K-Drama Review: Hwayugi – A Korean Odyssey (2017)
With stellar casts, Hwayugi seemed very promising from the beginning not to mention this is Lee Seung Gi’s debut drama after being released from the army. The drama is loosely based on the story of Journey to the West, transformed wittily into romance thriller story in modern era. The whole idea of seeing Journey to the West’s characters in modern world is enticing already and as a bonus, we get to see intense chemistry between Lee Sung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo’s characters.
Being a special human to communicate with the underworld cause Jin Seon Mi a terrible childhood. In her way to find protection, she met Woo Ma Wang who tricked her to release Son Oh Gong from marble mountain prison. 25 Years later, she meets Son Oh Gong again only to learn her greater destiny and get protection from Son Oh Gong to fulfill that.
- Lee Seung Gi as Son Oh Gong, the Great Sage. A monkey “monster” whose power said to be on of the greatest.
- Cha Seung Won as Woo Ma Wang/Woo Hwi Chul, the Devil King. A bull king “monster” who needs to be a diety desperately to save the love of his life. In this life, he became the CEO of Lucifer Entertainment.
- Oh Yeon Seo as Jin Seon Mi/Sam Jang. A human who has the gift to see the underworlds, thus bullied by her family and friends as a child. She meets Ma Wang, and releases Son Oh Gong from his prison, and later meets him again by fate.
- Lee Hong Gi as Jeo Pal Kye/PK. A top star under Lucifer Entertainment, and actually a pig “monster”. He is famous to be a womanizer.
- Jang Gwang as Yoon Dae-sik/Sa Oh Jeong. CEO of MSUN, an electronic manufacturing company and a water buffalo “monster” who is very loyal to Son Oh Gong.
- Lee Se Young as Jung Se Ra/Bu Ja/Ah Sa Nyeo. Se Ra is an idol trainee, who after caught up in a misfortune situation turned her into a zombie (called Bu Ja). Then her body is used by an evil priestess called Ah Sa Nyeo.
- Lee El as Ma Ji Young. A dong “monster” who became a very loyal secretary to Ma Wang.
The story idea was actually really great and wittily creative. The romances are quite intense, we could shed tears here and there. The chemistry between characters (Son Oh Gong – Jin Seon Mi, Woo Ma Wang – Ja Eun, Pal Kye – Bu Ja) are especially great. As for acting aspect, many roles in this drama are so complex (e.g. Son Oh Gong: careless and selfish but forced to be helplessly in love; Woo Ma Wang: despite his nature as a beast, he has cuteness and childlike side; Bu Ja: three characters at once; etc) yet each of the actor manage to pull their character succesfully, even for the idol actor Lee Hong Gi. So hail to that!
On the down side, Hwayugi offers bad CGI effects for a 2017/2018 K-drama. Apart from the whole CGI messed up on the first episodes (which thankfully would go unnoticed by international viewers), we could see some outdated CGI effects through out the drama. It’s such ashamed since other K-dramas like Goblin already gave us pretty good effects. CGI effects aside, the story too became troublesome after a few episodes. At first we could expect many fights with evil spirits and we may see some potentials for the story but then all the sudden it turned into romance drama with a little spice of spirit realm. Suddenly the mighty monsters are becoming too friendly and all until the writer decided to put an end to the series by creating final and grand objective for Sam Jang to overcome, only to end it lamely.
- This show is not suitable for those who dislike ghost or horror genre
- This show is not suitable for those who dislike “unresolved”/”unclear” ending