Review – Bride of the Century

Review – Bride of the Century

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Two things were made abundantly clear by this cute, odd, quirky, melodramatic, supernaturally-tinted show.  One, Yang Jin Sung is a adorable!  Two, Lee Hong Ki… maybe not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this little guy… but he just doesn’t have the chutzpah for leading male status, in my humble opinion.  Yang Jin Sung, however, blew me away.  I actually didn’t realize it was the same actress playing two characters until the end of episode one, she was that good.  Her face is so expressive and she can go from sticky sweet to hardened bitch face in two point five seconds and both are perfectly believable.  My favorite is her little lip curl – which makes me think of the famous lip curl of Jang Keun-Suk.  I’ll be bookmarking her other dramas and watching them soon.

Bride of the Century is mainly a story about women.  It’s about a rich, rich family with a sexy ghost watching over it for generations… but she demands payment for her services, in the form of the first wife of the first son of each new generation.  This is a conundrum for the mom of the current first son, as she wants him to marry the gal of her choice but needs to get that sacrificial first marriage out of the way before her plans can be realized.  So it’s scheming demon, and momma is willing to go to great devious lengths to get what she wants… but soon finds herself at war with another momma who doesn’t plan to lay down her daughter’s life without a fight.  It’s the behind the scenes battlefield that so many women wage wars on and claim victories over.  The battlefield of other women (dead and alive).  It may the be the worst thing patriarchy has done to humanity – setting women against women.  But it’s a great thing for dramas and novels.

Overall Rating – 8/10 – You Can’t Trick A Ghost With A Doppelganger, But You Can Trick A Man.

Discussion and Spoilers Follow

Let’s begin with…

The Ghost.  Why’s it always rich people who have ghosts following them around?  Why is it never some poor family doomed with an annoying ghost?  And why does she want the first wife?  Why not the first child?  Why not the first born son?  Or daughter?  How does this protect the house?  Who knows!  (okay, it is revealed at the end… kinda, sorta, not really but whatever) Our gorgeous, undead, feisty female has been slaughtering ladies for a several generations in this wealthy, wealthy family.  It’s a curse that can’t be escaped.  And thus the plot… how to marry off your child when you know his first wife is bound to die?

Warring Mothers.  The two mothers of the engaged pair and their silent scheming created the basic story arch of this show.  The mother of the son and heir wanted a particular young woman to marry her child… but due to the curse, had to think outside the box.  So she decided to have him marry someone else, as a quick sacrifice, so that he could have her choice for his second marriage.  Unfortunately, the mother of the sacrificial bride got wind of this plot and was mighty peeved that someone wanted to throw her daughter under the bus!  How dare someone plan to sacrifice my child in such a cold-hearted and merciless way!  I’ll show them… by doing the exact same thing to someone else’s child.  Oh, the sick logic of the psychotic.

The two mothers were deliciously evil.  Just… breathtakingly bad.  They clearly had a blast playing wicked, wicked mothers and owned their roles – shining like bright omens of misfortune in the sky.

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They both had perfect posture, perfect hair, perfect eyebrows and perfectly rotten cores.  I want to make out with the script writer for giving these ladies such terrifically nasty lines of dialogue.  “Humans are bound to commit crimes… there’s no way to live life otherwise.”  Move over Joan Crawford!  They didn’t hesitate for even one second before delivering their rationales behind their devious deeds.  Oh, those cold chilling stares.  I’m not sure what I liked more – the mom who wore all the hanbok’s and roamed around her ancient mansion’s grounds all day sipping tea or the mom who ran around in killer designer wear and high heels?

Doppelgangers.   I remember watching The Vampire Diaries and being indifferent to the struggles of Elena, the young teenager who finds herself caught in a love triangle between to vampires.  Then a few episodes in, I was introduced to Katherine, her doppelganger (or rather, Elena is Katherine’s doppelganger, but whatever).  Suddenly I had a whole new respect for the acting of Nina Dobrev.  I was so engrossed by her portrayals of both characters that I never once confused them, knew instantly which was which, could tell them apart even when they were dressed alike because the actress had nuanced both roles so well that every gesture belonged to one or the other.

Yang Jin Sung is also this good.  She absolutely rocked the socks off the doppelganger roles.  I am extremely impressed by this actress, and totally charmed.  Totally charmed.

She pretty much carried the entire drama on her back – along with the writers, who delivered a solid show that entertained episode to episode.  Let’s face it… the other actors weren’t that amazing.  The older folks, sure, the supporting cast?  The other leads?  Not so much.  Her little best friend was extremely good, but that’s about it.  Yang Jin Sung, however, was stellar.

I loved, loved, loved her facial expressions!  I haven’t enjoyed someone’s face this much since watching Jang Keun-Suk in a drama.

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But enough fangirling over this fresh faced actress.  Let’s talk awkward relationships.

Half Siblings with Whole Feelings.  Watching the half brother fall in love with the doppelganger of his half sister… and then be subsequently tormented by loosing her only to still have her (or her face, voice, etc via his half sister) always around was a bizarre pervy twist that I LOVED.  Incest, baby.  There were so many problems with that!  Can you imagine the wedding?  That family photo would have been spooky.   And how weird to be sleeping with someone who looks just like your sister?  Aack!  And yet… it’s very racy, too.  In that forbidden fruit type of way.  That’s a recipe for good melodrama right there, so naturally I approved of the whole big incestuous mess!  I would have approved if they took it even further and made it more complicated, but I’m always game for over-the-top plot lines.

Sometimes the second lead gets thrown a bone and gets a happy ending, or hooks up with another side character.  Usually, though, they’re just kicked to the curb and forced to smile and take it.  As K-Drama viewers, we are used to this… after a while, you build up an immunity.  But I admit… I felt terribly sorry for this second male lead.  Evil mom, evil sister, hopeless crush on someone who looks like his sister… and not a friend in sight to offer advice or just take the dude drinking.  He was doomed to suffer alone in this drama, with no personality or story outside of the girl’s war.  Sorry, sucka.

And did you forget all about the other brother for huge, huge chunks of the show?  You know… the blonde rockstar brother?  Who basically had no point and added nothing to the story?  I wish they’d written him in more – into the family dynamics, into the brother’s life, into any aspect of the story really… or just written him out.  The rockstar tangent didn’t go with the rest of the meal, so I’m not sure why they bothered with that side dish.  Other than to show off some cute idols, which I assume was the point.

I’ll bet I know what you DO remember…

That adorable white cat, eh?  But… how weird was the handling of the dead momma cat?  And how much weirder that the cat was kept in a cat carrier in that girl’s room for… how long…?  That’s freakin’ cruel, man.  Anyways, the cat… much like the random and equally adorable bunny that showed up and mysteriously disappeared in Discovery of Romance… was both super cute and super questionable.

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K-Dramas apparently only know how to deal with dogs.

Now let’s talk Star Power.  This was a good drama that managed to survive and thrive without any real stars behind it (other than the old peeps, who were brilliant).  Ji Sung, Ji Chang-Wook, Lee Seung-Ki, Lee Joon-Gi… all of these dudes have something in common.  They have Star Power.  It’s why they make the big bucks.  They have the ability to take up all the space in a room, to draw the eye, to focus your attention, to be larger than themselves, to project emotions and humor and complications through the screen and straight into your heart.  And though I hate to say it… Lee Hong Ki doesn’t have it.  He’s adorable.  He’s really charming and cute and I enjoy seeing him in dramas.  Just… not as the lead.  It was like the volume was too low.  The star volume.  I just wanted to turn it up… but alas… that’s as high as he goes.  It didn’t ruin the show for me and I’m glad they gave him a chance…  but I admit I kept wondering how much better this drama would have been in the hands of a more capable and captivating actor.  Like Park Yoo-Chun.  Holy crap, can you imagine?  Someone just turned the volume up.

I bought Lee Hong Ki as the son of a wealthy family.  I did not buy him as a CEO, but thankfully they did not force us to endure any business scenes or actual “working,” other than just hanging out in his big office with those amazingly bright paintings on the wall.  Seriously, how cool were those paintings?

artwork

And the chick in this picture?  That’s the second female lead.  She has a crush on the first male lead… but we never really know why, cause he’s a total dick to her the entire show or just plain indifferent.  She’s a total dick to everyone else, even when she’s trying to be nice.  Her character didn’t add a lot to the show, but I was mildly amused by her bitchy expressions and think she’ll make a terrific “evil mom” one day when she’s older.

The other thing missing from this show is romantic passion.  We have passionate loathing, and passionate revenge, and passionate scheming, and passionate one sided love, and passionate narcissism.  We do not have a passionate couple, however.  They were cute.  But their chemistry was friend-zone at best.  I do not believe those two consummated their marriage vows.  I know I am supposed to… but I accepted the ludicrously fun plot with all it’s plot-holes easier than accepting these two enjoyed putting their tongues into each other’s mouths.  Nope.  I’m sure they had a lot of fun on set – you could tell they were comfortable with each other.  As friends.  Whenever it got romantic, it got awkward.  These scenes, in particular, where were I missed the star power.  I never doubt that Zo In-Sung wants to rip the panties off a woman while professing his undying love.  Ever.  He could probably convince me was passionately in love with an inanimate object, he’s that good.  But Lee Hong Ki… no.  I’m not even sure he liked the cat.  And the romantic proclamations… she was my everything, that’s when I realized he was the one… even in the solitary voice over narrations, I didn’t buy it.  On either side.  Some people just don’t have that kind of chemistry…

Also.

Do people really throw food at people in Korea?  I’ve always wondered about this.  I mean, it’s been done.  All over the world.  Eggs and tomatoes seem to be two of the preferred weapons of choice in the edible weaponry category.  Do you just carry a tomato in your bag just in case… or is this premeditated vegetable assault?

Anyways, I had fun with this drama.  It was nice to have such a female-centric plot line for once.  The moms totally ruled and the plotline was random but entertaining.  I recommend it.  Wholeheartedly.  Enjoy!  It’s like pizza… you know it’s the best thing you could eat but damn, it tastes so good.

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