Starring: Lee Jun-Ki as Gong-Gil, Kam Woo-Sung as Jang-Sang, Jung Jin-Young as King Yeonsan, and Kang Sung-Yeon as Lady Jang Nok-Su
Rating: R, subject matter and some violence
Running Time: min
Synopsis: Prologue from the movie: Korea’s Chosun Dynasty, founded at the end of the 14th century, lasted until the beginning of the 20th. Lasting over 500 years, its uniqueness under the reign of 27 kings still remains unmatched in the annals of word history. To each King were assigned several Royal Secretaries whose function was to keep a diary on behalf of the King. Upon the King’s passing Court Historians edited these exhaustive records for posterity, including succeeding Kings. The massive collection of these edited diaries, called The Royal Records of the Chosun Dynasty has survived intact. The King of this story, the Records show, was singularly tyrannical; no king before or after him shared his excesses. Nonetheless, the Records also give us a portrait of him as a man of great sensitivity and intelligence. When he was a child, his mother was ordered to commit suicide by poison after falling victim to court machinations. Her death left a lasting trauma on the future king’s psyche. No doubt, this trauma played a significant role in the deformation of his character. On September 2, 1506, he was dethroned violently after a revolt by the nobles.
This movie is about a pair of male circus troupe actors. We have the boisterous and macho Jang-seng and quiet, yet feminine Gong-gil. This struggling acting troupe travels to Seoul in the hopes of getting favor with the King. Their show is complete with enough bawdy humor and gender-bending to make a contemporary audience blush, even going so far as to mock the famously hedonistic king. After being promptly arrested, they’re given a chance to spare themselves if they can make the king laugh. To everyone’s surprise, the ecstatic monarch loves the show and names the actors official court jesters, giving them more extravagant food and shelter than they’d ever imagined. But the king’s attentiveness to Gong-gil makes it quickly apparent that humor isn’t the only thing motivating his generosity.
- The King and the Clown is based on the 2001 play “Yi”. Total box admissions were 12.3 million, easily making it the most viewed in Korean cinema history up to that time (surpassed by The Host in 2006). (from asiainwiki.com)
Musings: Fair warning, this is truly an adult themed movie because of the subject matter shown. I do not recommend this for anyone under the age of 18. I generally would not review this movies because I tend to discuss movies that anyone can watch but this will be one of the rare exceptions to the rules.
The acting by all of the cast was absolutely superb!! This was the first time I’d ever seen Kam Woo-Sung. His portrayal of Jang-Sang was simply amazing. His true friendship and willingness to protect his friend, Gong-Gil, played by Lee Jun Ki was admirable. There was nothing romantic about their relationship. He simply looked at Gong-Gil as his younger brother and we all know what we are willing to do for own siblings.
Lee Jun Ki as Gong-Gil was, no words. The fact that he was willing to play such a role and boy did he play it! He was simply gorgeous in this, gorgeous! His portrayal of Gong-Gil, a man forced to do things that he did not want to do but willingly did do, to protect his troupe family and his brother, Jang-Sang.
Jung Jin-Young as King Yeonsan was also a treat to watch. Again, this was the first time I’d ever seen him in anything but his acting as the sadistic, and I mean truly sadistic King is one role he will be remembered for forever.
I admit, this movie may not be for everyone and I can understand. It was well filmed and the subject matter would (and could) be disturbing to some but the depiction of the court and the pageantry was amazing and mostly accurate of the time. Watching the dancers and the troupe members was very entertaining. I’ve watched a lot of sageuk dramas so seeing the court dancers was nothing new but this was the first time being able to see what the street troupe actors and dancers were like and let’s just say, very entertaining. The movie ended exactly as I would have expected. But then all endings can’t be happy.
Trailer is available here. The movie is available on several sites. Ask me if your interested. Also available on Netflix if you are a subscriber.
I’m available on Twitter. Thanks to all of you Twinkles out here who are taking the time to read! If you have a suggestion for a future review, just leave me a comment! I’m always happy to have movie suggestions.
As a big fan, I must wish him a prosperous and healthy year, free of scandals, please! What better way to wish him a Happy Birthday than to let others know of his wonderful movies featuring a great and diverse talent! Hoping the best!!
***********************Happy Birthday, Lee Jun Ki!!*****************************