Wow, this review has been a long time in coming. I just can’t put my feelings for this show into words so I had to take a step back.
First off, this show is now firmly implanted in my memory. Sometimes I watch a show, and it’s pretty good and I really like it and I may want to rewatch it at some point, but it’s not the show that shapes my whole life as I watch it.
But Mr. Sunshine! Everytime I think about this drama, it gives me the feels. So much in this drama that made me laugh and cry. I would watch it every weekend without fail the first chance I had and I never skipped a single second.
Are you trying to decide if you should watch this show? I would recommend this to everyone, but I have to admit it probably isn’t for everyone. This will make you laugh and cry and ship, but if you just want a romantic comedy or a fun action drama, this probably isn’t for you.
Now I’ll try to go into a little more detail.
Okay, first, if you haven’t watched the trailer, this may help to influence you. Please do.
This is simply a stellar performance from all our main cast. There are a lot of them, so let’s dive in! Here we go:
이병헌 – Lee Byung Hun:
Just look at those eyes. :O
So put simply, Lee Byung Hun does a great job playing the American soldier, but if there is any of the main cast I have gripes with, it has to be him.
I don’t know if it’s only me, but I had a hard time feeling he was genuine. He was good at being the stoic soldier and making wise-cracks with a straight face, but his smile, even just in photos, always seems a bit much and the crying scenes just had me frowning. Also, don’t get me started on his terrible English which he had to speak for this show. I cringed hard every time any of the characters, even the supposed Americans, tried to speak English. Just lol.
I don’t want you to think he did a bad job of acting. He was probably one of my favorite performances in Age of Shadows; however, I also think this part could have been done better by a different actor. Maybe personal, but there it is.
And from here on out, you won’t here any personal grips from me, because there are none.
김태리 – Kim Tae Ri
Put simply, Kim Tae Ri is stunning. 😍
Also put simply, she is an amazing actress. She does a good job of playing the imperious lady and looks good doing it too. I honestly wish she was in every single shot xD ㅋㅋㅋ
And I have NO gripes with her smile, my goodness. Smite me every time!
Just look at her and tell me there’s anything wrong. Amazing performance here and I will always remember here as the Lady Go Ae-sin. Brilliant. I’ll post more pictures of the character in character section because her character is literally awesome in every sense of the word.
김민정 – Kim Min Jung
Originally, I believe this part was supposed to be played by 김사랑 (Kim Sa Rang), but fortunately Kim Min Jung took this in hand.
Just look at her! I’ve seen her more… how do I put it… Childish and Aegyo type of acting in stuff such as Man to Man or The 3rd Ward…
Just look at this transformation:
See that change? Omo. Just so you know, in that second shot she’s wielding a fencing blade. Yes. I remember not being super impressed with her sadly typical female performace (we don’t really like the annoying females directors, okay?) but here she shines! I was totally impressed by her.
I don’t think she had the hardest part to play, but she did an amazing job with what she had and looked stunning while doing it.
Many many props to Kim Min Jung. I have a new appreciation for her.
유연석 – Yoo Yeon Seok
O M O D A E B A K O M O
If there is any transformatory role in this drama for me beyond Kim Min Jung, it has to be Yoo Yeon Seok.
Before this drama, he was kind of that guy who I saw occasionally in movies and dramas and didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to.
Now, my mind is blown. Transformation. Yes, we’ve seen him play a King before, but this is completely different. Just look at this:
Sorry, I can’t help myself, you have to see more:
I mean, who is this person?!?
Well, sorry to inundate you with pictures, but don’t think this is the last of pictures. Omo, I get chills with every capture.
Put simply, Gu Dong Mae (Yoo Yeon seok) was one of my favorite performances in this drama period. As in punctuation. . . .
변요한 – Byung Yo Han
Now this actor is one I almost literally didn’t recognize though I think I watched some of Six Flying Dragons once upon a time. Need to get back to that…
Anyway, here he is in character:
Yep, that’s in character there! Looking back at his character in Six Flying Dragons, I almost feel like he switched roles with Yoo Yeon Seok here lol. No more long hair and sword, here we have a dandy, son to the richest man in Joseon beyond (maybe) the King.
Without going too much into the character at this point, Yo Han does an amazing job with the personality he was given. It’s an always upbeat kind of guy. Think the Jeremey of A.N.Jell 🙂 We could even say Yoo Yeon Seok plays the Tae Kyeong and Lee Byung Hun plays the Shin Woo :D.
Actually, now that I think of it, that analogy really works here because we also have the three guys falling for the same lady. 😀 😀 (a little spoilery maybe but it’s pretty obvious in both dramas).
Anyway, Yo Han. Me Likey!
There are a lot of great actors in this drama, so I can’t do them all justice. The ones above are the main characters, but we also have such names as 김갑수 (Kim Gab Soo, seriously if you don’t know him you live under a rock), 최무성 (Choi Moo Sung, likewise) and 김병철 (Kim Byung Chul). All amazing actors who did their past roles justice.
Then we have the child actors. 허정은 (Heo Jeong Eun) who also played the younger actress in the drama 100 Days my Prince plays the young Lady Go Ae-sin (Kim Tae Ri’s role) and I must say this young actress is adorable. I think she’s like 11 at the time of writing this and I can’t wait to see more from her.
We also have the young actress 신수연 (Shin Soo Yun) who is a little older at 13 and I also have great expectations from.
And then there’s the legend kid 고우림 (Go Woo Rim) 😀 I feel like I see him everywhere. Healer, School 2015, High School King of Savvy, While you were Sleeping, I’m not a Robot. Doctors. Absolute legend. Shocking eyes.
I think if there’s any fault with acting, it’s probably the main villain traitor guy, but I’m honestly not sure if it’s the acting or the character because he was just weird overall. I can give that a pass.
One of the major aspects of any drama, but often one that I don’t let influence my rating too much, is the music. Music is something that sticks with me, as I can still hum for you easily the melodies of some of my first dramas and every time I hear the Empress Ki theme my heart starts crying.
This drama did something a little different in making one of its main themes the traditional song Greensleeves, which many may know better with the words “What Child is This”. The tune is incorporated through a music box that is a part of the story and I think it was a great choice. They used it perfectly in the end of the drama and it was amazing.
Here’s a raw version of the music box I made. Incorporated in the drama and mixed with orchestra, it is haunting and beautiful at the same time.
There were a lot of songs in this drama that if I hear ever again will cast me back to the days of watching this, but I think my favorite of them all is the song The Day sung by Park Hyo Shin. It might not be for everyone, but when it was used in one of the endings of an early episode, I had to find the song and I’ve listened to it over and over since then. Here it is with an amazing music video and an orchestral intro that will give you an idea of some of the OST of the drama:
Everytime I hear this song sung by Lee Su Hyun of Akmu, I tear up now:
All of this said, I do like it when a drama has a distinct theme that is specific to the drama that will always bring me back to it.
One of the very first dramas I watched was The Girl Who Sees Scents (I know, I was late to the Hallyu wave), and I can still hum that theme whenever I want on command. It was that engrained in my brain. I haven’t even rewatched the drama since and that is years of time.
So thankfully this had a great theme though I felt like other songs did stand out for me more:
Nearly every story has its flaws and this one is not alone. I don’t want to make this a spoiler post so I won’t go into too many details.
Honestly, one of my favorite parts of this drama was just watching the amazing shots and amazing cast interact with a background of amazing music. The story was slightly secondary at times to me. If you aren’t a fan of slow shots drawn out to the max, this might not be your thing. Throw some slow mo shots with dramatic rain and a heart breaking song in the back and I’m a goner though.
Given these spectacular sequences, some may say this drama drags, but honestly there is so much that goes on. This show is not a drag. There was always something incredible happening and I have very few flaws that I can point out. There were parts I wish would have gone differently, but for the ending, almost everything that happened was necessary.
If I’m going to keep rating dramas, I should probably come up with a standard set of components I rate the drama on, but I had to throw this one in for this drama.
Given that this drama is the highest budget Kdrama to date with a production cost of $28 Million USD (I’ve heard budget of ₩40 billion which is more like $35 million USD), this show had better be good and boy does it deliver. This was an amazingly shot drama. I can’t express how much I loved to just watch this drama for the amazing visuals.
I think the only few times I had a few qualms about the quality was the blood effects in a few shots with some interesting color, but it could have been my screen, because at other times it looked really good. They achieved that amazing movie blood that may not be realistic but makes us think it is real by how dreadful it looks.
This drama holds up to Hollywood. There were very few times I thought the shots were not of the utmost quality.
Okay, get ready. This is not the drama with the weakly developed characters. Everyone has a story and some of those stories are tragically intertwined in complicated ways. Choi Eugene and Kim Hui Seong (Lee Byung Hun and Byun Yo Han) probably have the worst link in their past, though Lady Ae Sin and Lee Yang Hwa (Kim Tae Ri and Kim Min Jung) definitely rival that relationship. Everyone of the main characters has an intricate background and motivations behind their current self and character.
That isn’t to leave out the secondary characters because so many of them are also wound into the past and are instrumental in many aspects of the plot. Not just counting major secondary characters but there is one you think may just be a friend, but they show the past of how she came to stay with Gu Dong Mae and how that motivates her towards a large plot point in the end of the drama.
If you’re interested, this is the character I’m talking about:
Sorry I couldn’t help myself, I just want to show more pictures.
And if you have any doubts of watching this show, LADY GO AE SIN IS AMAZING.
Just look at her, omo.
This drama is an amazing delight and if you want the drama feels of Empress Ki or Queen Seon Deok without the 50-60 episode length then this show is definitely for you. If you’re used to 16 episodes, even the 24 episodes this has might be a little scary, but come on. It’s amazing.
I will stop convincing you with words and give you some screen captures I made.