Thursday, February 28, 2013

KDrama Review: Playful Kiss


*Available on US Netflix Streaming*
The Gist: High school student Oh Ha Ni (Jung So Min) is mesmerized by classmate Baek Seung Jo (Kim Hyun Joong), the smartest and most handsome guy in school. When she finally confesses via love letter, Seung Jo shames her by exposing the letter and correcting all of her grammar and spelling mistakes. Embarrassed, Oh Ha Ni decides to stop loving Seung Jo, a declaration that doesn’t last long when an earthquake knocks down her house and her father’s old friend, Seung Jo’s dad, asks them to stay at their place. Now living under the same roof, seeing Baek Seung Jo every day, Ha Ni finds it impossible to give up on him, no matter how coldly he treats her.
Love:
1.Baek Seung Jo and Oh Ha Ni
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Naturally a drama called Playful Kiss could only be about romance and this classic story is based off of bestselling manga Itazura Na Kiss. This romance works on so many levels it’s hard to identify them all, but here’s a few. It’s obvious why the characters should be together as they bring out the best in each other – Seung Jo drives Ha Ni to work harder and study more and Ha Ni lets Seung Jo relax and have fun. It’s a perfect fit. With a character so stoic, it’s easy to tell when Seung Jo’s enjoying himself, softening towards Ha Ni, even as he is confused and perplexed by her.  So Min and Hyun Joong play off each other well and they seem like they’re enjoying themselves acting with each other. It’s just lovely.
2.Baek Seung Jo’s Family
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit:dramacrazy.net
 
Oh Ha Ni is without a mother and Seung Jo’s mom is without a daughter, so the bond between them is almost instantaneous. Their characters are also very similar and it’s so like a mother to know her son’s heart better than him. I love Jung Hye Young in this role – she is fantastic. I also love little Eun Jo (Choi Won Hong) as Seung Jo’s brother. He’s like a mini Seung Jo, copying him exactly, and just like his brother, he takes his time warming to Oh Ha Ni. The episode where Ha Ni takes care of him when he’s sick shows how much like family they become.
3.The Scope of the Show
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Having watched the anime before I watched this live action version, one of the things I loved about the story is how much ground we cover. It’s not just a year in high school, but high school, college, and if you watch the shorts (which, why would you not?), some of their career life. The story goes on quite a bit longer in the Taiwanese version, which I also enjoyed, but the quality of this version is better.
4. Um… Can I go to school there … and live there?
Seriously though, the high school, college, house, and even the pasta restaurant are beautiful. I want to go there!
Meh:
1.Bong Joon Gu
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lee Tae Sung plays Oh Ha Ni’s desperate admirer. More on her level, Joon Gu doesn’t do well at studying and ends up working in her dad’s shop as a genius cook. I feel conflicted about this character. On the negative, his voice is ridiculously overdramatic; actually he is just ridiculously overdramatic. He seems like a cartoon character, more than a person. On the positive, we actually get some mature moments from him when the show progresses. I think as he realizes that Oh Ha Ni and him really can’t be together, it makes him a stronger character.
2.Kyung Soo

 
 
 
 
Picture credit:dramabeans.com
 
Played by Choi Sung Gook, Kyung Soo is a sunbae and tennis coach at Ha Ni’s college. He’s obsessed with Hae Ra, who’s obsessed with Seung Jo, so Ha Ni and him often team up to thwart their relationship. As genuine as he is about Hae Ra, Kyung Soo is kind of an obnoxious character. You feel bad for him because his efforts with Hae Ra are even more unsuccessful than Ha Ni’s with Seung Jo, but he’s still a bizarre person. I think at the end of it though, I do like Kyung Soo’s part in this story, so we’ll lean him towards the positive side of things.
Hate:
1.The Cycles
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As much as I love this story Oh Ha Ni proclaims that she’s giving up on Baek Seung Jo like five times in the show. She tries to be very serious about it every time and it’s impossible to even kind of believe her because she changes her mind so quickly. There is one time where she makes a good genuine effort and that’s the time it matters – so good for her! However, the million times she cries and says she’ll stop loving him just gets old. At least it’s realistic, people are totally like that.
So:
So…this show is easily in my top five. The story is concise, but still gives you what you want out of it. The leads are likeable and the supporting cast really adds to the story. If anything, I would have hoped for a little more physical intimacy between the characters, but it’s an innocent show, so it plays just right. It’s a perfect romance, with the right amount of build up to a rewarding ending.
Final Grade: A+

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

JDrama Review: Hana Kimi


Picture credit: wiki.d-addicts.com
The Gist: Athlete Ashiya Mizuki (Horikita Maki) is very inspired by high jump hopeful Sano Izumi (Oguri Shun) and therefore crushed when he quits the sport after an accident. Going to extreme measures to help him, Mizuki begins attending Sano’s school, even though it’s an all boys’ school. Fairly androgynous looking, Mizuki passes without too much question and is even able to room with Sano. Sano discovers Mizuki’s true identity without much delay, but neither shares the truth with the other. Still, persuading Sano to pick up the mantle again proves difficult, especially when Mizuki’s feelings for him start growing beyond hero idolization.
Love:
1.The Talent
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
No matter what you feel about the show, the cast is a pretty impressive collection of characters. Maki makes for a cute and earnest main character, probably best known for her totally different role as Nobuta in Nobuta Wo Produce. While it’s not unusual for her to play someone so fired up, it’s definitely surprising coming from someone so cute and compact. Opposite her is Oguri Shun, whose resume is about as deep as Maki’s, recognizable (though with a different hair color) as Hanazawa Rui from Hana Yori Dango. The whole show is peppered with familiar faces, whose acting is top notch.
2.The Funny
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit:dramacrazy.net
Anytime someone does the cross dressing bit, there’s always a few good laughs that are guaranteed out of it. It reminded me of Amanda Bynes’ She’s The Man a bit, though I’m pretty sure Hana Kimi came first. Ikuta Toma as Mizuki’s friend Shuichi is hysterical as he clearly develops feelings for Mizuki without knowing her real gender. His reaction is reminiscent of a similar storyline in KDrama You’re Beautiful, when Jeremy tries to ignore blossoming feelings for a boy who’s actually a girl. The silliness of the drama makes it enjoyable, easy watching.
Meh:
1.The Romance
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
As much as I love the characters individually, I wasn’t crazy about the romance of Hana Kimi, which surprised me for what a classic tale and popular manga this story is. It’s difficult to get much development when Mizuki isn’t being honest about being a girl and the chemistry between them felt only so/so to me. There are some nice moments between them though, such as when Sano realizes Mizuki is hurt during a race, but pushes through it anyway to try to get him back on track. It could have used more, I think, since the romance is the main feature of this drama.
2.The Sports
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
This is totally a personal preference and not a universal problem with the show. I get bored and uninterested in sports based shows and this one was not an exception. I haven’t quite figured out why that is as I like sports just fine, but I tend to avoid sports shows altogether. Still, it gave Mizuki a goal to work towards, so I understand it, I just didn’t care too much about it.
Hate:
1.Unrealistic
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit:dramacrazy.net
While the silliness of this show is a strength, I think the premise and execution veers so hard into completely unbelievable that it weakens the story. I could not believe that anyone would go as far as Mizuki did for Sano, when she doesn’t even know him. Who cares about a high school high jumper that much, to concoct such a farfetched plan? The dorm and school situations were also all over the place, with over the top charicatures (Minami’s playboy, anyone?) of students that I feel like I lost a level of depth to the show. A lot (read: all) of dramas are ridiculously unrealistic, but I think this one kept me from really connecting with the characters.
So:
So…don’t expect to take this show too seriously. This is one time when I feel like my opinion clashes pretty strongly with the public’s general opinion. For how popular this show is, I didn’t love love it – it was fine for what it was, but I wanted to be blown away. Once again, this is a drama where I feel like I could get something similar but better with another show.
Final Grade: C

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

KDrama Review: Goong (Princess Hours)

Picture credit:dramacrazy.net
The Gist: Shin Chae Kyung (Yoon Eun Hye) is an ordinary college girl, hanging at art school with her friends and enjoying time with a close knit but impoverished family. She accidentally overhears South Korea’s Crown Prince Lee Shin (Joo Ji Hoon) propose to his ballerina girlfriend Min Hyo Rin (Song Ji Hyo) and is shocked when she turns him down to pursue her dancing. Leaving him without a prospective wife, his family sets him up with the girl the late king chose – his friend’s granddaughter, Chae Kyung. Not super enthused about entering in to a forced marriage to a guy who barely tolerates her, Chae Kyung only accepts to help her parent’s financial situation. It quickly becomes apparent that Chae Kyung is not accustomed to palace life and struggles to learn everything she needs to in order to be a good princess. As she spends more time with Shin, she starts to soften towards him, but only then does Min Hyo Rin realize she’s made a mistake giving up Shin for ballet and refuses to let him go, married or not. Chae Kyung, not sure how to handle them, relies on a new friend, outcast prince Lee Yul (Kim Jung Hoon) to adapt to her new place as royalty, but finds herself more and more preoccupied with Lee Shin.

Love:
1.The Romance
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
Though a bit slow moving, the romance between Chae Kyung and Lee Shin is engaging and interesting. Lee Shin is kind of like a life line for Chae Kyung in the palace and at first he leaves her out alone in the water for quite some time. The real defining moment comes when Min Hyo Rin confronts Chae Kyung and basically admits to being the “other woman.” Chae Kyung passes out and Lee Shin carries her out from the school, totally ignoring Hyo Rin. He starts to show real concern for her, but knows her misery at being trapped in the palace away from her family is his fault. They have difficulty getting their timing right – often one likes the other when he or she isn’t interested, but when you get to the end of it, it’s perfect.
2.The Palace
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: fanpop.com
The drama is named Goong, which is Korean for palace, so the royal home is a major setting. It’s grand and beautiful, a unique setting for a contemporary drama (for those of you living under a rock, South Korea definitely does not have a monarchy anymore). It had a smart tension of being so beautiful while being totally suffocating at the same time.
3.Big Mama
 
 
 
 
 
 Picture credit: koreanmovie.com
 
That’s what I call Lee Shin’s grandmother because his mother is technically the queen. I love how she is not only concerned with public appearances, but also about the happiness of her family members. She is a great resource for Chae Kyung and is just generally awesome.
Meh:
1.Min Hyo Rin
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
Who the hell gets proposed to by the prince, says no, and then promptly gives up the whole reason she said no? Her idiocy just bugs the hell out of me. If Lee Shin was more important than ballet, then she should have said yes. Since she said no, she should have just done the ballet thing! Also, having an affair with him is pretty much just totally selfish, since it can only tarnish his reputation. She dug her own grave, so I don’t feel bad for her. Still, the scandal between them is a major milestone for Lee Shin and Chae Kyung, so I’ll accept her as a necessary evil.
2.Lee Yul
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I feel worse for Lee Yul than I do for Min Hyo Rin because his situation is not his fault. His father died, leaving Lee Shin next in succession and Chae Kyung his bride instead of Lee Yul’s. Still, that doesn’t make revenge OK nor does it make going after a married woman OK. I just wanted to smack all these people, it’s not some high school fling – THEY’RE MARRIED!! Back off! On the other hand, Lee Yul is a good support for Chae Kyung when Lee Shin is being a prat, so we still like him.  
3.Chae Kyung’s Friends
 The girl with the glasses and Rapunzel long hair is OK, but the moron twins drive me totally insane. I appreciate that Chae Kyung needs to have some people on her side, but their shallow ways and obnoxious tones can get a little grating.
Hate:
1.Lee Yul’s Mother









 
 Picture credit: tigresallconsumingbooks.blogspot.com
 
I cannot even express how much Lee Yul’s mother slows down the show. Every episode has some long cut to her complaining about how she’s been wronged or monologuing her revenge plans. I understand her as an antagonist, but her scenes should have been cut down to the bare bones because I just fall asleep. The first time through is ok, but this makes it difficult to watch a second time.
2.The Politics
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I’ve expressed before how difficult it is to make politics interesting in a romantic drama and Goong is only so/so at it. Things that directly affect what’s happening are interesting, but the conversations between the elder royals slow down the show almost as much as Lee Yul’s mother. The scenes end up a little dry and drawn out.
So:
So… I liked this show, but the drawn out scheming scenes really made me feel the length of it. The scenes with Lee Shin and Chae Kyung shine, though, as Eun Hye and Ji Hoon have a strong natural chemistry. The end is worth the long wait, but it’s really in no hurry to get you there.
Final Grade: B-
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

Monday, February 25, 2013

JDrama Review: Orange Days


Picture credit: asianwiki
The Gist: As Kai (Tsumabuki Satoshi) finishes up college, his world revolves around the job hunt, a hunt that isn’t going so smoothly. While on campus, he comes across a violinist playing outside. At first impressed by her skills, that impression is compounded once Kai realizes the beautiful violinist is deaf. He comes to know Sae (Shibasaki Kou), as he is fluent in sign language from class courses, but she isn’t what he expected. Despising pity and even help, Sae is brash and impolite, boldly doing things her own way. Her increasing hearing loss is slowly chipping away at her dream and that anger gets targeted at friends new and old. Kai, and his two friends, Keita (Eita) and Shohei (Narimiya Hiroko), support her and her best friend Akane (Shirashi Miho) to make their senior year the best one ever!
Love:
1.Sae
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
Sae is such a lovely complicated character. She’s an original leading lady, who has so much pent up aggression, but is just sad at the core. She’s headstrong though and I have a feeling even if she could speak, she’d still have trouble communicating with people. I love to see her coming to terms with her problems and figuring out the relationship between her and Kai. There’s this moment with her and Kai in a band room I think, where she says something to the effect of “if the lights weren’t on I couldn’t even talk to you.” There’s quite a few poignant scenes between them and the star power is really in the moments where Sae is willing to open up, rather than throwing a fit.
2.The Sign Language
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
Mad props to these characters who I believe are neither death nor native signers, for acting their roles so convincingly. The thing about sign language is that it’s not just about hand movements, but the emotions of the body and face to convey meaning. I found it incredibly intriguing to watch them communicate and the hurdles that needed to be overcome when Sae interacted with people who couldn’t speak her language. This is really a unique feature of this drama and adds an extra level to it.
3. The Music
While I’m not very familiar with Shabasaki as an actress, I was very impressed with both her violin and piano. Between that and her signing, I kept thinking, what a fantastically talented person! Even though it is really a plot device, every time she was at an instrument, I was delighted.
4.Friend Love Triangle
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
With Sae and Kai doing their own thing, that left the three remaining friends to play amongst themselves. Keita quickly likes Akane, who is actually interested in Shohei. Without being overly dramatic, this secondary plot adds tension and a bit of interest. Akane is a little bit stubborn like Sae, but the moments between her and Shohei are cute. Their camping trip is particularly adorable as they really start to notice each other.
Meh:
1.Learning Another Language
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
One thing that really bothered me was how quickly Keita seemed to pick up sign language. Learning another language is difficult and as much as they interacted, it just didn’t seem realistic. Shohei’s progress was a little more practical, so I guess we can possibly just write off the fact that Keita is freakishly smart.
2.Spoiled Sae
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
As much as I love Sae, I feel like we were missing some tension in the fact that her mom is ridiculously rich. It’s a nice touch that her mom is the musician that Sae can never be, but there’s also this safety net where Sae doesn’t really have to work because her life is comfortable. If music doesn’t work out and she can’t find a job, then she could, theoretically, stay at home and be fine. While that bugged me, the drama does a good job remedying the situation by making her not want to rely on other people, even if she could.
Hate:
1.The Split Up
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
Not really a spoiler when the setting is senior year of college. No matter what happens in the series, all your characters are going to be somewhat spread out by the end of it. While I understand getting to the point where you can be friends and not see each other every day, I wish the drama took place a little earlier in their college days to give them more time together. I hate shows that end with everyone separating!!! Most of them do, but still.
So:
So…I love the originality of the romance of this show. The music and the sign language left me totally intrigued, even if the relationship isn’t totally unique. The characters are working through tough problems and even though Sae is tough to deal with, she’s awesome.
Final Grade: B

Friday, February 22, 2013

KDrama Review: Lie to Me



Picture credit: asianwiki
*Available on US Netflix Streaming*
The Gist: Government worker Kong Ah-Jung (Yoon Eun-Hye) suddenly has something to prove when she runs into a former friend So-Ran (Hong Soo-Hyun), who stole her first love. Embarrassed by her single status, Ah-Jung confesses that she is married to the most eligible bachelor in the city Hyun Ki-Joon (Kang Ji-Hwan) – president of a resort empire. Of course, Ah-Jung only knows Ki-Joon from a night she passed out drunk at the bar and he took her to the hospital. Not exactly romantic. As the lie grows deeper – So-Ran will not let it drop – Ah-Jung gets help from a new friend to keep up appearances. That new friend happens to be Ki-Joon’s younger brother, Sang-Hee (Sung Joon). That would work out perfectly, except they are estranged. Ki Joon gave up his fiancĂ©e because Sang-Hee loved her too, so for his sake he kept himself from happiness. She’s making things hard on them, though, when she suddenly reappears in Korea. All these elements swirl together as Ah-Jung tries to get Ki-Joon to play along and when both brothers start to fall for her, will history repeat itself?
Love:
1.Kong Ah-Jung
Picture credit: asianwiki
I instantly recognized Yoon Eun-Hye from Goong/Princess Hours, another drama I liked immensely, but I think I like her character in LTM even better! Even though she’s a helpless liar, she is likeable as an energetic and frazzled young business woman. You really feel her pain at losing her love and friend in one fell swoop and have to admire the fervor, if not the desperation, that she approaches the obstacles with. So often I really remember the hero and not the heroine, but Ah-Jung really struck a chord as both interesting and charming. It’s fabulous writing and acting at its best.
2.The Romance
Picture credit: asianwiki
I was a little skeptical about uptight Ki-Joon at first, but I fell for him as quickly as Ah-Jung did. The chemistry these two have is almost tangible when his distaste for her dragging him into her lies turns to understanding. There’s this point in the middle of the series where Su-Ah insists Ah-Jung have them over for a house warming party. Instead of simply lending her his house, Ki-Joon himself stays for the party, at first to spite her. When they are forced into a karaoke duet, he really starts to see Ah-Jung as someone he could have real feelings for. The scene is silly and sweet, but literally had me squealing at how adorable it was. Another scene I really liked was when she was trying to figure out Ki-Joon’s shirt size because that’s something wives are supposed to know! Little pieces like that take this from a good drama to a great one.
3.The Music
Every time the episode would end and there’d be this upbeat music, I’d go, “WHAT SONG IS THIS?” Turns out it is Heo Ga Yoon’s Shameless Lie, now currently on my iPod. Love love love the music.
4.The Places
Picture credit: asianwiki
Ki Joon has a beautiful house, a beautiful hotel, and they go to beautiful seaside resorts. The whole thing made me want to hop a plane to South Korea.
5. So-Ran and Jae-Beom
Picture credit: dramabeans.com
Lie to Me treats its antagonists well. The audience gets a clear picture of how much a show So-Ran is putting on, trying to make her marriage seem perfect. She lies just as much as Ah-Jung does and while she gets frustrated at Jae-Beom, they are trying to make their marriage work. The fairy tale is a fantasy, but I love the relationship between Ah-Jung and So-Ran, bitter but still hints of friendship buried deep. So-Ran is kind of a terrible person, but I like how she tries to come to terms with it.
Meh:
1.Sang-Hee
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I must admit I almost put him in the love category too, but I think I’m being swayed by him in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, which I just watched. BUT, at the time I watched Lie to Me I hadn’t seen SUFBB, so I’ll try to recall my feelings then. As is the theme, he lies a bit too, not telling Ah-Jung that he’s Ki-Joon’s brother for like an eternity. Also, how selfish do you have to be to tell your brother not to marry the woman he loves because he likes her too? She doesn’t want you, get over it. He does grow into a more selfless person and for that, we don’t have to hate him! YAY!
2.Ah-Jung’s Dad’s Romance


Picture credit: asianwiki
I have no idea why it’s a trend to do parallel romances with kid and parent, but I really could have done without all the older people romance. It wasn’t that interesting and detracted from our main story. That said, it was sweet to see Ah-Jung get more accepting of her father dating.
Hate:
I hate nothing about this drama.
So:
So… I loved this drama. It’s not heavy, but light and sweet. The plot is good and somewhat original. The cast suit their characters perfectly and the characters themselves are very endearing. The romance hits every step just right. Love it!
Final Grade: A

Thursday, February 21, 2013

JDrama Review: Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend)


 
 
Picture credit: dramawiki
The Gist: Izawa Riiko (Aibu Saki) is working hard to fulfill her baking dreams as a temp worker at a large desserts company. Executive Asamoto Soshi just starts to notice her, when she is chosen as a beta tester for a company who designs boyfriend bots. She tries to hide the fact that not only does she have a man living with her, but that he isn’t human. Soshi teams up with Riiko to try and make a delicious dessert together, but Riiko finds herself less interested in him the more she spends time with her boyfriend bot, Night (Hayami Mokomichi).
Love:
1.Soshi
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I’m a big fan of both Hiro and Mokomichi, but I just liked Hiro’s character better. Watching him want something, struggle, try, and fail made Night seem shallow. As much as Night does for Riiko and grows to care for her, as much as a boyfriend bot can, Soshi’s emotions resonate more deeply. The scene where Soshi and Riiko stay at the office trying to bake their carrot cake dessert was my favorite of the entire series because it felt more real than any of the scenes with Night.
Meh:
1.Night
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
After watching this show and reading the video comments, I can’t help but feel like I was supposed to like Night more than I actually did. I think there’s just a block in my brain that lets me be happy with Riiko and Night as a couple. Still, Mokomichi does a great job acting a robot, so I have to give him props for his skills.
2.Riiko
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that I don’t like about Riiko, but she isn’t a very memorable character. As far as heroines go, she’s pretty bland and not super original. I guess most of all I just don’t love how she treats Soshi and it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
3.The Baking
I realize that the baking and her company are only framing devices for the plot, but it was just not that interesting. It made the story feel slow and long. Though, since the romance is at the forefront, I’ll just let it slide… of course that brings us to~
Hate:
1.The Romance
 
 
 
 
 
 
Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
It’s sort of a big problem when you hate the romance of a romantic drama. I felt though that this drama’s support of Night and Riiko was bizarre. I mean, to me it seems obvious that given the two options you should always go for the real boy. As much as people like the actor playing Night, I do not think the two make a good pair because his feelings are manufactured! It’s not like there’s no example of movies with good AI romances, but since she had a parallel relationship forming with Soshi, that just felt more genuine. It’s ok to appreciate Night, but to love him and settle for Soshi was a terrible plot.
So:
So… I don’t really like this drama and though I can see why it’s as popular as it is, I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Soshi is really the only thing I liked about this show and he kind of gets shafted. If you really like Night, then you should like this drama fine, but even then, the romance isn’t fantastic. I can't fully endorse a show that leaves me putting two of the three main characters in the Meh category. Boyfriend Bot. Not even once.

Final Grade: D+

KDrama Review: City Hunter


Picture credit: dramacrazy.net
The Gist: Friends and comrades, Lee Jin-pyo (Kim Sang-joong) and Park Mu-yeol (Park Sang-min) are ready to do their country proud when they are called to a secret mission: assassinate North Korea’s high ranking officials. However, mid-duty, South Korea’s leaders decide the mission could lead to scandal and take out their own men to hide their secret. Protected by his friend, Jin-pyo is able to escape back to his homeland as the only survivor. He then abducts Park’s son, names him Lee Yoon-sung (Lee Min-ho) and trains him fiercely in combat to one day avenge his father. That moment comes when Yoon-sung gets a job at the Blue House (Korea’s White House), where he is poised to take down the five people who commanded his father’s death. Things are complicated, however, when he begins to take notice of the president’s daughter’s bodyguard, Kim Na-na (Park Min-young). Her increasing interest in him threatens to expose his identity as City Hunter as he fulfills his uncle’s quest or revenge.
Love:
1.The Action
 








Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

Lee Min-ho is proving himself much more than a pretty face as he fights his way through the romances he’s cast in. One of the things that make this drama worthwhile are the tension filled fight scenes. Well set and choreographed, the battle sequences are charged and exciting, perfectly displaying our feature character.
2.The Romance
 













Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

Of course it’s going to be complicated when a bodyguard to the President’s family falls in love with a terrorist, which is really what Yoon-sung is. I’m surprised at how sweet the moments between the two macho types got. For someone as stoic as a bodyguard, Na-na is totally adorable. When Yoon-sung is staying with her is really when the drama gains traction.
Meh:
1.Slow Start
 
















Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

The entire first episode had me bored out of my skull for how action packed the whole thing was. I don’t really care for the politics of the show and I felt like it took too long to find its footing. That said, I’m glad I stuck with it because it definitely does pick up as time goes on.
2.Lee Jin-pyo
 










Picture credit: dramacrazy.net

You have to feel bad for the guy, I mean, his country betrayed him and his best friend dies. That really doesn’t warrant stealing his son and raising him to be a killing machine, but whatever. Still, I never made a good connection with Jin-pyo. You feel bad for him and he’s the only father figure Yoon-sung knows, but his obsession makes him bitter and unlikable. However, considering that most of this dissonance I feel for the character is intentional, I’m letting it slide as a decent device by the drama.
Hate:
1.The Politics
Honestly, I feel totally split about this show. I really like the personal aspect and the chemistry between our two leads, but the political backdrop and constant ranting from characters we don’t know about made me seriously disinterested. The revenge is the backbone of this show and I just couldn’t possibly care less about it. I know in my head I should care, but it just wasn’t that interesting to watch any of the officials converse. Min-ho’s other show, Faith, does a better job of mixing the political with the personal.
So:
So… the romance and action of the show really suit leading man Lee Min-ho and are equally interesting and heart wrenching to boot. That doesn’t really make up for how muddled the plot is in political drama, most of which left me bored and not really wanting to continue watching the show. The ending is satisfying, but it’s a long haul to get there.
Final Grade: C





Picture credit: dramacrazy.net