This winter break was a short one. And for the first time in many years, I elected to work the Christmas week. So off to the office I went with my other lucky co-workers. I must say working during the holiday season has its perks: I get to sit anywhere on the empty bus on the early morning commute, throw in a gift of time to get caught up on the pesky to dos, and of course no one cares if you take a slightly longer lunch break or spend mindless minutes socializing with colleagues on idle holiday chats.
But back at home, after the festive dinners and holiday cooking, I did get to spoil myself. But shorter break means less time for full blown multi-episode drama marathons so I settled for a couple of k-movies.
A story about a broken alpha male chased by a beautiful but irritating female. A role reversal. It was never love at first sight. He, still pining for a dead wife and she’s got a hidden agenda. A lovely story about forgiveness, about letting go, about redemption and ultimately about true love.
Kang Il is a firefighter, a warrior who upholds the pinnacle of his profession of serving others. He sacrifices his own safety and defies authority in the quest of saving even one more life. Go Soo fits this role to a tee, his broody persona shining through the handsome face, a man not afraid to shed tears to show his pain and drinks like a fish to forget.
Mi Soo is the arrogant doctor, an up and comer at the hospital but one unfortunate bias and misdiagnosis led to the death of a patient. Initially unrepentant, she seeks the help of Kang Il to counter the charges against her but along the ride she gets to know the man and falls for him. Han Hyo Joo’s talent is undeniable, capable of personifying the pesky pursuer, the confident female and a woman spurned all in one nice little package.
Maybe because it is a movie, not a drama with plenty of filler space, the role of the second leads is diminished but they complement the main characters very nicely with good humour thrown in.
Though conventional and predictable the story is by no means dreary. In fact it is a rom com with spice, a subtle touch of melo with the dramatic rescues and guilt ridden angst; he, for the dead wife, and she, for her negligence causing death.
If you like the hate at first sight trope but not over the top cheesy romances, this is a must watch. Credible leads and cast. Overall a feel good filler for anyone looking for a poignant but not tearful love story.
A departure from my usual genre, I decided to take a turn into the dark side with the thriller Perfect Proposal. An adaptation from Catherine Arley’s book, Woman of Straw, it didn’t perform too well in the domestic market. Not surprising. It is one of those movies that is not spectacular but it is also not a dud. It’s got enough suspenseful moments and tingling clues to make me want to continue watching. It’s less about whodunnit but more about how will it end kinda suspense.
Yoo Ji Yeon is a university graduate who fell on hard times in Macau, cheated of her livelihood by an unscrupulous business partner and friend. In debt to none other than the loan sharks, she works as a barmaid to make ends meet when the “perfect proposal” comes along. A $5,000 monthly salary as a personal nurse to a billionaire living on a luxurious yacht.
But not so fast. There’s a catch but desperate times call for desperate measures. Scruples shaken, the proposal is made even more compelling when presented by the suave and handsome son of the casino billionaire. The over-analytical in me questions the plausibility of Ji Yeon even considering such a proposal. She doesn’t come across as the silly, money grabbing airhead with a killer bod or pretty face. She’s rather ordinary but this is where the show departs from the usual stock character of a femme fatale. She’s smart but vulnerable. She is charming and attractive without being seductive, the exact qualities Lee Seong Yeol sought her for; the winning combination to carry out his carefully designed plan.
Lee Seong Yeol, the illegitimate son whose dying mother was cast aside and left penniless even to her dying days, his vengeful heart made even more heinous when his father pretty much wrote him out of his will and never gives him the respect he deserves.
Overall, the story, unlike its namesake, is not a perfect movie but it is entertaining and offers sufficient twists and subplots to keep me guessing. When I thought I’d it figured out, it still manages to surprise me almost all the way to the end. I like the use of the cinderella concept in this context, offering its own interpretation and outcome.
The three big names, Yoo Yeon Seok, Im Soo Jung and Lee Kyeong Yeong’s acting is rock solid, giving us powerful emotions with their eyes and facial expressions. Soo Jung as Ji Yeon is fragile in front of Seong Yeol but controlled and restrained when she has to be in front of Seok Goo. Rising star Yeon Seok is perfect as the ambitious and confident bad boy Seong Yeol while Kyeong Yeong is more than convincing as the foul tempered, terrorizing father and boss, Seok Goo.
Sexual tension without the sex. Even the kiss is subtle. Yeon Seok and Soo Jung burn our screen with enough chemistry to spark the romantic in all of us.
The rest of the multi-ethnic cast fit right in but not too memorable except maybe for Do Hee and the adorable chihuahua.
[Spoilers] A few questions remain. How much does Seok Goo really know? And did Seong Yeol tell the truth about never falling for Ji Yeon?
The ending is expected and yet also unexpected. A nice mix of creepy moments, a twist of the forbidden love, and unexpected turns. Not your classic fairy tale cinderella story of forever after. Cinderella gets her castle but where’s her prince?