One and Only (2021) (CDrama)

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Drama: One and Only
Original Network: iQiyi, Tencent Video
Aired: Aug 18, 2021 – Aug 27, 2021 (Wed, Thur, Fri)
Episodes: 24
Duration: 45 min.
Country: China

Main Cast:
Allen Ren – Zhousheng Chen
Bai Lu – Cui Shi Yi
Wang Xing Yue – Liu Zi Xing
Li Yi Ru – General Hong
Ethan Yao – Cui Feng
Su Meng Yun – Feng Qiao
Zhou Lu La – Xiao Yan
Liu Wei Wei – Cui Wen Jun

Review:
I heard a lot of great reviews about this drama last year that’s why I really put this on my watchlist. Finally had the time to watch in Dec 2021. This story started slow, I almost dropped at episode 6 but glad I listened and kept on watching. I did however, take several weeks until I was able to finish this. I couldn’t wait until ZSC and Shiyi’s romance starts (which was around episode 10) and I was hooked since then.

Zhousheng Chen and Shiyi’s forbidden love was heartbreaking! They never even held hands or kissed or confessed their love, but every gaze and every tear showed how much they long for each other and wished that things were different. I loved their “dates” and how they just connected so well and knew what each other wanted to do or say without telling the other person. One of my favorite episodes were during the time ZSC and Shiyi stayed in Long Kang Academy. It was there that they really started to feel more than just master-disciple. That scene when ZSC was kneading (?) her shoulders was filled with so much tension, and they weren’t even naked or hugging each other. Huan Yu (and later on Shiyi) asked ZSC if he ever regrets making his vow not to have a family. But he said every decision he made was worth it. Huhu. He is faithful, loyal, courageous, but also stubborn. I remember even when ZSC was set up, Feng Qiao cried to ZSC, “for once, just be selfish!”, but he still refused to yield.

Bailu also so pretty as Shiyi and when she cries, I can feel every emotion — when she hugged him so tightly because she was getting married to the Prince and knew she will never be with ZSC, when she found out his death, I was crying with her!!, and when she jumped to her own death 😭 OMG!!! I couldn’t stop crying in the last 3 episodes! 😭 Especially the final episode. I had to watch her final scene 3x and still I cried. I understand how she felt. What’s life without ZSC? Without freedom? Trapped inside the palace by a selfish prince? As long as she lived and refused the prince (now king) advances, her family will always be threatened. I think she took a courageous decision. In modern times, suicide is not the answer, but during the old times, someone always had to sacrifice themselves for the greater good and to achieve peace. Gah!! I just feel sad that Zhousheng Chen and Shiyi never saw each other for the last time before their deaths. ZSC’s final letter to Shiyi was the final thing that broke Shiyi’s spirit “Throughout my life, I never let down anyone except Shiyi.”

I wasn’t that interested in the politics, esp in the early parts where they introduced so many characters, I was getting confused who was who, who was siding with which family, and what they were fighting for. I hated the empress dowager and pushing her off the lake to drown wasn’t enough to punish her for all her crimes, including killing the emperor. She should have been beheaded or displayed in from of the capital. It was during these episodes that I started to like the politics side of the story, and this intensified and the story became thrilling starting from episode 16. But of course, there were too many collateral damage from the struggle for the throne. the emperor died, the grandmaster died, the loyal general was forced to betray the Nanchen army, 2 of Nanchen’s generals were injured, and 1 died.

One of the best things about this drama is the focus on the Junior Prince Nanchen army team. Let me break down the key characters in ZSC’s army:

I loved the story between Cui Feng and General Hong. It was also a forbidden love kind of romance. When Gen Hong cried when Cui Feng had to marry Princess Xinghua, when she learned that they got divorced, Cui Feng and Gen Hong were already planning to stay together. But then Cui Feng got kidnapped by Jin Rong’s army and she almost had to kill Cui Feng (as promised — good thing ZSC arrived in time to stop the arrow), and Cui Feng crying when General Hong was killed during a battle. It was funny though that there were so many troops attacking them but Cui Feng, Feng Qiao stopped to hug and cry over Gen Hong, while ZSC was left alone to fend off the attacks from all fronts.

Other characters I liked were Xiao Yan (the monk), although I didn’t like his interactions/semi flirtations with Feng Qiao. I find Feng Qiao annoying and dense sometimes – she couldn’t read the room and always looked clueless. I also loved Prince Pingqin, who was loyal to Western State and Shiyi, and was ready to take her away in the last episode. Huan Yu from the Long Kang Academy was a cutie with long straight flowing hair and small dimples. He tried so hard to play cupid between ZSC and Shiyi; and I also liked Gen Chou. You know what? I love everyone in the Western State. The whole Nanchen army were so loyal and dedicated to ZSC. It’s so unfair ZSC had to die of dismemberment 😵 when he was the only one who didn’t want to partake in the throne grabbing. Special mention to Yang Shao, who I thought was one of those annoying characters, but he redeemed himself later on by helping ZSC and Shiyi in their final moments.

The person i hated the most was Luo Zi Xing. First, he had this weird obsession with Shiyi just because he grew up being told he is arranged to be married to her. He doesn’t know her at all, but thinks he loves her and he felt unfair that the engagement was cancelled. I thought he treated her more like a possession than a human being. If he really loved her, he would have tried to understand her and not trap her into a marriage that made her unhappy. But in the end I dont feel bad at all or angry at him. Because of his hunger for power, he killed the Liu family (his relatives), Shiyi killed herself, he barely enjoyed being the king because he died young, sad and alone, and without an heir.

And now I’m off to watch the sequel Forever and Ever 🥰

Rating: 8.5/10

The Tale of Nokdu (2019)

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Drama: The Tale of Nokdu (조선로코 녹두전)
Network: KBS2
Episodes: 32
Release Date: September 30 – November 25, 2019
Runtime: Mon & Tue 22:00

Plot
Nokdu disguises as a woman and hides in a widow’s village, trying to find who and why they are trying to kill his family. Inside the village, he meets a Dong Ju, who is a gisaeng-in-training, but hides a secret of her own.

Main Cast
Jang Dong Yoon – Jeon Nokdu
Kim So Hyun – Dong Dong Ju
Kang Tae Oh – Cha Yul Moo
Jung Jun Ho – King Gwanghae

Review:
I heard so many good things about this show and maybe that’s why i had high expectations, but i didnt like it as much as i thought i would.

The first half was funny but then it got boring because there was not a lot of action happening and the leads just keep talking in every scene. I fast forwarded some scenes 🤫 unfortunately. I also didn’t feel a lot of chemistry between the two actors. I also didn’t find Nokdu handsome or manly, maybe because he was supposed to act like a lady so they found an actor who has a smaller frame and looked more feminine. He looked tiny in those scenes where he is standing across from Yulmoo, who looked so handsome and imposing with his sturdy built. Unfortunately, Yul Moo is a crazy psycho prince so I’m all for Nokdu!

I liked the sword fight scenes especially when the Muwol Corps are fighting. I also loved the supporting characters like the Queen, Yunjo and Heo who tried their best to persuade the King to not kill the child, and the old master who was always by Nokdu’s side (i was scared that he will die in the last scene). I didn’t like the little girl, though, i thought she was annoying and not cute.

The second half of the story was a little better, starting from when Yulmo revealed his identity and the plans for revolt starting happening. I was more interested in the political part rather than the widow village and romantic scenes.

The King was awful and Prince Neungyang too but we know he will end up with the throne. So half of the time I’m asking, why waste 16 episodes just to find out the bad guy wins? What was this show supposed to tell the viewers? Then I realized the title is called The Tale of Nokdu so it’s not about the throne but about Nokdu’s growth. and I loved the happy-ever-after! 🥰 They are just so happy to live in their tiny island away from all the political strife. And the Queen gets to live with the couple too!! I didn’t even care what happens to the King or the Prince! They can take the throne and fight one another or die!

Rating: 7.5/10

Haechi (2019)

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Drama: Haechi (해치)
Network: SBS
Episodes: 48
Release Date: February 11 – April 30, 2019
Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 22:00 (35 minutes each / 2 episodes per day)

Plot
This drama tells the journey of Lee Geum/Prince Yeoning from crown prince to king of Joseon.

Main Cast
Jung Il Woo – Prince Yeoning / Lee Geum
Go Ara – Yeo Ji
Kwon Yul – Park Mun Su
Park Hoon – Dalmoon

Review

Yes! Finally I got to watch a great historical drama! I have watched a few and I could never distinguish which dynasty and king the show is all about. This drama is all about King Yeongjo who reigned for 52 years as the 21st king of the Korean Joseon dynasty. He is supposed to be a great and compassionate king, and made various attempts to improve Joseon. This is a long drama with 24 episodes and the drama was written based on historical facts and events. I kept pausing the show because I got so interested in his life that I kept googling King Yeongjo and trying to identify which characters and events were real (Prince Milpung, Park Munsu, Lee Jin Hwa) vs fiction (Yeoji, Dalmoon).

Jung Il Woo did an terrific job portraying the titular role — from the prince with low self-esteem and not a lot of dreams, to the confident crown prince and eventually the decisive and caring king. Must have been tough to play such a great person – if the drama really showed King Yeongjo the way history has written him, I must say that King Yeongjo is truly impressive! a bit idealistic and almost unbelievable, but then the show only focused on his early days in the throne so he probably made bad decisions in his later years (I’m reading all sorts of stuff about his son’s murder).

Of course, Prince Yeoning would not have made it far had it not been for his great support system – from Park Munsu, Yeoji, Dalmoon to even Yun Hyeok, Jong dal, Abong, Cho Hong and his right hand man. I loved that he had a natural charm and leadership skill – no wonder people can’t help but follow him once he made the decision to take the crown. He is strategic and empathetic — he comes up with radical solutions and always finds the way to convince people to join him because he knows what makes them tick.

Kwon Yul as Park Munsu was also great. I’m used to see him playing bad scary guys that it was so nice to see him play a happy and upstanding man. At first I thought he was acting a bit excessive and overzealous but later on I realized that was what his character was supposed to be. a bumbling and honest guy who later matured to be an amazing and relentless Saheonbu. Even though he was the new joiner in the team, people later followed him and became the team leader. I also want to give a shout out to Han Jeong Suk – he was also an amazing guy – I wish he was alive to see all the changes that we dreamed of but his death was what triggered Yeoning and Munsu to fight back. Yun Hyeok, also was strong in his convictions – I kind of missed him when he was gone after he became the minister of personnel and even after he came back to Saheonbu, they didn’t give him enough material aside from joking with the lazy inspector.

Yeoji, on the other hand was disappointing. I think it’s largely due to Go Ara’s unfortunate injury that the team probably was forced to rewrite her role. She started off really badass as a female inspector. She was a fearless and brave fighter and I loved the funny interactions between her and Lee Geum. But after her injury, she disappeared for the next 6 episodes — crucial episodes for me and to be honest, I didn’t even remember that she was gone. When she eventually came back, her character and acting felt lifeless. Where was that brave girl who willingly goes on disguise to catch info and the bad guys? I understand she became a court maid to protect the King in her own way (which she did lots of times) but I was disappointed that her protecting was more on taking care of Yeoning when he is sad or worried. Is that what women are supposed to do? just be behind the back of men comforting them and not being able to shine on her own? (Don’t get me wrong, Yeoji did what she had to do and I know that famous saying that “behind every successful man is a woman” so maybe that’s what’s more important to her and being successful. I honestly didn’t mind their romance but I thought it was unnecessary – they could have been great friends (like Cho Hong) and I wouldn’t have cared.

Another great character is Dalmoon – the more I watch Park Hoon the more I get excited whenever I see him in a drama. he may have been bad in Memories of Alhambra but how I love his character. The only thing I didn’t like about him was his tragic love for Yunyeong. I thought he could do way better than her but it gives Dalmoon an emotional story and I felt bad (and happy) for him when he had to bury Yun Yeong. At least now he is free from their past.

Before I go to the bad guys, I want to first talk about the palace officials – Associate Initiate Cho, Lee Kwang Ja, Minister Min and Minister Jo. I really hated them at the start. I felt that they were so stuck up and traditional corrupt officials. They don’t even know Prince Yeoning and yet they just kept putting him down and telling him he is unqualified to be king. On what basis? Just because they are chief ministers and Yeoning was born from a lowborn mother? They haven’t even given him a chance. But knowing Prince Yeoning, he was able to gain the respect and support of these four senior officials just by being him. Lee Kwang Ja and Cho became the first two officials who sided with him and was with him till the end. Like wise, I almost cried for Yeoning when Min and Jo finally supported him — Jo’s smile and Min’s deep bow was so moving. I realized that they are not really that bad – they just did what they had to do because they thought they were protecting the country and in the end, they moved to Yeoning’s side.

Okay, Prince Milpung. where do I start? Argh!! I think he was a great villain at the start of the show all the way to around episode 16-17. I seriously could not understand him, he is a bit mad, killing everyone who got in his way. Was so angry at Yeoning for being lowborn. Assuming that the throne was robbed from him and he should be the king without even thinking if he actually is qualified to be one. Then around episode 15 or 16 they showed a little flashback of him getting abused by his own father. He was a bit stupid, how can he even be king. then he got captured, sent to exile and death. That should have been the end of his story. But nope. he escaped with Lee In Jwa’s help and got he more deranged. I couldn’t find any sympathy for him. The writer did a great job of giving him a great ending for drama’s sake, though how he was able to see a couple more sentences before he died was funny and I really just want him dead. I loved the final conversation between King and Milpung when King said, had you made these great decisions earlier on, maybe you could have been the king. So true.  Yeon Yeong is just like Milpung, she just won’t die!! Dalmoon even helped her escape!! and when she had the chance, she went and saved Milpung!! Argh! I seriously wanted to go hunt them both and kill them just to end my misery of seeing them on screen.

Wi Byung Ju was another character that was sickening. Instead of being the better person, he kept making excuses to justify why he went evil – okay I did feel bad for him because even though he was the top of his class and did everything well, he was never rewarded because he was a Namin. But like Munsu said, he didn’t have to turn bad, he could have persevered and sided with Yeongjo, then maybe he would still be alive and getting his well deserved promotion. Until the end, he was in denial and a coward.

Overall, I really loved this drama. I have been looking for a historical drama to binge watch and i’m glad I picked this up.

Rating: 8.5/10
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