Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet 18 Review (2004)

Drama Rating: ***
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Kwon Hyuk Joon and Yoon Jung Sook's grandfather's were best of friends and had decided long ago to arrange a marriage between their grandchildren. A number of years later, Jung Sook has grown up to be a headstrong and rebellious high school girl with no dreams or goals. Hyuk Joon has grown into respectful, hardworking prosecutor with a very down-to-earth demeanor. When the two families somehow manage to get back in contact, Hyuk Joon and Jung Sook are in for quite a surprise when they find out about the arranged marriage.

*Spoiler warning*

This drama tells a pretty straightforward story of an arranged marriage between a high school girl and a Seoul public prosecutor. While there was bound to be some inherent conflicts to resolve and thus move the drama along, it was also understandable why this drama also had a bit of an understated tone. Despite adding some additional tensions with the sister and a rival, there was only so much material to work with in a story like this, leaving the drama intrinsically hampered and restricted by its own story. Certainly, the script wasn't bad by any means and there were plenty of fun and emotional moments throughout the series, but it certainly didn't feel like a drama destined for greatness.

The first thought that comes to mind when talking about Lee Dong Gun's Hyuk Joon portrayal is plain vanilla. I'm not sure whether it is the because of the character's description or if it was Lee Dong Gun's portrayal but the character Hyuk Joon just seems a tad boring. Obviously, as a down-to-earth public prosecutor, there's a limit to how 'interesting' his character can get but for sure, his character didn't seem like one to pull in the ratings. Jung Sook seems to be his complete, polar opposite as a very brash, direct and immature high school student.  Han Ji Hye did an excellent job in this respect and was clearly the life of the drama. Yoo Hye Jung did an exemplary job as Sun-Ah (Hyuk Joon's sister) and Lee Soon Jae did his usual bang up job as Hyuk Joon's grandfather. As for Lee Da Hye, she didn't shine as much as she did in My Girl but she still put in a decent performance.

The music is a little difficult to comment on for this drama because it was practically non-existent. The little that there was was barely noticeable and didn't make much of an impact on the story. Incidentally, given the overall lack of tension in this drama, a little excitement in the music would have done wonders to give the drama some life. The lack of music was also made quite apparent due to Lee Dong Gun's quieter and more reserved performance as Hyuk Joon.

Although this drama certainly didn't sweep me off my feet, it certainly had a somewhat bland but steady feel throughout, much like eating a staple food. The story itself was fairly innocuous and certainly had its moments, particularly in scenes with both Jung Sook and Sun Ah, but it always fell back to that down-to-earth tone whenever Hyuk Joon appeared. The general lack of musical accompaniment to the drama further highlighted this particularly when the dialogue was sparse. While I certainly have nothing against down-to-earth dramas (I particularly like realistic dramas in fact), I do prefer dramas to have some interesting characters for entertainment's sake. So while this drama was fairly enjoyable and a solid piece of work, I certainly wouldn't expect it to make it to the top of most viewer's lists.

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