Sunday, August 8, 2010
Last week I finished watching my second K-Drama - 나쁜 남자/Nappeun Namja (Bad Guy/Bad Boy) and I must say, as hooked as this drama had me...it was a tad bit disappointing how the show ended. Once again, I chose a drama...but this one was much grittier than 검사 프린세스/Gomsa Princess (Prosecutor Princess) - which focused much more on fashion and the whimsical personality of the leading lady than on the (actually) very dark storyline that drove one of the other main character's actions.
Bad Guy is a 17 episode series that focused on the lead character Gun-Wook (center in the picture who I'll refer to as GW) who was cruelly ripped from what he thought was his "real" parents as a child and forced to assimilate into a new über rich family (the Hongs) as the accepted-yet-illegitamite son of the rich father (who also changes GW's name to Tae-Sung). Somehow, word gets out that he's not actually the illegitimate son, but just some random boy & poor GW is kicked out of the house and replaced by the "real" Tae-Sung (the other man in the pic above). Being overly dramatic as most dramas are around the world, poor GW's real parents rush to try to get him back only to die tragically in a car crash on the way, while (in the first episode no less) we watch GW shivering in the rain, sitting outside of the Hong residence with the few possessions he came with. So, fast forward to present day where adorable & cute little GW has turned into the hottie above, and we find a very determined & angry man who wants to get revenge on the Hong family for allowing their decadence to overshadow common sense/decency and ultimately forever negatively changing his life. Of course, his plan includes bringing down the family via ruining their family firm Haeshin, and creating impossible love triangles that pit two sisters against each other, while also mentally messing with the man who replaced him as Tae-Sung.
Okay, so with a quick plot teaser like that, you would think the show would have been awesome - and it did have great potential - but it definitely fell flat towards the ending episodes. We spent so much time watching GW push the Hong family like puppets, and even going to some really crazy lengths (i.e. one scene where he tries to drown the real Tae-Sung just to make him vulnerable enough to want to deal with GW in the future). And then, GW went from being cold and calculating to being this man who faltered from time to time. I understand that the producers wanted to make the main character still somewhat likable, but sometimes the route they took to get to the final conclusions was difficult to "suspend my disbelief" so that I could accept what I was watching. And often, there were characters with too much focus given to them that were either not really relevant to the total picture, or were not believable with their interactions with other characters.
For example, there are two female characters that (IMO) were vying for the lead female role...one of them was GW's older half sister, Tae-Ra (immediately right of GW in the pic above). Now, they're chemistry was awesome...he seduces her even though she's married and because she's in a loveless marriage, her desire for him is so believable and intriguing. Now, contrast that with the other leading female, Jae-In (to the left of GW in the pic) who literally was stuck with a role that really didn't make sense. She was in no way related to the Hong family, but at the same time she's very involved. It's hard to believe that in real life she would be able to take the overreaching actions that she does in this series. She's dating the real Tae-Sung, she works for the Hong family, and she is very friendly with GW. The producers kept trying to make her this possible GW love interest, but I don't think anyone was buying it. Their romantic exchanges were awkward and stiff, and by the time they finally admit that they have feelings for each other, it's the last episode and you already got the vibe that this wasn't going to be a happy ending like in Prosecutor Princess.
But, to be fair, some of the problems regarding the writing of 나쁜 남자 are because it was supposed to be a 20 episode series, but then was truncated to 17 because the actor who played lead character, GW, had to serve his mandatory 2 years in the military, and was unable to get yet another extension. Although, let's be real...with the plot holes this show had, even if they had those extra 3 episodes, I don't think they would have been able to neatly wrap the show.
So, I give this one a C, it had great potential, but too many minor characters really had roles that would effect the major characters, but weren't developed enough to make the drama more intriguing. The music was amazing, the characters were attractive, the scenes were shot perfectly (placement/staging/etc) and for the most part, the interactions were great. But poor writing/planning held the show back.
If you're interested in watching a K-Drama (regardless of whether you speak Korean or not), I definitely recommend checking out the super awesome blog, DramaBeans. If you're like me and are trying to learn Korean, they offer great episode recaps for all the major dramas that are currently (or have been in the past) airing - allowing you to confirm whether or not you really understood what was happening in the show. Also, they have links to other sites where you can watch the actual dramas - either with or without subtitles. If you're like me and don't want subtitles, I definitely recommend bada.us which has all the episodes for all types of Korean TV content ranging from music, to television, sports and news.