#DescendantsOfTheSunPH: Does it make the cut?

Last year, GMA Network announced that it will be remaking the hit Korean drama Descendants of the Sun. Naturally, this announcement was met with mixed reactions, with most netizens believing that a masterpiece of a drama isn’t meant to have a Philippine adaptation.

A year after the announcement, the Philippine adaptation of Descendants of the Sun premiered on February 10, starring Dingdong Dantes, Jennylyn Mercado, Rocco Nacino, and Jasmine Curtis-Smith.

How much of the original drama was in the Philippine adaptation?

The premise of the original Descendants of the Sun was there. Captain Lucas Manalo (or Yoo Si Jin) is the captain of the Philippine army’s First Special Forces unit who falls in love with Dr. Maxine Dela Cruz (or Kang Mo Yeon). The two try a relationship but face clashing schedules and beliefs that come with their line of work.

The first few episodes of the adaptation follow much of the plot of the original version, but GMA Network proved that they don’t want a copy of the original film—they want an adaptation that Filipinos can relate to.

Instead of the threat of North Koreans in the first introduced, we are introduced to a local threat. We see a glimpse of Lucas’ and Maxine’s family, a nod to the Filipino focus on familial love. We see additional scenes that are unique to the adaptation, too.

How was the cinematography?

The original Descendants of the Sun received acclaim for its amazing cinematography, and GMA new they had to step up with their production as well. It’s not perfect—there’s one shot of the hospital on Episode 2 that looked like it was taken out of a rough 3D sketch—but definitely a level up from the network’s previous productions.

Descendants of the Sun Philippines

The Philippine adaptation does feel more like a K-Drama, with some (sometimes unnecessary) slow-mo moments and that familiar sparkly filter whenever the drama ends and approaches the credits.

And the cast?

I think the cast delivered superbly given the pressure of being part of such a big project. Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado, in particular, are excellent in delving into respective characters while adding a flair that makes them unique to the original cast. Dingdong Dantes brings out the macho-ness in Cpt. Lucas that a Filipino crowd appreciates more, while Jennylyn Mercado adds a quirky (and very Jennylyn, I might add) touch to Dr. Maxine.

Dingdong Dantes

Jennylyn Mercado

The two lead cast members have chemistry, that’s for sure. Sometimes it still feels weird for me that they’re playing a couple because I’ve known them as a father-daughter duo in Encantadia, but they definitely played up the kilig factor when needed.

Jennylyn Mercado Dingdong Dantes

The supporting couple, Rocco Nacino and Jasmine Curtis-Smith (playing Diego Ramos and Moira Defensor), was excellent in their portrayal as well. Jasmine’s performance, in particular, in the first episode was heart-wrenching, and I can’t wait to see how they’ll work with this subplot in the future episodes.

Rocco Nacino

Jasmine Curtis-Smith

Is the Philippine adaptation worth the watch?

It’s only been five episodes, but the Philippine adaptation showed lots of potential in terms of cinematography and character development. A huge concern is how GMA will sustain this momentum, given that the original series is 16-something episodes long and the Philippine drama format is known for dragging the plot as long as the ratings are high. But let’s see!


Descendants of the Sun is currently screening on GMA-7 at 8:35 pm from Monday to Friday. Full episodes are uploaded on GMA Network’s YouTube channel.

Bea Mandachttp://youonlylutzonce.wordpress.com/
Bea was introduced to the world of Korean culture through Full House, Jewel in the Palace, BoA, and TVXQ. She is also a fan of J-Pop, figure skating, and tennis. When not in her day job, she likes to be alone in her room or in a café with her pen and paper, or a laptop. She co-runs a figure skating blog with fellow KStreet contributor Clara. You can reach her on Twitter.

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