Monday, August 15, 2011

first impression: Warrior Baek Dong Soo (Korean)

Korean series, for me lately, have been a rather significant new turn in my entertainment life. Ever since a month ago when I started getting interested in the Korean entertainment area, I have successfully completed two movies and four drama series and am in the middle of watching a currently airing series slated to finish around the middle of August. That passion that I used to have for watching Hong Kong entertainment from TVB's productions seems to be coming back in the form of Korean drama series.

So far, aside from Goong, every series I've chosen to watch has been a hit (at least for me). I have finished every one of them within a two day sitting -- I finished City Hunter in a week, but only because the last two episodes had not been aired by the time I finished the first eighteen episodes within two nights. That same night I finished City Hunter, I started watching Personal Preference and ended up finishing it the very next day.

As you can see, the charms of Korean entertainment are starting to work their magic on me now; my only regret is that I didn't start enjoying the beauty of Korean drama series until now. When the infamous Korean wave began to take over Asian countries, I wish I had been there with it. But I guess it's better to start late than never, right?

Warrior Baek Dong Soo, I picked up on a whim, with absolutely no pre-planned consideration. I had thought about it once, but that was because the first Korean movie I watched happened to be Fourth Period Murder Mystery starring Yoo Seung Ho who is also in this series. But I merely glanced at the promotional poster and then forgot about it.

And so on some sort of unknown whim, I pulled up Warrior Baek Dong Soo and decided to give it a go. While there have already been a couple episodes aired, I only made myself watch the first one since my plans were to begin diving into Iris before anything else. A thorough article on what I truly thought about Warrior Baek Dong Soo cannot possibly be formulated with just the first episode alone, but what I've seen so far has been wonderful.

I know little about Korean history. I've spent my life watching series from Hong Kong which involve the histories of China and the like. I'm better at Chinese history concerning dynasties and wars than I am at any other country's. And so there are reasons why I avoid historical dramas from other countries -- mainly because I'd get too confused and have no idea what's going on. Nonetheless, I decided to watch Warrior Baek Dong Soo anyway. And in doing so, I ended up also looking up some of Korean history concerning Prince Sado.

The series starts off with a narrative concerning the conspiracy surrounding Crown Prince Sado, wherein said Prince challenges the Norons' power forcing them to conspire with the Qing to frame Prince Sado for treason. In order to save the prince's life, the king and Noron agree to kill Baek Sa Geong as a scapegoat as well as eliminate three generations of his family. Through trials, Kim Kwang Taek, a master swordsman, oversees the birth of Baek Sa Geong's son, named Baek Dong Soo, and manages to save the baby's life.

This is where the first episode ends and I am anticipating when I start watching the next episode, what will happen. As a lot of historical type series (including the ones I'm used to from TVB) usually go, the epic adventure will begin with a "pre-hero" telling in which the main character's entire life is laid out from birth and then forward. From childhood to the first time that the hero starts becoming a hero, these types of series usually develop magnificently until the guy is acknowledged by all as a great hero.

It seems that by the end of the first or second episode, we will usually get to meet with our main protagonist -- and in this case, we will be seeing the grown up Baek Dong Soo within the next two or three episodes.

Therefore, I can't be able to give a proper analysis or prediction of how the storyline will go or what type of character I see Baek Dong Soo as. So far, this historical figure is merely a baby who survived near death by boiling, which ended up costing the master swordsman, Kim Kwang Taek one arm. I can already imagine that Baek Dong Soo will be raised with all the teachings of an excellent martial artist and continue the legacy that the master swordsman could not due to a lost arm.
As for Yoo Seung Ho's anticipated appearance as Yeo Woon, I am curious to see what type of person he will turn out to be. As summaries indicate, Yeo Woon was born into a rather tragic life, nearly getting killed by his father because of a fated destiny. The rest of his life can go in any direction, but it seems that he has the possibility of turning towards the antagonistic side of the story line. At the same time, he also becomes friends with Baek Dong Soo, and so I look forward to seeing their interaction as well as emotional tension and possible tragic losses on either side due to duty, life, and ideals.

Midway through the first episode, I had a sudden feeling of nostalgia. It has been a long time since I've been so engrossed in a series or a storyline such as this, that didn't include romance as any part of the general genre. In the past, I was a huge fan of Chinese wuxia type storylines -- drama adaptations of novels written by Louis Cha, otherwise known as Jin Yong, who weaved excellent stories of heroes during historical China, centered around celebrated wars and rebellions. This is how I learned Chinese history.

And so, maybe this is how I will learn a little bit about Korean history. After all, as sources indicate, Baek Dong Soo was a real person and so this is akin to a fictional and historical telling of this particular hero.

As far as action and setting and acting goes, the Korean entertainment arena has so far not disappointed me in any way, shape or form. Acting is on par with excellent, scenery is beautiful, and the direction is great. Of course, battle choreography seems to lose out to what action sequences I'm used to seeing in the Hong Kong arena. While not the best, the fighting is still very good and very enjoyable, without unnecessary camera tricks or computer effects.

I look forward to finishing this series, and hopefully, the streak of excellent Korean drama series will continue on. As I have stated already, there has yet to be a series I picked up so far that I didn't like and I have high regards for Warrior Baek Dong Soo being able to continue to captivate my interest.


For some more behind the scenes pictures related to Warrior Baek Dong Soo, soompi gives a brief first look and includes tons of photes: First Look at "Warrior Baek Dong Soo" @ soompi.

intro info: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- an overall short review of this series without spoilers

thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- the childhood years
thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- a hero and a twist of fate
thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- the end and an overall review


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