The King and the Clown

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Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

South Korean director Lee Joon-ik's feature The King and the Clown has the double distinction of being the highest-grossing film in Korean history at the time of its release and one of the first Korean commercial films to deal openly and unabashedly with gay themes; it is regarded in many quarters as "the Korean Brokeback Mountain." Adapted from Kim Tae-Woong's play +Yi, this period drama concerns two 16th century, Chosun Era clowns: the supremely self-assured Jang-seng (Kam Woo-seong) and transsexual Gong-gil (Lee Jun-gi), who earn a meager living as street performers in Hanyang. Miraculously, their excruciating poverty comes to an end when the tyrannical King Yon-san (Jeong Jin-yeong) catches their act and, delighted, invites them to serve as resident court jesters at his palace. But matters grow increasingly complex and tricky when Yon-san feels a torrent of lust for Gong-gil and attempts to possess the androgynous performer. This elicits unbridled jealousy from Jang-seng and not only sets him on a head-to-head collision course with the king, but threatens to propel Yon-san into full insanity.

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Critic Reviews for The King and the Clown

All Critics (2)

  • As the film collapses to its messy, ridiculous conclusion I was left with a strong feeling of a lost opportunity, a potentially enlightening epic coated with enough schmaltz to make it almost camp.

    Jun 21, 2007 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
  • A little disappointing.

    Sep 6, 2006

Audience Reviews for The King and the Clown


The mock of a jester and the descent of a kingdom to insanity, The King And The Clown is an odd fusion of romance, drama, and comedy with style and extravagance. Ruthless.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer


I think this movie is way too overrated. And the storyline that is written over here explains 30% of it. I did liked the beginning but it gets boring afterward. None of the jokes made me laugh (it was too lame). But the acting was superb though. I thought Lee Jun Ki was a girl. Damn. Never seen a guy looked so girly without makeup.

Dead Angel
Dead Angel

Super Reviewer


Well, I don't understand how Korean people loves this movie really really much... I just don't totally understand with what Lee Jun-ik want... He made the story of ruthless king who doesn't look like a king because he is so childish... And the clown themselves, they're not that funny... Maybe I have a little laugh in the beginning, but the later I go, more worse that I get.. The story get boring, the king become totally ruthless, he kills every people who is stand in his way... And I thought the Lee Joon-ki factors maybe works for people, but I don't enjoy it...

Sanjaya  丘耀文
Sanjaya 丘耀文

Super Reviewer


The King and the Clown is overrated and I think this may have to do with the homosexuality part of the theme. I believe this film is banned in China because of this theme and the sexual language that appears.

You will see the plot of "two clowns being arrested for mocking the King and having the chance to save their lives by making the King laugh" in many places. This is actually a little deceiving. This plot describes the first part of the film, but believe me there is more to this one than that. There is the theme of homosexuality seen here and although you will not see it said anywhere, it is definitely implied by the acting and the story. There are no sex scenes in case you are wondering.

The first 2/3s of this 2 hour picture is slow. There isn't much going on except for the clowns putting on performances that bring out the hidden emotions of the King. The last 40 minutes is where you the learn the real reason for the clowns being there and this is where the story becomes dark and tragic.

The 3 leads in this film put on good performances. Jun-gi Lee (Lee Joon-ki) is who everybody talks about. He plays one of the most feminist males that you will see in a film. Seriously, he is even more feminist than some women. It is this character that brings out the feminist side in the King.

There really isn't much to this film unless you enjoy Asian historic dramas. The acting and the story will capture the hearts of dramatic fans.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

The King and the Clown Quotes

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