Empire of Lust
King Taejo, the first ruler of the Joseon Era, chooses his youngest son Bang-seok as his heir instead of the son he had with his first wife, Bang-won (Jang Hyuk, macho, mercurial, and Machiavellian like never before). It is the dawn of a new dynasty, but it might as well be its twilight as a tidal wave of desire and sudden death is about to hit the young kingdom. Cue a blood feud that erupts with superbly choreographed violence, flourishes of historical fantasy, and hanbok-ripping sex. Court intrigue aside, the film’s main business is a love story of lunatic majesty between Supreme Commander Kim Min-jae (Save the Green Planet’s Shin Ha-kyun in a stellar performance) and Gahee (Kang Han-na), a sword dancer who becomes his mistress. But Kim’s son Jin (heartthrob Kang Ha-neul playing against type), as it turns out, is a despicable serial rapist and it may be no accident that Gahee has come into upright Kim’s domestic life. As family drama mixes with court drama and multiple revenge plots converge, Empire of Lust enters stripped-down costume melodrama nirvana, in which the tip of a sword or a whisper from red lips can bring the high and mighty crashing down.
Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Service New York.