Monday, January 30, 2012

First Take: Tree with Deep Roots

Usually the First Take "corner" or whatever you want to call it is reserved for music videos. Well, it doesn't mean it's only for that! Today I'm going to do something I haven't done before which is giving my first take on a drama! If you're here to find a synopsis or review of the drama, better go to another site. For First Take drama edition, I'm going to give my overall impression of a drama's first episode. On today's First Take, I'm going to be talking about the sageuk drama, Tree with Deep Roots! For those of you who are looking for a per episode recap, head on over to Dramabeans who did a wonderful job as they always do.

Tree with Deep Roots (뿌리깊은 나무) is a 24-episode sageuk drama (a drama set in historical Korea) that aired on SBS between October 5 - December 22, 2011 every Wednesday and Thursday at 21:55. The drama follows Kang Chae-yoon (played by Jang Hyuk), a royal guard slash detective and former slave, as he investigates the murders of scholars that occured in the Joseon Dynasty during the reign of King Sejong (played by Han Suk-kyu). The drama also stars Shin Se-kyung as Soyi, a court lady and Chae-yoon's childhood sweetheart and Song Joong-ki as young King Sejong.

It's actually been a very difficult relationship between dramas and I in the past months. The last drama that I picked up was Protect the Boss which I briefly talked about here. It was a nice show but it really slowed down in the middle and I just gave up on it. Maybe I'll pick it up again but for now, I'm not. I've been wanting to pick up a drama since then and trying to get myself to watch (and finish) a drama because there have been many good dramas recently that I've missed out on. I would start on the first episode and just give up because the pace was not up to par to my attention span.

It wasn't until I watched a Running Man episode that guested Jang Hyuk (where he was super cool, by the way) that I decided, hey maybe I should try out Tree with Deep Roots. The reason? He's hot. Simple as that. And it's also been a long time since I haven't watched him act. I've also only watched him do romantic movies so I guess it's not fair for him. Besides, I've heard a lot of good things about the drama. Might as well try it out.

My very first impression of when I watched it? The camerawork is fine! It's one of the best I've seen in a drama lately. The cinematography is comparable to movies, actually. The CGI that was used was also very smooth. Often when there's CGI, it's easy to guess how much their SFX budget was. Especially on dramas, there would be clunky effects and very digital looking flying people which didn't result in a happy me. But for this one, at least the first fight scene, it is well done indeed.

When there's dramas or movies, acting is always put in the review. A good story can be ruined by bad acting, although the vice versa will be the death of most films. Also, for this particular first episode, a majority of the scenes was taken by child actors. My personal verdict: I should never underestimate the abilities of child actors. There's a little bit of exaggeration here and there, but (sadly) that's pretty common in Korean cinemas. But overall, I'm very happy with the acting done by all the actors in the first episode. If I were to give an MVP to a certain actor, I would definitely give it to Song Joong-ki. His portrayal of a "puppet" king was amazing. I was used to him being the bubbly character, but seeing him being able to pull off a wounded puppy was really great. Even though I love seeing him giggle like a teenager, I would definitely want to see him in another emotional role again.

Another thing that I love about this episode was the perfect pace. I hated dramas that start out slow. I want action! I want to see the storyline take me off my feet! Thankfully, this episode was able to pull it off. There wasn't a boring moment where I would usually pause and give my self a break from the utter boredom. There was action that kept the story going, great acting that kept me glued to the screen, and the camerawork and scenery that is just great.

I think this drama may be the one that will bring me from my drama rut. It's got the perfect blend of gripping story, great acting, amazing cinematography, and perfect pacing. And of course, don't forget the beautiful people. I just hope that this great combination can be maintained throughout the drama. Hopefully I can give my final verdict in a review after I'm done watching all 24 episodes. Till then, I will be off to watch Song Joong-ki cry while dressed up in a king costume. And I also heard he's going to don a beard and mustache so yippee!

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