I was lucky enough to see Hyun Bin’s first post military project, a film called The Fatal Encounter. Well…I say lucky enough like I liked it when, truth was, I didnt. Shhhh…. don’t tell Hyun Bin. According to an interview he’s done he’s pretty cranky with people who aren’t enjoying the movie.
Why didn’t I like it? Since I don’t actually know anything about the history that the story is based on, I can’t fault it for that–I just found it to be boring and uncompelling.
As with other Korean movies there were actually a bunch of different plots going on and the one that I found the most interesting was the one with the assassins–how they were orphaned or stolen and forced to forget their entire identities and train to be assassins, many of them farmed out to masters within the government as sleeper cells in order to plot against or kill the king (and I’m guessing anyone else who got in their way).
Compared with their struggles with identity, allegiance, and personal dreams the machinations of the main plot seemed like a petty family argument. Especially considering the only ones left standing at the end are the royalty and upper-classes who sent all the people into harms way.
I wonder. Are there any Korean movies/dramas that don’t involve royalty? This is an actual questions as I haven’t seen much by way of the saeguk.
As the plot did revolve around the assassination attempt against the king (possible several attempts), there was some action, but that comes toward the end of the movie. I do have to say, the fight scene between Hyun Bin and Jo Jung Suk were pretty good. I especially like the idea of Hyun Bin’s King not just sitting back and waiting in the background for those around him to fight it out–good guys win he lives–bad guys win he dies. Yes, he had to stay hidden, but the fact he was so proficient with the short arrow he could pick off the archers was fairly cool.
I did like how the writers played with the timeline starting on the body strewn palace ground after the assassination attempt then restarting back at the beginning of the day, periodically pushing further back in time to get more of the background.
At the end of it though, I’m left with the though–what was it all for? The king is not going to use the assassination attempt to get back at Grandmama, he won’t use the information his grandfather left him of the murder of his father (in his father’s own blood) to defeat the Nurans–and since he’s already not going to use the information he has on hand, he’s certainly not going to use the notebook filled with the misdeeds of the Nurans the clerk, Gap Soo, died a brutal death in order to bring to him. A waste.
I guess the only thing the clerks death brought around was proving his love and loyalty to the king. He chose his death, in a life where he had no options, he chose his own path.
I also wonder, plotwise, was the whole end fight even necessary? If the king had gone earlier and worked out his issues with the general why didn’t the army (the ones who were in on the plan) stop the assassination attempt? That information was just left out of the plot. I feel like they should have done a flashback to what happened in that meeting like they did when they revealed that the laundress had not been killed by the king but instead had been the one who warned him of the plot. (Now if only she’d let her boyfriend in on the plan his whole horrible end would have been avoided too.) If you are going to do a flashback for one they should have done it for the other.
Now I know there will be some who say everything needed to happen to give the king the power to rule–to put the dowager and her people in their place but I say, with the documents from his grandfather, he always had the ammunition, just not the will to use it.
I guess if you want a positive spin on the ending, at least the king shut down the assassination school. Although the evil old man was right, did the king really expect it all to stop because he shut down that one school? It’s not like the Nurans couldn’t just open another.
That’s the thing, by not removing the general, by not removing the dowager, by not going after the Nurans, there is nothing to say that this all couldn’t happen again. Grandmama is cowed now, but what is the likelihood of her staying that way?
There just seemed to be details, plot bits, that were missing–left out–which harmed the flow of the movie. (A movie that could have been sped up quite a few notches.)
The acting in this movie was really quite good and the audience was very appreciative of Hyun Bin’s shirtless workout scene at the beginning (of course the audience was tacked with kdrama fans so the squee’s were pretty much a given).
Would I recommend this movie? I’d say no, but I know, no matter what I say you’re going to watch, so go ahead.