Drama Review: Faith, final score: 70%

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Drama Title: 신의

English Title: Faith/The Great Doctor

Episodes: 24

Channel: SBS

Genre: historical, romance

Cast: Lee Min Ho, Kim Hee Sun, Lee Phillip, Park Se Yeong, Ryoo Deok Hwan

Description: a modern-day surgeon is kidnapped and taken back 700 years to the Goryeo Dynasty in Korean history. General Choi Young (played by Lee Min Ho), a warrior, abducts Dr. Eun Soo (played by Kim Hee Sun) and returns to his time period so that the doctor can save the injured Princess No Guk. Can Dr. Eun Soo do what is being asked of her and return to her own time period? Or will she have faith in her heart and stay in the past to help the king become a better ruler who cares for and heals his people? (source: viki.net)

Tropes: time-travel, court intrigues, inept villains, icy hero, bubbly heroine, bromance, hurt/comfort

Review:  Nurtured under the care of two giants in Korean television scene, director Kim Jong Hak and screenwriter Song Ji Na (the people behind classics such as Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn and most recently The Legend) Faith garnered much attention and excitement prior to its release. However, the first episode revealed that despite having a great cast of actors, intriguing characters and potential for a compelling romance, Faith was not going to be nearly as ambitious and grand as the director’s and writer’s previous work. Many speculations could be made as to whether that was intentional or not and what exactly contributed to Faith’s shortcomings as a historical epic but ultimately those speculations carry no effect on whether someone will enjoy this drama. Awareness of drama’s weakest parts such as non-threatening villains, circular plot points, shaky directing and silly graphics is welcome in helping us adjust our expectations but I hope that it won’t deter anyone from giving this drama a chance. What Faith lacks in production, action and politics it more than makes up for in romance and character development. Choi Young, heroic and disillusioned general with painful past, and Eun Soo, funny, brave and whip-smart doctor from Gangnam, make for a magnificent and irresistible couple with love between them so powerful and epic as to put any other (modern or otherwise) romance to shame. For those who have reservations regarding the age difference between Lee Min Ho and Kim Hee Sun, rest assured that the chemistry is electric between them from beginning to end, and Lee Min Ho is so manly that Kim Hee Sun doesn’t look older than him for a moment.

But the Choi Young/Eun Soo pairing is not the only outstanding couple of the drama. The romance that unfolds between King Gongmin and his wife Queen No Guk is just as riveting and tantalizing if a bit less circuitous.

Another noteworthy relationship is one that forms between Gongmin and Choi Young, the insecure King and his conflicted subordinate; and although we are never quite given the satisfactory conclusion that it deserves, it is still very provocative and influential in shaping them as characters.

Highs: romance, good use of “faith” as title and recurring theme, OST (or rather this one song in  particular https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KY-P94zuMM)

Lows: production and graphics, recycled plot devices

My bias: Do I even need to say that Lee Min Ho is my bias? The bias wouldn’t even be my love for his gorgeous bits but rather his portrayal of Choi Young. Choi Young is a particularly swoon-worthy type of character for me…Manly, reserved, hopeless, with a bit of darkness in him. Watching him open up his heart to Eun Soo was wonderful and is definitely a particular brand of romance that I enjoy the most (a man who regains his will to live through love).  I can imagine that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I also think it’s very classic. It certainly has a lot of shoujo overtones and although I’ve listed Queen In Huyn’s Man and Dr. Jin at time-traveling alternative dramas I actually believe that Faith more closely resembles Fuugi Yuugi and Escaflowne, the shoujo anime of the 90s. The beautiful animation sequences that Faith had in the beginning (which were all but abandoned later in the series) made think of how awesome Faith would have been as an animation series where many technical and logistical pitfalls of fantasy storytelling could be avoided.
It’s likely that I’m giving Faith a lot higher rating than it deserves but being mindful of the opinions of many other fans who were insanely fond of the romance I’ve decided to give a lot of points on that one merit alone.

Comparative titles:  Queen In Huyn’s Man, Dr. Jin

Final score: 70%

2 thoughts on “Drama Review: Faith, final score: 70%

  1. I think it even deserves more points. For all its flaws, it told a wonderful story of keeping, having, loosing and trusting faith. Oh and both love stories but esp. Yoo Eun-Soo and Choi Young’s were swoon worthy.It was a straight forward love story without all those silly misunderstandings that Kdrama and sageuk romances suffer from IMHO. Both highly skilled professionals who live for their work because they do not have anything really going for them in their private lives, it was refreshing and humbling to see those two characters taking the fall. Because of their love for each other that is quite mature and upfront (they both know she has to leave and nothing will come out of it if not one or both make a life changing decision) and it is just beautiful to see that lonely, hardened warrior falling so deeply without any silly declarations of love or sappiness and Eun-Soo trying to be valiant for the greater good of Korean history without self-pity, e.g. oh woe look at me I sacrifice my life time’s happiness for the greater good, pity me, like a lot of kdrama heroines.

    • Hi there Scotishlass. I haven’t realized you have a WP blog🙂

      Oh, don’t get me wrong, I agree with your sentiments completely. I was trying to be more or less objective in giving it a *rating*. If it was simply a rating of how much I enjoyed it, I would have given it a 95%. Like you, I thought it was one of the most loveliest and heartfelt romances I’ve seen portrayed on TV but I was also trying to take into account other aspirations that were hinted at in the drama but never fully realized, such as telling if not especially clever, but at least somewhat plausible story, featuring anything more than half-developed and then later wholly abandoned characters (Phillip Lee’s character) or silly villains, and shot on a bit more budget than a daily sitcom. But, like I also said in my review, despite these shortcomings (which might render the drama unwatchable for some people who require a certain consistency of quality) Faith is still a standout romance drama.

      How would you be personally rate Faith?

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