Here is one actor that knows his way around a sageuk.
Being relatively new to Kdramas I’m discovering new faces every day. So getting to watch Shine or Go Crazy in binge mode last week (saw the first 20 episodes in 2 days) I’m now a certified Jang Hyuk fan! Yaay!
I love sageuks so discovering an actor that plays in one so well is such a treat! While in between waiting for the next Shine or Go Crazy episodes I decided to watch another sageuk drama from Jang Hyuk – this time from way back and I picked Chuno.
Jang Hyuk is mesmerizing here as Lee Dae Gil, slave hunter.
I have a no-spoilers rule on my blog, even for completed, old dramas. But I will say this: Chuno was full of surprises and was made most enjoyable by the electrifying Jang Hyuk.
To further sharpen my interest in this versatile actor I have also decided to start on another of his dramas, titled Tree With Deep Roots.
Certainly being a sageuk hero is more than looking good in a hanbok or royal robes (a la Kim Soo Hyun in Moon Embracing the Sun). It’s all well and good to look noble and royal-like and try to save the world that way.
But if you can be gritty, and play a hero who bites, claws and dances his way through the battles of the heart and glory then you get my undivided attention.
Jang Hyuk does all that and more as Lee Dae Gil in Chuno as well as when he plays a cursed prince in Shine or Go Crazy.
He definitely has a lot going for him: great screen presence, gorgeous chiseled looks and a martial arts skill to keep us riveted when he moves. Basically there’s not much more I could ask from a sageuk hero, then and now.
Chuno the Slave Hunters came out in 2010 and now four years later Jang Hyuk still steals the scene as a competent hero with the smarts, street sense and almost animal passion for what’s right and overcoming adversity in Shine or Go Crazy. It also helps that he makes those romantic scenes feel so authentic and engaging.
It’s true that Kdrama crushes and biases come and go…actors that blew you away in one drama can sink your hopes in their next role. Very few actors go the distance be it when they dabble in historical or contemporary drama series.
As for Jang Hyuk I don’t see him falling into that rut any time soon. He’s in his prime and can still drop those spellbinding, practiced martial arts moves that he displayed in Chuno the Slave Hunters.
I hope Jang Hyuk does more and more sageuks and historical pieces in leading role. Kdrama fans will always root for an actor that has more than a few dimensions to him. When he doesn’t shy away from getting down and dirty when he has to.
As for Jang Hyuk, he’s like the Korean Johnny Depp; that actor you never tire of seeing in something different. He keeps you curious about what he’s up to next.
I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on Jang Hyuk – for one because he’s so darned good to look at. And because he interprets roles so well – especially in period dramas.
Watching him in costumes from the bygone eras gives off an almost wistful air. His smile and that laugh he’s well-known for can light up the whole screen and for a female kdrama fan/addict, ahem, that’s a bonus. Some manly eye-candy never hurt anyone and it’s not like we always watch it for the storyline, let’s be honest.
Thankfully though, Shine or Go Crazy is definitely a winning series with a watchable storyline. You have a displaced princess who’s to be the light to another nation and not her own – and a cursed prince whose world is forever changed by the love of one woman who can save him.
There are sword fights, prince championships, goofy cross-dressing moments, sweltering romance scenes/kisses and more laughs than you can shake a spear at.
So it’s not all about Jang Hyuk’s dreamy good looks whether he’s playing prince or vagabond. My verdict? Lord of the sageuk Jang Hyuk (see, it even rhymes!) is definitely a keeper.