THE SHORT VERDICT:
Grand. Sweeping. Lush. And jaw-droppingly magnificent.
Yes, it’s not perfect by any means. But boy, does it have a lot to offer.
Chuno OST – 추노
THE LONG VERDICT:
But, I realize that won’t do.
The cinematography in Chuno is nothing short of spectacular.
The effect is utterly and thoroughly spell-binding.
Just take a look at these:
The panoramic splendor is pretty breathtaking, isn’t it?
Add to that the very deliberate use of slow-motion, and the grandeur just gets magnified.
Here, we see how slow-motion is used to bring out the beauty in movement; in this case, of water:
Slow-motion is also artfully combined with the use of fast-motion, particularly in fight scenes.
Here’s a peek:
It’s mesmerizing. Honestly, it gives new meaning to the phrase “poetry in motion.”
The music in Chuno is beautifully scored and masterfully employed.
Jang Hyuk as Lee Dae Gil
Before we move into spoilers, let me just share a couple of screenshots with ya.
Exhibit A: Dae Gil’s Piercing Panther Gaze
Exhibits B through F: Dae Gil’s Fantastic Fighting Form:
There is a scene in Episode 10 where I am completely blown away by Jang Hyuk’s nuanced delivery.
This is where we start, where Dae Gil’s gaze is completely dazed and stoned:
And then, as he spies the vision of Eonnyeon before him, his eyes shift into focus in degrees:
The vision gone, Dae Gil’s gaze goes vacant once again, this time defeated and deflated:
Pretty amazing, isn’t it? Respect.
Together with Jang Hyuk’s full-on delivery, I really appreciated Dae Gil as a character.
That’s why he’s a Badass With Heart.
Oh Ji Ho as Song Tae Ha
In a matter of moments, Tae Ha’s expression morphs from relief,
to deep, utter anguish.
Before the torture commences, he speaks with an air of fierce resolve:
And then, he valiantly bears with the searing pain as the red-hot iron meets his flesh:
And finally, he roars and gasps in pain:
Chills. And, shudder. He made the torture feel all too real.
That says a lot, about the kind of upright and loyal character Tae Ha is.
Chuno OST – 달에 지다
Lee Da Hae as Eonnyeon
While Lee Da Hae’s delivery is decent overall, I have to say that it does lean on the bland side.
Eonnyeon, gently happy:
Eonnyeon, gently sad:
And Eonnyeon, gently shocked:
Sorry, couldn’t resist, heh. But see what I mean about muted and restrained?
Han Jung Soo as General Choi
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
To give credit where credit’s due, here’s some badass General Choi for ya:
In episode 3 I love that he kicks ass using a handful of bush, when he’s separated from his spear:
And more general badassery:
[END MINOR SPOILER]
Kim Ji Suk as Wang Son
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]
And therefore often gets soundly disciplined by Dae Gil and General Choi:
While Wang Son definitely brings the laughs, like he does here:
I found it genuinely sweet that whenever he’s worried that Dae Gil is hurt, he’ll bawl like a baby:
Aw. He’s a loud handful, but he’s caring at heart.
[END MINOR SPOILER]
Kim Ha Eun as Seolhwa
Sassy and wise to men’s lusty hearts, Seolhwa doesn’t hesitate to use her wiles to get her way.
Gotta love such a gutsy girl.
Lee Jong Hyuk as Commander Hwang
Or perhaps, it was that Lee Jong Hyuk delivered him as too much of a cipher?
I’ll talk more later, about Commander Hwang’s sudden turnaround at the end of our story.
Min Ji Ah as Chobok
I really enjoyed Min Ji Ah as Chobok. She made Chobok refreshingly spunky, spirited and earthy.
I enjoyed her the most, out of the entire rebel slave faction arc.
Gong Hyung Jin as Eopbok
Such irony, that the one man who echoes Dae Gil’s dream, is trying to blow Dae Gil’s brains out.
Ha Si Eun as Lee Sun Young (Commander Hwang’s wife)
Wonderfully, tragically played.
Park Ki Woong as Geu Boon
Chuno OST – 낙인
Dae Gil, General Choi & Wang Son
The bromance between our slave hunting trio is Pure. Gold. I LUFF THESE BOYS TOGETHER. ♥
There are so many moments where this rag-tag family tugged at my heartstrings.
Poor Dae Gil.
Dae Gil’s tears finally overflow, and then, group hug! AWWW.
How cute. And how very, very sweet. Melt.
I JUST LUFF THESE BOYS TOGETHER. ♥
Dae Gil & Tae Ha
Song Tae Ha is the flint to Dae Gil’s steel, and the two spark off each other all drama long.
Tae Ha counters, “Be that as it may… People’s roots are unalterable.”
I found this moment of honesty fascinating because it shows us so much about these two men.
Another moment of honesty between the two men occurs in episode 22, as they rest in the darkness.
Dae Gil’s eyes deaden again as he answers, “Before I experienced reality… Back then, I did.”
At one point, Tae Ha says to Dae Gil, “Are you not of yangban ancestry yourself?”
Full Circle in the Open Fields
They face off, leaping headlong into each other, weapons raised:
By episode 22, the two men have arrived at a reluctant place of partnership and alliance.
I love the little detail, that as they run, they each have a look of exhilaration on their faces.
Romance was never the main event in this show. Bromance was.
Chuno OST – 비익련리(比翼連里)
Dae Gil & Eonnyeon
Truth be told, Dae Gil’s romance with Eonnyeon was never the focus of the show.
But really, that’s just not how Chuno rolls.
Dreamily, Dae Gil adds, “I’ll change this country.” Puzzled, Eonnyun asks, “How?”
In episode 18, we finally see a measure of closure to Dae Gil’s and Eonnyeon’s relationship.
Tears. And chills.
He loves her so, so very much that for him, it transcends life and even death.
Tae Ha & Eonnyeon
To top it off, both lie about not being pursued. And both also lie, about not being slaves.
In episode 9, part of the truth gets unraveled as Tae Ha’s headband gets sliced off during a fight:
Dae Gil & Seolhwa
Seolhwa’s crush on Dae Gil is pretty much summed in this screenshot right here.
And honestly, who can blame the girl for nursing a crush on sexy Orabeoni?
It feels like moment filled with poetry and symbolism.
When he wails, heartbroken, on the street, she’s there, tearing too.
A bittersweet love indeed.
Eonnyeon & Seolhwa
I found the blossoming friendship between Seolhwa and Eonnyeon rather sweet.
Thereafter, we get several small interludes where the two women spend time together.
Chuno OST – 천하(天下)에 고함
Eopbok & Chobok
I rather enjoyed the blossoming love relationship between Eopbok and Chobok.
Their romance added levity to the otherwise heavy-going arc of the rebel slave faction.
Suddenly all concerned, Eopbok asks, “Does your leg hurt again?” and Chobok beams, “Yes!”
Such an outright lie. Hee. But, piggyback ride it is!
Eopbok, tears spilling over, smiles, “Thank you. For saying that.”
They say goodbye tearfully and kiss.
Hanseom & the Court Lady
I found their simple love story, cut short too soon, completly heartwrenching and tragic.
Crying in disbelief, Hanseom can only say, “I said you can survive…”
She gasps, “I’m… from… Pimat-gol… in Hanyang…”
Tears. So very heartbreaking.
I love that she greets him, saying, “Where have you been all this time?”
The idea that she’s been waiting for him, to spend the afterlife together, is sweet.
Hanseom’s still as adorable in the afterlife, telling her, “I’ll make you bask in luxury.”
REBEL SLAVE FACTION
One of the recurring thoughts in the drama, is that slaves are not people. It comes up repeatedly.
The painter assures her smilingly, “I’m talking about portraits of people, not of slaves”
[END MINOR SPOILER]
Chuno OST – 잃어버린 낙원
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
I’m going to touch on the closure of various characters and where we leave them.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THIS REVIEW]
Ha. I love that Constable Oh gets his just deserts.
Commander Hwang asks Dae Gil, mid-battle: “What is the reason you’re doing all this?”
Frustrated, Commander Hwang says, “Even you… Even you bring me misery.”
Chobok with Eunshil
Our closing scene is of Chobok, her arm around Eunshil as they watch the sun rise.
Thoughtfully, Chobok says, “Eunshil. Know to whom that sun belongs to?”
Eunshil asks, “Who?” Chobok answers, “To us.”
This time, Eunshil asks, “Why?”
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Glorious, despite its flaws. A must-see.
FINAL GRADE: A++
Edit: Loved Chuno? You might like my imaginary dream Chuno sequel, which you can find here!
Non-spoilery trailer for those who haven’t watched the show:
The badass Dae Gil cut, also found in my Jang Hyuk post, set to the same track:
Finally, a fairly spoilery MV, which runs like a badass cool, extended trailer for the show.