Friday, November 22, 2013

First Impressions:// Pretty Man

Pretty Man's hero is loosely based on the main character of Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel, Bel Ami.
Eels everywhere are rejoicing as Sukkie's long awaited drama finally airs. Pretty Man, known by many names (but we'll get to that in a bit) is based on the 17 volume manhwa, Yebbeun Namja by Chon Kye Young, first published in 2009.

Jang Geun Suk plays Dokgo Ma Te, a beautiful ambitious man who isn't above using women for his own gain. Hong Yoo Ra (Hong Nya Nya in the manhwa), played by Han Chae Young, is a mysterious woman who has been watching Ma Te and will give him the mission of seducing and learning from 10 successful women in order to take his rightful place in life. Kim Bo Tong, played by IU, is an ordinary girl who has been hopelessly in love with Ma Te since their school days and has the challenge of helping him realize true love.

Jang Geun Suk as Ma Te and So Yu Jin as Jaek Hee heat up the opening scene of Pretty Man.

The first thing I noticed (well not the first) was that the scene order has been switched up in the drama so it can be a bit confusing if you're expecting it to follow the manhwa in a linear fashion. The first episode takes us to almost the end of the second volume, but omits much of Bo Tong's scenes, and interactions between Ma Te and Jaek Hee.

The drama and the manhwa do share the same opening scene, though, with Ma Te and Jaek Hee who he is using as a sugar mama - bad boy! The manhwa is much steamier, and it's just funny that the drama expects us to believe that this woman is spending huge amounts of money for a kiss here and there.

IU as Bo Tong grosses out over the muscle man on TV - her's is the slender type, based on her long-time crush, Ma Te.

IU does a good job portraying Bo Tong's manhwa personality. I had hoped they would refine the character a bit for the drama, though. Bo Tong is 26, but her extreme immaturity indicates that she's about 16 mentally. Her life's ambition of becoming Ma Te's wife reminds me of the pathetic Oh Ha Ni from Playful Kiss (based on the manga, Itazura Na Kiss.) She doesn't seem to have any interests, skills or sense of self beyond her obsession for this seemingly unattainable man.

Hoon of U-KISS plays Kim Dae Sik, Bo Tong's tae kwon do loving brother.

Bo Tong's tae kwon do engrossed brother, Kim Dae Sik, is played by Hoon (Yeo Hoon Min) of U-KISS. Incidentally, Hoon is actually proficient in tae kwon do and utilized it in his role in 2012's four episode drama, Holyland.

Dae Sik insists men should have bulky muscles, while Bo Tong prefers the slender type.

Dae Sik tries to convince Bo Tong that men's bodies should be buff, but she prefers the slender type because Ma Te falls into that category.

Bo Tong played by IU is a bit perverted for a Korean leading lady in Pretty Boy.

Not your ordinary naive leading lady, she's naive and perverted. Bo Tang is mesmerized by the fish cutter's collarbone. Later she finds the chickens in the supermarket to be erotic. Weird? Definitely.

Ma Te and Jaek Hee take in the cityscape from a luxury apartment.

The first episode illustrates Ma Te's manipulative powers and establishes his relationship with real estate tycoon, Jaek Hee.

Jang Geun Suk / Dokgo Ma Te asks, "Am I that.. beautiful?" in front of a twinkling cityscape.

Ah yes, you are, Sukkie - I mean Ma Te. I'm glad that Jang Geun Suk didn't go blonde for the role. I think it would be too unnatural and distracting, thus taking away from the story.

Yang Mi Kyeong plays Kim Mi Sook, Ma Te's mother in Pretty Man.  She uses photos to keep herself company in place of her son.

Ma Te's relationship with his mother is also defined in episode one and sticks closely to how it is portrayed in the manwha.

Dokgo Ma Te (Jang Geun Suk) encounters Hong Yoo Ra (Han Chae Young) in traffic.

The drama follows the original story in the major plot points, eliminates some scenes (unless they are just going to be shown later - we'll see) and adds some content or just changes the way the scene plays out to achieve the same conclusion. In the manhwa, Ma Te first sees Yoo Ra in a near accident. The drama saves itself the stunt work and he spies her in traffic.

Hong Yoo Ra gives Dokgo Ma Te just enough information to make him curious and perhaps alarmed in Pretty Man.

The first episode does evoke curiosity as to who Ma Te's father is and why he can't meet him - yet. Yoo Ra has the answers, but her interaction with Ma Te is anything but straightforward.

So far, it seems that we've just been witnessing the groundwork being laid out. The story hasn't taken off enough to grip me, but judging by the previews for episode two where Ma Te and Bo Tang really start to interact, things are going to get more interesting. 

And now for the name...

A flower boy by any other name would be as beautiful. Yebbeun Namja is literally Beautiful/Pretty Man. The early English title, according to AsianWiki was Pretty Boy. And the final English title is Bel Ami, which isn't English at all; it's French and means Beautiful Friend. It's also the title of the 1885 novel by Guy de Maupassant which was also translated into English and published as Bel Ami, Or, The History of a Scoundrel: A Novel. The main character, Georges Duroy, is a journalist who uses women to climb his way to the top. The original character seems much more ruthless and cunning than Ma Te, though. Let's hope that holds true; after-all, our Korean hero has to touch our fangirl hearts.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, Unnie. So much research, so little time. I don't know how you manage. Good job with the manhwa clips and matching them up.