Would you believe me if I told you that I finished this review months ago but completely forgot to post it? Actually, all this while I was under the impression that I have already posted this review until I went through the Korean Drama review section and noticed that Hwarang wasn’t there. I visited the Hwarang folder on my PC and realised that I was so excited to post this review that I started believing that it has been posted already. Geez…!! How forgetful can anybody be?!?!
I personally feel that 2016 was one of the best years to watch Korean dramas. Why? Firstly, because most of the popular Korean actors (Gong Yoo, Lee Min Ho, Lee Jun Ki, Jang Keun Suk, Ji Chang Wook, Song Joong Ki, Lee Jong Suk, Kim Woo Bin) had at least one drama or web series in that year. And secondly, the dramas released in 2016 were mostly AMAZING. There was a time I’d spend three hours a day catching up on all the latest drama. One such cool drama released by the end of 2016 was Hwarang. I was excited about it from the moment I saw its first poster. Tell me, which girl would not want to see a drama starring these good-looking Korean men. (No 1,3 and 6 are my favs 😉 )
Okay, here’s another pic of the hot Hwarangs. 😉
Image Courtesy: High Cut
Hwarang started on a good note and went on well, till the story writers decided to ruin it all towards the end. I guess it’s a jinx that dramas that start well and have my attention and love, suddenly change the route and have a crash landing. But, even with a boring ending, this drama was fun with all the bromance and camaraderie between the lead characters.
Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016-17)
Empress Jiso has been ruling over Silla as a regent since King Beopheung passed away. She has been keeping the heir to the throne and her son Sammaekjong (Park Hyung Shik) hidden to avoid any attempt at his assassination and to ensure that he claims the throne when she feels is the best time for it. However, Sammaekjong has now grown up and feels that he is ready to take on the throne. But Empress Jiso fears opposition from the high ranked ministers who might overthrow her and her son. In order to weaken strength of the nobles, Jiso creates an elite group of warriors and names them Hwarang. She ensures that the children of the high noblemen are inducted in the group whose only work will be to protect her son and future king of Silla, Sammaekjong. This elite group of boys start their training and bond with each other, unaware that their future king is living amongst them.
Let’s weigh Hwarang on our show beam balance and see if this multi-starrer drama earns any stars for itself or no.
Bromance: The show has 6 guys around whom the story revolves which means there is a lot of bromance on this show. Of all the male bonding happening on the show, my favourite pair was that of archenemies Su Ho (Choi Min Ho) and Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han).
From hating the sight of each other to helping each other in times of serious trouble, the two of them come a long way in the show. I loved their bonding as much as I loved their conflicts. Being secondary characters, their story did not get much screen time but the two actors did a good job with whatever little story they had.
Sadly, the moment the bromance drops, the show becomes uninteresting and borderline boring which is a disadvantage for a pre-produced drama as it cannot alter the story on viewer’s demand. Had this show not been pre-produced I guess the director would have added some more male bonding scenes on the show which would have helped it garner more TRP’s.
Cast: The story may have failed the cast but the cast did not fail the story. The six boys suited their respective roles and played their part convincingly. I especially like Han Sung (Tae Hyung) and Ban Ryu’s characters a lot.
Han Sung because he isn’t like any of the other boys. He is naive and childlike and a very happy character. I don’t think singer-actor Tae Hyung (BTS’s V) needed much of a homework to play the role of Han Sung because he is just as playful and cute as the character in real life.
Have a look at this interview and see how cute Tae Hyung is in real life.
That’s Tae Hyung acting cute 💕💕💕 the hosts asks them to point out which guy is different in real and acts different on camera. They all point out to Tae Hyung. . . I am not into K-pop so I had no idea this cutie pie from Hwarang is actually a part of the popular boy band, BTS. I just love him in the drama. 😘😘😘😘 He is so adorable. 😘😘😘😘It’s great to know that he is just as cute in real life. 😅😅 . . Video Courtesy: KBS World (Facebook page) .
I also loved Ban Ryu’s character a lot because there was some serious character development in his case.
There is a difference in his character before and after joining Hwarang which makes him the only guy to have benefitted from the Hwarang setup.
Direction: In a special episode of Hwarang, the cast had complained of the Director being a perfectionist who made them do scenes in the most realistic way possible. For instance, an actor would be slapped for real only to make the scene look realistic on screen. The director’s quest for perfection is what made the show look so striking. Some scenes on the show look spectacular and only a director with a vision could come up with such amazingly shot scenes.
Story Loopholes: The show had an amazing director but sadly the story was lacking in so many ways that even good direction and cast couldn’t keep it from falling flat. The drama had a lot of mysterious storylines but sadly not everything was explained in the show. For instance, Sun Woo (Park Seo Joon) had some serious problem of fainting in the most crucial moments. He fainted in the first episode during a fight and some random episodes after that. I thought maybe he has some serious illness or maybe he suffered something in his childhood or maybe it is some hereditary ailment that makes him faint when he feels cornered but this problem of his was neither dealt with nor explained on the show. In fact, my first reaction after the last episode was, “Wait! What about the dizzy spells? Why would he faint in the most crucial moments? What the hell!!!” I observe shows very closely as a viewer and when certain points of a show are left unexplained it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is frustrating when writers add characteristics to generate curiosity and then never bother to address them. Similarly, there are characters that come and go without any purpose. Yeo Wool (Jo Yoon Woo) is one character that was a big waste because I still don’t know how he contributed to the story. What’s worse is that they didn’t even show what happens to him in the end. He is one of the six main Hwarangs but still such a poorly written character. His introduction made him look mysterious but later on, he was just used as a filler. Then there was Han Sung’s elder brother who joins as an assistant Hwarang but then suddenly becomes a Hwarang after he murders a character on the show. What? Though accidentally, he did kill someone in the story right? Then why was he not punished? Why was he promoted to Hwarang?
I give Hwarang 3 out of 5 rating. The show is interesting but often falls flat and leads you nowhere. However, I really enjoyed watching the first half of the show which concentrated mainly on the boys bonding with each other. Even though the show has several romantic angles, none of it had my attention as my interest lay in how the warriors would discover the truth and how they would help each other in testing times. If you plan to watch this show then, do it only for some decent bromance.
Image Courtesy: KBS2