So I started getting really interested in Yoo Ah In lately (after watching his performance in Secret Love Affair), and as a result began a marathon fest of the 50-episode period drama Six Flying Dragons which won him the Best Actor in the 52nd Baeksang Arts Award, and wow I am really very impressed with him in Six Flying Dragons!
Six Flying Dragons is a drama that resolves around the central figure Lee Bang Won (later King Taejong) as he embarks on the ambitious journey of revolution to his eventual ascend to becoming King.
The drama is so long, with so many significant amazing moments that it is hard to summarise my thoughts, but I would first start with the stellar performance of Yoo Ah In as Lee Bang Won who captivated me throughout the drama.
Yoo Ah In Breathed Life Into the complex character of Lee Bang Won (King Taejong) that was wonderfully written
We see Lee Bang Won starting out as a headstrong idealistic youth who is inspired by his teacher Sambong on a revolution to overthrow the corrupted Goryeo and to start a new dynasty Joseon.
He is eager for change and has the brains and determination to see it through. Yet, for all his effort and contribution to this great cause which eventually helped his father to the throne and Sambong to establish the new dynasty, he realised that the eventual political system Sambong had in mind did not include him, for under this new political structure, all princes would be stripped of power with no way to interfere with politics.
Of course, this is an unbearable and unfair thought to the ambitious and intelligent Lee Bang Won’s whose dream was to be part of building this new world. This marks the turning point in which he turned away from his once once revered teacher Sambong and to gain power for himself.
Yoo Ah In was really fantastic in his portrayal of Lee Bang Won, especially in the later half of the drama where he hardened his heart to betray his teacher and embraced his darker side as he schemes and kills in order to attain his goal. In the process, he knew that his abhorrent act will push people close to him away and even he himself feels conflicted about some of his ruthless acts, but his ambition overrode all his misgivings and he knowingly went all out in his quest for the throne at the expense of his conscience.
Yoo Ah In is amazing in that he does not resort to cliche expressions to depict the various states of complicated emotions this complex character Lee Bang Won experienced. It is all just about subtitle shifts in expressions, be it a smirk, a sorrowful glance, a tremble of his hand etc.
I think it is not easy to portray the transition from an idealistic young man to the later seemingly cruel and ruthless prince, yet Yoo Ah In did it believably and seamlessly. He added the humanistic side to this ruthless prince so much as that I ended up feeling sympathetic to a murderous guy? Yoo Ah In really gave a nuanced layered rendition and did justice to this wonderfully written character that make viewers feel for him.
Bittersweet love between Lee Bang won and boon yi which is not meant to be
I like that Six Flying Dragons did not emphasize too much on romance, because naturally a prince who went all out in winning the throne cannot possibly be mooning over love, and such was the treatment of love scenes in Six Flying Dragons.
Lee Bang Won does love Boon Yi, a strong-willed and resourceful peasant, however he is also aware that his priority in life is ruling and building Joseon, not falling in love.
He knows that in his journey to winning the throne, he needs to do ‘deplorable’ acts that will make him veer away from the man he used to be, and whom Boon Yi fell in love with. He is saddened by this and understands the inevitability of losing his loved ones once he embarks on this journey, but he still willingly and knowingly gave this up.
There was an iconic scene of Lee Bang Won and Boon Yi playing in the snow, before Lee Bang Won breaking down in anguish that he will not be able to do this anymore. Yoo Ah In really brought out the suppressed pain the character was feeling and I really applaud him for making all the scenes with Boon Yi so heartbreakingly sad.
Kim Myung Min Was Phenomenal As Sambong – Lee Bang Won’s Nemesis
The two characters that stole the scenes in Six Flying Dragons are Sambong and Lee Bang Won, as the whole story started with Sambong’s vision of a different country and how Lee Bang Won chased after this vision.
Intellectual and visionary, Sambong is a great mentor to Lee Bang Won and once his idol. Yet as both parted ways due to difference in opinions, both are well-matched in their intelligence and proved to be each other’s greatest threat.
There are schemes after schemes as both try to outsmart each other, and these well thought-out schemes are a pleasure to watch.
Great acting from all, Six Flying Dragons Worth A Watch
Other than the main leads, all the side characters acted well too, which made Six Flying Dragons a good watch as everyone performed their role well.
If you like historical dramas that revolves around themes of dreams, politics, ambitions, friendship and love, you would definitely enjoy it.