ALLOW ME TO UNSHEATHE MY SWORD
Set right before the fall of Korea’s Goguryeo’s period, Princess Moo Young (Kim Ok Bin) falls for her bodyguard, Yeon Choong (Uhm Tae Woong).
She’s the daughter to King Young Ryu (Kim Young Chul) while he is the illegitimate son of Yeon Gae So Mun (Choi Min Soo). When Yeon Gae So Mun kills the king and places King Bojang (Ohn Joo Wan) on the throne as well as appointing himself as dictator (aka Dae Mangniji), Moo Young and Choong’s love is tested amongst the two warring parties.
The two opposing forces which the drama’s tension stems from is King Young Ryu and Yeon Gae So Mun and while some of the story is taken from historical elements, the drama veers to tell its own tale about two star-crossed lovers. Princess Moo Young and Yeon Choong are fictional characters and despite being the case I was drawn to their story the most.
It’s the romance that does most of the sweeping in this drama as Uhm Tae Woong and Kim Ok Bin’s is superb playing their stoically silent but subtly expressive characters. It’s not an easy feat and there is a nice epic feel to their love story. Although I do have to warn that some scenes in which Choong literally sweeps Moo Young off her feet (and upside-down, I might add) did have me laughing out loud. For the most part, I think the stillness of their acting is poetically beautiful aided by the epic cinematography and soundtrack.
Wax – 사라아 (My Love)
Also, I’m always taken offguard by Choi Min Soo. I think the same could be said for his cameo appearance in Faith, which wowed me, but as great of an actor that he is, I am almost tired of the same types of roles that he plays. However, I don’t think anyone could have played it as well as Choi Min Soo since he’s so good at coming off cold and unfeeling. Logically, I know that there are deeper layers to Yeon Gae So Mun and his relationship with Choong but he doesn’t show it. Therefore, it’s not hard to be on Choong’s side when it comes to his complicated relationship with his father.
I particularly loved the scene in which Moo Young finally faces Yeon Gae So Mun as herself. Choi Min Soo does a slight twitching of the eye and my immediate reaction was to chuckle. However, he’s just sticks with that tick during the scene which became a bit unnerving. Yeon Gae So Mun is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
On the other hand, I wasn’t very impressed with No Min Woo as Yeon Nam Saeng. It was over-the-top disdainful attitude made him more of a laughingstock rather than a fearsome villain. To be completely honest, I’m never really impressed with No Min Woo’s acting ability. Perhaps one day I will have the time to try Rock, Rock, Rock and that will give me a different impression of his acting ability.
While I have enjoyed some of the many performances in the drama, it was really the lead’s love story which helped me to get through. I wish I could say I was equally invested in the politics but I wasn’t. At a time when there was great upheaval, the drama certainly had a lot of material to work with but I just don’t think they did. It was mainly employed to further the storyline of our heroes.
F.I.X – 죽어서라도 (Even Though I Die)
Personally, I would have liked the drama to explore some of the real characters like Yeon Gae So Mun whom historians are still at odds about whether he could be considered a hero or a traitor to this day. That would have been interesting and Choi Min Soo would have been great with juggling those scales.
The drama’s cinematography stays pretty consistent throughout and I loved how the camera used the large spaces of their sets to rift in relationships through these odd periods of tranquility. I often sat down in awe while watching the credit sequences to watch the slow moving images of their actors.
And to their credit, Uhm Tae Woong and Kim Ok Bin’s performances are the best thing about this drama. At its worst, the drama’s writer misses the historical significance of this period and really just fails to see the story in its bigger picture setting. While The Great Seer at times was draggy, it certainly made me feel that the change in dynasties was a significant occurrence and dramatized it as such.