I watched Super Rookie (2005) immediately after A Love to Kill and had to do a double take. Someone thinks life is not worth living and takes a leap off a bridge. A scruffy boxer gets pummeled in the ring.
Egads! Did I pop the wrong drama into the player? Thankfully it’s soon obvious that Super Rookie is very different. For one thing it is funny. It’s also forgettable (which A Love to Kill is not, alas).
First, the hilarity. At one point Kang-ho (Moon Jung Hyuk a.k.a. Eric) dons green eyeshadow and I nearly crack a rib as a result. It’s a wonder he could act that scene with a straight face. But that warpaint is just another sacrifice he must make in the name of company “research”; after all, our lead character is one dedicated (and reformed) employee.
Most of the laughs, however, do not come from Eric Moon. In fact the drama is held together by the veteran supporting cast. Without them Super Rookie would be anything but super, but with them in the mix the drama is loads of fun and very entertaining, albeit for a short spell.
The male foursome of Kim Se-joon, Lee Ki-young, Kim Il-woo and Lee Ki-yeol (who play Chief Moon, Chief Goo, Director Song and Director Kim respectively) are a riot and the main reason I enjoyed the drama.
Uber-talented Kwon Hae-hyo (he’s the best thing in Winter Sonata and you can quote me on that) also has a very funny cameo in the opening episode. Alas, that scene is just one of Kang-ho’s dreams, and like a dream Kwon Hae-hyo is gone when our loafer awakes. I wished he had stayed on; he would have been awesome as one of the chiefs!
Providing more laughs are Kang-min (Kang-ho’s brother played by Suh Dong-won) and the two eccentric ladies who own the Secretary Bar that no one frequents, and who go by their real last names (love that quirky touch!): Madam Yang (Yang Hee-kyung) and Madam Kwon (Kwon Ki-sun). Watch Madam Yang flare up when someone calls her Fatso!
The four leads are something else. Eric Moon is endearing enough and I liked his Kang-ho, but he can’t pull off unkempt (he tried that unwashed hairdo again in Strongest Chil-woo; nah, fail). Other than the green eyeshadow, I can’t recall other standout scenes. Worse, I can’t tell you anything about his relationship with Han Ga-in‘s character, Lee Mi-ok. Was the path of true love smooth for them? What obstacles did they encounter, did anyone evil or former try to separate them, did they have to part and then reunite, was there a requisite missing-each-other-at-the-airport scene? Brain, think and remember!
I suppose you can say Han Ga-in is okay (if you use looks and not acting chops as yardstick); I vaguely remember her being spunky, sort of. (Did she triumph in some catfight in a certain hotel room?) The second female lead is not even a faint memory, though. I normally remember faces even if I don’t remember names (it bugs me like hell if I’m watching something and can’t place where I last saw a familiar face), but hers drew a blank.
Then there’s resident hunk Oh Ji-ho. His Lee Bong-sam has brains but no scruples, and is a pathetic and underhanded slimeball. Don’t hate me, Oh Ji-ho fans, but he looks so zombie-like in the early episodes with his glazed eyes. And what’s with the protracted melodrama at the beginning? His break up with Mi-ok is so draggy even lizards fall off the ceilings in a stupor. Thank goodness for hero Kang-ho who pops up and promptly saves the scene and the girl.
But the supporting cast is a hoot to watch, the lines are sharp and witty (which always scores extra points), and the pace moves at a trot (most of the time). I enjoyed the humor and all the verbal and physical sparring. I also liked the themes that the drama tossed up: unemployment, class divide, office politics, the underdog triumphing against the odds…
I wouldn’t call this my favorite comedy (Bad Family owns that spot), but it’s extremely funny in places. You’ll forget it pretty quickly, but as escapist entertainment it’s good stuff.