South Korean cinema has built up a reputation, across Europe and North America, for exciting and exhilarating film-making. If you’re after a creepy child in an atmospheric horror or a madcap detective hunting down a killer, then there’s nowhere better to look. However, whilst they may not translate as easily, Korea has produced some great comedies over the years as well. The likes of My Sassy Girl, Welcome to Dongmakgol and Barking Dogs Never Bite showcased a rather unique sense of humour. Kim Joo-Ho’s new film, Jesters: The Game Changers, is another.
Jesters are a talented band of storytellers, actors and clowns who make a living from spreading rumours and performing a number of scams. They’re responsible for spreading the true story of King Sejo (Park Hee-Soon), who murdered his nephew, the then monarch, across the country through a ‘heretical’ book. In order to boost the reputation of his sovereign, Han Myung-Hee (Son Hyun-Joo) hires a team of clowns (an illusionist, an acrobat, a prop-maker and a sound effects expert) led by Deok-Ho (Cho Jin-Woong) to provide an image make-over.
Bursting with energy and colour, Jesters: The Game Changers is a brilliantly realised mix of crime thriller and period drama; enveloped in an offbeat comedy. It beautifully shot in vibrant hues and there are numerous innovative and exhilarating set-pieces. Kim builds a sly repartee and winning bonhomie within the troupe. You can’t help but root for them and laugh along with their horseplay. Jesters: The Game Changers is an immaculately plotted tale of power politics, social mobility and 15th century PR.
Jesters: The Game Changers screened at Fantasia Festival.