K-Drama Review: Jirisan (Episode 1 & 2)

Hey guys. Not too long ago I have attended the virtual global press conference of this K-drama, Jirisan. As an iQiyi original series, there have been a lot of anticipations from the K-drama fans following the strong cast such as Jun Ju-hyun (Gianna Jun) and Ju Ji-hoon who both appeared on the series Kingdom by Netflix.

Global Premiere: October 23 20:00 MYT on the iQiyi International app and iQ.com across 191 territories, simulcast with South Korea. New episodes will air on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Format: 16-episode Korean Drama Series

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Drama

Director: Lee Eung-bok (Descendants of the Sun, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, Sweet Home)

Screenwriter: Kim Eun-hee (Kingdom, Signal)

Production Company: AStory (Kingdom S1)

Cast: Gianna Jun, Ju Ji-hoon, Sung Dong-il, Oh Jung-se, Cho Han-cheul

You may want to skip this part and jump right to my conclusion at the end of this review if you don't want to read spoilers.

Episode 1: 

The pilot episode started with the introduction of the Jiri mountain which is the second tallest mountain in South Korea with beautiful aerial shots. In 2018, Ju Ji-hoon who acted as Kang Hyun-Jo who is a rookie ranger reported for duty on the first day at Jiri Mountain National Park but everyone was rushing to rescue a boy who got lost on the mountain and he immediately joined the rescue mission without changing his outfit. Right until this point, there weren't any introduction of the characters until after the incident where Gianna Jun who acted as Seo Yi-Gang (the best ranger in Jiri mountain) appeared.

This kind of CGI may be passable if this series was out in 2010 but not in 2021.

The first 10 minutes can be a little confusing and I didn't quite like how the change the cameras frequently whereby they keep mixing the footage from their high quality camera, action camera and visual effects... and the visual effects, were pretty damn bad in year 2021. Coming from a director who did Descendant of the Sun, Goblin and last year Netflix's Sweet Home, I expected more from him.

If you are watching the series on a smartphone with average display brightness, you will have a hard time to look at some very dark scene as you can see above. So the best is to watch on smart TV or computer monitor.

Regarding to the mountain CGI issue, yes it's not that realistic and some netizens said that as if they are doing an advertisement for hiking outfit brand. It wasn't that unpleasant to me since I have never been to any mountain in South Korea and my eyes got used to it after a while.

I guess with the Covid-19 restriction, I think their production team has tried their very best to recreate Jiri mountain but there's definitely plenty of rooms to improve here.

Episode 2:

The dynamic of the show has changed from the previous episode where it was towards rescue mission in the beginning to more thriller murder crime genre with more secrets to be unveiled. Something happened to both of the main cast and there are continuous flashback scenes between 2018 and 2020.

 It's quite easy to know the timeline even though they didn't indicate it by looking at the "physical appearance". Not gonna spoil too much for you guys. Hahaha...

It kinda slows down on this episode where Seo Yi-Gang who has left Jiri Mountain National Park came back to work again. She also did explain why she came back and there are more secrets and "riddle" to be solved revolving the mountain.

My conclusion:

The CGI is not up to my expectation but my eyes have gotten used to the mountain visual effects after a while. Great acting by all the cast in episode 1 and 2 and I actually thought Ju Ji-hoon will show us his stiff acting again just like what he did on Netflix's Kingdom. I will continue to watch the coming episodes (at this point of writing, I am already on episode 4) as I think the story minus the bad CGI is quite interesting.

What do you think? Will you be interested to watch Jirisan too? Let me down in the comments below if you want to know my thoughts on episode 3 and 4 too.

*All screenshots and images credit to iQiyi

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