Masquerade (Gwanghae, Wangyidoen namja) (2012)

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Released 16-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Historical Epic Trailer-30+ trailers for Accent titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 126:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Chang-min Choo
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Lee Byung-hun
Ryu Seung-Ryong
Jang Gwang
Kim In-kwon
Han Hyo-ju
Kim Myung-gon
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Kim Jun-seong

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     The unpopular King Gwanghae (Lee Byung-hun) of the Korean Joseon dynasty is worried about assassination; he requests his Chief Secretary Heo Gyun (Ryu Seung-Ryong) to find a look-a-like surrogate who can spend nights in the king’s bedchamber while the king hides out with his favourite courtesan. Heo Gyun finds Ha-seon (also Lee Byung-hun), a comic and impersonator who entertains in a bawdy house, and pays him to stand in for the King. But when King Gwanghae is poisoned and becomes gravely ill, Heo Gyun and the Chief Eunuch (Jang Gwang) hide the king away until he recovers and to ensure stability Ha-seon is required to act as king for 15 days. Ha-son must quickly learn court etiquette and hide his true identity from Captain of the Guard Do (Kim In-kwon) and especially the Queen (Han Hyo-ju). But as Ha-seon grows into the role, he becomes the thoughtful and compassionate king Korea should have had and he pushes through laws that benefit the common people over the opposition of the nobles, especially Minister Park Choong-seo (Kim Myung-gon). As suspicions grow about Ha-seon, and King Gwanghae recovers, the fate of Korea, and Ha-seon, will soon be decided.

     Despite one intense fight at the end, a torture and death by poisoning, Masquerade (original title Gwanghae, Wangyidoen namja) is primarily a funny fish out of water comedy with some quite sentimental elements added as the imposter tries to make some changes, including getting the Queen to smile. Director / co-writer Choo Chang-min in only his third feature shows a deft touch and the diverse elements pretty much work together, helped by a great performance by Lee Byung-hun. Lee has been very good in action fare, and turned in a cool and menacing performance as “the bad” in The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008), but here in Masquerade he displays a much lighter touch for comedic timing, as well as considerable power and presence when he has to be king and stamp his authority on the court. He is wonderful, and the film is worth watching for his performance alone.

     Masquerade is also beautifully shot by DP Lee Tae-yoon, who won for Best Cinematographer at the South Korean Grand Bell Awards. The film looks stunning; the wide open predominately white stone of terraces of the palace are a wonderful contract to the interiors with their stupendous rich colours of gold and red. Simply glorious.

     At 126 minutes Masquerade is not a short film. The Prince and the Pauper plot is also nothing new but the film is so entertaining, funny, beautifully photographed and well-acted that the running time just flies by.

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Transfer Quality


     Masquerade is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a stunning print. The detail in sets and costumes is sharp, the colours deep and rich, with the golden yellows of the palace interior vibrant. The exteriors, including the white of the palace grounds and the greens and blues of the countryside, are beautiful. Skin tones occasionally looked a little light, but blacks and shadow detail were fine, contrast and brightness consistent.

     There was some slight motion blur but no marks or other artefacts.

     The layer change occurred during a scene change at 97:00, resulting in a slight pause.

     The English subtitles are in a clear white font. Early in the film a couple flew by too quickly to read properly but later that was not the case. They were error free.

     An absolutely beautiful print.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and centred. The surrounds and rears are not overused for this is a film with a number of quiet conversations, although music, the wind and insects do occur. The subwoofer is also not used too often, but does add bass to the music, especially the percussion, the closing of big doors and horses’ hooves.

     The original music by Kim Jun-seong and Mowg was epic and effectively supported the visuals.

     I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues.

     The audio track was fine although not overly enveloping.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     On start-up there were trailers for Static, The Conspiracy, Hotel Noir, Pig and Forks Over Knives that collectively run 10:39. A total of 30 trailers of Accent Film Entertainment releases can be selected from the menu; some, but not all, of the start-up trailers are repeated and we do get a trailer for Masquerade included. There is a “play all” option.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 2 US release of Masquerade is the same as ours technically but includes as extras 15 minutes of deleted scenes, including an interesting epilogue, plus two short featurettes on the film’s lighting and cinematography. These would give Region 1 the edge. There is not currently a Region 2 UK release listed. The Region 3 Korean version is a two disc edition which includes a director’s commentary and other extras, but while there are English subtitles for the feature I do not think the extras are English friendly.


     Masquerade is beautifully photographed with sumptuous colours and sets and includes a wonderful performance by Lee Byung-hun in the dual role of King and commoner. It is an epic and very entertaining film from South Korea

     The video is stunning, the audio fine. A raft of trailers is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, December 16, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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