Song of the Bandits Season 1 Review – Hollywood-esque period K-drama records a compelling freedom struggle

Season 1



Episode Guide

Episode 1―| Episode Rating – 3/5
Episode 2―| Episode Rating – 3.5/5
Episode 3―| Episode Rating – 3.5/5
Episode 4―| Episode Rating – 4/5
Episode 5―| Episode Rating – 3/5
Episode 6―| Episode Rating – 3.5/5
Episode 7―| Episode Rating – 3.5/5
Episode 8―| Episode Rating – 4/5
Episode 9―| Episode Rating – 3.5/5


Netflix Korea has a large list of shows and movies that release on the platform every single month and without a hiccup, these manage to capture the hearts of fans. Over the past few months, Netflix has hardly seen any misses when it comes to the K-drama genre and it looks like the period drama, Song of the Bandits is an addition to this list.

The show is a 9-episode mini-series that follows the lives of people who lived in Japan-occupied South Korea. Set in the 1920’s, the people of Korea (known as Joseon) head to the lawless land of Jiandao in China. The travellers settle down and unite to protect their settlement from harm.

Along with these travellers is a group of bandits that have decided to protect the settlement in Jiandao and its people at all costs. The show is a slow burn in the beginning that eventually picks up pace as the episodes move forward. Song of the Bandits is set in 1920’s Asia but the direction, OST, as well as the yellow-green colour grading, gives off a Hollywood cowboy vibe.

With bandits, horses, guns, and bandits on horses using guns, there is action in every episode which keeps you on the edge of your seat. The first episode establishes the characters and their respective relationships quite well and we see the purpose each character has.

While one may argue that the show could have delved deeper into the background stories of important characters like Hee-shin (played by Seohyun) and Miura/Gwang-il (played by Lee Hyun-wook); it was interesting seeing the stories of characters like Yoon (played by Kim Nam-gil) and Eon-nyeoni (played by Lee Ho-jung).

Aside from the main four, the Bandit gang have a lot of comedic characters like Choraeng-yi, Sang-gun and Seon-bok. At the core of the show we can see the freedom struggle of Koreans and one could call this a heist drama as the core of the show involves some stolen funds.

The fight sequences between Yoon’s bandits and the Japanese military or other bandits are choreographed competently which makes this show a nail-biting action set-piece. Song of the Bandits also has its fair share of unrealistic moments but the core driving force of this historical drama is the fight for the freedom of the people living in the diaspora.

The soundtrack of this show is one of the best that one has seen in the Korean dramas of recent times and it is the direction and sound that gives the show a Hollywood feel. Kim Nam-gil does a compelling job as Yoon, the soldier turned bandit and we have an earnest performance from Lee Ho-jung as Eon-nyeoni after her breakout role in the Netflix drama ‘Nevertheless’.

While we do see Ho-jung as the badass female character we deserve, it’s disappointing not to see the makers give Seohyun (playing Hee-shin) a more fierce role as she comes off looking like a “damsel in distress” throughout the show.

As Season 1 of Song of the Bandits has ended, it would be interesting to see another season with the same characters given the open-ended note. Viewers are left with many lingering questions that will definitely be resolved with one or two more seasons under its belt.

With 9 hour-long episodes, this show is a fun and engaging weekend watch that ends in a way that makes you wish for another season where these characters return and take back their freedom from the merciless invaders.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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