Posts Tagged ‘Choi Min Soo’

So, we have charged past the halfway point of The Blade and Petal.


Episode Eight? Brilliant. Just brilliant. Positively Shakespearean in its scope: Kings and kingdoms rising and falling as men and women cross and double-cross each other in a ruthless game of power. And at the same time, intimate and emotional in the way that K-dramas do best: The fragile and strong bonds between father and son/daughter, and the real and personal felt effects of palace politics. The fury that powerlessness induces, the crushing pain of loss, the horror of being betrayed and the horror of betraying, and the strange anti-climax of winning.

the personal touch

It is an episode in which there are few surprises. Not that we know all the details of what is going to happen; there are enough potential permutations to keep the tension quite high. But we do know that it is all going to come to a head this episode. And based on history (and the drama synopsis), we can figure out a few broad-brush plot points, like who gets to survive this episode and who does not. Nonetheless, for all its general predictability, a tremendous episode, packed with power and emotion.

Click on link for only mildly spoilery rave about Episode Eight. And a bit of rant on subsequent episodes and some lamentable developments (mainly, development going by the name abbreviated as N. M. W.)


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I have to confess, it took me a while to get into this show.

And it took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t “getting” it, but finally I realized what it was: I have a bad habit of watching dramas on my computer while multi-tasking — reading the news and skimming facebook and e-mails, while at the same time glancing at subtitles and catching movements on the screen. This, however, is not the way to watch The Blade and Petal. For The Blade and Petal demands full attention. For The Blade and Petal, I’ve realized belatedly, is like poetry.


Poetry is not to be analyzed. It is not even really to be read. Poetry is to be experienced. One has to open one’s mind and soul to poetry and plunge right into it. And one has to open one’s mind and heart to The Blade and Petal and dive right in.


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So, I’m watching Sandglass, that great k-drama from 1995. I’ve watched eight episodes and I thought I’d write a mid-point review, but I feel so inadequate to the task. What can I possibly say about a classic piece of television? It didn’t just average viewer ratings of 50%; it shaped Korean television and the very consciousness of a nation. I simply do not have the knowledge to do justice to the context and impact of this important work.

If you’ve seen both Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn (MBC, 1991-1992), you’ll know that Sandglass is the younger sibling of the latter. The same team of writer Song Ji Na and Director Kim Jong Hak was responsible for both. (Let’s just ignore the fact that they were also responsible for the recent risible Faith, shall we?)

Both Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn are epic in the true sense of the word; human drama of operatic proportions set in dramatic moments of real history. Both are hard-hitting and unsentimental (even, brutal). Neither is an ‘easy’ watch. Both were ground-breaking in terms of scale, which shows in extraordinary production values (Sets? What sets. That stuff looks like the real thing) and a creative product that transcends criticism. Both are great, unforgettable television, comparable with epic historical cinema from anywhere in the world and bearing scant resemblance to the mindless and carelessly cobbled-together fluff that sometimes passes for historical k-drama nowadays.

[click for some (non-spoilery) thoughts]


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