This one was a longer drama and not the kind that you necessarily wanted to do a marathon viewing of given the subject matter. I’ve seen enough dead bodies of soldiers and civilians to last me a life time..lol! I won’t touch on the background political issues because really my interest was in the characters..though there is NO doubt whatsoever that Japan IS THE BAD GUY (just in case you might have been wondering.)
I must say it was a pleasure to discover (or rediscover) these actors. I knew more OF Lee Byung-Hun than really being familiar with his acting so I appreciated getting more familiar with his work. It was a pleasure to finally see Yoo Yeon-Sook in action – first time and how lucky that I saw him in THE most awesome role..strutting around like a Samurai. Another discovery was Byun Ho Han – what a complete charmer he was! The biggest surprise was Kim Ming Jung who was just blah in Man to Man, but here she was really awesome and she had the most fantastic wardrobe I’ve ever seen (I’m partial to the turn of the century western fashion)..she looked gorgeous.
I think the writers made a real effort to flesh these characters out. Each one of them had a back story that deserved his or her own drama. All had suffered and all had taken different paths and all paths crossed in Joseon.
I think the relationship between the leads was handled respectfully (given the huge age gap) but for me the biggest plus was the relationships that grew between them all, not necessarily having anything to do with romantic love. These were strangers who came to care about each other – though not everyone cared for the CAUSE – they cared because someone else did. The bromance was strong and oh so satisfying. There was even a lightness at times (much needed, of course); how can you watch a drama like this, filled with human sacrifices and fighting for something so much bigger than them without spilling a tear or two or three? That should come as no surprise at all.
Lastly, the incredible cinematography continued until the very end and it was a visual ongoing feast!
I was browing my Netflix list and thought I should make an effort to start actually watching some of those I’d bookmarked, so I started on Love O2O as I recalled hearing favorable things about it and I was in the mood for fluffier stuff. Happily, this was charming fluff, with an attractive lead couple who clearly have eyes only for each other (no betrayal angsty moments) and have friends who are happy to support their relationship.
Yang Yang is not the most expressive of male actors, but he sure is pretty, and I’m never going to complain about a popular, well-liked guy who falls head over heels for a girl because she is a dedicated computer gamer (who also happens to be a knockout – bonus!) to the point where he gets a little bit stalker-ish gazing on her from afar in real life and drawing close to her in their gaming platform. (Sigh… stalking is wrong, I know, but getting a little swoony-eyed because you have a crush on someone and doing something intrusive about it are two different things. His character is more in the swoony-eyed category.)
Zhang Shuang’s Weiwei is a stunner (though man, she could use a sandwhich or two), and it’s gratifying to see women who exceed in school, merging study with interests (she is a computer science major like Yang Yang’s character, Xiao Nai) to become the top female gamer in a role-playing game. She’s pretty much perfect, as is he, so their coming together is clearly written in the stars.
I’ll confess: I’m not that much into gaming myself so some of the play time and getting his game business up and running were less compelling to me so I did a little judicious fast-forwarding so I could spend more of my time with the couple and their friends. Mao Xiao Tong plays a bubbly (borderline annoying but super cute) best pal to Weiwei who gets involved with poorly styled Bai Yu’s character (that hair!), who has a crush on Weiwei and has a harder time with her polite ‘no thank you.’ Zhang Bin Bin (the demon prince from 10 Miles of Peach Blossoms) has a surprising role (saying would be spoiling) that I found to be a little broody and almost predatory, even if it’s touched on obliquely. More on this after the jump.