Soo begins her adjustment to palace life under the harsh eye of Lady Oh (played by Woo Hee-jin). It's hard to feel sorry for Soo because while aspects of her new life are obviously unpleasant, they're also fairly unremarkable considering this is Goryeo. You know, none of the other maids get to have pick me ups in the form of handsome princes chasing them around every few scenes. Although I'll admit getting mad at Soo for giving immediate medical attention to the man angrily demanding immediate medical attention was kind of silly.
Elsewhere, Soo-kyeong (played by Sung Dong-il) and his daughter Soon-deok (played by Z.Hera) make an appearance. He's a high-ranking military guy, and she's his daughter who tries to impress men by playing dress-up. This being Goryeo, the amount of cute costumes available is fairly limited. I single these two out because Sung Dong-il is his usually jovial comedic self dressed in Goryeo military uniform, and Z.Hera is able to make the most of an inherently silly role and actually come off as fairly cute in the process.
Neither of these characters have a great deal of storyline importance, which is more of the usual problem for "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo". The main stand-out parts of the drama are noteworthy more for being weird and out-of-place than being genuinely interesting. This also marked the first time I paid much attention to Prince Yo (played by Hong Jong-hyun), not because he does anything terribly evil, but because his main scene here unexpectedly comes off as fairly erotic.
Once again the only character who seems important enough to really warrant screentime is Prince So- and once again, he's largely left to the sidelines, admiring Soo from a distance whereas the other princes admire her up close. Which is a shame because his big scene is a real highlight. Prince So is a big tough guy who absolutely will not back down from a fight no matter how much it may hurt him personally. Lee Joon-gi very convincingly looks like he's in emotional pain.
The big problem with even the good scenes in "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" is that they're only ever that impressive on individual merit. There's rarely ever any satisfying context, which mutes the delivery. It's puzzling why so much time is spent building up Soo's relationship with Prince Wook when we all know full well that storyline is a dead end. "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" looks pretty enough yet doesn't seem to have anywhere to go.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 7"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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