Masquerade has a unique plot in which Ha Sun, a silly acrobat, stands in, pretending to be king Gwanghae in the midst of political struggle. This set up allows the audience to learn about the monarch’s character, the current political scene, and the people around him (his loyal supporters as well as his enemies) all with the suspense that he might get caught.
Following are three features that contributed to its success.
Although Ha Sun may resemble the king in his outer appearance, the acrobat and his gregarious personality are inseparable. From the humorous mistakes he makes because he is unfamiliar with the palace’s social norms, to the amusing way he runs in his extravagant robes, Masquerade is filled with unexpected moments that will make you laugh.
2. Lee Byung Hun’s Acting Skills
Lee Byung Hun pulls off playing dual roles – the king of Joseon and a silly acrobat, whose characters are vastly different in speech, actions, and social status – flawlessly and convincingly. From the minor detail in the way his voice deepens to the overall mood each character portrays, Lee’s exceptional acting skills are one of the main highlights of the film.
3. Thought provoking content about leadership
Despite the fictional setting, the humor, and seemingly light hearted content, Masquerade still conveys a serious message about what it means to be a leader.
Maybe it’s the simple values and perspectives he brings as a commoner. Ha Sun approaches complicated issues of political uprising, treason, and unfairness with surprisingly straight forward solutions. He is moved with compassion for the people, and common good for the everyday citizen is the driving force behind all of his decisions.
His genuine actions stemming from his heart for the common man moves everyone from the Chief Secretary and the Queen to the mere food taster girl, Sa Wol.
By Hajin Lily Yi