THE SHORT VERDICT:
Warrior Baek Dong Soo is an odd creature of a show that just adds up to way more than the sum of its parts.
Show’s got flaws galore – it’s not all that well-written, logic fails abound, pacing is uneven in spots, and the ending, uh, leaves a lot to be desired – but in spite of it all, somehow, it works (for the most part).
It managed to keep my attention, creep under my skin, and eventually worm its way into my heart, when I wasn’t looking.
In the end, this show grabbed my heart way more than I’d expected – and I’m not just talking about the easy-on-the-eyes male leads either.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
THE LONG VERDICT:
WHAT’S HELPFUL TO KNOW
It’s almost always helpful to manage expectations, and I think that applies to Warrior Baek Dong Soo more than most shows. Here’s a handy list of things to keep in mind, to help maximize your enjoyment of this show:
1. Don’t expect a history lesson.
Heck, don’t even expect logic. This is not just a fusion sageuk, it’s a fusion sageuk based on a manhwa.
I only stumbled on that tidbit on it being based on a manhwa when I was 25 episodes into my watch, and the realization made me go, “OH. Well, THAT explains why the logic stretches so fantastically. Y’know, this would’ve been really useful information, like, 25 episodes ago!”
Which is why I’m telling you now. You’re welcome. 😉
2. Think of it as Poetry, not Prose.
There are many times that the character motivations make no sense and we don’t get answers – satisfying or otherwise – as to why our characters choose to behave in various ways.
It helps to just think of it as all being in service of making this show one big, indulgent expression of poetry. It’s beautiful, it’s emotional, and sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense.
A pretty good minorish example of not a lot of sense-making in the show, is in episode 5 when Dae Po (Park Won Sang) sacrifices his life in a losing duel with Chun (Choi Min Soo), in order to buy time for Crown Prince Sado (Oh Man Suk) to get away.
Instead of running away, Sado lingers until Dae Po’s almost dead before he finally leaves. Which makes no sense, and makes Dae Po’s sacrifice not very worthwhile.
Also, by that time, Dae Po’s way too weak to actually stop Chun, yet Chun keeps on fighting Dae Po instead of going after Sado, who is his real target.
Another, more major, example of the lack of logic is in episode 13, in the aftermath of Sado’s death. Woon apologizes tearfully to all the people whose deaths he helped cause. Dong Soo, delirious with disbelief and rage, draws his sword on Woon.
Ji Sun puts herself in harm’s way and gets herself stabbed by Dong Soo’s sword in a not-very-plausible attempt to save Woon.
Dong Soo puts her on his back and takes off running to get help for her, but she pleads with him that she wants to go back to Sado’s body.
So Dong Soo brings a badly injured Ji Sun BACK to where she got stabbed, so that she can cling to Sado’s body, WHILE a broody injured Woon sits nearby. And all Dong Soo can do is sob and ask her not to die.
The entire scene is extremely dysfunctional and illogical, so much so that it would probably actually hurt your brain to try and rationalize the multiple times in the scene the characters behave in bemusing ways.
Just accepting it as poetry that doesn’t need to make sense, helps a lot.
3. Our story is made up of several acts.
I lost count, but it’s something like 5. And the various acts sometimes have little to do with each other.
This means that at times, the story seems to shift gears quite abruptly, and leaves certain – sometimes long-running – arcs behind. It helps to keep the different acts in mind, so that you don’t feel like you’re getting drama whiplash.
4. Think bromance, not romance.
A loveline is introduced fairly early in the show, but don’t put too much thought into it, because:
(a) Neither does writer-nim. We don’t get much screentime dedicated to the lovelines, and the romance doesn’t resonate through most of the show; and
(b) Our supposed leading lady Ji Sun is played by Shin Hyun Bin, who is quite possibly the most wooden actress I have ever seen.
She’s literally expressionless through most of the show. Which, really, is a blessing in disguise. Because the scenes where she was required to emote were, quite frankly, really painful to watch. For her, expressionless worked better.
Basically, she’s there so that both our male leads can fall in love with her (never mind why they’re so in love with her; they just are), to create an added layer of angst for our star-crossed bromance, which does seem to be the point of this show.
5. Dae Ung is a cockroach
Park Chul Min’s character of Dae Ung is one of the most annoying characters in the show.
Dae Ung isn’t a major baddie in the show, but he’s hateful, vengeful, and obnoxious enough that I honestly couldn’t wait for someone to put him out of his misery (ok, more like my misery, but that’s just a technicality, right?).
It kinda helps, if you just think of him as a resilient cockroach that will. not. die.
The consolation is that he eventually does. Just, don’t get your hopes up too early, is all.
Despite the political machinations, the lack of logic and the uneven pacing through much of the show, there was enough to keep me sufficiently engaged and invested through to the end.
Mostly, I came to care about our characters and their relationships.
Of course, that includes the bromantic tension between Woon and Dong Soo, as well as their personal growth journeys. It didn’t hurt that Show’s quite lovely to look at a lot of the time. Plus, the OST is strong, stirring and evocative too.
Here are shout-outs to my personal list of favorites in the show.
Park Joon Gyu as Sa Mo
Although he’s a moderately secondary sort of character, I really liked Sa Mo.
I loved that he’s such a loyal kinda guy, and that he easily gives big chunks of his life, for that loyalty.
Like in the beginning of the show, when baby Dong Soo inadvertently ends up in his care. Sa Mo doesn’t even think twice, and simply dedicates himself to raising him.
And later, when the warrior camp commander Dae Po dies, Sa Mo simply takes it on himself to train all the remaining boys. Which, really, are both processes that take years.
Such big, time-consuming, and arguably life-changing tasks, all done so simply and thoroughly, just because he was there and the tasks had belonged to his hyungs. I just love that simple, matter-of-fact, jovial loyalty about Sa Mo.
Choi Min Soo as Chun
Hands-down, Choi Min Soo steals the show as Chun, aka Sky Lord.
As a character, Chun took a while to grow on me. With his Jack-Sparrow-pirate-esque sort of styling, he looked rather out of place, even in this odd fusion sageuk world.
Plus, his casual brand of cruelty made him as repulsive as he was fascinating. I found it hard to like him, but I found it hard to look away too, whenever he was on my screen.
As I progressed deeper into the show, I found Chun more and more intriguing. Before I even knew it, I was often rooting for him. Which was a bit of a mind-bender for me, since Chun was technically one of the baddies in our drama world.
I particularly loved the fatherly instincts Chun had towards Jin Joo (Yoon So Yi), and how he continued to treat her like a daughter even when he realized that Ji (Yoon Ji Min) had lied about Jin Joo being his daughter.
I felt rather indifferent about Chun’s longstanding love for Ji, since it doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but I was completely and utterly riveted by Chun’s grief after Ji’s death in episode 19. Chun’s reaction to Ji’s death is animalistic, guttural and viscerally affecting.
It’s impossible to watch the scene and not feel something for Chun, basically. Mad, mad props to Choi Min Soo, who kills it.
In the end, I felt sorry for Chun in the way that he died; he was hunted down and shot at, while he was too wounded to defend himself. The way Lord Hong’s men cornered him and killed him felt opportunistic and unfair.
But, I did love that Chun protected Jin Joo to his dying breath. So moving to behold, really; he literally made me cry.
What a mesmerizing antihero; so truly complicated, so fascinating, and who inspires such conflicted feelings. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Chun deserved his own show.
Gwang Taek & Chun
All series long, I found Chun’s frenemy-ship with Sword Saint Gwang Taek (Jun Kwang Ryul) oddly fascinating.
Essentially, they shared the kind of relationship where one moment they’d be sharing drinks, and the next moment, they’d be making promises – not threats, but smiling promises – to kill each other.
In the end, though, I found myself oddly moved by the mutual respect between these two men.
On opposite sides of the fence all their lives, and both at the top of their respective worlds; pitted against each other by their different paths, and yet, they respect each other through it all.
Their eventual duel seems rather pointless on the surface, but on a more visceral level, I felt like this is something that they’ve pledged to do in their lives.
Each time they’d let each other off in the past, it had been with this in mind: that one day, they would pit themselves against each other, to the death.
In episode 23, when the time has come, they go about it with quiet, considerate kinship. Because it is the last day of one of their lives, they spend it fishing, eating, and drinking, in quiet companionship.
Chun even asks about Gwang Taek’s health. Mid-duel, Chun even asks Gwang Taek if he’d like to rest, and it’s not lip service either.
I feel convinced that if Gwang Taek had said yes, that Chun would have allowed for a break. I get the sense that had Chun known about Gwang Taek’s health condition, that he would not have wanted to pursue the duel. That would probably have sullied the battleground, in his mind.
I was also really quite struck with how lost Chun seems, after Gwang Taek’s death. When he goes on a furious rampage to Lord Hong’s chambers because he thought Lord Hong’s archer had killed Gwang Taek, that was his loyalty to Gwang Taek speaking.
Chun’s sadness over Gwang Taek’s death is one of those paradoxes of the martial arts world. You feel the need to defeat your biggest competitor, but when that’s done, there is a sense of loss.
That moment mid-duel, when Chun thanks Gwang Taek for having made his life colorful and interesting, and Gwang Taek thanks him back, encapsulates in its simplest form, what these men meant to each other.
It’s a poignant moment for them, as they articulate their thanks, even as one of them is going to die, and this relationship is going to come to an inevitable end. Sadness.
Ji Chang Wook as Dong Soo
Ji Chang Wook does a solid job of being the titular Baek Dong Soo, and in particular, I felt like he and Yeo Jin Goo did a good job of integrating their deliveries of Dong Soo; I actually felt like they were the same character, which is a very impressive achievement.
As a character, Dong Soo does chart a significant amount of growth, from being quite the impulsive hothead and blockhead, to eventually becoming the more mature, wiser, and more controlled warrior that he was meant to be.
In my mind, Dong Soo reaches the perfect balance between the old and the new, at about the episode 26 mark. By that point, not only is Dong Soo an extremely skilled fighter, he’s also regained some of his ‘tude and sass amid the newfound discipline, and this made him quite the pleasure to watch.
Personally, I do wish that we could’ve seen more of this final version of Dong Soo.
Through it all, Dong Soo remains a character with a lot of faith and a lot of heart, and that’s what endears him to me. I love that even when the evidence speaks otherwise, it doesn’t prevent Dong Soo from believing in the ones whom he loves.
Yoo Seung Ho as Woon
Aside from Chun, Woon is arguably the most complex character in the show, which is why I actually found Woon a more intriguing character than our hero Dong Soo.
Ok, I’ll admit that at first, I just put down Woon’s seemingly odd behavior as being part of Show’s general lack of logic, and I just sat back and admired the Pretty.
I didn’t try too hard to understand why Woon was going around occasionally stabbing his friends, only to come back to treat and save them, like he does in episode 12.
Coz man, is Yoo Seung Ho amazing to look at, in this show. Just his mesmerizing gaze is enough to floor me, but combined with the mane of glory, the regular half-smirk, the occasional guyliner and the glowering intent, he was absolutely, gloriously beautiful, and I was toast.
So. Gorgeous. *flails*
As I got deeper into the show, though, the pieces started to come together in my head, and I began to appreciate Woon’s dilemma.
With his own father ferociously beating it into him all his life, that he has the destiny of a killer, and no one to tell him any different, Woon can’t help but be conditioned to believe that he is a killer, and that he has no choice but to follow his destiny to the dark side.
In the midst of daily beatings by his own father, in contrast, Chun accepts him as he is, killer destiny and all, and doesn’t try to change him. We all want to be accepted for who we are, after all, and I believe that’s what drove Woon to follow Chun that fateful night.
In spite of his “destiny,” Woon loves the friends that he comes to know, and his instinct to protect them is strong.
At the same time, he feels like he can’t escape the assassin life that he’s committed himself to, given Heuksa Chorong’s propensity to kill its own people if necessary.
To further complicate things, having done a whole bunch of morally questionable things while under Chun’s command, Woon also feels too burdened by guilt to allow himself redemption.
Which, really, is how Woon arrives at his complicated shadow game, of being an assassin by day, and a hero by night.
He probably feels like this is the only way to go forward, to abide by what’s expected of him as an assassin (and often with Ji Sun’s safety held as a threat over him), and then, when no one is looking, to do what he can, to keep the right people alive.
Essentially, that’s how Woon ends up being the unsung hero who ensures the failure of the coup in episode 28. Yet, through it all, Woon harbors a deep desire to leave his assassin path, and go back to his friends; a desire that I really wanted him to be able to fulfill.
All in all, Woon is complex and intriguing, underneath his stoic silence, and that’s what makes him more interesting than Dong Soo, much of the time.
Dong Soo & Woon
These two boys were the main event for me, in this drama, and boy, did they tug at my heartstrings.
Dong Soo and Woon are set up to mirror the relationship between Gwang Taek and Chun, straddling the same side of light or dark that their own master represents.
I liked the mirror effect, because I felt that it added depth and dimension to the relationship between Dong Soo and Woon.
At the same time, the relationship between Dong Soo and Woon is inherently different than that between their masters, because for a long stretch in their youth, Dong Soo and Woon lived and breathed on the same side.
Ok, technically, Woon wasn’t quite on the same side, since he was there undercover, but really, they shared the same experiences, had the same friends, and walked the same path, for years, literally, as they grew up together in the warrior training camp.
They became comrades, friends, and brothers. The bond that formed between them is subtle, but strong, and goes on to be the foundation of all of their interactions, even when they face each other on opposing sides.
Perhaps the thing that lingers most in my mind, is the star-crossed quality of their bromance.
Like Gwang Taek and Chun before them, they seem doomed to always be on opposite sides. Yet, through it all, they continue to care for each other in their own ways, with a profound depth that belies their relatively limited time together after Woon goes to Heuksa Chorong.
When Dong Soo and Woon do cross paths, there is a sparky, crackling chemistry between them, whether they’re talking with each other, or fighting each other.
In a narrative that littered their relationship with circumstances ripe for misunderstanding, I did love that they continued to have faith in each other.
One of my most favorite Dong Soo-Woon moments, is in episode 28, when Woon comes to Dong Soo’s aid when Dong Soo’s strength starts to fail in his epic one-to-many fight. Finally, they are fighting – not each other – but together, on the same side, united against a common enemy.
Umph. That in itself was really satisfying to watch, but the way the fight ends moves me even more.
When soldiers with guns arrive on the scene and start shooting, both Dong Soo and Woon take cover behind their (now-dead) human shields. As they kneel on the ground and contemplate the situation, Dong Soo exhales, “Now we finally really might die.”
Without batting an eye, Woon shoots back, “Then let’s die together.” And means it.
It blows my mind a little, just how readily Woon would die with Dong Soo. Theirs really is a friendship that they will see to the death, and I find that very moving indeed.
Also, I love the little detail, that Dong Soo is so in tune with Woon that he can basically feel Woon’s presence, like he does later in the same episode.
I also love the brief conversation these two share post-fight, where Dong Soo apologizes for having doubted Woon, for a bit, and thanks him for returning to the Woon that he knows. There is so much unspoken bromantic love in that moment, and I love it.
Another favorite moment of mine is in the beginning of episode 29, where Dong Soo and Woon walk together in the fields, and talk openly and honestly with each other.
I just love that they can speak freely with each other, and that Woon can admit to Dong Soo that he’s regretted his choice daily.
Even more, I love that Dong Soo tells Woon that he doesn’t have to bear the responsibility for everything. It just feels like such a loving, liberating thing to say, and quite probably, is exactly what Woon needs to hear as well.
I loved these two together, and wanted them to always be together, on the same side, forever and ever. Which brings me to the ending of this show.
[MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
Ok, I’m gonna just put it out there: I did not like the ending of this show.
What I didn’t like about it
First of all, I hated that Cho Rip (Choi Jae Hwan) suddenly brought up the extermination of Heuksa Chorong to Prince Heir (Hong Jong Hyun), because it felt sudden and random.
There had been no build-up to this point, so even though it technically made sense for Cho Rip to advise the extermination of Heuksa Chorong as an organization, I felt blindsided by this development.
Second, I hated that Woon is presented as the one who had killed Sado. Cho Rip tells Prince Heir so (why?!?), and later in the episode, when Prince Heir levels the question at Woon, Woon admits to it too.
Like seriously, WHYYY??? I don’t understand why Woon has to be painted as the one who killed Sado, when he wasn’t.
Third, I was extremely frustrated by the way events developed, to bring us to the final fight between Dong Soo and Woon.
Ok, I get that the writers were gunning for a tragic fighting finish for our star-crossed bromance, but seriously, the entire process was a disastrous culmination of multiple counts of miscommunication and over-plotting.
It made me want to throw things at my screen, to see Dong Soo and Woon trying to reach out to each other, and then have the admittedly protective well-meaning murderous intent of a lovesick gisaeng sidekick get in the way and basically ruin everything. Argh.
It also felt so wrong, that Woon died being so misunderstood; that the people around him basically believed that he’d not only killed Sado, but that he’d attacked and practically killed Cho Rip too.
Did people even know that he singlehandedly prevented the coup from succeeding? Plus, Woon ultimately didn’t overcome his killer destiny despite how much he’d wanted to, and despite how much Show had been repeating the theme for episodes on end. Double Arggghh.
Worse, upon Woon’s death and a short scene of Dong Soo being mournful in response, the show abruptly switches gears, and focuses on happy-ever-after upon happy-ever-after, as it blithely pairs up every possible couple in its drama world.
The sudden deluge of happy-ever-afters, served up immediately after Woon’s death, feels extremely jarring and inappropriate. And that’s not even counting that supposed-to-be-cute-but-really-NOT thing about how women shouldn’t carry swords.
I also didn’t care for the final scene of Dong Soo riding off into the sunset with Ji Sun, since she’d barely featured in the entire story, especially after she’d had the map burned off her back. Plus, it’s not like the romance was ever the point of the story, right?
If we’d had to go tragic with the ending, then I think a more apt note on which to end, would’ve been Dong Soo looking into the sunset, speaking in voiceover to Woon, saying something along the lines of “I will live enough for the both of us,” or “You will always be the Woon I know,” or something.
I think that would’ve placated me at least a little bit.
What I would’ve preferred
So there are a couple of possible endings that I would’ve preferred. Yes, it’s not that hard to think of alternatives, when I dislike the ending this much.
The easiest ending, would be to pretend that episode 29 never happened. Ending it at episode 28 would’ve worked pretty well, and ended us on an uplifting note, of Dong Soo and Woon finally being on the same side again.
Alternatively, since Woon was working to exterminate Heuksa Chorong anyway, couldn’t they have all worked together to make it happen?
Plus, he’d already singlehandedly ensured the failure of the coup and the attempt on the Prince Heir’s life, which puts him in the right place to keep on working with Prince Heir’s people. Right?
If that’s too boring, then along with planning the extermination of Heuksa Chorong, they should’ve worked together to fake Woon’s death, so that he could be reborn and live a new life with Dong Soo and his other friends, like he’d always wanted all along.
I mean, couldn’t Dong Soo have pretended to kill him, the way Woon pretended to kill Cho Rip? Then it could’ve gone down in history that Woon had died, when in reality he’d started a new, happier life. Defy your destiny and all that, right?
And then Woon could’ve been Dong Soo’s secret adviser, using his smarts and his skills to help him go down in history as the amazing Warrior Baek Dong Soo, all while they continue to meet and tease and talk in the secret wilderness, like this:
Man, I would’ve loved an ending like that. Too bad writer-nim didn’t feel the same way.
In my imagination, though, that’s totally what happened. So there.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Extremely flawed, but gets under your skin anyway.
FINAL GRADE: B-
This is a good MV not only for those who want to revisit the show.
For those who haven’t seen the show, this can be a pretty safe watch too, coz without much context to go on, it shouldn’t be very spoilery, while still giving a good flavor for the show.
A Spotlight on the Bromance
Ok, so this MV does take some liberties with the editing and in how it presents the bromance, but OMG, it’s So. Good. Honestly, it gave me chills. Be warned that it’s MAJORLY spoilery, if you haven’t seen the show.
A Spotlight on Woon
As a character who not only mesmerized me but made my heart bleed, I couldn’t not feature an MV in Woon’s honor.
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this show on Viki here.
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Took me a while but I finally got to WBDS and your review perfectly encapsulated how I felt about the show. The logic lapses, confusing character motivations, the unnecessary side plots, the meandering writing, occasionally abrupt change of pace and the bloating of a 16 episode show into 29 episodes were frustrating and annoying at times but somehow the show kept me coming back.
What saves the show is the depth and complexity of the relationships between the cast of characters and the charisma of the Sky Lord (such a great name) and Woon and the tragedy of their stories. There’s also a ridiculous aspect, the new Sky Lord has to kill the current holder to become the leader; knowing this, who would take this job? While Dong Soo is the main character, I found him the least interesting of all since he is the conventional hero, suffers great loss and defeat, goes into training and emerges the hero of legend, mature and unbeatable martial arts expert. JCW is fine in the role, it’s just that the character suffers in comparison to the Sky Lord, Woon, Saint Sword and even Ga Ok. The many layers to their characters make them so much more interesting. The relationship and history among the Sky Lord, Saint Sword and Ga Ok could almost be a show by itself.
I defy anyone (maybe it’s only me) to explain how the revolt was going to be staged, there’s all this careful and tortuous planning, with all the generals, but one, on-side with the rebels, but it comes down to Dong Soo and Woon saving the day. Where are all the generals who signed their names in blood? Similarly, the good guys know when the revolt is scheduled to occur but it seems they did nothing substantial in preparation.
I saw the ending coming from a mile/kilometer away but the juxtaposition of Woon’s misunderstood death with the happy couples uniting undermines the drama of that moment which is really the climax of the show but is treated almost as an aside. The show just does not do itself enough justice at times. The heft of this show is in the characters and specifically, the Dong Soo/Woon relationship and I think that’s how it should have ended. I wasn’t invested in the various couples and the happy pairings at the end seem almost incongruous with the dramatic story that’s just been told.
I note your comment on Ji Sun being so wooden and I have no idea about the actress’ ability but I thought she was told to act as Lee Da Hae in Chuno, this unattainable, idealized version of beauty. Even in distress, she is impeccable, unhurried and flawless. Unlike in Chuno where the Lee Da Hae character does grow, Ji Sun remains the same, her only emotional scene is at the end when she is so relieved Dong Soo has survived but her face is hidden in Dong Soo’s embrace.
I think your overall rating of B- is fair. Thanks again for another excellent and probing review.
Please, you must update the DRAMA REVIEW INDEX (given alphabetically) .. Baek Dong Soo is not listed there .. and I’d come to look for your rating.
I chanced upon it here – came to gawp at Wookie and check which shows of his you’ve watched.
I knew you hadn’t watched Empress Ki. It’s been on your list since 2015 ;-D
What was your rating for BDS??
I cant recall but there is one more Drama review of yours that I found in the blog but not listed on the index .. Will flag it once I recall which show
Hi Bosuji, I’ve updated my drama lists to make it easier to navigate, ie, The Moon that Embraces the Sun is now also listed both under “T” and under “M.” You’ll find Warrior Baek Dong Soo listed under “W.” Any time you have difficulty finding a show, for example, if you didn’t know to look under “W” for Warrior Baek Dong Soo, you can use either the Search box in the sidebar (I’ve moved it to the top of the sidebar now) and type in “Baek Dong Soo” and that should work. Additionally, you could also use the search function in your browser, eg, Ctrl+F on Windows or Command+F on Mac, and you should be able to find the review that way too. I hope that helps! 🙂 As for my rating for the show, it’s B-, as listed in the review. 🙂
Aah .. Cool .. I missed the “The” ;-p
I’ve just finished this show and now it’s smoldering inside of me – I need to let off some steam!
Thanks so much Kfangurl for your advice to deal with the many inconsistencies as if it was poetry – that helps!
There is such a mount of useless stuff in and around this drama but buried under it a very precious core of truth and devotion I’m trying to dig out and clean up.
Firstly, the ending 🙂
Though there was no way to enjoy this I feel like this epic is a tragedy and as such the ending is apt.
It took me till the last episode to realise that this is not a bromance but (hidden) Boy Love, the real thing. Dong Soo and Woon are soulmates that by tragic circumstances fail to unite.
The climactic event of Woon jumping into Dong Soo’s sword is a rather obvious (sexual) symbolism and suddenly everything starts to fall into place and making sense.
Woon had an abusive childhood (father and Skylord) that made him more mature than Dong Soo when they met as children in the training camp. There was a mutual attraction from the beginning but Dong Soo being very dense was unable to realize what it is. Why does he constantly try to beat Woon no matter the defeats? Because he feels that there is someone precious he needs to own, being the better fighter is not the real motive.
Woon always just deflects him, hinting: You don’t have to beat me, I’m yours anyways!
He even asks him out directly: Can we be friends (please)?
But Dong Soo is not getting it and so Woon has to stay with the Ninjas as there is no one there for him outside that organisation.
Much later after the agonisingly long period Dong Soo needs to mature he finally can admit to Soon that he would like “to be with you as before” (when they were kids sleeping together in one bed lol). Still he is not aware of the physical part of the attraction (probably only certain types of fangirls are) but it is so palpable when he fails to embrace his girl properly.
Then there comes the final fight. Dong Soo finds himself unable to kill off his friend in the moment
he has his swords at his neck. The moment lingers and he realises that he’d rather be killed of himself, so he continues awaiting a death blow from Woon.
Woon of course is the mirror image and cannot kill his love either, he now sees how pointless this fight is. Being lethally frustrated that his love is not accepted he throws himself into Dong Soo’s sword so that he can die in his arms where he belongs.
This scene will hunt me forever but I have to admit it has a final logic to it and a tragic beauty too and as such I can accept it.
Totally unacceptable of course is the happily-ever-after resolve following as you have stated in your review above.
So what would an appropriate tragic ending look like?
In my opinion Woon’s desperate suicidal stunt should have convinced Dong Soo and making him realise what Woon really means to him and that there is no point in continuing without him.
So he turns Woon around and stabs himself with the sword sticking out of his back, being united in death.
Of course this is not possible in a “historical” drama pretending to show the youth of a national hero with a bright future before him.
There is another possible reason for the tragedy being inevitable connected to the political meaning of the Heuksa Chorong but I’ve not yet figured that one out.
Is anyone out there agreeing on the tragic-bl-angle or am I deluding myself??
Well, that’s a different take. 😃
Then what do you make of the parallel relationship of the two older warriors?
It’s very interesting to see how Chun and the Sword Saint respect each other and never give into jealousy about Ga-Ok whom they both love.
Maybe they had a thing going on together when they were young?
On the other hand Ga-Ok holds some grudge against them refusing to live with either of them and not even telling them about their daughter.
Also they can’t escape a similar tragedy having their own death fight in the end.
The older love triangle reflects the younger one like in a broken mirror, one well-made part of the story among many other not so well made ones…
Hi there DLM, wow, that’s an interesting take indeed. I hadn’t thought of it that way. It’s possible that it’s one of those things where it might not have been the writer’s original intention, but where the interpretations still works well. My take is still on the platonic soulmates side of things, but I found your interpretation very interesting to read. Thank you for sharing! 😀
I was just about to move into this JCW show – while on my Wookie show binge track.
Now am so conflicted!!! :-O
To invest or not invest?? WHAT DO I DO!!
Am avoiding reading the full review of KFanG and the long reviews by commenters .. but picked up from the intro and ends ..
Maybe start and see how it goes .. then push past the first few “not enjoying” milestones .. hoping for revival .. Quit. Drop it?
Wrap by reading the full review ..
Go back to watching if the reviews get me curious for a second sit down.
this drama annoyed me a lot with bad acting, scripts and filming but the romance (not bromance imo) between the male leads got me hooked till the end and I don’t regret time and feelings invested.
But you need to find out yourself if this thing is for you or not…
@Bosuji – NO spoilers: I thought it was worth it. The first few episodes feature the child actors as younger versions of the stars and they’re played by pre-teens (at the time – well maybe they were around 13-14) Yeo Jin-Goo and Yoo Seung-Ho.
And then there are the two veteran actors Jeon Kwang-Leol and Choi Min-Soo who bring a depth and gravitas to their roles. I think of Choi Min-Soo’s character as “Darkness” and he seems born to play this role.
Yes, it’s got it’s weak spots – Six Flying Dragons this is not. But, I found that looking at it as if it were an old Chinese wuxia (where the high flying wire work battles count more than the story), I quite enjoyed it as your typical GOOD vs. EVIL story featuring two young warriors playing out that ongoing battle following behind the steps of their two mentors. It did feel like it was based on a comic book or something lightweight like that.
But, it depends on how strong your JCW love is. If he’s your bias, I can guarantee you’ll love watching him. But then again, can you trust a person who binge watched Smile Donghae (good for a daily); and I tortured myself by sitting through Bachelor’s Vegetable Store and Five Fingers. 😉
I could bear to watch most JCW I think..
So I know I will watch Baek Dong Woo and maybe even Vege Store…esp after reading this feedback you put your in.
As long as the show doesn’t pull a K2 on me (oR on JCW, I can’t rid myself of this strange unverified and absolutely existing in my delusional thinking that he was equally pissed off with K2 and thus swore of action drama since)..
I think I vented big time somewhere on your blog.
Wink – wink.. If you watched so many JCWs.. You could try 3 episodes of Backstreet Rookie and quit 😅
You addressed your comment to kfangurl, but it was in response to me so I’m just going to feel free to keep adding my 2¢ since I don’t think Kfangurl has watched Bachelor Veggies and maybe that means your comment was meant for me.
Just to be clear – Bachelor’s Vegetable Store is NOT good. But I understand the JCW 💘 is strong.
If your comment was meant for me – I did watch Backstreet Rookie.
Oops… Sorry @Beez..
Thank you for the reply.. Sorry.. About that..
Yes.. I picked up on that – Bachelor V.S. And Five Fingers aren’t that great 😁😁😁 But like you I may just sleepwalk my way through it ffwding..
What did you think of JCW in Backstreet Rookie?
(Although it’s a different character type from Bong Soo in Healer.. I felt it fell in the same category.. Sincere.. Trusting bumbling.. To see his comedic side).
I track his Youtube channel and official Instagram feed – if you see his goofy act BTS clips.. Seems like he fits into that role type like a tailored suit.
I begin to suspect B.S.R. And Bong Soo come easy to him 😂😂😂 The K2 type role takea a toll.. And I’ve noticed that in shows where he had to play the hardened bad ass role (Whirlwind Girl 2 / K2) the character consistency slips.. When the softer side has to show.. It doesn’t feel organic.. More like he’s taking a breather and going off character..
I don’t know if I made sense.. Or for across my thought.
This character consistency – hard ass to heartbreak softie movement came so organically for Song Joon Ki in Nice Guy..
Toying with the idea of starting Descendants of the Sun 😉
As you can guess, if JCW is in it – I watch it. I wish his YouTube channel had English subs so I don’t tune in there often.
I ❤ ❤ ❤ DOTS. I can’t wait to see if you like it.
Oh I know what you mean about the Eng Subs on his Youtube uploads
I kept leaving notes asking for subs..
Then I decided to tick the auto translate – into english – option; a feature that’s available on the gear icon on youtube clips.
I was amazed how perfect the translate came out for this one video where he’s walking around the streets of Seoul..
Fell in love with him all over again – he’s a “poet” too 😍😍 Ga guh ga.. I go jelly knees when actors in real life fill my projections of them.. I’m like WHOA.. Wheygure.. That’s off cam – off act – off script on your own deeeep!! Guy!!!
I’ll attach a link here for you.
Am using the auto translate feature now whenever it’s there.
Thanks for the tip, Bosuji. In the past when I tried auto translate, it would just give me English gibberish as it tried to mistakenly try to make out what is being said. So I never select that any more but things must have changed. I’ll try it again. 👍
Exactly which is why I stopped bothering with that feature – it was truly gibberish.
But after watching that damn addictive Seoul Video of his so many times with his base toned caramel dipped voice.. And no one leaving any subs…
I just decided to go for the gibberish and try put the words together meaningfully – like a word&sentence puzzle 🤣
Woh!!! My skin was buzzing.. It was such a good translation!! Imagine – I even called it poetry.. Woh!
@Bosuji – I searched for ji chang wook Seoul video but couldn’t find it. Do you have a link?
The Seoul Video by Wookie
At the Gear Icon switch on the Auto-Translate and choose English!!
It’s quite amazing.
I am anyway Copy Pasting the Translation 😀
I walk along the road.
Break and turn the alley and continue through another alley to digging into the road that unfolds in front of my eyes.
The sound of a dog that noticed an unknown step in the daytime,
A small intersection where alleys and alleys meet, t
The high buildings surrounded over there like mountains, a store with neon signs flashing.
Passing through a small record shop, where graceful notes roll,
I encounter raindrops pattering, older melodies coming out of old cars, and
The wind that passes through my hair.
Nothing, but also everything.
We have two ways to live life:
One is to look at the world as if nothing is a miracle, and
The other is to look at the world as if everything is a miracle.
So today, I walk in my little city.
@Bosuli – eeeeeek! My YouTube doesn’t offer the auto translate option on this video. It only offers “Korean” and “turn off captions” as options. 😥 But his voice is totally hypnotic.
Thank you for the text translation.
Kfangurl, thank you very much for recommending WBDS to me. I was in a situation to put some serious time aside this week to watch it, so I took full advantage of it.
In the end, I was left in two minds about this show. Did I like it or not like it (the feeling I have towards WBDS is very much like I have towards the film Dunkirk)? What I did like without any shadow of a doubt is Sky Lord. A wonderful portrayal by Choi Min Soo. My favourite scene – when he sat on Lord Hong’s son after stabbing him and telling Lord Hong how things were going to be. Like you, I also enjoyed the moments he had with Jin Joo (who I thought was fabulous and the best out of the younger cast). Then there is his relationship with Sword Saint – frenemy is a great term to use here. Many men will recognise what is going on – how in fact in the end they are friends, it’s just all the other stuff that got in the way.
I can’t help it. I enjoyed the older characters overall and loved their storylines as opposed to our two young heros and associates. Sword Saint gets a big tick from me as does Sa Mo. Then there is General Seo (like the Cockroach he has a number of career reincarnations) who with the three boys early on was very funny.
In the romance department the relationship between Sword Saint and Ga Ok is what resonated the strongest. Yes. I’m a sucker for this type of relationship in a drama. The relationships between the younger set were neither here nor there (and what’s with the painter guy and Jin Joo? At least with Cho Rip’s relationship there were some stronger elements built in). So, when Ga Ok passed away, this affected me whereas when Yeo Woon passed on, this didn’t (unlike it would seem everybody else). I found the mirroring of the relationship between Song Doo and Yeo Woon as a reflection of Sky Lord and Sword Saint just didn’t translate for me. It was supposed to be tragic, for me it wasn’t. As for Cho Rip’s motivations re Yeo Woon – solid enough, just poor writing perhaps. However, I do keep thinking about the ending. It would have been far more powerful if it had had a King Arthur and Mordred ending built in (This in itself is bizarre, because I generally like happy endings! But, we did get riding off into the sunset!).
The film quality of WBDS – superb. The acting overall is very, very good (I didn’t mind Hyun Bin’s performance by the way, but I can see what many were saying). There is plenty of action. The palace politics though is not very strong at all. In fact, it was like watching the deck chairs on the Titanic rearrange themselves time and again, and as for the hopeless side kicks… So, I found the writing went from very compelling early on to “well I need to keep watching just to see if something worthwhile happens next”. The five acts is a good way to describe how the story unfolded. I also smiled at your comment re the history element.
In the end, I thought this would be an adventure that would paper over the cracks in the story, but that wasn’t to be. Do I regret watching WBDS? No, I don’t. The themes of friendship and destiny versus making your own destiny reverberated very strongly and it was worth watching WBDS just for these. I do believe it will remain with me (so, yes that creeping under the skin thing – like Dunkirk). Now on to closing out the First Half of My Life…
Yes, this one was far from perfect, but I just had a feeling that you would find this one worth your while – and YAY that you did! 😀 I do think I liked the younger pair more than you did, but that could be because I’m partial to Yoo Seung Ho and find his eyes very expressive, heh. So I’m not surprised that it was Sky Lord and Sword Saint that you enjoyed more. The actors are veterans, and infused their delivery with a lot more nuance, which I feel helped. I myself felt viscerally moved by their frenemy-ship, even though my brain couldn’t understand everything about their relationship. And for all of Show’s nonsensical leanings and multitude of flaws – I giggled at your Titanic deck chair analogy! 😂 – it just got under my skinnn.
I hope you’re enjoying First Half of My Life!
Yes, I am enjoying The First Half of My Life. I think Zi Jun is a wonderful character and I like how the real her is starting to emerge over time. I have issues with He Han of course (so Jin Dong must be turning in a good performance here), but even he is showing a bit of change re where I am at in the series. As for Jun Sheng, it’s hard to feel any sympathy, but Kei Jia Yin turned in a really good performance in the recently released film: How Long Will I Love U (which also has Tong Li Ya from Niravana in Fire 2).
I’m glad you’re enjoying First Half! I found Zi Jun annoying and whiny at first, but she charted such a turnaround over the course of the show, that I found myself rooting for her, and hard. He Han does turn around as well, and yes, Jin Dong does a great job of portraying his character. Jun Sheng.. he does become a little more sympathetic later on, towards the end. 🙂
Its 2018 and I still despise the ending like never before. Despite all its flaws, the one thing which saved the show’s grace was Woon and they heartlessly killed him off. JCW/ Dong Soo never managed to gain any of my attention (Yeah he was that unimpressive) . He just seemed like a rock to me…occasionally brimming with high talks smugness brainlessness and what not but sorry to say no action or heroism at all. The so called hero ultimately turns a blind eye towards the pain, actions and struggle of his best friend, manages to miss the suicidal look in his eyes and chooses to believe what he says instead doesn’t even deserves to be called a friend. Coming to the acting part discussed above, I think that the nuance required in Seung Ho’s acting was always there, he did a fantastic job with it, its just that his character’s pain and struggle spoke louder through eyes than words ( I still haven’t forgotten the immensely heartbreaking gaze full of hopelessness and despair) his character was just supposed to be like that. Sigh even after 10 years pass I don’t think I would ever be able to forgive what they did to Woon. He was always the darn show’s tragic unsung hero for me and will always live in my heart forever </3
Aw, I can feel how deeply this show disappointed you, from reading your comment Emma! I do agree that he was Show’s tragic unsung hero.. I wish Show had done a lot of things differently, and their resolution of Woon’s arc was definitely at the top of that list. 😭
cant accept the ending. suppose in history wife of baek dong soo is hwang jin ju.. and have two child both of them.. not so like to ji sun.. sorry..
You’re not alone, nana! I didn’t like the ending either, and I didn’t like Ji Sun either. 😝 Still, for all of its flaws, this show did manage to get under my skin and linger with me, so I have to give it that.
I really liked the older men’s side story, but I didn’t like the Sword Saint very much. Him trying to cure Dong Soo from his apathy by beating him was just too much for me. I was very upset.
Yes, could we say that the OST was way too good for this show?
Oh I remember that scene! It was hard to watch, I agree. As for the OST, I honestly think there were moments when it was the OST that got me to keep going, with this show. Like, sometimes, after watching something particularly annoying (like Cockroach Guy), or insipid (like the female lead), it was the moodsy OST that just kept drawing me back in. Not sure whether to admire the OST or be mad at it, for getting me to finish such a flawed show. But, this one just got under my skin in spite of its multitude of flaws, and that’s pretty impressive I think!
Yeah, those were my feelings about the OST too, exactly those.
And I came up with another thing that bothered me (there seems to be no end to these). The part with the lost book and the tattoo and the half coin hidden in the woldo and all that was actually pretty awesome BUT what was the goal? To realize prince Sado’s dream, which was, what? To invade China…? I just couldn’t root for that.
Well, I’m watching Horse Doctor currently, which is actually a very good drama (thank you, universe, you owed me this). I’m at ep 30, there has been, like, four – five action scenes? and they were BETTER than Baek Dong Soo’s. Grrrrrr.
And the OST is very beautiful and you hardly notice it, as it should be.
Hahaha!! Yes, WBDS is the kind of drama that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The tattoo thing was resolved in such a anticlimactic way, to me. Like, if they could’ve burned it off just like that, why didn’t they just do it earlier? 😆 But with my blinders on, the show was atmospheric and somehow it lingered with me a bit, after I was done with my watch. That’s just so odd, that such a flawed show would manage to sink any kind of hook into me.
I didn’t watch Horse Doctor, but my mom enjoyed it quite well, so I can imagine how it would be better than WBDS in many ways! 😉
Oh I can understand why they didn’t just burn the tattoo. It’s not an easy decision to burn the skin of your entire back AND she was convinced that this was her destiny and blah blah. I was more upset at how unhygienic it was to burn it with the clothes still on.
Even if the last episodes of Horse Doctor are total bulls—, it’s still going to be the best thing I ‘ve watched this year. I’m freaking loving it. Warning for pus and boils, though.
Oh, yes, that’s true, about the burning of the skin with clothes on being unhygienic – I didn’t think of that! I guess I just shrugged it off as one of the show’s oversights and lapses in logic 😁 Also – great that you’re loving Horse Doctor this much! Although I must admit, that thing about pus & boils doesn’t exactly make me want to seek out the show to check it out! 😂
Well, I’m an assistant nurse, which means
a. pus and boils: totally fine
b. unhygienic tattoo burning: not fine at all
c: beating apathetic children: throw the laptop through the window with a roar.
AH. I can totally see how your profession would make you see things in extra glaring detail when it comes to things like hygiene, and why you’d have such immunity to pus & boils! And even as a non-medical professional, the beating thing also made me uncomfortable – although I love my laptop too much to toss it out the window, and therefore exercised a lot more restraint! 😆
I seriously considered skipping the last episode and leave it at that. But no, I went and watch it anyway and now it can’t be unwatched.
You are right, this is a flawed drama that does get under your skin. I can’t say I liked it but I continued watching, for the sake of the Good Stuff, even if it took ages to come to it.
I found my self being reminded of Emperor of the Sea all the time:
– the star-crossed bromance of two childhood friends, who both inexplicably sort of love the same wooden merchant lady and one of them has a father-son relationship with a ruthless leader of some criminals, and all he ever learned from him was how to be ruthless and kill, and our hero is his only friend he ever had and his eyes are so sad, let me get a handkerchief.
– the epic OST
– the extremely slimy cockroach that just won’t die already. Although I enjoyed the performance and in the beginning I found him hilarious. Each and everytime he appeared on my screen he would have some new gimmick to make me laugh. Yeah, until that thing with Jin Joo (Jin Joo = <3 )
– the long close ups of people crying their hearts out
– more things that I've forgotten
Well, I guess they all fish out of the same barrel of cliches.
BUT Emperor had marvelous action scenes. Baek Dong Soo had no such thing. And I mean, this is about sword saints and martial arts, it's not a romance with some sword brandishing, the awesome action scenes should be an obvious expectation.
I do think they got better towards the end, which made me even more angry, because, were they learning it on the fly? Couldn't they get some decent action filming people? What?
Anyway. Agree with everything you wrote about the ending.
Oh, and of course Chun knew his buddie was sick but he couldn't insult him by denying him this their final duel, since he obviously wanted to do it that way, where was that handkerchief now.
I can’t say I’m familiar with Emperor of the Sea, but I definitely see that we feel similarly about this show, Yllegjord! This one is so terribly flawed, and yet, has SUCH an inexplicable way of getting under your skin. Even though it was a secondary arc, the long-standing frenemy-ship between the two older men was quite the compelling one. So much respect for each other, even as they stood on completely opposite sides, obliged to kill each other at some appointed time. So fascinating and tragic in one.
PS: YES the OST was epic. I loved it. <3
I thought Skylord was a great character.
I agree – I loved watching him, he stole every scene he was in, seriously!
if That had been an american series. he wouldn’t have died, and he would have a spinoff series of his own 🙂
Lol. That is an excellent point! American TV shows often do the spin-off thing when a character starts to receive a particular amount of love. 🙂
Oh you could screencap every frame he was in and make the coolest posters. And the setting for the assassin’s headquarters was SO beautiful in its dark sort of way. I’m totally having a few rooms in that style, when I get me a mansion.
It’s a while since i saw the drama. But I do remember being very impressed by his crying scene by the sea, and stuff running out of his nose.
Yes, impressive indeed. The man is a master of bodily fluids, as the Butler in The Nanny said.
“as the Butler in The Nanny said.”
Hmm, i wonder what way i should take that 🙂
Bahahaha look at me being a comedy genious by accident 😀
I believe they are looking for a scriptwriter for a new Carry on movie. 🙂
Sorry, if you have no idea, what I’m talking about.
I was looking for dramas with JCW after I noticed him and his long hair in Empress Ki. So a drama when I’ve got him with long hair again AND Yoo Seung Ho on top ??? I was totally up for those ovary explosion sessions. But actually I don’t remember anything from this drama except for the bromance between the two “fathers” and YSH look. God knows he delivers on that front. Those eyelinered eyes framed by a mane of glory ? I.just.can’t. I didn’t even notice Ji Chang Wook which means his performance didn’t impress me much in that show.
I also totally fell for Sky Lord’s pirates of Caribbean vibe. Khol liner on men eyes are my weakness (Shin Se Gi ? Oh oui! By the way, Kfangurl, you are not going to make us wait 2016 for KMHM review, right ? We will have it at least when come Christmas, right ?) And his relationship with Sword Saint Gwang Taek was what keep me watching the show because the rest was rather mediocre to say the least. I’m a sucker for alpha male frenemies who admire-and-respect-while-trying-to-neutralise each other (” Ben Hur”, “Star Wars”, “Heat”, anyone ?)
Ok so now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the real topic here : what the heck YSH is doing ???? Wasn’t he discharged from military duty like December last year? Where is the drama with that post-military abs display shower scene? That’s compulsory too !
OMG Yoo Seung Ho’s molten gaze is a force to be reckoned with, I must agree!!! He’s so lovely to look at, but those eyes just take it to a whole other level. I was also distracted by YSH in WBDS, even though JCW was lead.
Even though YSH hasn’t been on our screens since the military, he will be, soon. His poster for his movie Joseon Magician has dropped, and he’s gorgeous, as expected:
AND, he’s just said yes to headlining a cable drama titled Imaginary Cat. Can’t wait! 😀
And yes, I do owe everyone a review of KMHM, I’m so backlogged! 😛 I’ll do my best to not make everyone wait until 2016 – but I’m afraid to make any promises, Life has been so hectic!
Hi kaiaraia. No I haven;t seen Conspiracy. But I’m gonna check it out. Of course sometimes more than one group sub the same drama, and one of those groups may have a sun that is preferable to the viewer.
Right. That sub I’m referring to is by WITHS2. They’re the best at subbing for me, too bad they’re not subbing anymore. I’m looking for a more modern English sub. If you ever find one, let me know please. Thanks.
I did not expect a full review but Yay that it’s here. It always is fun reading your reviews.
Haha! Dae Ung. I wanted him dead the moment I saw him. He was that irritating! Together with the map lady. 🙁
I thought Chun knew that Gwang Taek was sick. He saw him throw up before they went fishing. I thought that was also the reason he asked him if he needed to rest.
I have never seen Yeo Jin Goo in any drama and not like him. He’s just so good. It’s true how he and Ji Chang Wook tied the character so solidly. I wonder if they had a talk. It is also worth mentioning how the young and adult Woon looks so much alike.
As I’ve told you beforehand, Woon was my favorite character in this show. I found Woon the most intriguing and commanding of attention. Of course it helps that Yoo Seung Ho is such an eyecandy, though, I would have preferred a more layered and nuanced performance.
My thought when this drama ended was that it could have been a lot better if told in half the number of its episodes and the fight scenes were done cleanly, I mean, I could very well see the sword in between the body and the arm, heh.
Off tangent but having read the comment about subs being far from modern, Martin, have you seen Conspiracy in the Court? It’s only eight episodes but it took me so long to finish as I had to check on the vocabulary every so often. It reminded me of Shakespeare.
Aww! <3 Yay that you enjoyed this review, kaiaraia! And yay, that we can now chat about the show! This one is lingering with me WAY more than I ever expected. Honestly, it's the bromance that's sticking with me, and the feels are continuing to pop up on me, sometimes when I least expect it. That's a big accomplishment, especially for such a flawed show!
Haha, I admit I wished death on Dae Ung too, but I didn't exactly have death wishes for Ji Sun. I did want her to go away, though. Like, far, far away, so that she wouldn't have to cross our screens. I mean, how did she get cast as the lead?? Just, HOW?
I feel like Chun noticed that Gwang Taek seemed a bit off, but he took Gwang Taek at his word, in terms of whether or not he needed to rest, or felt able to continue. After all, these martial artists often continue to fight even when injured. Chun himself often fought when injured, especially in the last stretch of the show, and was able to defeat all but one of his opponents. I guess that's where he was coming from. He probably believed Gwang Taek was feeling off, but genuinely felt able to continue fighting.
Young and adult Woon did look similar, although I think that had more to do with the styling than with actual physical resemblance or acting delivery. Yoo Seung Ho's gaze was molten, but it also had a softer edge to it than young Woon, I felt. There was a sharper quality to young Woon's gaze, I thought. Good job by Park Gun Tae. I recently saw him in Orange Marmalade, and he looked and felt like a completely different character. He's filled out in the face, and I kinda miss the sharp quality of his entire vibe as young Woon.
Also, I agree about Yoo Seung Ho's delivery. As gorgeous and beautiful as he was, his delivery could've used more nuance. That would've slayed us all, I think, to have Woon's angst being portrayed with more depth. I do give him a bit of a pass since he was only 18 when he played Woon. It's a huge role, for an actor so young.
I absolutely get what you mean about this drama benefitting from being cut to half its length. Or maybe down to 16 episodes. It sprawled over a really long time window, and as a result, meandered a lot. There were definite times I zoned out because I had no interest in the court machinations. A tighter handle on the story the writers wanted to tell, and more polished, tighter fight choreography would've taken this show to another level, I think. Still, I am quite impressed by how Show is sticking with me, DESPITE its multitude of flaws. That's skillz. XD
It always is fun to discuss a drama. It makes the watch so much better. And it also allows us to appreciate the drama better, flawed or whatever. 🙂
Now that you mentioned it, the map lady was an important character. On second thought, the map was the important one. So, the story would have not been affected without her. So yes, how did she get the part?
Chun might have really noticed but that he did not know the gravity of it. Also, warriors are warriors and it’s something they both wanted ever since and nothing could have stop that.
Yes, the adult Woon had a softer edge and the young version sharper, more angsty. I actually like that. To me it spells maturity. As a lad, he did not know much and he was so passionate but experience made him realize what was wrong and he became a bit mellowed. He was in Orange Marmalade too? So the two young actors reunited in that drama.
I really wanted more from YSH as Yoon. A more nuanced and layered Woon would have melted me into a puddle. Heh. But when I learned he was just 18 at that time, I concur with you, he did a pretty decent job. Though he may be experienced in acting starting off as a child, maturity is truly a big factor in what one can bring into a role.
Not only did it meandered a lot. There were essential scenes but to much time spent on it. Case in point, when Gwang Taek died and his whanau all stared at nothing… my it was like eternity that it worked the opposite on me.
True, DESPITE a drama’s flaw, there will be something that tickles someone’s fancy, whether its a character, a plot, or the feels. And that’s what makes drama watching all the more fun.
SO TRUE. That’s one of the things I really love about getting to chat about dramas with you guys.. Sometimes I come away with new insights and new perspectives that I would’ve probably never come to, on my own. I love that we can do that for each other, like, one insight sparks another, which sparks another. LOVE when that happens! <3
And what a great observation, that young Woon and young Dong Soo reunited in Orange Marmalade! XD That actually never occurred to me, even though my watches overlapped. Young Woon looks quite different in Orange Marmalade though. He's filled out in the face quite a bit, so he looks more like a normal happy teen than the angsty edgy one he looked like WBDS.
Yes, YSH's softer edge did show us a more matured Woon.. I loved the little side smirks he would give, when amused by Dong Soo's antics. It's those little moments that gave away his affection for Dong Soo. Young Woon's smirks were more scornful, but adult Woon's smirks were amused and affectionate. TOTALLY yes, that a more nuanced Woon would've swooned me into an even bigger puddle! It's kind of why I thought YSH did well to go to MS earlier than later. I felt like after MS, that he'd come back to our screens with more depth. More maturity + THOSE EYES?? FLAIL. YES PLEASE!! XD <3 <3 <3
Hi Kfangirl. Yep, I saw Chuno too. 9/10
this was my review.
korean drama series. favourite characters min cho bok yi, seol hwa. best performance by Ha Si-eun as Lee Sun Young, the woman with cerebal palsy. Yes, an obvious choice to make. But i think it was an extrordinary performance. 2 questions. (1) what happened to eop bok. (2) when the guards or whatever had hye won’s picture in front of them,. Even if she had some kind of disease, it was plain that it was her. it would have been better if she had worn something to hide her face.
I see that I gave Warrior 9/10 too. Hmm, I wonder if I missed alll the stuff, you take the show to task for, or maybe I just didn’t care.
Oopsie! Sorry Martin, it’d slipped my mind, that you’ve already seen Chuno. 😛 Now that I read your thoughts about it, though, it’s all coming back to me. I believe we chatted about this show before. My bad!
WBDS is, objectively speaking, full of flaws. How much that interferes with our enjoyment of the show, probably has to do with the kind of lens we employ while watching. You probably watched this one with a pretty casual, forgiving lens, I think, to be able to give it such a high rating 🙂
Well, either that, or I’m so dense I didn’t notice them.
Naw.. You’re too modest, Martin! I’ve chatted with you long enough that I can vouch for the fact that you’re far from dense! 😉
Yes, I’m extremly modest. No, Make that hunble. As a mater of fact, if there was a competion fort the most humble person in the world, I’d win it, hands down 🙂
Hahaha! Modest AND funny? You’re too much, Martin! XD
Just though I’d paste my review.
“This review comtains spoiler
This only the second costume drama, I managed to complete. The first being Kingdom of the winds, which I think surpasses this. Although this has some of the best characters I’ve seen in an asian drama.
skylord. This character left the series too early. He is the most charismatic baddie, I have come across in a long time. He should have a series of his own,
Moosa Baek Dong Soo. Vicous, pathetic, funny
The queen. She looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but her heart is blacker than night.
jin joo. She’s feisty as hell, and more interesting than who i presume is the lead female
commander hong, who is as cunning as hell,
ga ok. She’s probably the first character I liked, but found others more interesting as the show went on.
Yes, all but one are baddies
It;s a while since I’ve seen four wimds, but I think this series has more comedy. It has some great one liners such as one of the characters being referred to as a male gigolo,
It also has a nice little joke. that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome concerning ears being pulled.
A major theme of the drama would seem to be redemption.
The most moving scene is where jin joo tells the pirate chief exactly how she feels about him.
The thing I’m not sure what to say without just writing. The actress playing ga ok plays the mother of a charactor who in real life is only
8 years younger than her. I think the acress playing the daughter is supposed to be playing young.
The most actorly scene, is where skylord cries over the dearh of the woman he loved.
Another thing I liked was the grit shown by charactors it might not have been expected of eg the son of commander hong, when confronted by skylord.
my gripe. Although Im grateful for subs, it would nice if modern speech was not in it
best action scene. Where the two male leads take on a load of bad guys.
Oh, yay that you’ve seen this one, Martin! 🙂 It’s nice to be able to chat about the show, and this one’s surprisingly sticky. It’s lingering with me even now, which is something I didn’t expect at all.
YES that Sky Lord deserved his own show. He was definitely the most mesmerizing person to cross the screen in the entire show. And I echo your shout-out to Jin Joo, whom I didn’t give the spotlight to in my review, but whom I found likable as a character. She was definitely more engaging to watch than Ji Sun. I really wish they had cast a more capable actress to play Ji Sun.
As for the casting, it’s not uncommon for actors to act above or below their real life ages. In fact, Yoo Seung Ho was only 18 when he played Woon, while Ji Chang Wook was 24 when he played Dong Soo. Yet, I thought they came across quite nicely as buddies of about the same age.
If you haven’t seen Chuno, I highly recommend it. It’s even more beautifully shot than WBDS, the fighting choreography is pretty great, the story is much more solid, and the subs are far from modern. I personally consider Chuno a masterpiece in its own right. 🙂
Yup, you totally presented all the things that eventually made me want to tear my hair out in frustration and furiously FF through most of the later episodes. Blatant logic fail, Teh Stupid and me just don’t mix. XD They really botched up the ending. I prefer yours, like 1000 times more, ha.
OMG! I’d forgotten how annoying Dae Ung was. In the end I just had to laugh when he popped back yet again like the proverbial bad penny he was. There was quite a bit of unintentional hilarity in the drama.
Hahaha! 1000 times more! THANK YOU! XD I’m so pleased that you like my ending, coz that’s the ending I’m sticking to, in my head. And that martial arts manual that Dong Soo creates? Well, in my head, he TOTALLY made it together with Woon while they sparred together and figured it all out in the secret wilderness, their regular meeting place. <3
Dae Ung's ability to survive was really something else! He'd pop back up, JUST when I thought he was really dead. I wised up to writer-nim's tendency to resurrect him, after a while. Like, NOPE, I'm sure he's NOT dead! XD