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Shadows in the Palace Review

Shodows in the Palace Poster 2

Shadows in the Palace or Goongnyeo is a Korean mystery/thriller released in 2007 directed by Mee-jeung Kim. This is also Mee-jeung Kim’s first feature film, who previously worked as assistant director on the 2005 Korean blockbuster King and the Clown. In many ways, Shadows in the Palace is an unique film, for instance its attempt to combine elements of multiple genre into one film, and also its all-female crew. The story is also very unique, it is like CSI or Sherlock Holmes except it takes place in the royal court of Chosun Dynasty. In addition, its cinematography and historical costume design deserve praises. However, overall as a film, it fell apart in the second half. Personally, I think the introduction of mysterious spiritual entity destroyed the seriousness and believability of the film. The seemingly complicated murder case built in the first half of the film suddenly became unrealistic and even incomprehensible.

A maid-in-waiting hangs herself within the palace walls. However, while performing the autopsy, imperial medic Chun-ryung suspects murder and starts an investigation. With a taste for justice and full of wisdom, Chun-ryung bravely uncovers the deceptions. But she is soon confronted with a hidden past kept secret by those with far more power than she could ever imagine.

My reaction is confirmed when the light in the theater came back on, and the viewer next to me asked people around him whether anyone got the ending. In my opinion, the film could have been much better if story did not involve any supernatural entities. Nevertheless, I do recommend watching this on a DVD. As a warning, its depictions on physical torture can be extremely revealing and horrendous. So if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this, or cover your eyes during those scenes.

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