Here you will find reviews of Korean period drama films. Please click on the picture or title, and you will be taken to the review.

Chihwaseon (취화선)

Chihwaseon (취화선)

Chihwaseon (취화선) – ★★★★☆

Chihwaseon is a beautifully crafted tribute to traditional Korean artistry by virtuoso director Im Kwon-taek. Featuring stunning locations and mise-en-scene, the period drama is superb in capturing the tumultuous spirit of the era as well as the unbridled dedication to art and poetry. Choi Min-sik is on top form as artist Jang Seung-ub.”

The Fatal Encounter (역린)

The Fatal Encounter (역린)

The Fatal Encounter (역린) – ★★★☆☆

The Fatal Encounter is a visually arresting feature film debut by Lee Jae-gyoo, who confidently and impressively constructs beautifully realised compositions of the ominous 1777 era. Yet the film loses agency due to the overly ambitious narrative structure, resulting in a very attractive period film that is difficult to invest in.”

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점)

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점)

A Frozen Flower (쌍화점) – ★★★☆☆

A Frozen Flower is a wonderfully sexy tale of love and lust during the Goryeo dynasty. Through skilled use of costume and colour director Yoo Ha plays with the notion of gender, conveying palpable passion through confrontational and sexual scenes. A Frozen Flower is a highly enjoyable and racy story of debauchery.”

The King and the Clown (왕의 남자)

The King and the Clown (왕의 남자)

The King and the Clown (왕의 남자) – ★★★★☆

The King and the Clown is a wonderful journey through one of the darkest eras of the Joseon dynasty. The narrative and characterization are excellent, as is the acting by the cast who never cease to be enthralling. While the directing is somewhat lacking in scale the emphasis on intimacy makes the film an enduring classic.”

Masquerade (광해, 왕이 된 남자)

Masquerade (광해, 왕이 된 남자)

Masquerade (광해, 왕이 된 남자) – ★★★★☆

Masquerade is a wonderfully entertaining film. Alongside the very well-written script is visually stunning direction conveying the colourful regal elegance with striking skill. Yet it is Lee Byeong-heon who gives the film heart with his exceptional dual performances. Masquerade is highly recommended.”

The Royal Tailor (상의원)

The Royal Tailor (상의원)

The Royal Tailor (상의원) – ★★★☆☆

The Royal Tailor is a unique and vibrant period drama by director Lee Won-Seok who comedically uses the fashion of the era to mock and push the oppressive boundaries of Confucian norms. While the film is often directionless due to narrative issues and characterisation, it ends on a high note by examining the concept of history.”

The Servant (방자전)

The Servant (방자전)

The Servant (방자전) – ★★★★☆

The Servant is a wonderfully scandalous melodrama, and a highly engaging reinterpretation of the classic tale. The themes of social inequality, sexual liaisons and women’s rights are expertly intertwined by writer/director Kim Dae-woo, while it is Jo Yeo-jeong’s seminal performance that remarkably emphasizes the plight of Choon-hyang.”

The Treacherous (간신)

The Treacherous (간신)

The Treacherous (간신) – ★★☆☆☆

The Treacherous is a visually extravagant and epic period drama by helmer/scribe Min Gyoo-dong, with the Joseon dynasty rarely appearing more elegant and grandiose. However the misogyny laced throughout the overly-long narrative is awful, presenting the sexual subjugation of women as male fantasy masquerading as erotica.”

Untold Scandal (스캔들 - 조선남녀상열지사)

Untold Scandal (스캔들 – 조선남녀상열지사)

Untold Scandal (스캔들 – 조선남녀상열지사) – ★★★★☆

Untold Scandal is a delightfully scandalous film about seduction and betrayal in 18th century Korea. The adaptation works incredibly well and offers a unique perspective on the source material. However the direction by Lee J-young is often uninspiring, failing to fully capitalise on the lustful charisma between the protagonists. Untold Scandal is highly engaging, and a fascinating take on an old classic.”

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