Two clowns living in Korea's Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh.
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Soul mate minstrels Jang-sang and Gong-gil eke out a living in 14th century Korea through bawdy stories presented in a tightrope act; however, sexual interests of the rich over Gong-gil's androgynous looks impair their basic desire to entertain once too often. A line is crossed, an authority figure dies, and the pair must flee to Seoul. They soon take up with a trio of fellow minstrels and, lead by Jang-sang, present riskier shows that prove more lucrative; but, a scathing exhibition satirizing the king and his concubine puts them under arrest with a set date for execution. Forced to present themselves to the king for final judgment, they surprisingly wind up becoming his court performers, but the tyrannical king, though sensitive and intelligent, is also excessive and psychologically scarred, with the minstrel shows putting him uncomfortably in touch with buried issues over his dead mother (long ago forced to commit suicide by the court). This makes him dangerously unstable. The ...Written by
This film was selected as the official Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 79th Academy Awards. The runners-up were Kim Ki-duk's Time, and the horror comedy The Host. See more »
In the on-screen translation, opening titles call out Korea's 500-years-plus Chosun Dynasty as being unmatched in the annals of "word" history, rather than "world" history. See more »
[atop a tightrope]
To be up here, away from the bustle, my legs like wings would spread.
Ahoy! What is that flower in full bloom I see yonder?
Dost thou not recognize the one and only?
So it is! The one and only! With rose petal'd lips. O Friend, beat thee thy leather while I go pick the flower.
[watching Jang-sang ascend the tightrope]
My, my, there comes a fool, rash and proud! Never knew a fool who knew his place!
Ho! A tongue most untamed! Master of this house am I...
[...] See more »
This is one of the most powerful Korean movies that I've seen in my entire life. The story of The King and the Clown, (왕의 남자) is an artful tale of entertainers that dare to mock the King, and then are brought to the palace. Though well-known for the gay-themes that the movie brings, it is only implied, and not the sole purpose of the story. It deals with corruption in the high court, the art of entertainment and survival.
Although the script, cinematography and etc. are done masterfully to successfully bring the audience back to the Joseon Dynasty in which our story is set, its main attractions are the characters that are beautifully portrayed by actors Kam Woo-Seong, Jeong Jin-Yeoung and, last but Definitely not least, Lee Jun Ki. Jeong Jin-Yeoung plays the slightly deranged tyrannical King, scarred from his mother's early suicide forced upon by his court ministers, who later becomes obsessed with one his new entertainers, Gong-gil (Lee Jun Ki). Kam Woo-Seong, who plays Jangseng, the leader of the troop, managed to win a DaeJong award (equivalent to an Oscar) for his role, while Lee Jun Ki, for his brilliant acting that brought tears to his audiences, as well as his beauty that surpasses most girls, became an instant (and extremely popular) success.
I highly recommend watching this film. The end brings the audiences heart-rending tears, and empty wallets from watching it about 20 times. It is that. good.
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