I Am The King Film Review
The period drama I Am the King was part of the line-up for this year’s London Korean Film Festival, having only been released on the 9th of August. The movie supposedly depicts the three months before Choong-nyeong (future Sejong the Great) becomes king. The history of the Dynasty, between 1413 and 1865, has missing records of this period of King Sejong’s life.
The screenplay was inspired by Mark Twain’s well-known tale of “The Prince and the Pauper”. In this retelling of the story set in the Joseon Dynasty, the third son of King Taejong, finds himself in an awkward situation when he is named (against his wishes) as the heir apparent in place of his elder brothers. With a mild and scholarly temperament he finds he cannot handle the pressure of being the Crown Prince and dreams of life outside the palace. Prince Choong-nyeong decides to take matters into his own hands and escape when what can only be described as fate meets him just outside the palace walls.
Slave Deok-chil, notorious for his rowdy nature and playful attitude towards life also dreams. He dreams of a better future for himself. It is his feelings towards his master’s daughter and his determination to save her that are what bring the two together. Inevitably they swap places.
Of course Deok-chil (also played by Joo Ji-hoon) perfectly resembles the prince, so Choong-nyeong grabs the chance to disguise himself as a slave without hesitation and they exchange clothes with each other.
Things don’t even come close to what was originally planned when Choong-nyeong wakes up after being knocked unconscious, and is really mistaken for a slave whilst Deok-chil gets prepped for the throne!
On his journeys outside the palace walls, the prince he begins to see the suffering of the people living in extreme poverty and experiences the life of the common man. This is what is believed to have made King Sejong the great ruler he became.
All in all, the movie was very witty, extremely well directed and bursting with character (with thanks to the supporting cast) while at the same time, it managed to retain its underlying message. The occasional humorous scenes often left the entire cinema laughing out loud! It was a memorable story and Joo Ji-hoon shone with his flawless and utterly believable transitioning from prince to pauper. I would willingly see this again and again and again!
Did you see this film or any of the others at the London Korean Film Festival? Do you agree with our review? Let us know in the comments.