Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Masquerade

Lavishly entertaining Korean period spectacle works on every level from an ancient but still effective source.

Sept 25, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363638-Masquerade_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A Korean period version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, Masquerade tells the story of King Gwang-hae (Lee Byeong-heon), an unpopular monarch who, paranoid about assassination attempts, finds a lowly comic performer, Ha Seon (also Lee), with identical features to impersonate him. Everyone is fooled for a while, but then the King becomes seriously ill and is removed from court to recover, while his doppelganger must seriously up his royal game. Instead of merely being a stooge for the King’s conniving advisors, however, Ha Seon has an “A-ha!” moment regarding the rampant corruption of the court and unjustness to the common people, and sets about to right things.

Director Choo Chang-min has made a sweepingly entertaining, lavishly appointed spectacle from Hwang Jo-yoon’s smart script. The elaborate rituals of the royal court are observed with vibrant detail and much humor, as when Ha Seon, pretending to be the monarch, startlingly finds a full, obeisant audience of courtiers assembled every morning to congratulate him on his morning defecation (which is then thoroughly examined and—shuddersomely—even tasted by his personal physician). The basic premise is beyond hoary, of course, also popping up in other old chestnuts like The Prisoner of Zenda, but it’s quite amazing how smoothly it still works when executed as well as it is here. The design elements are often breathtakingly beautiful and the cinematography handsomely deep-toned.

Naturally, much of the efficacy of the piece hangs on its lead actor in a dual role, and the aristocratically handsome, versatile Lee Byeong-heon really delivers the goods. He convincingly expresses the King’s arrogance and ruthlessness, while making Ha Seon a highly ingratiating Everyman, blessed with a sense of fun which lightens things at all times. Han Hyo-joo is lovely and intelligent as the neglected Queen, who might have been given more to do, and Ryoo Seung-yong, as the chief advisor, and Jang Gwang, in a touching portrait of the head eunuch, lend strong support at court.


Film Review: Masquerade

Lavishly entertaining Korean period spectacle works on every level from an ancient but still effective source.

Sept 25, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1363638-Masquerade_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

A Korean period version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, Masquerade tells the story of King Gwang-hae (Lee Byeong-heon), an unpopular monarch who, paranoid about assassination attempts, finds a lowly comic performer, Ha Seon (also Lee), with identical features to impersonate him. Everyone is fooled for a while, but then the King becomes seriously ill and is removed from court to recover, while his doppelganger must seriously up his royal game. Instead of merely being a stooge for the King’s conniving advisors, however, Ha Seon has an “A-ha!” moment regarding the rampant corruption of the court and unjustness to the common people, and sets about to right things.

Director Choo Chang-min has made a sweepingly entertaining, lavishly appointed spectacle from Hwang Jo-yoon’s smart script. The elaborate rituals of the royal court are observed with vibrant detail and much humor, as when Ha Seon, pretending to be the monarch, startlingly finds a full, obeisant audience of courtiers assembled every morning to congratulate him on his morning defecation (which is then thoroughly examined and—shuddersomely—even tasted by his personal physician). The basic premise is beyond hoary, of course, also popping up in other old chestnuts like The Prisoner of Zenda, but it’s quite amazing how smoothly it still works when executed as well as it is here. The design elements are often breathtakingly beautiful and the cinematography handsomely deep-toned.

Naturally, much of the efficacy of the piece hangs on its lead actor in a dual role, and the aristocratically handsome, versatile Lee Byeong-heon really delivers the goods. He convincingly expresses the King’s arrogance and ruthlessness, while making Ha Seon a highly ingratiating Everyman, blessed with a sense of fun which lightens things at all times. Han Hyo-joo is lovely and intelligent as the neglected Queen, who might have been given more to do, and Ryoo Seung-yong, as the chief advisor, and Jang Gwang, in a touching portrait of the head eunuch, lend strong support at court.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here