Wang-ui namja (2005) Poster


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A Multifaceted Magnificence
eyedrop832 June 2006
I knew this movie was extremely popular in South Korea, but I never had a chance to watch it until today. And I am very glad to report that it exceeded my already high expectations.

Not so many excellent movies draw my full attention from the beginning; they tend to pull me in toward the climax. With this movie, I found myself completely immersed after the first few minutes. Although the theme of love, jealousy, and politics are commonplace (except the subtle homosexuality which I don't believe plays too much role in this movie), director Jun-Ik Lee magnificently put together the beautiful Joseon dynasty Korea, euphonious dialogs, and some great acting. I particularly liked that of the King (Jin-yeong Jeong) and Jang-sang (Woo-seong Kam).

It made sense why the movie was so popular and why many people have seen it more than once. It is a multifaceted masterpiece which can appeal to multifarious crowds: it is a love story, a political drama, a comedy, a tragedy, a musical, a historical gallery, and maybe more.

I believe the dialogs are straightforward enough to be translated well into English, but non-Korean audiences may lose some great rhymes and subtlety - especially those of the clowns as their dialogs are downright colloquial and hilarious. Granted, I still believe everyone will find the film enjoyable from at least one perspective.
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A beautiful and moving film that everyone should see
roobes-119 June 2006
This is an amazing film, it has everything in it, the visuals are beautiful, the soundtrack fits the film perfectly and the acting is amazing! i was so struck by this film and it was so emotionally charged it brought tears to my eyes. This film has no big name actors but it's appeal is it's simple universal storyline, the subtle yet powerful relationship between Gong-gil and Jaeng-sang. Even though this film has no big name actors in it, watch out for Lee jun ki who is amazing in this film he was partly the reason this film did so well, you will love him after watching this film ^^

don't be scared off by the homosexual theme, there are no sex scenes and all the homosexuality is implied.

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stract28 July 2006
Trust South Korea to produce nice tragedies again and again. First it was "Friend", then "Joint Security Area", and now "The King and the Clown", which is about two male clowns being arrested for staging a comedy which mocks the King, and would be spared the death sentence if they could humor the King as much as they did to the civilians. This sounds a little like "Brokeback Mountain" taking place in Korea, but the speech and behavior the two clowns have towards each other is carefully crafted that they make it look more like a case of brotherhood amongst them. However, that does not in any way dilutes the affections we see between the two male friends, which are incredibly genuine. It is this genuine affection that makes this such a touching show to watch. Also, this is not just romance; this has elements of a thriller and social commentary interwoven within the plot. And all these roll out just nicely and rightly paced. No wonder it becomes one of the biggest selling movies in Korea, despite its modest production cost.
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Heart-wrenchingly perfect movie.
Tehranu30 September 2006
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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must see!!
gingins27 January 2006
anyone anywhere that gets the opportunity to see this movie on the big screen must absolutely do so!! as a Korean i'm quite critical about films from my home country. i personally think this is another movie my country's created that will live up to international standards and expectations. it has made me prouder to be a Korean. i won't say anything about the storyline except that it was a new perspective in looking at the Korean history of that era, and has brought a new dimension to productions based on Korean history. the acting, sound, costume and of course story all fit together like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle made complete. i'm just worried the incredible script won't be translated properly across to the world.

people everywhere, please watch this movie if you get the chance to. you won't regret it. i've already seen it four times on the big screen. now i'm just waiting for the DVD to come out (i hear they're going to release the full 4 hour version)
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The King and the Clown, AKA, King of Man
baak_gwai2 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with every comment user "ngc891" said in their review. But would like to ad a bit of a Western view of this film.

1. This film has done remarkably well in Korea despite the taboo nature of the film. I though do feel that a lot of Koreans have not really grasped the full intent of this film. Homosexuality has only recently gained some acceptance in South Korean society, with its strict Confucian traditions and strong Catholic Church. In April 2004, the government removed homosexuality from a list of "socially unacceptable sexual acts." Still today (I am there quite often, half of my year is spent in North East Asia), the elders still see homosexuality as a myth, something that is sometimes talked about, but definitely does not exist.

2. This film's main plot line is about two men who are deeply love each other (passionately, not fraternally) but do not know how to express it outwardly to each other, so they stay content on their friendship. The leader of the pack of jesters, Jang-sang, is desperately in love with Gong-gil. The troupe heads to Seoul to be the best pack of jesters in Korea. They soon land upon the stage of King Yeonsan who is amused by their performance (which portrayed the likeness of the king in a negative manner). The king falls is infatuated with the very effeminate Gong-gil (by the way, in Western eyes, Korean men may seem effeminate, but that is not the case, they are just very comfortable with their sexuality and do not feel it necessary to put on a macho front as Westerners sometimes do). The King and Gong-gil engage in what one would consider an affair, although it was not a concealed one, very public in fact. This of course enrages the queen and she sets out to destroy Gong-gil and the troupe. You can see the worry and that remaining spark of love in Jang-sang's eyes as he sees the love of his life drifting away. And the eyes have it as one looses his sight; then the other comes back to seal their timely death, together. End scene with the troupe traveling to a new destination…or was it them traveling to an old destination, it is up to your idea.

3. I have read a set of omnibus collections at the Seoul National University Library on the history of the Korean Dynasties. King Yeonsan has the shortest entry of any king in the history of these Dynasties. He was a selfless man who did not do for his people, but did for for him. The King harbors mixed feelings of love and hatred towards his late father King Seonjong for killing his mother as a result of rivalry among his concubines. He also killed members of his ministry for publicly detesting his lack of ruling for the people.

I hope that this write up does not offend either a Korean or a Westerner, but this is the way I looked at this film from my Western eyes and felt with my Eastern heart.

P.S. This is the first user comment I ever submitted to
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A Nutshell Review: King and the Clown
DICK STEEL15 June 2006
King and the Clown was South Korea's best selling film of 2005, having sold more than 12 million tickets over a span of 7 weeks. But after watching it, it's difficult to fathom the craze, nor about the New York Times hype that it "may be the equivalent of 'Brokeback Mountain'". Not that it is a bad movie, it is actually entertaining and tells an intriguing story in the courts of the Korean emperor.

Perhaps anything to do with the gay theme will suffer inevitably comparisons to Lee Ang's acclaimed Brokeback Mountain. But somehow, the way this film developed, I saw it in a different light - a story between two male best friends, even though one of them might look and behave more effeminately than even some girls do. Instead of jumping to the straight conclusion that both the protagonists are gay, why can't it be a platonic relationship, and that the more effeminate one had chosen what he had to do, i.e. sell backside, because being poor minstrels, they cannot afford to put food on the table? Literally capitalizing on his looks, to bring back the dough. Sure his friend might not like the idea, and it could be interpreted as either being jealous (as a lover), or disapproving (as a friend). Then again, because of culture, this movie might have decided to be more subtle about the theme. Ambiguous to say the least, but it makes for interesting debate if you watch this with a friend.

Two friends, Jang-seng (Kam Woo-sung) and Gong-gil (Lee Joon-ki), are impoverished street performers who dream of having their entertaining performances reap rewards they should be getting. They come up with a wildly popular and bawdy performance poking fun at the emperor and his consort, and it's not long before they get arrested, only to have Jang-seng proposition a dare, that if the King doesn't laugh at their skit, they can be put to death.

As fate would have it, their jittery performance brought on a favourable response from the tyrannical King (Jung Jin-young). Having now become official court jesters, their subsequent plays, whose content they obtain from coffee-shop talk of those days, about the royal family and other court scandals, serve as suggestive fuel for the King to break free from his constrictive shackles, and take some serious action according to his whims. But dictator attitudes aside, he casts a lustful eye at Gong-gil, and turns almost childlike when in his presence, in private. The most powerful man in the kingdom, reduced to a vulnerable kid in the presence of a lowly minstrel. What ensues is an interesting look at the relationship dynamics amongst the three men, and with the people around them.

Set during the Chosun Dynasty, King and the Clown has some of the most gorgeous sets bringing to life an era long gone, and beautiful costumes that drown the movie in a myriad of colours. The songs are also fairly pleasing to the ears, and the skits, I believe, are likely to be many times more enjoyable if you understand Korean, instead of having to rely on subtitles.

The movie also makes discreet jibes at those in power, and their ability, or inability, to accept satires about themselves. It is always easy for men in power to dismiss harshly the satires and their creators, but it takes a lot more to be able to look past the comic and understand the issues made fun of. There are brief scenes at courtroom politicking and on corruption, but these scenes are too short to leave any lasting impression or distract the audience.

The cast is a delight to watch as they carry their roles with aplomb. The chemistry between the 3 main leads was almost perfect, especially Jung Jin-young as the temperamental King - childish at times, serious at others, and the androgynous looking Lee Joon-ki truly owned the role of Gong-gil, that even as a guy, I thought he was beautiful to look at (*ahem*).

All in all, King and the Clown is a story of friendship, how good friends fend for each other, how, despite shortcomings and misunderstandings, the best medicine is always laughter, and it's the strength of the bonds between men that can ultimately stand up against fear and overcome any adversary. If only the opening didn't spoil the entire movie.
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A stunning movie...
thebanquet11 October 2006
When I first heard that the movie King and the Clown was being made, I thought that it wouldn't be very interesting. But it was so good. Directed by Lee Joon Ik(a quite well known director in our country,though not in overseas),King and the Clown tells about a love story between two courters and the triangular relationship between them and the king.(of course,unlike what many foreign audiences might think,although the king,his concubine and Kong Gil are real people,the story itself is 100% made up)What was most astonishing about this movie was that,it showed the passionate love between the two male jesters without showing any sexual scenes.(I liked Brokeback Mountain,but not it was too explicit)And the choreography,costumes etc were so beautifully made with a low budget(around 4.5million dollars). Finally I see a well made Korean movie that was very interesting even without any star actors.
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An Unexpectedly Well Crafted, Groundbreaking Tragicomedy
juliacha12 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"The King and the Clown" is perhaps going to be looked back in twenty years and be honored for its groundbreaking artistry. Its well crafted narration, fantastic lines, beat / timing, verisimilitude, and breathtaking cinematography, breaks all conventions of what is known as Korean Cinema. Unlike many successful Korean films, it stays away from patriotism, excessive special effects, and story lines that are far from the country's true identity. It truly represents the Golden Age of film to the likes of what Kurosawa and Mizoguchi meant for Japanese and world of cinema. Simply it is the most truthful, unpretentious exhibition that Korea has made to the world about what the country is truly about.

Distant from the present and free from "Conglish" and other cues of Americanized society, it is a story about people of the lowest class of all, the street jesters of Chosun Dynasty, who are now considered to be living national treasures by the Korean government. These are the people who know the traditional dances, music, games, and embody the spirit of traditional Korean culture before the massive overtake of Americanization. This film is as educational to contemporary Korean generation as to the rest of the world because it is a tradition that is almost completely lost.

This film was a huge hit in Korea despite the blatant nature of homosexuality as one of the elements of the story. This is achieved because breaking the taboo is not the focus of the film. The audience is made to focus on the hardship of low class, social differences, and the psychological world of the characters, regardless of their class or sexual orientation. The film treats all characters as just "people." All characters' sufferings intermingle as the clowns become a part of the court, and the film is especially made rich when the antagonist King, who is the embodiment of all the high class' rights and practices, is also treated as a round character. Despite his tyranny, he is represented as a broken soul who is a product of the brutal politics of the court's high class figures.

This film is a definite must see for all art film lovers.
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A little historical background
bluenooky00717 September 2006
King Young San was perhaps the most infamous tyrant in Korean history (or perhaps the most well known). He showed sociopath tendencies even as a child(hurting animals and such)but what drove him over the age and started his tyrannical reign was his discovery of the circumstances under his mother died.

His mother Yoon, was the King's favorite concubine. She was falsely accused of plotting to kill her rivals and ordered to drink poison by the king. The circumstances of her death were kept a secret until King Young San found out by accident. Upon his discovery, he was seized with sorrow and rage, and put to death or exiled anyone who was responsible of his mother's death. Even those those who didn't strongly oppose her execution were put to death.

Although he is portrayed as a terrible dictator, his love for his mother and the terrible pain her death caused adds an extra dimension to his tyrannical reign.

It is interesting to note (according to the movie) his bringing the clowns into the palace and having them perform those skits was what drove his ministers into a rebellion.
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Name in English
Burt-115 March 2006
Well I had seen commentary about this one several weeks ago and got to see it last night. It was actually so good that the action alone could carry most of the story since I did not understand the dialog. Now although the name translates directly as 'The King's Man' the English title being used for it is the "King and the Clown". This is why I had such a hard time finding it on this site, so the administrators might want to add this other title. It is based on a true story. Also the historical representation (should be somewhere around the year 1506 since this is the end of King Yeonsan of the Joseon Dynasty's reign) or staging and costumes was absolutely magnificent, not to mention some very good acting.
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Interesting movie
ngc89124 January 2006
This movie is really popular in South Korea these days. Why ? It's not exactly a blockbuster, there is no impressive special effects. In my opinion, the two strong points of this movie are the historical background and the fictional story over it.

This movie takes place during the reign of king Yeonsan (1476-1506) of the Joseon dynasty. King Yeongsan was not exactly a quiet man and is well known for being despotic and cruel. It is believed that he had serious psychological problems. A part of his life, as a Joseon king, is well depicted in "Wang-ui namja". This movie gives opportunity to understand a bit the private life of a king during this time, especially concerning entertainment.

The story starts following two clowns during their every day life. One of them looks like a woman but is actually a man. He will be in the center of major events. Questions about social position, sexuality and private life are issued. This make an interesting story although not revolutionary.

The relationship between people are quite well shown. There is some funny parts (maybe too easy) but it's obviously not a story for children. Acting is OK but the movie seems sometimes a bit longer, due to long monologue (very korean way) and some parts could have been skipped.

Anyway, it's a nice movie to watch and I recommend it for people curious about the korean tradition and culture under the Joseon dynasty.
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Quiet an Amazing movie that straddles different genres
princebansal198212 July 2011
It is difficult to compartmentalize "The King and the Clown". It is part drama, part comedy, part forbidden love story and part artistic freedom struggle all combined into a wonderful period movie. One of the best things I liked about this movie is that all the characters are shades of gray. Whether it is the King or the clown, you find yourself agreeing with them at one point and rooting against them at the next.

It starts at a very light note and becomes dramatic towards the end. But it never becomes preachy or soapy. There are no explicit messages here. This film has a homosexual angle so I was surprised to read that it was a big hit in Korea. I guess a good movie can triumph against all odds. A must-see for all cinephiles.
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The King & The Clown
kevinis4021 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Often when I think about writing a preview, I wait until I ramble through my adjectives and stumble upon a gem of a phrase to set the tone of my treatment. The King and the Clown (Wang-ui Namja) directed by Lee Jun-ik gets this phrase: "the pageantry of life." The movie, initially released in South Korea in December 2005, is adapted from the 2000 highly acclaimed Korean play entitled "Yi" (You). Whereas the play is about Yeonsan-gun, a Joseon dynasty king who falls in love with a court clown, the movie uses the love interest of the King to weave a tale of human activity at its most base level of political and social upheaval.

What is indeed so amazing is it manages to intertwine this American's imagination (subtitles aside) into its allegorical webs, even while one sits thousands of miles away from its Korean audiences. Such universal appeal is rivaled only by one's love of music.

The movie carries its own clout. Indeed, The King and the Clown was the highest grossing (over $85 million in US dollars) in South Korean history. That is, until it was out done by the horror film The Host.

Weather the movie was intended to operate as historically accurate film is soon lost on the magnificent delivery of the characters portrayed. The director elicits from his fine cast of actors performances that that further Asian film from the heavy handed fight scenes and bold colors that often connect westerners to Asian film.

Among them, Jang-Saeng (Karm Woo-sung) and Gong-gil (Lee Joon-ki) play off each other so well that one begins to wonder if Jang-Saeng does not secretly lust after his partner himself. It takes fine foreign actors to take the American viewer's mind away from the subtitles and feel comfortably lost in the characters.

You'll feel comfortable lost and found in The King and the Clown.
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the first Korean movie that really deserves to be recognised and watched the world over
mentalpersonna26 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
this is genuinely a great movie, a movie that i believe deserves recognition by everyone. i heard it has been chosen by Korea as there choice to go for the best foreign movie award at the Oscars, and i would be shocked if they did not come out the winners.

its hard to say what genre this movie is because it has so many, to say it is a tragic love story would be doing the movie a dis justice as its more than just a love story, and to others eyes it may not be tragic.

to quote what a previous commenter has said about the times saying its the Korean brokeback mountain. i think its better than Brokeback mountain, i was one of the few that didn't think that brokeback mountain was that good a movie, it was good but not as good as everybody said it was. the king and the clown just had something else that brokeback mountain didn't have.

at first i was sceptical about watching this movie, after the major hype it received as they tend to be a bit of a disappointment, but i throughly enjoyed this movie.

everything about it was of the highest standard, the script, the story, the scenery, the costumes and who could forget the acting.

lee jun gi will forever be one of my favourite actors alongside tom hanks and gong li. His performance was captivating and who would believe that he is actually a man, his face is just so beautiful and feminine to quote another site 'prettier than most normal women' he was just absolutely perfect for this role, it was like it was written for him. he is certainly the prettiest man i have ever seen. In Korea he won the best supporting actor for his performance in the King and the Clown and now is the most sort after male actor in Korea.

His fellow compatriot Woo-seong Kam also put in a stellar performance that bagged him the best male actor award, his performance was so that it was hard to differentiate whether this movie was about homosexual love or brotherly love, that maybe what makes this movie so great as it allows the viewer to believe what it wants to believe. For example is the king in love with gong gil in a homosexual way or was it a motherly figure way.

i don't believe i could recommend this movie highly enough, even if this doesn't seem like your type of a film, you should watch it for the acting performances alone as it will surely blow you away.
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Crazy King in Korean History
loniewolf25 August 2006
Throughout the unknown history, The King and the clown (or the jester) seemingly have special relations whether they intend it or not. And it goes without saying the clowns always put themselves in a position on stage where people usually find deep sadness - if not humbleness - and throw their sympathetic applaud. In this movie, this milieu doesn't fade away as though I didn't find any similarity and simultaneousness betwixt and between Korean and any Wesern history. So I momentarily wonder if any two historical/cultural facts with different backgrounds can be juxtaposed. Of course it we think from outside of the box, we'll ambiguously realize there's only one rules controlling under any culture: common sense.

Yunsan-kun is the one of the ferocious dictators throughout the Chosun Dynasty. No wonder his characteristic behaviour sometimes led to the horrific incidents draws broad attention; yet he governed the country surprisingly adequate even though his way of making decision seemed rebellious comparing to the social notion at the time. Although the story deals with the chaotic times, which we might have gone through the similar one unwittingly, it introduces "Pan" culture throughout the movie. Pan means simply the stage; where the clowns and acrobats perform. In the movies, along with those three Pan performances I realized how we have become so accustomed not to open up ourselves and let it go as opposed to people arduously enjoyed it.

I may have to say the movie doesn't describe the dark history effectively because of too many fictitious characters and artificial scenes; however, it successfully delivers the coarse conversation beautifully between clowns. It is obscene and full of hatred against the discrimination towards them from the noblemen. The social climate was not ready for these kinds of radical protest and thoughts, either. But I believe it was generally amused and accepted only by grass roots. But when it happens on Pan, it was ironically accepted to noblemen. It is a dramatic irony after all.

One thing I'm not sure is if the movie sets and garments were really reflected based on the fact - especially the scene when two clowns perform about the death of King's mother, the garments and ambiance look like they borrow them from Chinese opera. I just hoped it properly reflects more about Korean culture whether it intends or not. (I suppose the movie can provide the "Pan" and we only can be an audience.) Still, the movie has a great deal of efforts to embrace it, though. I personally think the script is almost perfect. Of course for those who can understand the text and Korean innermost feelings streaming amongst them.
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Superb !!!
ifasmilecanhelp11 July 2007
After reading some comments I decided to see that movie. Impressive and stunning !

Usually I'm not fond of any movie talking about homosexuality, the topic doesn't interest me, I get bored very fast...

I have nothing against it, I might be to much loving women, but to see men having relations together is not pleasant to me!

But in this masterpiece, even there is a background about it, this is not the central point, and has almost no importance... In fact I should precise yes and no at the same time: how it goes along with the storyline, that could have been "almost the same movie" if it had involved not 3 men but 2 men and a woman, as ground-story.

OK, so it is not the point of that beautiful poem!

It's about feelings, love, human relations, drama, sensitivity, madness, political intrigues, acting and hope!

The actors are just fantastic, amazingly genuine in their plays...

Drama is also not my usual cup of tea, no ...

But with drama of this quality, because it is a real drama, I would reconsider my tastes... even if the end is rather very hard, there is no hopeless dead-end... life goes on ! I loved that! Briefly about costumes, location, camera work... everything is first class so well done, I could just applaud !

Bravo to the director and all the crew ! In french I would say Superbe!!
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About the joy of performance and togetherness
The King and the Clown is a movie about a pair of street performers who come to the attention of King Yeonsan of Korea around the start of the 16th century (the Chosun Period).

Yeonsan is tired of his ministers who chirp away about the example of his dead father and provide consistently contrary counsel. Yeonsan is both a genuinely sensitive individual and also a deeply disturbed one, whose neuroses are amply watered in the fertile garden of his royalty, and allowed to blossom bloodily. I felt there was some sort of allusion to North Korea here, where the "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-il is quite literally second-in-command to his dead father, theocrat Kim Il-sung, and certainly does have a twee side.

Jang-sang and his partner, the extremely effeminate Gong-gil, are clowns who come to the attention of the king. They put on shows that are sometimes extremely bawdy, or acrobatic, comic, or dramatic. They divert Yeonsan from his concubine Nok-su whose skirt he lives inside (as even the public are aware). I think this is a key point that the movie makes that the diversions of the clowns are more interesting than fondling even the most seductive woman a king can find; sex an inferior version of play that adults have come up with.

The King becomes attached to Gong-gil in an apparently non-sexual way, re-entering a childish state. The story touchingly reminded me very much of the biblical one where David plays the harp to soothe King Saul when madness came upon him.

The film in many ways is a feel-good one, times are very harsh in the Chosun era, but the performers don't let this get them down, and can find ways to cheer each other up even when times are bad. The "blindmen" scene is the key example of this. The characters perform even when no audience is around, to amuse themselves, and because they seem to feel most alive when living in a form of collective identity. Gong-gil even enjoys the stage of party nights when vomiting starts.

The film manages to capture the innocence and virtues of childhood (which the performers have kept intact), for example, and there are times in my life when I have seen this happen, admitting to misdeeds that you have not committed to avoid the collective punishment of your group. Another lovely example would be a puppet show where a love story is enacted by the furtive stroking of one another's hands. The film has a lot of bright colours and looks good, although this may be more down to the often exquisite set design than any particularly beautiful cinematography. One good example of shooting though was in a meadow, which I like to think of as daisy drop.

Aspects of the movie that weren't to my taste were the bawdiness, which was a little strong for me (I still have some innocence too, so this is a very subjective point), and the fact that Yeonsan's back story intruded a lot (the intrigue surrounding his mother's death), and was quite hard to follow.

The King and the Clown is however an excellent movie, full of values that have almost vanished, and need some reviving.

This is for Mollie for the memories at Renato's.
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You should never miss this movie!
tien-710 June 2008
I did'nt wanna see this movie when it first relised coz I though that it may be some kind of odd style. I was totally wrong! This movie is not about gay, homosexual etc as many people might think of it, it's all about human's natural feeling, emotion... I like everyone from this film, all the actors played perfectly. Also I have to add that Lee Jun Ki was born to play GongGi, some people might not like his look, but I believe that nobody could ignore his talent. Adter seeing this movie, I spent quite a lot of time to search all the relevant info of it. I was obsessed in a beautiful way from this movie. It is definitely one of the great Korean movies!
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A Stunning Historic Drama, Centered Around Three Intriguing & Unique Characters!
akash_sebastian9 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
'The King and the Clown' is well-written, and quite entertaining, historic drama. Other than its comic overtones, it deals with many interesting themes, which include love, power, affection, satire and freedom of speech. Its unique plot and characters are what hold your attention throughout the movie. It has a well-stirred mix of aesthetic and commercial values.

The three main protagonists are the core of the film; a talented jester, a tyrant king and a beautiful eunuch, who gains the affections of both. The three actors playing them are really brilliant, especially Lee Joon-ik, who plays the effeminate eunuch with such charm ad charisma, and looks more beautiful than some actual actresses (ahem).

The summary of the movie, which says "Two clowns living in the 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." - This is just the beginning of the whole story; the plot is much more than that.

The king's character is the most fascinating one: His mother was ordered by the previous king to commit suicide by consuming poison. Her death left a lasting trauma on the future king's psyche, which played a significant role in the deformation of his character. But other than his tyrannical excesses, he was a man of great sensitivity and intelligence. And the way he connects and forms a bond with Gong-gil, through Gong's jests and plays, is quite moving. It's forms an interesting study of human nature.

The climax scene is quite artistic and meaningful, and shows the end of a reign and beginning of love & friendship (in next life) so beautifully merged.

(Note: It's a period drama, and the homosexual themes are just implied. Some foreign viewers call it the 'Korean Brokeback Mountain', but that's an amusingly misleading nickname; the are no sex scenes or nudity. The themes have been explored in quite a subtle way because of the country's culture.)
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theatrics of life - You wish you were wrong.
cockpistol15 December 2017
Makes you realise the implication of every act and makes to judge the next. You wont go wrong, but will make you wish you were.
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Absolutely stunning film
gemtsoi1 July 2007
The King and The Clown left me speechless at the end. All I could think was, 'What a movie'. Nearly everyone whom I have recommended this movie to shared more or less the same reaction. Such is the beauty of The King and The Clown.

This film tells the story of two minstrels who break away from their troupe and seek to make a living for themselves in Seoul. Jang-sang, the more masculine and brash one, and Gong-gil, the weaker and emotionally fragile one, soon get into trouble with the higher authorities for mocking the king. Jang-sang makes a deal that their lives should be spared if their play makes the king laugh. Fortunately for them, the king does, and they are thus installed as court jesters. Everything seems to be going swimmingly until the king takes a fancy to the beautiful, effeminate Gong-gil, and the minstrels' politically satirical plays begin to strike various chords with the government.

First of all, the acting is brilliant. The main trio of Kam Woo Seong, Jeong Jin Yeong and Lee Joon Ki own their roles completely, especially Lee Joon Ki, who is really an eye-opener. I think majority of the viewers, male and female alike, were smitten with him during the show. Jeong Jin Yeong plays his psychotic, warped king to the hilt, and Kam Woo Seong is convincing as the streetsmart, daring Jang-sang. The three of them play off each other beautifully.

The script is equally good. The characters are all real and multi-dimensional, and the story pans out in a very emotional and intelligent way. The minstrels' 'meaning-within-meaning' plays, the friendship between them, the confused relationship between the king and Gong-gil, the hypocrisy of the government, and the politics are fascinating. Other aspects such as the wardrobe and soundtrack compliment the movie perfectly.

I highly recommend this movie. I watched it with high expectations, and it exceeded them. It is heartrending, touching, profound, and comedic in parts. Do not miss out on this beautiful piece of film-making!
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Gorgeous looking but silly, overwrought soap opera with hammy acting
jm1070113 October 2012
This movie looks gorgeous, with very interesting sets and absolutely stunning, fantastic costumes. Most of the acting is okay, particularly by Woo-seong Kam as the chief clown and Jin-yeong Jeong as the king; but Jun-ki Lee as the girl-like clown of the title is embarrassingly bad - a real ham who can simper and pose and wail and shed real-looking tears, but that's about all. What the king sees in him is beyond my imagining, but then the king is insane, so....

The story is so ridiculously overwrought and melodramatic, though, that hammy acting almost fits better than good acting. This movie is fantastic to look at as long as you're able to ignore the two-hour soap opera that makes Dynasty seem like Shakespeare.
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Profound and Beautiful!
RBaned6 July 2007
The King and the Clown is an excellent film noteworthy of it's critical acclaims. It showcases the purity of love in a universal light - something that is easily misunderstood in the Western world.

It's difficult for me to explain my interpretation of the relationship between the main characters - simply put, they are soul mates and the soul does not discriminate between gender. To say their relationship is not homosexual, is a Western explanation, but most Westerners (especially Americans), will not easily understand this because love to is categorized differently. I think of it as taking the "sentiment and care" felt by loving a child, parent, lover, friend, husband, and wife and eliminating the titles, roles, sexual intimacy, and stripping it to only the "sentiment of sincere care". This is what I mean by purity of love.

This film expresses this beautifully.
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Too familiar a face
shu-fen22 March 2007
The movie enjoys huge success in both commentary and box-office figure in both Korea and Mainland China since its premiere in 2005. Strangely, though Hong Kong does import large bunches of Korean movies in the past five years, no cinema or distributor's eyes were on this. Its DVD was just out last weekend yet it has already become a top hit DVD in the Mainland.

An obvious reason for its being slighted could be: Hong Kong viewers may flatly compare the female images of Leslie Cheung in Farewell My Concubine (1993) and Jun-gi Lee's (Gong-gil), a young Korean screen hopeful (to-date 24 years old) who is known for his commitment to the industry. (He sings, dances, acts in TV and movie, attends demonstrations for protecting Korea's film industry against the authority's unfavourable policies…) And the truth is not distant from our guess, audience can just link up these two movies as Lee frankly did admit that he has watched "Farewell" for 20+ times before the camera rolled its first round. When being promoted in China, it was even nicknamed "Farewell my concubine - the Korean interpretation"! In actuality, besides the look of the two feminine protagonists, no other similarities of these two movies exist! And thus, Hong Kong may not be that interested in the story or the presentation as we have already had our late sweet-heart Gor-gor Leslie Cheung.

The storyline is simple with some funny glitches. Anyway, it is not the story but the wardrobe, the striking feminine look of Lee, the traditional Korean street-acting, "Darwaz" (High altitude tightrope dancing/walking -- originated from the present Xinjiang area/Central Asia. There it is taken to be a sport rather than performing art in this film.) catch my attention more. To me, a Chinese, they are not strangers but with novelties. If you like to know a bit of Korea's older days, this may satisfy some of your wish.
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