The Face Reader

The Face Reader (2013)

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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,170 users
Reviews: 7 users

Set during the seizure of the throne by Sejo of Joseon in the year 1455, the movie follows the life of Nae-Kyung.

Nae-Kyung, the son of a ruined noble family, goes all around Joseon and studies physiognomy. He is able to assess the personality, mental state and habits of a person by looking at face. He was living in seclusion when he was offered a lucrative partnership by Yeon-Hong, a gaesang. Nae-Kyung read moreaccepts the proposal to read the faces of Yeon-Hong’s guests only to get involved in a murder case. With his face reading skills, Nae-Kyung successfully identifies the murderer and his skills are soon acknowledged by King Moonjong who orders him to identify the potential traitors who threaten his reign. However after the unexpected death of Moonjong, Nae-Kyung is courted by Grand Prince Sooyang who yearns to become King himself by killing the young successor Danjong. Nae-Kyung decides to keep his loyalty to the late King and help Kim Jong-Seo protect the young King which forces him into the biggest power struggle in the history of the Joseon dynasty.

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  • Also Known as:

    Gwansang ; Physiognomy

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15 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Oct 21, 2013
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
Story: I won't spoil it, but I think the storyline was done very well. The storyline has humorous scenes at the beginning, but as the movie turns into a more serious tone for the rest of the movie, that was written beautifully as well. You can kind of guess what's going to happen, but at the same time it's written so well that you're still very much into the movie. The relationship read more between the Nae Kyung and his family was done really well, you can really feel for the characters.

Acting/Cast: I knew all of the actors before I saw this movie, which is part of the reason why I wanted to see it. The acting in this movie is fantastic, every single character was acted out very well, whether they be 'good' characters or 'evil' characters, you can honestly feel the characters that the actors are trying to portray.

Music: There are only instrumental songs throughout the movie, but I think it's placed in the movie quite well that it feels part of the movie. It's nicely done.

Rewatch Value: I would definitely watch this again. There are so many good things about this movie (storyline, acting, etc.) that I'd re-watch it.

Overall: I enjoyed everything about this movie, from the storyline, to the acting, to the music, etc. I'd definitely recommend this movie to other people, even if they usually don't watch historical-type films. It's worth it.
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10 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jan 31, 2014
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
I was absolutely drawn into the movie from the first scene which is ironically completely opposite in tone to the ending. If I went in expecting a tragedy, I might have enjoyed the movie much more than this.

I've seen Prince Suyang's plotting and scheming in The Princess' Man and the bloodshed that happened in order for him to ascend to the throne in place of his young nephew. The brutal slaughtering read more of all those who opposed him as well as the innocents who were offed by association was no less horrific to watch here and I had tears in my eyes as I watched the coup unfold.

This is one of the strong points of this movie: the way it can makes you feel numb one moment and then filled with emotion at the next. It got me in the heart and it really hurt for the characters.

Physiognomy (or face-reading) is an almost extinct practice today because many people don't believe that so much could be told about a person from his features or the thought that our fates are (for the most part) fixed and unchangeable. I think it's possible to read faces and determine some of people's qualities if you're skilled enough but I don't believe it can help tell the future. That's stretching it.

That explains why I was a little disappointed that there were a lot of exaggerations when it came to Nae-Kyung's abilities (which depended more on estimations than anything else). I couldn't fully understand some of the characters' reasoning and motives as it hasn't been clearly explained in the movie and that pulled me from the magic of the story sometimes. I have to mention, though, the amazing cinematography and directing that took my breath away with every scene.

I can now understand the reason behind the hype surrounding this movie but it fell short from being THE movie for me.

(And, am I the only one who thought the whole scene where Prince Suyang first appears in full evil glory awesome?)
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Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

Both are historical dramas set during the Joseon era. In both movies, the main character is brought into the palace because of his talent and thus involved into the court dramas.

Also both movies are based on real life events.
Recommended by Sady
Both are historical dramas set during the Joseon era. In both movies, the main character is brought into the palace because of his talent and thus involved into the court dramas.
Recommended by Sady

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Comments (10)

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    ScarletStar Jul 17, 2016

    I was glued on the screen the entire time. The acting was flawless, it was an amazing ride watching these actors make you believe that they're not in a movie. This movie effectively portray its message and told the story well. I'm just new to historical dramas so I can't comment on it being great among the others.

  • Reply
    soomin Feb 4, 2015

    A masterpiece!!

  • Reply
    Neen Jan 18, 2015

    No comment ..

  • Reply
    supalove Nov 25, 2014 - edited

    honestly i gave this a 4 because as good as it was, the ending was so bad that it made you question the entire film. like why did i even waste my time if the ending made the entire film pointless!! im really pissed because of that actually because i only watched this for lee joon suk and i was so let down, that's all im going to say.....but for LJS lovers, i would strongly discourage you away from watching this because let me tell you, his role is so small that u forget he's even there!!! which i don't mind him having a small role, but i wish the writer didn't put his character through so much!

    • Reply
      PickyMcpickleton Jan 13, 2016 - edited

      You know it's based on history... Just saying, the story has traces of fiction but the ending did pretty much happen. I'm not sure what you wanted but Prince Sunyang was successful in his revolution and despite being quite a decent king, he was gripped with guilt that he never enjoyed having power. However, this was a king that killed everyone who was against him...

  • Reply
    GreenTea Nov 23, 2014

    It was good, but I did not like the ending at all. It made me angry/annoyed and I lost interest. Grr.

  • Reply
    Cheer Jun 27, 2014

    First of all, watching Kang Ho ahjussi and Jung Jae ahjussi in the same film is priceless. That alone can garantee great acting and amazing characters' portrayals. Kim Hye Soo ahjumma is also films' veteran.

    Now the film, I am a bit surprised that they actually used real historcal moments from the 15th century Joeson; Koreans rarely follow history in their productions so this was somehow pleasant. Of course the Face Reader's character and those surrounding him were fictional. So knowing the history beforehand didn't ruin anything.

    The film took its time to become interesting if I may say. For instance, Lee Jung Jae's character took more than an hour to appear on screen while it was so intriguing at first sight. I mean darn, the moment he appears in full glory like an evil lord was perfect! No doubt that Kang Ho would nail any character he's given, I was very impressed with his performance especially in the last 30 minutes.

    It's a film that deserves the watch for history lovers and those who like to see high class acting. It's definitely not for everyone though so if you're here just to see Lee Jong Suk then I would recommend you not to. This should be appreciated for its values, it's not perfect by any mean but it was well-done for the most parts.

  • Reply
    Jerotics May 14, 2014

    Excelente película, 100% recomendable

  • Reply
    Taybah Mar 23, 2014
    Reveal Spoiler »
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    KissMeNaNa Mar 8, 2014 - edited

    The movie didn't pull me in completly but I was very shocked in the last 30 minutes... It was kinda cruel imo :((

    • Reply
      supalove Nov 25, 2014

      yes! went from 0 to 100 real quick!

  • Reply
    xKellyGirlx Mar 2, 2014
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    Mareina Feb 18, 2014

    I think this movie is just too long. It takes about 1 hour to get interesting! Some better editing could have done wonders to make this more intense. Still, the story is nice, though without any surprises.

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    Finito Feb 8, 2014


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    PickyMcpickleton Jan 30, 2014

    I thought Lee Jung Jae was amazing but in the end, Song Kang Ho stole the show. I love them both but I have watched quite a lot of movies with Lee Jung Jae and he is steadily rising up the ranks.

  • Reply
    mszither Jan 29, 2014
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    GirlOfTheEast Jan 29, 2014

    Hmn it was a good movie but not really my thing, I dropped it in the middle. Hope you like it all!


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Release Date:

    Sep 11, 2013
  • Duration:

    2 hr. 22 min.


  • Score:

    7.8 (scored by 1,170 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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