Shine or Go Crazy
Synopsis: The drama is about a fictional Goryeo-era prince who is first in succession for the throne. He belongs to a royal secret society, and is dogged his whole life by a prophecy that he will turn Goryeo into an ocean of blood someday.
The heroine is the last princess from Balhae, and she’s fated to bring light to the Goryeo prince. The drama will depict their palace romance, between a cursed prince and a princess of a lost nation.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Historical, Romance
Casting: Jang Hyuk, Im Joo Hwan, Oh Yeon Seo, Lee Ha Nui, Ryu Seung Soo etc…
This drama was So So.
The plot was not thick enough for me to be able to remember from one week to another what had happened and the motive of each characters. I only got the whole story overall and that was it.
I wasn’t expecting such “framing” actually. I thought we were going to follow the story of So So as a king who struggled against his curse until Shin Yoo’s coming to the palace. I was far from thinking that it would actually be a drama more about plots between princes who wanted to take the head of the country -or in the case of So So protect the current king against all the enemies. I think I would have rather liked a plot similar to what I originally thought: a serious drama.
The first half of the drama was quite draggy here, and I think I would have enjoyed it much more if it had become more serious earlier. It was too focused on the building of So So and Shin Yool’s relationship and unfortunately that wasn’t my cup of tea. The romance seemed to be a delightful element at first (I loved the first episode. I thought their first meeting was quite bold and original. The kind of story we could easily see in a modern drama but not really in a historical one) but the spark totally vanished thereafter for me. No sexiness, no chemistry. Both So So and Shin Yoo, when together, sounded false. I think it was mostly because I was disappointed to see once again a drama re-using the concept of “the girl pretending to be a man”. Their relationship quickly turned into a bromance. I could have let it pass if they had not extend their friendship/brotherhood through all the episodes. Even after discovering the truth about Shin Yoo’s identity, So So remained the same, constantly calling her “Gaebong” -which incidentally made me only think of a master calling his dog- while she called him “Hyungnim” (can you see the problem?). They actually barely gave us any romantic scenes between the two of them…I mean serious scenes where we could see some real, “sexual” tension (apart from the end when the whole plot had taken a “darker” turn). Their scenes were always light with So So constantly bursting in laugh. It was too hard for me to believe in their romance.
I was frustrated and a bit angry against the scriptwriters cause I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the political issues either (I’ve never actually been a fan of business, political talk in dramas). I still thought that it was in this case, nonetheless a bit more enjoyable and “real” than the romance even if it was not perfect. I think it lacked some twists and that’s probably what made me forget from one week to another elements. But at least we had some good fights and confrontations between characters (So So’s character was much more attractive to my eyes in those circumstances).
Wang So (Jang Hyuk) was the complete opposite of what I expected. All bubbly, charming and funny he was far from the serious, at a push, depressive portray I had imagined. Jang Hyuk’s epic laugh was fun and I was really glad to see such hero when I started the drama. Unfortunately that didn’t last. I think you either grow to completely accept the “forced/overplayed facet” of the character (such as his laugh who had lost his funniness by being overused or his granpa’s voice- which I thought would only be a play inside Chunghae company but sadly wasn’t) or completely hate it. I’m more of the second category (careful: I’m not questioning Jang Hyuk’s play. I think he did what was asked from him, I was just not really fond of his character’s writing). I didn’t hate So So’s character. I just had a hard time with his playful personality. As much as I thought it interesting to see him play the warm heart guy who hid his concerns, true feeling behind a cheerful facet, in the end he just annoyed me more than anything else. That’s actually what failed the romance in my opinion cause that was taking all his appeal away. Fortunately the drama took a deeper and serious turn half way and So So was the first to profit from it (we finally got to see Jang Hyuk’s true charima with this change of tune. Jang Hyuk is made for saggeuk! a delight for the eyes)
The Princess of Balhae/Shin Yool’s character (Oh Yeon Seo) was rather similar to So So (actually they are original in their own way: that was the first time I was seeing a couple play with each other that much and being as much opened about kisses in a historical drama etc…). In the first half of the drama she was as bubbly as him but too pure, innocent and benevolent for me. She was the archetype of the good heroine: always wanting to save everyone or to sacrifice herself for the sake of someone. I was quite indifferent to her, even when I discovered about her being sick. She wasn’t badly written… she was just boring and therefore, not a strong, unforgettable character. The only thing that marked me was her ability to talk. To find the rights words even in the most stressing situation. That’s the sole point I really liked about her.
Princess Hwang Bo Yeo Won (Lee Ha Nui) was a bit overshadowed. I was actually quite surprised by that: I thought she would be much more present and important but she was in fact rather discreet -apart from the time when she messed with Shin Yool. Or maybe she was as much present as the other characters…it just didn’t feel like it for me. If Shin Yool is the archetype of the good heroine we knew from the beginning that Hwang Bo Yeo Won will be the less gentle princess. A dark rose, full of poison. That’s pretty much what she was at first. But like most of character she evolved along the episode and softened. She poisoned the king but at the end it was almost like it had never happened (that, that was a bit strange and unbelievable). She changed side and started to help her husband (So So) letting be Shin Yool even though she knew about her and So So.
I think it would have not harmed us to see a bit more of her character (especially her story with Se Won) even if she wasn’t an extraordinary character. As for her performer it was the first time I was seeing her. I don’t know therefore how Lee Ha Nui normally plays but I thought she was expressionless and too stiff. Her face always seemed frozen and awkward. Too bad.
It took me some time to take interest in Prince Wang Wook (probably the shock of seeing Im Joo Hwan for the first time with long hair^^). He was the basic rival who plotted against the king and became ally with the big bad wold of the drama: Hwang Shik Ryeom who had promised to help him acceding to the throne in exchange of mutual help. As a third wheel he wasn’t that bad. He wasn’t pitiful or anything. I actually quite liked his devotion to Shin Yool. I was just a bit skeptical though to see him give up all his plan (just like his sister actually -Princess Hwang Bo Yeo Won) overnight. They made us believe that it was to protect Shin Yool but I think it was too abrupt and his former relation with Hwang Shik Ryeom should have been developed (we didn’t get to see Hwang Shik Ryeom true reaction facing Prince Wang Wook’s change of sides and that was a bit of a shame).
Actually the non-developement of certain elements were a recurrent point in the drama. Overall the changes were welcomed but not dug enough to be 100% comprehensible and believable (I’m specially talking about the end. I was a bit lost by the last 10 minutes. They wanted to loop the loop but it came a bit strangely).
To sum up this drama wasn’t particularly thrilling (I might have appreciated it much more if I had waited its full release though). I followed it every week, faithfully, because this was nonetheless a really beautiful dramas (the ost, the making, the costumes and the scenery were splendid). The only points that failed it, were the lack of twists and the light-hearted romance like I said before. An average drama in short.
Note de Dushbadou: 7/10
Note finale: 7/10