I’ve been investing two months into this Korean drama, A Gentleman’s Dignity. I’m not much of a Korean pop culture fan and all the singers and actors I know are about a decade-old famous. So when I read it stars Jang Dong-gun and Kim Ha-neul, I started watching it, since I am familiar with their work.
Dubbed as the male version of Sex and the City, AGD tells the story of four male friends who are in their 40s. Choi Yoon is a widow, Lee Jung-rok is married and Kim Do-jin and Im Tae-san are single. The drama was heralded to reveal the lifestyle of men their age and the growing phenonemon in Korea for older men to be more conscious of their looks and fashion. The Korea Herald talks about that in this article.
Interesting enough premise. Though the first few episodes were painful to watch because it was easy to tell that the male leads were still trying to weave into the bromance. Their acting was still awkward and so pretentious (well, acting is playing pretend anyway) but it was more bearable than Kim Ha-neul’s acting. She plays Seo Yi-soo, the love interest of Kim Do-jin.
I first watched her in Tutor/Friend with Kim Sang-woo and frankly, her acting has not evolved from there. The only time I saw her differently was in Blind so I had high hopes that she’d be able to tackle the role of an ethics high school teacher without the usual childishness that she probably thinks is still cute at her age. And did I mention that it annoys me when she drinks, whether it’s soju or coffee or tea? It’s obvious she’s not drinking anything when the script calls for her to gulp loads. Surely, there are acting techniques she could have learned over the years to accomplish the task and not look stupid taking a sip and acting like her thirst has been quenched or she’s suddenly drunk? A good actor may otherwise convince me even if that’s not the case, which only goes to show that Kim Ha-neul sucks at acting, at least, in scenes like that.
It didn’t help that Lee Na-young was the first choice for the role and I couldn’t help wonder how it would have been if she proceeded with it (she backed out due to schedule conflict). It took 15 episodes before Kim Ha-neul could convince me that she was the right second choice. She shone in those scenes when she was confronted with her past, having been abandoned by her mother who remarried. But then, two episodes later and she squandered the positive feedback by reverting to her childish acting peg. Seriously, I was tempted of slapping her, or rather, my computer screen.
If there’s one thing I like about the drama, it’s the opening scene that is usually a flashback to the four men’s younger years. You see their development from high school to university and now, as working guys successful in their own right. And slowly, the bromance also evolved and by the sixth episode, they all looked like longtime friends. Ah, if only the rest of the cast evolved like their story arc.
The character of Im Meahri, the younger sister of Tae-san in love with Yoon, was kind of adorable at first. But when all she did was just bawl over her forbidden love, it started to grate into my ears. Girl, you’re young, pretty and rich. Go find a cool guy your age and not hang on to this ahjussi who has serious issues about his dead wife.
Another annoying character is that Kim Dong-hyub, one of teacher Seo’s student. I hate the thick lips and the brooding act. Clearly, he’s no James Dean and what’s unfortunate is that he is in a lot of scenes as if he’s such an important character.
Episode 17 (aired July 21) was really the most annoying so far. And I find that ironic because in episodes 15 and 16, the characters were evolving nicely and the story was unfolding in a more absorbing way. Then they go and ruin it with an episode that’s full of bawling (Meahri crying was such a pain to the ears and Yoon busting his facial veins was equally a pain to watch not because I feel their pain but because this story arc is already too stretched). Not to mention that when teacher Seo gets drunk, she becomes the tutor in Tutor/Friend. Get over it girl, that movie is like aeons ago. Haven’t you learned anything from all the acting job you’ve done since then?
It’s also become obvious in this drama that Jang Dong-gun is no longer Korea’s flower boy. His age is noticeable, but of course, he’s playing a 41-year-old guy here with–sarcasm alert–an occasional mindset of a 14-year-old.
There have been guest appearances in the drama including a member of Girls’ Generation and CNBlue (I can’t be bothered to look up their names). But it’s the appearance of Lee Jong-hyun, another CNBlue member, that makes the drama more watchable. He plays Colin, the son of Kim Do-jin who suddenly appears after 20 years. Alas, that thick lips Dong-hyub–a minor character that they can even do away with–has more scenes than him. Boyfriend of the director or the writer or the producer, maybe?
Surprisingly, the characters that have been consistently fun to watch are Lee Jung-rok and his rich, older wife Park Min-sook. Jung-rok provides most of the comic relief with his playboy character and Min-sook, though portrayed as a rich bitch, actually has her moments. They also deliver their lines with chutzpah, which is lacking in the others.
Now, the lines. The script is written by Kim Eun-sook, apparently, one of the celebrated writers in Korea. Her credits include Secret Garden, City Hall, On Air, Lovers in Paris (the only one I have watched among her work). LIP was okay but I would say the credit was much to Park Shin-yang, who was good in his role. So I guess, Miss Kim may be a good writer but a good, witty script falls flat if the actors can’t deliver them. Because all this time I have been watching AGD, I couldn’t help wondering why Miss Kim is reputed to be such a great (the way some worship her) writer. The lines are cheeky, the storyline so cliche and please don’t get me started with the cheesy scenes–but then, that may not be her fault but the director’s. I mean, who kisses glass windows? Or buy shoes ala Cinderella and ask his or her lover to wear them on a good day, prettily, to come to them and show they’re together?
Oh dear, what I thought would be a harmless review of this drama has turned into an angsty fest. This is why I have not really developed a taste for Korean dramas. Just when you’re having fun, they ruin it with their melodrama and stretch it far too long.
There’s supposed to be 20 episodes. So the agony won’t be for long. Next week will be the ending. And I sincerely hope that they do end it with dignified acting and writing.
For a better review of the drama, check out dramabeans’ AGD reviews–the leading blog when it comes to Korean drama reviews.
(Please DO NOT lift content of this entry in part or in full and post them in other websites without the owner’s permission.)
Copyright © 2012. theasianpopculturist. All rights reserved.