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(The King and The Clown) Press Screening Report

- by X @ TwitchFilm

[Reproduced herein with kind permission from X and Twitchfilm]

It's funny, when the makers of 천군 (Heaven's Soldiers) announced they were trying to present a more 'down to earth' version of the No. 1 Korean national hero, Admiral Lee Soon-Shin, a lot of people criticized them; yet, when a film makes fun of Prince Yeonsan's despotic rule, nobody complains. But such is the legacy of the most detested King in Korean history: known mostly for his massacres of 양반 (yangban, literati) around the end of the 15th century, Yeonsan's rule was one of the most catastrophic in Korean history, laying the groundwork for a lot of the party strife that would plague Joseon until its end. His lascivious and tyrannical rule (1494~1506) is still remembered today, so much he was never given a posthumous title. He always remained Prince Yeonsan, like the title he brought to his tomb while in exile.

Perhaps because Korea's history is full of tragic and painful moments, you could rarely find films and TV Dramas making fun of the country's most famous figures. Up until the last few years -- with 효자동 이발사 (The President's Barber) and Im Sang-Soo's masterful 그때 그사람들 (The President's Last Bang) -- few people even dreamed of criticizing Park Jung-Hee. And, going back a few centuries, most of the country's national heroes or other figures of importance received the best possible treatment, lest people might sense they were people like everyone else, after all.

But things started to move in the last half decade. Take a look at the latest big Historical Dramas, like 불멸의 이순신 (The Immortal Lee Soon-Shin) and 해신 (Emperor of The Sea) and you'll see an attempt to humanize those important figures (Admiral Lee Soon-Shin and legendary 'god of the sea' Jang Bogo, respectively), to get them off the kind of pedestal they were put on in the past, before glorifying their acts. But for me the best example of this trend was the emergence of the 'Fusion Historical Drama', which had a perfect example in Lee Joon-Ik's 황산벌 (Once Upon a Time in the Battlefield).

It wasn't just the comedy, which was both hilarious and irreverent (albeit nearly inaccessible for those unfamiliar with Korean history). The film was able to give a soul to deities like General Gyebaek and Kim Choon-Chu, not to mention Kim Yoo-Shin. And people responded to this new style, mixing tropes generally associated with Historical Dramas, along with the comedy Chungmuro aficionados were so familiar with, and battle scenes Koreans weren't used to. After two years, Director Lee has come back, this time telling the story of Prince Yeonsan, but especially of the people who put their body on the line to entertain him.

Based on Kim Tae-Woong's theater play 이 (爾, You), and starring Gam Woo-Sung, Jung Jin-Young and Kang Sung-Yeon, 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown) had its press screening today at the Seoul Cinema. Present at the premiere Director Lee Joon-Ik and stars Gam Woo-Sung, Jung Jin-Young, Kang Sung-Yeon and Lee Joon-Gi. The film debuts on December 29.

Read our preview here.

Highlight Reel (Streaming, Windows Media)

Press Reaction

Looks like we have a winner, folks. The overwhelming majority commented that the film was a success. Yes, some complained that the middle dragged a little, and that it might be a little predictable, but the film was able to turn a really complicated theater play into a powerful film. Acting was good, especially Jung Jin-Young, who both offered a new image for himself, and stripped the familiar role of Yeonsan from all the stereotypes associated with him. But, surprisingly, the biggest praise was reserved for the trio of supporting characters played by Yoo Hae-Jin, Lee Seung-Hoon and Jung Seok-Yong, who provide comic relief but also the most touching scenes. Directing seemed to be good, with nice rhythm and good character development. Box office prospects look excellent, although it will have to compete with Jang Jin-Young's 청연 (Blue Sparrow).

Interview and Comments

What made you adapt the theater play into a film? And are there any differences between the two?
Director Lee Joon-Ik: I think the best thing about 'You' is that it makes you feel something up to the end. What's different between the two is just the means we use to create that feeling: in the film, we tell the story from Jang-Saeng's point of view.

Looks like you had a really hard time shooting the film. Is there any scene in particular you remember?
Gam Woo-Sung: It was both hard and fun at the same time. Hard because the weather was so hot, but I don't remember any particularly hard moment if not for problems with procedures and props. It was fun.

The King we see in traditional Historical Dramas and this film gives quite a different feeling.
Jung Jin-Young: I think that's the only way to go, with someone like Prince Yeonsan. He's not like the other Kings, and there's a certain amount of madness to his personality. There was nothing else to follow, just a request from the director to do things differently, compared to my past roles. I worked hard to slowly adapt to the role, that's all.

Were there any difficulties in trying to fit historical accuracy within the limited running time? Did you try to overcome the limitations of the genre in doing that?
Dir. Lee: We had a lot of pressure regarding running time. If we went according to the script, it would have taken us 3-4 hours at least. This is not a Fusion Historical Drama. The kind of things royal clowns were saying, especially their nagging, is part of our cultural heritage, just like dialects. You know battle rap, so famous nowadays? Just like Japan had Noh Theater and China had Beijing Opera, in our country we had something similar even before that, some kind of performance those royal clowns were making. It was something that existed even a thousand year ago, but since people aren't used to it, they misunderstand. We actually invented 'battle rap'.

What kind of feeling did Jang-Saeng (Gam Woo-Sung) have for Gong-Gil (Lee Joon-Gi)?
Gam: I had the intention of playing the role of Gong-Gil, but since I'm getting older, I gave up that desire pretty quickly, and ended up playing Jang-Saeng. No matter how you look at their relationship, Jang-Saeng can't exist without Gong-Gil. He depends on him, and Gong-Gil is his last hope, the last straw uneducated and poor people can get a hold of, so to speak. Never able to reach the palace even if he tried all his life, Jang-Saeng almost takes possession of Gong-Gil to do what he never could before through him, so that's why he's so important for him. But it's the same for Gong-Gil, who sells his body and entertains the King for Jang-Saeng's sake. They're like life-saving water for each other, I can't say anything more.

You played a role that's very famous and sought after by many other actresses, that of Yeonsan's concubine Jang Nok-Soo [one of Korean History's first femme fatale]. You must have felt a lot of pressure, playing a role everyone wants to play, played by many famous stars in the past.
Kang Sung-Yeon: It wasn't just the appeal of playing an extraordinary temptress like her that put pressure on me. But also how to find the right tone for the film, as a woman who had only one man in mind, with a similar attachment to the King than that of those clowns. People are really familiar with the image of Concubine Jang, so that was another problem. I looked at her as a woman who both wanted to possess a man just for being himself and not the King, but also all the experiences a normal woman like her goes through dealing with that. I just looked at them like a man and a woman, not for their external image. She was looking at only one mountain, but once she realizes she's not the only one doing that, she starts feeling angry towards Gong-Gil.

After failing to feel the femininity of your image in the past, you certainly were able to make people feel that this time. Did you do anything in particular to evoke that feeling?
Lee Joon-Gi: The first time we started shooting, I was really scared, amongst other things because there were many parts where I had to act with strong masculinity. Gam Woo-Sung was really helpful in improving my skills. More than emphasizing my feminine side, we went for a sexless look. I had to kill off many vigorous sides of my personality to play the role, and had to make a lot of compromises.

On the other hand, Gam Woo-Sung is really masculine in this film. Training must have been even harder.
Gam: You probably say that because it's a masculine role. The biggest question for me was how to portray the character: I just thought going my way would have worked fine, so that's why there was a lot of pressure on me. All this was in the script, I wasn't really responsible for creating any particular masculine side to the character. We just had two months. Two months to learn how to play instruments, singing, dancing and performing in a way I've never experienced, so that was a big responsibility they put on us. We had to go through a lot of difficulties during those two months, but we tried our best not to show any awkward points in the film.

The Yeonsan in the film is much different from the one we're used to. How do you want people to approach that? Also, are there any particular scenes you liked or difficult parts you had to go through?
Jung: I didn't worry too much about the image of Yeonsan people identified with. This film is not about telling his story, and from the beginning it presents an image of Yeonsan we're not familiar with. I just followed the script, and didn't worry about trying to distance myself from the image people have of the King. I just went with the flow, since if you try to pull off a certain feeling without experiencing it first, it will always feel phony.

Quick Judgment

Premiere's Jeon Jong-Hyuk
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Screen's Park Hye-Eun
Film Quality: EXCELLENT
Box Office Potential: EXCELLENT

Movieweek's Go Kyung-Seok
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: EXCELLENT

Herald Economy's Lee Hyung-Seok
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Sports Hanguk's Seo Eun-Jung
Film Quality: GOOD
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Kyunghyang Sports' Choi Jae-Wook
Film Quality: EXCELLENT
Box Office Potential: GOOD

Cineseoul's Choi Dong-Gyu
Film Quality: EXCELLENT
Box Office Potential: EXCELLENT

--

kingclown.jpg왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown)
Director: 이준익 (Lee Joon-Ik)
Cast: 감우성 (Gam Woo-Sung), 정진영 (Jung Jin-Young), 이준기 (Lee Joon-Gi), 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin), 강성연 (Kang Sung-Yeon)
Official Website
Daum Cafe
Theatrical Trailer (Streaming, Windows Media)
Teaser Trailer (Streaming, 700k, Windows Media)
Making Of(Streaming, 300k, Windows Media)
Making Of (Streaming, 700k, Windows Media)
Music Video (Streaming, 300k, Windows Media) [Lee Seon-Hee - 연인]
Movie Stills/Posters
Produced By: 이글 픽쳐스 (Eagle Pictures), 씨네월드 (Cineworld)
Distributed By: 시네마 서비스 (Cinema Service)
Rating: TBA
RELEASE: December 29

Via Film2.0 and nKino

 

Original Link : http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/004483.html (Posted by X at December 13, 2005 10:49 AM)

 

 


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