Festival Film Review: Masquerade deserved all the awards it got

Gwanghae poster

It swept the board at the recent Grand Bell awards – best film, best director and best leading actor among them. And for all-round entertainment, the closing film of the London Korean Film Festival 2012 deserved all those awards.

Lee Byung-hun: both King and Clown
Lee Byung-hun: the King or the Clown?

Was a uniquely reformist tax policy set by a pantomime performer who was pretending to be Gwanghae-gun for a couple of weeks? Was the surrender of Kang Hong-nip’s Joseon forces fighting under Ming command against the barbarian Qing invaders in 1619 determined months in advance by an imposter? Well, it all stretches credulity a bit, but you sure feel a burst of patriotic pride as the stand-in King decides that Joseon Korea has kowtowed to Ming China for long enough.

Gwanghae soup
There’s something worse than a fly in Gwanghae’s soup

And the film as a whole looks so gorgeous, is so full of good ideas and a bit of fun, that you are prepared to let it slip. First-rate entertainment, as Lee Byung-hun plays both King and imposter in a film which deserves to do as well outside of Korea as it has done there.

Choo Chang-min (추창민) Masquerade (광해, 왕이 된 남자, 2012) SterneSterneSterneSterneSterne

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