Nice Guy: the Review

 photo nice-guy-poster_zps7727c97e.jpgNice Guy
(aka: Innocent Man, or Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Exist in This World, or No Such Thing as Nice Guys)
air date: 9.12.2012 through 10.15.2012
number of eps: 20
I watched it: live!

In a nutshell: It’s a story that starts off about vengeance then takes an interesting turn into redemption. It’s about the difference between a toxic and co-dependent love that pulls you down, and the kind of strengthening love that holds you up. This drama began with an incredible amount of buzz and, for the most part, lived up to it. Incredibly well acted, beautifully shot, with a compelling, cliche-avoiding plot that, unfortunately, dropped an important thread at the end. So it didn’t move my soul as much as I think it should have — but I don’t regret watching it.

Buzz because… The writer, Lee Kyung-hee is pretty much the queen of the melodrama. If that’s your cup of tea.  photo user_537104_user_537104_1330917354Moon-Chae-Won_003_zpsc27a177c.jpgIt can be mine, if I’m in a certain mood. But I’m not going to lie. I watched for Song Joong-ki. I was glad his first turn as lead in a drama was with such an established writer — but I probably would have watched regardless. I was also excited, though not as much because I wasn’t as familiar with her, by the lead actress, Moon Chae-won. I’d heard good things. (I’ve since become a fan — through Nice Guy and also her fierce turn in the movie War of the Arrows Link goes to the Youtube trailer.) With those three names attached to the project, expectations were high.

So… Song Joon-ki? I first noticed him in Sungkyunkwan Scandal where he played a cheeky, frivolous playboy, with a love of fine fabric and getting handsy all over his best friend.songjoonki photo Donga-song-joong-ki-EC-86-A1-EC-A4-91-EA-B8-B0-31621056-450-673_large_zps1a034758.jpg He was definitely adorable but there was this one scene, when his character is threatened with a life-altering secret that gave a flash of SJK’s abilities to handle something beyond being charming. And then came Tree With Deep Roots and his opening role as the young King Sejong. He gave such a stunning performance — showing the progression from terrified and traumatized boy into the wise and cunning and powerful king — that I was pretty much blown away. The subtlety he brings… It’s pretty damn amazing. And this drama gave him the range to really show his talent. (He’s also in the currently released Werewolf Boy Link goes to a Youtube trailer.)

So… Dropped thread? The thing is, while the story definitely revolves around SKJ’s character, Moon Chae-won’s is equally important. And while his story comes to an organic and satisfying end, hers doesn’t. And it’s not that it’s horribly bad — her character isn’t destroyed by acts of incredibly stupidity or anything. But she becomes too passive. Plot happens to her instead of because of her. Whereas before, the choices MCW’s character made were a huge part of what shaped the plot. So it felt a bit empty when that changed. It’s a subtle thing, but it was big enough to leave me vaguely dissatisfied.


10 thoughts on “Nice Guy: the Review

  1. Nice guy was a nice ride, thanks to it’s fast pace and stylish screenplay….and of course the awesome acting…..
    you are right about the ending, but I’m okay with it as it was a happy ending…..but left us not completely satisfied…

    • It’s like they dropped the thematic thread, but managed to carry the plot to the end. So it wasn’t a bad ending, really. It was just a little… empty. And it’s to the drama’s credit that I noticed — it’s because it was managing everything so beautifully that my expectations were really, really high.

  2. Yes, Song Joong Ki blew me away in SKKS and in Tree too, so much so that I plan to watch Nice Guy despite melo not being my favorite genre. All the good buzz about its pacing helps too 😉

    • He’s like a stealth actor — all cute and cuddly and then suddenly *wham* he’s pulled you into hidden depths. I love it. 🙂

      I definitely won’t discourage you from watching “Nice Guy” — it had some stumbles, but it’s still worth a watch. Especially if you’re a fan of Song Joong-ki. (Or Moon Chae-won for that matter.)

  3. I think I loved this show so much just because I accidentally watched it without knowing it was a melodrama (don’t ask me how I missed that, but I did for long enough to get hooked) and yet it didn’t kill of anyone at the end. I understand what you mean about Moon Chae Won’s character because the strength of the show lay in early reveals then focus on character reactions, but they waited so long for the final reveal (about Maru at the end) that once we got her back we never got to truly see her in action.

    • Hah! Well, I suppose it starts out pretty action-adventure/murder-mystery so… Actually, I think it says good things about the pacing. I remember watching with my heart in my mouth and then being stunned that the episode was already over already.

      I agree about holding their secrets for too long. I read a review somewhere (I wish I could remember where) that pointed out that it took so long for the audience to finally get a clear sense of Maru’s motivations that viewers had detached from the character by the time his motivations were revealed. And I think by playing with that storyline, the drama let MCW’s storyline get hung up and her thunder got stolen. (To massively mix my metaphors. ;))

      • Yeah I thought it was a romcom…figured that one out pretty quickly… but Song Joong Ki’s death stare at the end of the first episode is as engrossing as it is terrifying. Somehow, I always went with Maru, but that might have just been the fangirl inside me believing that Song Joong Ki would never lead me astray, but it is sad that in order to further his storyline they seemingly sacrificed hers or at least her fierceness.

        • Song Joong-ki is magnetic. It’s hidden under his puppy-dog charm, but when he lets it out… damn.

          it is sad that in order to further his storyline they seemingly sacrificed hers or at least her fierceness.

          It’s too bad because I think it was much more a fault of the intense shooting schedule than the writer not getting it. It’s like they only had time to finish one story and they chose his.

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