dead?
After Gi-su’s actions lead to the death of his own daughter, the doctor’s madness exponentiates. He takes up his machine gun again, ready to kill everyone in his path. Furthermore, Su-na’s pointed taunts about his failed experiment, something he has killed numerous people for, aggravate the man even more. However, before he can take another young kid’s life, Nam San steps in and shoots the man with a clean headshot.
While so far, people with Gi-su’s serum administrations have only been known to die through decapitation, the clean bullet through the doctor’s brain seems to do the trick just fine. Presumably, his body can no longer heal without a functioning brain, regardless of the serum. Gi-su’s death is further marked by the first sign of rain as the clouds overtake the sky, and the doctor’s head bleeds out on the ground.
Gi-su has been using drinkable water to control everyone at the apartments, with his hoarded living supplies compelling parents to stay at the facility with their kids. Likewise, he exploits their labor to work the water supply chain and obtain chemically tainted water to help the teenagers become susceptible to his experiments. Thus, the final cleansing rain signifies Gi-su and his reign’s thematic death.
In the end, Eun-su stays at the apartment complex to facilitate a new beginning at the location and build a sustainable community for survivors. Inversely, Nam San and Ji-wan return to the bus district with Su-na. The girl finally gets the chance to mourn her grandma’s passing and returns to her old life.
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