I’m still… well, reeling isn’t exactly the word, but I’m still in the emotional grip of my latest kdrama, which I finished this evening. This is the first historical drama I’ve watched. See below for a taste:
The drama is called Damo and stars Ha Ji Won, Lee Seo Jin and Kim Min Joon. DramaWiki bills Kim Min Joon ahead of Lee Seo Jin, but I think Lee Seo Jin should be first based on his role in the drama. I’m pretty sure he gets more screen time, and even if he doesn’t, I think we get to feel his emotions more.
The first thing you notice as you launch into the drama is that the music is pop. I’m fine with that, although I understand some might (and have, I think) found it jarring. I actually wasn’t just fine with it, I loved it. Historical action against a contemporary soundtrack? It really really worked here. What didn’t work so well for me was the wire fu. It was incredible, in the sense that it wasn’t credible. To be fair, I don’t think it was supposed to be. I mean, most of us know it’s impossible for a normal person to fly over walls, keep up with a speeding horse, or run across water. But these people do it. So yeah, you’re not supposed to believe it. But I found it took me out of the story just a little too much.
Having said that, I will now say there wasn’t much else that took me out of it. The drama started strong and stayed strong. I was worried as I got near the end, because some of the dramas I’ve really liked at first go off and do something weird at the end. But this one didn’t. A little melodrama, yes, but that was to be expected. One thing that happened in the final episode had me really crying (a few things previously had produced isolated tears, but this produced a flood). Anything that can make me cry that much leaves me impressed.
The story basically follows Chae-Ok, who is a low-level female police investigator, but she’s mixed up with the police commander and a rebel chieftain. Want to know how? Watch the drama. I loved the characters of the two main police officers. They each had their personalities and were subtly acted. I found the older one a little annoying and cowardly at first, but he grew on me, and by the end I loved him.
Now we get to the popularity contest. One thing I liked about this drama was that neither love interest outweighed the other. Chae-Ok was torn between them up until the end, and legitimately so. They were both good men, both fighting for what they thought was right (total gray area there; which is really right? there’s no easy answer), and they also both had flaws. I happen to have a preference for one of them (you can probably guess which based on the pic I chose to post above), but you could make a good case for either of them. Well, there’s a reason why you can’t actually make a case for one of them, but let me leave that shrouded in mystery.
And there they are, our two contenders for Man of the Drama. See them in the photo above. In brown with long hair we have Kim Min Joon playing Jang Sung-Baek, and to the right of him in the black hat and police uniform we have Lee Seo Jin playing Commander Hwangbo Yoon. Ladies and gentlemen, cast your votes!
I realized after watching Damo that I’d seen Lee Seo Jin in Freeze, but I totally didn’t recognize him here. It must’ve been the hair and clothes. In terms of acting, I liked Lee Seo Jin well enough in Freeze, but I thought he was awesome here. Okay, okay, I gave it away. He’s my fave character in this drama. I found I sympathized with him the most.
It may have been partly Kim Min Joon’s character that made me sympathize with him less. I don’t always get the brave rebel leader thing. I think I’m a monarchist at heart. Or maybe I just don’t understand idealists.
Anyway, Damo is an awesome drama and I give it five stars.
P.S. As an aside, I have to say there’s something about historical costume, long hair, and swords that’s really very attractive.