The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Warrior Baek Dong Soo

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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.

Warrior Baek Dong Soo OST – 야뇌

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.

[SPOILERS]

Example 1

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.

Example 2

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.

[END SPOILERS]

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.

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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. [SPOILER] 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. [END SPOILER]

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. Lookie:

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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 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.

[END SPOILER]

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.

[SPOILER ALERT]

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.

[END SPOILER]

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 even 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-

TRAILER:

MVs:

General

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.

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

42 thoughts on “Review: Warrior Baek Dong Soo

  1. 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. 😄 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.

    Like

    • Hahaha! 1000 times more! THANK YOU! 😄 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. ❤

      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! 😄

      Like

  2. 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.

    Top characters
    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
    Bubbling under
    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.
    kenzo-enigmatic
    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.

    Like

    • 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. 🙂

      Like

  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.

    Like

    • 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 🙂

      Like

  4. 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.

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    • Aww! ❤ 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. 😄

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      • 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.

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        • 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! ❤

          And what a great observation, that young Woon and young Dong Soo reunited in Orange Marmalade! 😄 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!! 😄 ❤ ❤ ❤

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  5. 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.

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    • 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.

      Like

  6. Pingback: Pure Pretty: Ji Chang Wook | The Fangirl Verdict

  7. 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 !

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

  8. Pingback: Review: Oh My Venus | The Fangirl Verdict

  9. 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 = ❤ )
    – 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.

    Like

    • 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. ❤

      Like

  10. 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?

    Like

    • 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!

      Like

      • 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.

        Like

        • 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! 😉

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          • 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.

            Like

            • 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! 😂

              Like

              • 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.

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                • 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! 😆

                  Like

  11. 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..

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    • 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.

      Like

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