Posted tagged ‘jung il-woo’

Drama Smackdown (Part 3): Iljimae (SBS, 2008) vs. The Return of Iljimae (MBC, 2009)

April 9, 2010

Pretty Boy Wonders: The Iljimae Smackdown!

Part Three

by Ender’s Girl

[Read Part One of Smackdown]
[Read Part Two of Smackdown]

The Plot & Narrative Devices

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Iljimae:

Take away the sageuk setting, cheesy outfits and uber-fanciful swordplay, and you have a typical K-drama outline, supersized and with everything on top: the OTP-since-freakin’-childhood premise, the amnesia, the son swap, the pseudo-incest, the revenge angle. The revenge motive vastly limits the whole story, and so you slog through all 20 episodes of Iljimae running around at night, breaking into mansions to find The!Sword!With!Funny!Markings!

Even worse is the drama’s confused tone and style. It isn’t just the portrayal of Iljimae that’s bipolar, but this whole drama is too. No, make that — multipolar? Hahaha. My best friend appraised it perfectly: “So the makers of Iljimae threw everything at the wall, hoping it would stick.” What stuck was this unsightly pastiche of weepy K-drama conventions, vaudeville histrionics, juvenile adventure hijinks, and stinky splotches of toilet humor (laxatives, bare butts and primitive contraceptives, oh my!).

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

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Drama Smackdown (Part 2): Iljimae (SBS, 2008) vs. The Return of Iljimae (MBC, 2009)

April 8, 2010

Pretty Boy Wonders: The Iljimae Smackdown!

Part Two

by Ender’s Girl

[Read Part One of Smackdown]

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The Leading Lady & the Romance Factor

The thing about these masked adventurer stories is that there’s room for only ONE superhero, just ONE dude who fights crime and does all that manly, maaaanly stuff. Ergo, behind every costumed crusader is — a damsel who needs rescuing! And even if all this ever does is perpetuate evil sexist stereotypes, sometimes all you want the heroine to do is look pretty and scream prettier until the hero saves her. These types of stories, I don’t look for female empowerment and gender sensitivity and all that wet-blankety stuff (lol). Sometimes you just want a Good Escape. And don’t these swashbuckling tales make for great fantasy fodder, after all? I mean, screw real life: Hero need woman! Woman give hero sexy time! Bad guy capture woman! Hero save woman! Woman give hero sexy time! Bad guy capture woman!… And so they go, and so they go, these bold and sensational archetypes for the ages.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Smackdown (Part 1): Iljimae (SBS, 2008) vs. The Return of Iljimae (MBC, 2009)

April 5, 2010

Pretty Boy Wonders: The Iljimae Smackdown!

Part One

by Ender’s Girl

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It was my best friend who suggested I do a sageuk superhero smackdown — a challenge I’d love to take on, but one that will require a re-watch of Hong Gil Dong and Strongest Chil-woo to jog my memory and thus enable me to be more objective in comparing all four sageuks. But for now it’ll just have to be about these bonny bandits, aka the two Iljimaes.

Iljimae (SBS, 2008)

The Cast:
Lee Jun-ki, Han Hyo-joo, Lee Young-ah, Park Shi-hoo, Lee Moon-shik, Kim Sung-ryung, Lee Won-jong, Ahn Kil-kang, Kim Roe-ha

In a Nutshell:
An insecure king signs the death warrant of one of his closest friends when a prophecy links the nobleman to the monarch’s downfall. The noble’s son, Geom, survives after witnessing his father’s murder and his mother and sister’s enslavement. Though the trauma erases his memory, the boy is rescued and raised by a peasant couple whose own son has been sent to live with the court official Byun Sik, also a party to the conspiracy. As an adult, Geom (now called Yong) vows to avenge the death of his father when his memory suddenly returns, his only clue a specially engraved sword used by the unknown killer. Outwardly he remains the happy-go-lucky village slacker he has been since the childhood trauma, but nights find him transforming into the deadly thief whom the people have dubbed “Iljimae,” for the plum tree paintings he leaves in each house he has robbed.

The Return of Iljimae (MBC, 2009)

The Cast:
Jung Il-woo, Yoon Jin-seo, Kim Min-jong, Jung Hye-young, Lee Kye, Park Geun-hyung, Park Chul-min, Kang Nam-gil, Lee Hyung-woo

In a Nutshell:
Born of a nobleman and a slave girl, Iljimae is taken from his mother and left to die in the icy waters of a creek. In several twists of Fate and Providence, the infant is found by a beggar, rescued by an old monk, and later raised by a wealthy Manchu family. Upon reaching manhood, a revelation about his past spurs Iljimae to leave his adopted homeland for Hanyang in search of his true identity — and the unknown mother who birthed him.

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A Tale of Two Cuties: Iljimae vs. Iljimae

Two impossibly pretty K-heartthrobs. Two sets of smooth, blemish-free cheekbones made for… rappelling. Two rival television networks. One Korean folk hero… with a strange penchant for plum blossoms.

As they say, comparisons are inevitable — hence this Smackdown. So when push comes to shove, which Iljimae version prevails — in terms of narrative flow, character development, production values, and other benchmarks? Which Iljimae portrayal is more convincing? Is it the Man in the Iron Mask, or Ninja Assassin? (Or, in Star Wars terminology, is it Darth Vader Iljimae, or the Return of the Joseon Jedi? heh heh)

Based on the criteria provided below, let the Clashdance — er, Smackdown begin! *gonnnggg!!!* First of three installments.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!