Warrior Baek Dong Soo follows the story of the legendary warrior Baek Dong Soo. His group works to protect the king against a mysterious organization of assassins who are going after the him.
Warrior Baek Dong Soo is a very rich and full drama that let’s us follow the lives of Baek Dong Soo and those around him. There is plenty of intrigue in the drama with conspiracies against the king always causing trouble.
And of course, there is plenty of action! Martial arts is a big part of the drama, and there are a lot of sword battles to keep things exciting. And the action always felt like a nice compliment to the story which is really how it should be.
Having recently watched and loved the drama Daebak, which has the same writer as Warrior Baek Dong Soo, I was very much looking forward to this drama. And right away I could see many similarities between the two dramas.
The obvious similarity is that a lot of the same cast stars in both dramas. There are also similar character types as well a grand way of telling the story of a legendary figure. Both dramas also focus on the stories of many characters rather than just the main ones. This creates a very rich world that you really get to know and be a part of.
There are really four main characters that everyone else branches off of. All four characters are vital to the story, and the drama highlights the relationship and journey of the two duos of Baek Dong Soo and Yeo Woon as well as Kwang Taek and Chun.
Clocking in at 29 episodes, the drama has plenty of time to explore the beginnings of our duos. The first five episodes introduce us to all of the characters and feature the child versions of Baek Dong Soo and Yeo Woon. And I absolutely loved the child portion of the story!
I was thrilled to get to see Yeo Jin Goo as the young Baek Dong Soo. As always, he displays such intensity in his acting. He perfectly portrayed the pitiful yet rash and confident Dong Soo. He adds a charm to the character while also delivering a moving performance.
Park Gun Tae also really brings to life the young Yeo Woon. This is a conflicted character who has gone through a lot of difficulty. I was impressed with his portrayal of the unstable side Woon. But he also brings out the subtle, soft side of Woon’s character.
We then move into the man part of the story with the adult versions. Ji Chang Wook was a ton of fun as Baek Dong Soo. He’s still immature as an adult, is over confident, and rushes into things. But he is a passionate man who greatly cares for those around him.
He has a lot to learn so that he can genuinely help his cause and protect his friends as well as the king. We get to go on the journey with Dong Soo as he matures into the greatest swordsman in Joseon.
Yoo Seung Ho plays the adult version of Yeo Woon. As an adult, he is still soft spoken and very conflicted inside. One thing I disliked about this character was how quiet he was. Woon is very calm and controlled and just doesn’t speak a lot. It took about half of the drama to really start letting his character open up, and even then it wasn’t that much.
Yoo Seung Ho is an emotional powerhouse, so I just wanted to get a chance to see him do his thing. But even though Woon is on the quiet side, Yoo Seung Ho does have opportunities to showcase his talents. He also looks pretty darn cool in this drama.
We have Jun Kwang Ryul as the legendary sword master, Kim Kwang Taek. I love this actor so much, and he played this role perfectly. He is powerful, wise, and strong, yet he has a kind demeanor and a big heart. He is the one who most affects Dong Soo’s life, and Kwang Taek sacrifices a lot for him.
Choi Min Soo plays Chun, the head of our mysterious organization of assassins. This guy is beyond intense! He gives some seriously unsettling looks that just jump right off the screen. And he will just suck you right in with his powerful displays of emotion. He really brought this character to life in a unique and memorable way. What a talented man!
Kwang Taek and Chun have the sort of relationship where they are at odds, but they have a mutual respect for each other. They even both love the same woman. Some times these guys battle each other, and other times they are a source of comfort for one another. It really was a fascinating relationship.
Dong Soo and Woon’s relationships mirrors Kwang Taek’s and Chun’s. Each man helps to mold and train one of the boys. And the boys also have that sort of love-hate relationship built from respect and childhood friendship.
They find themselves at odds many times throughout their lives, but they also grow to be friends. But they eventually find themselves so far apart that their friendship is put to the ultimate test.
Hwang Jin Joo (Yoon So Yi) is easily my favorite female character in the drama. She is independent and strong, yet she has a softness and innocence to her. And she is right in the middle of everything going on, so we get to see plenty of her. She was a really wonderful character.
I would say that Shin Hyun Bin as Yoo Ji Sun was by far the weakest part of the cast for me. Suffice to say, this girl is incredibly dull with a sort of robotic and I don’t care sort of quality to her. I’m not familiar enough with the actress to say how much of it was her verses the character, but either way, I did not care for her.
And I must point out Park Chul Min as In. So this guy is a total scum bucket! But he completely cracked me up! He’s about as bad as they come, but he has such unique and exaggerated mannerisms in everything he does that I just loved seeing him on screen.
There are so many other wonderful veteran actors including Sung Ji Ro as Jin Gi and Park Jun Gyu as Sa Mo that play a big part in everything that goes on. There really were so many memorable performances in this drama!
Alright, let’s take a look at some of the negatives to the drama for me. Bad guys scheming to cause trouble takes up a lot more screen time than I would have liked. It’s repetitive and causes things to feel a bit draggy.
This issue just becomes worse as the drama progresses. But luckily,when I did find myself starting to lose interest in scenes, the drama would pull me right back in because the main characters and their stories were so engaging.
I was also aware that many people were disappointed with the romantic aspects of Warrior Baek Dong Soo before going in. So I was pretty prepared for a lack of romance. To my surprise, there were plenty of sweet and romantic moments scattered throughout the drama, and I actually enjoyed them.
But the romance is very much a minor subplot and really just feels like a by product of natural encounters and relationships. And those moments do take more of a backseat as the drama progresses. So I do understand people’s disappointment, but it wasn’t a big problem for me.
And I must point out the hair. Dong Soo’s hair is not all that flattering in the beginning. But his sense of style improves, and we get some much improved hair later on. But that comes at a price.
Woon was rocking some pretty great hair in the beginning, but apparently as Dong Soo’s hair improved, Woon’s hair took a turn for the worse. Hmm, why did this have to happen? But just hang in there, eventually, Woon does get his sense of style back, and the lovely hair returns. It just takes awhile…
But the main negative for me would be that the second half of the drama lacks a lot of the elements that I enjoyed from the first half. In the first half, I adored the child versions of Dong Soo and Woon and really enjoyed their interactions with the adult cast.
I also liked it when the kids grew up and Ji Chang Wook and Yoo Seung Ho took over. We got to experience their friendship as well as some of their personal trials. But I do think that Kwang Taek and Chun are the true stars of the drama, and I thought it was a good thing that they were central to the story in the first half.
But a lot of things change in the second half of the drama. I had really enjoyed Dong Soo as the bumbling and immature man who was kind, brave, and full of life. As his character matures, and he trains to become a swordsman, he becomes pretty serious and dull. And this lasts for pretty much the rest of the drama.
I also felt that the character of Woon was terribly underutilized. He is set up so prominently during the childhood portion of the drama with a very intriguing story and lots of emotional conflict. But he ends up being so quiet and more of a behind the scenes figure.
There were several great moments where we did get to explore his pain, but those moments were small. And I felt his character became completely unimportant for a large part of the second half of the drama.
Once he separates from Dong Soo and his crew, Woon just kind of hangs out in the den of bad guys and lurks around. He occasionally pops up for a momentary emotional encounter, but then he disappears back into the shadows.
I just lost most of my connection with him and his struggle because of the way his character was handled. And it didn’t help that Dong Soo was now so serious. When the two would meet, it just felt hollow.
The last quarter of the drama was super draggy. After we lose Chun and Kwang Taek, I found my interest levels went way down. The drama still has its good moments, but it’s a long road to travel between them. Luckily, the last couple episodes greatly improve. We get rid of the politicking and bring back the focus squarely on Dong Soo and Woon.
As their stories come to a head, everything I had been wanting to see from them was finally happening. It made for an intense and emotional end to our story. This is a drama that I think could have been fantastic at about 20 episodes and cutting out the bad guy politicking while focusing more on the main characters.
But as a whole, Warrior Baek Dong Soo was a very fun drama. For the most part, it is paced well with plenty of story to tell and events flowed nicely from one to another.
There are so many intense scenes both in action and from an emotional standpoint throughout the drama. The wonderful actors embodied their characters and easily drew me into their stories. All in all, there is a lot of fun to be had with Warrior Baek Dong Soo.
My Rating: 7/10
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