Thursday, January 19, 2012

Soulmate Review (2006)

Drama Rating: ****
Personal Rating: Loved it!

Soulmate is a kdrama that tells of the interleaved lives of friends, coworkers and strangers and their complex web of relationships. From Dong Wook, an experienced playboy, to Yu Jin, a regular on the matchmaking circuit, none are immune from the forces of love, feelings and fate. Will Philip and Su Kyeong live happily ever after? Will Dong Wook finally find his true soulmate? Will Min Ae find someone who truly loves her?  Watch on and find out!

*Spoiler warning*

In terms of feel, this kdrama was actually quite similar to The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry. Essentially, it follows several male and female characters and tracks their relationship developments as the drama progresses. As always in these types of dramas, everyone is somehow related to everyone else, which often leads to hilarity and awkward situations.  Coincidences and hurt feelings almost always ensue. In some ways, the storyline is somewhat predictable given the limited set of characters. However, particularly for this drama, it is almost always about the journey rather than the destination. What kept me entertained throughout this series was not so much what happened but more so the series of events and conversations that led us there.

The quirkiness of some of the characters provided plenty of fresh and amusing material for the dialogue resulting in an abundance of laughs. To be sure, this drama had its share of logical holes including most of the relationship development between Dong Wook and Su Kyeong. However, these didn't draw too much away from the main idea of the drama.  Interestingly enough, I wasn't too focused on the ending as I usually am (dramas can sometimes be entirely be ruined by an illogical, badly planned ending - think Black & White), as I had the feeling that wasn't overly important.  In any case, the ending wasn't half bad and fittingly ended the drama.

Although I get the feeling that Shin Dong Wook and Lee Su Kyeong were supposed to the main characters of this drama, it certainly didn't turn out that way. Most of the cast were given more than their typical share of screen time which actually helped to keep the material fresh and changing.  Having characters like Hong Yu Jin and Kim Mi Jin certainly provided plenty of comedic material for the writers. Throw in Min Ae, Jung Hwan and Joo Hee and a couple of strange side characters here and there and that pretty much guaranteed amusing and fun side story arcs. For sure, there was no lack of interesting characters and each of the cast got a chance to showcase their character's development. Most of the acting was done fairly well and I didn't come across any glaring issues in the portrayal of the characters or acting. In fact, I have to say that plenty of the minor supporting characters, like Joo Ho, added some colorful flavoring to the mix.

'This is not a love song' probably came away as the most overplayed and overused piece in this particular drama. While it certainly made sense to be used in some of the situations, the repeated usage of it every so often made it a little hard on the ear. Several other pieces were used in similar fashion as well although the repeated usage of those were not as unbearable. Overall, the music for this drama is quite a unique cocktail of different languages and styles. While I understand that a lot of these pieces were often picked to match with Shin Dong Wook's work as a music DJ of sorts, the huge diversity had its strengths and weaknesses.  The songs certainly were chosen well to reflect the mood at the time. On the other hand, having such a disparate group of songs meant the drama oftentimes felt a bit disjointed and broke with the overall flow of the story. Unfortunately, in this case, the latter's effect outweighed the former leaving the music selection as a bit lacking overall.

I'm actually a little surprised at how different and similar The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry is to this drama. The feelings I get from both dramas are strangely familiar. As I mentioned earlier, both dramas share a very similar focus on relationships and provide plenty of comedy and hijinx along the way. Certainly the pairing of Kim Bum and Park Jin Hee was a tad stronger and more romantic than that of Dong Wook and Su Kyeong but otherwise, both dramas were entertaining and attractive. While neither drama was entirely perfect, they certainly kept me amused and content - and sometimes, isn't that just what dramas are for? =)

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