Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bridal Mask Review (2012)

Drama Rating: ****
Personal Rating: Enjoyable

Bridal Mask, aka Gaksital, is a period drama set in the 1930s during the annexation/occupation of Korea by Japanese forces. The story revolves around Bridal Mask, a mysterious masked vigilante who attacks high-ranking Japanese officials and secretly gives aid to the Korean population. What is his purpose will Lieutenant Lee Kang To be able to unravel the schemes going on behind the scenes?

*Spoiler warning*

Bridal Mask has a plot packed with intensity and action. The pacing was well done with slower, romantic scenes and action sequences and cliffhangers nicely interspersed throughout the series. The storytelling was quite riveting and you'll be left on the edge of your seat more than a few times throughout the drama. There are various holes in the drama logic as with most dramas but these are not overly noticeable on the surface. It was also rather refreshing to see a scriptwriter who didn't hesitate to introduce or remove characters to suit the storyline rather than dragging everything out and then pushing for a flurry of activity in the last episode as is the case in many dramas. The filming of this drama actually left me wondering how much of it was filmed at the KBS Studio I visited before in Suwon City.

Joo Won, previously of Goo Ma Jun fame in Baker King Kim Tak Goo, leads this drama with forcefulness and determination as Lee Kang To/Sato Hiroshi. The confidence and passion he exerted in this role makes him seem almost perfectly suited for this role. His previously ever-present scowl was less notable in this series and he has clearly grown significantly as an actor. In this drama, his most notable/memorable parts were his poker face and his gut-wrenching cry (you'll know which one I'm talking about when you watch this - one of the best I've seen in any drama). Jin Se Yeun plays the strong-willed Oh Mok Dan reasonably well and does a great job as the love interest of both Lee Kang To and Kimura Shunji. As for Park Ki Woong, he seems perfectly suited to play a character with multiple personalities because that felt very much like how he presented Kimura Shunji. Whether that was the intent or not, Park Ki Woong compartmentalized each one of these separate "Shunji's" so well that it felt like we were dealing with a different person altogether. It might have been more desirable to have had his character slowly shift his viewpoints rather than doing abrupt 180 degree turns in character. The rest of the supporting cast measured up quite well and gave the drama the required level of credibility needed to immerse the audience in that epoque.

The music was definitely one of the strengths of the drama. The soundtrack was very suitably chosen/written to complement the drama's scenes and bring out the agony, excitement and intensity throughout the range of scenes. The timing and pairing of this was nicely done and gave the drama the sense of urgency or anticipation it needed.

This was an action packed thriller from start to finish and it does its job quite well. Surprises abound and will keep you entertained even throughout its rather lengthy 28 episode duration. The acting was generally quite solid although Park Ki Woong didn't quite seem to master his character as naturally as the rest. The storyline was fairly solid although there were moments when some scenes did feel a little forced and contrived. Overall, not a bad drama at all and there are certainly some memorable moments!

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