Sunday, March 31, 2013

drama review: Faith/The Great Doctor

If you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after Time
If you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting
Time after Time

I haven't yet reviewed an Asian drama here, but I loved this one so much that I just had to.

I'll right out admit that what made me start watching it, was a teaser picture and me thinking the guy was good looking... I only realized later that I've already watched a drama with him, Personal Taste, which by the way has a really beautiful house playing some part in it. Anyway, the summary sounded interesting, too, so the decision was made.

The plot starts in a former kingdom of Goryeo, about 700 years in the past. The new king returns with his wife, but they are attacked and the queen is fataly wounded. Since the queen is a Mongolian princess of Yuan, to which Goryeo is a tributary state, her death would cause great political problems for the kingdom and the newly appointed king. Coincidentally they're close to a magical gate through which a legendary doctor is supposed to have gone to Heaven 1000 years ago. The king sends the head of his body guards, Choi Young, to go and bring back a doctor to save the queen's life.
Choi Young enters the gate and comes out in today's South-Korea. By chance there's a congress of plastic surgery close by and there he meets Yoo Eun-Soo, a former general surgeon. He kidnaps her back to his time and she indeed manages to save the queen's life. Though Choi Young promised to take her back, the king orders her to stay, thinking that having a "doctor from Heaven" by his side is going to help him secure his claim to the throne.
find the thing that doesn't fit in here

What follows is a fast-paced plot full of power struggles, intrigues, schemes for a coup d'├ętat - and romance of course. The plot is based loosely on actual Korean history, but adds fantastic elements, like some people having a magic powers ("X-Men" as Yoo Eun-soo called them).
In the beginning there's some comedy through the time travel element, but only in the first few episodes, then things get more serious. Of course, especially the men are not used to dealing with a modern day woman. The consequences of time travel aren't really dealt with, though the paradoxes make up some of the plot, the characters never really talk about it in detail. One topic however is the amount of violence in the past - of course as a modern woman, Yoo Eun-Soo has a hard time dealing with that; but she may not be the only one. The surgeon also has to deal with being a doctor under ancient circumstances - which means no pharmacies, no antibiotics, no clean environment, etc.

It's really quite exciting and sometimes I wish there'd been a bit of a break sometimes, everything was going so fast, you'd not have peace at the end of even a single episode. The romance between the two main characters develops nice and slowly. At first they don't get along very well, but Yoo Eun-Soo clings to the warrior because he's the only one she knows and Choi Young has to protect her in order to fulfill his promis to bring her back. They start to trust each other and that develops into more... but they both know that eventually they have to part when Yoo Eun-Soo goes back to her own time.
But before you can relax, enjoy the romance and catch your breath, the next disaster strikes. Up until the very end you can't be sure about how it's going to end - will she get back, will he come with her, will she stay, will they both even survive? You're still wondering about it even within the last 15 minutes.

Besides the beautiful historic setting, great costumes, sword fights and a good-looking main guy, I really liked the characters. Even side characters are well developed. For example the doctor and the warrior aren't the only romantic couple, we also see the king and queen getting closer. You get to know and like the Woodalchi bunch (the king's body guards) and the Suribang gang, even though they're only side characters. I also thought the female warrior guards of the queen were pretty cool, especially the head of the queen's maids, Young's aunt. And the "flute dude", one of the bad guys, was interesting as well.
I especially liked the Royal Doctor, who became a friend of Yoo Eun-Soo, listening to her, helping her out, teaching her. I'd really liked to see more of him, very calm, fascinating character.
talking about what it means to be a doctor
 But one last word of warning: some of these side characters will not make it out alive.

Sometimes I wish those things were easier to get your hands on in Europe. If there was a DVD set with subtitles, RC2, at a reasonable price - I'd get it in an instant. I'd read the book, too.
I really loved this series, it'd deserve more fans worldwide.

Wikipedia article about the TV series
Wikipedia article about Choi Young
DramaWiki Read more on this article...