Freitag, 23. Juni 2017

Athena: Goddess of War

아테나: 전쟁의 여신 (Athena: Goddess of War) is a South Korean drama series that aired on SBS from December 13th 2010 to February 21st 2011. The 20 episodes have an average duration of 1 hour and 2 minutes. The series is a spin off of the IRIS series that aired it's first season on 2009.

Story: While planning the reunification of the two Koreas, South Korea is developing a new technology referred to as TWR - a high speed nuclear reactor technology other countries and organisations are also interested in. To prevent terror the NTS (National Anti-Terror Service) is created by the South Korean government.
Lee Jung-woo transfers to the NTS. One day, he's ordered to go to Italy with Kim Ki-soo, a North Korean defector, to track down terrorists. At first they don't know the exact target but soon Jung-woo and Ki-soo figure out that Soo-young, the daughter of the current South Korean president who came to Italy to study architecture, is the target. When she is kidnapped, the South Korean government sends more NTS agents to negotiate but the American DIS, more specifically the East Asian branch, also gets involved in the case. In the aftermath NTS and DIS have to work together which is against the actual rules of the NTS.
Other mysteries occur and it becomes more and more likely that a huge conspiration is behind all of those incidents that involve Jung-woo and other NTS agents as well as Yoon Hye-in who joined the team not too long ago.
Summarizing this whole story is literally impossible. It has various layers from top to bottom regarding the NTS and the government, a love story (of course, what else) about forbidden love, later on a hint of one-sided love.. You have a lot of things in this drama. I personally didn't feel like it was strongly connected to IRIS (since the second season of IRIS wasn't around when Athena was aired I'm going to neglect that part) and you don't need to know IRIS to understand what is happening which is a huge plus (it has been almost 4 years since I watched the first and second season in a row and it's natural I don't remember everything). I personally think that the story is also less complicated because - compared to the parent story - I felt like Athena had a clear goal even though that might have been different from Son Hyuk's.
I quite enjoyed the story line, it was well written in my opinion. I would watch it again for sure.

Cast: Jung Woo-sung as Lee Jung-woo. As an actor, I can't really criticize him. As a character, he certainly did have his strong his points but was a creepy stalker sometime in the beginning and got me literally annoyed. But then again; writing. Jung Woo-sung is still a good actor for sure and this drama suited him well.
Cha Seung-won as Son Hyuk. I honestly love a good villain in its own way and and Cha Seung-won makes an awesome villain! It is a little bit too obvious that he's not the good guy. I really liked his acting though, I totally enjoyed watching him in this drama.
Soo Ae as Yoon Hye-in. The character is badass and I somehow really liked her. As for the acting, I felt like her facial expression was nearly the same so often that I don't really know what to think about Soo Ae as an actress. However, she still pulled off the emotional parts quite well, and the action scenes didn't show her face that much so I would say her acting was okay overall in this drama.
Lee Ji-ah as Han Jae-hee. Another badass female in this drama and I adored her character in some way. As an agent of NTS she for sure has to know how to fight and she does well in this role. As for the acting I really liked Lee Ji-ah as an actress in this drama. I kinda could imagine her to be a real person working for a government agency so she was probably one of my personal favorites in this drama as well.
Kim Min-jong as Kim Ki-soo. Ki-soo is one of the characters I didn't quite like at first but grew on me as the story proceeded and he got to proof why he had such a huge part in the drama. I would say the believable acting was a huge part of what made me like him not only because of sympathy but he was a strong character while Kim Min-jong is a good actor in this series.
Choi Si-won as Kim Joon-ho. Before anyone claims I'm biased - no, I'm not. I'm not a fan of Super Junior nor do I like Siwon. However, I think he was really good in this drama and totally deserves respect for his acting. While some of the scenes made him seem a little bit childish and insecure in my honest opinion this might have been intended (you know the reason when you watch this drama). So thumbs up!
Yoo Dong-geun as Kwon Yong-kwan. The director of the NTS actually shows his full strength at the end of this drama, and so does the actor. He definitely deserved his spot - the actor as well as the character - and I personally think the acting was well done as well. I don't really know what I should say about this but I tried.
This drama also includes two characters of the IRIS seasons: Kim So-yeon makes a cameo in the last few episodes (and I personally think it was more or less pointless to bring the character into this series as it was not really connected to the main plot of Athena) and Kim Seung-woo as Park Cheol-yong, one of the characters that still left a deep impression on me after IRIS and now after Athena as well.
Also, a bunch of idols makes cameos in this drama; Shim Chang-min of TVXQ is in the last episodes, BoA appears in one episode, Onew and Taemin of SHINee are there and Hoon of U-KISS. I wouldn't recommend watching it because of the cameos though as some of them are really short!
Other actors (in bigger roles than cameos) include Lee Jung-kil, Kim Young-ae, Lee Han-wi and Oh Yoon-ah.

Soundtrack: I usually love the soundtracks of actions series and this is not really an exception. The instrumentals fit the atmosphere so well that I really loved the soundtrack a lot. And let's not forget about the OST that includes lots of famous (and great) singers. My personal favorite is most likely 박효신 (Park Hyo-shin), a singer I love to death for his voice, and his song "널 사랑한다 (You Who I Love/I Love You)". The second song I really liked a lot would probably be TVXQ/DBSK's "아테나 (Athena)" for the awesome feeling that it has to it. I know that many people also loved Tae-yeon's song for this OST, "사랑해요 (I Love You)". So to summarize: This OST consists of great names with even greater voices.

I quite enjoyed this drama, maybe I liked it even more than the first season of IRIS but I know I shouldn't compare the dramas. Still, Athena is a spin-off that could totally stand on its own feet. IRIS tells some background story that was not necessarily necessary and the only clear connection is the government - and Kim So-yeon's cameo that still seemed a little bit forced to me as it didn't belong to the main story. I personally think that the idea of love connecting enemies is way more interesting than a love triangle between agents of the same agency and this drama balanced action, political and romance well enough for me to seriously like it and not skip any scenes.
Recommended to fans of action dramas that include romance and can handle a bit of creepy stalker behavior. Also, if you liked IRIS I think this is a must-watch.

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