Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Love From Another Star: New Crack Drama!

I like to consider myself a person of my times, but I'm not always "with it." Take music, for example. I wish I could say that I keep up with current music, but I mainly listen to what has now become my college soundtrack. I once listened to "What Makes You Beautiful" and thought, 'Wow, what a catchy new song!' In 2013.

Greatest computer game
of all time
Or computer games. I've pretty much stopped playing games made past the mid-2000s, and I look all the way back to 1998 as the pinnacle era of gaming. Half-Life, Starcraft, Fallout 2, Thief: The Dark Project, and Grim Fandango? Come on, game over.

And as for TV shows, I've rarely ever followed a show as it was concurrently airing. Last season's Game of Thrones was an exception. And this year, with Breaking Bad, though I had watched all 4.5 seasons before the home stretch, I let the final half-season pass me by until I rushed to catch up at around the series finale time. Same thing with Korean dramas. Every time I've started a show, I've had the option to marathoning it because the series was over, often by a number of years. I could go as quickly or as slowly as I liked.

With Man From The Stars, I'm experiencing for the first time what it's like to have to wait while being in the dark about what will happen next. It's thoroughly frustrating because Man From The Stars is a very good show and I haven't experienced a "crack drama" like this since History of the Salaryman from a few years back. It's been a while since I've felt compelled to watch 5+ straight hours of a show, but this one made me do it.

Opening intro from the show

Man From The Stars (also known as You Who Came From The Stars) is romantic comedy about a 400+ year old alien who falls in love with a superstar actress. Yes, this was a concept that could've gone very badly very easily. I admit that, based on its paper pitch, I most likely wouldn't have watched it had I not seen a few scenes in passing on TV. As odd and silly as a central premise may be, it's hard to turn away Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun are on screen together, shot in beautiful hi-definition.

Jun Ji Hyun is more than just a pretty face... She's really funny too

Kim Soo Hyun isn't too bad-looking either, and he can hold his own against JJH

The basic story is that Do Min Joon (DMJ, played by Kim Soo Hyun) is actually an alien who got stranded on Earth about 400 years ago in Joseon Korea. He has incredible powers, including super strength, the ability to teleport, and the useful skill of freezing time for everyone except himself. However, he has learned to live life quietly (until the day he can finally leave) so as to not attract attention and to not interfere in the lives of others, especially since he believes in fate and wants to let things happen as they are meant to happen. He's kind of like Isolationist Superman.

CSY and DMJ are next door neighbours and they constantly fight

Flash forward to modern day Korea. DMJ has accumulated vast wealth and knowledge over the centuries and now works as a professor, which is belied by his youthful appearance since he hasn't visibly aged. Meanwhile, Chun Song Yi (CSY, played by Jun Ji Hyun) is the biggest female star in Korea who is far from the graceful and elegant beauty that her management company tries to portray her as. Despite all efforts by her managers, she constantly and publicly reveals herself to be vain, ignorant, and foul-tempered. Somehow, just as DMJ has found an opportunity to return to his home planet, he and CSY meet and potentially complicates his desire to leave, especially since she greatly resembles a girl whom DMJ fell in love with 400 years ago.

You can tell you're watching a bad drama when you don't even care to root for the protagonists. Perhaps you even want them to fail because they constantly in stupid, torpid, or unrealistic fashion. And you can tell you're watching a good drama when you become invested in even the secondary or tertiary characters.

DMJ and Lawyer Jang's conversations are some of my favourite in the show

Man From The Stars does the latter. There are the likes of Lawyer Jang, who is DMJ's sole friend and confidant. Even though Lawyer Jang is now an old man and DMJ is actually several centuries old, they interact almost like schoolboys and it's very funny. Also, there's Hwi-Kyung, who's far more entertaining than the typical second male lead because he's such a sheltered ditz. And there's Miss Hong, the unfortunate proprietor of a comic book store who's forced to serve the same 2 ill-mannered geeks who haunt her establishment 24/7.

But the main attraction (and not just physically) is the chemistry between the two leads. Relative status is important in Korean society, but it's completely upended here because while DMJ is much older and more learned than CSY, he looks barely older than a college student. Meanwhile, CSY is a superstar celebrity who is supposedly older. But she's also much more childish compared to him (being 400 years younger tends to do that), not to mention much less knowledgable about everything.

More bickering ensues

If you've seen the movie The Thieves, you'd have seen a similar romance dynamic between Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun, except he was much more lovestruck in that role. I think the makers of this drama wanted to capitalize on that chemistry, and it's been working well so far.

Not only that, but the character of CSY on her own is awesome as well. As mentioned before, she has a lot of personality flaws, but she's also loyal, honest, and not afraid to speak her mind. She reminds me of some of my favourite K-drama heroines like Kim Sam Soon (from My Name is Kim Sam Soon) and Baek Yeo Chi (from History of the Salaryman). Watching her get angry or cranky is one of funniest parts of the show.

So if you're looking for a big, expensive, and star-laden Korean drama and don't want to have to resort to watching The Heirs (sorry, can't help but hate), give Man From The Stars a try.

DMJ has the pimpest apartment ever

PS If people are wondering where they can watch all these dramas that I talk about, go to The availability and video quality are great, and they all have subtitles (for any non-Koreans).

PPS Kim Soo Hyun is very good at rocking the skinny tie. I am very envious.

1 comment :

  1. Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
    Thanks for the great review of My Love From Another Star! I enjoyed it a lot.
    I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 86.8%%.
    Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
    Thanks again for the review. If you want to do something with my blog, please contact me.