Starring: Son Ye Jin as Princess Deok Hye, Park Hae Il as Jang Han, Yoon Je Moon as Han Chang Soo, Ra Mi Ran as Bok-Soon, Jung Sang Hoon as Bok-Dong, and Ahn Nae Sang as Kim Hwang-Jin
Rating: PG-13, some violence
Running Time: 127 min
Twinkies: 4 1/2 stars
Synopsis: Deok Hye, daughter of King Go Jong, was the last princess of Korea at the turn of the 20th century. Under Japanese colonial rule, she is taken to Japan as a hostage. Her father attempted to keep her safe by having her secretly engaged, but due to the king’s sudden death, she was forced to relocate to Japan when she was only thirteen, and was then married off to a Japanese nobleman at the age of nineteen. With the era’s harsh conditions, she struggles to maintain the hope of the Korean people. Jang-Han is a fighter for Korean independence whose mission is to bring Princess Deok Hye back to South Korea and he also loves her.
Musings: Deok Hye’s words to Jang Han when he came for her in the Japanese sanitarium: “Why have you just come? It’s been more than 10 minutes.” Sadly, this sums up how utterly depressing this woman’s story, the entire last Royal family actually was! These were words that Jang Han had said to her many years ago and in her sanity, she held onto them. Denied access to the homeland she loved, on several occasions, this woman literally sank into madness. I’m not really buying the whole “She suffered from an illness”. Okay, sheer depression is an illness but had she been allowed to return when she first tried in 1945, this woman’s life might have been different.
It is obvious from this writing that the writer, Kwon Bi-Young, managed to successfully suck me into the tragic story of this last Princess’ life and had me pretty much crying through to the credits. It is tragic on so many levels to feel that your worthless and cannot do anything for the people that you love and that is obviously how Deok Hye felt most of her life. Then for political reasons, be denied the ability to return home for so many more years after being forced to leave at a young age is unconscionable to the average viewer; however, anyone familiar with the history of the time, it sadly makes sense. Korea, after coming from under the chokehold of Japanese occupation, felt that the return of the Royal family would de-stabilized the country. Who knows, maybe it actually would have had an opposite effect but with the family having been removed from the country for so long, again, makes sense.
Let’s talk about the actors. Son Ye Jin? This movie makes up for the dismal drama, Shark! Son Ye Jin was simply wonderful as the Princess. I especially love her mastering of the Japanese language. She is my favorite Korean actress when it comes to movies. Maybe, one day again, she can return to the drama world!! Hopefully!
Park Hae Il’s presence in a film is always a plus. As Jang Han, he captured the man brilliantly who was responsible for the Princess’ return. Though there isn’t an actually romance between the two, the actions and the acting presents the feeling there such that you feel the love that might have been.
Last but not least, Yoon Je Moon as Han Chang Soo, once again portrayed a character that you thoroughly hated! This actor plays villains way too good! Sure, it is a sign of great acting but once you see him in these type of roles, you really have to find a positive light role of his afterwards because as Han Chang Soo, the distaste for the man’s character last even past the credits.
Overall, a great slice of history that is worth watching. For all you Korean history buffs, well worth watching. So many died in their attempt to bring them back! I’d also recommend Niji wo Kakeru Ouhi once again as it tells the story of Crown Prince Eun (Japanese version). Again, a piece of history that is sad but must be told. Good movie!!
Trailer is available on on YouTube Website only. The movie is available on various streaming websites.
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