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[Funcurve Review] "Jackpot"

2016/09/17 | Permalink

Unfavorable Gamble

"Jackpot" is about the secret birth of Baek Dae-gil (Jang Keun-suk), a concubine's son, who is hidden away, and the King's other son, Prince Yeongjo (Yeo Jin-goo), who rises to power. "Jackpot" heavily relies on themes such as gambling, revenge, and secrecy to tell its stories. The drama seemed to have been lacking in viewer attention despite it being the return work of Jang Keun-suk while featuring up-and-comer Yeo Jin-goo. After watching the drama, I can easily see why. The writing is inconsistent and overly dramatic at times, while the characters fail to leave an impression because of their non-relatable personalities. Furthermore, the plot centered around gambling is poorly executed and slow-moving, making the show difficult to get through overall.

Screen 1

Episodes 1-2 Review

The first two episodes of "Jackpot" set up the backstory for our protagonists. I like the pacing of it, as the drama takes its time to show us what each character is like, and gives us hints as to who they might become. We start off with Baek Man-geum (Lee Moon-shik), a drunken gambler who bets all of his wife's savings away and does not look like he will change anytime soon. His wife, Sook-bin (Yoon Jin-seo), a palace maid, becomes increasingly annoyed with him. Lee In-jwa (Jun Kwang-ryeol), a man who's been wronged by the King and wants revenge, seeks her out and offers her a new life with the King, as long as she does him a personal favor.

Screen 2Screen 3

True to his promise, the King does start a life with her, as she becomes his concubine. The King wins her through a bet, and Baek Man-geum loses his wife. The drama really is trying to focus on gambling as an important plot device, and makes it look like everyone bets literally whatever they can if they are a true gambler. However, this aspect of gambling does not catch my attention in this show, because it seems so over the top.

Screen 4

Together, Lee In-jwa, and few of his allies are plotting to take down the King. I find the first couple of episodes somewhat confusing in terms of character motivations. I'm not exactly sure why anyone is trying to take down the King. I'm hoping with time, it becomes clearer, but as of right now, it's hard to work up sympathy towards the rebellious characters. Sure, the King can be quite strict, and seemingly has no true love for his wives, but I have yet to see a King portrayed any differently. It's unclear if he has done anything to warrant a revolt.

"The gambling theme feels forced and farfetched rather than natural".

The King and Sook-bin have a child, but because it was born earlier than expected, there's s some suspicion that the child is actually Man-geum's. In any case, Lee In-jwa wants the child dead, but Sook-bin hides him with Man-geum.

Screen 5Screen 6

The first couple of episodes had a lot going on, which kept things interesting. Rather, most of the issues thus far extends from the idea that gambling is such a necessary evil in this drama. I understand it's the core premise of "Jackpot", but what's throwing me off is that it feels forced and farfetched rather than natural and seamlessly integrated into the plot. Case in point, Man-geum has been nothing but a hinderance to Sook-bin while they were married, but now he needs to gamble to save their child. I'm not sure how the rest of the drama will go, but if the gambling angle can be reworked, I could see myself getting much more invested in the drama.

Continue reading on Funcurve.com

Funcurve is a new kind of reviews site. Their reviews help readers visualize the ups and downs of a drama from start to finish with an impression graph. Read more Korean drama reviews at funcurve.com.

 

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