Korean Film Festival 2017 Review: The King (South Korea, 2017)

The King is a political film that takes you on a rollercoaster ride and reminds you there is a world out there and that things like this really do happen.

Seen as the Korean version of Wolf of Wall Street, The King explains how one makes it big through power and corruption. With a side of hardcore partying and how people live at the top of the social ladder.

Follow the journey through the life of Park Tae-soo (Jo In-Sung) as a prosecutor. Born into a poor family, he watched his crook of a father steal and fight his way through life; and learnt to be a high school thug himself. It was when he saw his father on he’s knees in front of a prosecutor that he’s life turned around.

It was then he realised that true power is to have someone physically stronger than you bow down at your feet. He wanted to be a prosecutor. After working hard in law school and finally stepping into the legal world. He realised that he was simply a “civil slave” living off a mere salary.

That all changes when he is invited to join Han Kang-Shik’s (Jung Woo-Sung) clique in the legal world. He steps up to the top of social pyramid and lives a glamorous and comfortable life. But he soon learns that pride and justice is nothing when placed against power and corruption. That behind closed doors, prosecutors, politicians, gangs, and media are used in line to create the image that the public sees; whether good or bad. That at the end of day, it was all an act.

It takes real life but under the counter situations onto the big screen. The King shows how humans react in the face of power and how far people can go in order to attain that power.

Despite being such a dark theme, I was pleasantly surprised by the use of comedy throughout the film. The odd and absurd actions or colours popped out of the dark and serious scenes providing a good amount of humour. Alongside a very good use of camera angles, slow motion and lighting.

Although being over two hours long, the film did not feel like it dragged for too long based on the vast scope it carried. You watched Tae-soo’s life flash before him from the 1980’s all the way to the present; and it had you guessing what was to come next.

At the end of the day, a positive message of ‘good will always triumph over evil’ and ‘it’s never too late to turn back’ powers through after all the highs and lows on his journey. Although it’s unavoidable that power can manipulate how the world functions but keeping your ground will make a difference.

The movie certainly exceeded my expectations and left me breathless with how it all unfolded.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The King was shown as part of the Korean Film Festival in Australia. For more information visit www.koffia.com.au