Mr. Sunshine is loosely based on the historic event that took place throughout the 18th century. This was one of the darkest times of the Joseon empire wherein they were faced with multiple invasions from different countries such as China, United States and Japan. Since the very first scene it is very well established that this is a well-researched and executed historic drama. The sets are epic, music is grand and the costumes and make up just adds up to the grandness of this series.
This is one of the most expensive and ambitious project in collaboration with Netflix for South Korea. It has one season with 24 episodes.
The story begins with a 40-year-old Eugene Choi who is living in The United States and is part of the Marine Corps in the 18th century. What peaks our interest is how a Korean inhabitant managed to acquire high ranking in marine corps which is dominated by all Americans. The story goes in flashback wherein we discover a 10-year-old Eugene is born into slavery to very poor parents and his parents are killed in front of his eyes by their landlord (this particular scene in itself is so well acted and executed in the very first episode that it will break your heart and make you feel all kind of emotions). He manages to escape the scene and finds himself at the mercy of an American who sneaks him out to the States.
Apart from Eugine there is Goo Dong-mae who was a butcher’s child and his parents were brutally killed. He flew to Japan to survive and became a member of a Japanese gang. Now back in Korea he is the most feared gang leader. Also, there is Go Ae-shin – A high ranking nobility born from the most respected clan in Joseon who left luxury to fight for the sovereignty of Joseon and forms the Righteous Army. She is the love interest of Eugene Choi, Goo Dong-mae and Kim Hee-sung to whom she is betrothed.
The story revolves around the Righteous Army which is formed to fight the Americans as all Joseon army is wiped out by the Americans. Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri) as a 20 year old a women in the 18th century and from a noble family is forbidded from participating in activities apart from learning to stich and cook. Go Sa-hong, helps Ae-shin train as a sniper under Jang Seung-goo and become part of the Righteous army. She meets Eugene Choi, who looks like a person from Joseon yet claims to be an American. It is interesting to watch Eugene Choi fight an internal battle with himself when it comes to his loyalty. Born a Korean but been wronged and abandoned by his country now an American citizen, where does his loyalty lies makes the plot more intriguing. The climax scene will leave you numb and wanting more.
You do not need to be a Korean to feel the patriotism or emotions that these characters go through in this face paced drama This series is a purely an ensemble cast; each and every character having equal screen time and excellent back stories and character arches.
South Korea celebrates their Independence Day today on 15th August. This series is based on true events that took place in the 18th century which were marked as the most important and crucial battles for Korea’s independence. This Historic drama series is well-balanced and beautifully-made. Some scenes will make your heart race; some will give you a hearty laugh, while others will make you cry your eyes out. The battle scenes are epic and so are the sets, and costumes. It is a visual treat to the eyes. The makers did an excellent job in showing love, friendship, camaraderie and patriotism. What happens when you have to choose between the one you love and your love for your country? It has all the right ingredients to get you hooked instantly.
Direction/ Performances / Music
The screenplay is tight and very well edited. It is a story based on true events and they have done a good job in regards with historical accuracy about the war with America and Japan. The Director has taken some liberties to explore the love story in this war drama which definitely works in their favor. Also, a huge shout out to the casting director who had confidence that debutant Kim Tae-ri can pull off a character of Go Ae -shin who is a strong headed noble woman in love with a man who is 20 years her senior and not at make it look awkward. Lee Byung -hun, Yoo Yeon Seok are solid in delivering action packed performances. Kim Min-jung and Byun Yo-hun are equally good in justifying their character arches. The music is grand and epic specially during the war scenes.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.