'Kingmaker' succeeds both in portraying protagonist's emotion and narrating political background. South Korean 15th president, DJ's political journey is well-explained, and it is exciting and dynamic in the movie because the director chooses to focus on strategic part of his elections rather than conveying humongous amount of information on his life, conflict, ideology, and ambition. At the same time, Seo Chang-dae's whole range of emotions from the start to end - admiration, passion, achievement, love, loneliness, jealously, frustration, disappointment, and regret - are deeply felt by audience.
Theme and metaphor are consistent and thus strong. Kim Woon-beom in the light and Seo in the shadow. Most notable scenes are primary election and Seo's parting with Director Lee. Kim wins the election, and Seo enters the convention center. Kim shines brightest, surrounded by the crowd (visual), and Seo, also crowded by supporters, remains in the dark in the muted roar (audio). Gosh, Seo still cheers for him and smiles at him without any sore feeling. I knew in that moment his faith in him to make a better world is real and he would never plant a bomb in his house. Another one is when he grabs money and walks out from Director Lee. The table that two of them talked beforehand is very bright with natural light; Lee stays in there, and Seo, again, walks back to the darkness. It really emphasizes his loneliness.
Editing controls the pace of 'Kingmaker'. For some parts, viewers need to focus, and sequence has to be lengthened compared actual pace of time. For other parts, fast-forward is necessary. The director exactly does this job without interfering the concentration of viewers. Also, editing is very trendy to show remote past realistically. Very ironic but well done.
The performance of Lee Sun-kyun and Sol Kyung-gu is commendable. Sol appears nothing like DJ, but he somehow manages to bring him back to life. It's not the appearance, tone, or gesture. His indomitable atmosphere and perseverance are the reason audience sees DJ in Sol, and delivering right vibes of character is more important than what an actor looks like or sounds like. Sol does that hard job wonderfully. Finally, Seo Chang-dae is very difficult character for any actor. He's the origin of all evils in Korean society nowadays, regional prejudice and regional divide. However, he cannot be hated because he has to lead this movie, 'Kingmaker'. Lee Sun-kyun just nails the show, balancing love and hate from viewers. They even sympathize with him because his faith in Kim Woon-beom has been genuine. Aforementioned, Lee has to portray various kinds of emotions, and he delivers every single one perfectly.