Scarlet Heart Ryeo Review – Guest Commentator – Review Leaver
Watching drama is enjoyable, recapping a drama adds another level of fun, and ratcheting it up another notch are the interactions and exchanges the comment section. My enjoyment of a drama increases sharing opinions with those that are watching the same drama. Everyone brings a different perspective and provides a sense of fan community.
I asked an avid and insightful SHR commentator, Review Leaver, to answer any four questions about SHR.
Review Leaver take it away and share your thoughts on SHR…
Q1) What did I like best about SHR?
- If I had to name only one thing…Actor Lee Jung Ki.
No one else would have brought to life 4th Prince Wang So to the level he did. Even those who detract from SHR noted it was because of him they made it through the series. This was his best acting to date. I think that for a long time to come, if any other drama writes up on the 4th Goreyo Prince Wang So, the actor playing him will always be up against the standard and identity set up by Lee Jung Ki in SHR.
Other than that, the other strong points I liked about SHR:
- Great Actors for the Princes and Queens/Princesses. They brought alive each of their characters, and whether we loved or hated them, it meant they had brought out the essence of the role they were to portray.
- Great Eye Candy. It never hurts when you have such lovely looking men in each scene- especially when we have such a close up view the whole episode!
- Great Costume design and Cinematography. Hands down awesome. E.g. that rain scene would have been hard to trump given it was already done in C-version (Scarlet Heart), and yet K-version (SHR) managed to do so. The costume and cinematography hyper charged the great acting in that scene.
- Wonderful alternations in story line and plot that made this differ for viewers from C-version. SHR was not just a rerun with better faces and costumes. Hae Soo delivering a child and leaving it behind, as well as Choi Ji Mong’s mystery and Lady Oh really brought some wonderful additions and strong characters to the K-version storyline.
- Great Character chemistry between the princely brothers, their Queen mothers. Also, the chemistry between the lead hero / second lead and the leading lady was off the charts – and helped bypass some acting issues for the actress.
Q2) What did I like Least About SHR?
- If I had to name only one thing: The need to watch 2-3 versions of the same drama (every Monday and Tuesday for several weeks), so that I did not miss any critical awesome scenes or important moments to the story line. e.g. The make-up scar covering moment pre-rain ritual with Wang So and Hae Soo (recall he almost kissed her) being the biggest one example of this. I have no idea how the production team thought it was ok to edit that out for any version. That moment is what the entire relationship is built around for Wang So and Hae Soo. Unfortunately, the alteration in scenes and story was noted though SHR in nearly every episode. I have never had to put so much effort to watch a series. The fact that I did speaks for itself, on how much I found it worth my time. However, I was furious every time I watched a new version and found something new. Seriously! I was enraged! Who does that to their viewers??! It was done 6 months before airing…so why did people in Korea see something different than people in China which differed from what we saw in Drama Fever in the USA? This was the most horrible and unacceptable fact for me about the whole series.
Other than that – Other issues I had with the Series:
- Choppy story line brought out by both poor editing, and lack of back story or thought moments for the characters on screen. The lack of explanation in the story line for the actors/characters as they made critical decisions, resulted in a deficit for viewer comprehension of their reasons and thoughts behind those choices…which resulted in it not making sense. This weakened the character, as well as made the story appear to go off the tracks. (e.g. Woo Hee dying and her reasoning, or Hae Soo’s thoughts post Wang So’s Marriage as she faced issues, or Wang So’s thoughts before he married Yeon Hwa, or any of Ji Mong’s thoughts and reasons).
- Extreme Editing. They edited out a lot to bring the series to 20 episodes, and since this was pre-produced series, I don’t understand why the production couldn’t edit it and then tell SBS how many episodes the series was. The episodes appeared choppy due to extreme editing.
- Hyper-zoom. The close up / hyper-zoom views for almost every scene in the series was straining the eyes, and detracted from the story; as you could not see the characters interact on the screen. IU was not able to handle well the zoomed view with her acting issue.
- Lead actress limitations. Actress (IU) needed more work on the more emotional serious moments that began half way through. Also, while she was cute for the first half, she needed more depth even there to her acting- due to the hyper zooming of the camera…it didn’t work well for her. However her chemistry with all the men counter-balanced this deficit.
Q3) Would I recommend SHR?
Absolutely. Despite its issues, SHR was an addictive series with great acting and an amazing take of the story (despite attempts by editing to sabotage it) that tugged at your emotions until you nearly broke down, and had to distance yourself from it to continue. Despite its issues, viewers were willing to put in the effort of watching 3 versions, (In my case this included live streaming on Monday and Tuesday mornings before going to work) to ensure we saw every bit of storyline there was floating out there. That is powerful.
Q4) Are there similar Kdramas to recommend?
Hmm. There is a lot of Kdramas set in Senguk. Faith with Lee Min Ho, and Time Slip Dr. Jin may come close to similar story-lines as SHR for their time travel take. Roof Top Prince is a good reverse take on it as well. However, anything in K-verse with this exact combo seen in SHR (in another Kdrama); I come out empty. Lee Jung Ki has been in several dramas, so look up his drama history for Ijimae and Arang and the Magistrate – though they are very different in story line to SHR.
Similar shades to me (a personal opinion on a global sense by me) to SHR (with the history and realistic (aka tragic)) story line however can be found in C-verse: there is the Imperial Doctress and Prince of Lang Ling which are similar in type but without time travel.