- Overall 8.5
- Story 8.0
- Acting/Cast 9.5
- Music 10
- Rewatch Value 7.0
Hwarang was entertaining. It could have been better, but I liked it, and would recommend it to people who aren't looking for a historical drama that is really serious, political or intellectually stimulating and just want to watch something fun with actors that are nice to look at.
There is a little bit of everything in this drama - love triangle, bromance, political intrigue, martial arts. It is a lite-sageuk - where read more the love triangle and romantic angst take center stage for much of the drama - not much complexity. I don't mind that so much, but the main criticism I have for this drama is that it just gives a little bit of everything and could have amped up the drama, action, bromance, intrigue in the middle and given a little less of the romantic angst. There are plot holes, storylines left hanging and potentially juicy scenes that could have been shown, but weren't. It is the type of show that makes you feel frustrated with it's characters or inconsistencies, yet compels you to tune in every week anyway. So that says something. The actors do a good job with what they are given.
Beautiful to look at. The 2 main male leads are good and have charisma. I enjoyed the love triangle. The pacing and emotional impact of the drama starts off really strong and emotionally charged in the first several episodes, getting viewers invested in the characters and their dramatic backstories. You are introduced to a hidden king battling his fears and longing to be strong and good, a peasant with fighting skills and a noble heart, and a spunky heroine who tells racy stories in backrooms for money.
The middle episodes are disappointing and messy with the story stalling and going in circles a bit. The characters that were set up nicely in the beginning aren't given much to do. But the ending is redeeming and rewards viewers who held on til the end. The bromance is implied, but I wish there could have been more male bonding scenes. More rousing adventure and drama in the middle episodes would have amped up the quality of this drama considerably.
But I'm glad I watched it. It was fun.