Ruler: Master of the Mask is about a Joseon prince (Yoo Seung Ho) forced to hide his face with a mask who fights against injustice in society by going up against a shadow organization wanting to privatize the waters of Joseon. But when the father of the woman (Kim So Hyun) he loves is executed because of him and a secret plan to have another man (L) wear the mask and pretend to be the Prince goes terribly wrong, the shadow organization becomes so powerful they seem to be unstoppable.
Wow! Ruler: Master of the Mask was an intense ride! It’s everything I love in a good sageuk, and it had me very much on the edge of my seat. It has a very rich story with extremely high stakes. All of the characters were so interesting and well played by a fantastic cast. With swift pacing and new story developments constantly happening, emotions run high and there is so much intensity!
Yoo Seung Ho plays our masked Crown Prince Lee Sun. Forced to wear a mask his whole life, he has been sheltered away from the outside world. But his quest to find out why he must wear the mask soon has him escaping the palace for answers.
In the city, he is able to enjoy not wearing the mask as no one knows who he is, and he soon even makes friends. He also sees the terrible situation of the people who are poor. But getting involved and trying to help sets off a chain of events that changes everyone’s lives.
Of course, Yoo Seung Ho delivered the powerhouse of emotions he has at his disposal. He perfectly played the more naive Lee Sun as well as the more mature one. He rocks the traditional hanbok as well as the more stylish robes. He completely pulls me into his character from his innocence, to his love, to his immense pain. Another wonderful performance by Yoo Seung Ho!
Kim So Hyun plays Han Ga Eun. She is a kind and caring woman who does what she can to help her fellow people. But her life is turned upside down by the death of her father. While she still remains a kind woman, she wants the Crown Prince to pay for what he did.
This ends up putting her in some dangerous situations that only complicates the Crown Prince’s mission to defeat the shadow organization. But she continues to be a pillar of her community that people look to because they know they can count on her.
L plays a man who shares the same name as our Crown Prince, Lee Sun. He’s intelligent but is held back by his lowly status as the son of a butcher. He’s also very timid and pitiful and embodies the struggles of the poor.
I was thoroughly impressed by L in this role. He really went all in for the character, and I found him very convincing as the tortured commoner who just longed for a better life. But when he finds himself in the position to wear the mask and pretend to be the Prince, things get even more difficult for him as he lives in a constant state of fear.
He goes through quite the transformation as he begins to long to have some sort of power…and the same girl Crown Prince Lee Sun loves, Ga Eun. He is a very volatile character who caused my feelings towards him to constantly swing back and forth from sympathy to anger. What an intense journey this man goes on!
Yoon So Hee is Kim Hwa Gun who is the granddaughter of Dae Mok, the leader of the shadow organization. Her character is very fascinating. She is an independent woman who wields a lot of power. But she falls hard for the Crown Prince which ends up dividing her loyalties between him and her grandfather.
She will protect the Prince at all costs, but she also needs to maintain power within the organization. Add to the fact that the Prince doesn’t know who she actually is or what she has been doing to help him. She is the ultimate definition of a devoted one-sided love.
We then have our big bad villain Dae Mok (Heo Joon Ho) who is the head of the shadow organization. He sets everything in motion and wields immense power because of how much control he has over his people and the kingdom. Heo Joon Ho was fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.
Our representative on the good side is Woo Bo (Park Chul Min) who becomes a teacher and mentor to the Crown Prince. He is in the know about all of the terrible happenings, and it’s his guidance that helps the Crown Prince mature into a man that can take on Dae Mok.
I was thrilled to get to see Yoo Seung Ho and Kim So Hyun as a couple. I love both of these actors for their immense talent, and they did not let me down. Their relationship is filled with obstacles, and it doesn’t help that Ga Eun is unaware that Lee Sun is the Crown Prince. In many ways, they are star-crossed lovers who seem to have fate working against them.
But the rapport between them is so wonderful. They are both kind and intelligent and they compliment each other so well. They are willing to risk everything for each other, and they share some very powerful moments together. I was more than happy with this wonderful pairing.
Then there is the incredibly complicated relationship between Crown Prince Lee Sun and commoner Lee Sun. Things get off to a rocky start between these two, but eventually a friendship is born as the Crown Prince genuinely wants to help Lee Sun. Lee Sun is then willing to step up and wear the mask in place of the Crown Prince to go against the shadow organization.
But things never work out as intended, and a series of events puts these two men in positions they never thought they would be in. As fear, greed, and distrust finds its way between them, keeping their friendship in tact as well as defeating Dae Mok begins to look like an impossible task.
Some of the most intense scenes were played out between Yoo Seung Ho and L. I went through so many different emotions throughout the drama watching these two. The dynamic between them is so interesting as the power shifts between them. They have a truly unique relationship, and it certainly turned my insides upside down in the best possible way! Bravo to both of these talented actors!
The costumes are also gorgeous. Both the men and the women wear some truly beautiful clothes. They perfectly complimented the lovely cinematography that we got to enjoy throughout the drama.
I personally didn’t have any negatives with the drama, but there are a couple things that could bother some people. There are definitely a few aspects of the story that are far fetched and the writing wasn’t always as tight as it could be. But these things didn’t bother me one bit as I was completely riveted by the story from start to finish.
Ruler: Master of the Mask was a fantastic and exciting journey. I thoroughly enjoyed diving into this rich world filled with so much intrigue. The characters were truly all fantastic from the main ones down to the supporting ones. It was an intense and moving drama that completely drew me in and left me always wanting more. Fantastic on so many levels!
My Rating: 10/10
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