No matter the distance in time and space, find me!

guardian the lonely and great guard goblin

The love of Elves for the land and their works is deeper than the depths of the Sea

Tolkien

Title
Guardian: The Lonely   &   Great God (2016)
Also known as
Goblin
Genre
Fantasy, Romance
Written by
Kim Eun-sook
Directed by
Lee Eung-bok   &   Kwon Hyuk-chan   &   Yoon, Jong-ho
Starring
 Gong Yoo,     Kim Go-eun,    Lee Dong-wook,     Yoo In-na,    Yook Sung-jae
Country of Origin
South Korea
Episodes
16  +  3 specials

oh! … brief

Kim Shin in life was a successful and beloved war general, more popular among the people than the King of the era. His growing power and popularity frustrated the king and following a trusted advisor who feeds into the King’s jealousy, he condemns Kim Shin to death. Problem is that there are many who love and respect Kim Shin, so many in fact that mourn his death and call out to him that he is cursed to return to the earth as a goblin (dokkaebi).

Kim Shin’s soul inhabits his mighty sword that was used to kill his human form.

After more than 900 years of life, Kim Shin is tired of immortality and wishes to hasten his end. He must find his mortal bride to remove the sword and send him into the afterlife.

oh! … talks drama

You either ‘get’ this drama or you don’t. That doesn’t mean you have to like everything about it or not, it means you have to understand and believe in the storyline and the idea that love transcends life and death. If you get that, then we’re good, If you don’t, then you might want to give this read a miss!

This fantastical romance is more romance than fantastical. Sure, there are a few consistent things going on that need some make-believe, but the central story is more about a man needing to find a woman who will fall in love with him, become his true love, and agree to be his bride all so he can end his immortality.

It is quite an ambitious tale, one traversing centuries and I believe, as well as she could, the writer did a great job of creating the backstory, creating the history between the past and the present, and then creating the present day situation. It all ties together nicely. I would have loved to know more of the backstory and less of the present day because I feel there was more of a story to the back story if that makes sense? I also like that the writer paid particular attention to developing the characters as the drama unfolded. I enjoyed that she included lots of humour, even if it was dry and sarcastic, it was good!

The writing, which the director and actors interpreted, brought the supernatural to life and painted this bittersweet love story beautifully. And when combined with the cinematography and the accompanying soundtrack, it was a very appealing production.

The camera crew really did their job and they got great locations thanks to the location scouts. The lighting and special effects seemed effortless but I suspect there was a lot of work going on in the background that we were unaware of and was certainly underappreciated – the rain happening at odd times, the leaves falling in time, the blossoms just tumbling out the sky, the snow — you get what I’m saying right?

I admired the Goblin’s house – what a beautiful space to film. The house had so much character which mirrored the goblin himself, who was multi-layered and complex.

I liked that they decided to film in Canada and in Quebec City of all places. I love Quebec City! It’s just a four-hour drive from home and I’m there nearly every summer. It is a great location and offers up such beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, not a lot of that made it into the drama, but it was a nice touch nonetheless.

I genuinely enjoyed the opening to this kdrama, cinematically speaking. I think this was the most remarkable opening they could have created– a bloody battle scene, artistically shot and then the impressive death scenes. Amazing! I wish we had seen more of this part of the story, I think that would have been impressive.

Most of the characters were memorable and engaging. I say most because I had an issue with the female lead and Kim Sin’s nephew. Other than those two, which is explained in more detail later, I really liked how well cast this drama was. The two male leads were remarkable in their own right and inhabited their characters — that’s what an accomplished professional does, right?

The accompanying soundtrack (allow me if you will), ‘unfrigginbelieavble!’ If I’m honest, I’m going to have to admit that I loved the soundtrack more than the drama itself. Nam Hye-Seung composed beautiful opening and closing themes, but the artists – musicians and singers who compiled and created all the other tracks – WOW! All the pieces were melodic and created this coherence with the story, the cinematography, and even the characters themselves. The music director outdid himself!

Gong Woo’s return to the industry of after a long break as a lead, Kim Shin, was impeccable. It’s almost as if this role was written just for him. He exposed us to every minute complex aspect of Kim Shin’s character – from the fierce, brave general in the past to the dry, expressionless, lonely ‘man’ and the quirky, goofy, rebellious roommate to the sincere, charming, romantic. Yes, Kim Shin became insanely affectionate. It was seemingly effortless and delivered with such perfection. He was remarkable in this role!

And the other male lead, Lee Dong Wook, was incredible as Wang Yeo, the Grim Reaper. What a commanding screen presence Lee Dang Wook had in this drama, with his character, the ‘mythical creature’ everyone wants to avoid at all costs. Outwardly, Lee Dang exuded loftiness in one instance and then brought to life this bumbling, awkward, shy man. It was creative and skilled.

The chemistry between the two male leads was better than the chemistry between Kim Shin and his bride-to-be. So much so, that I admit, I’d have enjoyed this drama more if the romance has been between the two male leads instead. They had this whole bromancy thing going on. The rivalry between them was palpable and cutting — all those battles with the cutlery and dishes! And the sarcasm was dripping off both of them. It was skilful and I loved every interaction they shared — the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

On the other side of the leads was Kim Go Eun playing Ji Eun Tak, the goblin’s bride. I have to say this was a disaster! I blame it entirely on the director. Perhaps she was terribly miscast too, but Kim Go Eun was not ideal for this role and the directing of her character was atrocious! I suspect that the writer of the drama did, in fact, write a story based on an immature girl. But Kim Go Eun’s dramatisation was excessive – whiny, sickly-sweet, far too youthful, childish, and needy all in the extreme. I hated it! Half the time I wanted her to grow-up and the other half to shut-up. But, there were saving moments, where she played more maturely and seemed to be less exaggerated, thankfully.

I’m fairly certain this is the director’s fault. I suspect that the director wanted to show the difference in a person living a single lifetime to that of one who has lived countless lifetimes – mature versus immature, but it was overemphasised to the point where it was extremely off-putting. I would rather have seen an older, established University student, with maturity and dignity as the co-lead for Gong Woo. That would have made better sense and the director and writer could have found other ways or interactions to portray the difference in lifespans. Just my opinion, but one I am bound by in this case.

The miscast or misdirection of Eun Tak’s role was the major let down to the drama. I was disappointed because it created such imbalance to the harmony and chemistry. I did not believe the chemistry between Kim Shin and Eun Tak. It felt forced almost all the time and I could visibly see Gong Woo struggling to be in the moment with intimate interactions between the two. And it wasn’t his fault! He could only control his part in the interaction. It was a complete mismatch. But even more so, the annoying antics the director had Eun Tak get up to? I’m almost certain that they were written into the screenplay differently, if at all.

oh! … sidekicks

As disappointing as Kim Go Eun was in this drama, this was not the only role that the director got wrong either. Sunny aka Kim Sun, sister to the goblin was a wasted character. She was well-played mind you by Yoo In Na, but the whole sitting around doing nothing, bored with life and longing for something or someone was just pointless in my opinion. She was integral to the storyline, but her character was so wasted the way she was portrayed.

Yoo Duk Hwa, nephew of the goblin was poorly played by Yook Sung Jae. Again, I suspect this is more to do with direction from the director than bad acting skills, although I could be wrong, I haven’t watched Yook Sung Jae in anything else yet. The character was another annoying young, immature, spoiled, brattish character that was portrayed exaggeratedly. There was absolutely no need for this character’s performance to be so amplified.

oh! … that’s a wrap

I had so much more I wanted to say about this drama, but I may do a refresher after watching it again sometime in the future. And I will watch it again, just not sure when. I did enjoy this tale of friendship, forgiveness and love. It was poignant and moving and has left a lasting impression.

You’ll enjoy this drama if you can appreciate mystery and mysticism. Don’t let what I wrote put you off giving this drama a chance, I promise you, Gong Woo and Lee Dang Wook make it worth the time invested!

oh! … tidbits

During the drama, Kim Shin and Eun Tak watch a movie – it ‘s “Train To Busan” starring none other than Gong Yoo.

Gong Yoo’s stage name is made of his parents’ last names, Gong and Yoo. His birth name is Gong Ji Chul.

Locations included a breakwater area on Jumunjin Beach in Gangneung. Local merchants in that area have sold flowers, red scarves and umbrellas to visitors wanting to reenact the drama’s scene. Awwww! Another location was Yongpyong Resort, a ski resort.

Kim Shin’s house is not an actual house, but rather a part of Duksung Women’s University Building in Seoul.

The Christmas Store featured in the drama is a famous Quebec City store in Canada called La Boutique de Noël de Québec.

The drama has been accused of overt and blatant product placement. While it is usual to place products that fund production on set, the feedback is that it was extreme and distracting.

The “Dokkaebi” is the mascot for the Red Devils fan club of Korea’s national soccer team.

Korean goblins are called dokkaebi. They possess incredible powers and qualities that they use or manipulate to interact with, or play tricks on, humans. The earliest documentation describing a dokkaebi is from the Silla era.

Dokkaebi is created when the soul spiritually possesses an inanimate object, particularly one tainted with human blood.

Dokkaebi fire is the glimmering light (typically blue flame) that signals the appearance of the creature.

The dokkaebi featured in the Goblin was likely based on a Go dokkaebi, known for their skill at fighting and handling weapons.

The rule (whether it is only for this drama or not, is that when you die and have many that are calling out your name it keeps your soul tied to the earth. If your soul then touches an object or inhabits one that is tainted with human blood then you become a dokkaebi.

I read this fascinating little book about two years ago that had lots of content on death as it relates to Korea — Death, Mourning and the Afterlife in Korea, returned from working in Korea and we’d been discussing the culture and I had a hard time understanding why the afterlife was so important. It’s an interesting look!

oh! … soundtrack

Goblin

oh! … gallery

 oh! … trailer

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