The King

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The King
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IMDb: 7.3
It's the early fifteenth century and English   knight Henry Percy, better known as Hotspur,  is leading the rebellious march against the   neighboring kingdoms. After another victorious  battle against the Scots, Hotspur asks his king   to pay for the ransom Wales asks for his cousin,  but the king refuses, thinking it isn't worth the   trouble. Hotspur loses his temper and insults  the king, mentioning how he's ignoring all the   years of service his family has provided before  stomping out of the room. Meanwhile, Prince Henry   is living in a modest house in town, pretending  to be a commoner named Hal. He has no interest in   politics or the throne, and he spends his days  in the company of women or drinking with his   companion John Falstaff who is a retired knight.  One afternoon, he's approached by a messenger from   the castle that informs him the king is ill  and requests his son to go see him. At first,   Henry turns down the invitation, but John talks  to him later and convinces him that not going   would be worse than confronting his father because  he'll have to live all his life with the regret.   Henry gives in and goes to see his father,  who tells him what he already expected:   Henry may be the oldest son but he won't be king,  the throne will go to his brother Thomas instead.   The king knows Henry doesn't want the position  anyway, but he felt it was his duty to say these   things directly to his son. Henry is indeed  perfectly fine with this decision, but he does   get upset when he hears Thomas will march against  Hotspur the next day. He doesn't think the new   generation should get involved in their father's  feuds, but Thomas ignores his worry. That night,   Henry can't bring himself to have fun because he  keeps thinking about Thomas putting himself in   danger, so the following day he goes to see his  brother on the battlefield. Thomas isn't happy   to see him there, but Henry ignores his complaints  because he isn't here to steal his glory, he just   wants to save Thomas' life. He sends a messenger  to Hotspur with a challenge to single combat,   and Hotspur accepts it even if it goes against  his father's wishes. Both Henry and Hotspur are   very skilled warriors, so their duel is fairly  equal. They begin fighting with their swords   but soon they lose those and resort to good old  hand-to-hand combat, and after lots of struggling,   Henry manages to tackle Hotspur to the ground and  stab him with a dagger he had with him all along.   This victory has prevented a huge battle from  happening and saved both sides many lives,   but Thomas isn't grateful: he was supposed to be  establishing himself as a leader yet Henry has   stolen all his glory. Carrying the painful weight  of having taken a life on his shoulders, Henry   returns to his life of drinking until a few days  later he's visited by the king's Chief Justice Sir   William Gascoigne. Thomas has died in battle and  now the king is on his death bed as well, so Henry   must return to the palace if he doesn't want the  kingdom to descend into chaos without a leader.   Furious over the death of his brother, Henry  visits his father and calls him a monster right   before the old man dies, leaving the country  in his hands. While everyone gets ready for   the coronation, a group of servants goes to  Henry's house in town to retrieve his belongings.   John is kicked out of the house and must  hear what happened with his friend through   the servant's mouth, not getting to see Henry  again before his big day. The coronation ceremony   goes without a hitch, and later during dinner,  Henry opens the presents sent by other kings.   There's a gold chalice that he gifts his  sister the Queen of Denmark Philippa,   and a clockwork bird that he gives to his cousin  the Earl of Cambridge. The last gift though,   it's quite surprising: the Dauphin of France  has sent him a simple ball with no note.   Henry decides to keep it as a memory of the  boy he once was. However the following day,   Gascoigne points out the ball was sent as an  insult and they should respond in kind. Henry   doesn't want to react to provocations though,  he wants to achieve peace through conciliation,   so he prefers to concentrate on local matters  instead of fueling their feud with France.   Later, while Henry spends time with Philippa  before she leaves, she advises him to be careful   because the members of any royal court will always  have their own interests in mind and a king can   never be sure of who to trust. The following day,  the Archbishop of Canterbury tries to get Henry up   to date with the history of the king of France's  genealogy in case he needs to claim the throne,   but Henry is just bored. It doesn't matter what  his father wanted, Henry has no intentions of   invading France or Jerusalem, and such a decision  isn't well-received among the nobles of his court.   After the meeting is over, Gascoigne commends  Henry for caring about his people, but he   also points out that not doing anything against  France's taunting makes him look like a coward.   Meanwhile, John is starting to discover how hard  life is without the prince's company: people don't   receive him as well in taverns, and he's expected  to pay for his own stuff. When he mentions having   a friend in high places, the innkeeper just  reminds him he's been left behind like an old dog.   Sometime later, Henry interrogates a prisoner  that seeks asylum in exchange for information.   He claims to be an assassin sent by the king of  France to kill Henry, and such information is   seen by the court nobles as a direct act of war.  However, Henry still doesn't give in and sends the   king of France a letter saying that sending an  assassin is a cowardly act, so if he wants war,   he should send his army and fight properly.  Henry's decision becomes a subject of concern   among nobles. The Earl of Cambridge and Lord  Grey are approached by French agents that want   them to change sides, so the two of them go  to talk to Gascoigne to ask for his advice   because they're losing faith in their king and  the French offer is much more appealing. After   promising to do something about it, Gascoigne  talks to Henry again, pointing out how letting   these issues simmer always ends up badly, and this  is Henry's opportunity to unite the land for good.   Seeing as he doesn't have much of a choice,  Henry accepts to start a war with France,   taking the actions of those agents towards  his nobles as the third and final strike.   He also orders the Earl of Cambridge and Lord Grey  to lose their heads, disappointed that someone he   called a friend turned out to be in cahoots with  the enemy. Needing someone he can trust and depend   on, Henry goes to town in search of John, who is  upset because he's been ignored all this time.   Henry apologizes for not contacting him sooner,  but he's obviously been busy, and now he needs   his best friend again. He wants John to be the  marshall of his chief military strategist, and   John accepts under one condition: Henry must pay  for his debt at the inn. Sometime later, Henry and   his army sail to France. Shortly after arriving,  they find an abandoned village and decide to set   camp there so they can build catapults to attack  Harfleur. Henry wants to win this through a siege   so he can avoid sacrificing men so soon, but days  continue to pass without any results. The nobles   are getting anxious and the Archbishop insists  on attacking, but Henry refuses and this time,   Gascoigne backs him up because it's important for  them to establish a garrison stronghold here for   their lines of supply from England. Fortunately,  the plan does work and Harfleur surrenders.   The leader asks for only one condition:  for the women and the children to be freed,   and Henry accepts giving them such mercy. Later,  they're visited by Louis, the Dauphin of France,   who proceeds to describe in disturbing detail  what he will do to Henry and his army if they   don't surrender now. Henry admits the tale was  stirring, but only wishes the Dauphin good night   before leaving the tent and asking John the get  the army ready to march again. After many miles of   traveling, the party sets up camp again and sends  three young pages to gather wood. Lous finds them   and kills two of them before sending the third  one back with a head in his hands as a message.   As a response, Henry orders John to kill all  their French prisoners and send their bodies to   be put on spikes by the river, but John refuses to  obey because neither he nor Henry is that kind of   bloodthirsty man. The next day, Henry and his army  march again until they make it to the hills, where   a blood-curdling surprise awaits them: Louis'  army, which outnumbers them by a huge amount.   The nobles advise Henry to retreat, but John cuts  in, explaining he has a plan. The ground between   armies is a flood bowl, and since John's sure  it will rain tonight because his knee is aching,   that ground will become a muddy bog. The French  army is made of mounted men, which equals heavy   armor and horses that will get stuck in the bog.  Henry can send some men as bait to lure them out,   and once they're stuck, the rest of Henry's army  can attack on foot and while wearing no armor,   so they should be able to move freely  and quickly when the French can't.   Together with Henry's skillful archers, this  speed can prove to be an amazing advantage.   The nobles think the plan is incredibly dumb,  but Henry trusts John and decides to give   him a chance: if it rains during the night,  they'll attack in the morning. Fortunately,   the prediction comes true and it rains during the  night, so as soon as the sun rises, the army gets   ready to execute the plan. Henry gets upset when  he sees John get ready to lead the bait party,   so he decides to pay Louis a visit to ask for  a single combat as he had done with Hotspur.   Louis turns down the offer, too confident in  his bigger army and implying Henry is doing this   because he's scared to lose the battle. Angry  but still determined, Henry returns to his men   and gives an encouraging speech before hiding in  the woods while the bait team goes out to fight.   Louis falls for the trap and sends half of his  army out too, but they immediately get showered   with arrows from Henry's archers and fall into the  mud bog just as John had predicted. John's group   does enough damage to slow down the French, and  when Louis sends the rest of his men, Henry and   his armor-less army join the battle on foot as  planned. All of John's predictions continue to   come true and Henry's men easily gain an advantage  as the French struggle to fight in the bog.   When Louis finally understands he's losing  the battle, he comes to Henry seeking a duel,   but Henry refuses to fight a prince that  keeps slipping on the mud. Since Louis   is making such an embarrassment of himself,  Henry allows his soldiers to kill him instead.   The entire army now truly respects Henry after  such a glorious victory, but he doesn't have time   to celebrate because he's found John's body. Upset  and grieving, he orders his men to kill all the   prisoners before they regroup. A few days later,  the King of France comes to see Henry to offer   his surrounder under one condition: Henry must  marry his daughter, Princess Catherine of Valois.   Uniting both royal families would help avoid  any future feuds, so Henry accepts. They return   to England, where the crowd eagerly awaits the  wedding celebrations, so Henry has a talk with   Catherine in private before meeting the public.  Catherine assures him she won't submit to him and   he must earn her respect, but she also wonders  why Henry attacked France in the first place.   Her family never sent any assassin and definitely  not a ball - her father is a good, beloved king   that never wanted war. Remembering his sister's  words and getting suspicious, Henry goes to see   Gascoigne to ask him how he found the assassin in  the first place. Gascoigne's story is vague and   keeps contradicting itself, so when Henry begins  questioning how bigger Gascoigne's territory has   become after conquering France, the man breaks  and admits it had all been his plan. He made up   France's acts of aggression but he doesn't regret  it, because this is what Henry wanted: true peace   can only be forged through victory, and now the  kingdoms have finally been united. Gascoigne gets   on his knee to appeal to his king's greatness,  but Henry just uses his dagger to kill him in   one swift movement. Afterward, Henry reunites with  Catherine and makes her promise she'll always be   honest with him. Catherine gives him her word as  they hear the crowd outside chanting Henry's name.
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