Synopsis: Shin Jung Tae loses his father at the age of 15 when a Japanese soldier shoots him during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in the 1930s. But instead of finding justice, Jung Tae is accused of his own father’s death. Jung Tae finds justice only by using his fists in the back alleys of Shanghai, growing up to become the best fighter on the continent. Based on the comic series “Age of Feeling” by Bang Hak Ki.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Historical, action
Aired: Jan→ Apr 2014
Duration: 60 min
Casting: Kim Hyun Joong, Im Soo Hyang, Jin Se Yeon, Yoon Hyun Min, Kim Sung Oh, Song Jae Rim…
Inspiring Generation or the drama that never inspired me. I never got into the story and I even started to wonder why I was still watching it. Even though I wasn’t expecting anything, they managed to disappoint me. Thus my opinion remains reserved.
Victim of the drama industry, this drama was reduced to nothing whereas it had great potential. We witness, powerless, to the scriptwriters change and therefore the disparition of numerous characters. This last point particularly frustrated me, specially since it was only the characters that I liked that disappeared without any explication.
So the worst part of this drama was the consequences brought by this change…The plot lost all its consistency because the new writers didn’t bother keeping on what had already been started. We were thrown in a all new story starting from episode 10. Don’t expect any answers (at least not immediately) or futher development about the sister’s death, don’t expect to see Gaya avenging her dad because this one will rather avenge her mother (yep, just like that!)…All the elements that triggered the plot in the first 10th episode completely disappeared in the following episodes. We even change of country! I struggled. It was hard for me to keep on a drama wich was finally summarized by bunch of fights between 3 clans. This predominence of fights overshadowed the story itself in my opinion. Of course the historical dimension was interesting as it displayed very well the different conflicts between China, Japan and Korea, but ultimately I found this drama pretty predictable. My point of view might seem harsh but for what I’ve seen I’m not the only one who thought the same. Apparently either we loved it, or hated it. As you probably noticed I belong to that second camp (but weigh my words! I’ve seen worst drama than that. It just failed to catch my full attention).
I could have forgiven the few mistakes in the plot (now that I say it, I’m not sure I could have, in fact) if the characters had been, just for a bit, interesting. Unfortunately none of them succeeded in making my heart flutter…
Shin Jung Tae (Kim Hyun Joong) embodies the typical hero ready to sacrifice himself for his family and country. Normally this representation doesn’t bother me but here I was disappointed because I was expecting a hero similar to Lee Kang To (Joo Won) in Bridal Mask. That is to say a smart, complex character. But I realised that I was asking too much. Shin Jung Tae is the perfect opposite of Lee Kang To.
He never acts cleverly. He rushes headlong in all the dangers like an idiot. At least that’s how I felt! I tried to find him some excuses such as “he’s going to learn from his mistakes”, “next time he’ll act differently” etc…but no! He is repeating the same mistake minute after minute. And he does that during the whole drama! As a result he spends half of his time in the infirmary (I’m still wondering how he survives with all those injuries).
Let’s talk about Kim Hyun Joong’s performance now…well…it’s not terrific. I might have appreciated Shin Jung Tae a bit more if the actor’s performance had been better (what a contrast with Kwak Dong Yun’s acting- the boy that plays KHJ’s young version). Unfortunately I’m still not convinced by him and I have to say that I have not missed his expressionless face. Either he is angry, in love etc…he always has the same face (people who have watched Playful Kiss will know what I mean). It’s hard for the audience to feel any emotion when the actor himself does not have any. If KHJ is not really good in the scene containing dialogue (luckily for him there are not so many since he spends his time either fighting/training or laying inconscious on a bed), he is not bad in the action scenes. Even though I’m not one of his fan, I have to admit his professionalism. I’m pretty sure judgements change either we are or not a fan of KHJ.
Let’s talk about the women now! It was not better on that side. We had two female characters and none of them convinced me.
Gaya (Im Soo Hyang) displayed lots of interesting aspects at first. But her indecision and contradiction concerning Shin Jung Tae annoyed me a lot, later on. Her constant change of mind was really disconcerting. I had only one desire: that she took a quick decision about Shin Jung Tae! I know, I know. Her hesitation was the result of the pseudo romance the scriptwriters had tried to start. But crap! Since we are talking about this pseudo romance, let’s continue on this path. I didn’t believe in it, except when they were children. With the change of scriptwriters Shin Jung Tae- Gaya’s romance was stepped aside to let place to the Shin Jung Tae-Ok Ryeon love story. I’d have more appreciated this turnaround if it had been made in a coherent way. For me it’d have been more logical that Gaya ceased to love Shin Jung Tae (she had more reasons for that) rather than the opposite. Yet I was surprised to see our hero passing from the bashful lover to complete indifference for Gaya (at least that’s how I felt it but once again it’s hard to judge with KHJ’s unchanged/expressionles face). To resume I felt disappointed that the new scriptwriters didn’t not keep on their love/hatred relation displayed in the first episodes. It’d have allowed a sort of continuity in the story at least.
As a result Gaya -who lost her “girlfriend” statut- became a character quite dull who only thought about her revenge. My interest for her reappeared only near the end when Ok Ryeon was also losing her importance in the plot. Other aspects of her personality appeared. Her strong woman image cracked and let place to a woman deeply affected by her past, tired by all those conflicts and above all loyal (she risks her life for her bodyguard Shinichi). I’d have like this vulnerability to be shown much earlier by the scriptwriters.
The second female character was Ok Ryeon (Jin Se Yeon). To be honest this is probably the character for which I had the less interest. She was plain, dull and seemed to only live for Shin Jung Tae. And unfortuately for me I didn’t like them together. No alchemy. Hard to believe in a romance that suddenly comes true whereas before it was only a one-sided love. After a few episodes wihtout her presence, she reappears in Shangai and, as if by magic, meets her first love Shin Jung Tae. They fall in love (and lived happily ever after…ah wait not the same story sorry). I had high hope at first cause she seemed to resist to Shin Jung Tae, switching therefore their roles and presenting another aspect of her personality. But once again, I was wrong. Her resistance didn’t last long. A kiss from Shin Jung Tae and hop hop everything was forgiven and here we go again. We get back to the old, useless Ok Ryeon from the beginning. Lucky me, her role loses its importance in the last episodes because of the actress’s busy schedule. But I have to admit that it certainly did not help the drama. Facing this new constraint the scriptwriters sacrifice Ok Ryeon’s story. This could explain >>>> SPOILER– her unfortunate ending. Jin Se Yeon is not lucky on that point. I haven’t seen all her dramas but it’s the second time that I see her character dying righ after she got married XD Let’s hope that she’ll not die in her new drama Doctor Stranger– SPOILER<<<<
In short I didn’t like her character (as you probably noticed) and I think that Jin Se Yeon’s performance was one of the reason I disliked her. I had already found it difficult to like her in Bridal Mask (in my opinon she was the only negative point in that drama) and I was a bit disppointed to see that she had not made any progress in the meantime. I won’t hide the fact that I’m afraid to start Doctor Stranger because of her. But she is still young…let’s hope that she’ll become an amazing actress with more experiences *cough*
At the end, I’d say that I found more satisfaction in the second and supporting role than in the main role. I really liked Mo Il Hwa (Song Jae Rim), Jung Jae Hwa (Kim Sung Oh), So So (Kim Gae Eun), Aoki (Yoon Hyun Min) and…
>>>>>SPOILER– Kim Soo Ok played by Kim Jae Wook. I can’t describe how much his sudden disappearance drove me nuts! There is no word for that. Sure his character wasn’t that important but still! His relation with Ok Ryeon was refreshing and that was, actually, the only moments I could bear her character. The worst was that we only learn is death in the 12th episode (and still! we had to guess that Ok Ryeon was talking about him cause she didn’t even say his name). I was so revolted to see so many characters sacrificed for nothing – SPOILER<<<<<
The other point that annoyed me was to see all of them acting like invicible superhero “I’m the strongest. You’re going to die” …bladibladibla… Specially when none of them were actually dying in those so-called “fight to death”. It was tiresome.
Despite this precarious script, the drama’s making was perfect from A to Z. The beautiful fights scenes and the really well-made historical reenactment made the drama bearable. The other good point was the transition children/grown up. The link between past and present was well made thanks to the performance of the actors. As for the OST, it was quite good overall.
In conclusion I’d say that this drama was a real ordeal for me in the way that I didn’t not feel any pleasure while watching it.
Bonus: This character was one of the biggest mystery of that drama. He was as absurd as can be with his wig. Every time he opened his mouth it was for talking about poo (yes you’ve read it right: POO! like I said: a complete mystery)
Note de Whoovy: 5/10
Note de Dushbadou: 5.5/10
Note finale: 5/10