Who goes to heaven? The one who doesn't repent? Or the one who does? Before I start I should mention that this is definitely “unpopular opinion” but that makes me all the more determined to write a review so here goes :) I have been keeping this drama for the right time because I’m a revenge-themed drama LOVER and I have practically seen everything Korea has to offer in that category. Moreover, I especially have seen everything I want to watch for Kim Nam Gil… so I kept this one mainly because it doesn’t seem that he will be back to dramaland anytime soon. However my craving could no longer be suppressed anymore not after I realized that it is written by the same writer of The Devil, Memory and Resurrection. Shark is not just a simple “revenge drama” with an obvious/repetitive plot, although I can’t say the plot is original but what strikes me here the most is the allegories that the story has offered in form of shark and Chagall’s painting “Orpheus”. The shark fish symbolizes that life must goes one as shark has to keep moving in order to live. The “Orpheus” painting features in some scene to remind us that this is a story between man and woman that cannot be together. The painting depicting the sad myth of Orpheus where he travels to the underworld to save his wife, only to lose her in the end because he looks back before they’ve both reached the upper world. An alternate title for this drama is actually "Don’t Look Back: the Legend of Orpheus". Shark is beautifully written and photographed, and it unfolds like a good book rather than just a television show. It has the depth of a Greek tragedy (references the story of Orpheus). Story: The story takes its time to establish the back-story of its hero and heroine, teenagers sincerely in love who are torn apart by a cruel turn of events that establish the revenge motivation. The plot reveals its layers like a good mystery novel, and has many eloquent scenes, the most powerful of which often feature no dialogue at all! This is what I call the perfect revenge drama, where there are so many victims, and yet the overall message is not really one of despair, but rather that love will triumph over revenge any day. It is the kind of revenge drama that haunts you with its inevitable tragedy. The origin of the revenge plot takes its time to reveal itself in exquisitely well written details. We get to know and care about major characters in their youth, and then follow them with interest into their adulthood. Shark had me hooked within its first few seconds, which reveal a teenage boy speaking directly into the camera, answering questions from an unseen young girl. That conversation replays over and over in Shark, and its poignancy becomes more and more touching when you see everything that happens. The cinematography was lustrous and breathtaking on Shark, beyond beautiful! Many of the images were like classic paintings! I would freeze the images just to STARE at them in amazement! Images of beaches, lakes, woods, nighttime and daytime skies, gardens, picturesque streets and buildings, not to mention startling human facial close-ups on occasion, were all unforgettable. This is not a romantic drama and certainly not a drama you’d watch for the romance. I’m very happy that the romance element was kept at its minimal and that it did not distract the core story. However it is fair to mention that the tension between Yi Soo and Hae Woo was indeed a bonus to the revenge line. It was astonishing well crafted and well acted. The tension between them was amplified by the fact that she is representing the law, and he is determined to be a criminal. It made the story all the more intense than it already is and looking back at all the revenge-themed dramas that I have watched I must say it is very rare that the level of intensity and romance is kept as subtle as it is in the case with Shark. Acting: Suffice it to say that every character in Shark is carefully drawn to reveal genuine human beings with their own emotions and agenda. However KNG’s Yi Soo/ Kim Joon is the heartthrob of Shark! You will be entirely captivated by the dark-eyed grace, gentleness and menace of Nam Gil in this complex role (even though he does bad things, my heart broke for him). His facial expression switch from cruel cold revenge seeking man, to a broken lonely soul who is inside desperately calling to be saved. When it comes to acting through facial expressions and even without many dialogues it’s always KNG who leaves me breathless. Yi-soo’s revenge is a well thought out and carefully executed. His desire to seek revenge is perfectly understandable, yet because it is so easy to feel for his character’s plight, it is difficult to watch him move further and further into the dark side. Son Ye Jin: Her portrayal of a compassionate, righteous prosecutor and a true friend/lover was very much convincing. Hae Woo serves as the moral conscience of the drama. I can’t say that I love her character and I can see why most didn’t but I understand her character giving the circumstances and tests she is put through the entire time. Music: The soundtrack was lovely and haunting, just perfect for this poignant story of two people caught up in a web of intrigue, murder, and revenge. When the drama had aired in 2013 I was already in love with BoA’s "Between Heaven And Hell" before I even get to watch the drama! It caught my ears and heart when my friend sang it and I couldn’t help but fall in love so imagine how I felt while finally watching it through the eyes of the story. Overall: Shark is about revenge, about how there are consequences and reactions for every action, it’s about love but it’s not a love story, and it’s about finding those truths and then facing them. Shark is very good at being this well-oiled machine. It’s thought out and there is a strategy and enough metaphors (sharks! Orpheus!) to make it interesting. It has twists and turns that don’t feel forced and very little slip ups even though there are more characters in this than one would have thought. The ending may not be the best way to wrap up things but it certainly isn’t the worst way, I embraced the ending here (with its flaws) and appreciated it much more than some of the many other revenge-themed dramas that I’ve seen. If you are a revenge-themed drama fan or a melodrama fan don’t let this one slip away from you! In the end we might like some "gems" that other people may have considered "waste", you never know. Kim Nam Gil has once said, “I experienced a slump when KBS2’s ‘Shark’ didn’t receive a lot of love.” I would like to tell him that just as there are people who didn’t appreciate Shark there are those who did and even watching it in 2017 this is such a wonderful revenge drama, so thank you for making it happen and thank you for being part of it.
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