Saturday, November 12, 2011

intro info: Warrior Baek Dong Soo (Korean)

무사 백동수 -- Musa Baek Dong Su

Ji Chang Wook as Baek Dong Soo
Yoo Seung Ho as Yeo Woon
Yoon So Yi as Hwang Jin Ju
Shin Hyun Bin as Yoo Ji Seon

Choi Min Soo as Chun
Jun Kwang Ryul as Kim Gwang Taek
Park Joon Gyu as Heuk Sa Mo
Yoon Ji Min as Ga Ok
Lee Won Jong as Hong Dae Ju
Sung Ji Roo as Hwang Jin Gi
Choi Jae Hwan as Yang Cho Rip


Finally to be done with the whole Warrior Baek Dong Soo fiasco, here's the intro info post to tie everything together; brief summary, brief opinions, and more reason for me to splash Yeo Woon pictures everywhere! There are NEVER too many Yeo Woon pictures in my book!



It's hard for me to really dive into this one with a brief review and not give away anything. The way in which the series had been built up was truly an amazing experience with a wonderful cast of characters and actors to portray them. The imagery and scenery was mesmerizing and the music was well placed where necessary. Unfortunately, the build up of the intrigue to the story line quickly lost it's go power when it seemed that the writers weren't quite sure which direction they were trying to go. Ultimately, this is the only downfall of the series, because overall, the series itself could have been one of the most outstanding ones of the year.

It's not a perfect series, but it was definitely built to be memorable.

High ratings show that Warrior Baek was one of the most hyped and anticipated series during it's broadcast. While I don't really know the rest of the cast that well, Yoo Seung Ho's presence seemed to be quite the catalyst for fan appreciation, myself included. Ecstatically, the young boy does not disappoint in his portrayal of Yeo Woon, a lonely and tragic hero with a doomed fate.

The defining summary of Warrior Baek Dong Soo is hard to grasp. But the basis of the story line truly involves the growth and development of the titular character as he becomes the best swordsman in Joseon. And so along the way, we give him room to grow, we throw in a lot of political intrigue, a lot of side conspiracies, a lot of emotional troubles and issues, some romance and some bromance, and we get a rather amazing experience to follow along with.

For the sake of anyone else who would be interested in this series, the only thing I can really say is that it WAS a captivating series to follow along with. Each episode left you wanting to continue on to see what would happen next. The underlying friendship between Yeo Woon and Baek Dong Soo managed to hook any viewer into that desire to know how the relationship will end up after all the suffering, pain, and conflict goes away. A potential love line is even present for all those hopeless romantics out there who are also attracted to genres where romance isn't the main factor.

Warrior Baek mainly chronicles the life of Baek Dong Soo as he grows to become Joseon's best swordsman while at the same time circulating all sorts of obstacles for him to overcome as he trudges through his journey. Parallel to Dong Soo's adventure is Yeo Woon's own fight against his fate as the antagonistic foil to Baek Dong Soo's impending hero status.

Unfortunately, the series takes a turn for the worse and loses it's grasp on what should be to come. While the series in general was great in many different ways, the loss of many significant plot devices which dwindled into nothing kind of threw off the pacing and the direction of the story line. Where was production staff trying to go with some of these devices and why didn't they continue in that direction rather than just brush the entire thing aside and try a new tact?

There were a lot of issues concerning continuity and even things that made sense versus things that were developed magically by an ALMIGHTY WRITER's faux de machina tablet. The impending ending and rekindling of friendship was what kept me going, but for the most part, the rest of the series' devices dragged on senselessly.

There's very little that I can actually say about Warrior Baek without giving away a lot about the plot and the ending's utter disappointment. And so with this, my thoughts on this series are truly best noted with detailed descriptions of certain elements and certain devices in the series. (Refer to all three, extremely long and extremely detailed thought articles concerning Warrior Baek Dong Soo.)

The series ultimately survives on the cast of great actors and actresses as well as the decently choreographed action sequences. Some memorable scenes helped to entice, and the first half of the series was really not that bad to follow along with.

Being unfamiliar with any of the cast except for Yoo Seung Ho, the series truly did amazing things in terms of these actors and their portrayals. Yoo Seung Ho was amazing as Yeo Woon's tragic embodiment, and I don't feel ashamed at all for having picked this series to watch, 80% due to the presence of Yoo Seung Ho. The rest of the reasoning behind my choosing of Warrior Baek was really due to curiosity about a historical Korean drama series. But mainly, the reason why I continued to watch the series ended up being 60% for Yoo Seung Ho and his character Yeo Woon, and about 20% due to the opening scene depicting a fierce yet friendly sword fight between Chun and Sword Saint. The rest of the percentage can be divided evenly between the impending love line, the celebrated "bromance" and Hwang Jin Ju's possible plot device because I like strong female leads. For a while into the series, I was actually pretty ecstatic to enjoy it in it's ever-great glory without too much superficial influence. The casting was great and the story line was interesting even if the love line was kind of dull to begin with.

By mid series, my pie graph changes once again. It ended up being 90% Yeo Woon (no longer just about Yoo Seung Ho anymore), 2% hope for Jin Ju's revived significance, 3% "how will the political intrigue end", and 5% anticipation of the rekindling of brothership between Yeo Woon and Dong Soo. As you can see, I ended up caring little for the titular character of Baek Dong Soo himself, gave up on the love lines altogether, and pretty much just started worshipping the ground that Yeo Woon walks on.

To be brief, I personally DID enjoy watching the entire series. It was captivating. I had a lot of hopes for where the story line would progress and how the characters would develop. And in the end, maybe it was because I had too many expectations of Warrior Baek. By all means, it was not a perfect production and probably wouldn't have been even without the final, defining downfall of it's story line and ending. But in my opinion, the series probably would have faired better had a few things not occurred.

Would I change anything about the series? Definitely. Because unlike a lot of other story lines that bug me, the turn of events at many points in this series truly needed to be smoothed out and rewritten. The ending, for one, was truly unsatisfying and rushed and depressing at the same time. The female characters ended up being cast into the shadows, and some characters would have done wonders if they were allowed to stay alive.

Nonetheless, the series in general wasn't a bad one. There were just too many things that I would have liked to change about the events and plot devices and character development. Maybe in the future, we can find a common middle ground for me and I'll be much happier. But for the long run, I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive the final climactic ending even if anyone else can justify it for me in defense of the writers.

Noteworthy are some of the supporting characters. Chun, the Sky Lord of Hoksa Chorong pretty much owns every scene he sets foot in. Choi Min Soo was fantastic as the roguishly kickass, best assassin in Joseon. How he pretty much walks to the beat of his own drum is amazingly inspiring and it upsets me that others in the series couldn't learn from him and his ways. Yoon Ji Min as Ga Ok was beautiful and also kickass as the one and only strongest female character in the entire series (you will find that Hwang Jin Ju really pales in comparison, which is disappointing). Kim Gwang Taek is also noteworthy, but to be honest, I cared little for him.

What I DID harbor an attraction towards was the underlying love triangle between the three above mentioned, as well as the love-hate-battle-foil relationship between Chun and Kim Gwang Taek. As the best swordsman in Joseon and the best assassin in Joseon, these two had quite the understanding of each other with a fairly friendly rivalry. The fact that, in the end, only one could remain standing was a moot point.

Finally, while not really lending too much significance, I also happened to really enjoy the presence of Hwang Jin Gi, the bandit and Jin Ju's adopted father. He was an admirable man with strength and loving care for a rambunctious daughter.

The political scandals and conspiracies fell on deaf ears after a while, because things just started getting exhausting. I'm already NOT a fan of political struggles and battles for power in government settings; the politics of Warrior Baek just totally DID NOT appeal to me at all. Whether this was personal bias or an actual result of the way things were depicted in the series in general, I don't know. I just couldn't quite follow without feeling strained... or worse yet, bored.

I don't know whether or not to recommend this series. It was amazing from the get go. But I guess the only thing one would have to prepare him or herself for would be the ending. And I'll leave it at that.


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


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