THE SHORT VERDICT:
Big started out promising but under-delivered. It was a little uneven in the beginning, but the sight gags were funny and the burgeoning feelings between the leads kept things interesting up till episode 12.
Then episodes 13-16 went progressively downhill.
BUT. There is one compelling reason to watch this show: Gong Yoo. He is amazing in so many ways. And hot. Let’s not forget hot. He’s the only reason to watch Big, but he’s reason enough.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
THE LONG VERDICT:
If you’re opposed to a whole lot of gushing about Gong Yoo, I suggest you stop reading right about now. You’ve been warned 😉
Episode 1, besides setting up the whole body swap, is also where we get to ogle shirtless Gong Yoo.
He most definitely did NOT look this hot when he went shirtless in his last drama, Coffee Prince.
Behold his royal chiseled-ness:
Yet, amid the multiple, hot, shirtless scenes, he delivers a fantastic performance. He goes from intense confusion to madly comic within minutes in this episode, and manages the switch effortlessly.
Compare his vibe in the picture above with this one:
Night and day.
Throughout the drama, Gong Yoo always comes across as very natural and likable.
He’s adorable as the teenager in a grown-up’s body. There were many scenes of him just being completely childlike and adorable, like this one where he plays air guitar on the frying pan and sings to Da Ran:
Seriously. How adorable is that.
And when he’s the teenager acting as a cool grown-up, all dressed up in a suit, he is dashing and all kinds of hot. Check out his suave entrance after the first time skip:
Importantly, besides delivering well on the funny stuff and the macho hot stuff, he gave fantastic performances in the sad, painful crying scenes as well, which kept the entire show grounded and prevented it from being a slapstick comedic fest.
He was nuanced, faceted, and he felt completely real. Every time.
No matter what the script called for from him, I always felt like Gong Yoo was centered and grounded and confident.
I can’t say the same for Lee Min Jung, unfortunately.
I’ve enjoyed Lee Min Jung’s performances in other dramas, like Boys Over Flowers and Smile, You. She had a lot of spunk in both of those dramas, and both times, I had felt that there was more depth to her character under the surface than what was presented in the script.
Sadly, this is not the case in Big.
Here, her character Da Ran is written as incredibly naive and ditzy. And rather one-dimensional too, I might add.
This is where I would hope that an actress of her ability would work her magic and add her own special touch to what’s written on the script. But that didn’t happen.
All we got was a WHOLE lot of ditzy from Da Ran, to the point where I was asking my screen, REALLY??
I fault the writing, but I also think Lee Min Jung could have played this better.
Given that Gong Yoo’s awesomeness dominated the entire drama, from the writing to the performances of other actors, Big was pretty great up till the end of episode 12.
Episode 12 culminated in a wonderfully knee-buckling kiss from Gong Yoo.
I cannot get enough of the closing scene, where he finally realizes that she loves him back, and he moves in to finally, finally kiss her.
The kiss starts out laced with tentative wonder and moves into tender urgency. Swoon.
I watched that kiss multiple times, I have to confess. So. Good.
Episode 13 wasn’t so great, and was basically the beginning of the downhill slippery slope that this drama went down.
To be honest, episodes 13 through 16 were quite a big mess, and netizens were mostly up in arms over an ending that wasn’t satisfying to many.
I don’t care so much for the ending myself, because the drama left too much to the viewers’ imagination.
[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]
MY THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING
A big complaint was that they never showed Kyung Joon back in his own body. The last scene obscured his face throughout and it was still clearly Gong Yoo playing Kyung Joon, albeit a Kyung Joon who’s supposed to have grown some.
I think a big driving factor as to why they didn’t switch the actors back was the fact that Gong Yoo had top billing for this drama, and they probably wanted to find a way to have him feature prominently at the end, up to the last frame.
Therefore, till the very end, it was Gong Yoo’s face and body and hands that we get to see, not the original 18 year old Kyung Joon.
Still, narratively, that sucks, and I completely understand the ragey feelings that so many netizens expressed in the drama-verse. It made the ending feel very forced and illogical and strange.
My conclusion is, to enjoy this drama, you basically have to decide to have eyes only for Gong Yoo.
It is his performance that takes centerstage throughout, and he is wonderful and amazing and natural and sexy and hot. He is so adept whether he’s playing adult Yoon Jae or young Kyung Joon, making both believable and clearly distinct, even when the two characters come face to face.
Plus did I mention that he’s all kinds of hot? 😉
So, Gong Yoo is all that matters. Logic and narrative flow fail at various points, and you just have to shrug it off and admire the goodness that Gong Yoo brings.
Will I revisit this? Most probably. And pretty much only to ogle and swoon at Gong Yoo. Hot, gorgeous, sexy man who is also so natural onscreen.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Watch this, but stop after episode 12 and pretend the story ends there, since that is the singular most romantic scene in the drama, and the last 4 episodes are disappointing.
FINAL GRADE: B-
Swept off my feet.
Gong Yoo sang a bonus track for the Big OST, and it is so heartfelt. He doesn’t have a great singing voice, but he put his whole heart into the song, which is about the moment that Kyung Joon realizes that he will probably lose his memory of their love, post-swap.
The song title translates roughly as Because It’s You. And the song is basically about how everything is ok because it’s her. The pain is bearable all because it’s her. And he’s ok, he’s alright, with all of this, because it’s her. Wow.
Gong Yoo put so much heart into the song delivery that I have to take a moment and breathe, just to recover.
Kudos to Gong Yoo for recording at the studio in the middle of the night, in the midst of the insane live shoot schedule, towards the end of the drama, no less. That is when things are at their craziest, and sleep at its most fleeting.
Despite the fact that he must have been physically exhausted (which in itself takes a toll on the vocals), he really portrayed his character’s heart in song. I could actually feel the heart of his Kyung Joon while listening to the song.
I am in awe of this man.
Check out the track here:
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this show on Viki here. It’s also available on Kocowa here.
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Finally I am not alone to feel this. Ending of this kdrama especially last 4 episodes as per my guess is not written originally but it was written to wind up series soon. If last 4 episodes can be shot again with better script, then I think I would have given this series 8 or 9/10 instead of 4/10. But for Gong Yoo performance, its 10/10
Why dint anybody talk about Biscuit and star candy. GYs character was so raw in that but with a wider range of emotions. I loved Biscuit and star Candy after Coffee Prince. Big kept me going forward only coz of the charishma of GY. Ending was a visual let down coz we dint get the see KKJ return, otherwise its a happy ending.
Love your very very accurate review! I just binge- watched few Gong Yoo’s dramas and movies, “Big” by far is the yummiest of them all! Unfortunately, I have to stop from here on because every time my husband checked on me, I was drooling in front of the screen!
Ah, yes. Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook in Goblin are what got me hooked on K-dramas to begin with. I first saw him in Big then in Coffee Prince, but it was Goblin that made me fall for him. I’m waiting for Train to Busan to air on Netflix. I missed it when it came out in theaters. 😁
Ooh, yay for more Gong Yoo love! 😀 If you’re up for some retro drama, I thought Gong Yoo was very endearing in Hello My Teacher (aka Biscuit Teacher Star Candy) playing a high school student who falls in love with his teacher. 🙂
I’ll have to look for that, thanks. I’m on a Gong Yoo binge right now. Done with A Man and a Woman and The Suspect. On my queue are Silenced, The Age of Shadows and Train to Busan. His movies seem to be more hardcore compared to his light TV shows. I actually like him even mpre now. 🤩
He’s been doing way more movies than dramas of late, so digging back into old dramas is one way of getting more Gong Yoo on your screen! I would advise against One Fine Day though. It’s a terrible drama. Unless your Gong Yoo love is that big, that you can endure a bad drama for him 😝
I will take your advice on that, thanks! 😆
In my case, I love Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince much more than in Goblin, he showed more emotions in CP and like kfangurl, I adore his smitten faces too. He looks so in love with his Eun Chan, he’s the only character in drama world who looks head over heels in love (could it be in reality he was too?)
I can’t comment on Big yet because I’m on episode 4, but so far I’m enjoying it. I like the chemistry between GY and LMJ, but of course, it can’t be compared to the sizzling hot chemistry in CP.
First of all: thank you for all the Gong Yoo pics and reviews! I have recently atarted watching K-Dramas, after years of intermitent watching Korean films, and I found myself mesmerised by Yoo. I didn’t stand a chance, I fell from him from the first scene in Coffee Prince 🙂
So thank you for providing such an amazing collection of photos!
Love from the other side of the globe x
Aw, I’m glad that you loved GY in Coffee Prince! I do feel like that’s still my favorite role of his to date, even though he’s done so many other projects since then. I’m glad you enjoyed the photo collections on the blog, it’s a pleasure to share the Gong Yoo love! <3
I’m in the process of seeing all GY’s works, but I’ll skip some like One fine day and A man and a woman…Anyway, I’ve seen around 6 of his works and I can say his role as Han Gyul is the best! I just love looking at his happy faces…I’ve never seen any actor smile the way he did in Coffee Prince <3 <3 <3
Oh yes, my favorite role of GY’s so far, is still Coffee Prince. Han Gyul truly is special. ❤❤ His smitten smiles still get me right the heart, today. 🥰🥰
Reblogged this on mamabatesmotel.
Possibly the worst ending of any kdrama I’ve ever seen. I actually loved the first half of this drama and then was still happy till, as you said, episode 12. Then…
Even though episodes 13 and 14 weren’t that great, I didn’t mind. I stupidly, naively thought the last two episodes were going to deal with the aftermath of Kyung Joon waking up in his own body. Instead they were a long, excruciating realisation that nothing was going to happen… in slow motion. I think this may be the worst ending of any kdrama I’ve seen and I’ve watched Blood.
The thing is, that Kyung Joon’s real body looked ridiculously young. This was a possible source of real conflict. The entire drama was basically a – somewhat angst-filled – wish fulfilment for the female lead. She got the body of a grown man she was attracted to with the personality she was attracted to. Once he switched back, she had a personality she loved in the very young body of a teenager and the fiancee she didn’t really know in the body she was attracted to. Having to deal with that would have opened up some seriously interesting quandaries.
Instead, I can only assume they panicked and decided to deal with the issue by pretending it didn’t exist. Such a cop out! They were the ones who created this dilemma in the first place. They should have dealt with it.
I was wondering if Shin wasn’t available for the back half of the drama and came here to see if that was the case. If it was, it is possible that they had to hurriedly rewrite an ending that didn’t include him walking around and interacting with anybody. If he was available and they willing chose to write this ending… I have no words. I am out of words. This was just terrible.
I have never been so disappointed in a drama and I certainly won’t be able to rewatch it.
Hahaha! I feel your pain, Dame Holly! 😝 This show WAS so terribly handled, particularly in the last stretch! 💔 But, my fangirl lenses were firmly on, and I was happily swooning over Gong Yoo every time he appeared on my screen, so that definitely sweetened the watch for me. I still think one ought to just watch till E12 and then pretend Show ends there, ha. You deserve to watch a super lovely drama now, to take away the bitter aftertaste of this one!
I thought Gong Joo was fantastic. The problem was the classic one of whether you get invested in a drama or not. I got ridiculously invested in this. I could not stop watching it and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t considered a classic. Then I got to the end and was so furious. I wouldn’t have been so angry if I hadn’t have loved it so much up until then.
That’s very true. The more invested we are, the more upset we likely to be, when a show does something terrible. 😛 The ending was ridiculous in every possible way, and I feel like the end result was forced. But I also gave Show many brownie points for giving me fantastic Gong Yoo, and that’s how Show ended up getting a decent grade overall. It was all the power of Gong Yoo. 😍
I just watched this last weekend all within a day. Well finished the last ep at 3:30AM lol
Loved his way of acting, so charming, yet so moving!
Wow, you finished this one super fast, Chocoju! You must be very GY-hungry, lol! 😉 I thought the writing in this was a bit of a let-down, but, GY was wonderful despite it. I definitely swooned and melted at my screen more than a few times while watching GY in this one. And oh my, those shirtless scenes! 😍
I JUST finished Big and I agree with every word of your review! I personally thought it was pants other than the great GY (and choon shik) but I kept going anyway because I needed my nightly GY fix. I might be in the throes of a slight GY obsession. And to think I thought he wasn’t all that as recently as two weeks ago! Well I watched Coffee Prince, and Big, and BAM! I’m a goner.
Hahaha! I know how you feel, J! I used to be indifferent to Gong Yoo (what in the world was I thinking??), and then one day, BAM! I was a goner, just like you! XD His charm is really something else; I fall for him all over again every time I see him just be himself, in interviews, BTS clips, etc. Pity that he hasn’t done all that many dramas, but he’s very cute in Hello My Teacher (also known as Biscuit Teacher Star Candy) with Gong Hyo Jin. He looks fab in One Fine Day, but it’s a truly terrible show. I watched it twice, just for him, and hated the show both times XD
Looking back I really loved BIG and fangirled sa bad over GY too. Oh the memories…fangirling again. Who Cares if if he’s 35 now? 😀
Well, you know what they say about men aging like fine wine.. I think that’s definitely true of Gong Yoo. He’s absolutely still fully capable of swooning us out! 😉
I am about half way through Big and I am loving Gong Yoo!! But I think I’ll have to watch the rest through my fangirl lens, like you suggested for Moon that Embraces the Sun, because this is another drama, like that one, where (Spoilers Ahead) I am feeling too bad for the “second lead”…or I should say, the original owner of the body. I read ahead to see why people were so upset at the ending so I wouldn’t be too surprised and disappointed. And it sounds like the doctor guy (drawing a blank on his name) was a really nice guy who saves his long lost brother and basically gets screwed out of everything….his fiance, his memories, and even a couple years of his life in a coma. It would have been better if he had turned out to be a bad guy who seemed sweet at the beginning. Then we wouldn’t have to feel too bad for him. I thought that was the direction they were going, making it look like he’d been cheating with that other doctor lady. But didn’t that turn out to be a misunderstanding, or did I miss something?
Lol. I love how you’re embracing the fangirl lens, Lora!! 😀 It’s helped me to enjoy many a show that I would’ve been upset with otherwise. Big is certainly one of those shows. I thought the show itself was a big fat mess, but Gong Yoo is so very wonderful in it and he shone so brightly in my eyes that I could easily turn a blind eye to everything that wasn’t working for me in the show. So yes, definitely use just the fangirl lens for this drama! ^^ Also, to answer your question, it’s been quite a while since I saw this, but I do think that the fiance wasn’t cheating with the other lady. 🙂
I hear you 🙂 Will let you know when I’ve seen and read your review after 🙂
I hope you enjoy it! I know a few people who name The King 2 Hearts as their all-time favorite drama, so it’s definitely a worthy watch ^^
I have seen recommendations for King 2 Hearts. Will have to give it a try, I can’t remember if it’s on my list already. My list is growing!! How am I ever gonna get to this stuff when new stuff I want to see keeps coming out? 🙂 I want to see the new one with Lee Jong Suk but I’m waiting until it’s done. Watching stuff live is too much torture. I’ve done it I think just twice with a couple of Taiwan dramas. The one called Love Buffet.. it’s not great but it’s cute.. I watched raw, and then subbed, every week. torture. I basically understood raw but subbed helps with nuances. I love how people with time on their hands spend it doing subbing. Love makes the subs SO much better 🙂 It’s also because the English component is better and gets more reviews and updates by teams…
“How am I ever gonna get to this stuff when new stuff I want to see keeps coming out?” Ha. Exactly. That’s exactly how I feel. But The King 2 Hearts is worth making time for, imo. It starts out almost like dark comedy, but turns epic after a while, and it’s a good kind of epic.
Secret Garden was interesting 🙂 Reasonable chemistry and some interesting setup. I didn’t expect the body swap because I didn’t read other stuff about it. I think I picked it after watching My Name Is Kim Sam Soon to follow Hyun Bin. The story was OK. The side-stories were a bit annoying (Lee Jong Suk’s role with Yoon Sang Hyun, sort of limited storyline there…) I think I will get to Scent of a Woman at some point.. maybe I am weird by getting turned off by the pictures of Kim Sun Ah with a cigarette. *sigh* Will look up Beautiful Days but won’t read your review yet 🙂
Beautiful Days is for when you’re in the mood for old-school and don’t mind watching a melo. It’s pretty good in that category, and LBH has the one of the most knee-buckling meaningful stares and kisses. That, even by recent standards!
I just remembered Padam Padam. Jung Woo Sung has some smoldery moments going on with his leading lady, and I really did enjoy the show as well. And have you watched The King 2 Hearts? Lee Seung Gi was very good in it, and it’s a very absorbing ride which I genuinely got sucked into.
I liked Gong Yoo here and in Coffee Prince hehehe… I saw Big first and Coffee Prince after (I see a lot of stuff is out of chronological order anyway). Coffee Prince gave him really nice character development – good acting chops to show the level of self-acceptance, to choose love for love and not worry about what others think or say was awesome 🙂 That kiss (yellow shirt, I believe) was HOT. 🙂 I’m too far off-topic, this page is for Big 😀
Gong Yoo is NEVER off-topic on this blog! XD He’s a big, BIG k-love of mine, only recently rivaled by my brand new Kim Woo Bin love! <3
And yes, GY is awesome in Coffee Prince. LOVE that show! He delivered so well, made his character so relatable and believable and likable. And his smitten faces – those knocked my socks off, I tell ya. Swooned me into a puddle <3
Smitten faces are the best, hehehe…. WGM is a good place to see Jinwoon’s smitten face 🙂 It’s a little boyish though.. also Kwanghee’s smitten faces. haha… I’m trying to think of some nice man-smitten faces. Will come back if I think of some. Probably Il Woo and Jae Hee have some good ones, Soo Hyun also has good ones.. they’re mid-range. I think GY’s are the most mature ones… oh, oh! how about best hot “I want you” looks? The first one that comes to mind right now is Seo In Guk in Answer Me 1997, the apartment scene.. maybe that’s not the best but it came to mind. GY’s are always good.. give me some more to look up hehehe!
You should check out S Diary, a Kim Sun Ah movie where GY plays one of her ex-boyfriends. He’s adorable and hot and very sexy in it!
As for smoldering stares.. Hyun Bin had some smolder going on in SeGa. I see that you’re planning to check out Scent of a Woman – you’ll definitely find some in there. You’ll know it when you get to it! 😉 If you’re in the mood for retro melo, Lee Byung Hun gives a serious smolder in Beautiful Days.
I liked how Shin WonHo played Kyung Joon, reminds me a bit of Jung Il Woo in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (which I saw later) – mature in some ways, but still a man-boy… whereas Gong Yoo goes from man-boy to boy-MAN. I really liked Gong Yoo’s portrayal as Kyung Joon as he used his smart brain and learned and matured. Super sweet, decent chemistry! The ending sucked, the last few episodes were frustrating, and I never got to see Shin WonHo again either. I didn’t like the brothers-one-born-to-save-the-other-angels-postcard thing. It was too far-fetched for the out-of-body experience for me. Lee MinJung, I haven’t seen her in anything else yet. (I haven’t watched BOF, I’ve only seen Meteor Garden and not the other-after-Meteor-Garden ones either). I’m not super inclined, but maybe it’s because this character was too neurotic and didn’t grab me well enough. I like Davichi’s song ok, it’s a bit repetitive so it wore off faster than other OSTs, plus after that ending I got kind of mad. 🙂
Ah.. Big. So much Gong Yoo awesome, couched in so much terrible >.<
I agree with you on so many points. The ending did suck. And the last few eps went downhill in such terrible ways. The brother-born-to-save-another was unbelievable too. What kind of a mother treats her child like that? Crazy writers. And Lee Min Jung. Sigh. She was much more likable in BOF and Smile You. I didn't like what was written for her in Big. Neither did I like what she did with what was written for her.
Still. Gong Yoo is undeniably awesome in this, and very hot too. And because I have a huge soft spot for Gong Yoo, I watched this purely in GY fangirl mode. I decided to just soak in the awesome and try my best to ignore the terrible, otherwise I would've been supremely cheesed off by the way this show was handled. So all I can say is, I feel your pain, lyricalpeach!! XD
Ogling quite frankly is sustenance for the K-drama fan. I am sure in the rule book somewhere it states that it is mandatory! <3
It’s mandatory in MY rule book 😉 Ogle away, Michele! Ogle away! ^^
Oh yes….when Lee Se-Young is telling who she thinks is Seo Yoon-Jae that Da-Ran is ‘cheating’ on him….well, as much as I re-watched the lovely lovely LOVELY kiss scene (which elicited an out loud declaration of his perfection from me), I re-watched that ‘he is cheating’ scene a few times as well simply because GY is fabulous – as it becomes clearer and clearer to KKJ what is going on. And then with the icing-on-the-cake statement that GDR took off the ring – it’s was go time for KKJ!! Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Need to get a screen capture of the look on his face at that point because it is priceless! I can do with some 4 more hours of seeing GY; yeah, I think I can weather the decline of a story in favor of ogling. 🙂
Woot! And ogling wins the day!! 😀 LOL! I would’ve made the same decision – 4 more hours of GY awesomeness is worth putting up with bad writing & disappointing episodes. As long as I have my focus right, I can simply enjoy lots of GY – that’s a win in my books! 😉
Made it through the first 12 episodes and am hesitant to keep watching paying heed to your review. Your main man is fab in this.
Oh, isn’t ep 12 just full of awesome?? <3 That lovely, lovely kiss *swoon*
As for whether to watch the rest of the eps, it depends. If you're in it just to see more Gong Yoo, then eps 13-16 do give you 4 more hours of Gong Yoo awesomeness. But if you can't separate story from ogling, then ep 12 is where you want your story to end 😉