A drama that ventures through a solid plot and a diverse, enjoyable range of characters. Though at times the plot is slightly unclear, the incredible cast pulls it through and definitely saves the day.
Hey guys, and welcome back to another Kdrama review! This perhaps will be one of my most memorable Kdramas in my life as it is a drama that I have committed so much time, effort, emotion and love into.
Empress Ki had finished ages ago and yes, I feel absolutely guilty that I’m posting this review now but, it’s never too late, right? Hopefully, you guys won’t kill me for posting this so so late…However, despite how late I am, I just had to post up this review! Unlike others who tend to avoid the whole idea that they had finished it, I tend to deal with it head-on – write a review, and properly say farewell to it! I have previously written a post that discusses some broad aspects of the drama, and how my initial impression of the drama went down. Since I want to avoid repetition here, just check out the post for yourself 😉
As per usual, this is a SPOILER-FREE post (as much as it possibly can) and let’s get started!
Name: Empress Ki (also known as Empress Qi)
Broadcast time: 28th October 2013 to 29th April 2014
Total number of episodes: 51
Note: Did not start watching when it first started broadcasting; joined after the halfway point
Opinions about the drama:
Wow, what a ride. It has been so long since I have dedicated myself solidly to a drama (of such a length) and kept with it every week.
And when I mean long, I mean LONG. The last one must have been “Dong Yi” I believe. But definitely, there has been no regrets from this girl whatsoever! From the moment I watched the first episode, I just knew that this drama would become a pivotal drama in my life so far. And now that it is over, I am even more definite that this is true! However, this drama will be remembered for not only it’s positives, but for also its negatives. Yes, quite surprising that I would judge this drama in a less positive manner, but this drama had flaws, no matter how you looked at it. So, this post will deal with both sides of the coin.
Based on the story, many may have assumed that the drama seemed straightforward enough – Seung-Nyang wanted to become the Empress of Yuan and we will see how she embarks on this journey.
However, it didn’t exactly go as planned.
As we eventually realised, her goals altered based on her circumstances, morphing into more complex, dangerous and determined ambitions as the drama gradually unfolded itself. I won’t go into much detail (as to avoid spoilers) but I must discuss and explain that it simply wasn’t because she wanted to become the Empress of Yuan – it was much more complex. And that definitely set a certain pacing for the drama.
The characters (to a certain extent) were fantastic as well. What I had failed to notice initially, was the true importance of numerous characters who appeared. What I had naively assumed was that ‘minor’ characters would stay as ‘minor’ characters, and not play any pivotal part in a major portion of the plot.
Oh, how wrong I was about that.
The writers didn’t even give me a chance to think it through, and just said “Screw your thoughts, here’s some more stuff for you to chew on”. Eventually, when you least expect them, these ‘minor’ characters end up lasting right to the end of the drama, even longer than some main characters. That alone caught me offguard, and never failed to surprise me however, never left me disappointed. So, I just have to give an immense amount of credit to the actors and actresses in the drama; without them, this drama definitely would not have been as enjoyable as it was (Jin Yi Han…possibly my new man crush >///<)
I’ve also mentioned this before (but I won’t neglect to mention it again), that “Empress Ki” is beautiful. Costuming, makeup, cinematography, set pieces; everything about this drama is visually stunning. As I had mentioned in my previous post about this drama, the costuming of Seung-Nyang, no matter which occasion, is truly stunning to see her walk in. This probably is not a major point, but definitely a visually-captivating drama kinda adds a couple of points to the score, right?
Following that, the OST of this drama is stunning. My favourite has got to be Xia’s 사랑합니다 (I Love You). It is an absolutely beautiful track, that even if it weren’t for the drama, I would still have bought the song just because it is a beautiful ballad filled with heartache and just pure, Xia-awesomeness. Other tracks like Soyu’s 한번만 (Just Once) and Park Wan Kyu’s 바람결 (The Wind) are just as great as standalone tracks. The only thing that I may complain about, which isn’t about songs themselves, is perhaps their purpose in the drama or at least, when they pop up in that drama. Especially with “The Wind”…they play that song at some really awkward places…All in all, the OST overall is pretty brilliant!
The drama is also a very fast-paced drama, a fact which seemed to surprise numerous viewers. Clearly, the 51 episode drama (initially 50 eps) threw most people off the idea of even starting the drama, not to mention following it week-by-week for months on end. And to most, I say, I don’t blame you. Eventually, a lengthy drama such as this one is bound to meet numerous bumps and roundabouts during its journey (which it did find numerous times)and end up going around in circles trying to find its way out again.
And that is why, my friends, I was absolutely disappointed once it went past that halfway mark. Here’s why.
I did mention before (in this post and my previous one) that the characters were portrayed by the actors and actresses wonderfully, but never did the development of these characters truly satisfied me. I do understand that perhaps the characters with smaller roles would not have much of a chance to develop their characters as much, especially with such a large cast of people and production however, at least let your lead characters develop well enough for the rest of the viewers, right? It was during this character development that was truly frustrating the crap out of me, especially during the later half of the drama.
With Seung-Nyang, I believe that the initial set-up of the drama portraying her as this ‘iron lady’ was an image that the drama never answered and lived up to. With so much purpose and ambition to pursue her revenge for her fallen sisters and family, she does not end up answering such a call, and instead floated on to end up babysitting the Emperor. Not only that, her expressions gradually became less emotive, fuelling that frustration further. She ends up not a character fighting for her people, but a cryptic individual who refrained from expressing herself to the audience, allowing all of us as the viewers to begin doubting the legitimacy in her actions. I don’t want to comment further about her character in too much detail (in order to avoid spoilers of course) but…urghhhhhhh at some moments, really!
Likewise with Ta-Hwan…I’m just gonna come out and say it – I never liked him as a character. Whether it was as a ruler of his country, or a love rival against Wang Yoo for Seung-Nyang, I just never seemed to root for him in some way or another. I knew from the start which ship I was going to sail with (Wang Yoo and Seung-Nyang FTW!) but I had always assumed that some day, some day that I would eventually root for the other OTP. It never came, ever. I can only assume that it was due to the lack of character development and purpose for me to love him more that Wang Yoo.
One more thing was definitely about Wang Yoo’s character, and maybe my fav OTP overall. From the start, I had unconsciously rooted for the Seung-Nyang/Wang Yoo pairing not just because of the actor and actress, but rather that their love seemed real and pure. But gradually, the writers attempted to push the other relationship, even though I never sensed that Seung-Nyang ever had such strong feelings for the Emperor during the first half of the drama. With that, Jo Jin Mo’s character gradually became less significant, and not much character building occurred. Usually, love triangles were concepts to allow the audience to become indecisive of their decision as to “who should the girl end up with?” But, it seemed so clear by the midway point which side the writers wanted to push for, leaving Wang Yoo on the side of the road with pretty much nothing. It was quite sad that I couldn’t see more of him grow within the drama but then again, he was a solid character right from the start – a righteous and heroic man who would always put the wellbeing of his men, his people and his love before his own. That was probably why I was so drawn to him, and always lightened up when I saw him on the screen. Eventually, it seemed too obvious that the writers kept adding Wang Yoo in just for the purpose of the love triangle, since most conflicts were within Yuan; Goryeo become a very insignificant piece of land to fight over.
The final thing I’d like to possibly rant about (sorry readers, it’s another rant!) is perhaps the lack of logical plot points during the drama, especially towards the end of the El Temur clan’s reign. These villains honestly…they won’t die! Wow, they seemed almost invincible (especially Yeon Chul…damn, that guy kept coming back from the dead! Talk about not being able to let go…) But, rather than the absolute unrealistic circumstances for these villains, it rather caused more trouble for the later development of the plot. Eventually, the remaining ten episodes or so were a race to the finish line, while trying to make ends meet for everyone, which at times seemed way too rushed to my liking.
Although the near end was not like what I was introduced to during the beginning of this drama, “Empress Ki” was still a show worth watching, and a joy to watch. If it weren’t, no way would I have maintained the persistence to follow the drama for so long, as with most people. Definitely, this drama is perhaps not suitable for anyone, but I highly, highly recommend this to all of those Sageuk lovers out there, or anyone who really wants to watch something that they can simply get lost in for hours.
Borrowing the rating system from the lovely goddesses of Kdrama reviews themselves Javabeans and Girlfriday, I would rate “Empress Ki” as:
How much I liked it: 8/10
How good was it objectively: 7/10
So, I hope you all enjoyed this uber long review (sorry about the length…the drama was 50+ episodes after all!) and I do apologise once again about the delay in posting the review! I will be posting up much more regularly now (with the holidays becoming a thing!) so, stay tuned for more content!
Love you guys, and thank you so much for sticking around – it really means so much to me, you wouldn’t believe! Take care guys, and have a wonderful day~
❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~