For the first few episodes, the story might seem a bit confusing. We start 120 years ago and then in the span of one episode jump those 120 years forward. The world has changed, and yet has not changed at all! We see already familiar faces, but are they the people we think they are? Is everything we see how it seems and why is it twisted this way? However the further we are sucked into the world of this Joseon vampire fantasy, the more things start to make sense - even to the smallest detail.
The most wonderful thing about this particular story is how every single thing matters. Each small side plot, each character introduced, each emotion displayed, each decision made all come together in the end to form the final result. Even if at first they seem wrong and we curse at the characters, an episode later it all makes sense. The world is built so meticulously in this drama it makes the viewer believe in the story, in the characters and all things happening, which is a very masterful thing to do.
Unfortunately, like with most dramas, we cannot escape some cliches an avid drama watcher sees a mile away. It's a common known fact that it is not a real Korean drama if it does not have some of its classical cliches or tropes presented. In this case, however, the cliches do not deduct much from the actual story, which is crocheted together so beautifully it's hard to stop watching, as you just want to know what will happen next!
Romance, friendship, betrayal, questions of loyalty and honor all are looked at and explored in various ways, connecting them with the suspenseful fight against a pest trying to take control over the country. Gripping to the point it doesn't let you go even after it's over!
Hats off! That could sum up the work of the cast the easiest. Each role was as if perfectly tailored to the actor or rather the actor fit as perfectly as it's possible. Such a perfect match between the cast and the roles made watching their relationship develop on screen and amazing experience beyond belief.
Two stand-outs I would like to point out are definitely Lee JoonGi and Shim ChangMin for me. JoonGi we all know as an amazing actor who has proven himself in the industry. His dedication to each role to the point it's hard to tell where Joongi ends and the character starts. The stunt work he always does himself leaves everyone speechless. In this drama, he once more proves his name is a sign of the highest quality, by delivering the character perfectly. His eyes always tell a million stories and draw out each emotion as perfectly as an artist painting a scenery, which makes it impossible not to fall for the complex characters he plays - this being no exception. The viewer is pulled in by the pain, love, care, anger - every nuance displayed and it's a trap no one wants to get out of.
Shim ChangMin, more known as Max ChangMin from TVXQ, is nowhere near as experienced in acting as JoonGi, having only a few roles under his belt at the time and not all of them good, however, he fits the period of the drama and the mood unexpectedly well! Similarly to his sunbae, his eyes have the power to transfer emotions to the viewer directly, unmistakeably and makes one feel them along with him. Knowing how complex his character is and how many emotional things he has to go through, his acting was absolutely spot on, showing his talent with a huge potential to grow and continue developing his acting skills even more.
From heartfelt ballads sang by top stars, to suspenseful instrumentals and back to romantic pieces - the OST has it all! It is the perfect mood setter, each piece matched perfectly with certain moments in the drama - be the moments tragic, action-packed or romantic. It's something worthy of every day listen or when the mundane life needs to be spiced up with good, high-quality music. Fully available on Spotify, it is one of the best OSTs out there.
Overall, the drama has perfectly combined historical and mythical elements in a gripping and saturated but story that touches upon various subjects, while still following the main plot. Executed by amazing cast and crew, the drama is probably one of the best in the historical fantasy genre and definitely worth a watch!
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