The Dance in the Sky (비천무)
Synopsis: This drama depicts the sacrifices four central characters make for love, vengeance and honor as each travels a road of chosen destiny.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Action
Duration: 50 min
Casting: Joo Jin Mo, Park Ji Yoon, Kim Kang Woo, Wang Ya Nan, Jiang Hong, Park Shin Hye, Lee Jong Hyuk etc…
One day, as I was watching Monstar *cough*, I discovered a splendid song. A song which turned out to be part of the OST of a drama called Bicheonmu. I fell for it…completely. Since that day I had swore to watch Bicheonmu, because who knew? a beautiful song could lead to a beautiful plot.
My first impression was eventually not as great as I had wished for. I wasn’t convinced by the dialogue nor the fights. I wasn’t convinced by the performance of some actors nor the pace of the plot. I was somehow dismayed. The relationship between the two main characters passed -in a flash- from annoyance to “we are bff and more if we get on”. It was actually the same for the pseudo friendship between Jin Ha and NamGoong Joon Kwang. They tried to make us believe that after ONE meeting the three of them actually knew each other by heart. Not in the least believable. A shame.
The fight were surprising but not really in a good way. I know that fights in sageuk are often exaggerated and the hero can jump over a big wall without a scratch. I don’t mind that kind of effect which are most of the time really aesthetic. Here the problem was rather the misty effect put around the character and the feeling of witnessing fights which seemed to have been speed up during the editing. You eventually get used to all those effects since there is a part of magic in the drama -even though you can’t help yourself laughing when a WHOLE forest is cut because of one movement of sword. You get use to it but you don’t necessarily approve it. That was my case. But in the end that wasn’t what bothered me the most. The real problem for me, was the way they filmed the fights. They often used weird angle and shot. I don’t think the choreographies were bad in themselves. It actually reminded me of Chinese movies, where you often see heroes jumping from a bamboo to another and fly in the sky while fighting. But the way it was filmed made the whole thing quite anaesthetic and rather funny here (for example the use of closed-up for an entire fight…one of the silliest choice I had ever seen). Some ‘wig’ and outfit didn’t help either in term of aestheticism (I’m mainly thinking of Kim Kang Woo here who wore something very much Indiana Jones like, plus a Roman skirt, a cape -seriously I still wonder how they managed to fight with such long hair and cape!- and a barbed wire for bandana….weirdness x100).
In the end the only point I really liked about the first part of the drama was its OST and the overall plot. I really liked the idea of a magic sword even though the special effect were too dramatic for me, when used. I also loved how the story chose to focus on the romance and its tragedy. That changed from what I was used to see in sageuk (scheme and plot overshadowing the romance) and even though the main couple was neither thrilling or believable because of their sudden change of heart, they were sweet together. Those two points were what kept my curiosity aroused. Fortunately the second part caught the first one up. The plot took a whole different turn which spiced the adventure. That time it focused almost entirely on revenge (love being still in the background but at a lesser extent, at least for a time). That point allowed the development of certain characters, which seemed quite plain at first- like Jin Ha for example. The pace eventually sped up drawing us, by doing so, closer to the action. What’s more -to complete this positive bilan- the making, the actors’performance and the costume suddently greatly improved, to such point that it was sometimes hard to believe that we actually followed the same story and characters as the ones from the beginning. A clear and beneficial improvement that won my heart.
I was quite indifferent to Yoo Jin Ha’s character (Joo Jin Mo) in the firsts episodes. He was a basic hero. We saw him suddenly fall in love of a young woman and make a friend (he who had always been a recluse because of his secret and uncle). His life was turned upside down as he discovered those new feelings but that was basically it. I didn’t dislike him but I wasn’t sure what to think of him. Besides I was a bit disappointed by Joo Jin Mo’s performance, which seemed too expressionless and false (he wasn’t the only one. Actually I think the dialogue in the first episode didn’t help the actors). His evolution was slower than any other character but it was, eventually, worth the waiting. He went through lots of hardship, which shaped him into a brand new -and more interesting- character. Completely eaten up by the feeling of having been betrayed by his former friend and love, the innocent Jin Ha became Ja Ha Rang the (hot) assassin. Nothing could stop him and I loved that. Even after meeting Sul Ri again, he didn’t cede right away to his former feelings. He stayed constant and showed her a scary and cold shoulder. In the end love triumphed but didn’t healed him completely from his evilness. Jin Ha was in the end a hero but above all an anti-hero which killed numerous people (former acquaintance, friends, innocent people) just to quench his thirst of revenge. He was to sum up one of the best and saddest character of the drama.
Joo Jin Mo did an amazing job as Ja Ha Rang. His glance translated at time pure coldness giving you a chill, and at others pure sufferance. It was quite hard to remain insensitive to such performance.
Sul Ri’s character (Park Ji Yoon) wasn’t really thrilling either, in the firsts episodes. She also embodied the classic heroine who fell in love. But I liked her nonetheless. I liked her gentleness and mischief. Park Ji Yoon probably had a lot to do in my appreciation of her. I was mesmerized by her natural beauty (nothing to say about her outfit! splendid!), by the softness of her voice and her performance which seemed really natural even though some of her expression could have been a bit more emphasised. In other word she really matched her character, leaving by doing so a really good impression on me despite the first plainness of her character. But just like Jin Ha, her character gained more depth in the second part of the drama. Her transformation wasn’t as impressive as him though. The few glimpse we had of her personality were just more developed. She behaved most of the time with lots of rationality. I loved how she eventually chose to avenge Jin Ha rather than mope on her fate. I loved how skilled she was when it came to fight. She was overall a strong and very pleasant character -even though she was sometimes a bit overshadowed by her male counterpart.
What I liked about both Jin Ha and Sul Ri was the rationality in their writing. For example, after 13 years of separation/bitterness/hardships/betrayal, they didn’t throw themselves in the other’s arms despite their undying love. Considering their change of personality that would have been irrational. “Banal” characters are always better than moody characters full of illogical twists.
I would like to briefly mention her brother Yahoolai -even though he was far from being important. He was pleasantly surprising under his sour look. I never thought he would be that nice with his step-sister. He was the only one to really care about her happiness and he helped her numerous time, even though it often went against his father’s order. In that way I really liked him. Unfortunately fate got on his way later on and Sul Ri was his first victim. But I will, nonetheless, keep a good memory of him.
I was far from being fond of NamGoong Joon Kwang (Wang Ya Nan). I can’t deny that his look didn’t help him (now I’m being mean and unfair. But what can I say, I must speak my mind: it was really hard for me to overcome his looks- especially when they presented him to us as a really handsome match *cough*) even though that wasn’t his biggest flaw. He embodied the kind of character I’ve always disliked: men who force by all means their feeling on girls. I’ve never -and will never- understood that kind of guys. That kind of selfish strategy is always (and rightly!) doomed to fail. I don’t see how you can be happy marrying a girl who deeply hates you anyway (that’s just stupid). His betrayal was predictable yet poorly written. He sure looked at Sul Ri once or twice lovingly in the firsts episode but his obsession about making her his wife, was too rushed. His character appeared completely insane in a short span of time. I don’t know if it was because of the number of episodes that the scriptwriters botched the development of such important character, but it certainly did him no good (neither to the drama for all that matter). I knew NamGoong Joon Kwang would not turn well but I didn’t expect him to be that sly (he apparently never heard of Barney Stinson’s Bro code!). To sum up a pretty dumb, dull, unpleasant character (apart at the end where he redeemed himself for a bit).
Actually Joon Kwang was a bit overshadowed near the end by the other villain of the story: Sa Joon (Kim Kang Woo). I was far from expecting that kind of role for Kim Kang Woo and was a bit disappointed. Sa Joon appeared quite unimportant at first: he was only the guard dog of Lady Yeon Jin. A stubborn dog who turned against all those who hindered his mistress’ pace. A dog who did all he could to protect Yeon Jin even when it was against her own order. I kind of liked his devotion at first, especially since his character went against the traditional writing of the in love bodyguard who normally do everything his mistress says. I liked his rebel spirit. He didn’t hesitate to lie to her and even make her hate him just to protect her. That was interesting to see and most of the time very beneficial for Jin Ha who was always saved by him and sent far from Yeon Ji the obsessed. In the end, what disappointed me about his character was his lack of limit. The more the drama went the more his actions became unpleasant (wasn’t all his fault: Yeon Ji had a lot to do in his sick evolution, to be fair). The karma finally caught him up at the speed of a galloping horse, and I admit I wasn’t particularly sad to see him reap what he had sowed (>>>SPOILER- even though I was sad to see Yeo Jin becoming his collateral damage -SPOILER<<<). After that I actually thought I would come to pity him in the last episode. But like I said: the guy had no limit! He was a lost cause. Sad and despicable.
I felt as much sympathy for Yeo Jin (Jiang Hong) as for Joon Kwang. She was somehow his female version. Her love for Jin Ha quickly turned into obsession. The only positive point about her “crush” was the number of time she saved Jin Ha’s life. As long as her actions harmed no one (only the poor Sa Joon) I was quite fine with her, even though she was too often reckless. Her ascent on my annoyance scale was actually slow and gradual. She finally reached my limit of tolerance when she tried to poison Sul Ri. I found that really stupid. What did she expect? that Jin Ha would never find out about it and fall in her arm once Sul Ri would be out of the picture?! The second lead in that drama were damn selfish and irrational, now that I think abou it! It was finally only at the very end of the drama -when she had decided to let go of Jin Ha- that I took up with her again. I found her end really beautiful and poetic and even got a bit angry at Jin Ha ‘s stoicism.
Bicheonmu was like a tragic yet classical play, with its story of cursed love and revenge (so much wasted lives!). I don’t know if it’s a real legend but I like to think it is. The drama was a beautiful work overall (despite my harsh critic on the firsts episodes) and I don’t regret my watching even though that wasn’t as addictive as one could wish (and the ending not as teary as comments had made me think of).
Note de Dushbadou: 7.5/10
Note finale: 7.5/10