Posted tagged ‘jang geun-seuk’

Drama Review: Hong Gil Dong (KBS, 2008)

December 14, 2009

Jazzing Up Ye Olde Sageuk

by Ender’s Girl


The Cast:
Kang Ji-hwan, Sung Yu-ri, Jang Geun-seuk, Choi Ran, Jo Hee-bong, Kim Ri-na

In a Nutshell:
This is a re-imagining of the life of Hong Gil Dong, Korean folk hero: a man who rises from obscurity to liberate his homeland from an evil monarch and help restore the rightful king to the throne — and in so doing, becomes the very stuff of legend.

(SpoilLert: Shockingly benign!!! No spoilers AT ALL!!! Because I am wise and compassionate!!! But mainly because I do not wish to deal with the PAIN by revisiting *certain* parts of the drama! In fact, I’d much rather pretend they never happened at all!!! Yes, yes, that’s it! That must be it! There are NO spoilers, because the “events” in question never happened at all!!!! *maniacal laughter*)


At first glance, the bare bones of the story are elements of a more traditional period drama: a low-born Hero with a Hidden Destiny! an Evil King! corruption and treachery at the highest echelons of power! secret cabals and shady netherworld dealings! high adventure and derring-do!… But don’t be fooled!!! You realize early on that this ain’t your garden-variety sageuk… How in the world can it be–with the pop-tart dance routines! the snazzy camera shots! the trendy tinted glasses! the blaring house music and heavy metal riffs! the anime-like sound effects and MTV-inspired editing! the hip (???) costumes! and let’s not forget… the FOG MACHINES!!! The opening sequence alone is straight out of some noontime variety show, replete with break-dancing extras, pounding club beats, and, well… uninspired shimmying from Sung Yu-ri, if I may say so (wow, hard to tell she used to be part of a girl band, with her stiff, Vogue-strike-a-pose “dance” moves).

The first act of Hong Gil Dong feels like a light and breezy romp in the park. I immediately took to the rollicking, madcap humor, the witty dialogue, the outrageous, tongue-in-cheek situations, and the assortment of truly nutty characters. In short, I was enjoying myself TREMENDOUSLY. Act One lays the groundwork for the whole story, and primes the viewer for the character-molding domino sequence of events to come in later episodes — by starting out with the kind of man Hong Gil Dong was before his journey from, er, Zero to Hero.

Enter, Ye Olde Wayfarer… Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!