Film Review: The Fatal Encounter

Article by Pui See Tsang

During the Joseon dynasty in Korea, King Jeong-jo (Hyun Bin), known historically as the king of misfortune, had many enemies. Two factions, the Noron and Soron, are at each other’s throats. Even the king’s trusted clerk, Sang-chaek (Jung Jae-young), was trained at an assassin school for slaves. Though he has had many opportunities to slay his target – the king himself – he discovers that the monarch is a benign ruler and a friend. Another slave-assassin, Sal-soo (Cho Jung-seok), aims to kill Jeong-jo in order to free himself from a sadistic master-trainer, but his mission is complicated by his love for a palace maid named Wol-Hye (Jung Eun-chae). Even a little girl is enlisted to poison Queen Jeong-sun (Han Ji-min).

The Fatal Encounter stars Hyun Bin in his first acting role after serving in the Korean military. Hyun Bin is visually striking as King Jeongjo, an astute leader who dodged numerous assassination attempts. The film has a tendency to highlight its characters’ good looks, which is sure to attract a substantial female audience. For example, the opening scene shows King Jeongjo stretching, showing off his chiseled body with the intent of eliciting amorous feelings from its audience.

The film is not primarily focused on attractive people, however. The Fatal Encounter is based off of actual historical events. King Jeongjo was the twenty-second leader in the Joseon Period. It provides commentary on strong male friendships, as well as the socioeconomic disparity between those who were within the palace and ordinary Korean citizens. While the film’s cast consists of mainly men, it also contains some strong female characters. The romantic subplot between Sal Soo and Wol-Hye gives actress Eun-chae an opportunity to show off her superior acting skills.

The Fatal Encounter is a good movie for men and women alike. It is a highly recommended film for people interested in history, conspiracy and drama.

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