Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Fatal Encounter: The Plot to Kill King Jeong-Jo
is like a Joseon era Downton Abbey,
except bloodier. The Dowager Queen openly schemes against her “grandson,” the
king, as the palace servants furtively choose up sides. The drama all builds
towards the infamous 1777 assassination attempt in Lee Jae-kyoo’s The Fatal Encounter (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
get complicated in the palace. Reluctantly, King Jeong-jo’s mother and
grandfather sacrificed his father, the crown prince and heir to the throne, to
placate the Noson faction, led by his “Grandmamma,” his grandfather’s
Queen-consort. They did it solely for his sake. However, now that he has
ascended to the throne, the Dowager Queen has grown tired of his independent
deciding to assassinate the king, the Noson conspirators assume they are
holding all the cards, including key allies in the military and sleeper
assassins planted deep within the palace. As a trump card, they also retain the
services of Eul-soo, a hired killer who was once the sworn brother of the King’s
private clerk, Gap-soo. However, many of the hidden assassins have concluded
King Jeong-jo’s personal discipline and concern for the common people make him
better suited to reign than their masters. Betrayals come fast and furious as
the twenty-four hour countdown to the palace assault ticks down.
Fatal might just be
the ultimate film for laundry intrigue, largely due to the important role
played by Wol-hye, a senior maid and royal laundress with divided loyalties.
Remember, they didn’t let just anyone scrub the King’s undies. While the focus
is squarely on political maneuvering, there are also a few nicely staged action
sequences. Viewers will not feel let down when the assassins finally arrive.
the big story regarding Fatal was television
megastar Hyun Bin’s return to acting after his compulsory military service. He
provides a perfectly fine model of strong, silent rectitude, but international
audiences will be more taken with the supporting cast. Living up to his chameleon-like
reputation, Jung Jae-young (known for Broken,
Confession of Murder, and Moss)
again transforms himself, fully bringing to life the conflicted and
guilt-ridden Gap-soo. Likewise, emerging star Jung Eun-chae anchors the film as
Wol-hye, neatly playing off and with nearly the entire ensemble as her numerous
secret relationships come to light.
Ji-min (who majored in social work according to Asianwiki) is also
appropriately hiss-able as the cold-blooded Dowager Queen. Sensitive viewers
should be warned Fatal features
several young characters in various stages of distress, but Yoo Eun-mi is particularly
impressive as Bok-bing, a seven year-old apprentice maid caught between the
provides sufficient skullduggeries to keep a
steady string of shoes dropping, without getting bogged down in its own
complications. It is a nicely crafted period production, with enough tragedy to
keep the Korea box office satisfied, but should still appeal to most American
filmgoers’ tastes. Recommended for fans of grand historicals, The Fatal Encounter opens this Friday
(5/23) in New York at the AMC Empire and is now playing at the CGV Cinemas in
Labels: Jung Jae-young, Korean Cinema