“You can lower your head, but don’t ever lose your focus.”
I purposely put this drama on hold because I knew I’d get addicted and alas, I know myself all too well. For, I viewed all released episodes to broadcast in three and a half days. The show is that good. I have no intention of telling you everything about the show, ’cause I want you to see it in action for yourself, but I’ll give a little rundown, to hopefully entice you to sit through at least one episode. It’s so worth it.
[Please check out the list to the right of the blog for torrents, subtitles and any other files relating to this drama. If you are in the US watch here.]
Story and Setting– Based on, Yanoe Baek Dong Soo, the manhwa pinned by Lee Jae-Hyun, this story is set in the Joseon era, named after legendary a martial arts guide writer. It begins in 1743 during King Jeongjo’s reign and depicts the inception of Crown Prince Sado’s infamous conspiracy. Dong Soo leads a faction that defends King Jeongjo against a sect of assassins warranted in a plot to kill the King.
Airdate/time– SBS Monday and Tuesday at 9:55 pm KST (July 24-Sept 20, 2011)
Baek Dong Soo (Ji Chang Wook)
“I am Baek Dong Soo. The world’s number one Baek Dong Soo.” episode 3
Yeo Un (Yoo Seung Ho)
“Knowing(the truth)or not, does make a difference.” episode 8
Hwang Jin Joo (Yoon So Yi)
“Although I’ll dirty my hands being a thief, I’d never dirty my mouth.” episode 6
Yoo Ji Sun (Shin Hyun Bin)
“Emotions such as fear, I’ve abandoned them along time ago.” episode 6
Chun (Choi Min Soo)
“You can’t take you’re own life. This is the life of an assassin. Assassin and warrior, I still don’t know that difference, but the life of an assassin I know well– it’s pain. Embracing someone’s else’s pain as your own– that’s the life of an assassin.” episode 8
Kim Gwang Taek (Jun Kwang Ryul)
“If I can’t even save someone right in front of me, how can I save others?” episode 1
Crown Prince Sado(Oh Man Sook)
“Joseon history will be rewritten by my hand.” episode 1
Ji (Yoon Ji Min)
“How can I even dream of such happiness? If you want me to go with you, won’t you complain about my heart? Your sincerity, I won’t forget it for the rest of my life.” episode 2
Reason to Watch: Historical dramas always speak of people that lived in a time when everyday was a struggle and equality was a dream. They tell stories of human beings that paved the paths of freedom we tread today, bearing circumstances beyond our understanding with unbridled integrity and fervor. WBDS is another dramatization about many people doing amazing things, for the future generation that we now live. It may be titled after a hero but this story is less about him and more about the people that sacrificed and influenced who he is, what he will become and whom he will then influence. However, WBDS isn’t just about the future but the present, the current relationships and entanglements these characters engage in, living and acting extraordinarily, yet, in the most ordinary fashion.
Young Cast: Most often in dramas where the cast is split between child actors and their adult counterparts, the void left by the young actors is felt for a large amount of time. The audience spends the first fourth of the show getting to know these kids, then they are thrust into adulthood. I won’t say that WBDS doesn’t have a similar issue but the gap isn’t nearly as noticeable in this drama. However, the child actors were superb. From Dong Soo(Yeo Jin Goo), down to Jin Joo(Lee Hye In), all the kids transformed these children into characters that I never wanted to say goodbye to. The roles were performed so well though, I wanted to see what these kids were going to be when they grew up and that to me demonstrates how winning they actually were.
Overall, my favorite young character is Yeo Un based solely on the portrayal of young actor, Park Gun Tae, Yoo Seung Ho is doing a great job but if not for the solid performance of his younger counter part, Baek Dong Soo definitely would have needled into first place. I do, however, wish we’d seen more of Nam Ji Hyun, just for the simple fact that I love her, but I was pleased with her portrayal of this role, because it’s quite different from many of the roles I’ve seen of her in the past. She’s certainly matured and her interpretation of Ji Sun has made it easier for me to deal with Shin Hyun Bin’s stiffness. Ji Sun is a character that is stifled and reserved, and ultimately resolved to her fate and this works for now.
Basic Thoughts: WBDS is like most sageuk’s I’ve seen filled with political scandals, love triangles, sword fighting, bow and arrow whipping, breathtaking locales and great costumes. But ultimately it’s a sageuk with so much heart that mine bursts with each episode. The characters are larger than life, like most sageuks, but there is a continuity and authentic quality within each background and journey. Historically, it isn’t necessarily accurate but being based on a manhwa, how can you expect it to be? What is thrilling about this drama is each characterization, each story, connects with you and envelops you, demanding you root for them and their progress.
Whether they are considered “the good guys” or a nemesis, each person has a true to life story to tell, that humanizes them and allows you to empathize with their decisions. I know many don’t find themselves captivated by sageuk, but fusion sageuks are a bit different giving a great foundation segue into the genre and this drama is one of the best(and most fun to watch) this year.
I’ve pondered frequently why I’m drawn to this drama and it has to be the men, the brotherhood, the passion of the common man that rings within each hour. We watch men and boys trudge through dirt and muck, shed blood and tears together, with very little return but unbegrudgedly. I have no idea where this story will lead or what hurdles each character will triumph or travail but I am sold on their path.
The characters of this drama are so well written that though the lines of political alliance are fixed and visible, there are no true black and white teams. I can’t choose between Chun and Kwang Taek or Hoksa Chorong and the Crown Prince, I also can’t justify each character’s position or actions. Instead, I trust them to live their lives and live according to their personal will and wisdom. in this story, everyone has their reasons for living the life they’ve chosen, some bound by honor, some pinned by duty, others hemmed by proxy. I understand it all. The beauty of saguek is that you can. Their doesn’t have to be an omnipotent capricious enemy or a righteous servant of truth. Everyone is human, with real hearts and minds, emotions and desires, responsibility and free-will. Currently, Warrior is depicting this world so well, I can’t help but be forced to trust that each character walks the road they’ve chosen with dignity until their journey ends.