Kim Jin-woo's directorial Like Flowers in Sand follows a promising cast, with Jang Dong-yoon and Yoon Jong-seok leading the sports drama, with the supporting cast starring Kim Bo-ra and Lee Jae-joon.
Like Flowers in Sand/ Netflix
Like Flowers in Sand story
Set in the backdrop of the Geosan countryside, the story revolves around Baek-du, a child prodigy in ssireum (Korean traditional wrestling), who lost his glory in his youth and failed to win a single sports championship. The coming-of-age sports drama reflects upon the challenges of career, family, and society. It also additionally spins around a murder mystery and its crime investigation which shooks the townspeople after the dark motives are revealed.
Like Flowers in Sand Review
Written by Won Yoo-jung, Like Flowers in Sand struggles to set its grip in either genre, be it sports, romance, or crime. The makers tried to stuff different angles but the attempt to do it all failed to do anything righteously. Hence, losing its edge in the narrative as well as poorly built characters. Even the non-linear timeline and multiple flashbacks couldn’t entirely save Jang Dong-yoon's drama from plunging to its misery.
What began as somewhat an underdog story rushed to the end with a spotlight on the murderer of Choi Chil-Seong, a match-fixer. Baek-du's inspiration or the determination to ink his name in the famous Ssireum players is never explored in depth. His only aim is to impress Du-sik, and even that is not picked up well.
The entire screenplay and characters are forgettable as they lack a connection that other dramas build from scratch to the end. Even though the watch time is nearly one hour, you feel like skipping most of it or watching fast forward 1.5x speed. Each episode spins around the convoluted murder plot and its crime investigation on match-fixing and gambling but doesn’t stir up any consciousness due to the irrelevant narrative.
However, one of the positive themes that was explored in a structured manner is the use of gossip in the backdrop of a small town. It showcases how it has the power to ruin several lives and how dangerous is half-truth. Another aspect that will not disappoint you is the formulaic use of childhood friendships and their bonds. The makers were successful in portraying the innocence of childhood friendships, along with some impactful childhood flashback sequences throughout the episodes.
Like Flowers in Sand Verdict
The charismatic star of acclaimed Korean dramas My Man is Cupid and The Tale of Nokdu, Jang Dong-yoon was roped in by director Kim Jin-woo to headline the sports drama, alongside Lee Ju-myoung. The ensemble cast also features Yoon Jong-seok, Kim Bo-ra, Lee Jae-joon, and Lee Joo-seung. However, despite the renowned faces and extended supporting cast, it is flawlessly easier to forget each character from the 12-episodic Korean drama.
What adds to the unfavorable reviews is the concluding episode which aired on Netflix on 31 January and was a halfhearted attempt to wrap up the murder mystery with the predictable romantic ending between the leads Baek-do and Du-sik. Although the crime thriller is not mentioned in the genre of the drama, it is nearly impossible to conclude then why the angle of criminal investigation was added in the sports and romance drama. Skip it for the lengthy episodes and the loose narrative.