Hong Gil Dong (2008)/Reviews
Review by Kim Yunmi
Hormones: Three notable men, one notable women. In Sung, Jang Geun Suk, and Kang Ji Hwan are the men. Sung Yuri is the woman....
Popular on the internet. Was only popular towards the end of the production widely outside of the Internet.
Music: The music is a mixture of something like Rock music, and modern music, rather than the traditional music one would find in productions such as Dae Jang Geum and Hwang Jini. This definitely forces one not to take this drama seriously, and adds a fresh new flavor to the drama.
The acting is well delivered in all parts. Sung Yuri gives a surprising performance considering the lack of acting skills in Prince's First Love. She, herself, has admitted that she sees improvement as she tries to grasp the character more than memorizing the lines.
Also watch out for Kang Ji Hwan, who also gives a great range of emotions, both in voice and facial expression. He's shown great range in Hong Gil Dong, from serious to downright childish.
I would also say that Jo Hee Bong is an excellent actor for this part since he ranges from downright looney to somewhat lucid throughout the scenes with nice fluidity, that one can believe there is not just insanity, but an undercurrent of conscience and intelligence.
Jang Geun Suk also does a nice job with subtlety, though his role doesn't call for as much range, his facial expressions are often dead on.
Overall the supporting cast doesn't have a weak bit of acting in them. The supporting cast has done a fantastic job of understanding and getting their characters in line in a short amount of time. The people you hate, you hate for the right reasons, and the people you feel bad for, you feel bad for the right reasons.
Lush visuals, and the right camera angles with that understated tone, make for a very visually pleasing drama. The rich colors of the Choseon Era definitely come alive.
Direction: I thought that the direction wasn't lacking. It was subtle, and it's obvious that the actors are having fun. He was also the director on My Girl and Chun Hyang.
Story: The Hong Sisters never fail to impress me. There are twists and turns in the plot. What would seem to fit into two to three episodes is put into one. It's a very fast paced drama with a variety of plotlines that don't drag down or detract from the main two storylines. (The romance and succession storylines.)
The Good: The strongest points in this drama are the excellent writing and the excellent acting. However, the production overall is fairly strong.
The Bad: Some complaints people might have is that they don't like the smaller subplots, even if they grow out of the larger plots. Also some of the melodrama in Episodes 18-20 might drag people down from watching the drama. The melodrama, however, is never too heavy, and there is an underscore of some humor. In the same token the contrast from sad to funny might also leave people cold. It's not historical in the strictest sense either, however, the drama never promises from episode one and the use of contemporary music to be any serious history lesson.
Why Watch it: If you're a Hong Sisters fan, this is not far off from Chun Hyang. It's an enjoyable watch. It follows a lot of Chun Hyang conventions as well. Also it doesn't deviate from feeling too far from a Hong Sisters drama. It's funny and light with a gripping storyline.
It might turn people off who don't like political plots or use of any kind of melodrama in a comedy, however, it also doesn't use many of the normal drama conventions.
This is also not a simple drama one can play in the background. Nor one where if one likes the usual conventions that one would expect.
Things to Watch for: - the Chamberpot scene in the river. - The way that Hong Gil Dong's stick wear down over time. - breath steaming in Yongmun. - Yongmun cookies. - Hair and clothing changes in relation to character change. - How many times Hong Gil Dong sticks some straw or a stick into his mouth. - Comparing the first scene of the drama to Yi Nok now. - The pouch. - The sunglasses. - The eyeglass/ telescope.
Overall it's a good drama. Those who liked Goong most likely will like Hong Gil Dong as well. It has good production values, lush colors, good acting and a great production crew. How can you truly go wrong with a Hong Sisters-written drama anyhow? They've never failed to impress me. (Review provided by Kim Yunmi @Soompi Forum)