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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Three Musketeers (2014)

Country: South-Korea
Format: drama in 12 episodes
Genre: history, adventure,
Cast: Lee Jin Wook, Jung Yong Hwa, Yang Dong Geun, Jung Hae In, Yoo In Young, Seo Hyun Jin, Kim Myung Soo, Park Young Gyu, Jeon No Min, Lee Kyun, Kim Sung Min, Park Sung Min,
Synopsis: It is Joseon era that is full of confusion and betrayal. Young Park Dal Hyang goes to Hanyang in hope of becoming soldier to protect Joseon and marry the girl he loves. While arriving to Hanyang, he meets 3 mysterious guys who introduce themselves as Three Musketeers. On his entrance day, Park Dal Hyang finds out that these men are no-one else than the Crown Prince and his two guards and within the last 5 years, the woman of his dreams has become the Crown Princess.
Rating: 2/5
I must say that this was one of the most difficult dramas to watch and it actually took me 2,5 years to complete these 12 episodes - and for some reason I always think it has 13 episodes. I also say already that this will be one long review, so I wish you good luck.


Let's start with Park Dal Hyang. In the beginning of his journey, he is rather naive. He grew up in the country side where he did not have friends nor anything special to do. I think that was also the biggest reason he fell in love with Yoon Seo just in one month period. In a way it is awesome to see him and his world changing making a man out of him. On the other hand, he pissed me off so many times with his stubborn behavior. Once he grows up and makes up his mind about how he sees the world around him. he becomes clever man with great plans. In addition, I would give him a medal for the "best spying", because no matter how obvious his spying-hiding was, he did got caught just by once. Come on - when an area is full of "enemies" and he is able to go back and forth without being caught, it is something. For those who do not feel the irony, then I would compare his spying-hiding skills with an elephant trying to hide behind a coconut.  Out of all Jung Yong Hwa roles, this might have been the best one with the best acting as he just had more things written on his role than in other dramas.
I definitely had weird feelings for the Crown Prince So Hyun. Most of the time I found him really arrogant bastard who thought he was doing good while making his closest suffer the most. In the end it is difficult to say if his actions were correct or not, but as also in the drama they say, you can only know in the future if the things made were right. Why I disliked him was mostly due to his behavior toward Crown Princess. Despite that the blame was clearly his, he made her the one in fault due "her over-thinking" and "not being enough" and made her suffer alone. Not only, he did not love her, but he did not let her be happy either in any possible way. On the other hand, this all makes it good to see how his feelings are changing a bit by bit and he is realizing how great of a woman she is. I only liked him in the very last episodes when I also saw Lee Jin Wook's great acting skills that made my heart melt a little bit. Other than the end I did not find him appealing by his personality.
Out of musketeers, I think I was most amazed by Heo Seung Po character and Yang Dong Geun's performance. This role definitely made me forget the horror from "I am Sam" - in some way he looks here much younger and attractive than there - well, they say that years just make men more handsome and in his case 7 years makes a big difference. Heo Seung Po loves to drink, gamble and have a lot of women, but despite being a "ladies-man", he is actually married with kids and when you see his family, you will definitely have a good laugh. His character is based on Porthos and similar to him, he adds the comedy into serious situations.
The last musketeer is Ahn Min Seo and I can swear that I forgot his name all the time through the series. He is a more religious than others and the calmest out of them all. Despite that he still goes out with them and drinks alcohol. He is also the most handsome man in the hole area, but despite that he does not mingle with a lot of women. But due to the fact that he is the most silent guy, then it is also difficult to write more about him as most of the time he just was there but did not make anything remarkable to talk more about him. Though Jun Hae In made his acting debut with "Bride of the century" and "The three musketeers" was his second role, you would not say that his acting is a "rookie". Until now he is still mostly part of supportive cast, so I am looking forward to see him in great breakthrough roles.
Most of the time I just felt sorry for the Crown Princess. I think that Seo Hyun Jin acted really well as she was able to deliver the frustration of the Crown Princess. To give the princess nature she could not show out too many emotions and this also always leads to the point where actress has to act with the same emotion and expression for a long time. That's why I was very happy to see the breaking point of princess - both to see more of the character and also to see Seo Hyun acting. Though, I might have felt mere sympathy for her, I guess she might have been most appealing character in the whole drama. I could really feel her distress and unhappiness in the palace. In addition, in the end it is good to see how the relationship with prince is developing.
One of the most conflicting characters is Mi Ryeong and I was fighting with my feelings for a really long time whether to like her or not, whether to feel sympathy or feel anger. Only in the last episode I got my feelings straighten out. Despite being maybe the most important character of all, I do not want to talk too much about her, because the more I tell you, the more I will spoil the drama. So in order not to spoil too much, then I just say that Mi Ryeong has untold history with Crown Prince as she supposed to become the crown princess before the light was shown on ugly truth. In a way she is just a woman who dared to dream too much and who learnt to turn her unfortunate life in her favor - without being afraid to dirty her hands. I like that from the start she is very mysterious character and you will only learn about her with every new episode. I guess that was the most interesting part to see in the whole drama. But I definitely want to give a big applause to Yoo In Young's performance, because she definitely nailed it.
Out of all the other characters in the drama, I should mention Choi Myung Gil who is a tutor-mentor for the three musketeers. In a way he is also the brain behind most of the things and as he has high reputation in the court and trust of the King, it is no problem for him to do everything. It did made me a bit suspicious about him as I was not sure if I should trust him with 100% or not. But he proves to be all good man who also punishes his students when he finds that they have crossed the line, even if it was for the best outcome.
The King In Jo was one of the most complex characters and he is the only reason why I would have wanted to watch other seasons too. If you do not know the history, then the Crown Price So Hyun died in mysterious way - there are rumors that he was either poisoned or the King killed him with an ink slab as his body was found in King's room. Through out the drama you can also see who King is starting to doubt if he can trust his own son. Other than that King is very nervous and even paranoid about everything and makes irrational decisions.
From more characters that I would like to lit in fire is Kim Ja Jeom - corrupted man who is also the main antagonist. He likes everything that puts more many in his pockets and more power in his hands. He is powerful manipulator and thinks no body can do him any harm.
For the last character I would like to say few words about Yong Gol Dae. He is the general of the so called barbarians. He is intelligent man and amazing swordsman. Park Dal Hyang starts off with him on a very bad note, but after understanding the situation and the thoughts, they start to tolerate each other more. At first it is very difficult to understand on which side he is standing and what are his purposes, but once things get cleared, you will see that despite being heartless army general, he is a man with a big heart and sincere thoughts.
Despite being officially said that the drama is based on novel written by Alexandre Dumas, then in reality there is only little similarities. You can loosely draw lines between which character is playing which part, but I think almost only thing that is similar, is the overall idea. I am a big fan of the book and that was also one of the reasons why I wanted to see it (in addition to Jung Yong Hwa), but I soon understood that there is almost no reference to the book.
If you ask me why it took me 2,5 years to watch - longer than any of the dramas in those years that I have been watching Asian dramas - then I have more than one reason for it and these are the following:
1) Some of the episodes go on with just one emotion - tension. One situation ends and right away another begins with the same amount of tension in the air - or there are many different things happening at the same time in different places, but the tension is the same. It is one rule of script - viewers are unable to stand one emotion for too long - especially tension. I lost a lot of nerves on it and left like breaking the screen just to escape this feeling. It did not make the drama more interesting for me - it was the opposite - I totally lost the interest. Just give me some more minutes to enjoy the victory and success.
2) There is a lot of jumping of time - meaning sometimes they go back in time to give the explanation of the situation and sometimes they go ahead of time. Most of the story is as a memoir written by Park Dal Hyang. To be honest, for some episodes I totally forgot about it, until they forcefully put it back in again in an unnatural way, as they just tried to give a better reason for the "time-jumping". In addition, the time reference is showed really badly as at first episodes show things that happened in few days with a lot of details, while the later episodes give just an overview with months difference within one episode. It seems more that the scriptwriters discovered that they have not enough screen-time to waste more or they just got lazy to develop the story to make it match.
3) They are giving rather good historical reference about the people and the situations, but at the same time if you are not familiar with the Korean history, then it just adds a lot of confusion whether you should pay more attention on this character or not. There is definitely much more historical reference than any reference to the book.
4) Secrets, secrets, secrets - if any one wants then I call up an challenge to count how many times "secret" is mentioned. I do not find it interesting when a whole conversation looks something like this: "I have to talk with that person about one matter, that I cannot tell you, concerning one other person, about who I cannot tell you, and you should be careful because of reasons I cannot tell you". Gosh dammit - this kind of thing makes me so angry - first of all, if you already hinted something then already tell everything; for second, is it not understandable that it is so difficult to protect oneself when that person does not even know from what or who should protect. Only in the 7th episode I started to understand what is really going on - I mean like. I watched half of the drama without understanding most of it and just hearing about "it's a secret".
5) Back-stabbing and betraying is the new fashion. In addition. connected to the previous "secrets", then in reality a lot of those secrets ended up not being much of a secret - they were just secrets to people who had right to know the truth and not secrets to people who will misuse the information. But what do you expect, when you can hear through every door or wall and around are tens of other people who are all eyes and ears. It is clear as water that someone from the servants is willing to open up his or her mouth to spill some inside information.
6) I had no favorable character - every single character did something or had some characteristics that made me not like them. It is difficult to watch something if you even do not have anyone you want to see.
In the end, I totally understand why they did not make more seasons. At first the production was written for 3 seasons, all 12 episodes, but due to lack of popularity, the production of other seasons was cancelled and only first season aired. They even aired the first season in many different channels and it also was shown in Thailand, but over all popularity was still low with average 2,4%. Maybe the reason was also that it aired on Sundays - at least from my experience Sundays is "no-watch-day" as on Monday morning I have to work or I am writing review on Sunday evening.
I think that the saddest thing is that in reality the theme is not bad at all and the actors are all doing amazing job, but it is just the script that makes it almost impossible to watch. I might have been even interested in other seasons if it was just a bit easier on my emotions - and I do not consider myself too emotional watcher - but it is just too much to see that "good" never truly win and who does not like happy endings? I am not saying if the end of the drama actually is happy or not, so watch it if you really want to know what happens.

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