If you have been frustrated by all the recent K-dramas that have been marketed as "romance" films just because they include some romantic content, I am pleased to report that this one is the genuine article. Yes, the plot is peppered with lots of suspense, action & comedy as well, but those elements always remain peripheral to the unfolding love story.
Aside from being technically polished, this show also boasts a great (if understated) script and cast who were respectively endearing or despicable (depending on their roles). I also loved the layered backstories, deep friendships and various inter-dynamics among the characters. Plus, despite some bittersweet moments, the unconventional ending was happy and hopeful.
And although this IS a romance film, I just have to say: THE COMEDY!!! Unlike many K-dramas which might get a chuckle from me with slapstick moments or exaggerated expressions, the humor in this show comes from hilarious culture-related misunderstandings, misinterpretations, shocks and awkwardness that left me in stitches. I nearly woke my kids up a few times because I couldn't stop laughing! And that gaming scene with the "Memories of the Alhambra" Easter egg nearly killed me. :D
Of course there were some weak points. In particular, I thought many of the hand-to-hand combat scenes seemed a bit unrealistic and looked too rehearsed. There were also a number of scenes that were overly melodramatic, poorly executed or just outright impossible (the tandem paragliding scene, for example). But considering that this show is obviously meant to be a departure from reality, I can't really count these issues as faults. No film can do everything perfectly, right?
In summary, if you like K-drama, are looking for a romance story that will make you laugh out loud, cry a little, and you don't mind having to continually suspend your disbelief, you should give this one a try. Highly recommended!
ROMANCE RATING: 8.5/10
I thought Hyun Bin & Son YeJin had believable chemistry and they shared 5+ kiss scenes (very generous by K-drama standards!) The more serious kisses were also quite long, and fell somewhere between PG-13 & NC-17 for passion level. To be totally honest, I felt both Hyun Bin & Son YeJin's performances in this film were a bit too understated for my personal taste, but they still delivered when it came to the romantic parts, so it's all good! :)
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