(1) The extent to which you'll enjoy this drama depends on whether you value IDEAS or EXECUTION. If you're the second kind of viewer, this show may drive you mad. The general consensus is that Scarlet Heart: Ryeo had a great story that was screwed up by messy editing/directing/pacing etc. and not enough space to tell it (20 episodes compared to the original 35-ep C-drama). I'm very sympathetic to this assessment.
However, I'm also the kind of viewer who will forgive a lot of flubbed execution for a really good idea, which this drama has in spades.
Scarlet Heart Ryeo is above all an *ambitious* drama, probably excessively so. The upshot is that it has possibly the most uneven execution and post-production editing ever committed... but at the same time some of the most complex and compelling character arcs I've come across in kdrama. It's not for nothing that the show has drawn such an unusual amount of discussion and fannish activity, especially internationally. (MLSHR was poorly received in Korea, but it is/was a certified international sensation, the first ever kdrama to make Tumblr trends, etc.)
(2) My other "disclaimer" for MLSHR is that it has a deeply cynical and subversive approach to romance. If you're looking for a fairytale where love conquers all, this is not the show for you. If you're looking for a classic tale of star-crossed lovers foiled by evil external forces... this is still not the show for you.
If, on the other hand, you're the sort to appreciate tragic missed opportunities of love driven by bad timing and fatal ***character flaws***, then Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is the Greek tragedy of your dreams (and/or nightmares). In a market saturated with wannabe Pride & Prejudices, Scarlet Heart Ryeo is out here being a totally unapologetic Wuthering Heights, which is pretty gutsy for a YA reverse-harem premise. (To be fair, they were working off of the Chinese novel, but they *could* have made it more public-friendly.)
Here's the bottom line: This drama is an acquired taste. If you're not a fan of tragedy or bloodbaths, if you need your female characters to be ~empowered~ and save the day, if you prefer people in love to be functional and communicate well — look elsewhere.
However, if you enjoy nonstop political scheming and backstabbing, majority-villain ensembles (including both male leads, arguably), and romantic narratives that reject relationship = identity myths, Scarlet Heart Ryeo is probably up your dark and twisted alley.
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So yes, saying that I was excited for Moon Lovers was putting it very mildly. I was exhilarated. Ecstatic. A lot more words with an E. And they made us wait even longer by making it a pre-produced drama and waiting a whole year before it actually came out.
But the best part? It didn't disappoint one bit. I mean, after such high expectations, it is only natural to feel a little let-down just because of all the hype you've been experiencing. But Moon Lovers actually ended up surpassing all my expectations. The drama was perfect from the beginning till the end.
Coming to the plot, it was extremely well-paced. I mean, for dramas it is rare to find such consistently well-paced dramas. Sometimes the beginning is not that good and sometimes the plot dies down after ep 12-16. But here, you never feel like there is too much or too little. It is really hard to skip anything. You just don't want to. Another important fact is that because an older version is already out there, viewers are prepared for a possibly sad/tragic ending. Even if you come without knowing anything about the parent story, the vibe of the show itself whispers the possibility of an un-fairytale-like outcome. There is an intense and gloomy feeling in the show.
The characters are the strength of the drama. I mean, can we talk about the fourth Prince? He is going down in history as one of my favorite characters ever. Firstly, he is so sexy. I mean, you simply can't get enough of him. I have never really been into Lee Jun Ki before but after this, I plan to check out all his dramas. I have seen a couple of his shows but I never realized he was THIS good. The character of Wang So is so complex and so hard to deliver. And yet, Lee Jun Ki plays him so effortlessly, becoming one with the character. What is even more surprising is that he is such a cutie in real life (lol). I really don't know anyone more perfect for this role. I mean, Kang Ha Neul's character turned to the dark side too but it was nothing compared to Wang So. Wang So was simply..addictive!
Coming for Hae Soo. IU faced a lot of flack for her poor acting skills but I felt she was good in her role. I mean, she wasn't as good as Jun Ki or Ha Neul but she did really well. You could feel her transformation from a 21st century person to Goryeo lady to a woman with a lot of scarring experiences. In her previous works she has only done cutesy roles. I really enjoyed her work in this, she showed her versatility as a serious actor. The 13th Prince. He was gentle and kind and the most perfect friend. I loved his chemistry with Woo Hee. It was surprisingly great!
Wang Eun was a big baby but he was a sweetheart too. I wouldn't say Baek Hyun is a good actor but he was given an easy role and it was handled well. Ji Soo was a delight to watch! So far I have loved him in all his roles (I think I have watched everything he has starred in). The rest of the cast was really good too. My favorite among supporting characters was General Park. His acting was so on-point even though he only starred for a few episodes. I liked his daughter too. Ji Mong was a delight to watch. And court lady Oh Sang Goong, I loved her! I can really go on and on about the characters - the good ones and the bad ones, all did well. The acting was so good here, I just couldn't get enough of it. I cried with them and laughed with them.
The music. OH MAN, the music. I love each and every song. This hasn't happened to me since Dream High (I think). I really can't pick a song that I like more than the other.
I am definitely DEFINITELY rewatching this. I know for sure.
The biggest tragedy that comes out of this drama is that the Korean audience could not fully appreciate the perfection that this drama was. The ratings were so low there. Thankfully, it did well everywhere else and made up for it.
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I started watching it because maybe I was bored in this moment with my life, and this drama seemed to be interesting... Actually it was my first ongoing drama - usually I hate this, I need it all and now:) And for this drama wait for a next week was really torture! I also want say, that I'm not a person who likes those heavy dramas and movies, with peope dying or just shows you reality of shitty life...It has to be very good for me to watch something sad! For me watching dramas is the opposite - escaping from reality.. But I also like watch something that gets to your heart and makes you think! And SHR is exactly the case!
Actually it starts very lightly and for a first episodes you feel that you're watching romantic comedy with elements of time travelling and lots of eye candies :) Who wouldn't watch this? :) But even in these moments you can feel a very good story coming! From the start you are intrigued with the characters, especially a 4th prince, of course, who just stilling the show from the very first ( and I would say, very last moment)!
And then, with every coming episode, drama starts to get more serious, but not heavy serious - just ... growing up :) And even if it feels harsh sometimes, you are already so into this, so you don't want to leave it, you're totally addicted and everything just feels right! I think the secret ingredient in SHR, and is the first time I felt it so strong in K drama, is that the characters are portrayed so real, that you start thinking about them as you were know them in a real life! And we are talking about HISTORICAL FANTASY DRAMA! But the characters are so damn real!..
OK, the love story... I don't understand how some people say that there wasn't enough chemistry between them?? Common - have you seen the number of fan fiction and videos in youtube about this couple? And most of them were done before this drama even came to the middle! there can be a lot of opinions about everything, but I think one thing is for sure - the couple with no chemistry would never provoke such a storm and make people literately loose their minds:) I am one of them, so I permite myself to say it :) For me, it was the most powerfull love story, at least in K- drama! Before SHR it wasThe Princess Man, and I still love this drama, and maybe it wins SHR in some points, but the leads in SHR.. just stole it! I mean they are two completely opposites who complete each other in such perfection! Everyone of them has a strong character, totally different, and you can just feel the interaction and how they affect each other, it's just amazing! They look beautiful together, and you also like them apart! Their love is not some cheesy fairy tale, witch I hate, this actually perfect written story about two people starting to know each other,with their flows, they become closer and it takes them some time to get together, but the chemistry is so strong that you can't wait for this! You just have to watch it to see what these two do to you! Prepare for some tears, but you won't regret it! It've been more then two weeks since the drama ended, and I was on the trip, but I am still thinking about them, and when I hear a good love song, they are the first who come to my mind! :)
The overall story - it doesn't give you a minute to rest! Maybe you not realise it in the first episodes, but everything in this drama is very well connected! Nothing happens because it just happens, even the most silly moment, you will find it in deja vu later! Everything will find their closure. It has it all, and in proportions - an action, a drama, a comedy, a romance, a tragedy... Everything has it moment, like in the real life...
And another thing I really liked - you can actually see the characters develope and grow up with the time!
The acting - for me everybody were good in their roles, someones were brilliant, but I want to mention just Lee Jun Ki, who slayed it, killed it, and left all of us on the flour! Wang So is amazing, stunning, attractive, and he is most real of all the characters! I felt so related to him sometimes, with his loneliness, his wish to be loved, and and everything he does, he does to the end-be it love or hate! If he loves you, he will die for you, and if he hates you, you better step aside! :) He is outsider, but not loser, his willpower is amazing, you can see him sad, but never giving up, he starts in the shadows, but finishes overshining them all! Even if it only because of him, this drama is worth watching!
Well, I think, I said enough allready, maybe it was overreacted sometimes, but they are my feelings, I'd say just part of them:) If I'd write my every emotion for this drama, one review won't be enough:)
So, if you looking for a drama with a good story, beautiful scenery, touching love story, some action, some laugh, some tears and tones of emotions, watch Scarlett Heart Ryeo!
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This review may contain spoilersAs a fan of C-BBJX, and watched both version til the end. I can't help to compare these two. Warning : i might write some SPOILERS without realising.
I'm disappointed with this version, the story is one of the main reason. C-BBJX shows lot of brotherhood of the 4th prince and 13th prince, strong friendship between female main lead and 13th prince, the relation between female main lead and the (late) king - how the king loved her as his own child, how the female lead loved, respected him, yet was afraid of him at the same time. Butt in this version, 80% of the story is about 4th prince and 8th prince's romance with the female lead.
The story pace of K-BBJX is also a problem, The first 8 or 10 episodes were filled with 8th prince and Hae Soo romance story, not a bad thing, but the last 10 episodes flows so quick that left so many questions.
I also despise how they change K-8th prince's character all of sudden (from good to bad to not so bad). In C-BBJX, he was ambitious and honest from the start that he wanted to be king. But after the 4th prince became king, he obeyed the king and started to lived peacefully with his wife (loved it when he realised that his 1st fujin was the one who always with him, and treated her with love), and left good impression at the end. C-BBJX is more realistic, they show that not everybody are 100% bad or good, they have reasons why they become what they are.
Despite Lee jun ki and Kang ha neul, i think the others are failed to deliver the character.
I never hate when idols or flower boys dominate the dramas, but i always hope that they can deliver the character well.
IU really didn't convince me anything, especially in the last episode. Jisoo is not much different than IU, i heard that he's a good actor based on his late works, but i have to disagree if i judge from this drama.
One thing i love from this version is the songs! I love almost all of the OSTs.
Rewatch value :
Instead of wasting another 20 hours of my life for this, i prefer to waste it on C-BBJX.
I'm a fan of Chinese Scarlet Heart, so i was exited when they announced that they would remake into Korean versions. But now i end up disappointed because of the story mess and the actings. But the cinematography in this version is better (not much better, i don't like so many close up shoots) than the C-BBJX.
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To start off with a nicer note, I'll talk about the drama's one and only saving grace: Lee Jun Ki. I am going to be honest, this was my first time watching him, and I was simply impressed. Not only is he a beautiful, beautiful man; he can also act like nobody's business. I also believe that even though he wasn't given much to work with, he tried his level best. And it showed, for the 4th Prince was the only character who I felt somewhat connected to. For me, this was a total case of liking the actor better than the character.
Next, I'd like to come at the people who gave so much flak to IU for her acting. Like, why y'all tripping? I mean her role wasn't even that hard, neither was it anything special. It was the same old 'bumbling, fumbling, self-righteous Mother Theresa level goodness' shebang that we've seen a billion times before. Every other actress in every other drama is doing it. It doesn't even require that much effort and for what it's worth I think IU handled it quite gracefully. People simply want to jump on the bandwagon of the 'singers can't act' stereotype and bash her, while ignoring the other much bigger problems with the show.
Speaking of problems, to be frank, this has to be one of the worst written shows I have ever watched. It's like the author had this vague idea of how to begin and how to end and so she bullshitted through the road in-between.
There is no character development whatsoever and convenient plot-lines are used time and time again to further the plot.
Want to give our hero the run-of-the-mill tragic pariah look?
No problem! Let's riddle him with some mommy issues and a scar to match.
Want to show our heroine change the hero's life by covering up that scar? Alrighty, let's make our heroine a cosmetician!
Want to show that everybody loves our heroine?
Let's make a harem of princes, throw some half hearted moments between them and take a leap; suggesting that they are suddenly so close that they would die for her!
The story is lacking villains?
Ugh, why not just bring back one that we already killed and got rid of before? We will just deem it a miracle of sorts and call it a day. Haha.
Uh oh, did our cranial light bulbs just fuse and we don't know how to prolong the show to 20 fucking episodes?
Nevermind. We always have good old flashbacks to help us through.
God, what a clusterfuck.
Everything was rushed and carelessly executed. They killed people just for emotional appeal. The relationships between characters wasn't fully explored. I mean, do you really expect my peepers to gush a waterfall if you scarcely show me a character; just enough so that he'll be in mind but not enough so that I would actually come to care for him, then in one random episode you show nothing but him and quickly kill him in the next to tug at my heartstrings? Nah boo.
Scarlet Heart was the definition of an ostentatious production. There was loud music flaring up out of nowhere to make scenes more dramatic, over-acting done by a lot of actors and numerous in your face close-up scenes. All these antics did well to suck up authenticity from the show and what you were left with in the end was superficial characters that are only pretty to look at.
Even the 4th Prince had major inconsistencies throughout. Many times, he seemed like a dumbed down version of Bidam from Queen Seon Duk. Thank goodness for LJK and his roguish charm, that he somehow managed to carry the show on his shoulders but ofcourse, one poor soul can do only so much.
The OST while itself brilliant, was also highly inappropriate for the time setting of the show. Do you really want me to swallow that a court lady in 18th, 19th century Goreo would be nodding her head and singing 'My Baby baby boy' in her moving carriage? Sorry, but I'm choking.
The story flows in fits and starts and the poorly executed time jumps don't necessarily help the case. Some aspects of the storyline had so much potential but the writers failed to tap into it. You could say that some scenes were well executed individually but they fell short at fitting together as a bigger picture.
It was crazy how sometimes, so much attention would be given to a supporting role and the main one's would be ignored. Or how important scenes would be inexplicably rushed while things that would be completely random would take up so much screen-time. The jumbled motivations and the fickle thought processes of all the characters reflected the confused mind of the writer.
When a show tries to elaborately sell me the fact that characters can fall from cliffs, get poisoned and stabbed in the heart and still survive, you know what, with some grievances intact I might actually buy it. But when the same show also tries to tell me that someone who got their knee banged up a bit years ago might, out of nowhere, lose the ability to walk or that heart-ache can cause people to have chronic heart diseases, I'm sorry but I'd just have to call the bullshit out.
Even though it was labeled as a period drama, it seemed like a parody of the genre. There were no intelligent palace politics or court intrigue. No cultural focus or attention to detail. All the antagonists were hare-brained idiots and the biggest enemy the good guys had to face was their own stupidity. Needless to say, they lost to it.
I don't consider myself a particularly hard person to move. Often little things touch me deeply and bring tears to my eyes but in this show- all these character deaths and tragedies- all I felt was a vague sense of detachment.
I am not gonna lie, the love story sure was cute. No matter how over-rated they get 'good girl-bad boy' romances will always have allure. And since the romance was all the drama had going for it, I'll give acknowledgment where it's due. There were scenes that made me smile and swoon but they weren't nearly enough to overcome all the weaknesses of the show.
Normally, I would give a show like this a much poorer rating but it's solely because of my love for LJK that I brought it up a notch. Also, I have to say that despite all its flaws, it did make me watch to the end. So all in all, you should enjoy Moon Lovers like you would enjoy a toddler's company: by being indulgent and not taking it too seriously.
P.S: Go easy on the 'This ain't helpful' button. I know this drama is a crowd favorite but I gotta tell as I feel it is. :)))
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This review may contain spoilersThe Good:
I'm having trouble coming up with things for this one. I think very often it's easy to overlook a drama's strong points because its flaws are so obvious. It is especially so for Moon Lovers. And so I'll acknowledge that this review perhaps isn't really that great of a reflection of the quality of the drama.
Firstly, I think the drama did a pretty good job in executing several parts of the story, particularly when the supporting characters die. I think that's partly due to the actors' portrayals, and partly because the writer seemed to have gotten his grip on at the right moments. It would have been great if the writing was more consistent throughout the drama. If the drama managed to relay such poignant emotions more frequently I wouldn't have felt as detached from the story. In any case, I think those scenes were possibly the most awesome scenes in the drama.
Next, Lee Jun-ki. I'm certainly biased, but I think he delivered his character well, especially during the more emotional scenes. I can't elaborate more since I don't want to spoil the story. I also appreciated his cleaned-up look after he became emperor. It was about a thousand times better than that side-swept fringe hairstyle. I'm not that fond of his acting as a "blood-thirsty" emperor however. I like how his expressions changed, but imo he overacted a little when trying to portray Wang So's darker side. I also think Hong Jong-hyun was pretty good in his role as well. All in all, I don't think the acting was deserving of all the criticisms it was subjected to. I won't deny that there are some jarring scenes here and there because of "not-so-great" acting, but on the whole it was pretty watchable as far as I'm concerned and the actors did improve.
Lastly, the romance. I don't think the chemistry was great. However, there were certain scenes which were really cute. I'm personally not a huge fan of lovelines actually, but people who like to watch romance scenes will like it. It's a pity that a couple of scenes were cut from the international version, and you have to scour the Internet to look for the SBS version.
I think they got the OST choices very, very wrong. I'm personally not a fan of rap songs, and I don't think rap songs have a place in a historical drama anyway. The music was really annoying in some of the scenes because of this. Also, the fact that there were English lyrics in a couple of others as well. However, I did give a high score to the music because:
1. The "dadada" song was really catchy, despite the fact that it's not very suitable for the drama.
2. I also liked My Love by Lee Hi and Wind by Jung Seung-hwan.
3. Im Sun-hye's Will Be Back was really really really good. Not something I'll listen to in my spare time, but I felt it added value to the drama.
And seeing how they phased out the more unsuitable songs towards the end, I'm alright with giving them a higher score.
Many people have also complained about the directing. I have to say, I was actually overwhelmed by it at the start. I loved the shot with Wang So riding away from the eclipse. It was beautiful. Till I realised that that's perhaps the only redeeming scene. A lot of close-ups were wholly unnecessary. I don't mind that the director likes to take close-up shots, but I think it should be done in moderation, and only when it's contributing to the drama. The poor directing and editing knocked a lot of points off this drama.
Also, this may seem like a minor point, but despite it being a high budget production they didn't invest a lot in calefares. I understand that they wanted to put focus on the main characters, but does it make sense that no one is on the streets when Wang So and Hae Soo snuck out? I thought a festival was supposed to be ongoing but there wasn't even a soul on the streets. It just seemed too "cold" because there were only the two of them.
The writing really let the drama down. I was actually looking forward to more political intrigues, a stronger heroine, better character development in general, and more cohesiveness.
I don't know what the writer was thinking of when he/she first starting conceptualising the characters. They had to dig into Kdrama tropes and hand Wang So a parent issue right at the start. Was that necessary? Was it necessary to give him a scar too? I think the writer was trying very hard to plant conflicts, but it didn't work to plan. And because of the scar, they made the female lead a cosmetics saleswoman. Not very useful in the ancient times. In fact (minor spoiler), it's was awkwardly hilarious that at the end they spoke about how Goryeo was very advanced in terms of cosmetics and tea culture. Riiiiiiight. Furthermore, Hae Soo wasn't the female lead I expected as well. I wanted a stronger, smarter, more independent female lead. Plus the fact that all the princes were crazy for love made them seem like really superficial characters. Personally, if your only motivation to fight for the throne is love, I absolutely will not love you. That's just too lame a reason.
Characters aside, I also have qualms about how they choose to leave out certain scenes. A lot of scenes were left to the viewers' imaginations, and that made the show really incoherent. At the very least they should have added in some of the more important scenes. How Wang So got the throne and all was pretty poorly thought out. The time skips weren't handled well as well (though the same can be said of the Chinese version). They were just there to advance the story so that the next scene can be played out, but the characters didn't really grow or change. Side plots such as the Baek-ah and Woo-hee story line was also choppy and they were given what I'd consider a slipshod ending that didn't make much sense.
The drama is just disappointing. I expected a lot from it, but I don't think the fact that it was a pre-production did anything for it, nor the fact that it was a high-budget production because that totally didn't show. I think it may be worth a look if you like any of the actors, but that's about it.
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I have been pleasantly surprised at every turn when it comes to the drama. The story was so beautifully unfolded that I didn't even realize I had spent 20 hours watching it. The pace was so thrilling, the sub-plots so well blended with one another, the twists were thrilling, it was a memorable journey from the first scene till the last. The way the writers have handled all the characters and their individual stories as well is commendable. I found myself warming up to the characters unexpectedly. Until the very end I was skeptical, rational and kept my wits, but the finale did it. Such a marvelous beauty. It's going to be a long, long time before I forget the characters, the story or this drama.
I won't lie. Lee Joon Ki drew me into the drama. I probably wouldn't have picked this amazing drama up in the first place if it hadn't been for him. I might have missed out, but then I think it is safe to say that one of the MAJOR reasons this show was so unforgettable was because of him. I haven't seen such a powerful performance by an actor in such a long time. He made me feel bad for him, he made me fall for him, he made me laugh, he made me hate him, he made me cry with him. Until the very end, this guy held my attention like my life depended on it. IU was so so SO GOOD! I was pleasantly surprised by her dynamic acting. I'd only seen her in Bel Ami and it wasn't really a.. stellar show to say the least, but she gave such a brilliant portrayal of an amazingly strong character. I'd say nice things about all the cast and end up writing a 10 page review, so I'll just sum it up by saying that except maybe a little overacting on the part of a few people who were playing the roles of pedestrians on the streets, remarkable acting on everyone's part! (I hope you got that joke :3 )
I'm currently listening to at least 4 of the OSTs on loop since the last few hours. Hauntingly beautiful pieces were created for this drama I must say. A couple of them raised goosebumps on my arm. Even if you don't feel like watching this show (although you must!), you should definitely listen to the soundtracks, they're that good.
I would start re-watching this right this instant, but I won't. Solely because I am now waiting for a second season to this drama. I really really hope they make one. I'd read the reviews and comments while watching it and people were really sad in general. They kept saying how this was such a sad drama and a tragedy. It was, but it was also breathtakingly beautiful. I'm tearing up just remembering it. The love between the characters, be it Wang So and Hae Soo, or the brothers (the ones who got along anyway), or the families, was heart-wrenching. I'm definitely rewatching this show even if the second season doesn't come out (but please SBS make the second season! *kneels and begs*).
I have been shaken up by this show in a hundred ways. I love it when a drama I don't expect to be good turns out to be one of the best shows I have seen in my life. It was so human, so real. All the people in it were human, they made mistakes, they had flaws, they loved, they hated, they were weak, but they were also really strong. I'd recommend this drama to everyone, regardless of your favorite genre. It deserves to be seen. You might not like it (I bet you will though), but you won't be able to forget it.
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I still can't get over it. I can watch this over and over again and destroy myself over and over again.
Story => Ehhh, I didn't give a perfect score because like many people thought, it was a bit weird and rushed at the end, but it's not bad. I still find it great and it still stirred a lot of things inside of me.
I wish they did the lotus pond scene and more of the forehead tapping like they did in the original Bu Bu Jing Xin.
Characters => Wang So (4th Prince) hands down, is the BEST male character of all time in any work of fiction. I love how (unlike in Eternal Love,) So's purpose was not to just serve as a love interest for Hae Soo but that he's a fantastic and substantial character all on his own with his own multi-dimensional personality, goals and feelings like a normal human being should.
Hae Soo was a cute and relatable female character. I feel that she should have been a bit more feisty like Rouxi was, but she's not bad.
Acting => Lee Joon Gi alone stole the show. The show would have been nothing without him. He completely owned the role of the 4th Prince and I can see no one else playing him as magnificent, charismatic and emotions- inducing. Sorry, Nicky Wu.
IU was also great. I don't know why people did not like her acting. I thought she conveyed her emotions perfectly and naturally.
Music => 10/10. No complaints. I like how it's a balanced mix of historical music and modern day music to fit the plot/theme/premise of the whole story.
Rewatch Value => I literally forced my parents and all my friends to watch this. What do you think?
Overall => Still can't get over it. Will never get over it.
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Let me just start off by saying that I had been waiting for this drama to air since late last year, when it was first announced. When the first of January arrived, I was excited, but then my soul was crushed when I found out that it was to be pre-produced and that while the shooting began in early January, the actual drama would not air until August. I thought I was going to die! >_<
Finally, August 29th arrived, and with it, the airing of the very first episode. I was immediately captivated and hooked. The original Scarlet Heart is one of my favorite dramas, so I was really looking forward to the Korean adaption. I was *not* disappointed at all. I stayed hooked and obsessed with this drama the entire way through.
This was an adaption, so even I was a little unsure how faithful to the original it would be. There were a couple of times I was sincerely worried that it was going to veer off course, but my fears there were proven to be groundless. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goreyo truly impressed me with how faithful it stayed to the original story while adapting it to real, actual Goreyo history. There were a couple of things it did leave out that did disappointment me, however. The relationship between 4th Prince and 13th Prince was not shown as often as in the original, at least in the earlier episodes. It made up for it in the latter episodes, though, plus, having only 20 episodes, extra things being cut down is understandable. The only other missing piece for me is very minor, but still felt like an endearing part was left out. In the original, 4th Prince had a habit of teasing the female lead by thumping her on her forhead. Here in Moon Lovers, that only occurs once, and it is a light smack on the head instead. I missed the thumps very much! :(
I sincerely think that the whole cast was excellent. Especially Lee Joon Gi as 4th Prince Wang So. This man is my bias, it is true, but here in this role, it is easy to understand why. He is, quite blunty, amazing in this. He dominates every scene he is in. His emotions are raw and heartwrenching and I daresay he deserves a best actor award this year for this.
IU as Hae Soo was very good, as well. During the airing, a lot of netizens were putting her down and criticizing her acting, but I think she was great. Honestly, the Korean version of this character was written differently than the Chinese version. She was not nearly as strong or independant, so that is a reason in the writing, not IU's acting. I liked her here.
Kang Ha Neul as 8th Prince Wang Wook was truly impressive. I have always liked him, but he really blew me away here with his portrayal of hopeless romantic turned manipulative bastard. He really shines here, especially as he evolved into the antagonist.
Baekhyun as 10th Prince deserves a mention here too. Despite also getting a lot of grief from netizens, I was truly impressed with him and how he acted here. I wonder how many of those that shamed him had ever even seen the original Scarlet Heart or even knew what sort of character 10th Prince was, because Baekhyun was absolutely perfect! The character of 10th Prince is, frankly speaking, childish and not very smart. He is overly enthusiastic and quick to respond, but slow to 'get' things. Baekhyun portrayed this perfectly and it was not a lack of talent at all, in my opinion, but a truely legitimate rendition of the character. I say this, by the way, as someone who does not follow K Pop at all and whose only knowledge of EXO is what my friends post on the feeds here and the song that was used in this drama.
Hong Jong Hyun as 3rd Prince impressed me as well. I knew who he was before, had seen him around, but he never really stood out to me before this. He was wonderfully manipulative and evil here, plus he shows a wonderful range of conflicting emotions as his character evolves. He makes a great bad boy and looks *very* sexy in guyliner.
The music was great. I fell in love with every OST that was released. Even though it was, essentially, a historical drama, most of the non instrumental songs were modern K Pop. However, I found it a lovely paradox that fit very well, given that the heroine is a time traveller from our modern times. As the story goes on, she adapts so well to her new home in that time period that it is almost possible to forget that she doesn't really belong there. The music that plays during the drama feels like a reminder of this fact. It is like a link from the Goreyo period to modern times.
In the end, I enjoyed this drama more than any other drama this year, and more than all other dramas I have seen thus far. There are some things that I feel did not quite match up to the original, but then there are also aspects I felt were better. After thinking on it a good while, I have decided that I liked this Korean version even more than the Chinese version. For me personally, I feel I was more emotionally invested and it just seemed to hit me harder. It has earned the #1 spot on My Favorites list. It has made me feel a range of emotions, starting even before it ever aired. It has both enthralled and enchanted me. It also broke my heart. Very few dramas have ever actually made my heart flutter or truly brought me tears. Moon Lovers was one that accomplished that. Now that it is all over, I am left in a daze, not knowing what to do next, just as I was after completing the first Scarlet Heart. I do not often rewatch dramas, especially the very emotional ones, but I feel like this one will end up being an exception. It is hard to say goodbye to it and let go. For me, Moon Lovers is a masterpiece.
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I thought the best part of this drama was Lee Joon Gi and his portrayal of Wang So. Wang So is my ideal drama lead. He's incredibly sad, has a laundry list of deep personal issues, and underneath it all a heart of gold. He is desperately lonely throughout the majority of the show and any time he seems to clutch happiness it's ripped away from him. I love anything sad so this is perfect for me. Lee Joon Gi captured my heart in this drama. I cried even when he smiled. I cried for three straight days and still cry when I listen to Will Be Back. I watched this drama over a year ago and yet I still think about it constantly. Most of those thoughts revolve around Wang So; that is truly how compelling I found him. Watching the character development So goes through was amazing. He is almost unrecognizable in the 16th episode compared to the 1st. The adorable moments with IU's Hae Soo brought the character fully to life. I truly believed in their love by the drama's conclusion. They made me want that love for myself.
On the note of Hae Soo her character is also worth discussing. I am a huge IU fan. I say that outright because my analysis of her acting will undoubtedly be influenced by my opinions of her as a singer. I personally thought Hae Soo was adorable. Her interactions with all the princes was very sweet and she had a very kind disposition. That being said I know IU is not the world's best actress. Hae Soo as a character was also very stagnant and had the misfortune of being the 'positive thinking female in the face of adversity' trope come to life; literally nothing that happened could break her spirit and it eventually came off as rather ridiculous. She was also unfortunately caught in a reverse harem that I wanted no part of. I chose to ignore this and focus on the main romance but I can see this being a major annoyance for some. Overall I felt she served her function well and highlighted So, the princes, and the plot perfectly.
Overall I loved this drama for the little moments. The brotherly interactions with the princes, the private scenes of love, the small gestures of kindness and warmth between all of the characters. The plot as a whole was nothing spectacular and the ending leaves a sour unfinished taste in one's mouth. Even with all of that I loved this show. The princes were funny, cute, melancholy, sweet, loving, caring, devious, and everything in between and Hae Soo (mostly) lived my dream. If you're looking for a fun light hearted drama that is 30% sad, 20% funny, 20% heart warming, and 30% meme this is the right one for you.
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This review may contain spoilersLet me start saying I didn't watch the other remake (or even the original one) or read the novel, so it was the first drama I watched with this story that was told plenty of times. And let me say this made me want to watch everything (including the chinese original, saddly I didn't find it yet).
Scalert Heart has an overused plot, or at least that's the impression I've got after reading so many chinese novels with almost the exact same description. However, instead of China, it takes place in Goryeo and, unlike many heroines I've seen in these kind of novels, the main character seems rather docile and ingenue. Althought don't be fooled! This drama is a rollercoaster and it will make you cry more than an infant.
Let's start with the acting: what can I say except superb? I know that IU was not great at all, but at least she made a half decent job in some scenes, and her forever frightened face kind of mixed well with other scenes too. But the real star I'm talking about here is none other than Lee Joon Gi and his portrayal of the dark, traumatized and passionate Wang So. Seriously, he got me crying, smiling, squirming and cheering for him even though his decisions and actions weren't always likeable. And let me say that it's very difficult for me to feel this way about a character.
Other thing I really liked on this drama was how morally ambiguous every character was. Even some characters I didn't like from the beginning, I felt some sort of empathy for them (except Wang So's mother, that bitch). And their morally ambiguity is more than justified given how living on a palace, pratically sparring for the throne, is stressing. Really, I also liked how Hae Soo's love interest changed through episodes, which gave us a really well done love triangle. One thing I always hated on kdramas was how most of the time the second lead has no space on the female lead's heart except friendship, but this one did a good job by balancing both love interests instead of doing one-sided crushes.
The music was also addictive and made me feel warm and sad at the same time. I know it seems strange to mix such modern and upbeat music to a historical drama, but everything was mixed so well it gave me not only good additions to my playlist, but also made some scenes seem so much sweeter.
My only major complaint though, was how they dealt with Soo's time traveling and adjusting to a whole different era. It was like they began to develop it on the first few episodes, but then suddenly she was already used to everything and how everything worked. It just didn't feel realistic at all. I understand that with her more submissive, sensitive demeanor she can blend in easier, but her life suddenly changing from one thing to another was mostly handwaved.
And now to finish this review, I'll talk about the ending(spoiler free): I know many may complain about it, and I agree in some parts, but overall I think it was great. It gave me the goosebumps, made me cry a river, but still I wouldn't change a thing. That's how I feel about this drama: sure it had it's flaws, but the overall picture was so well done, it made me cry and have the feels for at least two days. Not every drama makes me like that.
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Moon Lovers is a remake of a Chinese drama with its story modified to fit the Goryeo setting. This one is a challenging story to execute with a lot of Goryeo princes to build up (and destroy too) and a modern girl transported to live in their period. I love how refreshing the first few episodes were. A female-centric story just lost its way along the way. I'd like to think that these amazing actors are shooting a different drama at some point because sometimes I don't even understand why a certain character acted that way. At some point some of the characters just went incoherent and crazy.
It's very rare to assemble such amazing cast and they really did a good job. I love Lee Jun-ki even before and I rarely watch sageuk, but if it's him, I'll surely try it out. Kang Haneul is the best! I've seen him in his other dramas but he just made me amazed in him. I'm totally sold with Wook's love story with Soo. I like Nam Joo-hyuk here as the only brother who's close with So and the bromance he briefly shared with Jung. There's a lot of amazing cast that I will no longer mention all of them. Even the portrayal of Yeon Hwa and the Queen Mother is an act to behold.
I love the story, the cast and acting, the music, the cinematography (I'm talking about shots of landscapes here), all of which are almost perfect for me.
What I really don't like about this is how the direction of the drama went. I don't think that this is a matter of messy writing cause I believe there's a limit on how a good drama can be ruined. The drama's greatest flaw will definitely be its editing which is a big part of its directing. I think SBS learned their lesson on having a fully pre-produced drama that came out half-baked. The confusion it cause when we had two different versions for a single version will never be justified. It may be unfair to the drama to be evaluated because of these things but since watching Korean drama should be a wholistic experience, I can't just ignore it.
I finished this drama definitely because of the great actors in it. Such an amazing display of talent there is in Korea. I will forever treasure it's characters and remember them on those bright moments at the beginning of the drama.
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