Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

[Drama] Bad Guy: An Afterthought

*WARNING! This is a lo~ng post*

This ain’t really a review – for full recaps go to dramabeans – but is full of spoilers (if you haven’t watched it) and dissatisfaction I have of this drama.

A few minutes into Bad Guy episode 15 wherein Gun-wook was supposedly killed, i knew i’m gonna rant about this. Unless the ending is superb—which i doubted since i already read how it ends. I shouldn’t have done that (read about the end) since it’ll spoil the unexpended mood i have of this drama, but i just cannot help it. Though i accept that this kind of drama (mystery-thriller) doesn’t really end happily, the way it takes to go there is just absolute madness.

So i read that Gun-wook dies in the end and seeing how the drama develops in the second-half, i guarantee that Madam Shin is behind this. Yet, with two more episodes to go (Bad Guy has 17 episodes after a cut-back from originally 20) i don’t expect him to die this soon. How will the story go for the next 2? Excavating his death shouldn’t take that long, no? However, seeing how slow the pacing of this drama is, that seems totally possible. Since I wasn’t the scriptwriter, I just have to accept it as it is – dropping this drama is not an option for me. Two more shouldn’t be that agonizing, should it?

On Episode 15-17

Episode 14 is clearly the peak. And 15 [onwards] wrecks everything. Gun-wook-President-Hong’s meeting is the much-anticipated scene and could have clearly been the most interesting part of relationship Gun-wook may have had with the Hongs. Yet it is thoroughly disappointing as it lasts so quickly without revealing much. Affectionate “Tae-sung ah” calling is definitely misleading as he dives straight to the point: telling Gun-wook that he cannot destroy Haeshin nor do what he’s been doing to the Hongs before unceremoniously collapses.

Madam Shin then orders Secretary Kim to wipe Gun-wook out as he should’ve been 20 years ago. The next scene shows Gun-wook driving alone at night where he is entrapped the way his parents were; he avoids a car which suddenly drives in his line and crashes into a metal pole on the roadside. He manages to text something to the cops – which is infuriatingly dismissed by the Old Cop. What a stupid cop!

I clearly didn’t see it coming – or register the fact that Gun-wook is outsmarted by the wicked Madam Shin – but as he’s rushed to the hospital, the cardiac machine shows flat-lines… They must be kidding right?? To have the mastermind die in seconds is beyond logic. But the rest of the [seemingly long] episode shows no sign that he may still be alive. A week into his disappearance, only Jae-in and Tae-ra bother to try calling him – which left unanswered since he dropped his phone on the scene.

And the director shots copious stills of Gun-wook now-deserted stylish den. It looks sad, lonely, and forgotten. Maybe this is how the story of a solitary person would be. Gun-wook has neither family nor friends. Nobody really knows his whereabouts and the only way to reach him is by phone. Jae-in knows the alternative way since she knows where he really lives in, but even that doesn’t help much when the place is locked and the phone is out-of-service.

Madam Shin’s statement from earlier episodes rings in my head: when Gun-wook’s gone, no one will mourn for him, no one will remember him (because he has no one). That may be true. No one will ever find out that he has gone unless those simpletons register his post-accident message as a clue to track him down.

I still don’t believe that he’s gone yet, hoping that he’ll appear somewhere even though Madam Shin’s puppet has reconfirmed his death. But as the episode goes and gives only boring scenes (e.g. Jae-in-Tae-ra’s showdown – why NOW?!), my conviction starts to waver.

IS THIS IT? REALLY??

Now the cops is the key. They hear it from Jae-in (she’ll be the news breaker for much more info thereafter) and decide to conduct investigation on it – starting from Gun-wook’s last message which turned out to be a GPS location. Found the blood-stained cell-phone, they check hospitals and get info that his body was claimed by his guarantor. The question is, who that is since he has no close relative to be his guarantor. (Chop chop, cops!) Upon learning the heartbreaking piece of information, Jae-in breaks into heartbreaking tears. I feel for you, girl. So yeah…I start to accept that Gun-wook is really dead by now.

THEN, out of nowhere seen two hanged feet (creepy!) and we get the front-view: a pale-faced Gun-wook staring blankly at the window. What now…?

Episode 16 reveals that Gun-wook is indeed still alive but insane. He suffered quite an injury from the accident but he managed to come through it. Then what makes him like this? He is such a strong guy that it seems unlikely that there’s something that can shake his sanity off. Whatever. Let’s proceed.

Jae-in confronts Tae-ra if she hides Gun-wook somewhere. She claims that she sent him overseas and they’ll wed when he’s back. Does she know that he’s dead? (Busted!) This sends her off-guard. Cops inform Jae-in about Gun-wook’s whereabouts and she is both relieved and pained to see him in a mental ward. He looks…frail.

Madam Shin’s puppet follows them to the asylum and breaks the news to her. She’s taken aback since she’s been terrorized by Gun-wook’s bloody lighter but orders him dead this time no matter what. The puppet is a step ahead of Jae-in and Tae-sung who come together to visit him. Oh-no! But Gun-wook disappears and Madam Shin freaks out – hallucinating that he’s haunting her, screaming half-madly that she should’ve ousted him 20 years ago like she did to his parents. When she’s (finally!!) dragged to a trial of attempted murder on Gun-wook, footage of that is presented as evident. She’s successfully found guilty but she’s not leaving before leaking huge news to perfectly-sane Gun-wook standing before her that he is the REAL Hong Tae-sung. She discarded the real one and raised a fake one. Gun-wook is essentially ruining his own family, thus she wins. I don’t get the “I win” thingy while Tae-sung’s switch is confusing, but whatever.

The disclosure serves as a huge blow to Gun-wook so when he comes to see recovering-yet-mute President Hong, he manages to do nothing but weeps forlornly on his father’s lap. He is so devastated that he decides to take his own life – luckily Jae-in steps in just in time for the rescue. She feels for him and assures him that his family will forgive him. She convinces him to take in his new identity as Hong Tae-sung and they are ready to start anew. But in the last minutes, the scriptwriter turns it around.

As Jae-in leaves to fetch Won-in and buy groceries for dinner, Mo-nae makes a comeback with a vengeful expression. Idk how she knows Gun-wook’s secret den. She roams the room and finds the misplaced handgun. She then holds it before her, pointing it toward Gun-wook. You know, you should never spoof with weapons. Gun-wook tries to plead, asking her to lower the gun and talk about this coolheadedly. Mo-nae refuses, claiming that she knows what he has done to her family and wishes him dead (with this, she fires the gun) – NO! – By the look on her face, this appears unintentional. Both of them are still standing and she leaves unrepentantly. But OF COURSE he is shot, you spoiled girl! As soon as Mo-nae makes her exit, Gun-wook stumbles to the ground, reaches to the gun and shakily wipes her fingerprints off. He leaves Jae-in a note that his surrogate parents in the States need him.

He wanders in the street and no one notices his awkward teetering or pained expression. GO GET HELP, YOU FOOL! He finally collapses on the street and the film blurs.

Unidentified some time later, The Hongs move on with their lives: Father can speak by then, Madam Shin is released (HOW COME?! She’s better rotting in jail!), Tae-ra is named President, Tae-sung happily moves forward on his own, and Mo-nae continues indulging in life’s luxuries treatment and lifestyle money can buy her (looking unremorseful still… She shot him and she can be this ignorant?). Father waits for Tae-sung’s (most probably Gun-wook’s) return and plans a nice meal together – which will never happen. Like father, Jae-in waits for Gun-wook’s return and wonders if the world that he’s seeing now a happy one.

Comments

I’m struggling with the last two episodes while the first few episodes aren’t engaging. I was puzzled as I didn’t have an idea as to where this is going. But the second-half picks up and I was ready to root on my seat, waiting impatiently for the next episode the following day (until episode 14), alas episode 15 [onwards] shatters it all. If I have to summarize this, this isn’t really about revenge. Any plan is not clearly plotted or executed until episode 10 or so. It is more about Shim Gun-wook playing with Haeshin’s heirs. It is more about family and love-interest intricacy than it is about revenge. Besides, it’s hard to penetrate Gun-wook’s impassive stares and expressions; much harder to guess what’s going on inside his head – what his plans are, why he acts the way he does.

First of all, the basis for vengeance is weak. What is he revenging for? Not for his parents’ death as he knew about it much later. If it’s for him being thrown out, it’s a bit too much. He’s scarred and it’s cruel to kick him out in downpours, yet shouldn’t he feel thankful that he’s adopted and able to live a well-off life?

Both Sun-young and paper-crane have no significance as I thought they would be the drama shaped them to be. Sun-young committed suicide—isn’t it pointless to pursue the case quite intensely only to rule it as suicide? Therefore, the cops have no clear contribution to the whole drama apart from helping locate Gun-wook after he went missing. Jae-in also somehow serves no specific purpose. She neither humanizes nor makes Gun-wook meeker. He doesn’t do much about her either. His bull’s eye stays pretty much the same with or without her (unlike how Shiori affects Naruse in Maou, for example). Thus, her role is purely an eye-candy. Who would say she isn’t pretty? Who wouldn’t love her appearances with those super-short shorts? She also looks so young I’d never guess she’s in her late 20’s. And oh!-that-nose~

Another superfluous thing is Gun-wook’s insanity. WHAT IS THAT, scriptwriter?? If it only serves as a reminder that he’s indeed still alive, it can be cut-off alright. Really. You mud us with the idea that he’s crazy for one whole episode then make him sound within minutes is plain harebrained. You can really remove that scattered part and use it up to make the last two episodes more bearable and watchable – and logically reasonable. I agree with javabeans (of db) that this drama gives me LOTS of what ifs.

Aforementioned, this drama suffered a 3-episode cut-down due to Kim Nam-gil’s army enlistment. The production team thus had to rush and make necessary adjustment. Three episodes don’t sound too much a reduction in my opinion so Idk if there’s any changes made to the plotline (particularly the ending part). If it did, I have this crazy what-if idea: if the team and scriptwriter found it hard to rework the storyline, why not stop at let’s say episode 15 and continue the remaining parts after his service? Rather than giving viewers crazily ludicrous plot, isn’t it better to risk stopping halfway and resume afterwards with original (or better prepared) plot? (To find that there’s someone who thinks this way too amuses me) Because episode 15 could be a good end for Bad Guy part 1 *wishful thinking*. But if it didn’t, shorter misery is better than having to sit through three more episodes.

Trivial details nag me. Insignificant, possibly overlooked, but they got me scowling. The most blatant is the location of the bullet injury. Mo-nae obviously holds the gun shoulder-high and she doesn’t lower it when firing it, YET the bullet nests in Gun-wook’s abdomen. She isn’t short as a woman, she also wears killer heels, thus from that position she should’ve shot Gun-wook’s thorax area instead. Another thing is the paper-crane Jae-in has kept since day 1. Since the dubbing team never translates written words EVER (same goes with previous Asian dramas), I don’t really get Jae-in’s contemplation—I got it upon reading jb’ recap. I hold similar gripe as hers there so I won’t repeat it here.

Scriptwriter also goes back and forth with the two Tae-sungs. Who is real who is fake, she (it’s a she right?) can’t seem to make up her minds. Choi Tae-sung was brought in as Hong Tae-sung, only to be thrown out due to wrong DNA test. Another Hong Tae-sung thus replaced him. Secretary Kim reveals the reason behind the switch: Madam Shin would rather raise a fake (Gun-wook) than live with President Hong’s illegitimate child (Tae-sung). She even proved Choi’s identity with a DNA test, but somehow this was found out. This explains why she was nice to little Gun-wook but mean to Tae-sung. Even so, during crucial meeting she divulges that Tae-sung is fake (the real one died 20 years ago – which turns out to be Gun-wook). So she is mean to Tae-sung because he has no relation whatsoever to the Hongs. Ha! Too much confusion is a bonker.

About Gun-wook gets depressed after the revelation is … … He doesn’t know, so he’s not entirely at fault. He hasn’t done anything that’s fundamentally detrimental to the family or Haeshin Group anyway. He neither causes Father’s collapse nor kills his Hyung. He doesn’t really go after Mo-nae so she falls for him on own account. It’s foolish of her to not see that Gun-wook isn’t interested in her even after her copious calls left unanswered. (If a guy likes you, he’ll chase after you, not ignore you! Lessons learned.) If anything, [amongst all characters] Tae-ra is the most pitiful. Gun-wook toys with her and she’s pulled by his seduction. She has been trapped in loveless marriage hence Gun-wook presumed sincerity toward her melts her icy disposition mask she’s donned for far too long. From her pov, Gun-wook is true to her – and his confession of love confirms it all. All things considered, he hasn’t really crossed the boundary to go sulking in the corner.

Next in line is Gun-wook’s suicidal motive. If Jae-in didn’t ‘save’ him, I’d accept it – although it’s nonetheless nonsensical to even think of it after imploring Sun-young not to do that. Jae-in did it, and he’s convinced to start afresh, so I really don’t get it why he lets himself die in the end.

WHY WHY WHY?!?!

‘Niwei, only in dramas can the dead come back to life. So the sequence goes like this: dead – no, still alive but crazy – no, he’s perfectly sane – dead. How. Frustrating. Is. That. Seriously, what’s the point of ‘resurrecting’ him if he’s gonna eventually die?? This is not Final Destination, is it?

I should’ve listened when some commented that they shouldn’t have started (watching this).

Disclaimer

I watched the dubbed-version so that my rating is not truly objective. I still believe it’s best to watch RAW videos since everything is conveyed the way it’s intended to be. Too bad I’m not on friendly terms with my ISP. Since I don’t understand the language, I have to get contented with the subbed (or worse, dubbed) versions. Nonetheless I have some problems with translations cuz not all are nifty – besides, some substances are lost in the process. Weak translations rip emotions off.

I’m personally not fully satisfied with dubbed dramas on Indosiar. First and foremost, the dubbers at times fail to carry the actors’ raw emotions. E.g. when a character is shown YELLING, the tone of the dubber isn’t. I’ve been wondering why they don’t provide subtitles instead (do I need to write to them regarding this issue?). Besides storyline, the main point I consider when rating anything visual is the actor’s line delivery (meaning the verbal emotions). Since it’s shrouded by the dubber’s voice, I’m only left with facial expressions to hang onto. In this case, I solely depend on the translator’s quality in interpreting the manuscript. Unless one excels at this, it’s hard for me to feel for the characters. (One striking example is when I found it hard to shed a tear while watching One Litre of Tears because when I first watched it with Malay subtitles – I dropped it in no time – or when I watched the Indo-dubbed version. I managed to cry a litre of tears only when I watched it with English subtitles later on.)

Honestly, I couldn’t really follow the starting episodes of Bad Guy aired on Indosiar as I didn’t really comprehend the dialogues. I resorted to dramabeans for reasonable recaps wherein the dialogues made a lot more sense. Thus I moved to and fro Indosiar and db for the rest of the drama. Furthermore, I do wish Indosiar makes an extra effort (i.e. goes the extra mile) to translate any written words displayed on screen because if the personas don’t read it aloud, we won’t know what the heck they are or mean, significant or not. I guess I’m done.

_
Bad Guy rating: 2/5
Production: 2010
Cast: Kim Nam-gil, Han Ga-in, Kim Jae-wook, Oh Yeon-soo, Jung So-min
Genre: K-drama, Mystery-melodrama (17 Episodes)

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