I watched the first two episodes of Flames of Desire this weekend, and I walked away feeling slightly light-headed and dizzy from all the intensity. As expected, the drama is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s makjang to to the core, and makes no concessions to the milk of human kindness. It’s dark, it’s destructive, it’s mesmerizing. In short, I just described the lead character of the drama Yoon Na Young, played by Shin Eun Kyung. And we’re suppose to root for her? Only if Queen Seon Deok was re-named Mishil’s Rise To Power and was set in the modern times, that is what we are watching unfold in FoD.
I’m not going to lie, it was a hard watch for me, in the sense that watching darkness unfold is not a pleasant experience, however riveting it may be. I absolutely slurped up every delicious drop of FoD’s opening sequence, and then slipped right into the “how did we end up here” prologue for what I just watched. FoD does break relatively new ground. It’s rare to see a protagonist be the antogonist in the story, and that person is a female character to boot. Factor in not a single person being good or bad, but more like shades of really really dark, then the story leaves us floundering for a moral anchor to latch on it. My suspicion is that Yoo Seung Ho will be that lightness in the tumult, the source of purity in the muck.
The acting in FoD is top-notch, with Shin Eun Kyung announcing to the world that she wants the Baeksang in 2011. I find FoD low on histrionics, but high on the intensity. Does that distinction make sense? It’s not like people are screeching over silly or middling plot developments, but rather that one woman’s desire for wealth is that all-consuming she will destroy anything and any one in her way. The original English title for this drama is unbelievably fitting, Flames of Ambition.
I won’t be doing recaps for this sucker, because there is no way in hell I am ready to re-watch any part of it anytime soon. It looks to be a wild ride, so check it out if it intrigues you. All I can do is provide some screencaps from FoD’s jaw-dropping opening scene, which is so deliciously over-the-top I drank a glass of wine and ate an entire cheesecake without even realizing it.
Behold the maestro delivering the makjang:
At the end of the first 12 minutes of FoD, two characters have already threatened to kill themselves, and another character actually attempted to do so. See, I told you this isn’t a walk in the park.
[Edit: Oops, I thought everyone knew since it was all over the blogosphere in the days leading up to FoD’s premiere, about the twisted relationships in FoD. Since @Carol asked about it in her comment below, I thought it merited some exposition:
Shin Eun Kyung and Jo Min Ki are married. Yoo Seung Ho is JMK’s son, and SEK’s step-son. I don’t know if there was a first wife, or YSH was born out of wedlock by JMK. Seo Woo is SEK’s birth daughter, who SEK had before she married JMK.
It’s clear in episode 1 that both SEK and SW know their real relationship to each other. It’s also pretty clear that lil’ angel boy YSH has no clue what fauxcest is going on if he married SW. And it is fauxcest, NOT incest, since YSH and SW are not blood related. His dad is married to her mom, that is all. Of course, if JMK and SEK had a child together, that kid will have elder siblings married to each other. Oh lord, I cannot wait to watch the shit hit the fan.]