Under the Queen’s Umbrella review: Refreshing historical drama

Under the Queen’s Umbrella is a Korean historical drama about a Queen during the Joseon dynasty who has to prepare her troublesome sons to inherit the throne. The series is streaming on Netflix.

Story

Queen Hwa Ryeong is the monarch of Korea in the Joseon Kingdom and her husband has been a sage king and his rule has been prosperous and peaceful for the kingdom.

However, enemies are always around the corner and closer than expected as the Queen’s mother-in-law, the Queen Dowager always looks for a way to get rid of the Queen.

When the crown prince dies under suspicious circumstances, the wheels begin turning within the palace as a new crown prince from the sons of the Queen and the royal consorts.

Ministers and people within the palace take sides as they do everything in their power to play dirty and gain an advantage over their rivals as a mystery in the past is uncovered that threatens to turn the kingdom on its head.

Performances

The cast is quite extensive but the primary core of performers do a fantastic job of portraying these fictional historical figures with the trademark intensity of a k-drama.

Kim Hye-soo plays Queen Hwa-ryeong and shines in her role. Her facial expressions are ridiculously over-the-top and yet fit perfectly to convey the emotions that she is feeling. Hye-soo is the star of the series in more ways than one.

Kim Hae-sook portrays the primary antagonist, the Queen Dowager. Hae-sook is absolutely terrifying as the controlling matriarch and her delivery is chilling and intense. She is calculating and vicious in equal measure and proves the perfect foil for the queen.

Moon Sang-min is Seongnam, the second son of the Queen who eventually becomes the Crown Prince. He is a very stoic person who doesn’t reveal his emotions too often and Sang-min encapsulates his nature consummately.

Kim Eui-sung plays Chief State Councillor Hwang and he is one of the loudest and most expressive characters in the series. He is inherently evil and Eui-sung portrays him with a dedication that is so clearly seen on screen.

The collective effort of the cast makes this series quite engaging and tons of fun.

Positives

The historical setting is depicted entrancingly with the simple yet elegant architecture and floor plans of the palace and the humbler villages on the outside. The cinematography in the series captures all of this appealingly.

Additionally, the series does a brilliant job with the costumes and the cultural traditions of the dynasty within that particular period of history. Showcasing the progressive aspects of that particular civilization is quite intriguing.

There is a steady balance of political drama, comedic shenanigans and shady dealings through the course of the series keeping it engaging.

The characters are all so well crafted and backed up by some exceptional performances. It is great to witness all these different personalities interacting with each other and the environment at large.

Negatives

There are a few filler episodes initially that do drag the series along and slow down the pace. They could have benefited from some trimming down here and there to make it more streamlined and focused.

Not every sub-plot was given equal attention and some of them are barely consequential to the main narrative which is why they don’t always reach fulfilling conclusions and appear to have ended just for the sake of it.

Verdict

Under the Queen’s Umbrella is a surprisingly progressive and fun historical drama with an adequate amount of twists and turns to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Apart from a few minor criticisms, the series is wholly enjoyable with a pleasing ending.

Under the Queen's Umbrella
Under the Queen's Umbrella review: Refreshing historical drama 1

Director: Kim Hyung-sik

Date Created: 2022-10-15 19:30

Editor's Rating:
3.5

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