Wild Romance: First Impressions

Hm… I had always been curious about this drama because it had a funny premise, and I think Lee Dong Wook would be awesome in a comedic role. At first, based on the first two episodes, I was bored by how it was such a conventional romantic comedy. It had its laughs, but it wasn’t “OhMyGodINeedMoreOfThisRomanticComedyCrack” kind of drama. But then episode 3 and 4 picked up, and I think it’s going to go down a more curious track…

Anyways. Summary of episodes 1-4 follows!

It starts off with a parallel storytelling segment of Yoo Eun Jae (Lee Si Young) and Park Mu Yeol (Lee Dong Wook) telling their version of what went down at a karaoke bar one evening. The video seen around the world online has Eun Jae judo flipping Mu Yeol. Kim Tae Han (Kang Dong Ho), the PR rep, decides to tamp down the rumors by hiring Eun Jae as Mu Yeol’s bodyguard and pretending that she was just giving Mu Yeol a demo on judo flips.

 

It works out anyways because Mu Yeol does need a bodyguard. He’s been getting a lot of blackmail and threats from angry fans for his antics on the field, and though he’s a big athlete for the Red Dreamers, he has the reputation of “the worst influential celebrity who at least abides by the laws.” (I love that.)

Anyways – Eun Jae totally hates his guts, mainly because she supports the opposing team Blue Seagulls, and her fervor is pretty diehard. Her family is crazy fanatical, and when her father (Lee Won Jong) hears that she has to protect the opponent, he gives her a mournful send-off as if she’s going to leave his household and marry someone else. This also allows for Eun Jae to have moments where her interests conflict; when at a signing, she has to decide whether she’ll protect Mu Yeol from a flying egg or not. She chooses not too.

The two of them start off like an old bickering couple, and find ways to get rid of each other. It’s not that easy, especially when the threats intensify to someone poisoning Mu Yeol’s sports drink. It gets tricky when a journalist discovers that she and her family support the opposing team, and she could come under suspicion for poisoning him.

 

At the same time, Mu Yeol’s best friend on the team, Jin Dong Soo (Oh Man Suk), is being told that he may not get a renewed contract because his stats aren’t up to par anymore. He spends the first three episodes mostly moping around because he is seriously thinking about quitting baseball, but doesn’t know how to tell his wife Oh Soo Young (Hwang Sun Hee – once again playing a role that’s quite kindly). The thing is, Eun Jae recognized Soo Young at the karaoke and comes to the (erroneous) conclusion that she’s cheating on Dong Soo with Mu Yeol. Eun Jae has a very good reason to be angry too because her father was the victim of his wife cheating as well.

It gets even more confusing when Soo Young reveals that she’s pregnant, and they keep it mysterious as to who’s the father. (It’s Dong Soo though, I’m pretty sure.) Of course, when Eun Jae overhears all this, it’s all a misunderstanding. She’s excited at the prospect that Mu Yeol is going to Japan so she gets a vacation, but then she gets pissed because she thinks he’s going to Japan with the wife. She also doesn’t want to tell Dong Soo for fear that he’ll become depressed like her father.

Sadly though, Dong Soo decides to retire from baseball and gives his baseball bats to the newbies. But as he leaves, Eun Jae sees a bottle of methanol in his box – the poison in Mu Yeol’s drink – and she comes to the conclusion that Dong Soo may be planning to kill Mu Yeol and Soo Young after finding out about the affair. At the same time, Mu Yeol looks sad and guilty – not because of the affair, but because he found out that Dong Soo is retiring.

 

In an attempt to prevent any deaths/suicides, and through some quick thinking by announcing it during Mu Yeol’s interview, she ends up going to the Japanese hot springs with the trio, and that’s when all the misunderstandings come to light. Dong Soo finally tells Soo Young about his thoughts on quitting baseball, and Eun Jae discovers that her assumption about an affair is all wrong. Mu Yeol is severely offended that Eun Jae would think he’d sleep with his best friend’s wife, and they end up in a very rough fight. It sheds light on his character; though he has the reputation of being a player, Mu Yeol is a very upright man. He may tease and offend others, but he’s not going to cross moral boundaries such as adultery. He’s also so loyal to his friend that he’s willing to have his arm broken just so he can not play baseball.

The fight results in Mu Yeol firing Eun Jae, but because he’s still in danger, Eun Jae’s boss takes over in protecting him. They end up at the same charity modeling show – with Eun Jae protecting someone else – when she sees Mu Yeol go up to the hotel room with a lady he met at the bar. She hears something suspicious about midnight, but thinks nothing of it until a sleazy looking man arrives and talks about meeting at midnight too.

 

Eun Jae’s bodyguard instincts flare, and she runs up to the hotel room and grabs Mu Yeol out before he can find himself in a compromising situation set-up by the bar girl and the sleazy guy. She grabs all of his things, but forgets to grab his necklace with two rings on it. As they run away, they realize that they accidentally grabbed the girl’s phone, and Eun Jae has her best friend Kim Dong Ah (Im Joo Eun) crack open the phone. They realize that the girl is a professional blackmailer, taking pictures and videos with other men and then bribing them for her silence.

When Mu Yeol belatedly realizes that his necklace is missing, he goes to Eun Jae for the girl’s phone. Except – she just sold it and the phone has been reset. He’s uber pissed off, even though she doesn’t really understand why. Mu Yeol’s reaction to losing the necklace is so irrational that it’s likely the necklace is REALLY important to him.

Impressions:

Right off the bat it’s already got a quirky tone that tells you right away that it’s not going to be a serious drama. With all the sound effects, and the forum comments coming to life and hitting Lee Dong Wook’s face, it was starting to feel like Greatest Love. My instinct to stop watching this drama flared.

But while this drama has its crazy moments, instead of having one funny scenario after another, it’s more like they have one funny moment, and then they milk it for all it’s got. For example in episode 2, Mu Yeol and Eun Jae come up with this “brilliant” plan where they fake Eun Jae’s injuries so that she can be out of commission, and she’ll no longer have to protect him. However, they end up getting locked into a barn, and the whole time they’re stuck there, trying to figure out how to get out and getting service on her phone.

Having one gag for an entire episode signaled to me that this series was not going to be zany – it was just going to be a straight rom-com comedy with a little intrigue on the side (namely, finding Mu Yeol’s blackmailers and any of his little controversies), and dashes of comedic moments. (So I continued watching.) I feel the ridiculous comedy of it gets tamped down because we stay with that comedic issue for so long; at a certain point, it’s no longer funny, which also means we then get our dose of seriousness and melodrama. (I hope this makes sense?!)

I’d say Eun Jae’s father and brother provide more of the comedy than anyone else. Even Im Joo Eun’s character isn’t as quirky as I thought she’d be. She’s got her moments, but she’s not all out weird. Her best interactions occur with Kang Dong Ho, who ends up being unintentionally funny. I sometimes think that he’s just reading his lines from a cue card off camera, but maybe it’s intentional; he’s such a straight-laced character who never smiles that he’s kinda funny. He’s just SO SO DRY – he really needs to be around more often.

 

My favorite scene is when Soo Young, Eun Jae, Dong Soo, and Mu Yeol all go into the hot springs, and they’re separated by only a bamboo curtain. The girls can hear what the guys are discussing, and only Eun Jae is really curious enough to eavesdrop. But then the girls start talking about each other’s bodies, and whose breasts are sagging. And the guys try to creep away as this is SOOOOO AWKWARD. And then to prove that her breasts are not sagging after breast feeding, Soo Young cries out, “You want to touch them!?” The boys nearly fall from shock. HA!

The next favorite is when Dong Ah rushes into a cafe to meet Tae Han. She comes in with a hat, huge movie star glasses, a fur scarf, and a long fur coat. The way she comes in demands so much attention that everyone stares, wondering if she’s a movie star. But then she undresses the coat to reveal regular, grungy sweats and matted hair that’s not even washed! Also, it’s fun to see that she and Eun Jae have their own “dogs” to train; for Dong Ah it’s the puppy, and for Eun Jae it’s Mu Yeol.

There’s also a few choice lines that make me really laugh: for one, in episode 3 the inn owner mistakes Mu Yeol and Eun Jae as a married couple. Mu Yeol flips out and says in Japanese that they’re not; he’s so violently angry that Soo Young and Dong Soo nervously look at Eun Jae for her reaction. She just calmly continues eating, and then says, “The lady must have thought we were married.” Soo Young: “Oh you can speak Japanese?” Eun Jae: “No. But why else would he flip out like that?”

Lee Si Young is enjoyable in this drama; her tomboyish character can easily become annoying to deal with because she can be over the top, but I’m not annoyed with her yet. I think it’s because she has a good bickering chemistry with Lee Dong Wook, who’s a riot. I love that he’s playing his character with more depth than is probably expected, that we get glimpses of Mu Yeol being sincere (like handing a rock to his housekeeper, and her actually keeping it) because it goes completely against the way he tortures Eun Jae. Their rapport is good enough for me to completely disregard her over the top acting. (We’ll see if this lasts for me though…)

Oh Man Suk is quite depressing so far, but at least he’s a super decent guy in the series. Plus he’s got a SUPER CUTE SON who is super loyal to his dad, and resents Mu Yeol for being more popular than his father. I’d love for him to have a scene with Im Joo Eun, just ’cause. And then I currently imagine Lee Si Young’s brother to be played by Im Joo Hwan because in some angles, he looks like the actor. (The brother is actually played by Jang Tae Hoon.) Again, just ’cause.

I can see why this drama is third in its time slot. While funny, it’s not something super gripping. It’s a tad predictable, so I think I’ll tune in and out of this series.

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5 comments

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  1. JLR 16 January, 2012 at 13:04 Reply

    Thanks for reviewing the drama so far.

    (begin rant here)
    I liked this drama up until the 4th episode, when Mu Yeol turned out to be the type of guy who beats the crap out of a girl because she insults his honor. Ugh. Turns out, he is a gangster.

    I know it’s probably supposed to show how he does actually have morals, but how was she supposed to know that this was the ONE line he wouldn’t cross? I mean, he hasn’t actually shown a lot of class or consideration for people up to that point. Plus, he kept meeting his friend’s wife in secret–and then lied about it. Is she supposed to think they are planning a surprise party or something?

    AND he had *just* accused her of wanting to get involved with a married man. But when she accuses him of something along those lines, it’s worth a beating? IDK, I just can’t get past this. It seems to be a common theme in a lot of dramas that it’s ok to get violent if your feelings are reaaally hurt (like in Sam Soon, when whats-his-face slammed his fist into the wall because he was upset with her questions), but I can’t get on board with that. Yes, she knows judo, but that doesn’t make it ok to resort to violence because you’ve been insulted.

    I spent the rest of the drama hoping he’d get hit by a car. And that the car would then back over him. And then hit him again.

    Sorry, just had to vent.

    (/end rant)
    Great review of an up-til-then enjoyable drama. I totally agree about your assessment of Kang Dong Ho. I love watching him reacting to the craziness that surrounds him. 🙂

  2. couchpotato_md 21 January, 2012 at 23:07 Reply

    Interesting first impression kaedejun. I am actually finding it enjoyable to watch. I’m currently watching it along with Birth of the Rich, which makes its more enjoyable for me because I could see how Lee Si Young’s character in both comedies are so world’s apart ( the tomboy vs the paris hilton-ish personality). I’m also enjoying the fact that Lee Dong Wook’s character is so different from his Scent of the Woman role. And i’m glad he can flex his comedic muscles here.
    I just finished Can You Hear My Heart and after having had my heart captured in its tight grip, i guess I’m in a state right now that i just wanted a mindless fun watch and not have a show put my heart in a wringer and bleed it dry or have my tear ducts overworked again. So that’s why I’m not watching the moon that embraces the sun yet and for the same reason I’m watching THIS! I’m not complaining about the over the top acting as long as it will bring the funny.
    I’m probably going to enjoy this show base on the first four episodes but I’m probably not going to remember anything about it long after. Hmm, just like a a night of partying and drinking, it was fun but I might probably not remember what was so fun about it come morning.

  3. couchpotato_md 21 January, 2012 at 23:17 Reply

    Oh yeah and Tae Han’s character is so dry, and yet when he is on screen, I actually look more on his reaction ( or his no reaction really!) to the situation rather than fixating on the other’s faces… why is that?? I really don’t know…

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