July 18, 2009

The King and The Clown: A Daisy Chain of Tops and Bottoms

Indigent circus performers strike it rich. Now that's a cause for celebration, right? Sure, it is. But for some lucky clowns, it's also a cause for consternation. You see, when this particular tightrope walker (Kam Woo-seong) and his cross-dressing sidekick (Lee Jun-gi) find favor with a somewhat crazy, petulantly sadistic emperor (Jeong Jin-yeong), they also find themselves drawn into more than one troubled love triangle and some life-threatening political intrigue. But can the rope-walking acrobat help caring so deeply about his cross-dressing cohort? And can the cross-dresser help inspiring lusty thoughts in that kooky king? And, for that matter, can the royal courtesan (Kang Seong-yeon) help being jealous of that role-playing pretty boy who's also good with puppets and has a unique calligraphic style? No. No. No. A magnificently told tale based on a true story from the 16th century Chosun dynasty, The King and the Clown is a topnotch, romantic costume drama that knows when to be comic even if it's headed for tragedy. The performances are uniformly excellent, right down to the minor characters. Needless to say, I'll be checking out other collaborations of director Lee Jun-ik and writer Choi Seok-hwan.

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