The saga of "The Great Jang Geum" concludes in Dae Jang Geum 3 (Episodes 37-54)! Jang-Geum (Lee Young-Ae of Joint Security Area) finally returns to the palace as a full-fledged physician, only to face her longtime rival Ke... more »um-Young (Hong Lina) once more. Keum-Young has long resented Jang-Geum for being a better chef, but the man Keum-Young desires, Min Jung-Ho (Ji Jin Hee of Love Letter), is in love with Jang-Geum!« less
With complex setups, nearly a dozen richly defined characters, and timescale spanning 50 years, bringing a satisfying conclusion to Dae Jang Geum seems all but impossible. To compound the challenge, the creators elected to stretch the series with additional episodes. Although not without problems, the result is impressive.
To satisfy such lofty goals, Dae Jang Geum ends with 3 successive conclusions. The first and most satisfying conclusion is the resolution of Lady Choi's misdeeds. It happens quickly and all the loose ends are tied. Nearly 40 years of struggle finally comes to an end. Then the second one begins, tying the romance between Jang Geum and Jung Ho. Their conclusion is not nearly as satisfying as the first but succeeds with several beautiful and noteworthy scenes. The final conclusion is a mess, but as the end credit rolled, I was still very much satisfied and impressed by its ambitious scope.
Dae Jang Geum volume 3 contains the final 18 episodes, from 37 to 54. As a bonus, a small photo gallery is included. As I mentioned in my volume 1 review, I would've liked to see inclusion of background information. Although not crucial, some understanding of Chosun history and Korean culture can enhance the viewing experience (articles in Wikipedia can be of some help). And considering all the hard work, I would've loved to see behind-the-scenes footage. Fortunately, video websites such as YouTube have some of these supplemental materials (search for "Dae Jang Geum").
Episodes 37 and 38 pick up where volume 2 left up, with very satisfying end to the mother queen incident. A new villain emerges (Yul-Yi), perhaps even nastier than 3 Chois put together. Episodes 39 through 42 deal with 3rd and final prophecy (which was presented on the first episode). Episodes 43 through 48 start and end with highly satisfying roller coaster ride to Lady Choi's resolution. Episodes 49 through 51 feature political aftershock, her best friend's labor, and further validation of the final prophecy. Episodes 52 and 53 feature Jang Geum's rise to high ranking officer, fate of Jang Geum and Jung Ho's relationship (with obligatory Korean love triangle arc), all leading up to the final conclusion on episode 54.
If I have to criticize the series, it would be the leisurely pacing of the epilogue. Throughout the series, flashbacks are used often and at generous portion. Still, as a movie critic Roger Ebert once wrote, I suppose ice cream is best savored slowly because it is so good. This is one TV drama sad to see it end. It was one exhaustive ride, but at all times, I was glued to the screen. My other criticism is all to near perfect nature of Jang Geum. Yes, she does have few flaws, mainly her lack of patience and being too curious. But she is just way too smart, way too kind, way too courageous, and way too beautiful. But I suppose we love her just the same. =) And finally, some of the medical practices are just too miraculous and over-the-top.
Technically speaking, both the costumes and set decorations are spot on. The makeup is uneven, however -- some of the characters have eyeliners on! And the frequent use of chef body double, the one with the stubby fingers, is a bit distracting. And because the series was shot using video cameras, the overall look is not as cinematic as US TV dramas.
With so much nuances and attention to details, this series demands a repeated viewing. Its themes are numerous and universal: perseverance, friendship, health, and how revenge and justice are not one in the same."
The Gold Standard in Asian Historical Drama
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 01/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forget everything you think you know about Chinese or Korean historical dramas. Dae Jang Geum is the best. It broke all records in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. Tens of thousands of people flock to the Dae Jang Geum theme park in Korea because they have been so moved by the mini-series. For myself, I think of Jang Geum as my new role model, the kind of person I would like to emulate. Whatever you do, don't miss this drama. It's superb."
A Rewarding Conclusion
Donna G. Storey | Northern California, USA | 10/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The third volume introduces yet more trials for the brave and brilliant Jang Geum, but it also serves up a satisfying, but just, comeuppance for the villains. Yet the quality of this drama is such that even Jang Geum's enemies have complex motivations and even tug a bit of sympathy out of us at the end. What indeed would you have done if you'd been born a Choi? By volume three, you understand why all of Asia was hooked on this series...but then I can't imagine how someone could stop watching without seeing this through to the finish. Unlike the weaker seasons of Desperate Housewives or Sex and the City, you can't miss a disc of this one. Do yourself a favor and buy all three volumes at once!"
KDA | Florida | 11/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I OWN ALL 3 SETS. I LOVE IT! IT IS A GREAT STORY, EXCELLENT IN EVERY WAY. YOU JUST DONT WANT TO MISS."
Ji Soo Kim | FPO, AP United States | 09/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beautiful, exciting, informative, historical, thrilling and heart-breaking drama not to be missed. Need to get all three volumes to get the full story. It's truly quality entertainment to cherish and revisit."