[Review] Legend of the Blue Sea – 푸른 바다의 전설

PART OF YOUR WORLD

After a series of encounters in Spain, a modern-day mermaid (Jun Ji Hyun) follows her love, Heo Joon Jae (Lee Min Ho), to Seoul to reunite with him.  Unaware that she’s a mermaid, he is intrigued by the peculiar girl and names her Shim Chung.  Despite traveling miles to be with him, the innocent Shim Chung is unaware that Joon Jae is skilled conman.  He works with Jo Nam Doo (Lee Hee Joon), a veteran conman who taught Joon Jae the trade, and Tae Oh (Shin Won Ho), an expert hacker.

Although Joon Jae just wants to take advantage of Chung and get rid of her, he realizes that they have a far deeper connection.  Joon Jae and Chung were once lovers in the past during the past incarnations from the Joseon era.  The nobleman, Kim Dam Ryung, and the mermaid, Se Hwa, were separated by evil forces who wanted to take cash in on the fact that Se Hwa is a mythical creature.  As Joon Jae’s feelings for Chung grows, he learns that history may be doomed to repeat itself if he is unable to stop it.

 

Yoon Mi Rae – 그대라는 세상 (A World That Is You)

윤미래 – 그대라는 세상

As beautiful and talented as Jun Ji Hyun is, the thing that I like most about her is that she is so self-assured when it comes to acting out the comedic scenes.  It would be easy for a veteran actress like her to become settled in playing serious, composed characters like that of Ryeon Jung Hee in The Berlin File or Assassination’s Ahn Ok Yoon.  However, her real rise to fame was My Sassy Girl and she still has great comedic chops.

Certainly, Lee Min Ho’s charm comes out when he plays macho characters.  I can also see why he was a good fit to play a Frank Abagnale type like that of Heo Joon Jae.  However, I’ll admit that I found a bit boring as the stoic Kim Dam Ryung.  There’s a playfulness in Lee Min Ho’s eyes that is suppressed when he plays by the book characters.

You’d think the combination of the two leads would be to die for in this drama.  Unfortunately, I’ll admit that I was a bit dismayed by their chemistry.  The drama kept reminding me of You From Another Star that I couldn’t help but compare Jun Ji Hyun’s chemistry with Kim Soo Hyun with that of Lee Min Ho.  Jun Ji Hyun’s chemistry with Kim Soo Hyun was electrifying and Lee Min Ho couldn’t just bring the same level of electricity.

LYn – Love Story

린(LYn) – Love Story

Having said that, the many lighter moments of the drama is enjoyable.  From Joon Jae’s rapport with his fellow conman to Cha Si Ah’s (Shin Hye Sun) pitiful attempts to meddle.  All the things that make a trendy drama what it is was in full display within this drama.

On the other hand, the antagonists in the drama didn’t quite seem to live to their expectation.  Sung Dong Il is incredible at making his villainous characters seem larger than life and Ma Dae Young is terrifying.  However, Ma Dae Young’s importance in the plot is diminished due to the twist in the storyline.  The twist could have been quite interesting except for the fact that it happens too early in the drama that it doesn’t seem like a lot of forethought went into how the reveal would affect the pacing of the rest of the drama.

And yet, I have to commend Lee Ji Hoon for his complicated portrayal of Heo Chi Hyun.  Lee Ji Hoon has this uncanny ability to make us pity his character despite the fact that we know that he’s up to no good.  In fact, that’s what I loved about his portrayal of King Seonjo in Mirror of the Witch.  Here, Chi Hyun may not have always done the right thing but it’s because he’s always for the love of a father figure that he never had and that’s what’s at the core of his jealousy for Joon Jae.  While I hate what Chi Hyun does to attain that love, I don’t completely despise him either.

Because You From Another Star was such a massive success, I can see why SBS wanted to repeat it with another tale that was similar to it.  And yet, Legend of the Blue Sea is so similar in many ways with its predecessor.  The similarities ranged from its overall theme, to the same cast members to the story characters and even the story’s arc.  Sure, there is a role reversal as it is now Jun Ji Hyun’s character that is the fish-out-of-water (pun intended) with the society they have to adjust to.  And yet, all I wanted was for this drama to stand on its own merit.  While the drama is enjoyable, I don’t think it achieves that as it was hard to not constantly make comparisons.

Rating

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