To say the upcoming historical flick “The Fortress” is star-studded would be an understatement.
The king of Joseon is played by Park Hae-il. His two loyal advisers are played by Korean cinema heavyweights Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yoon-seok. Also starring are Go Soo and Park Hee-soon.
The film’s director is Hwang Dong-hyuk, whose 2013 comedy “Miss Granny” and 2011 drama “Silenced” were well-received. The film is based on a novel by writer Kim Hoon, one of Korea’s most acclaimed novelists.
“If these (actors) hadn’t agreed to do the film, it wouldn’t have been made,” said director Hwang at a press conference at CGV Apgujeong, in Seoul, Wednesday. “I envisioned the movie with them in mind.”
Lee Byung-hun (Yonhap)
The setting is 1636, during the Qing invasion of Joseon. Injo of Joseon, the 16th king, is forced to take refuge at Namhansanseong, a fortress some 25 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Thoroughly overpowered by the enemy, the Joseon Army is trapped there in the poorest of conditions.
Two loyal advisers try to find a solution to the dire situation. Choi Myung-gil, played by Lee, believes in giving in to the Qing and argues that a moment’s humiliation can be endured for the safety of the people.
Kim Sang-hun, played by actor Kim, is adamant in defending the kingdom’s dignity and fighting against the enemy regardless of the odds.
The film draws on the clash between the two strategies during the 47 days of entrapment in the fortress. It is the first time the historical event has been rendered on cinema screens.
“The tension was palpable on set,” said director Hwang. “All of the actors gave such intense performances.”
“It is a film that took pains to portray history accurately. It’s not a film that has fantasy elements,” said Lee. “I took a very serious approach in portraying (the character).”
Park said it had been a huge mental burden to portray the king, faced with an impossible choice.
Kim Yoon-seok (CJ Entertainment)
Lee Byung-hun (CJ Entertainment)
Park Hae-il (CJ Entertainment)
The veteran actors met for the first time on this film set, they said.
“I don’t know why we hadn’t crossed paths before,” said Kim. “It was such a refreshing and enjoyable experience.”
Kim described Lee as an actor who “goes by the book.” “There’s a fluidity and glamor to him as well, of course, but in his role, he delivers his lines in a very refined state.”
The film will open in theaters in September.
By Rumy Doo (firstname.lastname@example.org)