The film is set in Goryego dynasty. The king when younger had appointed personally selected 36 young boys to be trained as bodyguards. When they get older, king gets fascination for Hong Lim and he favors him. Hong Lim is the chief of the bodyguards. Him and the king some a lot of quality time together including sleeping with each other. With the arrival of the queen, pressure mounts on royal family to produce an heir, otherwise a successor from outside will be appointed. But the king is completely gay, doe snot get an erection and hence cannot do the job. The only man he trusts is Hong Lim and asks him to sleep with the queen and impregnate her. Of course Queen objects but because of her duties towards the king and the country she does it. These couple of forced encounters arouses uncontrollable sexual awakenings in both Hong Lim and the queen. They start meeting up secretly. The king never makes it obvious but he gets an idea that something is going wrong. Quite a bog part of the film deals with the growing relationship of Hong Lim and the queen and how slowly he is probably betraying the king. The king is totally in control now and one day finally he question Hong Lim of his loyalty towards the king. He is very ashamed of himself and promises that he will never meet the queen. The king is ready to forgive everything and start their relationship all over again because he really loves Hong Lim. Hong Lim tries his best to stay away from queen to fulfill his duties but when he finds out that the queen is finally pregnant, he meet the queen. The king catches them red handed while having sex and gets really mad and orders his men to castrate Hong Lim. He still tries to put sense into him into loving just the king but now its too late. Hong Lim doesn't fear anything. In the final battle between the king and Hong Lim, they both end up killing each other.
The acting was so spot on by everyone in the cast, it was unbelievable. I would specially like to mention the scene when Hong Lim tries to sleep with the queen for the first time, the kind of expressions that queen gives and her reactions are so overwhelming, it gave me goose bumps. It was so good. The film talks about love between man-man or man-woman. Many people put the king in a wrong position but i dont thin it was entirely his fault. He loved Hong Lim very deeply. In fact he was the only one whom he ever loved and how could he see Hong Lim betray his love? In fact Hong Lim was also in love except that he didn't know he could love a woman much better than the king. Actually, maybe he just confused love with his loyalty and duty. He just did not know better because his whole life growing up, all he knew was the king and his love. As far as queen is concerned, she falls in love with Hong Lim because she missed that throughout with her husband. Its interesting when the king asks the chief is he was in love with queen or was it just lust and when the chief says it was lust, the king is ready to forgive him. But in the final when chief admits his love for the queen, he is so mad and upset on losing his only love. There is a good dose of sexual scenes in the film, though mostly heterosexual but they form an important part of the story. The film also has some very strong moment of bonding like the one where the king is painting him and chief together riding. One point that I di dnot like was when chief says he never loved the king before the king dies. Not maybe it was loyalty but it was clearly love as well and I wish he told king the truth because the king was not wrong at any place. Like everyone else, he also wanted love to be at his side.
The film was just beautiful, wonderful, sad, slightly depressing but with everything that makes for a wonderful royal queer cinema. Though a little lengthy, this film is not to be missed at all. (9/10)