1. A Wife’s Credentials
Finished this drama about 2 weeks ago, so technically it shouldn’t be lumped along with the dramas I’m watching right now (they’re nowhere near), but felt the need to give it an honorary mention in here. I’d originally intended to do up a review for this drama, as it more than deserves one for its exquisite and fine quality. But God bless me writing, for I fear I may not be able to bring out the beauty and brilliance of this wonderfully written, directed and acted drama. I’m so unworthy.
A Wife’s Credentials may not be your ordinary K-drama (if you’re a frequent watcher). It defies everything existent in your typical K-drama formula, the stereotypes and cliches that you’re used to watching, and have come to love (and hate at the same time). It doesn’t pander to the popularists or norm of the usual glorified K-drama elements. It doesn’t make you laugh out loud, cry like a baby, or go all gooey and swoony over hilarious OTT moments, overwrought histrionics or romantic moments. But what it does, it makes you feel the real world, live in it, and makes you care. A drama with a sardonic and infuriatingly realistic approach that will make you want to rip one’s hair out and sob silently at the most ordinary moments. Contains dashes of realism that you will never see in any other drama that you’re watching right now.
The initial synopsis may fool you into thinking that this drama deals merely with the aspect of cheating and the derision of such an unethical act. To a certain extent it does, and delves grittily into it, without holding back, without avoiding some discomfort or distaste from viewers (including myself). But the drama explores and digs deeper, it deals with the aftermath and ramifications. And zeros in on other aspects of life directly or indirectly affected by such actions. That things would have to go on no matter, what regardless of pervading pressure and prejudice from different facets. It also deals agonizingly with the elitism views of the upper class, how individuals are viewed and looked upon via their education status and their backgrounds. Such views are not necessarily wrong IMO (it depends on where you come from), and are very common in society nowadays. But when gleaned through AWC, you will feel that taking a breather’s a crime, and being the best trumps over everything, even your life.
AWC isn’t for everyone. It’s painfully realistic that many may find it hard to swallow. But it’s realism is hard to come by, and is one of a kind. The quality that is combined of the masterful direction by Ahn Pan Seok (White Tower), the heart-rendering and effective writing by Jung Sung Joo, the profound acting by the ensemble cast comprising Kim Hee Ah, Lee Sung Jae, Jang Hyun Sung and Lee Tae Ran (especially Kim Hee Ae, she’s so awesome in here!) as well as the quietly affecting music scores – makes you yearn for more drama productions like this. Scenes are conveyed to us simplistically, without any overt intrusion. No single moment is wasted, no single dialogue imbued without underlying significance. Everything feels real and relevant, without any gush of pretense. It’s simply beauty and brilliance wrapped into one.
Easily the best drama of the 2012, which I will be willing to eat my hat if it gets beaten.
Drama Rating: 9 /10
2. King 2 Hearts [14/20]
K2H is still my current crack No.1 atm (with Queen In Hyun’s Man following closely behind). The writing has been less than impressive in the recent episodes, what with the incredulity in some of the plot devices, and the execution which has rendered some suspension of belief (you know which ones). But I consider such flaws to be a foible of character rather than a glaring glitch. They’re ones I will overlook for the insurmountable love that I have for Seung Gi, the drama and the 2 OTPs. Yes I know, I am that shallow.
From what I gather from reviews I’ve been reading, the love for K2H slightly exceeds the amount of dislikes that it has garnered. But I get where the detractors are coming from, in that the juxtaposition of the North and South relations is portrayed in an overly unrealistic fashion, and the romance is somewhat glossed out just to evoke the oohhh-romantic lovey dovey/angsty emotions within that setting. But I’m of a different view, in that K2H isn’t about romance set in a period of volatile relations between the North and South trying to compromise, but more of the other way round. It’s more about a segregated country trying to reunite through the romance and union of 2 different individuals. Via their growth, understanding and appreciation they have for each other.
Koala my chinggu couldn’t have said it better, that K2H deals with the growth of the characters and their respective OTPs better than anything. The characters are indeed seen before caricatures, but I appreciate that their developments are dealt with smoothly without glaring and abrupt transitions. Jae Ha is shaping up to be a King, but yet retains the childish views and traits which have been with him since forever. Hang Ah is still tough and rough with him and doesn’t back down just because she’s hopelessly in love with him. They’re such a great balance for each other. You may realize by now that our OTP has no jealous 2nd lead or ex-partner to foil their relationship or efforts in getting together. It’s an element I truly appreciate because we actually get hurdles and obstacles from different forces (the crazy psychotic John Mayer and Secretary Eun to a lesser extent) and not for once, a jealous old flame or something.
A plus point somemore, can we ever have enough of Eun Shi Kyung? And his feisty Princess Jae Shin? I love my JH-HA OTP to bits, but I’m actually wishing for a tad more 2nd lead OTP moments. They’re one of the reasons why this drama is not a failure (to those who can’t stand LSG or HJW, I know people who do and I get why). Jo Jung Seok is marvelous, and will continue to be. And Lee Yoon Ji is rawking Jae Shin like no other. But when they come together, momma SPARKS OVERLOAD! They need to make babies together already! So writer nim, pretty please… give them their time to shine, they will blow minds off!
Last but not least, I want the WOC to end already. I love the team spirit and all, but I frankly found those scenes to be the most underwhelming in the last episode. Maybe it’s the overall acting and execution, just didn’t feel much umph or impact from those scenes. I personally feel that Jae Ha’s more suited to be in his Kingly suit fighting Bon Bon and his master with his witty words. hehe…
3. Queen In Hyun’s Man [6/16]
If you’re a die-hard romantic, this is one drama you shouldn’t be missing out on. If you want to have butterflies in your tummy heart and brain, rest assured you’ll be rewarded. Queen In Hyun’s Man is your drama if you want to experience the feeling of falling in love.
Tell me, when was the last time you’ve seen a normal hero/main lead in your K-drama? One who doesn’t grab your hand, scream at you or annoyingly flaunts his wealth or arrogance at you? One who doesn’t act like a fool or thinks like an idiot? Many a times we’re so used to such stereotypes we end up loving them, for who and what they are. For all we know, they end up being a changed person in the end (as usual). But not for scholar Kim Boong Do (played by Ji Hyun Woo) in this drama, who essentially acquires the ability (okay, not so much an ability but a method/way) to travel in between his world (the ancient times) and the modern world, where he meets actress Choi Hee Jin (Yoo In Na), who plays Queen In Hyun (who also happens to be the person Boong Do is sworn by blood to protect in his days).
QIHM is exactly what I’d expected from Rooftop Prince. It’s slick and clever, and it doesn’t push for the banal cliches of K-drama too much. Aside from the still so annoyingly dizzy camera technique and somewhat confusing drama sequences, I practically have no major complaints! The plot is fresh and originally derivative, combining elements of mystery, action, comedy and romance quite nicely. We get to see two parallel worlds and the events within unfold through the eyes of Boong Do, it’s so freaking cool!
But of everything, it’s Ji Hyun Woo’s portrayal of Boong Do which is kicking asses! Not only is he rational and smart, he’s also incredibly sweet, unassuming and thoughtful. No yelling, screaming or hand-grabbing, just pure sweetness from tip to toe. It’s quite refreshing for a change because you’d expect a character from the past to act like a freak in the modern world, but he turns that cliche around and acts normally, just like an ordinary human being. Some may say he’s too idealistically nice and complaisant, but hey, gimme MORE! JHW is totally knocking balls out of the park with this one. The air he carries, the confidence mixed with an innocent naivete, it’s practically impossible not to love his acting in here. The character is made for him.
Yoo In Na isn’t losing out either. I wouldn’t say Hee Jin’s a breakthru for her, but she’s nailing everything right. The spot on cutesy expressions, the adorable and playful gestures, with not much of OTT going on. And she isn’t annoying, in any single way. Which is an A in my book. So you have 2 really lovable characters, who’re so cute together, with inexplicable adorable chemistry, what is there NOT TO LOVE? Quickly get your butts here. Watch this!
Even if you don’t end up loving the story, I’m sure you’d be still head over heels smitten and in love with Boong Do. Guaranteed!
4. Love Rain [12/20]
Why am I still watching this drama you may be asking? No surprise, it’s PD Yoon Seok Ho! With that I’m not saying I’m a fan, it’s just more of a sentimentalist notion and feeling to his dramas in general. After all, I did go crazy loving Winter Sonata back then (back when I just started watching Korean dramas). All the sobbing and snot, ahhh… it’s nostalgia no doubt.
Love Rain is by no means a good drama, at least in my standards today. It’s terribly old-fashioned, cheesy and predictable. The visuals are pretty, but nothing WOW to call home as the writing delivers nothing substantial except for manufactured angst and melodrama. It’s downright PD Yoon Seok Ho alright, no bits of enhancement or degradation at all. The drama splits itself into 2 phases, the 70s and the current times, in which both Jang Geun Seuk and Yoona play both the adult and kin versions of themselves. Unique concept but not very creative execution wise, as I say, very PD Yoon Seok Ho (the histrionics and the melodrama, even the plot devices are the same!).
So why am I still watching again? Jun and Hana, the kin versions. This is where the weird comes in, where I will say that character and characterization do play a crucial role in determining the likeability of an OTP. I didn’t like In Ha or Yoon Hee at all (because they were utterly lame, weak, boring and MEH), they were the epitome of boredom magnified by a thousand folds. But fastforward some 20 years, with Jun and Hana in the picture, you’d be surprised, I love them together! They’re cute and funny, and bring out the different sides of each other. Cliche alright, but still very adorable. Thing is however, they’re played by the same actors. So is it possible to hate them and love them together in the same drama? Hmmmm…
I’m 12 episodes in, and I still FFW scenes involving the adults for they just make me yawn like mad. But when it comes to Jun and Hana, I get all teary and emotional. The giddy has already past and I miss it badly. T_T Now that the truth is out in the open, everyone’s in angsty crying mode. Knowing the PD, I’m already expecting at least a 5-6 episodes of noble idiocy and wishy washy dragginess. But I’m just going to cut this drama some slack, as JGS and Yoona are not so annoying as before, and their acting are okay enuff to get me invested in their love story. That’s not to say I’m content with their performances, Yoona I give up hoping, but JGS has done better and can do better if he bothers to care. There were instances when he did display flashes of brilliance and perfection in his emotions, whereby I was certainly affected emotionally (teared up a bit).
I am not expecting anything at all from the writing right now. Just give me more Jun and Hana OTP, I will be satisfied (oh how easy am I to please!).
5. Marriage Plot [8/16]
Final drama on the list, which also happens to be the drama I’m least enjoying right now. Which may be surprising to many because a lot of people adore this show, and seriously? How can this lose out to Love Rain?!
Yes yes, truth to be told, I’m not as invested in MP as I am with the rest of the dramas I’m watching atm. It has a great cast ensemble, no doubt, with an enormous amount of energy and chemistry between them. But I dunno why I’m still not as hooked as I should be. Perhaps its because of the overzealous and overwhelming yelling and screaming between the OTP, Kang Jae and Geon Hee? Their power play bickering do not offer much to the crux of the story and just comes off as annoying and unnecessary? It’s like a repeat and recycle of the same arguments all over and over again. One minute they’re bickering, the next they’re agreeing on something, and the next their back to square one. It’s just so Full House, nobody really gains anything from each other.
Besides, I also find Kang Jae’s sudden affection for Geun Hee to be a lil too abrupt and incongruous. I get the point of their love story, but it just falls flat with poor direction and execution. It could be that they’re so extreme in their fights and arguments that it kind of hinders the ability to suddenly feel for them as a couple. If you get what I mean. The only pulling factor for me thus far is Jang Won and Seon Hee’s relationship/friendship. Their story strikes a better chord with me because of the underlying and growing affection they seem to have for each other, aided by the nuanced and suttle acting by both actors. They only have a short amount of screen time in each episode, but they always manage to steal a lil of KJ and GH’s thunder. Their chemistry isn’t ooh bang bang sizzling or explosive, but its there, growing on us minute by minute.
Lee Kyu Han is doing a good job with Kang Jae, and I love that he’s having loads of fun with the character. But the more I watch of his crazy lunatic expressions, the more I get tired of them. The fact that he can be all of a sudden really romantic when he’s serious talking to Geon Hee, and madly silly in another also makes the incongruity of his character difficult to overlook. Kang Hye Jung has done better IMO, and thru MP, I have come to realize her range and limitation as an actress. She’s doing fine, but that’s about it.
Overall, a mediocre at best drama.
credits: pictures as tagged