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 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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