Review: A FROZEN FLOWER 쌍화점 (2008) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: A FROZEN FLOWER 쌍화점 (2008)


RIDING on the overwhelming success of 2005's THE KING AND THE CLOWN, a taboo-breaking period comedy that explores forbidden homosexual relations within the highest echelons of patriarchal society, the trend continues with the similar-themed A FROZEN FLOWER. Not surprisingly, the film was a huge hit in Korea and even set a new box-office record for an erotic genre. 

Set in the 13th century of Korean Goryeo era, where the nation is controlled by the Mongol's Yuan Dynasty, the current gay King of Goryeo (Ju Jin-Mo) sets up his own elite bodyguards by recruiting 36 young boys to undergo extensive training and deduce pledges of total loyalty from this group of trusted men. Amongst all the men he has personally handpicked, he is particularly fond of Hong Lim (Jo In-Seong). Since then, he spends plenty of personal and quality time with Hong Lim, from hunting in the open plains, training swordfighting skills in the courtyard and right down to playing music together in the royal chambers. Not surprisingly, it doesn't take long before the King appoints Hong Lim as chief of his bodyguards. Then along comes a Yuan princess, who happens to be the Queen (Song Ji-Hyo), in alliance forged by marriage. Soon the King is being pressured by the royal family expecting them to bear an heir, or else a successor to the throne will be appointed. Such move is definitely angered the King, since he doesn't want anybody else outside his kingdom takes over his throne. But the biggest problem is, he is incapable to impregnate the Queen. So he leaves no choice but to come up a desperate, yet crazy plan by ordering his lover Hong Lim, to impregnate the Queen and produce an heir whom he will accept as his own. As uncomfortable as it sounds, the Queen reluctantly agrees to prove her loyalty to the kingdom. During the first night of the ritual, the King is in the next room awaiting Hong Lim to perform sex with the Queen. But Hong Lim fails to accomplish his mission since he feels very awkward to do so. Still he manages to pull himself together by the second night and starts to feel physical intimacy with the Queen. After the particular night of sexual awakenings, the Queen begins to fall in love with Hong Lim and subsequently demanding him to fulfill her sexual desire. Hong Lim, too, starts to feel the same passion alongside with her, though he knows that falling in love with the Queen is a major treason and an ultimate betrayal against the King. Still he can't help it and always find excuse to sneak out of the palace to meet the Queen in private. On the other side, there are group of scheming politicians and chamberlains planning to assassinate the King. 

On the bright side, the film is blessed with spectacular and lavish production that features a number of well-staged traditional dance performances, elegant set designs and exquisite costume designs. 

But the film's biggest achievement of all, is its numerous daring sexual content that is both explicit, passionate and downright intimate without being gratuitous. Aside from the controversial same-sex couplings between the King and Hong Lim, the film is most memorable for its number of stimulating sex scenes between Hong Lim and the Queen. 

All three principal cast deliver bravura acting performances but this is no doubt a breakout performance for Song Ji-Hyo, who brings a quiet intensity and vulnerability to her role as the estranged Queen. 

Shame about its mediocre plot though, as writer-director Yu Ha moves his picture in agonizingly slow pace and he is constantly bogged down the film's momentum with overlong exposures desperately in need for proper trimming.

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