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.
While Korea is occupied by the Japanese Army in 1933, the resistance plans to kill the Japanese Commander. But their plan is threatened by a traitor within their group and also the enemies' forces are hunting them down.
About Nae-kyung who is able to assess the personality, mental state and habits of a person by looking at his face. Because of his abilities, he gets involved in a power struggle between Prince Sooyang and Kim Jong-Seo.
A washed-up boxer, Jo-ha, has lived his life relying on nothing but his physical strength. His champion glory lasted only a moment, and now pride is all Jo-ha has. He runs into his mom who ... See full summary »
Amid national chaos and fear for his life, tyrannical King Gwanghae orders his trusted councilor Heo Kyun to find a royal body double. He hires Ha-seon, a peasant mimic who bears a perfect resemblance to the King. When King Gwanghae collapses from a mysterious poison, Ha-seon reluctantly becomes a King. He must follow his conscience to save his country from collapse, avoid assassination, and pull off the biggest masquerade in history. KWritten by
As has been pointed out by other reviewers, this story is a new spin on "The Prince and the Pauper." It actually reminded me, however, of the American movie "Dave," in that the protagonist is a naive pawn whose empathy allows him to rise to the occasion, including finding love in the chaos.
Byung-hun Lee is simply an amazing actor. Having seen his "dark" side in movies like "A Bittersweet Life" and "I Saw the Devil," I was very pleased to see he could handle the role of Ha-Seon with such a light touch. It was a joy to see him effortlessly shift from hilarious toilet humor to inspiring leader. I was particularly struck with the scenes where he interacted with commoners, in which I really felt the empathy Ha-Seon felt for them.
This is the first of director Chang-min Choo's movies I've seen, and I was impressed at how he was able to seamlessly balance the light and serious scenes in the movies. To often, one or the other seems forced, but here Choo creates a character who grows and changes, but still remains, at heart, the same, good person he was at the beginning -- the kind of person who, by the end of the story, could be happy and believable as a king or a pauper. I think Choo also gave the movie a more intimate feel by focusing on one-on-one conversations and limiting the normal "cast of thousands" you often see in period pieces about kings.
Overall, the acting was top notch -- particularly from Hyo-ju Han as the Queen and Hyo-ju Han as Minister Do -- and the costumes and set design were beautiful.
Masquerade is an engaging and charming period piece with humor, action, and romance.
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