Although I am not a great fun of epic dramas, when I come across a good one I cannot resist it. "Masquerade" became immediately one of my favorite period movies.
During the Joseon period, King Gwang Hae decides to find someone to impersonate him since he is afraid that his enemies will try to kill him. The person who takes his place is the poor actor Ha-Seon who gets too deep in his role after the real King gets mysteriously ill. Despite his constant fear for his life, Ha-Seon decides to use his short-term privileges in order to correct the injustices that have taken place under the real King's ruling. Moreover, he has to entertain the queen's(Han Hyo-Joo) suspicions, since his warm behavior is completely opposite to her husband's indifference.
Based on the familiar story of "The Prince and the Pauper", the movie manages to escape the commonalities of such a plot with the addition of a humorous approach. The result is an entertaining film which can be easily watched, without lacking quality.
Lee Byung-Hun, in the double role of the king and a commoner, gives one of his best performances. His comical side is a pleasant surprise after the many dark and dramatic roles he has undertaken up to now.
Choo Chang-Min's direction succeeds to give a new aspect of the detailed life within the palace walls, using funny scenes to balance the dramatic developments.
The costumes and the scenery offer a magic touch to an already theatrical atmosphere. I felt that I was watching a comedie francaise written by Moliere. I think that this is what describes Chang-Min's work in the best way and this is exactly what differentiates this epic drama from other similar ones.