Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
Original title: Wang-ui Namja
South Korea, 2005. Eagle Pictures, CJ Entertainment. Screenplay by Seok-Hwan Choi, based on the play Yi by Tae-woong Kim.Cinematography by Gil-woong Ji. Produced by Jin-wan Jeong, Joon-ik Lee. Music by Byung-woo Lee. Production Design by Seong-Yeon Kang. Film Editing by Jae-beom Kim, Sang-beom Kim.
Billed as the “Brokeback Mountain of South Korea”, this might be a story of forbidden gay love the way Ang Lee’s classic was, but it isn’t as deeply touching or moving. Jang-sang, a travelling performer, finally frees himself and his lover Gong-gil of their tyrannical boss and take the remaining members of their troupe towards the imperial palace of feudal Korea. There they win the Emperor over with their ribald parodies of palace life, including a terrific send-up of the monarch’s affair with a courtesan, but when the beautiful Gong-gil’s looks catch the king’s eye, the crowned head nearly overthrows his kingdom for his passion. Unfortunately, the film is more set-up than follow-through, and the resulting romance that ends in tragedy hardly pierces the surface. Still, the pageantry is gorgeous, and the film can’t be accused of ever being boring.
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005