An excellent ensemble cast made up of skilled industry sunbaes; faceted, detailed deliveries that feel convincing and engaging; a tightly written narrative that delivers some surprising twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat; thoughtful directing and execution; an expertly applied OST that can be hauntingly ethereal one minute and then pulsing with tension the next; SKY Castle has it all, and it all comes together in one polished, dysfunctional package.
This drama is a very solid, compelling social satire that manages to make its characters come alive, even as it makes its social commentary. On the downside, Show suffers from an ending that feels like a tacked-on epilogue written by a different team altogether. Happily, that’s easily fixed by thinking of the last episode as just that, because Show manages to tell a story in its first 19 episodes that feels reasonably complete even before it presents its finale.
The moment Lotte Duty Free announced this little web series for the festive season, I knew I’d be tuning in, no matter what. I mean, to have Lee Jun Ki, Park Hae Jin, Ji Chang Wook, Kai, Taecyeon, Lee Jong Sukand Lee Min Ho in the leading men line-up? Even the most big-budget blockbuster movie production would have trouble pulling that off.
So tune in I did; which wasn’t hard to do, really, with each episode topping out at a very compact 7-8 minutes. And y’know what, for what it is (an unabashed, extended CF for Lotte Duty Free, in case you were wondering), this show’s a fun little ride.
You know how, when you drive past an accident on a highway, and your brain says not to waste time staring, since that’ll just slow down traffic even more, but as you crawl past in your car, the curious cat in you can’t help but stare in morbid fascination anyway?
Yep. That’s sorta what happened with me and Cheese In The Trap. Because I wasn’t able to keep current with the episodes as they aired, I was only at episode 8 (ish?) when all the behind-the-scenes drama erupted and everyone got really upset with Park Hae Jin’s heavily reduced screen time in the last third of the drama. A big part of my brain said then, that I ought to just drop the drama and look away while the going was good, but the curious cat in me was morbidly fascinated by it all. Was it as bad as everyone said, I wondered.
I guess there’s something to be said for spoilers, since I went into the finale stretch having had the ending quite thoroughly spoiled (I couldn’t help reading ending spoilers, even though I’m usually much more spoiler-phobic; not only was I morbidly fascinated, I was also – at times, anyway – trying to decide whether or not to keep watching). That prepped me for the ending really well, and in the end, I didn’t actually hate it. Gasp!
Y’know, there was a time when I literally wouldn’t have touched this show with a ten-foot pole. Seriously.
Partly, it was because the premise didn’t interest me all that much. Partly, it was also because at 50 episodes, My Daughter Seo Young was a big commitment, and I could think of many much more interesting places to spend those drama hours. Especially since I wasn’t all that interested in the premise. Mostly, though, it was because I didn’t care too much for Lee Bo Young as an actress (note the use of past tense!), and couldn’t see myself sitting through a long drama where she played the protagonist.
To think that I now have not only finished the entire show (50 whole episodes!), but would recommend it to other drama fans too. Wow, right?
So what made me pick this up again in recent months? Well, I’m gonna hafta say, it’s mostly coz Lee Sang Yoon looks roguishly delish with a shadow of a goatee. 😉
Slick, dark, and appropriately fierce, Bad Guys is a short little series that packs a pretty big punch.
Everything is carefully and beautifully filmed, and for the most part, Bad Guys manages to hit that sweet spot where the writing is complex enough to be interesting, yet simple enough to be accessible to the average viewer. Add a pretty excellent cast to flesh out the interesting premise, and Show is a winner in almost every checkbox.
My beef with the show is that it gets too melodramatic at parts, which detracts from its unique brand of cool, and instead places it closer to standard kdrama fare than it needs to be. The cinematography also feels less deliberate as we get into the later episodes. Despite its shortcomings, though, Show remains an interesting and engaging watch.
Gritty and disturbing at times, yet heartening and uplifting at others, Bad Guys manages to be badass with heart.
Today’s question is brought to us by Bakazen, who asks:
What is it about bromances that make a kdrama great? I just recently finished watching Doctor Stranger and realized 2 things: LJS is a good actor and I really didn’t like this drama. So why did I finish it? Because I was hooked by the bromance tease between LJS and PHJ.
My personal theory is they work well as substitutes for the sometimes overwhelming lack of affection we see between couples. Guys in bromances show affection, love, solidarity, joy, connection & (dare I say it) skinship! Nothing warms my heart like one of the F4s coming to a bros rescue, the F44s teasing each other or the leads in School 2013 (LJS & Woobie) saying how much they missed each other’s friendship. Besides, I rarely get that hooked into the female friendships (major exception, Noh Eun-seol & Lee Myung Ran from Protect the Boss). What do you think?
With all the reviews and Pure Pretty that’s been flooding the blog lately, I realize it’s been a while (gasp! More than 3 months!) since my last k-love confession post (Mmmm..Kim Soo Hyun!).
And since I did promise that this year I’d be introducing y’all to more of my, uh.. smaller? lesser? medium-sized? milder? (argh. I can’t decide which word works best. You guys know what I mean, right?) k-loves, I thought it fitting that I introduce you guys to Lee Jong Suk, whom I’ve got a big soft spot for.
My affection for Lee Jong Suk is slightly more dongsaeng-esque than all of my other featured k-loves so far, but I do sincerely think he’s pretty special, and special deserves a little bit of the loving spotlight, dontcha think?
A drama that’s got a light, frothy and often comedic outer shell, but harbors an inner core that’s poignant, stirring and heart-in-your-throat moving.
To be sure, if one put on a hard logical lens, this show’s flaws may be too glaring for one to overlook. But for those who can turn that logical lens to a blurry soft-focus, and amp up the emotional lens to a setting high enough to engage with the characters on a more visceral level, that touching inner core is the satisfying, gratifying reward.
Separately, Jeon Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun are both truly excellent in their roles. Even better? Together, they are pure magic.