I have to say that though there were quite a few holes in this drama on the whole I’m glad that I watched it. Would I recommend it? Hmm… maybe, and only if you’re like me and really love Lee Minki, but don’t get me wrong, there were some real positives.
I can’t say enough about the excellence of the main group of actors..especially Lee Minki and Seo Hyun-Jin. They had amazing chemistry, but were also really comfortable with each other too. From the BTS videos on YouTube I saw that they seemed to have lots of fun as they shot the scenes and that’s definitely reflected on screen. Though his robotic performance felt very familiar… his face was able to convey a sentiment or reaction very well in a subtle way (and let’s face it I was studying him VERY closely, LOL!).
She really is a very skilled actress, a powerhouse full of energy. I’m thinking that Yolette would have especially loved her because she took nothing from anyone. She gave as good as she got and she enjoyed her bad girl image. She wasn’t perfect and she made me really mad at the end but I won’t soon forget this character.
But, this wasn’t only about the main couple. I also really enjoyed the scenes where the secondary characters interacted because they were able to really feel like individuals who were just spending some time together (and not always peacefully). They even had an adorable miniature dog who was passed around like a little treasure. LOL What more can I ask for?
As expected there were many questions for which we got no answers. I felt that the writing really failed especially in the last couple of episodes. The final episodes felt rushed in one sense and very slow in another. I think that this drama could easily have been much shorter. It didn’t need 16 episodes for this plotline at all, though it was nice to see the guest cameos.
I think it’s good to go into it knowing that you will need to fast-forward, you will gnash your teeth at the repetitive plot that keeps the leads apart, you will want to slap the well-meaning family and friends who act thinking that they are doing the best for their loved one even though it means you’ll be fast-forwarding even more, you must recognize that there are lots of things that keep the lead couple off-screen more than should be allowed in any drama (hence the fast-forwarding), even though there are some respectable performances by most of the male supporting characters. It’s not for nothing that some people have complained that Hans Zheng and Janine Chang are almost like guest actors in their own drama… But at the very end of it all… well, you can tune in for my rant after the jump at the bottom of the post!
Janine and Hans are trying to figure out why they can’t just be together
Even with all this complaining, there really were some entertaining moments in this drama. I think that’s what irritates me most — they could have had something solid, even very good, if they had just gotten out the scissors and cut this 48-episode show into, maybe 24… tops! Even though there are some personal space issues between between Hans Zheng’s spurned boyfriend/CEO and Janine Chang, the spurner (for good reasons)/his assistant, there are some moments where they work really well together, and separately. He’s got the driven, ruthless, yet tender-hearted thing down, and she’s very good at fragile-looking but strong. There’s some deep sh#t that’s kept them apart, and on paper it makes sense that she would find it very hard for her to believe that they should be back together again (no matter how much they long for each other).
I found the interferences of her guy pal and her older sister the most annoying, less so on his part, much more so on her part because this is ALL HER FAULT in the first place! She’s so immature at times, and needy, that I’d like to reach through the screen and slap her. Who she ends up with (and how) is somehow so appropriate, but yet it feels wrong, mostly because of the casting of her love interest. I do feel bad for Jing Chao’s character, the wish-he-could-be-boyfriend friendzoned pal. Maybe because he’s easy on the eyes… No, because he is trying really hard to be a good guy, even if he does cock things up now and then.
But what irritates me… spoiler rant after the jump
This one was a longer drama and not the kind that you necessarily wanted to do a marathon viewing of given the subject matter. I’ve seen enough dead bodies of soldiers and civilians to last me a life time..lol! I won’t touch on the background political issues because really my interest was in the characters..though there is NO doubt whatsoever that Japan IS THE BAD GUY (just in case you might have been wondering.)
I must say it was a pleasure to discover (or rediscover) these actors. I knew more OF Lee Byung-Hun than really being familiar with his acting so I appreciated getting more familiar with his work. It was a pleasure to finally see Yoo Yeon-Sook in action – first time and how lucky that I saw him in THE most awesome role..strutting around like a Samurai. Another discovery was Byun Ho Han – what a complete charmer he was! The biggest surprise was Kim Ming Jung who was just blah in Man to Man, but here she was really awesome and she had the most fantastic wardrobe I’ve ever seen (I’m partial to the turn of the century western fashion)..she looked gorgeous.
I think the writers made a real effort to flesh these characters out. Each one of them had a back story that deserved his or her own drama. All had suffered and all had taken different paths and all paths crossed in Joseon.
I think the relationship between the leads was handled respectfully (given the huge age gap) but for me the biggest plus was the relationships that grew between them all, not necessarily having anything to do with romantic love. These were strangers who came to care about each other – though not everyone cared for the CAUSE – they cared because someone else did. The bromance was strong and oh so satisfying. There was even a lightness at times (much needed, of course); how can you watch a drama like this, filled with human sacrifices and fighting for something so much bigger than them without spilling a tear or two or three? That should come as no surprise at all.
Lastly, the incredible cinematography continued until the very end and it was a visual ongoing feast!
I was browing my Netflix list and thought I should make an effort to start actually watching some of those I’d bookmarked, so I started on Love O2O as I recalled hearing favorable things about it and I was in the mood for fluffier stuff. Happily, this was charming fluff, with an attractive lead couple who clearly have eyes only for each other (no betrayal angsty moments) and have friends who are happy to support their relationship.
Yang Yang is not the most expressive of male actors, but he sure is pretty, and I’m never going to complain about a popular, well-liked guy who falls head over heels for a girl because she is a dedicated computer gamer (who also happens to be a knockout – bonus!) to the point where he gets a little bit stalker-ish gazing on her from afar in real life and drawing close to her in their gaming platform. (Sigh… stalking is wrong, I know, but getting a little swoony-eyed because you have a crush on someone and doing something intrusive about it are two different things. His character is more in the swoony-eyed category.)
Zhang Shuang’s Weiwei is a stunner (though man, she could use a sandwhich or two), and it’s gratifying to see women who exceed in school, merging study with interests (she is a computer science major like Yang Yang’s character, Xiao Nai) to become the top female gamer in a role-playing game. She’s pretty much perfect, as is he, so their coming together is clearly written in the stars.
I’ll confess: I’m not that much into gaming myself so some of the play time and getting his game business up and running were less compelling to me so I did a little judicious fast-forwarding so I could spend more of my time with the couple and their friends. Mao Xiao Tong plays a bubbly (borderline annoying but super cute) best pal to Weiwei who gets involved with poorly styled Bai Yu’s character (that hair!), who has a crush on Weiwei and has a harder time with her polite ‘no thank you.’ Zhang Bin Bin (the demon prince from 10 Miles of Peach Blossoms) has a surprising role (saying would be spoiling) that I found to be a little broody and almost predatory, even if it’s touched on obliquely. More on this after the jump.