One of the odder quirks about "Scholar Who Walks the Night" is that the villain is kind of incompetent. Sure, he can beat the tar out of pretty much anybody in a fight- that's why Seong-yeol is walking the night instead of trying to take Gwi down in hand-to-hand combat. The problem is that Gwi's ultimate goal is largely political in nature, and he has two kinds of allies- not terribly competent henchmen, and political power players who are smarter than the overly ambitious vampire.
King Hyeonjo (played by Lee Soon-jae) is a particularly good example of this. He's a grumpy old man with better things to do than mess around with this vampire nonsense. With characters like him actually running the show, it's easy to see how Gwi has just been spinning around for the last one hundred and twenty years not accomplishing a whole heck of a lot. Well, there's that and the way Seong-yeol easily bamboozles him with the rabbit trick. Gwi's just not that bright.
Normally unintelligent villains are a pet peeve of mine, but in "Scholar Who Walks the Night" this actually works quite well to set up a battle of brains versus brawn. Even as Seong-yeol gets plenty of computer graphic enhanced action scenes, his focus is always on staying alive. After what happened in the first episode this has proved to be an imminently sensible precaution- I doubt Seong-yeol has even realized yet that his encounter with Yang-seon is what will finally allow him to take down Gwi once and for all.
And really, who can blame him. Yang-seon continues to be a rather silly young woman. She certainly has her charms, but to date Yang-seon has been acting like a character in a romantic comedy rather than an epic historical vampire fight. Yang-seon does have enough sense, though, to realize that maybe the situation is more serious than it looks- at least after rather stupidly putting herself in danger for no good reason.
There's relatively little real plot movement this episode, but I'm really enjoying the general tone of "Scholar Who Walks the Night". The characterization is really solid, and the cast play quite well off of each other. Certain basics of the premise are still a bit in the dark- the cliffhanger makes it clear that no, Kim So-eun was not hired to appear in just one episode. She is in fact the second lead. As to what this has to do with anything else, well, tune in next time.
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] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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