Jo Yang Sun is the daughter of a nobleman whose family loses everything when her father is framed for treason. To make ends meet, Yang Sun begins cross-dressing as a male bookseller, and meets the handsome and mysterious scholar Kim Sung Yeol, who works at the Hongmungwan. Sung Yeol is a vampire, and he continues to be haunted by the long-ago death of his first love Lee Myung Hee, especially when hemeets Myung Hee's present-day look-alike Choi Hye Ryung, an aloof nobleman's daughter. Meanwhile, the evil vampire Gwi resides in the royal palace and uses his powers and political machinations to prevent the Crown Prince from ascending the throne. ~~ Based on a hit manhwa by Jo Joo Hee and Han Seung Hee.
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But it got a bit chaotic. The story went places I was skeptical about. So much noble sacrifice. So much angst that didn't really feel worth it and I longed for the tone in the beginning of the show again. (I'm not against angst, but you want it in proper meaningful doses not just as a go-to-tool to make you care more about characters you already care about). Also character voice-overs that sometimes added to a scene, but just stated the obvious in others. But I trusted it would be better, or at least a bit more happy (I loved the characters and wanted them to feel good), so I persisted.
A lot of people have complaints about the story and worldbuilding and I understand them. I'm usually pretty accepting when it comes to plotholes, inconcistensies etc, but there were quite a few here and I think they added to the less engaged feeling I had in the middle of the series. I also hear they changed the writer in the middle of the series, so that might have to do something with it.
I would say that the interactions between Lee Joon Gi's and Lee Yoo Bi's characters are what make this drama worth watching till the end, despite there being some tropes and effort to romantizise certain scenes (thanks to the music) that aren't really romantic (which is a pity, since there were plenty of beautifully romantic ones). But Lee Joon Gi and Lee Yoo Bi are so good that I just believed it all, and the supporting actors and their stories were really good too. There were also several scenes and dialogues that were really profound and touching.
And the fight and action scenes were really neat. Not to mention the costumes! Gorgeous.
I've seen a lot of people not liking the soundtrack. Granted, there were some weird music choices in some scenes and I think they could have used A LOT LESS love songs the second a romantic scene started (sometimes you should just let a scene speak for itself!). But, there was also some really epic soundtrack, I'm thinking of the instrumental tracks. (especially in action/epic scenes). The feeling of those tracks made me think of Peter Greenaway's music and a certain track by The Mutato Mu used in The Royal Tenenbaums (if anyone knows what I'm talking about). There were scenes where those tracks just enhanced them beautifully, so much that I went back and rewatched a couple of them just for the joy of it. (Too bad those tracks aren't included in the OST).
I would recommend this drama if you like Lee Joon Gi, great acting and touching romance and some epic scenes. If you demand a tight plot, consistent story and a great deal of thought between what's happening you might want to pass. (But then again, if you're a fan of Lee Joon Gi or Lee Yoo Bi, you might not ;) ).
I haven't watched a great deal of dramas (yet), so I'm new to k-drama-land and maybe that's also why I'm willing to overlook some tropes and inconsistensies. But for me, Lee Joon Gi and the other actors along with visuals and some of the music here is unmissable and what makes me willing to rewatch this again sometimes.
But just as I started it for LJK and stayed for LJK, LJK (with some help from Lee Soo Hyuk and even, gasp, Changmin) saved this one for me. If at any point LJK and LSH, and most of the other actors too, hadn't sold this to the hilt, it could have been the utterly crappy hot mess that Night Watchman was. But somehow their commitment to the roles, even when they got stupid, saved this drama.
But what also saved it was the last 4 episodes. The quality of those episodes clearly showed the writer DID have a plan. The writer just had trouble filling in the bits between A and B. The first 2 episodes were wonderful. The last 4 episodes were also very good. I could probably find 4 episodes in the middle that were not totally terrible. So if this drama had been 10 episodes it actually would have been pretty awesome. As it is, it's only okay, but brought to the level of better than okay because of the acting. If you love Lee Jun Ki as much as I do, you will still find something to love in this drama despite its MANY flaws.