Category Archives: Way Back Wednesdays

Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing the Sun – Episode 5

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Spoilers very very possible.

See that guy up there in the picture? The one with the distraught, teary eyed face? That might look like our sweet prince, but no…that was me! Same damn face after watching episode five.

I was really not expecting this episode. It kind of came out of left field to me from a storyline perspective. First, we get introduced to the awesome child actors who are totally nailing it and setting up their roles for the somewhat more adult actors who will be leading the way in later episodes. We get two incredible female actresses, the Moons, who are two very different sides of a coin. They make for great foils for each other and they “love” the same boy-man. That’s a rather nice conflict in and of itself and was interested in seeing more of that, but what did I get? Swerved! Swerved hard.

Yeon Woo is a young noble lady whose got the goods to be an amazing Joseon Queen. She’s caring and sensitive…she’s freaking awesome and that’s why the entire royal family loves her except for that creepy nasty Queen Dowager. Folks, I need this former Queen to die and die painfully. Why? She has the leading shaman cast a spell that essentially turns poor Yeon Woo into a vegetable and causes her constant pain. This in turn forces her out of the castle and separates her from her betrothed, perhaps for good. I’ve seen some pretty crappy former Queen’s in my time, here’s looking at you Cersei, but this wench takes it to another level. I had a visceral dislike for her and on that note what’s up with the Shaman. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the Shaman who pledged to protect the “moon who will embrace the sun?” at the very beginning of the show? I was not happy to see Yeon Woo die and I’m wondering now just where the hell does the show go? Unless I’m about to be swerved again in episode six I think I just saw our female lead get killed off. 0_o

There isn’t really much that strikes my mind about episode five. There really was not a whole lot going on outside of the tragedy that befell Yeon Woo and the fall out of her illness. I do wonder what Prince Yang Myung is going to do once he finds out she’s dead and how will this effect Lee Hwon. I’m kind of excited to get episode six out of the way and get the adult actors on screen. I’ve totally enjoyed the younger versions of the characters, but I need a time warp here so I can see Lee Hwon and Yang Myung kick some ass and fix this situation.

Next week, will I get to see Song Jae Rim and Kim Soo Hyun again? Lord, I hope so!

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Way Back Wednesdays – Bridal Mask – Episode 3

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So, Episode 3 of Bridal Mask was really difficult to get through. It’s excellently produced, but the content was just hard to watch.

Lee Kang To was such a jerk in this episode I wanted to scream. How can the first lead of a Korean drama be so mean? It’s a first for me. I can deal with flower boy chaebols acting like jerks, but I wasn’t expecting this. Joo Won is winning me over with his acting. He’s got the pissed off and shamed down to a science. He adequately displays a large range of emotions that sells his internal conflict with his situation. Sadly, his situation one far too many Koreans found themselves in during the Japanese Occupation. If he serves he may have a better life, but it’s one where he will always be looked down upon by one side as a dog and the other a traitor. Impossible situation.

I can’t see the lead of a show of this scope and popularity lasting with his pro Japanese mentality for long and expect Kang To to go through a major character development throughout the show. I can’t see a Korean, in a show that exaggerates Korean nationalistic pride, remaining as a Japanese military official for long. On the same note, how will it affect Kang To when he finally discovers Gaksital’s identity? I’ll be looking forward to that.

I really enjoyed seeing Park Ki Woong help Kim Ok Ryeon’s alter ego, Mok Dan, when she needed it most. It appears Park Ki Woong is portraying an ethnically Japanese character and for him to help out a wanted criminal is admirable.

The action sequences in this show…I don’t know if I should be impressed or laugh. They are so ridiculous and uber cool at the same time I laugh every time Gaskital flies through the air. I do however, like that his actions are larger than life and taken straight out of the best of Chinese action cinema. It’s effect leaves the show with a consistency you’d expect from a adaptation of a comic.

Overall, I’m still liking the show, but something did feel a bit off with the episode and I’m wondering if it’s intended as a set up for major events to take place in episode 4.

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Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing the Sun – Episode 3 & 4

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I had heard really good things about this show. It’s a drama that people still talk about years after it’s run, similar to Boys Over Flowers that is in many top drama lists. After finishing the third and fourth episodes I can see why. There is so much happening in each episode and so many characters to fall in love with and just a few worth despising.

The thing I’m liking most about the show are the sets and costumes. The sets are super traditional and look very authentic. I’m a big fan of historical East Asian architecture and design so being able to see so much from the Joseon dynasty is a special treat. Then the costumes…oh my Buddha, these costumes. Each scene is full of bright saturated color and the casts wardrobing is just spectacular. I especially like the costumes the princes wear when they aren’t doing something official.

I think I’m starting to figure out which younger version actor matches up with their older counterpart. At first I had thought Kim Soo Hyun would take over the Prince’s role, but after these last two episodes he seems like a likely candidate for the Crown Prince. The character I’m almost certain Song Jae Rim portrays is the tall silent kid. The one with few lines, but is sure to play a larger role as time goes on.

Can I just say…

The Queen Dowager has got to go! Don’t like her, she’s a traitor and a mean woman. I want to scream, “Off with her head!”

The only thing concerning me right now is the Two Suns/Moons thing. It’s obvious who these characters are, but I have a really and feeling that one of the princes isn’t going to end up doing to well by the end of the show. Which is sad, I really like both of these guys.

Also, how cute was Prince Lee Hwon when he inadvertently told Heo Yeon he loved him?!? The subtitles I saw, on Viki, could have used a little preface because the way Lee Hwon says, “I don’t want to lose you…and the second reason…I’m in love!” as he said would, in Korean, be interpreted that Lee Hwon says he loves Heo Yeon. It’s an understood language so not every idea expressed verbally is actually said. The subtitles made the misunderstanding a but overlooked. That’s an issue I’ve had with Viki subs in the past, but it’s a small quibble for such a great job.

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Way Back Wednesdays – Bridal Mask – Episode 2

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One of the major distinctions between Bridal Mask and Inspiring Generation I had read about and now after watching it’s first two episodes most excited to see is the more nationalistic slant the show takes on the 20th century Japanese occupation of Korea.  I don’t expect the show to be unbiased or cover much of the brutality the Koreans faced up.  After the second episode this is really where the difference between the two shows shines.

Inspiring Generation certainly had its brutal moments, but they were emotionally brutal because of the connection to its characters.  With Bridal Mask there are intensely brutal and inhumane moments for no other reason than that’s how it happened.  The Japanese controlled Korea as a police state (Military Police had free reign of the country and did ad they pleased) and when Asia is looked at as a whole is rivaled only by Nazi Germany in the number of lives taken during this horrifying time in history.  Bridal Mask isn’t a historical epic, say like Roots, explored U.S. slavery.  No, but it does bring to light some of the war crimes committed and in that way is much more akin to Django.  The show is definitely serious, but has a brevity about its overall production that makes it extremely watchable. 

Now that that’s out of the way how about these actors?!?

Joo Won is completely believable as Kang To.  I like that they’ve taken this character and put him front and center.  Many Koreans went to Japan or worked with the military during the occupation with nearly a million choosing to stay in Japan as permanent residents or citizens even after World War 2 was over.  It’s an interesting choice to put in the lead, but I expect that his intentions will change as the character progresses.  How can such a pro Korean pride drama showcase a Japanese adopter and sympathizer?  I see a switch coming!

Park Ki Woong, didn’t have as much to do in this episode, but I’m digging him.  He’s a good guy and I hope hell be a strong ally for Kang To.

Kim Ok Ryeon, my oh my, have you gotten your act together.  If you think of Jin Se Yeon’s character, Mok Dan, as Kim Ok Yeon before she makes it to Shanghai in Inspiring Generation she’s a lot of fun to watch.  That’s how I’m approaching the show, in fact.

So much time occurs during Inspiring Generation that there are gaps in the storyline.  In my mind I imagine the two shows occurring at the same time in two separate locations.  Plus, I’m really liking calling Mok Dan Kim Ok Ryeon. 

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Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing the Sun – Episode 2

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SPECIAL FRIDAY EDITION

I set out to check out an older show that I missed when it was currently airing on Wednesdays called Way Back Wednesdays that would feature period pieces.  Anything historical and anything that completed it’s run would apply.  I’ve never been much for historical or period dramas, but Inspiring Generation changed that for me.  

So, I started this new series with two dramas in mind, Bridal Mask and The Moon that Embraces the Sun.  Both are dramas I’ve heard folks talking about.  One has a storyline and setting similar to one of my favorite dramas of the year and the other is on many people’s top drama lists and features a cast of actors I adore.  There is something special about The Moon Embracing the Sun cast that drew me in.  The child actors and actors portraying the younger leads, they aren’t all kids, are incredibly talented.  Im Si Wan from Ze:A really impressed me.  I haven’t ever been a big fan of that group or seen any of his work, but boy oh boy is he a delight to watch as Heo Yeom.

Speaking of Heo Yeom…

Is this guy cool or what?  A seventeen year old scholar whose at the top of his class, passing the civil service exam and placing number one in literature.  If that weren’t impressive enough he’s got an aura about him that endears others to him.  His riddle for the prince was exceptional in its simplicity and what a way to win over a pompous little brat!  I’ve got high hopes for this guy.

The other standout is is sister, Heo Yeon Woo, played by Kim You Jung whom I’ve seen in many movies, but never a drama.  Most recently she blew me away in The Comitmment (2013) with T.O.P. and can recall seeing her all the way back in The Chaser in 2008 and Rainbow Eyes in 2007 where she played “the daughter”.  Kim You Jung has the acting chops to make the role work and does she ever work.  Her character isn’t the type I tend to like.  She’s too virtuous and kind hearted.  She’s incredibly smart (a trait I do appreciate), but not so much when it comes to the politics of being in the royal court.  That combination usually frustrates me because they tend to be taken advantage of, but in this case I think young Heo Yeon Woo may just come out on top.  She’s so good at being good I can’t help but like her.  

So there it is.  The house of Heo is where it’s at in this drama.  They’re a family I could look up to. Their children are admirable and their parents so far seem beyond reproach. The same can’t be said for their counterparts, whose name I don’t even know yet.  It’s safe to say, however, that their chief rivals are also their polar opposite.  It’s almost like watching a paired down version of Game of Thrones.  Poor poor Sansa…she was so close to being queen…oh wait, this isn’t a GoT post.  But, this familial rivalry I suspect, is the driving force behind the drama in this drama.  

To say I’m digging this show doesn’t even begin to apply.  I’m hooked.

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