"The King's Face" is a very visually lovely show. However, the general tone is so dramatic that it veers on seeming like a soap opera. It is not the acting, which is quite fine with the strong cast, but the direction couple with the dialogue. This tone keeps the weight of the show distant from the viewer and difficult to relate to.
This drama is romance driven. Gwanghae's first and current love is on the path to being his father's concubine, which is understandably painful. What is harder to relate to is the fact that the love is based on a childhood romance that was ill-established and subsequently too quickly forced upon the viewer in the present. The entire episode is based upon Gwanghae's inability to come to terms with Ga-hee's choice to become the king's concubine and the strained romance between them - it's just so difficult to connect with that I fear for the rest of the drama should it be based on little more than this romance.
As of now, there are a lot of political happenings surrounding the king's choice of concubine and face reading, but the plot constantly circles back to the romance. The politics is rather boring and lacks planning. Only one or two of the political happenings have carried through the first three episodes. The ministers seem more utilitarian to the plot than integral aspects. Lady Kim, the king's head consort, seems to be evil just to be evil. Her motivations were barely made known. A knowledge of history will allow understanding of Lady Kim, but coming at this with very little knowledge, which a lot of the non-Korean K-drama audiences are, it makes her a badly planned villain.
Then there is the direction. A lot of the camera work is very shaky; the poses that scenes begin with seem like they're out of cartoons; the amount of sobbing and facial contortions are much too much; the voice overs don't carry a sense of gravity but make the moment they sound in feel buffoonish instead. Morals are forced down the character's (and the viewers') throats.
On a brighter note, the acting is quite delightful. Seo In-guk and Jo Yoon-hee have a delightful presence together on screen. If romance does happen between them, it will be fulfilling if only because of their chemistry. Lee Sung-jae as King Seongjo is compelling in his fear of losing the crown to one of his sons or to political treachery. If anyone besides the writers can save this show, it will be the wonderful cast.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King's Face" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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