Director: Han Jae-rim
Cast: Cho In-sung, Jung Woo-sung, Bae Seong-woo, Ryu Jun-yeol
Film genre: Thriller
Cert 15, 134 mins, 2017
Distributed by Contents Panda
Charting the rise and fall of an ambitious young prosecutor, director Han Jae-rim’s The King navigates a path through the turbulent political climate of 80s and 90s Korea, reveling in the obscene excesses and violent power struggles on display.
After seeing his small-time crook father humiliated by a visiting prosecutor, juvenile delinquent Tae-su (Cho In-sung, A Dirty Carnival) realises where the real power in this world is found. When, after years of study, the long hours and meagre pay offered by his position don’t provide the life he desires, Tae-su puts his morals aside and takes up with the most powerful prosecutors in the country, led by the charismatic Han Kang-sik (Jung Woo-sung, Asura: The City of Madness). Introduced into a world of money, parties and long-sought after power, Tae-su enjoys life at the top but with a career built upon a web of corruption, and with violent gangsters, a wronged wife and shady friends all gunning for him, how long can it last?
With its stylish portrayal of the unchecked hedonism enjoyed by men thrust into positions of power and the lies and corruption that keep them there, The King plays out like a Korean Wolf of Wall Street, albeit with more synchronized dancing, shamans and soju. Director Han Jae-rim (The Face Reader) incorporates real-life news-report footage to give an added air of reality to its fast and frenetic storytelling style, while excellent performances from star actors Cho In-sung and Jung Woo-sung carry the film.
Offering a timely exploration into the corrupting effect of power, The King has muscled its way into the number two spot at the 2017 Korean box-office, and its slick, cinematic visuals and thrilling narrative should prove equally appealing to UK audiences.