The Return of Iljimae is frickin AWESOME! Let me just get that out there first.
I am about 2/3 of the drama and I dread having to part ways with it soon. I’ve been watching the drama like nuts (inbetween school, other dramas, and usual slacking off). Let it be known that I am not a huge fan of period dramas, of any kind. I tried Hong Gil Dong and ended up bailing after 12 episodes. I stuck around for Strongest Chil Woo, Jumong, and Dae Jang Geum respectively for 2, 4, and 18 episodes. Heck I didn’t even pass the 15 minute mark on Lee Jun Ki’s Iljimae.
RoI started pretty slow. It was a pain going through the first 4 episodes, took me about 3 months for I kept nodding off or getting distracted. But by episode 5, the drama picked up and everything went really good. I became accustomed with the overall tone of RoI and my WTF/ehh moments came to a stop.
Admittedly, this drama is very different, quirky if you will. There’s humour, but that humour is not supposed to be full on HAHA humour, sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s just plain quirky (there are times where it reminds me of Scrubs comedy). The narration plays a huge part in drawing the comedy. I was a bit miffed at first with the narration, but then came to appreciate it for bringing out dry, sometimes sarcastic comedy. Anyways, my writing skills are not good enough to be able to fully explain RoI’s humour. The drama is superb in withdrawing before it gets way overly dramatic. In a sense, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Acting wise, to be honest, perhaps Jung Ilwoo as the titular character, is the weakest actor among other main actors (to be fair, most of the other actors are more senior than him). There’s some awkwardness here and there, in posture and line delivery, but he is good in expressing himself through facial features. I’m not sure if he does all the stunts (I think he does), but his fighting stunts are really impressive. He was trained as a ninja, and his fighting style really does mimic the quick, thorough ninja style.
Next, Yoon Jinseo plays 2 characters here, both lovers of Iljimae. I gotta admit, I LOVE YJS to bits. She reminds me of Jung Yoomi; acting seems to be a natural thing for her, it came so effortlessly. Okay, so she plays Dalyi and Wolhee who are both have some similarities, deeper than just the fact they look alike. Both Dalyi and Wolhee are not the typical aegyo/shy girl type. Yoon Jinseo was able to differentiate herself in acting for both characters that in the end, we forget that she’s acting for both Dalyi and Wolhee anyway. I’ve always seen Dalyi as a more…fantasy girl, whereas Wolhee is the more realistic of the two. Dalyi is much more forward and daring, while Wolhee still retains a little shyness.
I can’t even begin commenting on the other supporting characters. They picked really good ones too. Kim Minjong as the forlorn Head Officer harbouring love for Iljimae’s mother. Jung Hye Young as the former gisaeng slash the aforementioned Iljimae’s mommy. Kim Nam Gil (always awesomely funny) as Iljimae’s future biographer and his sidekick Lee Hyun Woo (who is fantastic and dang it he’s only 16!). Lee Kye In as a beggar who adopted Iljimae as a baby. And let’s not forget Park Cheol Min as the awesome sideway-walking Iljimae’s semi nemesis (who’s pretty hilarious, btw). There are other familiar actors having smaller roles, but they all are fantastic as per usual.
As I’m still watching the drama currently, I can’t review for real. Let me finish the drama first before making any sort of final judgement. I just need to prod everyone to watch this drama. It’s a really good drama.