Welcome to another edition of Friday Flix. This time we’re delving once again into the realm of Korean dramas. Seriously, whoever in Korea gave the OK to broadcast this stuff on Hulu and Netflix should get a huge raise. And whoever is holding back Japanese dramas from making it onto these same platforms should be fired. K-Dramas are taking over and we don’t mind.
Although there are much better Lee Min Ho dramas to be had (and Korean dramas at that) I still wanted to discuss the show Faith (also known as The Great Doctor). The description from Hulu:
Lee Min Ho stars in a thrilling fantasy epic, as an elite warrior in 1300s Korea who travels to the 21st century to find a doctor capable of healing the Queen. In a comic twist, his search for a doctor with godlike abilities leads him to a popular plastic surgeon, played by Kim Hee Sun. When she refuses to believe his outlandish story, he kidnaps her, dragging her back into the past to save the Queen. Will this stoic warrior give up his code of honor and choose love over war, and will this career woman ever consider a life less modern? Only time will tell, quite literally.
Those of you that have been on the edges of your seats for a Korean drama based on the politics and everyday happening of 1300s Korea, look no further. Seriously, don’t. That part of the show practically bored me to death. But as I’ve said to my friend Heidi, where there’s a Lee Min Ho, there’s a way. This series is available free on Hulu (as Faith) or on Netflix commercial-free (as The Great Doctor).
Did I mention LMH is in it? That’s probably enough for most of you ladies right there. And he’s pretty much a superhero samurai (yes, I know samurai is Japanese, but you get the idea). Much as I liked seeing LMH being an action hero in City Hunter, I also enjoyed seeing him hack and slash away with a sword and occasional lightning power (more on that in a minute).
In one sense this show has all the great workings of a Bollywood movie. They just needed to break out into song once or twice. They even have the nefarious mustached man and his weirdo sidekicks. But as far as dramas go, I did like that the lead female character wasn’t completely helpless and had value outside of her relationship with men. I also liked that one of the villains was a smart, strong female. For a 1300s drama, it’s fairly progressive in that sense.
Plus it’s got time travel in it. You know I LURV me some time travel elements. Especially when future time travel whatnots interact with present time travel whatnots. I don’t want to spoil too much, but think Prisoner of Azkaban in the way they approach time travel. They don’t delve into it a lot until right toward the end, then it comes together in a pleasing manner. That part of the writing was done well.
I also like that they tried to pull off the gray-haired characters. I imagine this is something like what Inuyasha would look like if they tried to do a live-action version of that anime. (And they could try. Rurouni Kenshin was well done).
Remember in the prequels when we spent more than five seconds on the politics of the universe? Remember how your rabid Star Wars fanboy friend had to wake you up once those scenes were finally over? Well, unless you’ve got a real penchant for old school Korean politics and the workings of a kingdom, prepare yourself for parts I didn’t feel bad fast forwarding through. Often it reminded me of why I’m glad we said farewell to kings and queens a long time ago.
The show has a hurry up and wait pacing. At times the action will be crazy awesome and you’ll feel like things are moving along and the story is really pulling you in and then… And then it slows back down to accommodate more explanation of politics. Yay politics!
A few people have superpowers. You may wonder why I’m listing this under the bad. It’s not the fact that they have superpowers that is the problem. It’s just that the powers are plot devices at best. The only ones who really get to enjoy using their powers are Fire Lady and White Hair. No explanation is offered as to why some people have powers and others don’t. We are told LMH used to belong to a group of superpowered freaks, but as for good guys now, it’s just him.
The main antagonist, Creepy Mustache has really strong freeze powers, but I guess he’s used them too much or they take too bad a toll on him, so they’re hard for him to use, so he doesn’t much.
LMH has a cool lightning power he uses a lot in the first episode or two, but then you practically forget he has them until Creepy Mustache or the power twins threaten him with their powers. As far as I can tell the powers are at best a plot device the writers pull out when they’re not sure what to do with a scene otherwise.
One small nitpick is the Great Doctor is extremely obnoxious the first few episodes, but I think it works because in the end she calms down and she grows on you. And I think we’re meant to see her character arc from bratty 21st century gal to mature woman that can handle just about anything.
I wouldn’t recommend starting off your K-drama experience with this one in particular. It took me awhile to watch because I’d lose interest and watch something else and then come back to it. I’d definitely recommend City Hunter, Heirs, To the Beautiful You, Secret Garden, Boys Over Flowers, and Coffee Prince before watching this.
But it is still interesting. I think it provides a lot of interesting ideas to consider as well, especially for those of you scifi/fantasy writers. And time travel. ‘Nuff said.
Have you seen Faith/The Great Doctor? What did you think of the show? Does it sound interesting to you? Have you watched any shows you found mostly boring but still watched all the way through?