I’ll be honest, I went into this film not knowing what to expect, I was unsure if I was going to like it as the title did not give anything away. I am not one to watch period films/dramas, but more inclined to watching your modern day Korean movies, this film definitely changed the way i think towards historical genres.
The King and the Clown also known as “The King’s Men” is set in 15thcentury during the reign of King Yeonsan from the Joseon Dynasty’s. Its story focuses on the lives 2 street clowns Jangsaeng (Gam Wu-seong) and Gong-gil (Lee Jun Ki) who embark on an adventure to Seoul as they escaped from their previous life due to (Lee Jun Ki) being prostituted by their former manager. When they arrive in Seoul they quickly become a part of another entertainment street act who then decide to mock the King (Jeong Jin-Yeong) and his concubine, this does not go down well as they get arrested for treason. They then make a deal with kings servant, if they make the king laugh they will be spared their lives, successfully doing so the king decided to make them apart of his Royal Court.
This film then focuses on the king’s infatuation with Gong-gil, the pretty effeminate clown, whose feminine nature and looks intrigue him. The king be-friends Gonggil and often privately invites him back to his chambers sparking up controversey in the palace. As the film continues jealously, treason, lies and loyalty all play a part in the king’s mental downfall as he becomes more and more unstable with unpredictable violent outbursts.
This film has everything, comedy, action, romance, violence and touches on the subject of homosexuality. It grabbed my attention from the opening scene and intrigued me to want to know what the film was about. (Lee Jun Ki’s) character Gong-gil especially stood out as he played the feminine characteristics really well thus quickly becoming my favorite character. The plot of the film was interesting as I have never seen such a storyline, it had an almost hidden theme of homosexuality that keeps you guessing, which can leave you slightly confused at times as to whom had an interest in (Lee Jun Ki’s) character. The use of homosexual referencing was neither obvious nor vulgar, but cleverly acted.
Only criticism I’ll say is that it’s a film that is not necessarily about Korean history as such but gives you an idea as to what life was like back then, its undeniable that it eases you comfortably into the historical genres with its unforgettable storyline. I would definitely recommend watching