The Throne/Sado/사도 [Movie Review]


“I’ll be written in history as the father who kills his own son. You, you are not a traitor who wants to snatch away my nation. But the history will write you as a crazy son who tries to kill his own father. This is the only way for your son to live. If only I wasn’t a King. If only you weren’t born as the King’s son.” – King Youngjo.

How to even review this movie. It’s just beyond my imagination and expectation. Hands down my favorite and best Korean movie in 2015. The Throne (Sado, – Korean title) is South Korea’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards even though it wasn’t nominated. But, it’s really an honor to be South Korea’s bet and on top of that, beating many other great movies that came out in 2015. Not going to lie, 2015 was like heaven. So many great Korean movies released during the year like Northern Limit Line, Assassination, Veteran, The Himalayas, Coin Locker Girl and many more.

The Throne became the 38th most selling Korean movies of all time as of March 19th, 2016 (Wikipedia). And thanks to that, now Yoo Ah In has 3 movies in top 50 most selling Korean movies of all time (Punch 47th, Veteran 3rd, and Sado).

The Throne also won numerous awards in South Korea and other countries as well. It topped Dou Ban China’s list of High Rated Lists. “Douban is the largest and most authoritative online community of sharing and commenting books, movies, music and other works in China, with more than one hundred million monthly unique visitors.”quoted from Yoo Ah In SikSeekLand wordpress. Go to the link if you want to read more about this.

Like I stated on the first paragraph, the movie exceeded my expectation by miles. The basic premise was so basic, something that I was already, very,  familiar with – the infamous story of Crown Prince Sado’s life. Crown Prince Sado is like the most famous prince of Joseon. Everyone who’s interested in Korea’s history would know who Crown Prince Sado is. A random k-drama watcher who loves sageuk would also know who Crown Prince Sado is. His story has been adapted into movies and dramas many times already, the most recent one -before The Throne/Sado- is Secret Door.

The Throne painted Crown Prince Sado as someone who’s completely different than in Secret Door. Which is great! It’s nice to see how his story is being told in many different ways and interpretations. And, it’s also still a debate whether he was really who he was as painted in history or he was actually framed by his political opponents (great reading about it click here). Who really knows what exactly happened to the Prince back in the day. We only rely on the history that’s been passed down from generation to generation. The most dangerous thing is, the history is written by the winner, most of the time. So who knows the Crown Prince was actually a sane person not like what he’s been painted all this time in the history text books and Lady Hyegyeong’s memoir.

The Throne seemed to follow closely to the history unlike Secret Door that portrayed him as a wise yet pitiful prince. Crown Prince Sado in The Throne (played by Yoo Ah In) was once treasured by his father, The King, but as he grew up he became a rebel, hot-blooded, troublemaker, and a disappointment to his father. King Yeongjo (played by Song Kang Ho) put too much expectation on Crown Prince Sado which pressured Sado and it led him to grow hatred towards his father. The King also grew hatred towards his only heir. The story was painful in every possible way.

The Crown Prince (Seja) didn’t downright hate his father. There was the process to that stage.  The tension between them felt so real. Their hatred felt so real. The King looked so disgusted very time he saw his son and blamed him for everything. The Prince who was tired after hearing the same thing over and over didn’t only hate the King but also became a rebel and even thought of killing him.

The opening scene was loud and screamed “We’re different than the others!”. That’s true! Because the angry Crown Prince walked to the King’s palace with sword in his hand, followed by his private soldiers. A rebellion. A high treason. The scene followed by the most dramatic scene in my movie watching history. As you can watch in the trailer, the Crown Prince banged his head to the ground. (Don’t you know that it’s Yoo Ah In’s real blood). It’s different to others because the most grand scene was shown so early (literally the first 12 minutes of the total of 120 minutes!).

Some of you might dislike the timeline since it’s going back and forth but it’s not confusing at all for me.  Actually, I think it’s brilliant. Since the key/primary/most important scene was placed so early, naturally the explanatory scenes were placed after it.

I shed a great amount of tear watching the movie. Seson (King’s grandchild) broke me into million pieces so many times. The child Seson running to his grandfather trying to save his father, the child Seson begging to his grandfather to give water to his father. The adult Seson, who finally rose to the throne, danced with his father’s fan in his hand.

The last 30 minutes of this movie was INTENSE. What I mean by intense here is, you’ll cry a river! For me, it started from Seson’s heartfelt words. Then the next scene will definitely make you cry. The King stared at the rice chest where his only Seja was locked in. His last words to his Seja were so heartbreaking. My tears didn’t stop flowing. It was a silenced scene, only his crying was audible. Even though basically he killed his own son but Seja’s death hurt him deeply and left great scar in his heart that wouldn’t be healed even after time passed.

The life of Sado was told in the easiest way to understand. It felt that we also grew up with him. It also frustrated me when he was frustrated. I understood him and also I understood the King’s intention. You can tell that this is due to great writing and acting. You can relate to the character’s story only when the writing is great and the acting is believable.

Yoo Ah In’s acting was more than something you could possibly ask from an actor. He was so great in bringing his own interpretation of Crown Prince Sado to life. His dedication to acting in this movie was something to point out. He actually banged his head to the stoned ground and the blood dripping from his forehead was his REAL BLOOD. This being discussed in Kim Gura’s show Pumpkin and MBC’s Radio Star. There’s a video about it, below:

When I knew it was his real blood, it sent shivers down my spine. How could possibly he injured his own forehead like that. Just how hard he banged his head against the stoned ground.

Song Kang Ho was excellent. It felt like he hated Seja for real. His disgust and whatever-i-hate-you face was so obvious. He made me believe that he hated his own child for embarrassing him. His yearning and guilt were expressed in such painful way.

The cinematography was great. Every scene looked so polished and neat. Don’t forget about the makeup! The makeup was flawless and actually made me believe that the casts were old already! It was so detailed and looked real.

The music! The OST albums already came out (LOL at me, of course it has come out already since months ago!).  I don’t know how to say this, but there is one VA album and one single album???  Is this the correct way to say this?

The main album (VA album)  is loaded with 41 tracks that if you play all of them it’ll play for 1:17:40. Crazy! The movie if only 2 hours long but the BGM plays for 1 hour and 17 minutes. The VA Album is titled as 방준석 (Bang Jun Suk). The second album is a single album by 조승우 (Jo Sung Woo) called 꽃이 피고 지듯이. Both albums are The Throne OST albums. It’s only divided into two different albums.

The most played BGM in the movie (and one of the three BGM I only remember) is from the VA album, track no.2. The title is same as the movie, 사도. The melody is filled with sadness. I actually listen to it to put me to sleep and it works like magic. I’m the type of person who can’t fall to sleep fast so I need to extremely tire myself during the day or listen to long sleeping music to hypnotize myself that I’m sleepy. But this song actually helps me to go to dreamland faster than I usually do. I don’t know about you, but for me this song works better than those sleeping music on youtube.

The victory song that the King requested to be played after Seja died is the 40th track, titled 또 다시 사배. And that loud music that’s played to pray for the death is the 1st track, titled 아모리. Actually there are many tracks that has the same melody (?) as 사도 but in slower tempo or different key.

You can listen to the whole album LEGALLY for FREE on Genie. Without coupon or credit you still can listen to it legally thrice for free. Genie is one of the biggest music portals in South Korea and it’s legal. The site’s chart is actually used by SBS’ Inkigayo for the show’s weekly chart.

trans: “Yes, everything is my fault!”

As a whole The Throne aka Sado is a very emotion provoking movie. It exceeded my expectation. It’s been a while since I last watched brilliant sageuk movie that affected me emotionally. Was it Masquerade?? (Masquerade is GOLD guys).

Sageuk is not everyone’s cup of tea but The Throne is an excellent and very well made movie that doesn’t only provoke your emotion and tears but also your curiosity to know more about Crown Prince Sado’s life.

It’s a 10 out of 10! Perfect score!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Movie Reviews | Red watches TV
  2. Furbabe
    Mar 20, 2016 @ 17:12:46

    Thanks for this excellent review! I’m glad that many people outside Korea can get to watch Sado/The Throne now and enjoy it much 🙂


    • red
      Mar 22, 2016 @ 08:04:22

      Thank you for your comment! It’s saddening that not many international fans like The Throne/Sado since it’s a sageuk movie. Hopefully those can watch it and realize just how great this movie is 🙂


      • Furbabe
        Mar 22, 2016 @ 09:04:27

        Sageuk is not everybody’s cup of tea, but those who have watched The Throne always recommended this movie to the others, like you did, so I’m sure there are quite a lot have realized how great this movie is 😀

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