Mr. Sunshine (2018– )
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The acting is spectacular, the cinematograph is so too. Everything about this drama was perfect. If you're into melodrama with an epic storyline, this one's for you.
I dare anyone to get through this show without laughing, crying, cheering and marveling. EVERYTHING about it is just that phenomenal; the script, the cast, the cinematography, the costumes, the soundtrack (a feature in and of itself), and especially the two main leads. Even when they're not talking, they are still communicating loud and clear. It is truly a masterpiece, and the ending, though more bitter than sweet, felt realistic.
For those who feel the story/emotions were lacking, I'm guessing cultural differences are to blame. Asian dramas in general are typically far more restrained and subtle than our western "instant gratification" programs. On top of that, a structural feature of Asian languages is sentence ambiguity (unlike English, for instance, which spells everything out). This ambiguity allows for richly layered word play, full of subtext and double meanings, which regrettably fail to translate. The scene where Eugene runs into Ae-Shin under the blossoming plum trees is a prime example. In short, if you try to skim through this show using the same viewing techniques that work for American shows, you will miss 75% of what is actually happening and being said.
Normally I would give a romance-type k-drama a separate kiss/chemistry rating, but aside from the fact that there were no actual kisses to rate, in the context of this story, it also doesn't seem right. So I'll skip it this time.
Lastly, huge props on the rifle vs sword duel end of episode 11. It was powerful, s3xy and artistic, and ranks among my favorite girl vs girl fight scenes of all time (I half hoped they would fight again so I could see more).
To say I recommend this show would be a gross understatement. Enjoy!
From beginning to end the cinematography is stunning. Even simple scenes are gorgeously shot, capturing the landscape and the people of Joseon exquisitely.
The script and acting kept me enthralled in the storyline right from the beginning. The characters intertwine and relate so well that you are in suspense from the start. Many would say that this is simply a love story, but they would be wrong. Yes there is a love story entwined into the plot, and you could even say it is the driving force of the main story, but the motivation around the main characters are truly what drives this show home.
This show had be sobbing one moment and then with tears still clinging to my eyelashes laughing the next. The characters are incredible relatable and well developed that you almost forget that you're watching a show.
I want to encourage anyone who might be hesitant in watching this show due to it not being in English. It is, in my opinion, a work of art, that not only is entertaining to watch, but also completely and utterly emotionally grounded to humanity's compassion for each other.
Episodes 1-3. These are important to watch because they layout the background and key characters for the show.
Episodes 4-7. These could have been consolidated into 1-2 episodes. If you want to save yourself a few hours, you can probably skip some of these episodes and not miss out on much.
Episodes 8-10. There was more action and Go Ae-Shin shined more. She is such a tough woman and yet for so many of the episodes she was made out to be simply a lovestruck woman who needed protection.
Episodes 11-17. These could have been consolidated into 2-3 episodes. I almost stopped watching at episode 14 because it was getting so slow and repetitive with the storyline. If you want to save yourself a few hours, you can probably skip some of these episodes and not miss out on much.
Episodes 18-24. Go Ae-Shin and the Righteous Army really shined throughout these episodes. Based on what was laid out in the early episodes, it seemed like the Righteous Army would be a key factor in the show but for many of the episodes they were either not mentioned at all or were a very small part. I liked that the Righteous Army played a larger role in the last few episodes. To me, it gave the show more meaning.
The good episodes mostly made up for the slow, repetitive episodes, hence the 8.
I can only think of a couple of series that are on par with "Mr. Sunshine." "Band of Brothers" is one and "Descendants of the Sun" is another.
What is truly sad is that much of the world is quite ignorant when it comes to Korean history, I'm sure. It's a country that always seems to be at odds with Japan, and sometimes China and Russia as well. Its turbulent history has too often been plagued by invasions or other countries attempting to gain control of the small peninsula.
"Mr. Sunshine" tells of the time when Korea was, once again, fighting against Japanese occupation in the beginning of the 20th century. With virtually no real army to speak of and a king with little power on the throne, Korea or "Joseon" found itself relying on rebel guerilla tactics to try and prevent the Japanese from a complete takeover.
Several characters find themselves unknowingly intertwined with each other at the outset of the series. One boy finds himself quickly orphaned and making his way to America to begin a new life. He returns to Joseon years later as a U.S. Marine Captain. Little does he know how the turn of events would pull him into the conflict between his previous homeland and Japan.
The story's focal point is on three men who all happen to have feelings for the same woman, Go Ae-shin; a woman with a background as terrible and wrought with horror as the marine captain's. And yet, she is the heart and soul of the rebel forces. It is admirable and captivating to see this woman spearhead the rebellion, as well as her willingness to do whatever it takes to help her country. Tae-Ri Kim is perfectly cast, giving Ae-shin tremendous depth and complexity to her character.
The cast is simply magnificent from top to bottom. Every role, no matter how large or small, is handled with immaculate precision and depth. However, there is, to my mind, one who stands out just a hair above the rest. And that is Byung-Hun Lee as Eugene Choi, the marine captain. The man has a regal distinction that very few actors in history have been able to pull off with such ease. He may appear to be emotionless in many of his scenes, but to make such an assumption would be wholly inaccurate. I've said many times: an actor/actress who can say more with their eyes than with words, is a true master at their craft. Byung-Hun Lee is such a performer. I cannot imagine anyone else playing this part with the integrity and depth that he brings to Eugene Choi.
This is quite literally a "Do not miss!" series. With 24 episodes, each at about 75 minutes each, you are in for a wonderful treat. This is a show to savor. One might be wishing to quickly move on to the next episode, but I found myself stepping back and letting each episode soak within me instead. Like a perfect French dessert, you relish taking your time and savoring each bite. This is such a series.
For a series that has 24 episodes and where each episode last about 1h15min, it never gets boring. It starts bit chaotic but it's definitely worth it to stick around. There is a good balance between the romance, the drama, the fighting and there are some really funny parts.
Whether you're a person that likes history/romance/drama/etc... You'll love it! The closer you come to the end, the sadder you'll get because it will eventually end. I can promise this, I will not be shameful if you drop a tear and the end. The 8,8/10 is definitely a correct score and maybe should get even more. I don't understand why this series hasn't got more international attention because it beats Hollywood on every level.