Director: Choo Chang Min
Casts: Lee Byung Hun, Han Hyo Joo, Ryoo Seung Ryong, Kim Myung Gon, Kim In Kwon, Shim Eun Kyung
Running Time: 131 minutes
The 15th King of Joseon Dynasty (1450-1750), King Gwanghae (Lee Byung Hun), who has been the King for the past 8 years, believes that someone within the royal court is trying to assassinating him. So, he asks his Chief Secretary, Heo Gyun (Ryoo Seung Ryong) to find someone who looks like him to sit in his throne. He finds a clown, Ha Sun (Lee Byung Hun), who performs a show in front of a group of drunken noblemen. Ha Sun looks exactly like King Gwanghae and he’s able to imitate how King Gwanghae speaks. Heo Gyun decides to take Ha Sun to the royal place to sit on the King’s seat while the King goes over to his mistress’s home. A few days later, King Gwanghae collapses and is taken to a safe house. Meanwhile, Ha Sun continues to be the King until King Gwanghae recovers. Along the way, the royal court realize that the King change because of Ha Sun’s own personality. Then, when his true identity revealed, the enemies within the royal court attempt their next move.
I was really into this film a lot. I was moving within my seat from beginning to the end where I applause for this great film. Having Lee Byung Hun in a historical film for the first time is truly amazing. Lee Byung Hun is able to portray two characters really well. King Gwanghae is a serious person while Ha Sun is the jovial and caring person. He managed to balance both character’s personality that can be easily spotted. First off, I obviously like Ha Sun a lot in this film. Although he can be jovial and funny when it comes to being in the King’s shoes, he is able to show his seriousness personality when he soon realizes the people have gone through hard times. The glare and his tone gave me the goosebumps. Lee Byung Hun’s flaming personality and happy personality make me smile and nod my head. So, I was really impressed with him being featured in a historical film for the first time.
Ryo Seung Ryoong, the Casanova from ‘All About My Wife’. I was really surprised that he mostly does serious roles in film which I believe that suits him. Again, he is able to portray Heo Gyun by going along with the two characters which are portrayed by Lee Byung Hun. Even though Heo Gyun is supposed to be slightly being told by Ha Sun in a funny way, yet he managed to hold his awkwardness while I laugh at times like these. Again, he’s one of the great actors which I truly admired. Not because of his comedic appearance in ‘All About My Wife’, but he still has his flaming charisma.
This film is stunning that my eyes were wide open. The costumes and setting are one of the elements that make me interested about the Korean periodical history. During the Q&A session, both main actors pointed out that they struggle a bit while wearing layers of the royal robes. However, they are happy to be featured in this film because they want to show the story behind King Gwanghae and how the history goes during that period. I was fully connected with this film as I was looking into how the King goes through daily routines, what actually happen to the king, and some Korean cultural performances such as Ha Sun who performs as a clown. Also, I was really into their conversation among the characters which are in-depth yet funny at the same time. Unfortunately, there is not much development on some of the female characters which is one of a slight disappointment.
‘Masquerade’ has recently won 15 awards at the 49th Daejong Film Awards. This film is a great example on showing the contemporary South Korean cinema. Once you watch this film, you’ll be back in the Joseon era (1450-1750) to watch and listen to the story of King Gwanghae and Ha Sun. Lee Byung Hun and Ryo Seung Ryoong are the great actors in this wonderful film. This is truly a breathtaking and stunning film which you’ll definitely feel connected to it a lot.