Review: Captivating The King Is Lush & Immersive But With A Shaky Plot

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Captivating The King kept me seated from the very first episode and now that the final episode has been released, I’m happy to say that I had the most fun ride. 

While the momentum of the primary plot dimmed at a point, there was still a lottttttt that made it worth it and I’m so happy I stuck with this drama. 

If I am being honest the only regret I made about this drama is the fact that I started watching it while it was airing and I’m not kidding when I say the anticipation was through the roof.

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Firstly, I’ll talk about something I usually don’t even pay attention to while watching a drama unless it absolutely stands out: the colour muting and the general aura of the drama. 

You know how purely romantic dramas are always so colourful and generally encourage optimism while hardcore thriller dramas use a more muted colour grading across the board to make the scene feel much more gritty? 

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In this drama, it definitely felt like the showrunners put a lot of lot of effort into capturing the mood of the scene, the feelings of the characters, and the general atmosphere of the story when selecting everything from their outfits to the scenery and even the weather. 

And this was doubly perfect because while it was amazing for the very aesthetics of it, it did wonders for sort of signalling a change in tempo or a break in the tension and I loved it. 

On the whole, this drama is definitely the most gorgeous, most delectable piece I’ve seen in a good while and I’m going to be thinking about it in the near future. 

Secondly, I feel the leads did their best, but I’ve never really been a fan of FL (Shin Sae Kyung who I’ll call SSK for the rest of this post) because I feel her acting is a bit…off, but I did enjoy The Girl Who Sees Scents because her goofy side feels more natural. 

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SSK is undoubtedly gorgeous and her visuals with the ML (Jo Jung Suk, who I’ll call JJS) were definitely the stuff dreams are made of, but it definitely felt like JJS was putting his all into the drama while she remained on the sidelines. 

That’s not to say under-acting is always bad (sometimes, it’s even recommended), but when it feels like you’re being theatric on purpose and it actually comes across as if you’re reading from a script, it won’t bode well for the drama. 

Related: 13 Old But Gold Historical K-Dramas That Still Deserve All The Hype

As I said earlier, JJS is simply the most fantastic actor I’ve seen in a while and no matter how I look at it, it definitely felt like he carried this entire drama on his back. 

His acting skills are brilliant and he’s a clear natural — At no point did it feel forced or out-of-character, and surprisingly, even the random teary eyes that Kdrama actors develop didn’t touch a nerve. 

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And of course, he’s so handsome! If you’ve watched Hospital Playlist and Oh My Ghost, then you might have been a little shocked when you saw the beards and I finally understand what people mean when they say the beards completely change the human. 

Finally, while I loved every other part of the historical drama (even pacing which is usually a major issue for me), I felt that the plot was a little too ludicrous and unbelievable for me to actually take it too seriously. 

I mean, SSK is left for dead while being transported to her exile location but then she tries to escape, is injured, and then left for dead, right? That’s cool. At this point, I was willing to overlook the fact that nobody had discovered her gender during the torture session.

She’s then saved by an old magnanimous man who turns out to be her missing and presumed dead father’s friend. Still within the realm of possibility. 

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Then, she decides to take revenge on the new King who apparently was so tyrannical that he would abandon his people at the first sign of trouble and would even assist in their persecution and her plan is to find a way to stay by his side. Still good – This could actually happen.

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But, her plan to stay by his side is to return as the male Baduk player he had exiled years ago and everyone simply accepts it and the king doesn’t even have an objection to it. The only person who found it absurd was the “evil” man who was quickly shunned. 

You guys, her plan was to kill the king and then do what? Her revenge simply felt so unnecessary to the storyline and I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

It couldn’t have been about her dad because she clearly heard the man offer to be sent to the Qing, so the only other option is that because he ignored her and her friend while they were being tortured and killing him is just too extreme.  

Perhaps I need to look at this from some other angle that’ll help me really understand what SSK had at stake and what she wanted to do. This wasn’t a case of a genuinely tyrannical ruler she needed to remove – It felt more like a spur-of-the-moment action as opposed to a revenge plan that kept cooking for three years. 

The ending wasn’t the best because it felt entirely too unresolved, but when I think about it again, it seems this might have been the intention of the creators. 

It’s open and slightly conclusive, but while it’s definitely realistic in every sense of the word, I needed more closure, particularly about the future moving forward about her gender and all. 

Also See: 8 Romantic Korean Dramas Without The Dreaded Love Triangle (They’re Still So Good)

Anyway, Captivating The King is definitely one of those historical dramas that’ll make you think a whole lot. I especially appreciated the angle of the JJS’ primary antagonist being his former greatest supporter who essentially planted him on the throne. 

It’s a dimension we’ve rarely gotten in Korean dramas and all the politicking was never tiresome or boring to flow with, so I’m 100% sure you’re going to enjoy this one a lot if you like intense love and palace drama that’ll keep you on your toes. 

Final Rating

  • Cast: 4.5/5
  • Story: 2/5
  • Cinematography: 4/5
  • Ending: 3.5/5

Have you watched Captivating The King? Is it on your list? Let me know your thoughts on this drama (as you know, I’m always looking for recommendations).

Don’t forget to check the related posts for even more Korean drama and movie reviews that’ll help you make the best choice when you want to watch a drama. 

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I'm the girl for the job if you want amazing drama recommendations (no, really!), OST recs that will leave you deep in your feelings, and genuine drama talk that you can only get from a viewer with lots of biases. I'm always on the lookout for new dramas to watch, so don't hesitate to leave a comment with something you think I'll enjoy and I'll send a reply ASAP. Thanks for visiting!

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