MOVIE CLUB: Fatal Encounter Review
Hello Dramafever Movie Fans! This week DramaFever brought to us the much-awaited movie The Fatal Encounter, which starred Hyun Bin *Aunnie Swoons*, Jo Jung Suk, Ha Ji Min, and Jung Jae Young. Join Wendilynn, Firnlambe and I as we review this movie and hopefully bring to light all the wonderful things this movie had to offer but first, let's get a little background information. Take it away Wendilynn!
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Wendilynn: If you were like me, you had no idea what this movie was really about other than Hyun Bin plays a King trying to avoid being assassinated. Let me give you some context that helped me get through the rest of the movie:
King Yeongjo, his grandfather, was forced to kill his son, Crown Prince Sado because of political manipulation by the Noron faction. This left a deep scar on young Jeongjo and when he becomes King at age 24, he declares to everyone that he is the son of the Crown Prince which in effect challenges the Norons, who are the ruling political party. By claiming his father, this lets everyone know that he is not going to be a puppet on the throne nor ignore those who killed his father. This is where we are at when the movie begins and why the young Queen Dowager and the Norons are trying to get rid of him.
Aunnie: And if you’re like me, you just kept watching hoping context would be given throughout the movie
Wendilynn: The first ten minutes of this movie was very confusing to me because I didn’t understand what it meant by King Jeongjo claiming he was the son of Crown Prince Sado and why everyone wanted him dead.
Aunnie: Thank you for this Wendilynn, because I’ll be honest as soon as I saw Hyun Bin doing half-naked push ups, I totally forgot the purpose of the movie. I mean, the man is ridiculously handsome and this movie more than allowed for the admiration of his post-military body. *fans self*
Firnlambe: I knew you’d be stupified by that scene Aunnie . . . somehow I just knew it.
Aunnie: And you nailed it right on the head. *sigh* As much as I could talk about Hyun Bin's nakedness all day, let's move on to the actual movie. What . . . ah . . . what did we think of it?
Firnlambe: Personally this movie, was way to slow. I understood that, as someone who doesn’t know the history, this was going to be a tough pill to swallow. I just wish they hadn’t taken sooooo looooooong to get to the actual assassination bit.
Aunnie: For me, the first half of the movie was extremely tedious and lacking in some serious action. Know what it wasn't lacking? Back stories!!!
Firnlambe: I was ok with the backstories/flashbacks at first, but then they just kept coming . . and coming . . . and then the movies was basically over and, oh gee, what do you know . . . yet ANOTHER flashback!! //sigh//
Wendilynn: I loved the backstories. But, then I like that sort of thing.
Aunnie: I think the movie could have spaced out the back stories with a little more half-naked push-ups in between . . . I mean . . . action, yeah . . . some action scenes would definitely broken up the monotony of the first hour of the movie but once you made it past that point, the action picked up quite a bit, didn't it?
Wendilynn: I disagree that the first half of the movie was slow, but then, things were in context for me. They told this story with a countdown of the 20 hours before the assassination. They build up the story (and backstory) and then they unleash one seriously cool action sequence after another to get you through the rest of the movie.
Firnlambe: Again . . . I just wish it was a little bit sooner. Don’t get me wrong, it was spectacularly done and I’m sure I should have been more impressed, but I kinda lost touch with the emotions of this movie since it tended to focus on the back history of things a little bit more than anything else.
Aunnie: Since we're on the subject of back stories, how about them assassins?
Wendilynn: I liked that the assassins weren’t just faceless killing machines. By the time you get to the “event” I was rooting for the Clerk, played by Jung Jae Young; the Assassin, played by Jo Jung Suk; and the King to all make it out alive.
Aunnie: Yes, I’m glad that the writer took creative liberties and made the assassins have names and faces and I most especially liked the female assassin, Wol Hye, The fact that she stood up to the Dowager Queen by saying “You sent in a 10 year old” and basically shamed the entire royal family for their behavior, I was cheering for her.
Wendilynn: Agreed. Her care of the ten year old was really a turning point in this story. I tell ya what, after watching all these period movies and dramas, I’m so glad I wasn’t born back then. Considering everything those assassin children went through, I can imagine how angry Wol Hye was to see that little girl set up to die.
Aunnie: Oh agreed. I always get a little thrown off when I see the dates of these historicals because of what else was happening in the world at 1775. I always think it’s historically earlier than it truly is. Does that make sense?
Firnlambe: It is sort of disorienting isn’t it? I always go “huh” when the year is displayed in period films like this.
Wendilynn: I did the same thing. I thought, Wow, this was going on while our country was declaring its independence. Its a bit of a trip when you start tying world timelines together.
Aunnie: Agreed, Agreed. Let's talk about the acting. I knew Hyun Bin’s acting would be spot on, it’s Hyun Bin and he’s my ultimate acting bias so his performance could have been utterly disastrous and I’d still be singing his praises BUT some of the performances were better than expected.
Firnlambe: I loved the acting . . . even with it's tortuously slow pace at times, it was clear this movie's casting director didn’t pull any punches. From the 10 year old Bok Bing, to our King . . . each actor clearly brought their “A Game”.
Wendilynn: Hyun Bin was very good, but so was everyone else. I did not feel we had any poor performances with anyone. Our Queen Dowager, played by Han Ji Min, was very creepy. I hated her appropriately and was so thrilled by how she ended up. The actor who played the child stealer/trainer was very good. He was slime.
Aunnie: That’s Grandma Queen right? Yes, I was pleasantly creeped out by her. She looked sadistically evil which was a shock to me since I’ve only seen Han Ji Min play Park Ha, from Rooftop Prince and she was as sweet as ice cream in that drama.
Wendilynn: She’s played bad guys before. She plays a femme fatal in Detective K: Secret of a Virtuous Widow.
Firnlambe: Was no one else phased by the fact that this “Grandma” was channeling the utmost evil of evil Korean black magic to keep her youthful looks? That really threw me for a loop each time Hyun Bin’s character addressed her as Grandmama. I know for the times it wasn’t uncommon for there to be major cradle robbing . . . but damn.
Aunnie: *laughs uncontrollably*
Wendilynn: My two favorite characters though, were the Clerk and the Assassin. Their story is what drew me in and kept me watching.
Aunnie: The clerk was definitely badass. For him to be tortured by morning and become epic assassin that same night was pretty awesome.
Firnlambe: I really like how he managed to turned his order against those who sent it to him. Clearly they meant the King was his master, but he took it and essentially threw it right back in their faces.
Wendilynn: The friendship between him and the King was almost heart breaking when you realize he was introduced to the King when they were children and he was supposed to remain cold blooded enough to kill him at a moment’s notice.
Aunnie: I loved the scene when the King was asking him at what point he decided he wasn’t an assassin anymore. he clearly didn’t expect to be let go so he had no reason to lie about what his true intentions were but it was nice to know that he truly had an emotional attachment to the king. I LOVED that the King didn’t even hesitate to kill that one guy whose name I didn’t bother to learn--did he even have one?
Wendilynn: Are you referring to Gwang Baek the child stealer/assassin trainer?
Aunnie: That’s the one! I'm glad he got his justice and I’m glad the King was the one to give it to him. It had to have been a hugely satisfying moment for the King.
Wendilynn: Gwang Baek found his justice at the end, didn’t he? I think part of the pleasure King Jeongja had in rescuing the children and killing that scum bag was based on what he felt he owed his dear friend and all that he suffered. The other satisfying moment has to be when he was able to face down the Queen Dowager and threaten to wipe out her entire clan if she EVER stepped out of line again. Wasn’t it nice to have a King that wasn’t a pansy?
Firnlambe: This Queen Dowager kept throwing me for loops. All through the rest of this film the woman act like no one will be able to shake her, and then here--at the end--suddenly she’s as meek as a mouse.
Wendilynn: She lost the power struggle. She was helpless and deserving of death and she knew it.
Aunnie: Totally deserved it. I half expected him to take her hands and tell her "I'd be troubled if you died."
Wendilynn: That would have rocked, Aunnie. There is one thing I really liked and it really spoke to the King’s motivation and that was the chapter that kept being repeated about sincerity. How to always do your best even if it was something inconsequential and how that led to bigger things and how that leads to changing the world. That really resonated with me. This King was not going to be a puppet. He was going to do the best he could even in the small things and not just take the easy way.
Firnlambe: I liked that chapter too. From it essentially putting the royal court in check at the beginning of the movie, to it really making the Kings actions at the end of the movie that much more profound--it was a great point, and I can see why the King chose it as his catchphrase of sorts.
Aunnie: I very much appreciated the fact that he kind of gave his Clerk a leg up right before they walked into that "meeting". At first you expected the Clerk to just repeat what the king said but then he kept going and the man actually knew his classics! It was a very cool scene. One thing still throws me off though, from this movie. What in the hell happened between General Koo and the King that made General Koo "Team King" so suddenly.
Wendilynn: I wonder what the King said to General Koo to make him switch sides? They clearly hated each other and could happily kill each other. I think it helped that he got there before the Queen Dowager’s reply of yae or nae got there.
Firnlambe: True . . . . Grandma was really slow to throw her plans into action, and you could really see the shock on her face at the end when Koo shows up and was all respectful towards the King. I took it as Koo was impressed by the King’s bravery. He hardly had any sort of force with him, respectively speaking, and yet he still strode up to the General and essentially went “Either you’re with me . . . or ya die”.
Aunnie: Maybe he shot one of his nifty little arrows and General Koo realized the King wasn't playin' any more. Well, now that we're thoroughly spoken passed our limit, let's wrap it up. Overall, what did you think of the movie, would you recommend it?
Firnlambe://sigh// On one hand, yes I’d recommend this for people to watch . . . if only once, but on the other hand--no. I would not recommend this because it's so slow in the beginning. that’s not too helpful is it hmmmmmm ok, final recommendation is watch it at least once. The action once the assassination attempt starts is really great, and the overall stories are really interesting, even though I hated how long they took to explain them.
Wendilynn: I, on the other hand, did not find it too slow. Once I knew the starting history, I enjoyed it immensely and so I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes action period dramas with well told, intertwined stories. This movie requires you to pay attention. All is not as it seems.
Aunnie: I would definitely recommend it but with the warning that the beginning is a lot of back story. I kind of went into it without knowing that and assumed that there would be a lot of action as well and that comes later in the movie. It was a good movie and we got to see some great actors we may or may not have seen in a long time and Hyun Bin shows off his chest and arms and back and . . . that's besides the point, I guess but it's definitely worth watching--if only once.
What did you think of the movie? Did you think it was slow or were you of the same opinion as Wendilynn? Did anything stand out to you or impress you in any way--the characters, the story or the action? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments and don't forget to share this post on Twitter and Facebook!
Watch Fatal Encounter now:
For more from your Fatal Encounter Movie Club check out:
Firnlambe: Soju-Like-Kdramas | @firnlambe | Google + | Bride of the Century | Triangle | It's Okay, That's Love | My Lovable Girl | Tomorrow’s Cantabile | Code Name: Jackal | Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow | Secretly, Greatly | Love On Air