Friday, February 8, 2013

KDrama Review: Faith

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The Gist: Choi Young, lead of the king’s guard (Woodalchi) and played by Lee Min Ho, is tasked with escorting the new king from Yuan (ancient territory part of China), where he had been sent for many years. On their journey to Goryeo (an ancient territory that becomes part of modern day Korea), the king’s new bride is attacked and suffers a would-be fatal injury to the neck. The king doesn’t particularly like the queen, a Yuan woman, but knows her death would threaten his new position. Desperate, the king sends Choi Young through a gateway that supposedly leads to Heaven, where legend has it, a supernatural doctor resides. The doorway actually leads to present day Gangnam, where Choi Young abducts plastic surgeon, Yoo Eun Soo, portrayed by Kim Hee-Seon, to save the queen. Under much duress, Eun Soo does save the queen, but before Choi Young can send her back to her time, the king orders him not to, hoping to use her as a power play to strengthen his reign. Choi Young obeys the order against his wishes, further lessening his will to live, already grief stricken over his lost fiancée and harboring mistrust for the monarchy. The resentment that Eun Soo has towards her abductor eventually fades as Choi Young is determined to protect her from forces who want to abuse her skills and knowledge and promises on his life to return her to her home. That promise begins to seem like a curse as Eun Soo and Choi Young grow more attached to each other, not sure how to reconcile their feelings with the dangers keeping Eun Soo in the past poses.

1. The Action:
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As someone who is a fan of both action movies and romances, I really enjoyed the fight scenes in this drama. The sword choreography was spot on and the switches between the actors and stunt doubles were clean. The show really shone when the warriors with “inner power” came together. Choi Young’s showdowns with Hwa Soo-In (Shin Eun-Jung), who can draw fire from her hands, and Cheon Eum-Ja, who can kill with music (Sung Hoon), added an extra element with surprisingly good effects.

2. Bromance Between Choi Young and the King
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Even though the king sounds like a real jerk from my synopsis, he’s actually a character you really end up rooting for. Taking the throne at the tender age of 21, surrounded by people he doesn’t know and married to a queen he doesn’t really like, he’s desperately looking for a friend. Time and time again he depends on Choi Young and their friendship grows to be a real focus point of the show. The times when Choi Young and the king are out of sync really resonate on screen because you become invested in their bond.

3. Parallel Romances
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While the impending romance between Yoon Soo and Choi Young is obvious, but still entertaining, the relationship between the king and queen ends up being the sleeper hit of the show. Around the middle of the series, I found myself equally interested in both couples. The lightly veiled loathing between then makes early scenes uncomfortable, but that only serves as a good reward when they finally figure each other out. That’s not to undersell our main duo, whose incredibly sweet and often pained relationship makes you not notice that the show is as long as it is (24 eps.). If anything, I appreciate the time Faith takes in really building the relationships rather than taping them together hastily.

1. Politics:

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I have to give the fansubbers major credit here. When I started watching this show, I didn’t know anything about Goryeo or Yuan – the US education system seems to be a little light on ancient Korean monarchies - but the subs explained everything I didn’t understand. Be that as it may, I get worn down on shows too immersed in political drama as it just doesn’t hold my interest. That being said, Faith does a pretty good job of framing the political issues with emotional ones, that make you care why the king does anything.

2. Prince of Court
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While his accomplices, Fire Lady and Music Man, are totally awesome, I have to admit I grew tired of Gi Cheol (Yu Oh-Seong) as a villain. Of course, all shows need baddies, but by the end of it when we’d cut to a scene of Gi Cheol ranting about Eun Soo, the king, Choi Young, or a million other things, I just wanted to get back to our central characters. We get it. You want power. You don’t like the king. You want High Doctor. You don’t have to keep saying it. Especially once Park Yoon-Jae’s Prince Deokheung made his entrance, Gi Cheol seemed to pale in comparison. That being said, watching his greed consume him into a pathetic state made for a neat contrast to the prideful man presented at the outset. Ryu Deok-Hwan.

1 The Incident with the Child King
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**SPOILERISH**As part of some grand trick, Gi Cheol sends Eun Soo with Choi Young to heal the banished previous king, who also happens to be a child. They come to find that the king’s illness is not curable, get attacked, and end up in hiding from Gi Cheol’s goons. Gi Cheol approaches the king alone and tries to get him to convince Choi Young to drink poison. Now, Choi Young’s actions in the following scene I understand completely – everyone else’s just seem dumb. First, it’s a stupid plot that has little to do with Gi Cheol’s larger gain. The child king was already a non-threat and Choi Young had already committed treason by moving him. I don’t even know why he bothered. Second, the king didn’t have to do anything with the poison, he could have just thrown it out the window. That would not have furthered the amount of trouble they were in, but he didn’t do that. Dumb. Thirdly, after Choi Young has to make an obvious hard decision involving someone close to him, Eun Soo treats him terribly. I really wanted to reach into the screen and smack her.

2. Silence
I’m going to preface this by saying that I did really like the ending. After convincing myself of a thousand horrors that could have absolutely been the actual ending, I breathed a long sigh of relief when I reached the last episode. I did, however, feel like the ending should have gone on for another couple minutes. I won’t spoil it, but I just wanted a teeny bit more for closure.
So...despite my wariness to watch a period piece and a political period piece at that, I loved watching Faith. The blend of romance and action kept me coming back for more. Lee Min Ho is quickly becoming my favorite Korean actor and everybody's judging by his recent popularity boom. His Choi Young definitely didn't disappoint and besides, he's pretty. Let's get our priorities straight.
Final Grade: A+

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  1. wow....your review is very good... I loved the drama ...loved lee min ho's acting....

  2. Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
    Thanks for the great review of Faith /The Great Doctor 신의! I enjoyed it a lot.
    I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 75.45%.
    Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
    Thanks again for the review. If you want to do something with my blog, please contact me.