I don't know what to make of "Blade Man" anymore. It's focus keeps wavering and it picks up and drops plot threads seemingly at random. What happened to Hong Bin's powers? Why do they not appear for whole episodes at a time? Why do his powers only manifest in part? What is up with Madame Yoon and why does she not feel scarier?
All of these questions stem from one core problem: a distinct lack of follow-through. "Blade Man" tries to explore a lot of great ideas, but leaves them hanging. When they are picked up, the emotional connection previously built has already fled. For example, Madame Yoon is a sinister character, but she doesn't feel terrifying when she comes on screen. The only evil she emanates is when she is in scenes alone. With Hong-bin or Chang there is no ominous feeling looming over the scenes. It makes her weak as a villain.
The same can be said for Hong-bin's powers. They appear only when there is a specific need for them. Early in the drama Hong-bin suffered from heightened senses that have vanished. Only his sense of smell remains in tact and even that has not been used. Se-dong's reactions and knowledge of them remains unclear. It's a strange situation overall that deserves more screen time and is instead replaced by more stereotypical moments of rich man/poor girl problems that infest most romantic K-dramas.
There are also some very strange filming and cutting techniques used. Oftentimes the camera frame seems to be a mistake rather than a purposefully filmed angle. They look like a ill-timed still photograph rather than something filmed with intent. Or the way scenes are cut. "Blade Man" loves to show the end of a course of events then go back to show how the characters got there. It is a worn out technique that needs to be retired.
The strong points of "Blade Man" revolve around Han Jung-soo and his comedic prowess and the family that has taken root between Hong-bin and Chang. Actor Han has an innate sense of comedic timing that brings a wonderful levity to the scenes he is in. That comedy often serves as a bridge between Hong-bin and his son Chang who have grown much closer. Watching Hong-bin with Chang, seeing the man open up and learn to give again is very rewarding. It stems from his love for Se-dong and her efforts to change him. I like that "Blade Man" shows Hong-bin wanting to change and allowing Se-dong to help. His efforts change him and make him a better father, man, boyfriend, son, and leader. He still has a long ways to go and the temper tantrums he throws are getting a little old, but the growth is very much welcome.
The other strong point of the show is that it focuses on Chang's troubles at school. He misses his mother and hates that he is picked up by the hired help. It's such a natural problem for a child and I hope the show addresses is satisfactorily. I would love for Hong-bin to tackle it head on and become a more active parent. We may not get it though as the show has decided to focus on Se-dong's dilemma over whether or not to break up with Hong-bin. His father had an indirect involvement with her father's death, which is terrible, but the situation is a dime a dozen in K-drama. This couple has enough problems. It didn't need that one as well. It just detracts from everything else that is going on.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 12"
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