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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 1

2015/07/08 | Permalink

Seong-yeol (played by Lee Joon-gi) is a warrior scholar with a special interest in vampires. Matters take a turn for the disastrous when one such vampire by the name of Gwi (played by Lee So-hyeok) decides to make a serious effort to take over the world. The young lady Myeong-hee (played by Kim So-eun) ends up getting caught in the middle of this. Which is unfortunate, since Seong-yeol and Myeong-hee get along rather adorably together.

The first part of "Scholar Who Walks the Night" that really jumps out is style. This is another production that makes very good use of its attractive cast by giving them nice costumes. The characters all look equally distinctive regardless of whether it's night or day. At times they can be too pretty for their own good- it took me a while to figure out which character was the bodyguard and which one was the Crown Prince. Beyond that everything was fine.

The characterization is also somewhat interesting. The cast fits fairly neatly into straightforward archetypes, but with decent self-awareness. My favorite was actually Gwi, mainly because his big moment of comeuppance comes not from being beaten in combat, but when it's pointed out that Gwi's plan for taking over the world is rather stupidly assumes that Gwi can command complete obedience to his will through brute force alone.

As of yet there's not really any particularly strong punch to "Scholar Who Walks the Night", but given that almost the entire episode is just backstory for the real plot this isn't that big a problem. Director Lee Seong-joon doesn't take any big risks here. The use of computer graphic special effects is quite limited, and this subtlety comes off quite well in execution. Seong-yeol either loses fights or he picks fights with people he wasn't supposed to be fighting in the first place. This gives the impression that it's Seong-yeol's scholarly skills that will save the day here, not his fighting abilities.

Of course, with a lack of big risks comes a lack of big rewards. In general I like what I'm seeing from "Scholar Who Walks the Night" right now. The drama has very clearly telegraphed itself as being an epic story of conflict between kings and vampires, and the tone is clearly enough set here that the story is unlikely to be betray itself. Even the cross-dressing tomfoolery, while pretty much coming out of nowhere, just comes off like a rather minor quiblble given all the more important stuff that's going on.

Review by William Schwartz

"Scholar Who Walks the Night" is directed by Lee Seong-joon, written by Jang Hyeon-joo and features Lee Joon-gi, Lee Yoo-bi, Changmin, Lee Soo-hyuk, Kim So-eun, Lee Hyun-woo and more.

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