Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rooftop Prince - 2012

Director: Shin Yoon-Sub
Writer: Lee Hee-Myung

The series starts with a Joseon Crown Prince Lee Kak (Mickey Yoochun) waking up in the middle of the night to find his wife missing from beside him.  The palace is thrown into a turmoil when she is discovered floating in the Royal Pond, drowned.

The Prince is devastated and is sure this is murder, not suicide. The court produces evidence of suicide and the King is satisfied. The Prince decides to conduct an inquiry on his own. He hires three young men who are known to be best in the area of their expertise.

Song Man-Bo (Lee Min-ho (junior)) has the sharpest brains in the Kingdom. Woo Yong-Sool (Jung Suk-Won) is a fighter. Do Chi-San (Choi Woo-Sik) is a cross-dresser who can wrest secrets from anywhere.

Along with these three men, Crown Prince attempts to solve the murder of his beloved wife Hwa-Yong (Jung Yoo-Mi). They get to work immediately.  Song Man-Bo deduces that the Princess was poisoned by using arsenic.  The four try to locate arsenic sellers in the Capital. They find that there is only one arsenic seller and he has been killed. On top of that, they are being chased with murderous intent. They are flung across a chasm and find themselves:

In a rooftop apartment in modern day Seoul.  The apartment belongs to Park Ha (Han Ji-Min). She is startled out of her wits at this sudden apparition and tries to shoo away the intruders. But she is stuck with them.

A few days later the Crown Prince spots Hong Se-Na (Jun Yoo-Mi again) who is the spitting image of his deceased wife.

The Prince feels he has been sent to the future for a reason. Maybe he is meant to unite with his wife one more time to discover why she died in her past life.  There was a modern version of him too, Yong Tae-Yong (Mickey Yoochun again) who is missing and presumed dead.

In the meantime he is having a very hard time with Park-Ha.  She does not understand that he is a royal personage and must be deferred to.  She treats him with disdain and is always ready to take him down a peg or two.  He does not recognize her as Boo-Yong (Han Ji-Min again) from the past, the girl who was his wife's sister.  Boo-Yong had a disfiguring scar on her face and always wore a veil.

Park Ha has to deal with the four interlopers from the past. Initially she thinks she is being conned. Eventually she realizes that the four young men are really from the past.  She can get along with the other three, but their Prince is a pain in the ass.  He is stuck up and keeps issuing orders.  She has to take this:

and turn them into this:

Most of the time the series are very funny, as the young men from the past try to adjust to modern age.  But the Prince is on a serious mission too, he has to find out why his wife was murdered.  He keeps pursuing Se-Na with an intent to woo her and marry her, but he also has deep feelings for his benefactress Park-Ha who has been mostly very kind to them.

He is sure that they landed up in the Rooftop apartment for a reason.  He wants to find out all the answers, but had to bide his time. In the meanwhile Yong Tae-Moo (Lee Tae-Sung) seems to thwart him at every chance he gets.

Slowly the pieces start falling together. Yet the Prince does not know for sure.  It is only when he sees a body floating in a lake, almost as if in a mirroring of the past, that realization dawns upon him.

The series are funny and poignant at the same time. The first and the last episodes are so action packed that you had better be prepared not to blink your eyes for the fear of missing anything.

Mickey Yoochun comes up trumps with his performance as the grief-stricken Prince at the start, to the puzzled and disoriented person trying to make sense of the future he is plonked in. Even after he masters the modern world, his insouciance when enjoying a sweet drink or eating instant noodles is touching.

Han Ji-Min is also wonderful as the girl who wants to help the Prince uncover the secrets of his past, but cannot help feeling jealous when he tries to woo Se-Na.

As the series progressed, I could not guess how it would all end.  Will the Prince go back or stay on in modern day Seoul? How can Park Ha go to the Joseon period when her counterpart - Boo-Young - is probably still alive? What will happen to Se-Na? Will SHE accompany the Prince to Joseon?

When the end did come, it was so well wrought that I was taken completely by surprise.  It was one the best endings I have seen in a drama.

Rooftop Prince was supposed to be the second Korean series that I watched.  My mother, who is a veteran of K-series sent this to me on a DVD.  It took a long time in getting to me, and when it did, the subtitles did not work.  I watched it online eventually, and was so captivated that I have almost seen it twice already.

After Faith, which will always be my first love, I liked this series the most.  It was fun and nice and had a very good script.  Mickey Yoochun is always a delight to watch, as is Han Ji Min.  I was thrilled to be able to recognize some of the character actors here.

1 comment:

  1. I have just finished watching this (less than ten minutes back!) and came scurrying over here to finally read your review and comment, Ava! I liked this one a lot, though there were bits about it that irritated me (very minor bits - like I kept wondering why Park Ha did not phone the police, as any sane woman would have done, when Tae Moo was wrecking her place, or how, in the last episode, the Prince has figured out exactly what happened). But then, these little irritants are there in every series, so I'm nitpicking.

    I didn't even like the end until just the last moment, the last dialogue, the last frame. And then suddenly, it all came together, and very nicely too - if one is a thorough romantic and is willing to let one's imagination run wild. :-)

    You should also see Queen In Hyun's Man. Very good time travel one, too, and there's lots of to-ing and fro-ing between past and present, so you get to see about equal portions of both. Of all the time travel series I've seen so far, Faith is my favourite, followed by Queen In Hyun's Man.