Movie Review: A Frozen Flower
- Jo In-sung as Hong Lim
- Ju Jin-mo as King
- Song Ji-hyo as Queen
In an attempt to shake off the Yuan Empire (China) Emperor’s rule over his kingdom and form an autonomous state, the king of Goryeo Dynasty, Korea forms a palace guard composed of thirty six young soldiers. These were taken to live within the palace at a young age and were trained personally by the King to become his close in security. Among these chosen children one child distiguished himself above the others and gained the attention of the king. The young king of Goryeo took his child under his personal tutelage and eventually appointed him as the military commander, Hong-Lim.
Eventually, a marriage was arranged between the King of Goryeo and a Yuan princess to secure Yuan’s hold on the kingdom even more. But years passed and no heir was produced between the king and his queen that the council such that the Emperor of Yuan threatened to dethrone him if fails to produce and heir and put another man in the throne.
Unknown to the Emperor of Yuan, the Goryeo king was gay and had not the capacity to be with a woman though he takes on many concubines; his heart and his body belong to one man – the military commander Hong-Lim. They have been lovers for years even before the arrival of the queen, though that is a well kept secret among the king and his council and his personal army. So, when the issue came that he would be dethroned without an heir, he came up with a plan to have his most trusted and beloved Chief of the military to lay with his queen and in his stead produce the most needed heir to the throne.
It would have been a very effective plan, but the king failed to foresee one crucial factor – that the queen and the his military chief, Chief Hong-Lim would fall deeply in love with each other. After their two nights of consummation, the two began meeting each other in secret but when the king found out about this he naturally became very jealous and sought to break the two apart. Chief Hong-Lim tried to break his relationship with the queen to save them both and determined to go away for a while but before he could leave the queen begged to see him again to tell him of the “good news”. Their meeting started out very formal, but their desire for each other soon got the best of them and they started to make love…that was when the king caught them. Confronted by the king Hong-Lim admitted to falling in love with the queen and in his jealous rage, the king had him castrated.
Soon after the king had all those who have knowledge of his plot to gain and heir be put to death. For him to really claim the child as his own he must eliminate all those who knew of the secret so killed off his secretaries and his liaison and the queen’s closest maid. He had Hong-Lim thrown in prison but he was abducted by some of his loyal soldiers and taken away from the palace. When Hong-Lim found out about the executions he was angered and tried to go back to the palace but something stopped him on the way, he returned to the temple where he was hiding only to find the temple in ruins and his men taken as prisoners. He secretly made his way towards the palace and saw the heads of his men on a stake with a woman who looked like the queen with the perfume satchet he had given her on the woman’s neck. Thinking that it was the queen, Hong-Lim sought to kill the king in revenge.
What ensued was a very exciting fight between the former lovers which ended with the king dead and the fatally wounded Hong-Lim was finished off by his sub-chief. As he lay dying on the floor the queen walked in and he saw her for the last time; she fought to get to him but the soldiers wouldn’t let her. In the end, it was declared that the king was killed by an assassin and that the his guards killed the assassin in turn, keeping the mention of the Chief’s name out of the report.
This movie was actually a recommended movie on our Japinoy forum and one of the things that caught my attention about this film was the mention that it has a boy-boy love story and a love triangle. Now, there are very few films with that genre and Brokeback Mountain was the only main stream movie with this theme that I know of.
What is interesting about the film was that – first it was a historical film based on a true story; 2nd that this genre was so boldly taken that Brokeback Mountain was actually quite tame in comparison.
The love scenes in the film whether it be homosexual or heterosexual was so vivid and real; you’d think the actors and actress where actually making love right there in front the camera. The scenes were sensually provocative, and bold but not pornographic (lewd) at all; and the actors and actress really gave their all to the scene. To think that Brokeback Mountain was controversial, actually made me laugh after seeing this film. The film showed great maturity not only on those who made the film but also on the audience to whom the movie was made for. Asians, are actually more comfortable with their body that the west and to my personal opinion the only reason we as Filipinos are so self-conscious is because we were colonized by the Spaniards for 400 years and our culture and way of thinking was so off from our Asian neighbors.
The fight scene were great! It’s clear, not the fast and furious phase of the John Woh films or the Jet Li speed of the fights but these are realistic enough to really give you the feel of danger and the courage of the soldiers and the king. And one notable thing about this king was that he was not like most king who would be at the back of the soldiers being protected to their last breath. The King of Goryeo was a skilled swordsman such that he was even more skilled than his men. He was fighting beside his men and helping in the fight and giving them courage to be fighting with their king.
Contrary to the romanticized version of love that western film always put forward such as those in Twilight, here love was seen both as a blessing and a curse.
He was torn between his loyalty and love for his King and the love he feels for a woman (his queen). He was determined to keep his loyalty and give up he feelings he feels for the only other person in the world he loved more than himself, the queen, but every time they’re together and everytime he saw her the feelings were overwhelming that they couldn’t keep away from each other. To the very end he would not have risen a hand against the king except that he believed that the king had killed not only the woman he loves but their child as well. With his last breath he confessed to the king that what he kept towards him was servitude and loyalty but never true love. One of the most memorable thing he said to the king was “You led to love and for that I am grateful” and this was during his final fight with the king and he was asked by him if love was really that important. It was through the king’s manipulations that he found that love of a woman and it was his fault that he fell in love but he was grateful for that momentary moment just the same. It’s like living for the moment and being happy for that instead of always looking for more. We this mentality occur many times in the eastern culture.
In Hong-Lim we also saw the epitome of a man, in that he would rather lose his life than he castrated. That was probably the last straw for him, as he said he had been ‘cut to the roots’ – he lost his manhood and therefore will be unable to make a woman happy. A fact that was brutally pointed out to him by one of his soldiers.
I love the king here. He was manipulative, jealous and crazy with love and yet he was also very level headed and he never lost sight of who he is and what’s at stake. When he was fighting Hong-Lim he was calm and composed, whereas Hong-Lim was fuming with rage he was calculating his moves such that he was winning. The only time he lost his concentration was when Hong-Lim admitted he never truly loved the king..not once. I guess he was shocked but that momentary lost of focus caused him his life. In fairness to him, he was truly and madly in love with his general…too bad he made the mistake of reliazing how much better things are with a woman.
— the Queen
Oh I love her quiet dignity and sense of loyalty. She was a Yuan princess but when it came time when her husband’s throne was in danger she was quick to defend him. We also saw here something we don’t normally seen in European royalty..here the queen though a woman and second only in rank to her husband has the strength and privilege to speak her mind out. She was not the demure, quiet queen but one that can actually cite her opinion when she wants to. She was strong-willed and very smart but she was also a woman prone to her own weaknesses and lustful desires. She was human.