Choi Min-shik puts on a show for power in The Mayor
In what is perhaps some serendipitous timing, Choi Min-shik’s (The Tiger) political thriller The Mayor released on April 26, just a few weeks before South Korea heads to the polls to vote for their new president. The Mayor (literal title Special Citizen), about an incumbent Seoul mayor running for a third term, features a pretty stellar cast and topped the box office for the duration of its first week in the theatres, recording 1 million viewers within 6 days of its release.
The plot itself isn’t anything new, but with this cast, I’m looking forward to checking it out: Choi Min-shik stars as the titular mayor of Seoul, who is very popular with the public but has a number of skeletons in his closet, as most politicians are wont to. When his political rival, played by Ra Mi-ran (Laurel Tree Tailors), threatens to reveal his secrets to the world, he pulls out all the stops to discredit her and prevent his own political demise. His seasoned campaign manager, portrayed by Kwak Do-won (Asura, The Wailing), helps the mayor with the smear campaign, although judging by the teaser, it looks like his loyalty might not be completely unwavering. Hmm, I wonder whether he’ll pursue political ambitions of his own.
We also have Shim Eun-kyung (Fabricated City) playing a novice PR specialist in the mayor’s campaign, who looks like she gets in way over her head when both the mayor and his campaign manager recognize her talents and get her more involved. Opposed to the incumbent mayor are Moon Sori’s (Legend of the Blue Sea) political journalist character and Ryu Hye-young (Answer Me 1988), who will play a political aide to Ra Mi-ran. I was really happy to also find Ki Hong Lee (The Maze Runner) in the cast as Ra Mi-ran’s son Steve. He was adorable in Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and I’m curious to see how he’ll fare in a Korean film.
The teaser looks slick and showcases the strong performances I’m sure the cast delivers. I do wonder whether with the political turmoil that’s taken up most of Korea’s attention for the past half-year, the film will be almost too on the nose. From the teaser, you get gems like “Politics, you see, is fundamentally a show!” And “Making everyone trust you, that’s what a campaign truly is.” If anything, the writer and director kind of hit the jackpot on being topical, since they finished filming several months before the whole Choi Soon-shil scandal hit the airwaves.
For those of you Beanies in the States and Canada wanting to catch this on the big screen, you’re in luck. The Mayor has been given a limited release in both countries, and has been out since April 28. Check out this website to see if it’s playing near you.
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