Review: _Chuno:_ A K-drama rich with lots of martial arts, romance and even some history
February 15, 2016 7:05pm CST
Continuing my indulgence in Korean historical dramas, I was surprised to discover just how much I enjoyed this one. Lee Dae-gil (Hwuk Jung) has the reputation of being the best slave hunter in the kingdom of Chosun. And business as they say, is very very good. The king, Inso (Kim Kap-su), is not a very good one, and the land and people are sinking into a morass of mismanagement and debt. More than half of the people are slaves, brutalized and mistreated, and many of them have taken the drastic step of trying to escape and flee to nearby China, where they have at least a chance. Dae Gil doesn't care. He just wants to take his cut, and more importantly, find a young woman whose picture he carries with him. Along with him, he has his team, the steady, stoic General Choi (Han Jung-soo), and the impulsive, much too young, Wangson (Kim Ji-suk). While Choi is the darling of the women of the inn that they stay at, he's not the sort to settle down and instead seems to prefer spending his free time reading a scholarly text on warfare. The young woman, Kim Hye-won (Lee Da-hae), was once a slave belonging to Dae-gil's family. She and Dae-gil were very much in love, and he intended to marry her, but the couple were discovered. While it would be acceptable for him to have her a lover, she's certainly not good enough to be a wife, and in punishment she was locked up in a shed to die of starvation. However, her brother found out, and sought revenge -- killing Dae-gil's father and scarring the boy as well. Dae-gil has sworn revenge, not knowing that Hye-won is also on the run, escaping an arranged marriage. Finally, there is Song Tae-ha (Oh Ji-ho), a general who was the friend and companion of the late Crown Prince and who shared the prince's exile in China. But the current king, paranoid as they usually are, arranged for the prince to be murdered, and managed to do away with the wife and the two eldest sons. Now there is only a little boy left, and Tae-ha is determined to see that he is restored to his rightful place, and some justice returned to the Korean people... Eventually, it's Tae-ha and Dae-gil set against each other, and there are plenty of daring escapes, great fighting sequences, several heartbreaking romances, and some humour to lift the bleak mood. Directed by Kwak Jung-hwan. However, I did have two problems with this one. The first is the soundtrack, which is pretty good in spots, and fits in not too badly for the most part. But for reasons surpassing all understanding on my part, there are some really grating modern selections that are either gangsta or hip-hop, and they are jarring to listen to and break the mood. The other part is that the director is very much in love with the modern technique of harnessing the fighters and having them fly through the air at times, as well as using slo-mo sequences. It's not just silly, but gimmicky, and didn't work for me. So those are the reasons it got knocked down to four stars instead of five. Parents should note that there are some fairly violent events in this, such as plenty of martial arts, torture and the like. I would not suggest this one for anyone under the age of eighteen, nor for those who are sensitive as it does get graphic. There are quite a few deaths in here, and dished up in varying ways -- torture, blades, fighting, poison, hanging, you name it, it's pretty much there. This one comes in at over twenty hours, presented in one hour episodes. The feel is right in this one, with some sweeping views of Korea, plenty of heartbreak, character death, and some truly despicable characters. In short, it's a soap opera with plenty of adult themes, and if you can handle the odd sounding soundtrack, go for it. In Korean, with English subtitles. Made in 2010, by KBS (Korean Broadcasting System). Four stars overall, recommended.
2 people like this
• Austin, Texas
6 Jul 16
WOW! Sounds intense! I already agree with your 4 star rating and I haven't even watched it yet!! Going to see if I can find it online. Some stuff you can't get in America. It's a bummer! Online movies and television shows should be without borders.