Back to the main point, this film is quite a revelation for me. Of course, Shim Eun Kyung definitely proved how good an actress she is as the gutsy Princess Songhwa. Lee Seung Gi‘s wit and acting prowess, however, as Seo Do Yoon is just as good a reason to watch it. Incredibly enough I feel refreshed after seeing some matchmaking romcom, Joseon era style!
The palace arranges Princess Songhwa’s (Shim Eun Kyung) marriage in an attempt to save Joseon from the long-standing drought plaguing them. A local diviner, Seo Do Yoon (Lee Seung Gi), is brought in to the palace to find the perfect bachelor who will have the best marital harmony with Princess Songhwa.
Four candidates from all over the country are selected, all of them with different astrological signs, which are supposedly the closest match to the princess’ own readings.
However, Songhwa refuses to leave it to her fortune alone how her future husband is going to be selected. She sneaks out of the palace pretending to be someone else while carrying with her the names of the four chosen bachelors in hopes of getting to know better the most eligible prospects by herself. But the princess finds out something about each of them that is far from what she had bargained for after escaping the palace for some freedom.
On the other hand, Seo Do Yoon keeps getting tangled with the unknown lady that pops up wherever he goes, and in the process he finds himself smitten to the brave yet soft-hearted girl who kept getting herself in trouble.
What he later finds out is that the person he was working for and this girl is the same person and realizes she’s in bigger trouble than what they all thought would be nothing but a harmonious union to save Joseon from drought.
Will the princess still meet the true love she’s longing for? Who will she choose from the four eligible candidates that wants to steal her heart? And will our Joseon era cupid, Do Yoon, find it brave to marry off the girl he loves to another man?
MY Thoughts On The Princess And The Matchmaker
I think the matchmaker concept in the Joseon era is quite refreshing. It brings memories of when cupid is a thing, it just so happen he has another fictitious version from the Korean historical film perspective that is gifted with the ability to shoot arrows by reading others fortune and marital harmony.
Being Seo Do Yoon, I think Lee Seung Gi is quite impressive. The fortune reading based on astrology so whatever is kind of complicated but he managed to make it believable and really cool as if he was a leggit fortune teller in that era.
He brought a lot of laugh throughout the film while mingling with the other characters, but I wouldn’t overlook how complimenting it is to have a brave and independent princess that doesn’t just conform to the norms. Shim Eun Kyung made me believe that not not all women in the Joseon era were overshadowed by men in their lives. Because of her persistence and wisdom, she is able to uncover the real cause of misfortune in their land and was able to fight for her true love.
Plus, in this case, her Songhwa is the perfect character to move the story progressively, from what seemed like a simple search for Mr. Right down to the more serious things in the film, which includes conniving palace people–which period dramas and movies couldn’t go without, men in sheep’s skin who are real life psychotics, and also brought us to this beautiful scene when she fervently asked her father’s permission to be with the man she loves even if it meant giving up her title. She may be the damsel in distress in this film, but her strong character also proved she won’t always be the damsel in need, which is pretty cool and fresh image for a female protagonist from that period.
On the other hand, I won’t deny that this film also used to its advantage the flower boys they casted, and I guess the effort isn’t in vain since they are not just popular, but also really good actors. Choi Min Ho, who acted as Seo Ga Yoon, Do Yoon’s blind younger brother, was pretty okay. Though he didn’t stand out much, perhaps to the limitations of his role, he still did a good job. Kang Min Hyuk, who acted as Kang Hwi, a good looking man, Songhwa’s second suitor, but is also an absolute womanizer gave a new distinctive image of him that separated him from his past goody-goody, idol-like or golden boy image.
Plus, there’s Yeon Woo Jin who portrayed Yoon Si Kyung, an ambitious man that only wanted to marry the princess for his own personal gain. Yeon Woo Jin is really good when he’s a villain and I can prove that because whenever he channels his inner villain on screen, I always almost want to wring his neck for getting in the way. You know what they say? Only effective actors get that raw reaction from you.
Let’s not forget Choi Woo Sik‘s Nam Chi Ho almost duping me for real with his warm and charitable front. He would look like the most eligible candidate out of the four for some time and I almost really believed him maybe because Choi Woo Shik often had that geek role turned something else, but then again he’s pretty much the creepiest of the four suitors. Nonetheless, Woo Sik is quite impressive in this minor role. It’s pretty cool that he can quickly switch from the good to the bad. I guess, that makes him a resilient actor.
In terms of the plot, I think the switch from silly romcom to the more serious stuff that involves the usual connivance of the villains to overthrow a certain king is nothing new, but it adds spice and substance to the story. It always acts as a conflict, but I think it doesn’t get old. So far, I am not tired of it and though it’s frustrating to watch so many Korean period dramas and films always portraying this kind of stuff, it’s interesting. The only con about it is it somehow overshadowed the romance between the princess and the matchmaker. I mean, the story could have been simple, but there were so many things going on screen. Nonetheless, at least, I didn’t have to watch the cringey stuff. Action is always better than mindless and overly done courtship.
The chemistry between the main actors is admittedly sufficient though. I didn’t think Lee Seung Gi would look good would Shim Eun Kyung in the beginning, but somehow in between all the political battles and complicated divination and astrological calculations, there were small moments when you’d find that look of adoration each of them were practically throwing at each other.
That’s why even though I didn’t like in the end that Do Yoon was exiled for tampering Si Kyung’s fortune and Songhwa was ripped off her title for wanting to follow her heart and the true love she’s about to lose, I guess it’s fair enough game and by looking at the bigger picture, you’ll realize they made the ending that way because it’s the best resolution for everyone. Do Yoon doesn’t have to be executed. Songhwa can be with the man she loves. The queen’s son won’t be ill anymore because Songhwa will be far away from them and won’t be sucking positive energy from others. She will true have marital harmony with Do Yoon and that brings in the rain. In short, all is well in the end.