Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review:// Bride of the Century

Bride of the Century 백년의 신부 poster with Lee Hong Ki 이홍기 as Choi Kang Joo sitting on a throne and Yang Jin Sung 양진성 as Na Doo Rim and Jang Yi Kyung standing on either side of him.

At the heart of this drama is a 100 year curse that claims the life of the first bride of each first son of the Choi family. Of course the Choi family is extremely affluent, as they run Taeyang Corporation, the largest conglomerate in South Korea.

Serving women gather to gossip about the curse. / Yang Jin Sung as a traditional bride with her new groom sit at a table after the wedding ceremony.
We start in the past with servants gossiping about the curse that will soon claim their master's new bride. Meanwhile in the newlyweds' chamber, Yang Jin Sung plays a bride, who presumably will have a connection with a one of her modern day counterparts.
Na Doo Rim peddles in the street to a crowd / Choi Kang Joo walks through his department store with his entourage as saleswomen bow.
Our present day leads come from two different worlds. Na Doo Rim (Yang Jin Sung) is a hardworking country girl, beloved by everyone. Choi Kang Joo (Lee Hong Ki) is the rich chaebol son, stepping into his father's CEO position.

Jang Yi Kyung and Shin Eun Jung 신은정 as Ma Jae Ran scheme to beat the curse.

Our villains come in the form of mother/daughter team Ma Jae Ran (Shin Eun Jung) and Jang Yi Kyung. After discovering Na Doo Rim who looks exactly like Yi Kyung, they devise a plan to beat the curse and save their company in the process. The two women are a perfect pair; cold and ruthless with flickers of humanity. Dim flickers.

Choi Kang Joo watches in shock as a tomato heads towards him, while Jang Ah Young 장아영 as Lee Roo Mi stands stunned and Doo Rim moves to block.
Doo Rim is thrown into a world that she doesn't really fit into, between the iceberg, Choi Kang Joo, and his suspicious assistant, Lee Roo Mi. Second Leading Lady? Yes indeed. Jang Ah Young plays the cold and poised daughter of decent pedigree, and who has an earnest heart, in a way that evokes both resentment and sympathy.
Kang Joo scolds Doo Rim / In the ovie theater, Kang Joo gives Doo Rim a look.
The chemistry between Kang Joo and Doo Rim is the best thing about this series. Doo Rim's mistakes and bright bumbling personality get under Kang Joo's skin which Lee Hong Ki expresses in such a gratifying way. His exasperation, wrinkled brow, looks of disgust and fits of frustration are all steps on a familiar path that we all know and relish; kdrama love!
Kang Joo kicks up his legs after getting kissed.
The funniest kiss I've ever seen in a Korean drama, or any drama for that matter, is received by Kang Joo, whose sound effects are not to be missed. 

Sung Hyuk 성혁 as Jang Yi Hyun eats with Doo Rim / Doo Rim fixes Yi Hyun's tie / Yi Hyun stares after Doo Rim.
Jang Yi Hyun (Sung Hyuk) is our sweet and protective Second Leading Man. Though the situation may be a little on the weird side, you have to love a man who really only cares about the person on the inside, ignoring everything else.
Jang Yi Kyung and Na Doo Rim stare at each other across a reading room.
Yang Jin Sung played both the good and evil archetype so well, it's hard to believe this is her first leading lady role in a drama. I really saw her as two different people, despising Yi Kyung and adoring Doo Rim. The different makeup styles had a part in it, but Jin Sung has a separate aura and look in her eyes for each character that is undeniable.
Kim Ah Young 김아영 as the spirit stands with a bright light and wind at her back / Park Jung Hak 박정학 as the shaman, gives a reading in front of his altar / Jun Jin Seo 전진서 as child Kang Joo leans against the spirit.

Getting back to the curse, the supernatural element of the story is portrayed with lighting and wind. Nothing fancy, but it does set the tone satisfactorily without detracting from the story. The spirit attached to the family provides mystery and suspense which gives rise to more questions. However, it all makes sense in the end.
Kim Ah Young 김아영 as Sung Joo Shin, standing with other members of the Choi household more than 100 years in the past.
A shift back in time is shot beautifully and gives us insight and understanding as dots are connected and karma is generated. Even after everything falls into place in the present, the past makes one last appearance to complete the puzzle and you just have to wonder how boring life would be without misunderstandings.

Jung Hae In 정해인 as Choi Kang In smiles and winks
As a bonus, we have eye candy in Jung Hae In who plays Choi Kang Joo's idol brother, Kang In. He is a bit like Doo Rim with a positive attitude and indomitable spirit. While our leads give us plenty of comic relief, Hae In provides breath-of-fresh-air relief. Hopefully his part will be bigger in The Three Musketeers which starts filming next month.
The cast and crew of Bride of the Century pose for a group photograph.
The cast is well rounded with subplots that are tended to, and come to fulfilling conclusions. Together with a ballad rich soundtrack, beautiful locations and soft focus photography, Bride of the Century is a decidedly romantic drama with a heavy dose of intrigue.

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