The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

구가의 서 (九家의 書) / Gugauiseo / Gu Family Book

Ancient Medical Book / The Writings of Nine Houses / Book of the House of Gu / Kang Chi, the Beginning

April - June, 2013 Fantasy, melodrama, historical, romance from MB-shee.
And, yep, that's a 5 - flower rating up there, too.

I'll start backwards by saying that was one of the BEST endings EVER. 
Because it was a cliff-hanger.
Hurray! Yes, please, DO bring on a second season thank you kindly!
SAME CAST, or all bets are off, though.

Speaking of the cast ... they were ALL awesome.
Even the bit-part, dragged off the street and tossed into period costume players did a great job.

One of the biggest reasons I adored this drama was because it truly proves my point about hot guys being a thousand times hotter with LONG hair.

Who in their right mind would have EVER imagined a home-spun, guy-next-door type like Lee Seung gi could look this fine?

I mean, yeah, he's still hella fine in reality, with the cheesy smile, teen-idol mop top, and Opie Taylor wardrobe.

Put him in a long hair wig and what do you get?

< < < < < < HOT < < < < < < HOT < < < < < < HOT

Bring it back, damn it!

Long hair on guys, I mean.

(just WAIT til I do my review on Pretty Man - whoo boy)

Aside from the long-hair goodness in any period drama, I had my share of reasons to give this a rare yet well-deserved 5-flower rating.

The story would seem far-fetched and (yes) even over done, and yet it was entirely refreshing, twisted, and enthralling.

Yes, there were draggy parts, like spending way, too much time helping us (the viewer) realize that Choi Kang chi (Seung gi) and Dam Yeo wul (Suzy Bae) were fated / ill-fated lovers 442 years ago. That the bad guy Lee Sung jae as Jo Kwan woong got away with 

... well, murder, for far, too long in any era since time began, and that it took far, too long to bring back Kang Chi's amazingly hot appah

Choi Jin hyuk as Gu Wol ryung

And, yes, I thought he was mega-better as the bad Wol ryung.

What wasn't there to love, enjoy, and anticipate about this story?

But, again, the best ending EVER!

For those of you who haven't watched yet, this is a period piece about a mythical creature living in the forest when he happens upon a fair damsel being ousted from her lofty perch in society, stripped of her finery, and tied to a pole until her pride breaks, at which point she will become geisha/gisaeng for the rest of her days.

The stubborn, proud rich girl doesn't lose her pride or spirit, though, and after kicking, spitting, and clawing her way through to freedom, she hunts down the man who destroyed her family and tries to kill him. What she gets for her efforts is a sword slash across her back.

Before that, though, she runs away and bumps into our handsome, innocent Gu Wol ryung, who constantly asks his advisor of sorts, Monk So jung (Kim Hee won), what is the point of human existence if all they ever do is suffer, hate, and then die?

Of course, dreamy Wol ryung gets his answer when he falls head over heels for Yoon Seo hwa (Lee Yeon hee).

Seo hwa is young, which translates to stupid, and she makes a baby with the mythical creature who does absolutely nothing short of answering every woman's dreams of what, how, and why a man should behave this way with the woman he adores.

If my man brought me a massive bouquet of butterflies/fireflies, I'd do more than give the guy a baby. And, I sure as heck wouldn't dis him if I found out too late that he isn't, actually human.

Like I said, though, Seo hwa is young/stupid and freaks out when she learns the truth.
By the time she realizes this, it's too late when the sheriff gets his sword in our adorable, mythological creature and slashes him for no, good reason. Handsome appah floats away in a thousand of those beautiful, blue lights before being buried by the enchanting, mountain spot where he lives.

Dumb chick gets taken back into custody but runs away to have the baby, and after doing a Moses number, she hunts down the man who destroyed her life and ends up getting slashed as well.

A rich merchant is feasting on the river bank when he sees the Moses basket floating toward them, and he names the baby Kang Chi (online is crap, and I don't remember the order, but Kang chi explained about his name meaning 'found in river' or abandoned/river).

This man is the proprietor of The Hundred Years Inn, and when our Kang chi comes of age, his fate comes into play. The bad guy arrives, accuses his father of treason, kicks out the brother/sister of the late owner, takes over, and sends the girl to the same gaesang.

Kang chi ends up at this dojo or sorts, where he has to learn about his mythological half and control the beast within if he hopes to get along with humans.
Most don't accept his new identity at first, but a few do, including Yeo wul, who met him when they were little. Kang chi is afraid of spiders because they have too many legs, and she kills one for him.

Kang chi was in love with the Inn's fair maiden until he meets Yeo wul, and then his heart starts to waver.

So, for a majority of the 24 episodes, we watch as their love blossoms, Kang chi learns how to control the so-called inner demon, and get along with humans.

Then the moment I waited and WAITED for finally occurs:  his appah awakens as a thousand-year demon. Dude sets out to destroy anyone in his path, and he has no memory of the past, either.

He's hot.

He's incredible because of the hair - it goes perfect with the face and body.

Sorry, but that's my opinion and you're welcome to disagree (as I'm sure a majority of you will).

It's the hair that makes the man in these period dramas, I swear it.


I'll bet most of you watched Chuno, and if you did, then Han Jung Soo as General Choi proves my point completely.

Not that the left side version is bad because it isn't. He's fine. He's more than just fine, he's incredible. But, if I had my choice, I'd want Mr. Right over Mr. Left.

Raw, somewhat savage, all man ... that's for me.

Back to the story line

Wol ryung wants to destroy everyone, but he also wants to know why he feels that way.
He began his 100-day prayer/fast thingy in order to become human after reading the Gu Family Book, but he never made it to the 100th day before he was slain. I had hoped the writers would touch on that fact as a reason for his slightly human aspect, but they didn't. Maybe they left it up to us to decide if it was his reason, as I did.

Kang chi finally meets his mother, who didn't die and ended up becoming a wealthy merchant in Japan. She is still out to avenge the wrongs done her and wants Jo Kwan woong's blood.
She loves her Kang chi adul, and then she finds out her Wol ryung is haunting the place, so she goes out to stop him.

After that, we're back to watching Kang chi continue to fall for Yeo wul and vice versa.
There are some nice fight scenes, too, and a love quadrangle between Kang chi, the merchants son, and Yeo wul's bodyguard.

Yoo Yun Suk as Park Tae Seo

He had a great part in this drama, and for awhile he made us think he was little more than useless dead weight, too. It was great to find out that wasn't true AT ALL.

Oppa #2 - the bodyguard

Sung joon as Gon

His hairstyle changed early on and it made me not like the new version, but whatever. I still liked him. He was great - and tall - and funny when he needed to be. Always with the stiff, upper lip though, and totally devoted to his duty to protect and serve.

I'm telling you this was worth the 24 episodes even if there were lags and redundancy here and there.

Even the chicks did a good job of keeping my interest in their subservient roles, which isn't easy for me to admit (as you well know).

There was no over-the-top witchy hag, bitchy nag, vengeful rag stuff, so thanks to the writers for looking beyond and offering us something new, original, and insightful. The women actually stuck together and helped each other out, which is the way it should be.

When this was first airing, and we had to wait a week to see the next episode, there were a lot of negative comments about Suzy's debut performance.
I had no idea it was a debut or even who she was, and I still don't, but I liked her from the start.
I didn't agree with anyone who said she was stiff, unschooled, and trying too hard.
Well, actually, there was one scene when she is tied to that pole with the water mine hanging over her head, held up by the sand bag that the soldier pierced with his sword. She over-did it during that whole scene. Otherwise, though, she did a good job.

Last but not least, there was Yeo wul's appah.

I love this guy!

He starred in another drama I haven't blogged about yet, and he did a terrific job in Gu, too.

He's been in others, I know, but the more that I see of this guy, the more I want to see.

Damn, fine actor, our Jo Sung ha.

He was in Chuno, too. :-)

So anyway, I'm not one to post spoilers, and I try hard not to give away the meat while offering a few bones just to get you interested in case you haven't watched something I'm reviewing.

Just believe me when I say the ending is a delight, and it hints at a season 2, which I've seen written up as an in-the-works project, but right now I'm too afraid to read those stories, because I don't want to know who the new cast of characters will be. I'm hoping they keep everyone from the first show, but that might be a stretch. I'll wait until it's really, truly official before I find out the details.

Our hero, and a big reason why this was such a hit, was Lee Seung gi.

He's just ... he grows on you. He gets better and better the more on-screen time he gets, until you can't help rooting for him, adoring him, and wishing him the best from afar. He's getting older, filling out nicely, and will never lose that boy-next-door appeal, but he knows what to do and when to do it. He cares, it shows, and if there's one thing he probably studies more than anything else about his career, it's how to pull off the romantic scenes. I hope he continues to practice on his girl, the mirror, a doll, whatever it is that's helping him succeed in the 'holy moly, there he goes again with the hot moves' thing.

He's great.

Here are the rest of my pictures.

I actually use a few as screen savers.

totally loved the blue fairies!

and every time his eyes did this, it was pretty sheckshee

you could start to tell when he removed those contacts, too, because his eyes were red

I want to live here



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