- Overall 10
- Story 10
- Acting/Cast 10
- Music 10
- Rewatch Value 10
*** This is going to be one of my longer reviews because when a show hits you good, in all the right places, I think you deserve to know exactly why. Please bear with me. ***
After almost a year in dramaland and close to 30 dramas, I've finally, finally found a bonafide favourite. A Korean favourite and an overall favourite. I've watched many dramas that I've liked & enjoyed, but none read more comes even close to how much I love Lovers!
Lovers is the kind of drama I've been waiting for since Oct 2012 when I first took up residence in dramaland. It was just what I needed to pull me out of a minor slump. I chose it at random because it's a combination of two of my favourite genres, gangster/crime and romance so I said what the heck, just watch one episode and see how it goes. I fully expected to be disappointed. Well, that one episode turned into 20 in less than 48hrs.
And damn … what can I say about Lovers except that this drama is really a wickedly delicious lesson in Sexual Tension.
I'm an avid fan of romance, but lately I’ve become rather disillusioned with Asian romance dramas. It's mostly because of all the recurring cliches: separation because of overseas work or study, random cancer diagnoses, stupid nonsensical love triangles etc but it's also, perhaps mostly, because I hate fake intimacy. A LOT.
I hate the fake kissing, the cheesiness, the characters' lack of sexuality and just the general feeling of watching two grown ass adults act like pre-teens stealing pecks from each other when no one is looking. I can understand that for younger viewers this might fly, but at my age I want to see an authentic relationship between an adult man and woman. And let me tell you, this is exactly what I got in Lovers!
Sometimes great sexual tension is better than the actual thing. If most dramas of this genre were half as good at building that tension, as Lovers did, I’d die a happy watcher having never seen two people kiss.
The AMAZING build-up of passionate feeling between Kang Jæ and Mi Joo completely blew me away. Massive props to the director and actors who were able to play up an attraction so palpable that you experienced their every emotion. I loved the banter, alternately playful and frustrated, the subtle flirting, the stolen glances, the longing, the internal struggle, the denial … all of this served to create such mad chemistry you could easily catch your breath and forget to release it.
When they’re finally intimate … it’s like dessert, only more satisfying than the main course. Moreover, if you’re a child of Hollywood like me and you do not want too much to be left to the imagination, fret not … you can look forward to passionate, spit swapping, tongue twisting, lip devouring kisses. Hey, a smoking, HOT red-blooded mob boss like Kang Jæ wouldn’t stand for anything less! Even better? Mi Joo doesn’t want him to! To me Lovers sets the tone of how a romance between adults should play out. The characters act their age in life and love. None of this silly, wide-eyed playground stuff. The typical drama cliches are kept to a minimum or they play out in a way that's logical, rather than frustrating as they tend to be other dramas.
I’m just decidedly pleased with this drama overall. It’s well written, well executed and well acted.
Given that I like to attack life's struggles with a gangster's swagger I love that the romance is set against the backdrop of the Korean Yakuza. From the safety of my own living room, it’s a fascinating world to inhabit for 20hrs. Now you may have to suspend belief a little given the absurdity of certain scenes, for eg 2 bands of pipe wielding gangsters invading a hospital en masse and having a go at each other, but no one thinks to summon the police. LOL In spite of this, I love the machismo, the fight scenes, the car chases, the assassinations, the bromances, the loyalty, the code of ethics.
Best of all, the leads are amazing! Kang Jæ is totally badass. Tough as nails on the outside, but melt your heart soft and sweet on the inside. If you have a weakest for bad boys ...
By far one of THE coolest male leads I’ve ever encountered. He lives hard, play hard, fight hard, love hard. And is 100% sex on legs. No wonder Mi Joo calls him her Dimpled Gangster. Male audiences will want to live vicariously through him and female audiences will want … well, HIM! (ha!)
As for Mi Joo, for once I have no complaints about the female lead! I love her, she is awesome! She’s smart, silly and confident all in one nice little package. She’s a breath of fresh air from typical female leads who are annoyingly aloof, stubborn, mercurial and uncommunicative all in an attempt to portray a ‘strong’ woman (I’m looking at you, Joon Young from A World That They Live In, Soo-in from Love Story in Havard).
Her and Kang Jæ’s love is a slow, but simultaneous, burn. They basically grow on each other over time, as fate brings them together, until they realize … wow, this person is really amazing. To me it felt very natural and organic, rather than constructed as say … when one or both characters are made to fall in love at first sight.
Story wise I think the show is golden. Badass mobster trying to go legit, but not being able to fully untangle himself from the dark side. Throw in romantic and familial complications and you’ve got yourself one captivating drama. And there are some hilarious, laugh out loud moments too.
There wasn’t any poor performances here either. I was pleased to finally meet the (in)famous mr. Kim Nam Gil, who delivered well as Kang Jæ’s dongsæng and left hand man. Basically every actor did an amazing job with their role. No one stood out as annoying or unconvincing, not even the child actors. Lee Seo-jin, as Kang Jæ, has netted himself another fangirl! To me he played his character just right. With just the right amount of emotion, or lack thereof, befitting a top gangster.
I can not relate to other reviewers who said this drama dragged. I personally never skipped a minute of any scene, a first for me. In fact I rewatched several scenes whilst in the process of watching the drama. The great sexual build-up and the machinations of the mob world kept things fast paced and action packed.
Even the music, which I normally don’t notice, captured my attention. It helped that the lyrics were translated so I knew what was being said, and as a result the score seemed very appropriate in amplifying the overall mood of the drama.
If I have to criticise anything about Lovers it would be the ending. It’s perhaps a tad rushed. If ever there was a drama that needed to be 21 episodes, this is it. That said, it works as it is and I LOVE the show regardless. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for more than your average run of the mill romance. Something with a more mature spin, and a little danger thrown in for added excitement. As of now Lovers has taken the # 1 spot as my all time favourite Asian drama. It was a bit underrated when it first aired, but then … the best dramas usually are. :)