I have found my newfound obsession: Hyun Bin. Except I’ve probably watched all his famous dramas and am writing this review hoping to successfully cover all of his work.So the truth of the matter is that I only ran into him thanks to Sung Joon (Ji Hyuk from Shut Up!) I decided to watch Hyde, Jekyll and Me since Sung Joon was in the cast, except I ran into tons of nice surprises, first and foremost: HYUN BIN!!!
He is the opposite of all the boyishness of Lee Min Ho and Jung Yong Hwa, definitely a breath of fresh air when I’ve been stuck on makjang teen dramas. Essentially, my reaction to his role as Goo Seo Jin was, ‘Finally, A MAN!!!’ Anyway, let’s put my newfound love for Hyun Bin to one side and explore his talents. Hyun Bin proved his acting chops by going back and forth from Goo Seo Jin to Robin, the alter-ego and he did this so beautifully that he really did seem like two different actors who just by chance looked alike. The occasional confusion between who’s who was definitely bothersome but otherwise the difference of the personalities was greatly felt.
Now off to my other interest: Sung Joon, another person who brought the whole drama together in terms of good acting. So I have followed Sung Joon’s dramas, from my favourite, Shut Up! to Can We Get Married? And I Need Romance 3. The latter two were fairly good dramas but very light and easy on the audience. Whereas after Sung Joon’s success in Shut Up! I think Lee Soo Hyun in Hyde, Jekyll earns second spot in the roles he has done. The sheer lunacy that he was able to brilliantly display through his expression and every tiny body movement spoke volumes about the paranoia and fear that Soo Hyun suffered from. The jump from Romeo to complete villain was probably the most exciting thing I have ever seen a Korean actor do from one drama to another. The only loophole that the script left with regards to Soo Hyun’s character was that his ability to evade authorities by hypnosis was stretched too far and then his character abruptly lost its importance.
This is oddly reminiscent of Choi Dal Po’s brother in Pinocchio who spent more time behind bars rather than the script developing the relationship between both brothers. Similarly, the time that could have been spent reigniting the friendship of Goo Seo Jin and Lee Soo Hyun was dedicated to a romance which was underdeveloped.
There was something amiss about the entire romance between Jung Hana and Robin. It lacked rationality and common sense on Hana’s part since she rarely used her head according to me. The female need to be saved is a theme overdone in literature, music and film. As much as Goo Seo Jin was a fully developed character despite his dual personality disorder, the script-writer did not put in the same passion in developing in Hana. Her lack of logic crossed all boundaries in the final episodes where she decided to marry an already disappearing Robin, clearly forgetting how such a union would legally be impossible.Imagine Hana going to sleep with Robin after getting married and Goo Seo Jin waking up the next morning screaming at the top of his lungs. That joke had me laughing for hours after watching how foolishly she behaved.
The main theme of the drama though, man against his own nature, was probably brought to life fully and the kind of closure that both Seo Jin and Robin achieved towards the end was primarily logical and also fathomable by somebody with little knowledge of human psychology. Overall, Hyde, Jekyll and Me has my vote.
The next Hyun Bin drama I saw was My Lovely Sam Soon. Its biggest positive was the soundtrack by Clazziquai Project which I absolutely loved. Other than that the drama was an almost typical chaebol falls for common girl story but this girl was like a grown-up Geum Jan Di from Boys before Flowers with all the moves to help her succeed in a man’s world but also emotionally charged at all times.
Nevertheless, this was not a very special drama though I could tell that by the time Hyun Bin starred in Hyde, Jekyll, his acting skills came a long way from Sam Soon’s era, ten years back.
Last up, we have Secret Garden with Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won (who is regal in her dusky skin) another Geum Jan Di-esque lead heroine reinforced by the fact that her job is that of a stuntwoman making her physically strong and much more powerful than her male lead.
Random trivia: Jung In Gi who played Gil La Im’s firefighting father also played Choi Dal Po’s firefighting deceased father. Don’t know why he had to do the same role in two different dramas…
Anyway, the little body exchange that marked this drama as unique in its script definitely added a lot of spice to the otherwise drag of a story. There was a subtle satire associated with Joo Won getting stuck in Ra Im’s body. It seemed like the drama was making fun of all the Korean dramas that have ever had a girl cross-dress to become part of a group of boys. From Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful and To The Beautiful You. Ha Ji Won’s acting masculine was in the least bit awkward and in more than one place was she seen imitating Hyun Bin’s facial expressions and body movements to a painfully accurate extent putting the likes of Yoon Eun Hye and Park Shin Hye to shame.
Nevertheless, the drama was super stalker-ish, which is close to an anime that I am currently watching called Kaichou wa Maid Sama where Usui Takumi acts oddly similar to Kim Joo Wan in Secret Garden.
From all the three dramas, though, I think Hyde, Jekyll and Me wins.