Another week, another great-looking action-filled Korean period drama based on real life. This one’s called Man of Will, also referred to as Commander Kim Chang-soo, and stars Cho Jin-woong (The Handmaiden, Assassination) in the role of the eponymous Korean independence fighter and Song Seung-heon (Obsessed, TV drama Autumn in My Heart) as a cruel prison director. The film marks the directorial debut of Lee Won-tae, the writer of films such as the 2015 period fantasy The Magician and the 2011 horror comedy Spellbound.
The film, beginning around the time of the assassination of Empress Myeongseong in 1895, features a young man called Kim Koo, sentenced to prison for the murder of a Japanese man involved in the assassination. During incarceration, Kim comes across many impoverished Korean prisoners, wrongly convicted and with no recourse to justice. His first-hand experience of the persecution faced by his countrymen and exposure to Western education in prison transforms him into a prominent leader of the Korean independence movement.
The story is based on the life of the last Premier of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea , who changed his name to Kim Chang-soo in 1912 and went on to become a prominent Korean reunification activist after 1945.
After the blockbuster The Battleship Island, released earlier this year, it would be interesting to see if this examination of another frayed chapter of Korean-Japanese history will resonate with viewers in South Korea. The film also continues the recent revival of interest in the life of Empress Myeongseong, known for her harsh stand against Japanese influence in the country, and whose death was an important stimulus for the founding of the Korean Empire in 1897 by her husband Emperor Gojong.
Man of Will is scheduled for release in South Korea on October 19, 2017. The film is produced by BA Entertainment, Movie Square Pictures and Wontak Pictures, and distributed by Kidari Ent. The supporting cast includes Jung Man-sik, Jung Jin-young, Shin Jung-geun, Lee Seo-won and Kwak Dong-yeon.