Short and spoiler free reviews – Part 1

Jang Hyuk is Ddolbok

Jang Hyuk shows his wide range as an actor in The Tree with Deep Roots

Hi: I decided to write these short reviews as a guide to anyone who is currently “discovering” Jang Hyuk. Of course, everyone’s taste is different but I hope this is helpful to someone. These are only highlights of feelings and impressions that stuck but for more detailed reviews I will need to re watch. In the meantime, here we go with the first group of series.

Into the Sunlight – 1999 – This is the latest I’ve seen (I’ve been discovering Jang Hyuk from his latest work to the earliest). Here, Jang Hyuk plays Myung-Ha a quiet, bad boyish, James Dean-ish type. A motorcycle, constant smoking and brooding is included for an added rebellious aura. The series is slow at times (lots of scenes of angsty teenagers looking at ceilings, bored, pondering…) I did become “impatient” during some of those scenes. The ff button was used, I confess. But I finished it in less than a week and I never got bored with the series as a whole. It includes one of the most romantic and sweet kisses I’ve seen in Kdrama so far (between Myung Ha and Soo Bin, his hand shaking with emotion and nervousness, it looked so sweet but real and sexy at the same time, my mother was impressed and that lady is not easily impressed) It also features one of the cutest bromances on screen, between Myung Ha (Jang Hyuk) and In-Ha (Cha Tae-Hyun). I recommend it, especially to JH fans, to appreciate his talent, already evident in his early work. But you do need to have patience for the pace and the teen angst. Watch this slideshow of Into the Sunlight screen caps.

Daemang (The Great Ambition) – 2002 – 2003 I love sageuk and if it includes Jang Hyuk, much better. Jang Hyuk plays Park Jae Young, a smart but “naive’ and nerdy guy who refuses to learn martial arts and would rather solve problems using his brain. It doesn’t always work out for him as his psychopathic older brother and extremely ambitious father set out to make his life hell. Jang Hyuk suffers beautifully as Park Jae Young evolves from “loser” to “hero” with the help of some very good friends and the love of his life, Yoon Jeo Yin ( played by none other than Queen Seondeok’s Lee Yo Won). Actually, this video which features Lee Yo Won, was the reason I wanted to watch this series even before I developed my huge crush on Jang Hyuk. While the plot moved slowly at times, and the psychopath brother got on my very last nerve there are so many lovable characters in this series! I also like the OST very much. Click here to read a longer review, with spoilers and images

Chuno (The Slave Hunters) – 2010 – I’ve watched Chuno three times and I will watch it again (I just got the DVD’s and I “need” to test them you know? It is not that I’m obsessed or anything…) However, I never watch all of Chuno. In fact, the first time I tried to watch it, I postponed it, because I felt it started out too slow. But later, when I finally watched it, I fell in love with one part of it. So in love that it still haunts me. So mesmerized and fascinated that when I listen to the equally extraordinary soundtrack I need to gulp down my tears again. Oh yes, because Chuno is all passion, action, friendship, obsession, love, unrequited, forbidden, lost and found love. But it is above all, raw feeling, raw, painful, deep, real feeling. The plot might not be perfect, I found some sub plots a bit dense (the slave revolt, the political intrigue) but Daegil and his journey through hell and back was such an unforgivable experience. Daegil, a legendary character portrayed beyond perfection by Jang Hyuk. If Chuno had been the only thing Jang Hyuk had done, I still would’ve thought he was the best Korean actor in history, just because of this performance. It is THAT amazing. I might change my mind some day, but for now, I’m stuck on Hyuk (and Daegil) who made me love a character and cry like no other.

The Tree with Deep Roots – 2011 – This is the first Jang Hyuk series I watched and it turned me into a fan (although not as obsessed as after I watched Chuno). It is interesting because I consider this drama to be better written and I do love all of it. I got into it from the very first scene, when Ddolbok was measuring the steps it would take him to get close enough to the king, to be able to kill him. His sharp eyes full of revenge and determination, his awesome action moves. I was like, Who is this man? I mean, I knew who he was, it was the guy with the abs I had just tried to watch a few days ago in Chuno (this was before I fully appreciated DaeGil) but here he was just so much more “alive” and intense (Ddolbok is intense from the very first scene, Daegil looked a little more “depressed”). And so I kept watching this fascinating story unfold, without blinking. Sure, Ddolbok was mostly a supporting character to the Great King Sejong (played by Han Suk Kyu ), but Jang Hyuk did an awesome job with Ddolbok, who served both as the king’s catalyst and the voice of the people. He had an aggressive personality, and his circumstances had filled him with rage. You could feel Ddolbok’s pain in his words, and his eyes. But he was also very smart, and funny and a great fighter. He reminded me of Zorro. So Jang Hyuk was able to show his wide range as an actor with Ddolbok, his dramatic, his action and his comedic skills all at once. This is definitely a must see, not only for Jang Hyuk fans. I consider The Tree With Deep Roots a masterpiece and the best written korean series I’ve watched so far.

4 responses to “Short and spoiler free reviews – Part 1

  1. Hi DF, maybe you can try getting Chuno on blueray from the sites. I bought it from a shop. What i can say is that over the years, JH’s voice has deepened, i think he looks better as he aged than when he was young (of course that time minus the abs). I like his look most in Thorns, it was v endearing and i wished i had a gym teacher that HOT. it was good he decided to stick to acting than singing.

  2. Dear DF, wow, thanks for sharing. All of you amaze me. Like you, im a late starter to appreciate JH work. Ironically the 1st one i watched was Chuno when it first screened, in fact the only reason i bought the dvd then was becos it was on blue ray and one of my friends told me to buy it becos the station broadcast was too slow. So i bought bcos it was also a good price for the dvd, guess what, i kept it in the drawer until recently. Same as Thank You, i bought the dvd bcos it seemed like a good story, AIDS was not a typical topic in kdramas. Then a friend told me she was watching FTLY and it was then at ep 8, so i decided to give it a try becos she told me it was funny. Boy, was i hooked. Ironically my friend dropped out bcos her Daniel whom she adores was not in enough scenes. Now im the one convincing her to watch it and also Thank You. So i back tracked to Thank You whilst waiting for FTLY episodes, also watched Chuno (like you ff some scenes) and now half way through Robbers (funny, this didnt give me the push to complete it. am half way through and lost interest). Btw, in between i also watched JH’s movies from Pls Teach Me English to Thorns. So talk abt fast tracking!!! Im trying to get the above except for Chuno and will watch. Chuno showed JH’s ability to act in sageuk (the 1st i watched was Da Jang Geum, and i simply love the actress Lee Young Ae, she is so beautiful and classy) so i want to try and get hold of Daemang and the Tree with Deep Roots. Appreciate if you could give me the links to watch those. Tried sourcing for the dvds, there are none in my city. And i need it w english subs pls. Thank you again for all the reviews and sharing. All of you are superb.

    • I bought Daemang on a site called Robber, try watching from ep7 on. Then go back to what you skipped. You don’t want to miss how wonderfully Jang Hyuk repents and begs forgiveness. Its one of his best talents. Plus, the chemistry grows from ep 7. Tree With Deep Roots is amazing. I would love to get Chuno on blueray!!!!

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