Review – My Beautiful Bride
Basic Plot – a banker proposes to his pretty young girlfriend and a few days later, she disappears. As he tries to find her, everyone is dragged into the secret vortex of these people’s lives and the criminal underworld – including you, dear viewer.
I loved this show from the first episode. It had a strange vibe. A uniqueness. It reminded me, in a way, of Heartless City… which also lives by itself in a universe of its own genre. Not quite this, not quite that. Violent, bloody, scary, romantic, sentimental, intimate, intense… with action galore and these nice old school thriller shots (you know, the kind were you just follow someone down a dark alley and the tension just grows and grows until you’ve chewed your nails to bits and are jumping at every shadow wondering when something is going to happen). It jumps back and forth in time. It reveals the plot slowly, in layers. You think you know the show in episode two? Nope. Episode four? Nope. It just keeps changing, morphing, becoming more brilliant.
And then… mysteriously… horribly… I lost interest in it entirely around episode 9 and no longer cared what happened to anyone. I had to force myself to finish it – but I’m glad I did. Part 2 had an entirely different tone, but it was still interesting… just not in the same awesome way as Part 1. It’s like going on a date with someone who got up suddenly in the middle of dinner, went to the bathroom, put on a wig, changed clothes, and sat back down sporting a foreign accent. What? What’s happening?! This was not the show I asked out to dinner… but I still wanted to know what would happen. I can’t help but think this would have been a 10/10 drama if it were 10 episodes long instead of 16.
Overall Rating – 10/10 First Half, 6/10 Second Half…. so 8/10 Average. What Happens When Your Fiance Falls Into A Dark Rabbit Hole And You Go Chasing After.
Light spoilers follow…
This show proves once again that you can’t really compare American television to Korean television. Because in no American action show EVER would the main hero be allowed to shit himself to escape from the backseat of gangster’s car. Can you imagine it? Chris Helmsworth pooping himself and then kicking ass, with befouled britches? Uh, no. You can’t imagine it. Cause it wouldn’t happen. Even Leonardo DiCaprio or one of those other indie-movie regulars wouldn’t do it. Would NOT do it. Even in the Shawshank Redemption, when the hero literally crawls through a sewer for miles… they were strangely careful not to make the visuals of the sewers seem too… shitty. But in a Korean show… you can shit your pants, beat the shit out of gangsters with your own poop all over yourself, and STILL BE COOL. It was actually freakin’ awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever admired someone more.
He also rode a bike to work… in his suit with a little helmet… and managed to be a badass. On a bicycle. He shouldn’t have been awesome – but he was! Our little Banker is seriously awesome. He was an intense little machine of crazed passion hidden under this repressed quiet businessman throughout the series… so much so, it wore me out. Literally. I got tired of it after ten hours and thought… baby, you gotta just go home and take a nap or something. But then they threw in that awesome work out scene somewhere towards the end where he does that rolling pushup and I was won over again.
Our Banker and his Bride had outstanding chemistry. Just… hot. It was clear these two actors had no problem at all working together.
Remember in Episode 6… when he finally gets to his lady after he’s been chasing after her for six long viewing hours… and he pulls her shoe out his jacket? She’s standing there with one shoe on and he just pulls her shoe out of his jacket, that he’d been carrying around for however long… and proceeded to take his sock off… and put it on her before putting her own shoe back on… while he’s just silently crying over her feet? It was stunning… emotional… if you don’t remember that scene, it’s the very first scene of episode 6, go back and watch it – that’s what makes this show so great.
Or when the gangster got the cake from the banker in episode one and assumed there was bribe money in it? And just tore up the cake looking for it? I died laughing.
So what happened halfway through? Maybe as a viewer it just got worn out… it was so much, sooo much so quickly. And so emotional and sorta nonsensical. When it finally slowed down enough for me to think about it, I wasn’t happy with the math. His girlfriend was kind of a dumbass. Their backstory was insane. His story was insane, too, frankly. I like star crossed lovers, but these two just felt pathetic and tragic from the beginning… doomed, even. Jesus, I know people are liars by nature but these two had perfected the art of self deception. They’d just made themselves at home in their house of cards… even though the slightest breeze was gonna ruin everything.
I did appreciate the realness of the female character. Her determination to make her life better… and the ultimate humiliation of failing epically… and falling even further into obscurity and scandal. That felt real. That’s kind of the cruelty of life. She seemed like such a fragile, beautiful broken thing…
The hierarchy within the gangster world was terrifying. Those people were vicious! Talk about a pecking order…
I loved ALL THE GANGSTERS. All of them. From the low life dirt bags who ran around at the bottom of the food chain to the monsters at the top. There was such variety in these characters – they weren’t just “insert generic gangster here” cliches. These gangsters had friends and quirks and humor and back stories and ambitions and personal styles and lovers and they were all different. Though they all wanted the same thing, ultimately. Money and power. LET THE BLOOD FLOW FREELY!
And just how connected the underworld is to the business world is rarely explored, so it was nice to see that bigger picture painted in this show. However… there were gaps in logic. And certain connections felt tentative at best. They could have done a better job explaining it – and spent less time with our moping, crazed banker.
The female cop was also a bit disappointing because we didn’t get to see her shine very often. She was almost always the underdog, more of a concerned motherly type than the head of a department. She was important to the story, the link between actual justice and vigilante justice… working with our Banker as she did. But she often blended into the wall paper with her ever-concerned expression.
I still liked her… but I wish they’d given her at least a few bad ass moments. I mean… they gave the bad girls tons of bad ass moments. Hell, remember when that sexy madame puts a nail to that dudes head and threatens to beat it into this skull? Holy shit. That was a bad ass moment.
The male cop’s story was awesome, though. I do love a dirty cop. They just make for a good drama. And his story arch was interesting. I felt so much emotion and strain and just pure exhaustion coming off of him. His dual relationships with the mob doll and the female cop were complicated and refreshingly realistic. It ain’t always easy to do the right thing.
The music was stellar – as were the sets and the fight sequences and the nuances of the various crime bosses hang outs, from back alley basements to high rise penthouses to strange restaurants and underground bars. It was a bloody, thrilling show with just enough slow moments to be considered NOIR.
Anyways… I recommend it. Just because it was so different from most shows. And because the first half was sooooo, sooo soo good! If you walk away halfway through, no one will blame you… we all kinda knew how it was going to end anyways. Messily.