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Based on the novel 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses,' this film is set in aristocratic 18th-century Korea at the end of the Chosun Dynasty. The irresistible temptress Lady Cho asks her cad of a younger cousin, Jo-won, to deflower the innocent young Soh-ok, who is to become her husband's concubine. But, his attentions soon shift to the graceful and aloof Lady Sook, who lives according to her convictions as a Catholic. Jo-won becomes obsessed with seducing this chaste woman who has remained celibate for nine years since her husband's death. However, conquering the most virtuous woman in the land proves to be more difficult than Chosun's notorious playboy expects.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
This film is an interesting one. The story is adapted from the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liasans). It's an 18th (maybe 17th?)century French novel of intrigue and scandal and the movie is set in... 18th century Korea, during the Chosun period. If you've seen Dangerous Liasans or a modern-day adaptation, Cruel Intentions, you've basically got the plot down. Male womanizer and scheming female near relative make a bet that womanizer can't seduce a pure woman. And stuff goes crazy from there.
So I decided to watch this film because it was a massive box-office opener in Korea, beating out all of its competition at the time. A few things that I noticed: 1) I like watching Korean period films, especially those of older Korea because the costumes and set design tend to be very aesthetically pleasing. The art direction is beautiful.
2) The acting was actually quite impressive--certainly better than Cruel Intentions, which is the only other version of this film that I've seen.
3) There are a few graphic sex scenes (and many suggested ones), so if you can't handle that, don't watch the film.
4) The tragedy is tragic and the love story is surprising. The ending was quite moving and was tragic because the flaws of the characters led to their own demise and loss of the things that they love.
5) Cinematography and direction are very strong and the primary actresses are particularly strong.
In the end, this was a well rendered adaptation, so much that I'm curious as to what the original source material is like. I really like the plot lines and the story because it converges so many different themes into a tragic tale of human weakness and yet manages to paint the weak, fallible and sometimes wicked characters in such a way that you still have some sympathy for them, showing that there is something in everyone that was or is beautiful, but it can get buried under the vices of this world.
All the actors are not strong and the film suffers a little from slow pacing, but in the end, it's a very watchable film that has a lot of strengths, even if the film isn't one of the great films of all time. If you can handle the content, I recommend this film. 8/10.
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