I’ll say it up front: I have a love-hate relationship with A Love to Kill (2005).
As I was sorting through the images that I would be using for this post, I felt an inexplicable longing for the drama. Seeing how tightly Kang Bok-gu (Jung Ji-hoon a.k.a. Bi) was hugging Cha Eun-seok (Shin Mina), I suddenly missed them. The theme song, which I had not listened to for a long time, played in my head, reviving forgotten street scenes of a man walking behind a woman, quietly watching her.
Then I remembered one word which described exactly what I felt like doing after I finished the last episode. (Hint: Look at the drama’s title and pick one of its four-letter words.) My longing instantly evaporated.
I had no inkling that this was going to be a roller-coaster ride. Lee Kyung-hee wrote this, she who had written two dramas that I loved fiercely: Sang-doo, Let’s Go to School and I’m Sorry, I Love You. Whatever their flaws (a penchant for too-dramatic plot shifts, for instance), her dramas gripped me and her male lead characters were always unforgettable.
Moreover, everything had looked so promising in the first few episodes. The drama felt very different and experimental, as though I was watching an art-house movie. Disjointed scenes, flashbacks, dream sequences and breathtaking backdrops. Tree-lined avenues and leaves a riot of fall colors. It was all so achingly beautiful. The music felt very different too, that pulsating beat of the drums. I was hooked immediately.
But even as I was addicted, signs that this would be a bumpy ride were already present.
The supporting cast is always important to me and if I do not care for the minor characters, it’s difficult to like a drama. I did NOT like the supporting characters in A Love to Kill.
No one appealed to me and I especially could not stand Lee Ki-woo‘s Kim Joon-sung, that possessive fiance of Eun-seok. The character was repulsive and the acting was wooden. Bad combination. And Bok-gu’s girlfriend, Da-jeong (Kim Sa-rang)… Why the weird accent, eh? I like dialects normally, but hers sounded so fake, as if she was trying too hard to enunciate. Then we have Kang Min-gu, Bok-gu’s older brother (played by Kim Young-jae). A more boring character you won’t find if you sift through twenty dramas.
Still, in any drama the leads are the ones who matter the most, right?
I loved Bi in Sang-doo and tolerated him in Full House. Which way would the scales tilt after this third drama? From first appearances he was a lot more appealing here than in his second drama. The scruffy look suited him well; it made him look more earthy and manly, ha. A definite improvement from his immature Full House character. And when he smiled, it was adorable Cha Sang-doo all over again!
(But what’s with the lollipop? In I’m Sorry, I Love You, Moo-hyuk’s trademark was the gum-chewing. It made him look cool, no doubt about it. But Bok-gu, our macho boxer and fearsome bodyguard, simply appeared childish and un-macho sucking constantly on a lollipop. And how many adults do we see who go around with a lollipop in their mouths all the time? When did cavities become cool?)
Shin Mina whom I adored… She portrayed Eun-seok with grace, vulnerability, and a childlike simplicity that seemed to border on naivete yet was really a sign of her strength of character. She made peace with her past and moved on. Instead of feeling burdened by her awful and pretentious stepmother, she continued to care for her.
Shin Mina’s pairing with Bi was also swiftly shaping up to be my favorite yet. (Count me among the few who aren’t wowed by the Bi-Song Hye-gyo dynamics.) I loved how tender he was with her and how trusting she was of him. They spoke little to each other in the early part of their relationship, but there was a quietness and gentleness about their interaction that I found touching. (On a separate note, the way he kissed her was anything but gentle!)
And so I watched, touched but not tearing (which is most unusual since I’m normally such a crybaby). Entranced by moments that were truly “take your breath away” beautiful. Irritated with rehashed plot devices and some really boring scenes. And then I watched the final episode.
WARNING: ONE EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED VIEWER WITH MURDEROUS THOUGHTS AND TWO TRAYS OF ROTTEN EGGS. STAY CLEAR.
Worst. Final. Episode. I’ve. Ever. Watched. In. My. Life.
Most. Unimaginative. Writing.
Most. Cliched. Dialogue.
Most. Boring. Scenes.
I had never wiggled so much watching a K-drama. Nor cursed so much.
Poor Bi. And poor Shin Mina. To have to act in that incredibly horrid final episode and to meet THAT fate in the end. Just because Lee Kyung-hee ran out of ideas in the last two episodes.
“Hmm… let’s see. It’s the last episode, but I’m having a major case of writer’s block. What to do? Okay, let’s give Bok-gu this brilliant idea of spending one last day with Eun-seok. Forget about the sorrow in the previous episode. Let’s recreate Winter Sonata instead. Have the couple frolick in the snow. Have them ask each other the most brain-numbing questions. Have them suddenly, miraculously, incredulously forget their pain and be giddily happy like two kids at play. And then let’s finish everything with the mother of all ridiculous endings.”
I staggered off the roller coaster, too queasy to do any pelting. If anyone is in a foul mood because of a drama, please help yourself to the rotten eggs.