In a nutshell: Such a stylish, well-acted, beautifully shot… mess. Fashion King never quite settled on the story it was telling (is this a wacky comedy about a wiseass street kid conning his way to the top? or a gritty no-holds-barred look at the ugly underbelly of Korea’s rich and powerful?), never quite figured out the tone to tell it in (wacky comedy with funny camera angles and pratfalls? gritty realism with blood and suffering?), and decided to throw them both together and blend. It did not turn out well. The incredible acting skills and the interesting story I caught glimpses of (when I squinted) made the failure even more complete. Though I can say I was never bored. Confused, but never bored.
A failure, yes. And yet… I really did enjoy the acting. So in the end I was glad I watched. I knew going in that this would probably crash and burn (Dramabeans gave up recapping on the first or second episode and I took their warning), but I knew I’d watch anyway because I’m a huge (huge!) Yoo Ah In fan. And, as I watched, I could see why he’d chosen this project. In the interesting story that did not get told, his character had a cool, cliche-breaking trajectory.
And then there was Lee Je-hoon. Holy crap, I did not see this guy coming. I’d seen him in the short film, Just Friends?, (that he totally rocked), and overlooked him in his small role in the movie, Finding Mr. Perfect, but seeing him in Fashion King… he blew me away. He played such an odd, prickly character that would have been so easy to play screamy and childish. Instead, he turned it into another cliche-breaking role… in the interesting story that did not get told. *sigh*
Unfortunately, the story that did get told fell into repetitiveness with the two characters constantly clashing over the same damn thing. Which meant Shin Se-kyung’s character spent a lot of time traveling between their fashion houses for reasons I never quite understood. (I really liked her character as well, which was not as popular an opinion. But that’s too much to get into here, especially as it had a lot to do with the interesting story that did not get told. That maybe existed only in my head. Though if anyone’s interested, I’m always glad to opine. *g*)
But in the end… Yeah, it was a mess. The big dramatic ending actually made me laugh. Out loud, even. Which was not the reaction they were going for, I know. And it had me scratching my head, because if this was the ending they were aiming for (and the dramatic final scene was shot at the beginning of the drama) why didn’t they tell that story to begin with? Or at all?