The King and the Clown

The King and the Clown (aka) The Royal Jester

The King and the Clown
Format: DVD Region, NTSC, Widescreen, Subtitled, Color
Run Time: 119 minutes

Few years ago, Korea came up with its version of “Dangerous Liasons” based on the French novel of the same name and it triumphed starring “Yongsama”, the actor who was literally stalked by mainly Japanese housewives and grandmothers after his performance at TV series, “Winter Sonata”. Then, I was hungrily seeking for yet another Korean historical political intrigue and “The Royal Jester” doesn’t disappoint. This offering is loosely based upon the writing of the Korean Emperor during the 16th century (Chosun Dynasty) of his affection for his courtjester. This movie is rather a combination of different things. It can also be deemed a Korean version of “Farewell my Concubine” where two actors (one masculine and another feminine even though they are both males) decided to try their trade at Seoul after running away from countryside where a freak accident has them injured fatally their gangleader.There, they befriended three other actors . Without a doubt, the two main characters are the talented duos and they have the audacity to play to the folks regarding the hearsay of the Korean Emperor and his favourite Empress.They get (un)wanted attention & sentenced to death. Somehow, they cheat death by being able to make the Emperor happy. Alas, the actors become the pawns of political intrigue. Originally, under the guidance of the Emperor’s faithfuly advisor, the actors are instructed to play the stories of corrupted Ministers for all to see and swiftly bringing them to justice. The ploy works for a while until it becomes pear-shaped as the Emperor becomes more incorrigble and losing his mind in the way he conducts the affairs of the nation. He becomes more like a tyrant or a despot. By then, the Pandora Box is opened and the actors know that it’s time for them to leave the Palace before they become tangled in crossfire. Unfortunately, the Emperor falls for the feminine actor and that causes tension between him and the masculine actor who’s always fending for him. This movie gives us an impression of Korea during 16th century and it also brings to the fore the significance of live theatre, akin to the “Kabuki” performance in Japanese society during that time where comedy is always a perverted or twisted interpretation of reality, and for that moment, simple folks can forget about their daily grinds and laughing at themselves. Naturally, the story shall come to a satisfying open-ended conclusion where triumph of the human spirit rules supreme. This is yet another successful Korean bittersweet masterpiece. It’s never contrived and wonderfully crafted. It totally deserves its kudo for being this year Korea’s highest grossest movie. Highly recommended.

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