[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 1
By Lisa Espinosa | Published on
It's finally here, folks! KBS's first pre-produced, star-studded drama "Descendants of the Sun". The drama dominated the charts at whopping 14.3%. It's Song Joong-ki's first drama after his mandatory military service, which is all too fitting. He as Soldier Yoo Si-jin is joined by Song Hye-kyo as war doctor Kang Mo-yeon, Jin Goo as Soldier Seo Dae-yeong, and as war doctor Yoon Myeong-joo, Kim Ji-won. From the trailers we knew that romance is the thread that will weave through the story, but war and it's trials and horrors will drive the plot as it brings people together and tears them apart. We've been teased for months, and now, without further ado, I bring to you my review of episode 1.
Those fans who have been waiting for Song Joong-ki's comeback will not be disappointed by the role he has chosen, his performance, and, of course, by his post-military body. But before I delve into his role, I have to say that the pre-production is evident. So far, I'm a major fan. The polish on this episode was buffed to a perfect shine. Yes, this is the first episode and it may not last, but even the cuts on the product placement were slick. Light, sound, color, and music were craftily coordinated in fight scenes or scenes full of tension. Camera cuts were well-thought out and the dialogue is well-timed with a touch of humor.
The episode was obviously devoted to situational and character development, but there was still excitement in the fight scenes and hospital scenes. The character introduction of young delinquent Kim Gi-beom was a nice foil to upright Dae-yeong in that they both suffer/suffered gang troubles, or at least that's the implication. A lot of the tie-ins were neatly done, including the lovely cameo by Lee Kwang-soo, Song Joong-ki's real-life good friend and oftentimes acting partner.
Such fluidities speak of experience. Director Lee Eung-bok has considerable experience in stories dealing with difficult subject matter: "Secrets", "School 2013", "Dream High", and "Sang Doo! Let's go to school" Hints of difficult pasts gleamed through the cracks in the characters' armor. The character bios that we've read include nothing different from the usual hero and heroine: a rough, cocky soldier with a tragic past and a good-hearted doctor. But what makes this couple special is the sizzling chemistry, and the build up to the action that is sure to come. Writers Kim Eun-sook ("The Heirs", "Secret Garden", and "Lovers in Prague") and Kim Won-seok ("The Queen's Classroom") also have penned a tragic tale or two. Some of Kim Eun-sook's dramas have been a bit precarious, but with the time given by pre-production those rough edges can be smoothed out. If this first episode is an indicator (which it may or may not be), than we have good things to look forward to.
Musically, the background tracks were a bit overbearing, especially when it came to the romantic tunes. This and the generic character outlines are this show's biggest faults, but the characters are on a great path to be molded into interesting people. For example, when Mo-yeon is wrong about Si-jin's character, she apologizes quickly. Such adult behavior is rare amongst adults in K-drama and it is much appreciated.
Most of all, stepping into a story that's in progress and peeking into the lives of the characters is the best part of the show. Si-jin and Dae-yeong are friends and comrades. Dae-yeong and Myeong-joo are estranged lovers. Myeong-joo and Mo-yeon are unfriendly classmates. There is a world that exists that we are made privy to, and that's just cool. The blossoming romance between Si-jin and Mo-yeon took root in those relationships. Most of the main characters know each other and we get to know them as Si-jin and Mo-yeon get to know each other. That process is slow and so we have a lot of mystery and backgrounds to uncover. But that is what the next fifteen episodes are for.
If you're thirsting for something to tide you over until tomorrow, check out Orion's post on her home country Greece where some of the drama was filmed, and her Preview into the show for tasty morsels of information on this promising drama.
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.