Saturday, June 23, 2012

The King and the Clown Review (2005)

Drama Rating: ****
Personal Rating: Loved it!

The King and the Clown recounts the story of King Yeonsan, one of the more tyrannical of Joseon's rulers, who takes in a travelling troupe of street performers to provide him with occasional entertainment. However, the King gradually begins to take a liking for the effeminate Gonggil, much to the dismay of Jangsaeng, who has been trying to protect his friend. In court, their performances take on darker and more questionable topics as the unstable King appears to become consumed with wrath, exhibiting highly erratic behaviour.

*Spoiler warning*

The unfolding of the story was very well done as the audience is introduced to Jangsaeng and Gonggil, two street entertainers who eventually find their way to Seoul. The street performances were expertly choreographed and carried a very authentic, traditional feel. Indeed, some of the scripts and portrayals of supposed and rumored historical events were mocked and humorously mimicked in various staged performances providing plenty of dry humor in the midst of some tense situations. This movie definitely deserves praise for the depiction of the ruler and the subtle relationship between the two street performers through their top-notch performances, interactions and dialogue. The only weakness was the at-times abrupt transition between various scenes making the movie occasionally a little bit choppy and which also affected the pacing somewhat.

Kam Wu Seong, as the blunt and direct Jangsaeng, plays his character to perfection. Jangsaeng is visibly close to Gonggil but clearly leaves it up in the air as to why he is so protective of his friend. Jeong Jin Yeong's portrayal of King Yeonsan was superb, capturing the essence of an ruler too often frustrated by powerful court ministers and thus indulging in vices to forget about his sorrows and troubles. His periodic fits of insanity and tyranny outlines a portrait of a king who gradually becomes more and more disturbed, frequently lashing out at those around him. Lee Jun Ki does an interesting, if slightly overrated, job as the effeminate Gong Gil rounding out the trio as a timid, insecure jester.

To maintain the traditional feel given off by the story, the drama makes extensive use of traditional instruments and music lending an air of authenticity to the movie. Aside from these engaging performances however, music is used quite judiciously with sound effects taking their place in a number of situations. These effects were used to great effect to make the performance a highly theatrical experience.

To be honest, I was quite impressed with this movie. It carries quite a bit of weight in terms of acting performances and conveys subtle messages throughout its entirety. Relationships are complex and certainly there is more than meets the eye to both the events and the characters. The progression of the king's insanity was masterfully captured and definitely gives another perspective/interpretation of history. By far the most unique parts of this movie were the engaging traditional performances which were fittingly weaved into the movie. All in all, this was a captivating story told in a intriguing fashion.

No comments:

Post a Comment