The past two weeks has been a parade of premiering dramas. The last of these dramas (for the moment) to premiere is the highly anticipated The Blade and Petal. I’m not going to be doing a lengthy review for each episode simply because I don’t have the time, especially when it’s airing at the same time as I Hear Your Voice, but if I really like it I might do a quick highlights recap for each episode.
The drama tells the story of the Goguryeo Princess Moo Young who seeks revenge on General Gaesomun the killer of her father, King Yeongnyu. She goes and infiltrates the General’s camp an becomes a spy, only to fall in love with his son, Yeon Choong. She then becomes torn between love and revenge. Basically, think Princess‘ Man, except with the gender roles reversed.
The drama starts with King Yeongnyu (Kim Young Chul) holding a meeting with his advisors on the ongoing conflict that Goguryeo has with the Tang Dynasty of China. The General (Choi Min Su) and his supporters advice the King they should strike the Tang as soon we possible because it’s the only way their own dynasty can survive.
The General further says that they need to change the Prime Minister for a stronger one, and even goes as far as saying that the current Crown Prince is not adequate for the throne because he is too weak.
The King loses his temper and says he does not want to go to war and refuses to accept any advice from any of his councilmen.
In that moment a servant bursts in the room and announces that the Crown Prince’s convoy was attacked by the Tang, however the Crown Prince and his sister, Moo Young (Kim Ok Vin), have safely escaped, even managed to capture one of the attackers.
Outside after the meeting the General and his minions are talking. The minions are scared that the one survivor will talk and say that it wasn’t actually the Tangs that attacked but them. The General tells them not to worry and continue eating their pork rinds because he will take care of it.
Yeon Choong (Uhm Tae Wong) ends up finishing off the survivor which he does in a spectacular manner, shooting an arrow from a great distance into a moving cart.
However, Moo Young who was traveling back with the survivor sees him, grabs a sword and chases after him. A noblemen, Jung (On Joo Wan) (historically Jung becomes the future King Bo Jung and is also the current King’s nephew) who was escorting the Princess also sees him and chases him as well. Yeon Choong defeats Moo Young quickly, not even bothering with her and continues being chased by Jung. He eventually loses him and Jung has no choice but to give up the search.
When he’s not out killing people Yeon Choong works as a sort of street performer who shows people tricks he can do with arrows such as shooting an apple while being blind folded.
He is out on the streets because he wants to find someone, and we see him holding a small medallion which from a flashback we learn was his mother’s. In the flashback he asks why is it that they don’t live with his father and mom tell him it’s because she doesn’t want to see his father even though he is a good man.
On her end, Moo Young tries to find out who killed the one survivor but ends up hitting a dead end. We her see in the market looking at a hair pin stand when Yeon Choong comes beside her to look at the hair pins himself. Their eyes meet and she clearly becomes instantly smitten with him. Yeah, if Uhm Tae Woong randomly shows up in front of me I would too.
When she finally decides to say something she looks around but he’s already gone. She spots him across the street and starts following him. She ends up losing him but when she turns around he’s standing behind her. They both smile at each other.
All of a sudden there is a commotion behind her and an out of control carriage heading her way. He manages to pull her out of the way, but in doing so ends up holding her upside down. Ummm…ok?
They end up smiling and staring at each other some more. Right, as far as OTP first meetings go, that was weird.
Yeon Choong goes and visit the General, his father. Yeon Choon tells him that he tried coming to see him before but he was never let inside. That’s why he took the job his father advertised, and took a person’s life for the first time. Ohhhh…
His father tells him to leave because he has no place in that house. Yeon Choong looks heartbroken. The look in his eyes kills me. Yeon Choong asks the General what does his mother who died and him mean to the General. The General doesn’t answer so Yeon Choong has no choice but to leave.
That night Moo Young and Yeon Choong think of each other.
The General gets a message from the King saying he is summoned to the palace because it has been discovered who the real culprit behind the Crown Prince’s attack was. The General’s minions tell him not to go because for sure it’s a trap and he will be killed.
The General is not about to back down from a challenge and goes. The King tells him he knows it was the General who ordered the attack on the Crown Prince, but he is ready to let the matter go because they should not divide among themselves with the threat of the Tang looming.
The King says he will agree to the election of a new Prime Minister if the General agrees to the installation of the Crown Prince on the thrones. The General also agree saying it’s the only way for them to survive.
The next day Moo Young is looking for Yeon Choong at the same hair pin stall but she doesn’t see him. She sees a poster of Yeon Choong advertising his arrow tricks at the theatre house. She smiles, glad that she’s found him and goes to the theatre house. When she arrives nobody is there so she does the only thing she can do; she waits outside.
That morning Yeon Choong is ready to leave the city after his visit with his father didn’t go so well, but when he sees Moo Young outside he changes his mind and tells his theatre house friend he wants to do a show in the city square.
Yeon Choong exits the theatre and Moo Young excitedly follow his along with many other people who are gathering to see the show. He demostrates his usual arrow trick but then his friend says they needs a female volunteer. Yeon Choong walks towards Moo Young ready to ask her, but one of her bodyguard moves beside her. She makes sign to the bodyguard to stand down.
Yeon Choon asks her if she is willing to trust him. She only looks at him.
First thing first: the drama is visually gorgeous. I mean, just look.
I do think that so far the visuals and the music are the best things the drama has going for it. The music itself is moody and fits the tone, even if it might be slightly overused sometimes.
The narrative aspect of the drama is where things are left to be desired. It’s not that the story itself is bad or has no potential, it had more to do with the transitions from one scene to another. Sometimes the tone does not fit the scene previous to the other. Now, I’m not saying that all scenes need to have the same tone and atmosphere, but the transition between two different tones needs to be done more smoothly. For me this drama’s transitions feel rough and choppy. Normally I would attribute this to editing and directing but in this case it is the writing that seems to be lacking. The writer seems to be a new writer with little or no experience (at least that’s what I gathered from the lack of info I gathered on the internet), and so I am hoping it will get better and smoother and we go along in our story.
The General and the King both seem to be grey characters so far with neither of them being good or bad. In fact, I’m almost rooting for the General just because he seems to give off a less creepy vibe than the King. I’m sure the King is not all that innocent either.
As for our main couple, I thought they had a weird first meeting. But again, that was the writing. I think they have amazing chemistry and the potential for a love to end all other loves, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
I loved how there was so little dialogue and mostly intense motion scenes, I think sometimes a lot of dramas just lack that dramatic factor. Plus, it’s so easy to recap when the dialogue is kept to a minimum.
All in all, I was a bit disappointed just because I expected more from the writing, but overall I think it was still a good start.