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Iljimae: A review

[I’m happy to feature another review from guest blogger and kdrama watcher extraordinare, Dahee Fanel! Hope you enjoy as well. –javabeans]

Have you ever felt the urge to throw something at your T.V. screen? Something heavy, but that can still fit fairly comfortably in your hand? Something like, oh, say…A brick?

I have. Numerous times. In fact, I felt that urge just the other day, as I was watching Beethoven Virus (on my laptop though, as I unfortunately do not currently own a T.V.). Luckily, I stopped watching after about fifteen minutes, so that desire didn’t manage to overwhelm me, not quite. I really do like my laptop, after all, and I’d prefer if it didn’t get overly damaged.

But with some dramas, I manage to get hoodwinked long enough to sit through them until the bitter, bitter end. That metaphorical brick is always in my hand, mind you, scratching at my palm, but I’ve been blinded by something – an actor’s admirably well-developed abs, per se, or some lovely cinematography – and it’s that something that keeps my eyes focused. Well, focused enough, anyway.

Iljimae was a lot of things to a lot of different people. But to me, it was one of those dramas that conned me into watching it, and thus caused me an awful lot of (stomach) pain. Oh, and incidentally? I’m ready to throw that brick now.

SONG OF THE DAY

Iljimae OST – “hwa shin” by Park Hyo-shin [ Download ]

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Iljimae was one of this year’s three big “fusion sageuk” (it’ll be four once MBC’s version of Iljimae starring Jung Il Woo begins its run). There was KBS’s Hong Gil Dong before it, and a little later, KBS’s insanely insane (and strangely, inexplicably, very watchable) Strongest Chil Woo came along as well. Iljimae was SBS’s shot at the trend, and while it turned out to be something that I would actually start watching (miracle!), there were so many problems with it, it was almost as mind-boggling to see as the fake horses in Strongest Chil Woo.

First of all, let’s get this out into the open: I do not like this recent trend of “hero” fusion sageuk. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the 2007-2008 sageuk The King and I (which starred Oh Man Seok and Goo Hye Sun), I wouldn’t have minded as much. But as it is, for me personally, this was a bad time for them to come along. Because I’ve suddenly become a sageuk fan, and I do not enjoy seeing the genre being bastardized like this. I mean, what’s the point in portraying a past if you’re not going to say anything about it? Why not just move the time period to modern Seoul, for Pete’s sake, if you’re going to have the characters refrain from speaking in proper Joseon-era speech? What the hell makes a drama deserving of even distantly referring to the term “sageuk” if it doesn’t even resemble sageuk’s left butt cheek? If you’re trying to do new things with the genre (like the heartbreaking Damo did back in 2003), fine. I don’t mind that. But how can people like the Hong sisters, who obviously don’t know the first thing about sageuk, even attempt to do new things with it? It’s like watching Britney Spears trying to sing a traditional pansori song. It just doesn’t work.

Still, I gave Iljimae a chance (or several). Mostly, I admit, because I really like some of the cast – Lee Jun Ki for one, and the ever-wonderful Lee Moon Shik for another. Yes, this was another case of fangirliness gone horribly wrong. I admit it: I’m warm for Junki’s form. Not only is he a pretty good actor, especially for his age (and he’s improving!), but he also possesses some rather delectable facial features that, I admit, I have swooned over in the past. Which may or may not have been all that long ago.

 

 

And really, the acting in Iljimae wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it was rather on the good side. It had some great veterans who predictably pulled off lovely performances, such as the heart and soul of this show, Lee Moon Shik, or the tasty villain Kim Chang Wan, or scene-stealers Kim Sung Ryung, Lee Won Jong and my favourite gruffy bear-man, Ahn Gil Gang. Lee Young Ah continues to show her great potential as an actress (she certainly won over my approval), while Lee Jun Ki continued in the dual-personality character vein that he’d started with last year’s super-addictive The Time Between Dog and Wolf. And he puts in a good performance, managing to pull off the dual nature of his character pretty successfully, despite the mess that the script made of it. And when the time came for some tortured-soul, emotional bawling, he certainly hit the nail on the head.

As for Park Shi Hoo and Han Hyo Joo… Well. Let’s just say that the closest Park Shi Hoo ever got to dazzling me was whenever he took off his shirt. (Mmm…Bumpy.) Otherwise…All he ever did was look around with those gloomy eyes of his, and angst, angst, angst. Scene with Eun-chae? Angst. Scene with mother? Angst. Scene with him sitting alone? Angst. And whenever he had to change tack a little, and encountered some important moments that required more difficult acting, he was so awkward, it was laughable. I certainly laughed. Really, really hard.

 

 

Han Hyo Joo was a wee bit better, if you can even say that. She certainly had a moment or two that hinted at something a little more fiery hiding deep within, and I liked the way her character, Eun-chae, was portrayed as being something of a social activist. Still, when she was awkward, she was awkward like “Whoa there, is that stick of wood actually talking?”. It brought back (bad) memories of watching Joo Ji Hoon creaking around the set of Goong.

But the really smelly part of Iljimae was not the acting of some of its stars. No, the real stinker was the script. That crazy, doesn’t-know-where-the-hell-it’s-going, just-shoot-me-in-the-head-instead script. When I heard that this was writer Choi Ran’s first drama, I still felt pretty optimistic. I was willing to give her a chance. If you have no idea of the outcome, you might as well bet that the glass is half full, right? But unfortunately, there are times when the glass really is half empty, no matter what the optimists say. It’s enough to make a girl despair over the state of the world today. Or, y’know, of just the K-drama world in particular.

A loosely scattered plot with episodic events that did nothing but drag out airtime and pile on one misery upon the characters after another; cliche upon cliche, complete with generic family secrets and “No, it’s creepy, not romantic!” first love stories; unnecessary complications that were never fully resolved, and that never added anything to the show anyway; completely random leaps in logic and time; themes and ideas which were clearly there, but never formed or developed properly; a frantic and incredibly rushed finale, with one of the biggest K-drama ending cop-outs I’ve ever seen. Do I need to continue? As soon as I finished the twentieth and final episode, there was one thought really standing out in my brain: “I hope Choi Ran never writes another drama ever again.”

All this is a shame, really, because, as previously mentioned, this show had some pretty good acting (better than it deserved, really), and its production values were good, too. The PD manages to pull off some rather incredible visuals, such as that early scene on the icy lake, and there’s a rather unique and interesting atmosphere that pervades this show. It’s romantic, and a bit like a fairy tale, which went a long way in persuading me to forgive many of this show’s unrealistic elements. It’s not meant to be a realistic show, and the audience is clearly watching an entirely different world altogether, one which does not belong to ours. The PD helped show all that, and thus was able to camouflage some of the writer’s flaws, at least for the first couple of episodes. Too bad he couldn’t camouflage them for long.

 

 

This drama’s good points can be pretty much summed up in a short list:

1) The acting. For the most part. If you’re going to watch this for anyone, watch it for Lee Moon Shik.
2) The directing/production.
3) Some of the relationships between characters are really quite touching and believable – mostly, I suspect, due to the acting. Of course, these relationships inevitably get butchered by the script, but still…
4) It was pretty fun to watch Lee Jun Ki sneaking around in all-black in the noblemen’s houses (you get used to the weirdo mask eventually. Besides, he used a normal piece of black cloth for a good portion of the show). You can steal my heart anyday, mistah.
5) Park Shi Hoo has some really, really nice pecs. Which he shows off at pretty much any and every opportunity. Hey, I’m not complaining!

Iljimae is, in short, a drama that played with my last vestiges of hope and left it lying in tatters on the ground. Every time I raised that brick in my hand, poised to throw it at last, it would suddenly switch to a decent, sometimes even good, scene. And the brick would fall slowly to my side again. Some dramas I watch without even thinking about bricks, so busy am I in blessing the stars for the quality I am viewing. Some dramas I can’t watch for even ten minutes before that brick is hurtling through the air. Iljimae, unfortunately, wound up being one of those rare dramas in between, the kind that chafe at me the most: The brick is always there, waiting. But it refuses to give me a solid enough target to aim for. It’s only after the drama has ended that I’m able to look back objectively, and wonder to myself: “What exactly was ze point?”

If I could go back in time and take back all the hours I wasted watching this drama, I would. Now all I have to do is wait for some kind soul to invent a time machine for me…

Rating: 5 stars (out of ten)

 

 

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lol I agree,,, that Iljimae wasn't perfect.
The ending was also not evidently clear.
But again, the acting and the quality was pretty tolerable....

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You summed it up pretty good! It wasn't totally bad. The only thing that really stood out for me was the acting. The one thing that really irked me is how everything in the end seem so unresolved. That was it?! I felt I was a little bit cheated.

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Actually I thought Iljimae was great. Acting? Character development? Plausibility? Emotional connection? Meaningful Dialogue? Haha -- Iljimae dares to laugh at all those things!! Laugh!!!

Teh Sageuk Batman was all about "the mission of the week", about boyhood delusions of playing Robin Hood and being the Ultimate Ninja, about outsmarting the Big Bad Villain (who moonlights as a Coffee Prince) and starting a village-size fanclub, about having really cool toys in your little treehouse of cloaks and daggers (FUN!!) and sneaking in silly girls who've dedicated a tree to you (MORE FUN!!!) It's the drama equivalent of weekday afternoon cartoons, 40s black and white serials, and make-believe action toys . . . and by God Iljimae was GLORIOUS STUPID FUN.

"and my favourite gruffy bear-m [Read more]

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Girlfriend, I do not blame you one bit for sticking through to the end. I still plan to watch this whole thing, even after this review, for the Jun Ki eye candy. I'll probably skip over all the times when he's getting beaten up, which I've heard are frequent. As long as his hair remains pretty good during the whole thing, I'll be satisfied. ;)

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i had only watched the first 6 episodes of Iljimae and I sort of know what you meant. It was interesting and there were definitely scenes that stole my heart, but I was always aware that nothing really fit or clicked. Great as those six episodes were, there didn't seem to be any character or plot development (and what about that supposed romance between iljimae and eun-chae?) and it was only a 20-episode series. After 6 episodes, I can name a bunch of random things that happened, but at the same time, I can also say that nothing really happened. I read summaries of the next few episodes and read the ending. I found that this is a drama that could have been incredible if the writer had only got someone to edit and restructure her work (and remind her to give park shi hoo and han hyo j [Read more]

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I'm glad I'm not the only one that struggled through Iljimae. I kept hoping it would get better but it didn't. The few highlights for me were Lee Jun Ki (whom I'm not really that fond of) and his sister, whom I wished had more screen time. Oh, and Park Shi Hoo's pecs had my heart racing too.

I hope B Virus doesn't turn out as bad as your first impression though, as I'm still looking forward to watching it.

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"i had only watched the first 6 episodes of Iljimae and I sort of know what you meant. "

Yeah, Iljimae doesn't really hit stride until Episode 7 or 8. And that's also when the ratings started to pick up.

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Great review. I've been toying with the idea of watching Iljimae(mostly for Lee Jun Ki:), but had picked up a few of the flaws you mentioned so I've been wary. Thanks for resolving that. Intermediate dramas such as you describe are the worst. I call them the Drama Vortex of Evil - you hate, but you can't stop watching, it sucks you in and won't let you go until the horrible, bitter ending.

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Ouch! Ah well, one more kdrama to write off my to-watch list. :) It was growing wayyy too quickly for me to catch up on all of them, so I guess dropping this altogather is not bad.

@belleza. Are you watching East of Eden? How's it? Cos I'm strangely attracted to it. It's one of those dramas that I know shouldn't be my thing, but for some unknown reason I feel strangely compelled to watch. I don't even know if it's because of the cast...whatever it is, it feels more like a guilty pleasure than anything. Know what I mean?

ETA I actually haven't started watching EoE yet, but uh, it's right on top of my things to watch.

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I totally agree with your lists of 5 good points why one should watch this show, though I would place Jun Ki on the top of my list as my reason for watching this show and for watching it again for the nth time! Just love him in those 'tortured-soul, emotional bawling' scenes. Am not a big fan of him before but after watching him in Time Between Dog and Wolf with this 'tortured-soul' scenes he totally win me over. As you said he's a great actor considering his age and on top of that a really yummy eye candy!. And I think that Iljimae for all it flaws still shouldn't be missed by anyone who consider herself/himself a K-drama addict.

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Well said,

Strangely how I went through Iljimae. Of course, the script sucks. It took me about 6 episodes to kinda get who related with who and how. And after that, nothing really happens included the wth endings. Anyways, I didn't have anything to watch, I chose it, I won't regret.

Only a few comments
- Lee Jun Ki is still bugging me with his overacting. But somehow I get used to it.
- The first romance with Shi Hoo and Hyo Joo is .... I admit it IS creepy !

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@Sere,

"Are you watching East of Eden? How’s it? Cos I’m strangely attracted to it. It’s one of those dramas that I know shouldn’t be my thing, but for some unknown reason I feel strangely compelled to watch."

Oh I'm totally loving East of Eden. All the misery and suffering is melodrama heaven for Belleza!! :D (Belleza will btw watch anything. If it's Park Shi Hoo flexing his manboobs or Choi Ji Woo's eyeballs flooding Eden, Belleza will watch!)

The visual direction is kinda cheesy (personal thing with the director's style, and I had similar issues with his Le Dolce Vita and Ireland), but I think he's really good -- maybe even among the best in Korean drama -- at directing actors. He gets them to move out of "talking head" and he's good at creating interpersonal tension thr [Read more]

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In sageuks, sometimes the actors cant really act either because of the script or because tradtitionally, in sageuks, actors dont really go all out. like...idk. But I watched a million sageuks before, and the acting style is very apparent after watching like at least five. (except Immortal Yi Soon Shin. THAT sageuk was amazing-I recommend you ditch these fusion whatever's and really watch a great drama. )

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Poor writing and logic all around, but I admit I was pretty entertained. Its just one of those dramas that you don't take really too seriously. While I do agree its not completely a sageuk, I kind of grew up with some (probably even worse) Chinese fusion dramas. I just love the sort of old atmosphere this entire drama had. Not to mention beautiful cinematography.

All around I think the acting is generally very good. The supporting cast is absolutely excellent!! TONs of wonderful veterans that steal the show and warm your hearts! Lee Jun Ki was watchable, still a little over the top at times but definitely improving (and hey, I rather watch animation over woodeness anytime!) I have to say I was impressed by Lee Young Ah's vibrant portrayal. I saw her in some variety shows and [Read more]

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^ I totally agree with what you said.

The flaws in the script were pretty obvious, but I enjoyed it thoroughly (even more than Hong Gil Dong; and I'm not even a Lee Jun Ki Fan!).

I think ppl kind of gave up after 6 to 7 episodes because it was rather slow in the beginning. I too, stopped at 7 because it got so repetitive and then re-continued after 2 months just because I didn't have anything to watch. Maybe I was touched by Iljimae's plight and I enjoyed how he transformed into the Hero gradually. I thought the visuals were not really OTT, and I loved how they showed explanations on how Iljimae managed to steal the stuff later on. (flashbacks)

I might as well just get kicked, but I didn't think the acting by the main cast was really THAT great. Lee Jun Ki's amazing when playing serio [Read more]

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Thanks for the great review!

I couldn't get into Iljimae at first... took me a while to get used to the overacting at times. Think the show only kicked off for me when Iljimae finally made his appearance. ^0^ Have to say though...Iljimae had a cooler costume than Chil Woo...

The ending was disappointing but it didn't bother me too much...probably because I never did get into the whole show. I admit the only reason I watched Iljimae in the first place was because of Lee Jun Ki...and later PArk Shi Hoo (those pecs are really to die for...)... pure eye candy. It was a little hard to think of it as a sageuk really.

I'm loving Kingdom of the Wind though... it's a refreshing change from all the fusion stuff that's going around... shades of Jumong...

I'd love to read your review on Ch [Read more]

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"pure eye candy. It was a little hard to think of it as a sageuk really."

Yeah, I don't see it is as a saguek at all. At all. Even Hong Gil Dong, the 2nd half of it played it fairly straight, tracking down the usual downfall of flawed men. Whereas this version of Iljimae is Batman in Hanbok. Lee Jung Ki was The Dark Emo. Lee Young Ah's character was the girl Robin. Han Hyo Joo was Rachel. His master was Alfred. Why so serious? ;)

"I might as well just get kicked, but I didn’t think the acting by the main cast was really THAT great"

I think part of the problem was none was allowed to play straight man. The only really give-and-take between the four went on between LJK and LYA, but the problem there was both actors were competing for attention in their scenes. I liked t [Read more]

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Iljimae was not my cup of tea and no matter how hard I tried I didn't find myself liking it. I agree with you. The flaw lies in the script (I see alot of potential in Iljimae and its a shame that it wasn't good). I understand that Iljimae is about ILJIMAE but it feels like its too much about him and too little about everyone else. Part of why Han Hyo Joo (well most of it was her own fault) and Park Shi Hoo were both so wooden is because the scriptwriter never bothered to give them much personality. Eun-Chae is extremely one dimensional. "Oh i'm good. I'm rightous. blah blah blah." They should of developed the relationship between the two brothers Iljimae and Shi Hoo. But instead, they made Shi hoo into a heartless guard whose sole purpose in life was to catch iljimae. There were many chara [Read more]

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Hahaha..thanks for the review! you really cracked me up..well i couldn't comment anything coz i haven't had the time to watch it..while i never really gave much interest to saeguk drama, the top ratings of it has tempted me to watch..like i was tempted to watch Chil Woo for the eye candy of Eric! i'm curious how you would review Chil Woo for its, like you said, insanity!
Perhaps i should just go for Iljimae though i might end up wishing the time machine invented..hehehe..

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I didn't think Han Hyo Joo or Park Shi Hoo came off as badly as others mentioned. Anorexic, sure. Featuring major manboob jobs for a 16th(?) century character, sure. But they did well as their window dressing can reasonably be.

"I understand that Iljimae is about ILJIMAE but it feels like its too much about him and too little about everyone else."

Yeah, but that's the thing. None of the characters -- not even his dad's death -- really matter in the greater scheme of Iljimae. The Iljimae character develops strictly from his adventures/missions, evolving only to complete a more difficult mission, until he meets the Boss. The hook of each episode isn't development in character, but the trick that Iljimae pulls to complete the mission. In boy's adventure fashion, it's all thrill s [Read more]

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Thanks for writing this review! I laughed a lot reading it. :-) I too am amazed I actually stuck with the series until the end (I've given up on much better shows long before!)

I don't really know what the writer wanted to say with this version of Iljimae and the ending kind of left me hanging. Junki is a good actor though - he had a lot of LOL moments.

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well I watched about ten minutes of the first episode and said to myself..let watch this another day when I am really really bored. It odd how some dramas simple do do grab you, maybe I was still hurting from Hong Gil Dong ending and was shy of the same sort of show, I can not tell you how p*issed I was at the ending of Hong Gil Dong, I will never watch it again with that ending, and that is my mark on a good drama, being able to watch it more than once.
Maybe because I am a guy and thus more Lee Jun Ki proof, but I couldn't get into this drama at all, one day I give it anther go..maybe, I always said there no such thing as bad drama, there has to be something in there to watch, so it will for now go on to my watch someday list .
[note I really really do not like sad melodrama or sad en [Read more]

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belleza, I, too, thought Iljimae was "glorious stupid fun" for a good while. That's why I even managed to finish it. But in the end? It totally just wasn't worth it. There are shows that, like Strongest Chil Woo, are totally ridiculous and follow no semblance of logic whatsoever, but that still manage to work. Films with no character development or plot, and just oodles of gorgeous fun and visual power, but that are still masterpieces, like Duelist. But Iljimae? I felt that the writer actually WAS trying to say something, to do something other than just engaging in mindless entertainment, but that she failed utterly and miserably. And she had absolutely zero sense of how to use time properly. Compare Iljimae and Strongest Chil Woo, and I think it becomes pretty clear where the scripts dif [Read more]

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@Belleza: wow, I really got you going! :) EoE, such as you reviewed it, sounds even more appealing now. I'm definately going to watch it, the sooner the better. Ha, that didn't take much persuasion, did it? ;)

"If they wrote Lee Dae Hae as such a “wicked” woman, East of Eden would be drama of the year candidate. They won’t though, and so I kinda resent that they namechecked the story as such."
Maybe they chickened out of it? Thought it might not appeal to most of their viewers? I like when writers and TPTB write their villains as such, bad and terrible and sneaky, characters you can tell from just one look they indeed *are* the villains. Sometimes, in movies or shows, the distinction of heroes/heroines and villains is much more subtle, and THAT I like even more. Maybe is that su [Read more]

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@Belleza

I always totally agree with you. you make good comments.

I don't understand Korean, usually I have to wait for the dvd or watch a few eps on youtube with subs (mostly only a few have subs not the whole dreams) but for Iljimae I'm very greatful some one uploaded each ep with subs on the next day till the last ep. I enjoyed watching Iljimae because I like Lee Jun Ki and the whole cast. Jun Ki is pure eye candy!!!!!!
I am a so K-drama addict, I did not watch much regular TV, may be this fall I'll give it more time with the big elections (USA and Canada) going on.

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@Dahee Fanel

Oh I forgot to ask you sometime before. Is "Dahee Fanel" a wink at Escaflowne? I saw Sakamoto Maaya perform some years back, and got to talk with her a little the day after. Really vibrant persona.

"On a more general note: Lee Jun Ki’s acting is a good example of this show trying to achieve some themes. He’s basically acting three different characters: himself without memories of his childhood, himself with memories of his childhood, and Iljimae. "

That's the blueprint for the character, but that's not really how Lee Jung Ki was playing the character. There was maybe one or two scenes early on where Yong-ee introspects (i.e. "LJK emotes like Leonardo Dicaprio circa Romeo and Juliet ") upon his terrible past. But, all the revelation really does is alleviate [Read more]

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@Belleza

All I can say is: Korean actors are so good looking and Korean actresses are so pretty, and I am all for eye candy.

I hope there will be a *Mr. Roper* too if Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon team up again in that new drama.

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"Warm for his form" LOL. Omg I'm stealing that.

I agree. crap script- fairly good acting.

I kept waiting for it to get better. What a FOOL I was.

but.....Lee Jun Ki, was as always, the bee's knees.

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@dc,

"I hope there will be a *Mr. Roper* too if Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon team up again in that new drama."

The story's too much like Coffee Prince, I think. In CP, she already played a character who look liked a dude who fell in love with a dude while pretending to be another dude. YEH probably wants to tackle a proper drama now.

Personally, I'd have loved for YEH to do a sports-themed K-drama, emphasizing her warrior girl persona. Like a remake of "Forever the Moment." Or to make a truly meta-Hallyu event and cast YEH and JJH in the Korean Hana Yori Dango, where JJH *ISN'T* Douymoji (ergo, she ends up with someone else. Booya Goong fans!! :P )

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Sorry but I dont agree with Your opinion..
I found Iljimae really interesting and also the perfomance of the actors were brilliant^^ I love lee junki <3 100 on 100 from my side

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@belleza

"Very much so. Like Taegueki or for me Women in the Sun. Yeah, even the trailer for Crying Fist (great movie BTW) gets me bawling. "

Word! Ain't nuthin stronger than sibling lurvveee. Taegueki made me weep my eyes out, or my eyeballs overheated from the overload of male beauty onscreen *fans self*...c',mon....admit it....Jang Dong Gun and Wonbin are the sweetest brothers EVA! :)

"Or when Gong Yoo was crazy in love with his sister-but-not-really-but-still-eww Sung Yuri. Oh wait, I didn’t mean that . . . okay I’m really weak. "

LoL. I agree on the eww factor. As far as kdrama incestous love stories goes, One Fine Day was pretty boring and hardly as tear-duct inducing as Autumn Love story (ah, time flies....my innocent Moon Guen Yang, can't believe she's a fully grow [Read more]

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@Felicity,

"Jang Dong Gun and Wonbin are the sweetest brothers EVA!"

I'd love to see their dressing room rehearsal, each looking at the same mirror, feeling vaguely threatened. And physically attracted. :D

Won Bin: I can't quit you JDG!!
JDG: I know. I can't quit myself. I'm so hot!
Song Hye Kyo: Oppa!
JDG: Does she always do that?
Won Bin: Yeah. I get depressed a lot so it makes me feel better. Have you seen my pictures lately? I need a hug!!

"As far as kdrama incestous love stories goes, One Fine Day was pretty boring and hardly as tear-duct inducing as Autumn Love story"

There's just something about incest that brings a tear to my eye, I guess. Especially when your brother is watching it with you and starts getting all grossed out! :D :D

"But YEH sho [Read more]

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@belleza

"Oh I forgot to ask you sometime before. Is “Dahee Fanel” a wink at Escaflowne? I saw Sakamoto Maaya perform some years back, and got to talk with her a little the day after. Really vibrant persona."

Yes, it is! :D I made it up when I was like, thirteen and supremely in love with Escaflowne. Wow, you met Sakamoto Maaya?? I am super jealous. I always got a really nice vibe from her.

"That’s the blueprint for the character, but that’s not really how Lee Jung Ki was playing the character."

Well, I was basing some of my thoughts on an interview I saw him in, in which he shortly discussed how he was playing three different characters in "Iljimae", and how his previous role in "Time Between Dog and Wolf" had helped him hone those skills, so that it was easier for him [Read more]

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"and how his previous role in “Time Between Dog and Wolf” had helped him hone those skills, so that it was easier for him this time around. *shrugs*"

I didn't like a lot of Lee Jung Ki's performance in TODAW (felt the acting of the leads overall was a touch poor for the crackling story they were trying to do . . . mostly watched the show to watch Choi Jae Sung and the Godlike Kim Gab Soo prod on the dogs and wolves), but I enjoyed how he shifted his character's personality depending on the company he kept. The smarmier he's allowed to play, the better Jung Ki gets.

"I made it up when I was like, thirteen and supremely in love with Escaflowne. "

Yeah, it was one of my favorite shows back then. On a different occasion, I saw Kanno Yoko (pre-Bebop) perform the theme song to that an [Read more]

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hey guys, may be i'm not fully agree with you. i think iljimae it's not that bad.who cares about usual plot...i dont want to see movie which is not entertaint me at all (or makes me sleepy)!
and ILJIMAE is one of my fav "saeguk" drama. lee jun ki acting is great. he can improve his acting step by step. and collaboration with lee moon shik it's just great! i love them both here!

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well i got to say at first i really wasn't interested in the drama at all
but the only reason y i started to watch iljimae was because of junki
i just wanted to support him all that i can =]
the drama turned out great though but the ending was sucky..
sarange junki ur AMAZING!!

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illjimae is the best series i've ever watched...two thumbs up..ILLJIMAE is one of my fav saeguk drama..lee joon ki's acting is very brilliant..the plot is very unpredictable..

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I'm currently dowloading Iljimae and couldn't say anything about it. But this is the first bad review that I read from many excellent reviews out there for this drama.

Being a 'sageuk' fan and only God knows how I love to watch this kind of drama. I think the Hong sisters did a wonderful job with Hong Gil Dong. Since the first time, you got a period drama with a comedy element in it. And, if you actually observing the drama carefully, it did defer itself from other period dramas. Plus, the themes in that drama cover many things from friendship, betrayal, love, sacrifices, and etc... Although the ending gives you a mixed feeeling, what the writers wanted to make a point is that although Gil Dong is gone, but his view and attempt to make the world a better place lives forever. It is a pre [Read more]

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This was one of the best dramas I've seen!
I don't get it... How could you not like... love this series? It's about a hero who decides to live quietly until he finds his long lost sister and she gets killed. This had everything... Revenge, family bond, plots, action, etc.
Maybe things got lost in translation? As a Korean, I loved this series.

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I loved this show a lot. After so many Kdramas ist my favorite now. I don't understand your review, but its your review.

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hhaha... story line of this drama was bad... but the actors save it all...

too long character development for Iljimae which is a total waste... and they film the ending of the show, on the day they air it?? what was quite risky isnt - maybe coz Junki was sick ? (cold)...

anyways... tolerable coz of the actors, storyline sucks..

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i agree with you there. lee jun ki and park shi hoo: yumminess. at the end i really did feel like throwing a brick at someone. i couldn't believe that i spent all that time for THAT. the acting was pretty great. i admit that i did cry at some parts. but still it wasn't a drama that i'll be in a hurry to watch. ever. again.

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actaully, i only watched 4eps.
but i am curious about the ending, so i went to skip all the way to ep20.
it wasn't at all great.....zzz. intolerable. i won't watch it any longer.
first i watched because there are romance and i find that it might have some kinda historical genre that i like. but all in all, i just can't stand it, when the girl who are swindler wasn't the main actress, cause i find her more interesting then those POLITE girl which are so common to be main character...
and iljimae simply rocks. too bad the storyline just sucks.
:P??

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two words: true dat.
Though, I would have to disagree with you thinking it was a waste of time. At least you got to see good acting(and watched lee jun ki =]), and now you know.. not to watch these kind of things again-well...maybe.
and the hard work that was put in all this... i think deserves a better rating.. maybe 6 out of ten?... lol..

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I loved Iljimae. I don't usually watch historical dramas, but this was more first one that caught my attention. The acting was good (well yeah Lee Moon Shik was awesome). There was just enough action to keep me interested. I love the fact that the romance is relatively non existent. The "bad guys" aren't really fake either.Park Shi Hoo was a bit cardboardish in his expression and serveral times I did feel like "man they should have killed each other when they had the opportunity" but I still loved it. It's not that open ended... It's one of my favourite dramas.

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The script was a big down... but thank to the cast and maybe the PD.. its turn out ok. I think Lee Moon Shik was the real star in the show, when the scriptwriter decided that the father died, the drama turn a bit dull and plus a very horrible and irritating ending.

Iljimae is worth watching if you can ignore the bad script and just focus on the actors performance which i think wa brilliant

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Good review! I also felt that there was something missing in Iljimae. But I couldn't bear to classify this drama as bad, cause there are many good points that overwhelm those parts I felt as missing. I keep on using the term 'missing parts' cause I couldn't describe what they are. But I guess your review kind of articulates them well enough. Overall, not great (there are other better dramas), but I still consider it good and watchable and would still recommend it to others.

Agree that the some actors are good! I watched in Youtube the shooting when LJK was in prison and Lee Moon Shik was hitting him (father trying to educate his son). Then, when the Director said "Cut", Lee Moon Shik still kept on hitting LJK. Hahahaha poor LJK but LMS was good, he was so into the role.

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well i just finished watching all 20 eps..... and I agree with Dahee that I want to throw a brick and the main let down was the script.... what was supposedly a reasonable concept was basically ruined. People argue that this drama has everything to offer in terms of character development, complex relationships etc but honestly so do other dramas... people will say that ok well you shouldnt poke holes in everything and I agree and hell i watch anything and everything but this one really was disappointing for me. I was going rant on and point out how bad this drama is but I wont waste my time as if you are a Junki fan then your gonna watch it anyways and well as the review mentions above the acting was actually good too bad the script was horrible.

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i love this song and the drama so much ! It so touching

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Flabbergasted when i read this review and the comments following this. Iljimae has been the best period drama shown ever! The script was fantastically fabulous! The storyline just captivates the audience and one is kept to the edge of their seat as to what's going to happen next. Will he reunite with his family? What drove him to climb the walls of noblemen's houses? Will he be able to avenge his father's wrongful death? Strong moral values of fighting for justice and filial piety are portrayed throughout the series. Jun Ki was the best person to act this character out. We all know that he can grasp the laidback, comical aspect very well. However, in this show he's also shown that he can handle roles that require more maturity. This helped to balance out the tone of the show - while the st [Read more]

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