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In the waning days of the medieval Goryeo kingdom, Hong-lim is the commander of the Gunryongwi, a cadre of 36 men trained from early childhood to be the King’s personal bodyguards. With Hong-lim growing up in the palace, the King develops a great affection for the young man—an affection that eventually blossoms into something more, and the two becomes lovers. The nation, however, is under the dominance of China’s Yuan Dynasty and Goryeo’s King, if he hopes to maintain control over his domain, must produce an heir. As beautiful as the Queen, who is of the Yuan line, may be, the King cannot summon the lust to consummate their marriage, and so he directs Hong-lim to take his place in the royal bed. The plan takes a turn for the worse when his lover, more sexually ambiguous than the King, falls deeply for the Queen—and she for him. Their uncontrollable passion pushes them to pursue an ongoing affair, even though to do so is to betray their benefactor and commit an act of treason, risking their very lives in a forbidden love triangle.
A lush, exciting and visually striking historical drama, A FROZEN FLOWER breaks controversial new ground with its plethora of sizzling, explicit sex scenes. But this is no mere exploitation film—the steamy encounters are wisely used as devices to propel the engaging plot forward, often at a rapid pace. The main characters, portrayed by three very talented actors, are complex, multi-layered entities whom the viewer quickly becomes quite attached to. None is played as a villain, or a hero for that matter. All three are at the mercy of the politics of the time and the intricacies of the royal court. Director Yu Ha (A DIRTY CARNIVAL) is as adept at crafting subtle moments of intimacy as he is at thrilling battle scenes, and he uses that versatility here to great effect. A FROZEN FLOWER is that rare film that breaks your heart, quickens your pulse and takes your breath away.