Knife and Flower, an action/spy/romance drama, is set in the Koguryo period. It is about how Moo Seol, the daughter of King Young Ryu, falls in love with Yeon Choong, the child Yeon Gaesomun had with a concubine. But Moo Young debates whether she should have her revenge, as Yeon Gaesomun is the man who killed her father.
Yeon Choong, was born between a father of noble blood and a servant mother. Despite his talent, he finds he cannot rise higher in rank due to the fact that he is a concubine′s son. He is later ordered by his father to kill the person he loves, he defies his father’s orders to murder the daughter and travels between his love for his prey and his fealty towards his father.
Cast & Credits
What makes Knife and Flower most alluring will be cinematography. Only full length films can compare with the high quality and artistic direction which can be seen in this drama. Occasionally I tilted my head at an edit, but these moments can be counted on one hand. The world looks deep and authentic, though colors dictate mood and atmosphere. And how about the action scenes, you ask? More than impressive, since most of the actors appear trained and capable.
Like the introduction implies, Knife and Flower marries literary archetypes to elements of reality. Many characters actually existed and several events portrayed actually took place (albeit embellished for dramatic effect). The historical backdrop imparts solid atmosphere, bolstering weaknesses with varying potency. I loved how brutality and unrest, definitive of the times, was neither gratuitous nor shied from; the elegance of the story shines because of the deep tragedy marking it. Some problems exist, admittedly. As in Romeo and Juliet, the love line begins dubiously due to chemistry. The entirety of the "Golden Flower Agency" felt underdeveloped, despite its necessity to plot motion. Execution of the time skip initially had me frowning. In the end, everything comes to maturation with surprising clarity and beauty. The viewer will doubtlessly be bitten and drawn in before they even realize.
Performances in Knife and Flower are incredible, many perhaps even award worthy. Choi Min Soo, in his turn as infamous Yun Gae So Mun, hits the master class. He is mysterious, compelling, and intimidating; if a glance could kill, the entire region would drop dead. But the nuance Choi brings to the role could make even the real thing proud. Uhm Tae Woong and Kim Ok Bin are masters of speaking with the eyes. Reserved silence is required of them, but what isn't said is almost as powerful as the implicit. Others of note include No Min Woo (Nam Sang, of beautiful appearance and withered heart) and Ohn Joo Wan (Bo Jang, a more sympathetic echo of Hamlet).
Music must enhance, not get in the way. After the quirked eyebrow misses of the first episode, the soundtrack honestly excels at this. Orchestrations hit the right notes, especially those tied to suspenseful or moving scenes. Wax provides the tearful anthem "Dear Love," and with lyrics so lovely, whether or not it played meant the difference between dry and wet eyes.
What I didn't like was the romance. The leads weren't charasmatic and lacked chemistry. They both were much better in scenes with other actors. Together, they were annoying. Uhm Tae Woong is a much better actor than what he was in this. They introduced a couple of really great characters in the last few episodes that should have been introduced earlier. The series would have been the better for it. A few scenes could have been a little tighter and crisper.
All in all, I am glad I watched Blade & Petal. I was looking for revenge & fighting and I got it. I would rewatch scenes, but not the entire series. If you read a synopsis and thought it would follow the classic Romeo & Juliet path with romance seeping out of it's pores, go back and read it again because you missed something. If you appreciate a talented cast and good (not great but good) writing, and a production in it's totality, give it a whirl.