11 June, 2012


First off, spoilers shall be present for episodes 1-4.

The premise of Gaksital (aka Bridal Mask) intrigued me from the first that I heard about it.  I've been a history geek before I even started pre-school, so a story that takes place during Korea's Japanese Imperialist era is right down my aisle.  The promo stills looked great, especially since I was getting film noir vibes, which is among my favorite genres (or styles, take your pick) of film, and to top it all off, it's acted by a bunch of actors and actresses that I rather like.

So I've been kind of baffled that out of all the many premieres of the last couple of weeks, Gaksital has given me the most lukewarm feelings, which makes no sense considering that the other shows are all trendies that aren't too unique.  My brain tells me how much I should like Gaksital (which is a lot more than I'm feeling right now), but I'm simply not feeling it... Well, I kind of am, but only some of the time.  Maybe my hopes were much too high in the first place.

 Don't get me wrong, there are so many things that I LOVE about this show.  The brotherly conflict, Joo Won, and the Kimura brothers (yes, both of them) are the most prominent.

Speaking of conflicts, because there are many.  There's the secret group that Gaksital is trying to destroy, Kang-to vs. Gaksital, Kang-to vs. Mok Dam, Koreans vs. Japanese, Kang-to vs. Kenji, the emerging love triangle, Kang-to vs. himself etc.  I think this may be one my main issues with the show.  I'm fully invested in Kang-to.  He's no hero (not yet), and I feel uncomfortable with how much I like him, especially in scenes when he's beating innocent people, but I also know that there is hope for him.  I'm completely with him, and I'm happy that he's begins as a complete anti-hero.  I also love the conflict with his brother Kang-san, aka Gaksital, and how he has no idea that the man he is trying so hard to kill is his brother.  It's also sadly ironic that it seems that Kang-to chose to with the Japanese, because he views it as the only way to get his family out
of poverty and to help Kang-san.  This is what I'm invested in.

What I'm not interested in is our resident baddies.  I don't really care why Gaksital wants to kill them, though we now know that they betrayed Kang-san's and Kang-to's father.  It is possible that I will be a bigger fan of this plot line when Kang-to goes against them, because, for now, it's just Kang-san.  So I have hope, because I'm pretty sure that Kang-to will become Gaksital or at least work with his brother or something.  He has to become our hero somehow, right?  And when he fully goes against the baddies, I'll have more reason to care about that conflict, because I feel like it's just hanging out in the corner right now.

As for the love triangle between Kang-to, Shinji, and Mok Dam.  Oh dear.  I didn't like how it was set  up in the first place, with all the childhood first loves and all that, but I do like that Mok Dam thinks Kang-to is pretty much the devil, and doesn't understand that he is the one she has been so desperately searching for.  It's pretty much assured that they are going to end up together, though how is a viable question, and one whose answer I'm curious enough about to stick around and find out.  However, if she falls for Kang-to eventually, that also means she will have to reject Shinji, which will turn the best friends against each other, and may also drive Shinji to side with his father.  Eek!  Why do this to my adorably sweet Shinji?  Why?!

As for the acting, I'm torn.  Joo Won, Shin Hyun-joon, and Park Joo-hyung are currently killing it.  Joo Won is suitably broody and raw, with a good yelling ability (that may sound weird, but some people, like myself, aren't good at yelling, and he's good at yelling without being seriously annoying- it's a skill, I swear), and physically, he's perfect for playing Lee Kang-to.  This is my first time watching Shin Hyun-joon, and thus far, we've mostly gotten to see his village idiot persona, and he's doing a great job.  Park Joo-hyung (apparently he's so new that I can't even find any pictures of him) has surprised me.  I really hated his character to being with, since Kenji is such a weak suck up to his father, and the character was making all kinds of weird contortions with his face, and he was super intense ALL the time.  But in one scene I felt embarrassed for Kenji, the character, and that's when it hit that the Park Joo-hyung is doing a fantastic job, because Kenji felt real enough to me that I felt embarrassment for him.  Anyhow, Kenji is totally battling Kang-to as my favorite character right now.  He's totally pathetic, but his character is unintentionally hilarious, and I pity him because all he wants is his father to be proud of him (and he's really handsome and looks great in a suit... just sayin').  I'm hoping that his character will be given some room to grow throughout the series.

Song Ok-sook, Park Ki-woong, and Chun Ho-jin are all being their usual reliable selves.  Also, how adorable is Park Ki-woong in a bow tie?  Especially with the parted hair and his ears that stick out?  And that smile.  It all makes one adorable package.

I like Jin Se-yun, but I don't think she fits the character of Mok Dan very well.  For me, Jin Se-yun lacks a certain fierceness.  However, I think she is acting okay.  Not great, but okay.

Then there are all the baddies, played by a bunch of supporting players that I adore.  However, a lot of them are overacting like crazy, in particular Ahn Suk-hwan, who's wonderful when he's acting naturally like he is currently doing in Big.  Kim Jung-nan, who plays Ahn Suk-hwan's cheating wife, is also overplaying, though she is doing a great job being droll in A Gentleman's Dignity.  Truly, it's a shame.

My other complaint is the period-ness of the show, or lack of.  For the most part, I don't notice too much, and I like the street sets (though sometimes they seem too clean), especially in night scenes.  The club scenes feel too modern and very cheesy, especially that dance number.  The club scenes remind me of Capital Scandal and why I quit watching that series early one.  The hair is another problem, with Joo Won's and Jin Se-yun's being the most obvious.  On a positive (and shallow) note, Joo Won looks great in those officer boots.

The soundtrack also does nothing for me, especially in the fight scenes when the electric guitar starts playing.  The electric guitar was incorporated really well into Chuno's fight scenes, so I know that it can work, but it doesn't here.  Also, since there is a lack of OST ballads etc. I want to hear some kind of theme.  The series is only two weeks in, so I have hope that the music will be better.  It hasn't been bad or misused, which is a relief, but it hasn't been great either.  If it had a killer soundtrack like Giant or God of War, I would be ridiculously happy.

All in all, I'm going to keep watching, because I do think it's the most interesting show that has premiered lately.  It may be more difficult for me to watch than Big and A Gentleman's Dignity right now, but I have a feeling that when those shows become more melodramatic and lose momentum, Gaksital will be gaining momentum and I'll be more invested.

My fingers are crossed, because I really want this one to be good.  Really badly.

◀ Riding the Hallyu Wave                                                                           Ode to Kim Boong Do ▶

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I am so much more excited to watch this drama now!