Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 16 to 20
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) now devolves into one of these tedious Hollywood-style martial arts films where the wise old one goes into retreat and teaches the young sprog how to be great. We therefore see snapshots of Baek Dong-Soo (Ji Chang-Wook) as he learns the basics, actually getting so good he can even beat Kim Kwang-Taek (Jeon Kwang-Leol) wearing a blindfold (I’ll let you decide who you think should be wearing the blindfold). Hwang Jin-Joo (Yoon So-Yi) is doing really well in the trading business with Yoo Ji-Sun (Shin Hyun-Bin). This success is beginning to threaten the Noron group’s interests. In (Park Cheol-Min) comes back to stage a takeover of the assassin group Hoksa Chorong. This suits Yeo Woon (Yoo Seung-Ho) because, without the responsibility of leadership, he thinks he’ll be able to quit the day job and go professional on his hobby of beekeeping. And Hong Dae-Joo (Lee Won-Jong) with the support of the Noron group are intent on doing in the Heir Apparent. In a moment of soft fade, an uncountable amount of time passes. . . and the action resumes with Baek Dong-Soo and Kim Kwang-Taek coming down from the mountain retreat, while In and the assassins attack the bandit/trading camp run by Hwang Jin-Joo (Yoon So-Yi). For different reasons, both Chun (Choi Min-Su) and Ji (Yun Ji-Min) are visiting. The assassins let fly with arrows. Both Chun and Ji are hit. She now tells him he’s the father of Hwang Jin-Joo and he must save his daughter. Well, we’re a bit surprised by this because we all wanted Kim Kwang-Taek to be the Daddy. It’s really hard to tell who’s telling the truth here.
Anyway, the dutiful Chun carries off Hwang Jin-Joo who was bitten by a snake while no-one was paying attention. Then our hero strolls into the camp and by not being seen to threaten anyone directly, convinces them he can kill then all with a flick of his eyebrow if he’s not immediately obeyed. The assassins are terrified behind their black masks and all run off leaving our hero to carry Ji and Hwang Jin-Gi away for urgent medical treatment. As an aside, we should note that this sequence is typical of a running absurdity. If anyone wearing a black mask or a uniform is touched by a sword or arrow, there’s instant death. But here we have three characters with arrows sticking out of them like hedgehogs and sword cuts to every limb who will be up and running around in five minutes. Even the snake bite only produces a limp after a few hours rest. We then pivot into a new level of complexity because it seems Hong Dae-Joo has been rigging the ginseng trade for his private profit. If this is discovered, his whole clan will be wiped out. The Norons decide to use the question of tainted ginseng as a means of attacking the Heir Apparent. Hong Dae-Joo therefore orders Hoksa Chorong to kill all the merchant witnesses who might implicate him. Unfortunately this list includes Yoo Ji-Sun. Her rescue proves to be a staged event with first Yeo Woon intervening and then our hero coming into play. He sticks In with a needle that disables the nerves in his remaining arm so he’ll never be able to hold a sword again. Our man is therefore seen to be just and merciful. Having saved Hwang Jin-Joo from the snake bite, she now repays the kindness by saving Chun from the arrow wounds. Sooner or later, he’s going to tell her he thinks he’s the missing Daddy. Properly deputised as a detective, our hero now sets off the crack the case of the polluted ginseng. This should be exciting.
Except it isn’t. This is a routine court conspiracy subplot. Hong Dae-Joo has been using naval ships to bring in dodgy ginseng and substituting it for the good stuff. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to the cheap knock-off (including the Queen), so our crooked Minister is into extreme clean-up mode, setting off to kill everyone who might be able to implicate him. This upsets Yeo Woon who’s determined to protect Yoo Ji-Sun. In the end, both the boys are arrested and thrown into the same jail cell. Baek Dong-Soo does his, “You can give up the dark side and come into the light,” speech, they escape and, having collected evidence, Hong Dae-Joo looks as if he’s in trouble. Meanwhile, Chun and Ji combine to keep Hwang Jin-Joo safe from yet more attacking assassins (obviously, these masked ranks of assassins come cheaper by the dozen through mail order). Wait! Stop the presses! We have a fatal wound! And, as a result, there’s one of these immensely tedious extended death scenes for which Korean drama is famous as Chun, Kim Kwang-Taek and Hwang Jin-Joo get to wail over Ji as she dies. In the midst of all this tear-jerking, she seems to confirm Kim Kwang-Taek is the Daddy. Fortunately, Chun is past caring at this point. The woman he has loved all these years is dying. It’s irrelevant to him that he’s not the Daddy. In due course, Ji’s body goes on the funeral pyre and her ashes are released into the wind so she can be with the one she loves whenever the weather is favourable and as soon as she makes up her mind who to visit.
Back at the court, one of Hong Dae-Joo’s lieutenant’s is offered up as a scapegoat with the Japanese appearing before the King to give evidence clearing the Defence Minister of any personal involvement. The delegation is led by a Japanese expert with the sword. He gives a demonstration of his skills, beating the best of the also-rans without breaking sweat. He suggests an exchange of pointers with Kim Kwang-Taek and this is scheduled. In the meantime, Hong Dae-Joo arrests Yoo Ji-Sun to put pressure Yeo Woon. Assassin Boy is not a happy bunny when he gets the news and breaks her out of jail. With her now safely hidden away in Hoksa Chorong, he’s free to negotiate with Hong Dae-Joo, hoping he can find a way of getting rid of him. The difference between Yoo Seung-Ho and Yoo Seung-Ho is becoming a real gulf. Despite the endless training from Sword Saint, our hero remains all heart and very little brain, whereas the dark, mean and moody assassin is quietly intelligent and blessed with great foresight. At a gut level, you can understand why they might be friends but our hero is just such a naive pain, you know this is not going to end in a good way. The script continues the trend of marginalising Shin Hyun-Bin. Assassin Boy may love her and do anything to protect her, but she’s not at all responsive to either male lead. This leaves Yoon So-Yi to carry the female interest as the tomboyish girl who shoots a mean arrow and fights when called on. Overall, Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo is lurching forward without creating any real interest in how it will all turn out.
For reviews of the other episodes, see:
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 1 to 5
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 6 to 10
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 11 to 15
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 21 to 25
Warrior Baek Dong Soo or Musa Baek Dong Soo (2011) episodes 26 to end