User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 0 out of 8

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  1. Sep 23, 2013
    7
    Last year’s South Korean box office champion (a No. 3 all-time grossing picture in the history of Korean cinema), this period drama stars Byung-hun Lee for a meaty dual role, the king and his doppelgänger scoundrel, intricately chronicles a spell of 15 days’ clandestine regency under the helm of the said doppelgänger.

    A grandeur of a period drama pivots heavily on its art design, set
    decoration, makeup and costumes whether or not can conjure a believable world of that time, as a result MASQUERADE is impeccable in all these aspects. Despite basically it is an interior chamber piece, a few outdoor shots meticulously dispense us legitimate solemnity and natural quaintness.

    The outline of the story is quite straightforward, and all the ramifications are predictable, the transformation from a good-to-nothing to a righteous and gallant role model is the unflagging keynote, director Chang-min Choo interposes effectual gags in-between the brooding atmosphere, first time we saw a king breaks wind on screen and his eye-opening defecation formalities, which is gross at first glance, but the comical reaction is pure golden! (Hollywood should learn how to turn repellent vulgarity into some genuine laughter from it).

    Finally Lee scoops up his representative work on big screen which could testify his talent beyond the awful exploitation of his taciturn Asian fighter figure in Hollywood action potboilers. Acting with his mother tongue, the constant changeover of manners and tones is a demanding task, he successfully nail both the imperial majesty and the antic street-smartness. What is more touching is among the set pieces where the expendable side characters face their doom, Lee’s reactive performances are wonderfully empathetic, effectively efface the cliche and sappy default of a thin plot. Seung-yong Ryoo (the helping hand), Hyo-ju Han (the queen) and Gwang Jang (the eunuch) all offer a bit subtler presence pertains to their different functions.

    There is an elephant in the room since everyone knows the impostor cannot be spared at any rate, so the film cunningly contrives a twist to lift the culmination which we cannot say is a mind-blowing one, at least it is a tenable one. Overall, the film is slightly over-stretching its sentimentality but nevertheless stands for a universal crowd-pleaser and a top-notcher of South Korean film industry.
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  2. Feb 24, 2013
    6
    Many years ago, a Korean ruler becomes mysteriously ill, so his leaders find a lowly look-alike to take his place. After some awkward false starts, he starts to relish his role and becomes a even better sovereign. While the story and performances are effective there are either flaws in the narrative or some of the details got lost in the translation. As expected with historical Asian films, the settings and costumes are sumptuous. The Western music is sometimes jarring (there's even a waltz!). By the end the characters cry more tears than a Hallmark movie. This film isn't particularly memorable, but if you enjoy this type of import (yes, subtitles), you won't be bored. Collapse
  3. Oct 30, 2012
    9
    how to become a king in 3 days, especially when the so called king is an impostor? beautifully directed, outstanding photography, rich script, nice plot, great music, smart film, and quite moving at some point, not to mention the incredible double performance of the king and impostor played by the same actor- a masterpiece of koreen cinematography for sure, a real gem to discover !!! don't miss this one if you have to chance to view it THANK YOU MISTER Chang-min Choo. Expand
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No score yet - based on 3 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Mar 20, 2013
    50
    The film’s historical pageantry is fascinating to observe, even though the story is mostly conjecture. Competently directed, the real pleasure in this high-grossing South Korean film lies in its performances, which lighten the regal solemnity with comic warmth.
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Feb 7, 2013
    70
    What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in Lee’s performance. He is effectively stern as the king. More importantly, he makes Ha-seon funny and movingly genuine.
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Sep 28, 2012
    60
    As predictable as these stories invariably are, Lee's wonderful turn reignites the potent fantasy of peasant wisdom - if given the power - melting politically cynical hearts and legislating through decency rather than fear.