In the 15th century, turmoil threatens the unity of the Joseon Kingdom -- King Mun Jong's health is slowly deteriorating, which gives Grand Prince Su Yang a chance to make a coup and usurp the throne in the future. The opposition led by second state councilor Kim Jong Seo does its best to stabilize the position of the King's son as the rightful heir and hinder Su Yang's plan. Meanwhile, a forbidden love blooms between Kim Seung Yu, the councilor's son, and Se Ryeong, the Grand Prince's daughter.
The Princess Man takes all the quintessential parts of a sageuk (Korean Historical Drama) and put it together so that all the parts weave together into a fluid landscape.
While the heart of the story is the romance between two families, there's so much more. The politics of the story drive the plot, so you believe that the two lovers honestly cannot be together. And the politics go outside of the palace and talking men, into real battles, real risks and to real people. The acting is superb, the directing elevating the scenes, the music is spot on.
You may not like the politics in these dramas, you may hate the Romeo/Juliet storyline, but this show manages to take these plots and make them grip you, so much so that you forget that these are normal cliches.
I really debated whether to rate this drama a "very good" or "masterpiece" after finishing it up today. For all accounts, the acting is amazing (SUPERB cast with fantastic leads), the music is moving, and it is absolutely beautiful to look at but the plot felt a little loose to me. It was fairly typical as far as sageuks go: the struggle for the throne with scheming higher-ups and revenge seeking rebels. But what makes The Princess' Man veer from the norm is its focus on the romance between the two leads. Not that sageuks don't have romance (because they do) but it is rare for the main focus of the drama to be the romantic relationship and not the politics.
And this drama does a wonderful job telling us the story of Korea's Romeo and Juliet by giving us lots of great moments...but overall I felt there were times the drama slipped into a lull. It got boring around half way through and took a bit to pick things back up. Plus I thought there was a lot of "back and forth" with some "rinse and repeat" going on with the plot, if you know what I mean.
HOWEVER! Since I loved this couple so much and because--overall--I really enjoyed this drama, I went ahead and gave it a "masterpiece" rating. I think there are better quality sageuks out there but this is still one of the best.
They give us a surprise Happy Ending for the leads...how often does that happen in sageuk land? It's worth 5 stars just for that :P