This year, we’ve been treated to a slew of captivating period dramas, yet one particular subgenre has remained conspicuously absent: tales of outlaws and bandits seamlessly woven into the historical fabric.
Agreed, such shows might be there and I may not have seen them yet.
Nevertheless, Song of the Bandits, a new Korean series on Netflix, is already here to get the ball rolling for me.
Set in the early twentieth century, it is an action & adventure series, following the story of a bandit group.
The genre is not as popular as it used to be a decade ago. Still, if the content is good, anything today can hit it out of the park.
So, is Song of the Bandits one of those Bandit shows that are bland and boring or there is really something good here?
Read on to find out.
Song of the Bandits Synopsis
The story is set around the time when most of Korea was colonized by Japan. Forces were killing natives of the nation while harassing people based on their identity.
The Joseon community was being ruthlessly crushed and seen as slaves by the Japanese army. This was when Lee Yoon decided to form a Bandit group to facilitate the freedom movement.
Song of the Bandits depicts the group’s journey, which is not at all a smooth ride.
It is created by Han Jung-hoon and Hwang Jun-hyuk. Actors in predominant roles include Kim Nam-gil (Lee Yoon), Seohyun (Hee-shin), Yoo Jae-myung (Choong-soo), Lee Hyun-wook (Lee Gwang-il), and Lee Ho-jung (Eon-nyeoni), among others.
Song of the Bandits: Positives
I am amazed by the execution of the series. The creators have skillfully navigated the treacherous waters of period drama, seamlessly weaving it into a captivating narrative that never once feels burdened by its historical setting.
Intricacy is so beautifully stitched in the narrative that you are always on the edge of your seat.
These were my reactions at the end of Song of the Bandits. And I wanted them to be reflected here before I came out of its spell.
So, Song of the Bandits is not like the usual bandit stories, even though the first episode indicates the same.
It has an edible storyline, which tastes well and has the capacity to sustain for a whole length of almost nine hours.
Never at any point in the show would you feel bored or empty. The crisp writing fabulously develops characters, their relationships, and the conflicts they get embroiled in.
Much like a living organism, Song of the Bandits evolves with the passage of time.
It has been impeccably edited, and the visual effects elevate the series to a realm of excellence.
From heart-pounding train sequences to adrenaline-fueled horse chases, every aspect is flawlessly executed.
The cinematography is a revelation, with each frame, whether untouched or enhanced, bearing the mark of a discerning eye for aesthetics.
Moreover, the landscapes are breathtaking, the enigmatic forests shrouded in mystery, and the depiction of sandstorms is equally captivating.
Song of the Bandits boasts mesmerizing action sequences that truly set pulses racing.
The infusion of gore and violence is executed to such a degree of realism that it never veers into artificiality.
It’s gritty, authentic, and unapologetically bold.
The dialogue in Song of the Bandits is a testament to the writers’ brilliance, as they deftly navigate the emotional spectrum.
While intense exchanges are riveting, the romantic undertones are equally enchanting. The Korean show, in its entirety, straddles the line between action and romance with finesse.
The lighting deserves a special mention for its understated elegance, never overshadowing the essence of the bandit genre.
Talking about the music, Song of the Bandits weaves a tapestry of moving songs into its narrative, complemented by a background score that enriches the viewing experience.
As I said earlier, the show’s hold on emotions is its strongest suit because the action is already mind-boggling. The concoction of these two aspects works wonders for Song of the Bandits.
How are the Performances?
Kim Nam-gil, who embodies the character of Lee Yoon, exudes the aura of a natural leader with effortless grace.
He takes on the pivotal role of shaping his bandit group’s destiny with unwavering conviction. However, what truly sets him apart is the emotional depth he brings to the character.
Kim’s portrayal is a masterclass in subtle yet impactful acting, with his gentle expressions, warm kindness, and romantic improvisation seamlessly enhancing the series’ narrative.
While you won’t witness extravagant theatrics from Kim, the role doesn’t demand it in the first place; he delivers precisely what the character requires, leaving an indelible mark.
Seohyun, in her role as Hee-shin, introduces us to an endearing character whose charm lies in her ability to effortlessly shift between sweetness and cunning ingenuity.
Her portrayal is a captivating blend of warmth and calculated stratagem, adding depth to the character’s persona.
Yoo Jae-myung, who embodies Choong-soo, assumes the mantle of an experienced bandit leader with unwavering conviction.
His performance exudes authority and authenticity, vividly portraying the character’s commanding presence and the impactful developments he brings to the storyline.
Lee Hyun-wook embarks on a gray journey in Song of the Bandits. Playing Lee Gwang-il, his straight-faced, angry expressions offer enough vigor to the character.
Lee Ho-jung plays Eon-nyeoni, a contract killer. She is as witty and sharp as she is lethal with her moves. Her screen orientation is sparkling.
Even if you choose sides, you wouldn’t be able to take a stand against her. Ho-jung is talent personified.
Song of the Bandits: Downsides
Gladly, there are no negative aspects from my end. The series will surely return for the second season and hence, its ending is a bit puzzling.
Stream or Skip?
Song of the Bandits delivers an enthralling blend of thrilling action, understated romance, heightened emotions, and a gripping sense of adventure.
This Korean period drama hits all the right notes, leaving no room for hesitation.