2022 118 mins
Subtitles : English
“A supremely tense dynastic thriller” – Whang Yee Ling, THE STRAIT TIMES
Kyungsoo may be blind, but his skills as an acupuncturist have earned him an opportunity to serve at the Joseon royal court, a big step up for a mere commoner. His arrival there coincides with the return of Crown Prince Sohyeon after eight years as a hostage of the powerful Qing rulers in China, whose encroachment on its peninsular neighbour are a cause for worry. The heir to the throne, in poor health, and the sightless physician take a liking to one another, but elsewhere in the corridors of the palace, whispers carry the seeds of a political crisis. Matters escalate when the prince dies under suspicious circumstances. Kyungsoo, who perceives more than others might think, is witness to this dire event, and what he now knows puts his own life at terrible risk.
The poisoning of Crown Prince Sohyeon in 1645 is a matter of Korean historical record. The lack of conclusive details about his murder, however, is the speculative springboard for writer/director An Taejin’s auspicious debut feature film THE NIGHT OWL
. A box-office hit domestically, An’s intense and intricate tale of palace intrigue earned him the honour of Best Film and Best New Director at this year’s BaekSang Arts Awards. An engaging cast, including eminent Korean character actor Yoo Haejin as the increasingly unstable King Injo, surrounds the eminently sympathetic lead, Ryu Junyeol (A TAXI DRIVER
, and of course ALIENOID
). A period political thriller with a medieval medical twist, THE NIGHT OWL is the kind of high-quality cinematic spectacle one doesn’t see every day! – Rupert Bottenberg