Note: May contain spoilers
Nothing like watching a revenge drama to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If murder, lies, deceit and betrayal are your thing, this is the show for you.
Without giving too much away, in a nutshell, 적도의남자 aka Man of the Equator/The Equator Man tells the story of Kim Sun-woo (Uhm Tae-woong) and his quest for revenge and justice against the people who wronged him. However, this is not just a story of revenge-it is about friendship, loss, justice, love, choices and ultimately, forgiveness. Sun-woo has suffered immensely in his life through the loss of his father and the betrayal of his friends, especially that of his best friend Lee Jang-il (Lee Joon-hyuk). The drama which tells of Sun-woo’s quest to wrong those who have sinned against him is compelling if not flawed.
The story, while an interesting one, suffers from pacing issues. There is a huge section of episodes after Sun-woo wakes up from his coma (yes, he is in a coma) that drag. The purpose is to establish where the characters stand and their feelings about specific events in the past and for Sun-woo to discover what happened to his father and himself, and for him to fall in love with Han Ji-won (Lee Bo-young) but it drags over way too many episodes. Also, like most Korean dramas which suffer from the live shooting system, there are some awkwardly edited sequences and episodes feel somewhat uneven. While these are small things, they do affect the drama in a negative way.
Another element that drove me crazy was the music. On its own, I like the score. It’s melodramatic and it fits very nicely with the theme of the drama. However, when watching the drama, somehow the score becomes heavy-handed and grates on my nerves, especially in certain moments that require softer music. I think this may be because the score is SO melodramatic that it doesn’t fit with the overall shooting style of the show. It’s clear the show attempted to be somewhat subtle in its style, but the music contradicts that. Music placement got better as the drama progressed but there were still moments when I felt tempted to mute my TV.
If the music and pacing bugged me, then the cinematography made up for it. This is a beautifully shot drama. There are some moments that are enhanced just by the look. Many of the shots increased the overall atmosphere of the scenes, which is necessary in a drama like this. There is moment in the final episode when Jang-il and Sun-woo are standing with younger versions of themselves that just amazes me and makes the scene THAT much more poignant.
The absolute best aspect of this drama is the acting. This is my first Uhm Tae-woong anything and I am so impressed with him especially after seeing his real-life personality in the fantastic and hilarious variety show 1박 2일 aka 1 Night 2 Days. He can be innocent in one scene and threatening in another without batting an eye. He plays the character with restraint and doesn’t go over the top which would have been very easy for him to do.Lee Joon-hyuk is also amazing as the cold-hearted Lee Jang-il. He made me sympathize with Jang-il which is quite a feat. I have been a fan of Lee Joon-hyuk since the drama 수상한삼형제aka Three Brothers. He was the reason I started watching it and he was the only reason why I finished that drama which made my blood boil with every episode. It’s actually upsetting to think we have to wait two years to see him in something else as he went in for his mandatory military service after finishing this drama. These two actors together were amazing and the tension between them was palpable.
Ultimately, I enjoyed this drama and will probably at some point watch it again. I was engaged and curious to see if and how Sun-woo would get his revenge (you never know with Korean dramas). Is it flawless? No. But it is definitely worth a watch especially if revenge dramas are your thing.
My Rating: 8/10