First Impressions/Review: My Beautiful Bride ~ Episodes 1-4
OCN is responsible for presenting the other side of the coin in the world of dramas through its darkened layers and gloomy tones. My Beautiful Bride is here to continue the channel’s legacy in a parallel reality which moves in the background and weaves its own dreadful web. The drama takes place in the Saturday-Sunday airing brigade and at least for the first 3 episodes the ratings didn’t pass 1% as they were ranging between 0.635% and 0.723%. Cable channels don’t possess the same rating dynamics when it comes to dramas for apparent reasons, but i really do hope My Beautiful Bride will find itself in the 1-2% area which is always more than welcome given the circumstances.
When My Beautiful Bride started unveiling its first minutes before my very eyes i couldn’t help it but burst into tears of laughter. The whole loan shark dystopia which was being presented was so dramatic i couldn’t take it that seriously. Bid farewell the usually friendly neighborhood loan shark that would give his own life to help his debtor in his daily life until he/she pays him back.
My Beautiful Bride is a supervillain crescendo with loan sharks and problem solvers, beggars, prostitutes, drug factories, forced organ “donations”, murder, excessive violence, no remorse and a whole lot more. It’s not that such things don’t happen, they do and the presentation was quite successful through its own exaggerating drama prism, but it had the opposite impact upon me than the one desired. One way or another, it made me laugh and that’s a good hint.
I have to admit that during the first 3 episodes, especially the first 2, i was feeling quite lost inside this maelstrom of suspense, secrets and information overload to the extent i couldn’t necessarily pace with the flow of the drama. The 4th episode made things more apparent and gradually everything started making sense. It was a good stepping stone upon which i could place my thoughts and the drama’s events in a chronological line that could actually make My Beautiful Bride more meaningful to my eyes.
The storyline is about Kim Do Hyung (Kim Moo Yul) whose fiance, Yoon Joo Young (Ko Sung Hee), vanished from the surface of the earth and he found himself in an everlasting journey between the past and the present in order to find her. There’s a violence and power hierarchy when it comes to the world of the underground. The first step are the loan sharks and if they can’t get the amount of money the debtor owes them the Shadows take charge of the overall situation. Things just get messier and way darker and a dreadful coffin or a cold mortuary drape usually await to close the curtains.
Everything started three years ago when the leader of Shadows, Song Hak Soo (Lee Jae Yong), was caught by the police force after a massive operation under the command of Cha Yoon Mi (Lee Si Young) and Park Hyung Sik (Park Hae Joon). Hak Soo was sentenced to ten years and everyone was relieved, including the informant who helped the police force back then. Do Hyung and Joo Young’s relationship started two years ago and after the Hak Soo storm had reached an end. He used to be her first love and she was bound to become the one and only sunshine that would offer heartfelt meaning to his careerist life.
Everything was flowing well and the moment for Do Hyung to ask her to marry him had arrived. Even though she would like to give the most positive answer right away the past was restraining her from proceeding in fast forward pace to the next step. Eventually she decided to let him know that she was five weeks pregnant expecting their baby and that she would accept his proposal, but before Do Hyung arrived back home Joo Young had already disappeared from the surface of the earth. He was trying to reach her for three days, but she was nowhere to be found. On the fourth day he went to the police to declare her as a missing case, but the treatment he received there wasn’t the most appropriate one.
Normally, the case would be dealt as another runaway case and after five years had passed she would had been considered a missing case, but Yoon Mi noticed that Do Hyung’s fiance wasn’t just another girl, she is someone she knew in the past and she’s willing to do everything to find her. The day she went missing Hak Soo was already out on parole and things had already started getting complicated both for the drama and the audience. Do Hyung’s attempts to find her led him towards someone he knew, Park Joon Beom (Jo Han Chul) from Seryo Construction which was no other than a camouflage enterprise to hide his vicious loan shark activities.
After a flow of events Do Hyung gets framed and the police found Hak Soo dead inside his trunk and from a devastated man desperately searching for Joo Young he became the main suspect for Hak Soo and Joo Young’s murder even though they still can’t find her body. The blood traces inside Do Hyung’s house point even more towards his direction as the main suspect and Yoon Mi can’t help it but take it out on him. Yoon Mi won’t let him know everything she knows about Joo Young’s past, but everything Do Hyung says isn’t convincing enough since he doesn’t invest in details. Both Hyung Sik and Yoon Mi think of Do Hyung as the culprit behind both murders, but through his mother’s powerful connections he gets released and he starts his own operation to find Joo Young anew.
Thoughts: As the story progresses the pieces of the first part of the puzzle fit together one after the other and the whole picture becomes complete. At this point i think that Kim Moo Yul‘s face is utterly representative of Do Hyung’s figure. Do Hyung is leading a careerist life as a successful bank executive finding love, meaning and comfort in Joo Young’s embrace. You can sense the feelings he preserves towards her face every time he’s around her. The relentless and amorphous careerist face always changes and eventually shines in her presence, getting rid of the working mask that demands his most fierce side to come to the surface.
You can also sense his own devastation in Joo Young’s absence. His world collapsed and he’s willing to do just anything to recollect the shattered pieces and build it anew. The past Joo Young was striving to hide wasn’t something she could eventually keep in the shadows. Do Hyung gradually found out about everything and he was always one step ahead trying to hide his moves in order to let her believe he was unaware of her past making her feel at ease about it. It’s just one part of his support, love and affection in order to make Joo Young feel secure and comfortable, but also him being able to help her in case the past came back to haunt her. It’s something he couldn’t do since the sudden turn of events managed to be one step ahead of him.
Preparing the baby crib in solitude was a glimpse of everything he was going through in Joo Young’s absence after he suddenly found out she was expecting their child. Inside the prison cell his despair was immense as he was unable to help Joo Young, but even after he got out you could breathe through his desolation. The struggle once he returned back home felt real through all this information overload as he’s missing her severely without knowing where and how she is. His personal threnody in all this thick darkness is omnipresent.
Kim Moo Yul‘s character was the most unpredictable of all since you couldn’t foresee how much he knew about Joo Young’s past and the fact that she was Hak Soo’s girlfriend, a hostess and a police informant. By the end of the 4th episode everything became more palpable and he had already found the whole truth about her step by step by meeting Hak Soo and her friend, getting to know the truth from her brother’s mouth and with his violent interactions with Joon Beom and his underlings.
One could notice that Do Hyung decided to sacrifice his familial bonds for the sake of being with Joo Young because he knew his mother would never applaud and bless this relationship and forthcoming marriage. In the car scene he doesn’t talk to his mother directly even though she’s sitting next to him, he communicates with her through her assistant, it’s highly representative of the ice between them and the bonds he doesn’t want to warm up anew for Joo Young and his own feelings’ sake.
On the other side of the fence, being a part of UDT in the army makes Do Hyung a killing machine when he’s not a devoted banker or a loving figure in Joo Young’s presence, after all he became a part of it to impress her in the first place. All these distinctive characteristics are being expressed in the most representative way by Kim Moo Yul. Of course, it’s not only about the thick darkness and the gloom, there are funny moments in My Beautiful Bride! When he’s not using his bicycle to go to work or with Joo Young on the back of it he becomes the avenger with the bicycle and it’s quite hilarious in the way he knocks down his enemies or escapes from them with it! He’s the ultimate personification of bad-ass, especially after he pooped inside the car of the Shadows. It’s the new escape method through shit & hit tactics!
Joo Young was a broken figure who could finally breathe and dream anew after she found Do Hyung once again and approached him steadily and after the storm had passed. Her hostess past and the fact that she was Hak Soo’s girlfriend in order to help her own brother was overburdening and it’s not something one may easily confess to the person she loves. So she kept everything in the shadows and she helped the police in the first place in order to cleanse herself from the past and finally be able to be with Do Hyung under a new perspective and build her life anew, even though he entered her life once again with a vomit fountain!
I met Ko Sung Hee for the first time in Night watchman’s Journal and i was neither impressed by the drama nor her acting, but she was severely cute, simplistic and beautiful. I don’t denounce actors or actresses that easily, well, maybe yes sometimes, but this is not the case here. I started watching My Beautiful Bride mainly because of Lee Si Young and the fact that Ko Sung Hee was here as well was yet another chance to see how she progressed. She’s definitely better here and this role seems to suit her better than the one in Night Watchman’s Journal, but this doesn’t mean her acting skills started shining overnight. She still has a long way to go and i am eager to find out her progress throughout My Beautiful Bride.
One of her characteristics i adore is her loving stare and the sense of distress she portrays once things get awry, i will be rooting for them along with everything else she will have to depict here. The moment Hak Soo called her on the phone everything shattered and her pain and shock were severe to the extent of having a miscarriage. The blood on the spot was yet another “proof” to frame Do Hyung even further, but once his innocence was proven it became a mourning spot for him throughout the whole memory intrusion.
My Beautiful Bride seems to be having both types of irritating cops, the useless ones and the i-know-it-all super-cops. Both types of cops share the same amount of “awesomeness”, they think they are always right. The useless cop here is Kim Myung Hwan and i can say i am not that impressed by Park Hyun Woo‘s acting for the time being, it’s not only his figure which is irritating, it was somehow supposed to be funny, but the way he presents him doesn’t work for me, at least for now. On the other hand, Park Hae Joon as Park Hyeong Sik and Lee Si Young as Cha Yoon Mi are highly representative as the super-cops, especially the first one.
By the time both of them thought Do Hyung was guilty Hyeong Sik was certain that each assumption he made was the right one whereas Yoon Mi got overran by her own emotions and set aside her police force duties. Now that the truth has already shone when it comes to Do Hyung’s innocence we’re about to witness their passage from the irritating side towards the more than welcome police presentation of Si Young and Hae Joon as detectives in action and thoughtful process. Dare i confess something? I love Lee Si Young’s slightly chubbier cheeks, i want to pinch them lightly with love even at the cost of receiving a punch! Can’t wait to see more of them, especially the way Si Young’s character will evolve!
And here come our villains and each and every one of them serves his purpose well! Lee Jae Yong is a maestro inflicting fear even with a single stare as Song Hak Soo, Ryu Seung Soo as Seo Jin Ki of the Shadows is powerful enough to cause major harm upon others, even when it comes to his useless underlings who strive to get hit by him and stand on their feet again to get hit over and over again to prove their devoutness! Son Jong Hak as president Kang is quite representative of a high-ranked man moving in the shadows, his interpretation of a promise is hilarious as he questions back everyone whether they intend to keep their promise or not! But the real loan shark pleasure is Jo Han Chul as Park Joon Beom. Sometimes he reminds me of Jeong Wung In! Han Chul is highly representative of Joon Beom’s quirkiness, arrogance and most and above all coward but ash-hole still attitude! The real power struggle between all these figures, except for Hak Soo of course, is about to begin.
Lee El is always a pleasure to my own eyes and i am glad to find her here as well, even though she doesn’t appear much she plays her own part somewhere between the police force and the underworld. Shim Min as Jung Hwa, Joo Young’s friend, worked just fine as the missing link and we could read between the lines while she was making the first puzzle of the drama complete and everything became more apparent.
One of the strong points of the drama is the visualization of the whole investigation as both Yoon Mi and Hyeong Sik follow step by step Do Hyung and Hak Soo’s footsteps. The blending of the detectives at the present with the investigated figures in the recent past in a common screen which differentiates at the same time the past from the present was quite intriguing. The flow of flashbacks and memories at the present is masterfully crafted and there are times it intensifies the whole mystery, but there are also times it serves its insightful purpose well.
I like the cinematography, either warmer or gloomier and thick it dresses the scenes in a representative way. Kim Cheol Kyu who has already directed Emergency Couple and was the producer of Scent of Summer already shows his artistic claws in the two-fold world of My Beautiful Bride. Writer Yoo Sung Yeol who was behind Cruel City as well managed to confuse me during the first episodes, i guess it was all part of the mystery and suspense factor, but i am eager to find out how the drama will progress.
I love you, Lee Si Young.
I liked the sense of reality about a bank’s picky inspections on bigger or smaller corporations. Careerism, wealth and power aren’t blind but quite distinctive and always know towards which direction they will point their arrows each and every time. In a way, there are times banks push people towards loan sharks, it’s the system that’s corrupted in the first place and further corruption blossoms in the background. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bank director where Do Hyung works at is fully aware of everything going on since he prevented him from inspecting Seryo Construction in the first place.
Elsa Kopf‘s Days and Moons is a brilliant and soulful track filled with emotion and it paces perfectly well with the shattered and fragile but also raw canvas of My Beautiful Bride. The drama confused me in the beginning, but as soon as everything became more apparent i started enjoying it. I remain cautious for the time being, but i like its gloomy vibes, rotten layers and heartfelt core. The ending song during the 4th episode was exceptional as well and it made the urge to keep waiting for the next episodes to come to the surface even greater. I don’t know if it’s the awesome soundtrack that resembles good old 90s Visual Kei with operatic elements, haunting keyboards and stressing guitars or the drama itself gets better. Something points towards the second direction while the first one supports the higher cause. Incheon is the next destination of My Beautiful Bride somewhere between Joo Young’s sunlit yet bittersweet and Do Hyung’s bloodstained and disheartened face.