A B.O. sensation in South Korea, 16th-century costumer “King and the Clown” is a well acted but extremely talky dramedy about amorous jealousies between a king, his lady and two male traveling performers. On March 5, pic became the country’s all-time highest grosser, with 11.75 million admissions ($72 million) — and counting — some two months after its Dec. 29 release. Homosexual angle will propel the film into gay situations, but uninteresting direction, two-hour running time and dialogue that’s difficult to do justice to in subtitles will severely limit offshore chances.
Gong-gil (Lee Jun-gi), who specializes in female roles, and Jang-seng (Kam Woo-seong) are arrested in Seoul for a street act satirizing the ruthless King Yonsan (Jeong Jin-yeong) and his ambitious consort, Nok-su (Gang Seong-yeon). Thesps win their freedom, and stay on at the palace; but the king becomes obsessed with beautiful Gong-gil, to the consternation of Jang-seng and the fury of Nok-su, who plots against Gong-gil’s life. Film is pleasingly, though not lavishly, designed, and boasts strong perfs by both Kam and Jeong. Gay elements are largely unexplicit. A fresh translation, as “The Court Jester,” is reportedly under way.