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The King And The Clown
[Reproduced herein with kind consent from luna6]

Movie : The King And The Clown (The Kingís Man) 왕의 남자
Year : 2005
Country : South Korea
Director : Lee Jun-ik
Starring: Gam Wu-seong, Jeong Jin-young, Kang Seong-yeon, Lee Jun Ki
Runtime : 119 Minutes
Rating : 7.5
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Plot Synopsis : During the Chosun Dynasty in South Korea two clowns(jesters) decide to run away together. They are both male and a ďcouple.Ē Gong-Gil happens to be very feminine and Jang-Sang is very masculine, as he is Gang-gilís protector and provider. When someone in their traveling group arranges to sell off Gong-Gil for the night, the masculine clown, Jang-Sang, takes matters into his own hands and they escape together. They decide to make their way to Seoul and to start over again as performers. Eventually they manage to put on a successful show satirizing the king of Korea. Unfortunately, one of the kingís closest allies happens to see their performance and they are eventually condemned to death. But after succeeding in making the king laugh with their show, the clowns are pardoned and allowed to become court jesters, as well as occupants in the kingís palace. The king becomes enamored of Gong-Gil, and the ensuing relationship fuels Jang-Sangís jealousy. Soon, a stormy love triangle begins to stir, engulfing all three individuals to commit desperate acts.

Movie Review : Entertaining movie that successfully fulfills the hype surrounding the film. In its theatrical run in South Korea the movie was an unexpected success, because of the homosexual relationship between the main characters, as well as the film not having any A-List actors or a huge budget. Hmm sounds good to me. The King and The Clown eventually went on to sell 12 million tickets, which is the largest ever for South Korea and its population of 48 million people.

With that stated the film itself is a very good period piece that gets very dramatic as the movie develops. There are parts towards the end of the film which are quite depressing, which some will view as adding to the dramatic flair and others (like myself) finding it to be excessive. The part that people will first talk about is the homosexual relationship between the two clowns and the king, which is fairly mild compared to Western standards. The most intimate scene you will see between the two clowns are of them sleeping together but separated by a few feet and they have their own blankets. Anyways I did appreciate the movie dealing with their relationship as between two people, rather than a relationship between two gay men (would have been more gimmicky). Furthermore, in the immortal words of Aerosmith ďThat dude looks like a lady!Ē which made their relationship appear almost heterosexual.

I would have loved to seen more scenes where the couple interacts with the common villagers. Who knows what their reaction would have been? But they are rarely shown outside of their traveling group. Very good performances by Jun-gi Lee, who played Gong-Gi, the feminine clown. He played the character in a very realistic, understated manner. No cliches whatsoever. Woo-seong Kam, who played the masculine clown, was equally impressive (he was very good in Spider Forest as well).

The backdrop of South Korea in the Chosun Dynasty was the area I was interested in the most, simply because I didnít know much about that era at all. From the information I gathered after watching the film, the story is based on a true king, who actually killed two ladies during a banquet believing they plotted his motherís death. At first, the king in the film, seemed to be a stern but fair king, but as the movie progressed you realize that he shared somewhat of a kindred spirit with the Dennis Hopper character in Blue Velvet. Credit goes to the director for making a great time period piece that is as entertaining as it is thought provoking. The ending was tragic and quite melodramatic. I canít say I enjoyed it as much as the build up leading to those final scenes, but regardless this film is worthwhile to check out.


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