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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 27

2017/05/01 | 1577 views | Permalink

Even though they have explicitly engaged King Yeonsangun's military forces several times at this point, Gil-dong and his comrades continue to be oddly reticent when it comes to any actual clearly defined goals. Multiple public meetings are held here where various townspeople discuss the crimes committed against them by King Yeonsangun. I'm always left wondering how "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is able to feature so much talking and so little action.

Nok-soo and Ga-ryeong have some of the more interesting discussions too, but this is because all they really can do is talk. Neither Nok-soo nor Ga-ryeong have access to an army. Their backstories, though, do begs lot of obvious comparisons. Why is Gil-dong only a fond memory with Nok-soo, but a permanent fixture for Ga-ryeong? Is it because Nok-soo had greater amibitons or because, ultimately, Nok-soo considered those ambitions to be more important than Gil-dong's ideals of justice?

I suspect I may be confusing my narrative movements with that analogy. "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" has done a very good job of repeatedly emphasizing how the whims of the ruling class have been very bad for those without official means of defending themselves. The why is not always consistent. Sometimes King Yeonsangun is actively making the lives of these people miserable. Other times he simply cluelessly allows others to wield authority with disastrous consequences.

When this is all taken into account it's not terribly surprising that "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" also struggles to come up with an apparent solution to any of these conflicts. Strictly speaking Gil-dong can win (the fantastical resolution based on the legendary character) or he can lose (since King Yeonsangun will still obviously be King at the end). Yet there's surprisingly little tension about which ending we're going to get, since Gil-dong and King Yeonsangun appear to be living in completely different universes.

That's in the thematic sense more than the literal one. We know that eventually King Yeonsangun is going to move on from just having his men wander up toe Gil-dong and wave their weapons in his face in a threatening manner to actually pushing for a serious attack. We also know how King Yeonsangun is planning to start this fight out, with a properly vicious psychological move, the origin of which is finally explained here. Yet more than being the cunning evil manipulator he is so frequently implied to be, in person, King Yeonsangun is just...kind of a dope really.

Review by William Schwartz

"Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is directed by Jin Chang-gyoo, Kim Jin-man, written by Hwang Jin-yeong and features Kim Sang-joong, Yoon Kyun-sang, Kim Ji-suk, Lee Honey and Chae Soo-bin.

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