The Fatal Encounter (yeok-rin) (NR)

Drama 136 min. May 23, 2014
By Michael Nordine
The Fatal Encounter is currently making more money in South Korea than the latest Spider-Man, having sold more than 3 million tickets since its release a few weeks ago. Its chances of coming anywhere near that figure on this side of the Pacific are cosmically small, though in truth there's little distinguishing it from American hits besides a language barrier and a nonexistent marketing budget. It begins in 1777, with the aptly nicknamed King of Misfortune learning that there's a plot against him within his own palace. This kind of royal chamber drama, so effective in Curse of the Golden Flower, is used to great effect by director Jae-Gyu Lee.

Notions of betrayal and honor weigh heavily on just about everyone's mind, and it's in their reflections on these feelings that The Fatal Encounter comes into its own: "Is this the world you want?" a conspirator is asked by his king, who's just thrown down a bloody sword in disgust. Everyone does what he feels he must, whether compelled by loyalty, vengeance, or something else altogether; trying to find where the line is drawn between those we might consider right and wrong proves more compelling than the bevy of swordfights meant to solve their problems once and for all.
Lee Jae-Kyoo Hyun Bin, Jeong Jae-young, Han Ji-min, Jo Jeong-seok, Jo Jae-Hyun CJ Entertainment

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