Empress of China: Wu Zetian

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I told myself I wouldn’t start it many times due to the long length of the drama, but I finally caved. The costumes of the Tang Dynasty are just so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist. Now I haven’t watched any of the actors or actresses in the drama before except for Janine Chang, so I really just came for the costumes. I am in the beginning of the drama at the moment, and so far Wu Ruyi, our main character has captured my heart. She has the makings of all the main lead females that I like. She is smart, witty, gorgeous, and a fighter. Wu Ruyi enters the palace as a “imperial wife”, one of the dozens that comes through each year. All the concubines wait eagerly for their chance to be with the emperor even for one night. However, Ruyi, just wants to eke out a living in the palace. By chance, she is able to meet the emperor one night and he becomes interested in her (not sexually). He thinks she has interesting ideas and a cute personality. Instead of sleeping with his other wives, he ends up spending time with her whether that be just talking or hanging out. Of course, as this is the royal harem, all the women get jealous. Not the regular kind of petty jealousy, but the vicious, I’m going to poison so you will never appear in front of His Majesty again. Poor Ruyi made only a few friends in the palace so far, but has already had some stab her in the back. She is also targeted by the higher up concubines who do not like a young thing usurping their power and the majesty’s attentions. However much torture Ruyi endures, she struggles through it and becomes stronger on the outside. She gives it back as good as she has got. She knows that she can’t rely on the emperor’s fleeting favor and has to fend for herself.

I ended up really liking this drama which is surprising because usually I dislike watching internal harem politics and the viciousness of women who are jealous. However, I enjoy how strong Ruyi is and I really couldn’t care less about romance in the story. I just want her to achieve more power and give it back as good as she got it. She is enduring so much pain and misunderstanding now that she can’t get revenge on. Although later we will know that all this hardship will harden her heart and will affect how she rules in the future. I really also hoping that some of the friendships she has made will last her most of her rule because it will be so lonely for her if at the top of her power, she has no one to share her happiness with. However, in such a dog eat dog world, it may be the just the closest ones to her that stab her the deepest. I don’t know how many episodes I will watch of the drama, but so far it had me watching 10 in one sitting!

 

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Descendants of the Sun: All is Fair in Love and War

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Slick and cinematically beautiful are the words I would use to describe this highly anticipated drama. Bolstered by famous A-lister actors, Song Joon Ki and Song Hye Kyo, as well as popular writer Kim Eun-Sook, it has the makings of a hit drama. Here, Song Joon Ki is Captain Shi-Jin, captain of the special forces, and his right hand man is Sergeant Major Dae Young. They specialize in defusing dangerous situations where political balance is precarious. One day, while on leave, they become involved in a motorcycle accident. Per chance he gets acquainted with Dr. Mo Yeon, who at first suspected him of assault. Dr. Mo Yeon, played by Song Hye Kyo, is a brilliant surgeon who practically lives in the OR, and often gets passed over promotions not due to her competence, but to her lack of VIP connections. However, as the misunderstandings are resolved, they gradually become mutually attracted to each other. Due to Shi Jin’s line of work, he has to go on multiple emergency missions for the nations and ends up standing up Dr. Mo Yeon a couple of times. Each time, their dates are interrupted due to their line of work. Furthermore, their ideology on life is different. Shi Jin takes lives in order to protect people. Mo Yeon spends hours trying to save lives no matter who they are. This difference ultimately facilitated their belief in incompatibility and they decided to part ways. Shortly after, Shi Jin is deployed to Urk to support the war and disease torn nation. Mo Yeon ends up volunteering in the same region because she refused the hospital chairman’s advances. While Shi Jin believes that they are just “bumping into each other” while passing by, fate has brought them back together!

As I am only two episodes in, I have yet to be completely drawn in, but am intrigued how this drama will pan out. I very much enjoy post-military Song Joon Ki who is practically reliving his service again in a drama. Although he is swaggery and arrogant in the drama, somehow it comes off full of charisma and effortlessly cool. His competence and seriousness in dangerous times is definitely a plus factor. While Song Hye Kyo is not my favorite actress, she is decent in her role as a competent doctor who believes in her ability and is not afraid of power/connections. For me, I do not quite feel the chemistry between the two, however I very much enjoy their witty banter. They are not people who cling, but cooly let go of each other if deemed incompatible. Their relationship seems grounded in reality, and hopefully I will see some fire between the two soon! However, I feel the fire burning already between secondary pair of Sergeant Dae Young and army surgeon Myeong-Joo. Their story has not been delved into yet, but the angst is already flowing! I also appreciate that the drama is not just about romance, but about international politics too. I look forward to seeing how the politics, violence, and ultimately, humanity tie in!