First Impressions: My Beautiful Bride (Episodes 1-4)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Could My Beautiful Bride be the perfect mix of action, mystery and romance that I've been waiting for? I dare not hope so but the drama is sure presenting a good case for itself. 

I had my one eye on the drama ever since it was first announced, but I still wasn't sure whether this show would quite fit my tastes. You all know I'm rather picky about shows of the action/mystery/thriller/crime genre and I rarely get invested in them fully. But I was pleasantly surprised when positive reviews for Bride began piling up soon after it's premiere week and I had no choice but surrender my curiosity and check it out myself. 


What Bride does right from the very start is establishing a good basis for the main events of the story to build upon. The audience isn't thrown straight into the action, but instead the viewer is given enough time to connect with the main character, understand his motivations and believe that he is willing to do anything to find his missing fiance. I've often noticed how the emotional side is downplayed in the crime-mystery genre, but I feel it is a mistake to do so as the appeal of a story relies heavily on a personal connection. It's important to get the audience invested right away, especially with a show like this where the entire plot depends on the viewer feeling anxious and worried for the characters as they embark on a dangerous mission that may cost their lives. Fortunately, Bride excels here without sacrificing the thrills.

At the same time, the drama does a wonderful job at keeping tension in the story. We get just enough information about the characters and their relationships to make us root for them, but not enough to trust them fully. It's clear that the show is preparing for big twists and reveals along the way because everything is still shrouded in secrecy: we know what the hero is fighting for, but not whom he's fighting against and why. 

Speaking of our hero, I've longed for a character like his for a while. Our first impression of Kim Do Hyung (Kim Moo Yul) is an interesting one. He's a serious man, almost to the point of being stoic, yet he's not a man without affection or personal quirks. Do Hyung is a banker (or that's what we're led to believe) who's seen as kind of an oddball by his co-workers, and perhaps rightfully so as he begins his workday with a weird breathing-exercise at the office after driving to work on a bicycle instead of a car. He also does not drink and seems to stick to an intense exercise regime every day, something that seems to heavily hint that he's not your usual office rat kind of guy (which we realize soon enough). 

Do Hyung's personality also proves to be the occasional comic relief in the drama as he's adorkable around his girlfriend Yoon Joo Young (aka soon-to-be-missing fiance) and through flashbacks of their relationship we learn that he's possibly one of the most awkward tall handsome action heroes ever. It's such a subtle way of inserting humour into the drama as nothing about the story is supposed to be comical or light-hearted, but I often find myself chuckling at Do Hyung's stoic mannerisms at the most random times.

But Do Hyung also hides an entirely different side of him. Early on, we can sense he's hiding something, that he knows more than he's letting on, but there's little clarification what's the truth and what isn't. The little hints we get, imply that he hasn't been truthful about his past nor about the things he knows, though it's clearly for a noble reason to protect Joo Young in the long run. Among the few facts we know there's his special ops training in the military and a secret chaebol background, but how these two connect is yet to be revealed. Do Hyung certainly has his moments where it seems that he may be manipulating events or people for a reason unknown to us, but as the story moves forward, it is more likely that his goals are in fact much simpler than assumed. 

Without doubt, a lot of praise must be given to Kim Moo Yul for his emotionally loaded performance as Do Hyung. The actor makes the character come alive and shows the different facets of the character - endearing, serious and frightening - without being cheesy or overdone. His athletic build and non-flower boy looks also make him very believable in the role, further proving this was a superb casting choice.

I find I have less to say about our lady characters for Yoon Joo Young is at the centre of a mystery we are yet to unriddle, while we still haven't gotten a proper chance to learn more about Cha Yoon Mi. Though, I do have a few observations.

For instance, it's interesting to note the irony in Yoon Joo Young's (Go Sung Hee) character. She's the titular "beautiful bride" of the drama, although her past is anything but innocent, virginal and pure, you know, the traits traditionally associated with a bride-to-be. Her past hides the secret of being a bar girl as well as the girlfriend of sorts of a dangerous gangster, whom she then betrays by cooperating with the police detective Yoon Mi. 

I like that Joo Young's a female character with a dark past who seems to be fighting hard to escape it and find happiness. It's a very human wish and one that I think is easy to relate to, even if you don't agree with her past choices. Clearly, Joo Young's is extremely embarrassed and ashamed of that life, fearing that it might ruin her relationship with Do Hyung. However, it's interesting that the couple's bond is very strong even through all the lies and secrets over the years. Her feelings for Do Hyung certainly seem to run very deep and the flashbacks, which reveal a much longer history between them than what was assumed initially, confirm that intense feelings are mutual. There are, however, still many things unknown to us, with her disappearance being the biggest mystery of all.

Our lady detective Cha Yoon Mi (Lee Si Young) is less in the focus of events as of now, but she's very determined to catch whoever is behind Joo Young's disappearance, perhaps hinting at a personal and undisclosed reason for catching Joo Young's gangster boyfriend Song Hak Soo in the first place. I am also eagerly waiting for the moment when she stops suspecting Do Hyung and chooses to team up with him instead, but it might take a while, considering that even the viewers are finding it hard to trust anyone in this show. Nevertheless, it's time for Yoon Mi to wisen up and realize that there's a bigger bad pulling the strings behind all of this, while time continues to tick for Joo Young.

Overall I'd say that if the first four episodes are any indication, Bride may just be the intensely thrilling ride I've been waiting for. Gripping, emotional and suspenseful, the drama draws in with a fascinating leading character whose goal is noble but whose means may not be. It shall be interesting to see what a man is willing to do to save his lover and if he still has a chance to save her. While I feel uneasy putting my faith in a K-drama writer, I realize that I have no choice to trust their vision and hope that Bride will live up to its glorious potential. Fingers crossed.

And as a final thought, I have to say the soundtrack is fantastic. Elsa Kopf's "Days and Moons" is unique and atmospheric, while Steelheart's "Stay" is stirring and epic. Wonderful musical choices, really.

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  1. I love love love this drama. It is so different from a typical kdrama but has the wonderful tropes of a kdrama. I hope you recap it!!

    1. Sorry, I'm not a recapper (but maybe one day). If you want to read recaps for this drama I suggest going over to The Problematic of the Unproblematic. Their recaps are really funny. Here's the link:

  2. This one is definitely getting a lot of good first reviews from bloggers I follow. I am definitely watching it :)

    1. Indeed and that's why I checked it out myself because everyone raved about it on Twitter. I've enjoyed it so far :)


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