Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Drama Review: Kill Me, Heal Me


I was a little surprised when I realized that Kill Me Heal Me is my first finished drama of 2015. It's already the end of March, and I thought I've been watching a lot of dramas (which apparently I'm not). But maybe that's my fault. Personal stories aside, Kill Me was like a creature in its own turf, doing its own damn thing, and us mere mortals are there to witness its glory. At least that's what's going on in my brain with each and every episode.

Taking on the monstrous task of portraying Dissociative Identity Disorder, popularly known as multiple personality, Kill Me follows Cha Do-hyun (Ji Sung), an heir to a conglomerate whose family is as crazy as they come, starting from the mysterious death of his mother and grandfather, and later surviving a house fire which resulted in the coma of his own father. Years later, while studying abroad, Do-hyun finds out he's not the only one living in his body. Upon his return to South Korea, he meets psychiatrist Oh Ri-jin (Hwang Jung-eum) who later becomes his personal doctor, and an unexpected key to his life mystery.

I've mentioned in a previous post how the show swept me off my feet from the very first episode. There were a lot of contributing factors as to why I was just so drawn in. Initially I wanted to watch a house burn, but instead got amusing fireworks. The humor was so off the wall you can't help but stay glued to the screen. It's what I would consider the campiest drama I've watched, and in the best way.

This kind of dedication is hard to find. A lot of dramas tend to err on the vanilla side of things, which honestly doesn't give for a great show. Then again, not a lot of dramas deal with a man with 7 very distinct personalities within him, each of whom can probably have their own spin-off. But it's not just him, as many other members of this cooky orchestra also has a little added sprinkle they want to add to the show. It's weird, but I'm glad they decided to head this way.

Arguably the main reason this can all work out is how great the performances are. Viewers left and right are praising Ji Sung to high heavens with his (multiple) performances. It's true, he's great. I always look forward to the his interpretations of each and every one of the alters, making it a treat when a new one shows up. It was so fascinating to see him transform into very different people, starting from the subdued original Do-hyun, to the angsty Shin Se-gi, super fangirl Yo-na, melancholic Yo-seob, the rambunctious ahjusshi Perry Park, and to a lesser extent the little girl Nana and mysterious Mr. X. The last two weren't all that great, since the first were mostly played by the little girl and the second was... why was he there exactly? But forget about them, those first five are what counts. I've never really watched Ji Sung outside of Protect the Boss, which I dropped. But after seeing Kill Me, I feel like I've seen five of his works, and they were all great.

But let's not forget the other characters. I've seen complaints of Hwang Jung-eum's Ri-jin, especially in the beginning when she screams a lot. I wasn't too bothered by it, and was following along, sensing that the over the top expressions are what the director wants. Similar approaches have also been done by other characters, mainly Oh Ri-on (Park Seo-joon) especially during his encounters with Yo-na which is always amusing. Don't fret though as when the tone shifts more somber, the actors nail it well. It was also great that they (at least the three) has such great chemistry which was such a pleasure to watch.

Sadly there were some unnecessary characters in the form of Oh Min-seok and Kim Yu-ri. The former was in Misaeng and the latter was in Master's Sun and in both cases I loved them there. Perhaps the writer was focusing more on Do-hyun, Ri-jin, and to an extent Ri-on, that they didn't have time for anyone else. They were wasted as actors and the show really could've been without them. Here's to hoping those two will find salvation in a future role.

While I've enjoyed many of the antics, I found the story to be exhausting, especially once they dived into the great abyss of family drama. The eighth and ninth week (episode 15 to 18) saw a dramatic drop in tone and was personally difficult for me to get through. I was so used to having laugh out loud fun in the first few episodes that the drama portion was a bit of a shock to the system. It wasn't like I didn't know it was coming, as most K-dramas have this narrative dip in the third act. But the differences were so stark in this show that it did put me off from watching it for a while.

It didn't help that the actual details of the story was very confusing and doesn't really make much sense. I don't expect gravity to fall they way they do in the real world, but things were, shockingly enough, going too smoothly for the main characters. Drama logic is always fuzzy, but this one was just chasing its own tail. Most of the problems involve the Cha family dynasty whose secrets and lies are so tangled, there's no way it can unravel. But it did, because fate said so. Let's just say me and "fate" aren't the best of buddies.

Ultimately, I did enjoy Kill Me. I was appreciative of the fact that the moment they came on the show, they decided they're going with crazy and run with it. It's in no way a correct depiction of DID or in any sense a "healing" drama or whatever buzzword they tried to sell me. It's not really my favorite drama ever (but maybe up there of the year? We have 9 months to find out). But it was great fun and that's what dramas need. Except that bit about the clash of the chaebols. Maybe they should make a movie about it. In 3D animation.

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