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Film Description
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Film Title:
King and the Clown
(Wang-ui nam-ja)

Programme: DISCOVERY
Director: Lee Jun-ik
Country: South Korea
Year: 2005
Language: Korean
Time: 119 minutes
Film Types: Colour/35mm
Rating: 18A
King and the Clown

Friday, September 08    6:00 PM    PARAMOUNT 3  Buy tickets now
Saturday, September 09    12:30 PM    PARAMOUNT 1  Buy tickets now
Thursday, September 14    6:00 PM    VARSITY 4  Buy tickets now

Production Company : Eagle Pictures Inc. 
Foreign Sales Agent : CJ Entertainment Inc. 

Executive Producer: Kim In-soo
Producer: Chung Jin-wan, Lee Jun-ik
Screenplay: Choi Suk-hwan, based on the play "Yi" by Kim Tae-woong
Cinematographer: Ji Gil-woong
Editor: Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum
Production Designer: Kang Seung-yong
Sound: Choi Tae-young
Music: Lee Byong-woo
Principal Cast: Karm Woo-sung, Jung Jin-young, Lee Joon-gi, Kang Sung-yeon

The unusual outfit of a period drama cloaks South Korea's all-time box office record breaker, King and the Clown. Lee Jun-ik's film wins the audience's heart with pristine performances elicited from a charged, charming script that whispers in gay undertones.

Based on the popular play "Yi" ("You"), which was inspired by the diaries of a sixteenth-century king, the film blends comedy and wit with ominous, darkly Shakespearean tragedy. And it's all served over a taboobreaking gay subtext.

Weaving a rich, colourful tapestry of historical landscapes, amazing acrobatics and unspoken emotions - made all the stronger for their concealment behind painful, hinted allusions - Director Lee masterfully reveals the fateful story of two clowns. Self-confident Jang-seng (Karm Woo-sung) and androgynous Gong-gil (Lee Joon-gi) earn a meagre living by performing in the streets of Hanyang, the capital city of the Chosun era. Their wretched poverty combines with their free spirits, unquestionable skills as performers and fearless mockery to form the explosive mix of their shows - and to bring their popular art before the despotic monarch King Yon-san (Jung Jin-young).

Against all odds, instead of being sentenced to death for staging an irreverent satire of the tyrant's affair with Nok-soo (Kang Sung-yeon), the two jesters make the king laugh with their coarse, earthy wit and are admitted into his court.

But the comforts of palace life only hide new and larger dangers, as the disturbing beauty of Gong-gil pierces right to the heart of the king's darkest desires, triggering a devastating insanity in the ruler and jealousy in Jang-seng.

The strong references to films like Chen Kaige's Farewell, My Concubine (similarities lie in both the analogous plot and a spectacular Chinese opera scene), or to Ang Lee's most recent triumph (King and the Clown has been called the Korean Brokeback Mountain), fade quickly into the uniqueness of this fascinating work. Its distinctive appeal rests in the sumptuous depiction of an era seen through the wise eyes of street performers, and in the superbly conveyed sensations that gush from the wounded heart of a nation broken under the weight of a tyrant.

- Giovanna Fulvi

Lee Jun-ik was born in Seoul and studied painting at Sejong University. He completed his directorial debut, Kid Cop, in 1993. His films as producer include The Spy (99), The Anarchist (00) and Hi, Dharma (01). He directed his second feature, Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield, in 2003. King and the Clown (05) is his most recent feature.
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