Yeo Jin-gu becomes reluctant leader of a nation in Warriors of the Dawn
Yeo Jin-gu (Jackpot) has played more than his fair share of Joseon kings, but I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it. I’m especially excited for the premiere of his upcoming historical action film Warriors of the Dawn, in which he plays a young 18-year-old Gwanghaegun who’s just been abandoned by his king and left behind to lead his country in the middle of a war.
The film from director Jung Yoon-chul (A Man Who Was Superman, Marathon) begins in 1592 at the start of the Imjin War, as King Seonjo abandoned the capital and left the fate of his war-torn nation in the hands of newly appointed crown prince Gwanghae. Troops were so scarce at the time that commoners were paid to fill the ranks, and in this movie, Gwanghae and this peasant militia led by Lee Jung-jae (Operation Chromite) find that they are both stand-ins for the real king and the real army, but they’re the ones fighting on the front lines. The main posters say: “Joseon is divided, and the king has abandoned the nation,” and “We fought in their stead to survive.”
Lee Jung-jae plays To-woo, the leader of a troop of commoners who fight because it’s their only means of survival. His character poster reads: “Even if the country is destroyed, our fate does not change!” Kim Mu-yeol (My Beautiful Bride, Northern Limit Line) plays the army’s ace sharpshooter who distrusts Lee Jung-jae’s alliance with Gwanghae, and his poster reads: “What have you done for us that you ask us to put our lives on the line!”
On Gwanghae’s side, we have Esom (My Little Brother, Like for Likes) who plays the prince’s faithful doctor. Her poster reads: “He must become a good king.” Bae Soo-bin (Memories of the Sword) is the prince’s bodyguard, and he sounds like the loyal-but-humorless type. His poster says: “If his majesty is harmed, none of you will be able to avoid a beheading!” Does he know it’s a war?
The trailer opens as Seonjo flees to the north and the capital is devastated by invading Japanese troops. Gwanghae says in voiceover, “It is not my fate to be king. I never wanted to be king in the first place,” which is the same thing written on his character poster. To-woo (Lee Jung-jae) leads his troops into battle as he cries, “Even if the heavens abandon us, we cannot abandon ourselves!” The captions say, “The people who joined their fates with the king. Each of them had a name.” At the very end, To-woo asks, “Do you still not want to be king?” and Gwanghae asks in turn, “Do you want to become one of my people?”
This is definitely a case where casting Yeo Jin-gu to play your young, vulnerable king immediately puts me on his side, no questions asked. I mean, do you see the stills of him piggybacking the elderly and crying on the battlefield? Prepare your tissues. You have been warned.
Warriors of the Dawn hits theaters May 31.
Via IS Plus
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