The Concubine on DVD

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Although filmed in 2012, The Concubine is getting a new DVD release after its leading lady helped Parasite soar to the Oscars in 2020.

The plot is difficult to follow, and superficially might appeal to viewers who think, "Gosh, it's been a long time since they've made a film like Caligula."  There's a lot of uncomfortable sex in this, along with more eunuch-making than you can swing a jian at (as well as a glimpse as to how things look once one has transitioned to such a position).

Yeo-jeong Cho plays Hwa-Yeon, a village woman taken from her father and lover and selected to be concubine to the king. Five years later, she has born a son and is elevated to the position of queen. But the king's death leaves his wife (Ji-Young Park), in charge, and she quickly installs her stepson (Dong-wook Kim) on the throne as her puppet while she controls things as acting regent.

After that, there's a lot of murder, a lot of intrigue, plots to keep the prince away from Hwa-Yeon because he loves her but she still loves her former lover who is now a eunuch of the court.

The English dub makes this a bit comical with over-emoting from start to finish, and the film is laden in both skin and gore. It's an acquired taste but not one I'm going to feel compelled to watch again. Well, maybe the scene where the new king is making love to the queen...while his audience of advisors loudly tell him step by step what he should do. That was some unintenional comedy that I won't forget soon.

3.0 / 5.0