Also Known As: Kgotboda Namja, Boys Before Flowers
Goo Hye Sun as Geum Jan Di
Lee Min Ho as Goo Jun Pyo
Kim Hyun Joong as Yoon Ji Hoo
Kim Bum as So Yi Jeong
Kim Joon as Song Woo Bin
Kim So Eun as Chu Ga Eul (Jan Di’s best friend)
Kim Hyun Joo as Goo Joon Hee (Jun Pyo’s elder sister)
Lee Hye Young as Kang Hee Soo (Jun Pyo’s mother)
Han Chae Young as Min Seo Hyun (Ji Hoo’s first love)
Lee Min Jung as Ha Jae Kyung (Jun Pyo’s fiancee)
Lee Jung Gil as Yoon Seok Young (Ji Hoo’s grandfather)
Jung Ho Bin as Jung Sang Rok (Madam Kang’s Secretary)
Jan Di is an average girl whose family owns a dry cleaning store located near the luxurious and well known Shin Hwa College. Jan Di meets the four richest and most spoiled boys known as the F4. After saving a boy from jumping off the roof of Shinhwa High School, she is admitted into the school on a swimming scholarship. Jan Di tries to avoid confrontation with the F4 at all cost because she knows what happens to those that stand against them. However, when Jan Di’s friend, Oh Min Ji, accidentally gets ice cream on the leader of the F4′s shoes, she’s forced to declare war on the leader of the F4, Goo Joon Pyo.
This review was long overdue. I was watching the drama the same time it was airing in Korea however since it was only twice a week, I wasn’t absorbing it very much. Plus the fact that I was busy with thesis and everything. I told myself that I will get hold of a copy of the DVD so I can watch it continuously and have it embedded in my system for a while. So here it is. Pardon me if some of the stuff in here were already mentioned in previous posts.
One problem that this drama has dealt with from the very start was the fact that it was a well-known story. The manga still remains to be the best-selling manga in Japan and it has spawned an anime and two live-action adaptations that were hugely successful all over Asia. With such a familiar plot, audience already knows what’s going to happen and the story arcs involved.
Because of that I was skeptical about it when I first heard of it. However, since it is already inevitable and it is of course another Hana Yori Dango, I made a resolve to try my hardest and watch it as if it is a whole new drama. So, my comments here will be specifically for the Korean version only. I will try my best not to make any comparisons. I will save that for another post.
Before I start, I am going to make something clear. I am not used to calling this Boys Over Flowers. It’s English title is really Boys BEFORE Flowers but somehow, ABS-CBN used OVER Flowers instead. That is fine since the manga is really translated as Boys OVER Flowers.
Now, my take on the plot. The Korean version somehow offered something fresh to its viewers. At first, I was actually nervous if they are going to adapt it literally but since there were already two adaptations before them, I know they will try their best to put something new on the otherwise overused and jam-packed table.
They started it quickly with Geum Jan Di’s entranced to Shinhwa University and then slowly incorporated their own spin on things. It’s nice because when BBF adapt the manga literally they actually fall behind but when they veer away from it and add their own tricks, they shine. And somehow, my resolve to watch it as an original drama wasn’t that much needed anymore because it then felt like it was indeed a whole new drama. They even managed to squeezed a two-season worth of story into only one.
But of course, the drama is far from perfect. Although I love it when they put their own plot twists, I hate it when the twists and moments are weird and totally irrelevant. Case in point: In episode 15, Ji Hoo played and sung on the street after they lost both of their wallets? I mean, if the director (or the writer) really wanted Ji Hoo to perform, since he is a good singer and all, they can provide a more believable story than that. So, although I enjoyed his performance (singing Lee Jook’s Panic then afterwards, Because I’m Stupid), I didn’t appreciate the weird plot jump very much.
The Jae Kyung story arc was dragged way way too long. I was so ready to let go of her two or three episodes down.
The amnesia part, one of the crucial moments in the manga was handled well. I was wondering if they are going to insert that arc after all, but when they did, I was glad that it was believable, poignant but romantic as well.
The locations used were beautiful. Using small and relatively unknown actors has helped the production saved up money for lavish locations. We have New Caledonia, Macau and Jeju Island. It was perfect because it was believable that these grand places are a part of the lavish, luxurious world of these ultra-rich people.
The casting was almost perfect. After so many qualms regarding the casting for this drama with a lot of people posting who they want for the parts, I think the one responsible for the casting won almost everyone hearts with this cast. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that since they are up there on the looks department, they are also up there with regards to acting and portrayal of character.
Goo Hye Sun as Geum Jan Di: The very first thing that I noticed about her in the pilot episode was that she reminded me so much of Nodame. But thankfully, that faded quickly. I am so not ready to watch anything with an Ueno Juri-look alike. GHS acted the part okay, quite passable. There were times when she was being too cute and somehow that lessen my belief in her acting. I think she was better in dramatic parts because she can convey emotions better that way. I just don’t like how her character sometimes losses its continuity. Case in point: Watch episode 11 again and you get a whole Jan Di crap. This was the episode where I really hate her because her character just didn’t make sense. They introduced to us a Jan Di who’s sassy and wouldn’t take anybody’s crap. That Jan Di who gave Jun Pyo a well-deserving flying twist kick (or whatever you want to call it). In ep 11, she didn’t only lose this ability but also her common sense. So, yes, I hated that. Also, during the whole Jae Kyung arc she was just portrayed very weak. She didn’t even try to fight for her and Jun Pyo’s love. She just sat there with calm expressions, absorbing everything and again, being weak.
Kim Hyun Joong as Yoon Ji Hoo: Jeez, don’t I have a lot to say regarding him and his character. Watching him in this drama is just like watching him evolve slowly and painfully. First, seeing him in the posters, you can deduce it right away. He is the most beautiful among the F4. Well, he was really supposed to be. However, with his blond hair, I didn’t recognize him right away as the leader of the idol group SS501. I was actually looking forward to him because he is portraying Rui. However, during the pilot episode, I was left disappointed with his character and portrayal. Kim Hyun Joong, though good looking and a good singer, apparently is not that much of an actor. As I was watching him, it didn’t felt like he was portraying Hanazawa Rui, rather, it was like he was acting Shun Oguri. I really don’t need someone who’ll make me remember Shun, I need someone who’ll make me see Hanazawa Rui. For the next episodes, his acting improved, thankfully. Somehow, it was made clear that he was better in parts where he doesn’t need to speak at all. He could just stay quiet and remain forever mysterious. I think Ji Hoo had more screen time with Jan Di than Jun Pyo with Jan Di. They make a lovely pair if you just look at them but since Ji Hoo wasn’t acted out convincingly by Hyun Joong, even if I wanted to jump ship to that pair, I really can’t. However, during the last few episodes, Hyun Joong almost lost all that stiffness in his acting. He and Jan Di looked like they were getting comfortable with each other. I am also beginning to like him. Actually, I already like seeing him onscreen, even though his acting is not that outstanding, because every time I see him I see Bae Young Jun in him and the opening song of Winter Sonata just keeps playing inside my head. Anyway, aside from that, I also want to comment regarding his decision to become a doctor. That twist felt rushed. I know, it has something to do with succeeding his grandfather’s clinic and perhaps with Jan Di as well, but I really want to know what happened to his budding musical career? Another thing, I hate it that Ji Hoo continued to harbor feelings for Jan Di after everything. It was just… sad. Especially, after I saw the After Story. Sad, sad, sad.
Kim Bum as So Yi Jeong: From the very start, a lot people already like him and is rooting for him. Me, I only started rooting for him when his side story with Ga Eul started but even then it wasn’t continuous. I don’t know, he is indeed gorgeous and all but I just don’t feel his smile. It’s like it’s all he ever does and it made me feel creepy. Haha. His character started interesting however he became such an emotional wreck at the middle. It was pathetic. It was painful to watch. It took all my courage not to fast forward those parts.
Kim Joon as Song Woo Bin: He doesn’t have any side story and we don’t get to see his character evolve very much. I think he acted consistently though I confess to cringing every time he speaks English. Oh, I almost forgot, there is this episode where he goes all emo while talking to Yi Jeong about his Mafia background. There’s also that yaoi moment there, or rather, at least I hoped. Haha. Anyway, Akira’s role in the manga is he was supposed to be the one who’ll remind us about the friendship among the four. It wasn’t so much obvious. Yes, he was helping his friends and all but I would like it to be more pronounced.
Kim So Eun as Chu Ga Eul: First off, she’s very very pretty and her pairing with Kim Bum is just perfect. Ga Eul, I thought, was going to be a stable, consistent character. I admired her the very first time she talked to Yi Jeong who was belittling Jan Di a bit and she got mad. However, somewhere in the middle, she lost her spark when she started following Yi Jeong around and always dropping by his house. Aside from that, I admire Kim So Eun’s work for this drama especially since she’s also doing another drama at the same time.
Lee Hye Young as Kang Hee Soo: If you guys have seen I’m Sorry, I Love You, you know how good an actress she is. In this drama, she proved what a seasoned actress she is. She’s cold and calculated. She’s harsh and mean and a little obsessed with her son. Hating her is ever easy. However, during the last episode, when she showed a weakness, when she shed a tear and her cold mask was cracked a bit, somehow we saw a trace of humanity in her after all. A vulnerability that we never knew she had. A complex character acted exceptionally by Lee Hye Young.
Lee Min Jung as Ha Jae Kyung: Her character was very hard to dislike at first. She’s bubbly and totally a breath of fresh air. However, when she became a bit manipulative and insensitive near the end of her arc, I was itching for her to go away. Case in point: How insensitive can she be to actually ask Jan Di to be her maid-of-honor? With regards to her interactions with Lee Min Ho’s character, there’s indeed a connection and a definite chemistry. In fact, it’s like they’re trying to compartmentalize and compress their chemistry for the sake of their respective characters. It’s actually scary because they look so good together. If you just stumbled upon the series starting at the Macau episode and doesn’t have an idea about the whole thing, you might think that they are the PAIR. I felt that vast chemistry during the grocery scene. It’s overwhelming! And it somehow threatens the position of the original couple. So, it sucked that her arc was dragged way too long because I really wanted to root back for the original couple.
Boys Over Flowers is so far the only drama I know that has 3 different soundtrack. The last one is a special edition that features a gorgeous Kim Hyun Joong on the cover while playing a guitar. They have good songs. A lot of them upbeat, since what can you expect when you got idol groups singing for the soundtrack. I especially like A’ST1’s Yearning of the Heart, I think it is such a beautiful song with an easy melody. Soothing. I love all the songs contributed by SS501: Making a Lover and Because I’m Stupid. Kim Hyun Joong also contributed a song, his version of Thing Called Happiness, included in the special edition. My early favorite is Shinee’s Stand By Me and Ashily’s Lucky. Other songs include T-Max’s Paradise, which is the carrier single of the album and Say Yes. Howl and J who collaborated for the unforgettable Perhaps Love in Princess Hours were also in this soundtrack. Howl sang Love You while J teamed up with T-Max for Wish You’re My Love. There’s also Love is Fire by Kara which is really good too, with a jpop sound in it, Tree Bicycle’s One More Time, Lee Sang Gon’s With Tears, Seo Jin Young’s A Little, Jisun’s What Should I Do, and Brand New Day’s Like Love. The song that’s played during sad and dramatic parts is Kim Yoo Kyung’s Starlight Tears.
However, for some reason, the one responsible for placing these songs together in their proper scenes is not very good at it. These songs that are good when you hear them on their own become bad just because they were carelessly placed in scenes where they obviously didn’t fit. Music is very important; it adds emotion and helps create a mood. But sometimes, the music ruins the mood. Case in point: Hmm, was it episode 12 when Jan Di was kidnapped by Jae Ha? He was then rescued by Jun Pyo and after a lot of beatings and Jan Di receiving a hit for Jun Pyo, in comes the F3 to help. At such a crucial moment like that one, the background music when the F3 entered was freakin’ Almost Paradise! Hell!!!
Wow, that was quite long. I can’t believe I had so much to say after having entries about this drama before.
Boys Over Flowers being so hyped up from the very start, thankfully, delivered. Yes, it had flaws – a lot of it even. The pacing was inconsistent, the music was placed on the wrong parts, and the acting was sometimes good, sometimes awfully bad, most of the time passable. The script also lacked consistency with the logic of some scenes pushing me to my limit. However, like I said (and I am going to repeat what I already said here), sometimes it all boils down to whether or not I had fun watching it. Whether it moved me, excited me, or touched my heart. And Boys Over Flowers did.
I had fun following it. I was so entertained. Even when it is being insane, it made me felt so alive. I love to see my favorite manga characters breathe into life all over again, so to other countries trying or wanting to adapt this manga(Mainland China is already on the works), all I can say is, bring it on!
*pics from Google