What I’m about to tell you is highly embarrassing. As soon as I write it all down I’m going to burn this entry. Where do I find matches, do you know?
There’s a drama that I like. That’s nothing new, right? But what’s new, and what’s making me blush, is how I felt long before I started watching the drama and how differently I feel now. My avowals then. My complete turnaround months later. Even at that time it was a first for me, to be heartily sick of an actor that I hadn’t watched in anything. That cauliflower hairdo. That smirk. That too-pretty face. I got so tired looking at that face. It was friggin’ EVERYWHERE.
Last night, after finishing Episode 8 of this drama, I went online to check how many episodes remained. When I saw that I had twelve episodes to go, I felt instantly relieved. And happy. Because I get to dwell on that face some more.
That face. That face does not look anything like the face that I saw everywhere on blog headers, forum signatures, and product ads. Not that I’ve scrutinized his features, nope; rather, I had grown so averse to his likeness I would look the other way. Lee Min-ho fatigue. Man, did I suffer from it during and after Boys Over Flowers.
But now? Now I don’t see Lee Min-ho when I look at that face, I see only City Hunter. I see only Lee Yoon-sung, a 28-year-old professor who hails from M.I.T., now working undercover at the Blue House. I see a character I feel fiercely protective about, who makes my heart race and ache. I see a man who’s strong but also vulnerable, a man who reminds me of Jung Il-woo’s Iljimae.
I do not know yet if I will love Lee Yoon-sung as much as I love Iljimae, but that is not what’s making me red-faced the last few days. Do you know how many screen captures I’ve taken of our city hunter, dear diary? At least 600. And I had professed to be allergic to that face. Hahaha.
Not only that, my poor readers are going to need umbrellas when they come to the blog. Because it’s raining City Hunter headers. Specifically Lee Yoon-sung headers. I, who used to grumble about people going berserk with the Lee Min-ho headers, am now making them by the truckload. And unleashing them with unbridled glee, never mind that they’ve been cobbled together with zilch artistic flair. Not that anyone’s complaining, mind you, although my sweet pal Softy, who’s recapping City Hunter on her blog, just emailed to say this:
Your latest CH with the mask almost gave me a heart attack – he looks so desperate there.
What Softy does not know is that I have more “CH with the mask” headers stashed away, like this one:
And one sans mask but with a towel instead:
I’ve not added them to the blog because I don’t want to be too obvious. I don’t want anyone doubled over or twittering to the gang, “Good grief, the unthinkable has finally happened. Thundie’s gone potty over Lee Min-ho!” Oh well, no one’s going to be any wiser because I’m telling only you.
Why this sudden craziness? It’s really simple. The drama is crack of the highest order. Lee Min-ho is burning up the screen. See, just like that.
When I stop to think about it, it’s like it’s all predestined. Me caving in, I mean. The drama opens and right away I squeal.
Kim Sang-joong. Park Sang-min.
Two actors I adore and respect. Playing presidential guards in a foreign land, replete with the steely gaze and furrowed brows. Together in the same scene and the next one and the next one, like they’re inseparable. Until Park Sang-min’s character dies early in the episode, in what must surely be the slowest slow-mo death scene ever. (And I’m gutted inside. No one told me Park Sang-min was playing a mere cameo, waahhh! Where are you going, come back!)
One episode is all it takes for everything to fall in place. The ultimate betrayal. The ultimate revenge. A month-old baby wrenched from his mother and then raised for one sole purpose: to snuff out five men who snuffed out twenty including his father. The baby grows into a strapping lad and I do a double take. This is Lee Min-ho? When did he become so tall? Where did that nose come from? And who styled his hair?
Trivial questions, those. Because soon I’m so immersed in the story unfolding on screen I don’t think about the actor behind the character anymore. I’m swept along by the pain and the pathos, Yoon-sung’s mom grieving for a husband who promised to return quickly but doesn’t. Her screams for the baby who has disappeared. Her utter bewilderment at how her world has suddenly collapsed. Her sorrow.
That sorrow mirroring that of Iljimae’s mother. Kim Mi-sook turning in a performance just as compelling and heartbreaking (even if I’m initially taken aback that the drama has her cast as Park Sang-min’s wife, so used am I to the two playing roles which are a generation apart).
Kim Mi-sook’s Lee Kyung-hee will spend the next twenty-eight years waiting to be reunited with her lost son. Unknown to her, her husband’s best pal is now father to the child he snatched away. Unknown to her, Lee Jin-pyo is now Steve Lee, a man who has lived the last twenty-eight years preparing for one mission.
My favorite King Jeongjo a villain here. Charismatic, cruel. Hell-bent on revenge. His enraged eyes like slits. Possessing an otherworldly ability to pop up when least expected, a maimed leg posing no impediment at all.
The Kim Sang-joong and Lee Min-ho pairing. If you told me two years ago that I would one day trip over myself gushing about this pairing, I would have yelled “Don’t be ridiculous!” so loudly I would likely burst your eardrums.
Some of the most gripping scenes in this gripping drama? Father and son in their dangerous one-upmanship duels, the former obsessed with killing his enemies, the latter adamant that an eye-for-an-eye vengeance is not the City Hunter’s modus operandi.
What will the son do to stop the father? Almost anything.
Because what the City Hunter loves, he protects. That includes the father who raised him from infancy, who has perpetrated a sickening lie that Yoon-sung has yet to uncover. “Your mother abandoned you.”
No, she did not, you villain you. Not content with kidnapping your best friend’s child, you turn him against his mother as well, so that he grows up misunderstanding and hating her? How dare you! And no, don’t you try luring me over to your side with your smile or your shades. This is not Eight Days where I’m a puddle of drool before Your Sexy Majesty.
You know what is amazing, dear diary? Lee Jin-pyo is so sure he has raised an unfeeling beast, but look at how Yoon-sung has turned out!
Not only does he tower over everyone else, his personality and principles stand tall, too. He’s sweet-natured, he’s affectionate. He leaps over buildings but does not mind frolicking in a fountain. He’s smart as a whip but can’t tell the difference between coffee that’s been percolated most professionally and coffee that comes from a cheapo three-in-one mix. He sucks at judo.
Without any effort on his part (and with plenty of embarrassment on my part), Lee Min-ho has turned me into a star-struck City Hunter fan.
To think I used to dismiss him as an overhyped actor with no acting chops. How would I know about the latter if I had not seen him in a single drama or movie? My ignorance, my prejudice. I deserve to be knocked on the head with Lee Jin-pyo’s walking cane.
In an ensemble of veterans who make acting seem so effortless, Lee Min-ho holds his own and then some. In his Lee Yoon-sung I’ve found another unforgettable screen hero, like the Iljimae I continue to miss. His eyes are pools, of compassion and also loneliness. He is committed to his father’s cause; he will die for that cause, if necessary. But his way is different from his father’s way; he will not take a life. Because when it’s all over he wants to live like everyone else. To walk down a street without a care in the world. To love a girl without fearing that she will become a hindrance that his revenge-crazed father must eliminate.
Do I like our OTP (one true pairing) in City Hunter? Oh yes!
When his eyes light up after recognizing her at the Blue House, when she sits triumphantly on him after yet another judo sparring session, when he cooks up an excuse to move into her apartment, when he risks his life to save hers… In all of their bantering and bickering—all that a front for how quickly they’ve gotten under each other’s skin—I’m grinning like one who’s been bequeathed a whole library of favorite books, each one signed by its author.
In a revenge thriller, and with a title that immediately conjures up images of bloodshed and violence, how sweet and adorable is this couple?
I love that they can be quiet next to each other, their body language an implicit nod to their partnership. They feel so right together. Sorry, Micky Yoochun.
Park Min-young’s so pretty, isn’t she, diary? And she’s doing all right, too, except for scenes where she must wail. I vote that the drama rein in the repeated flashbacks of Kim Na-na’s reaction at the accident site which claimed her mother’s life and left her dad in a vegetative state. Hmm, I wonder how Lee Min-ho will do in a similar scene. I can’t see him jumping and screaming in a school uniform, can you? He’s such a giant. A really hot giant.
You know the Yoon-sung scenes I love? When he’s outside Na-na’s apartment or coming down from that building that reminds me so much of the hellhole in the movie Sorum. I bow to you, PD-nim. I bow to you, cinematographer. So perfectly framed, these scenes. Not when he’s on another daredevil mission but when he’s walking alone deep in thought, torn between his loyalty to his father and his love for Na-na. Trying to do his best. Trying to do what’s right. These are the moments when my heart tightens the most for our city hunter.
Eleven episodes into the drama and I’m struck by how tightly the writer has scripted the plot. This has every potential to be convoluted, what with the Hated Group of Five in the top echelons of political power. Yet it has remained singular in its focus and execution. The five to be destroyed ONE AT A TIME. Their stories interwoven and yet distinctive. So exciting the suspense and also so entertaining.
City Hunter is barrels of fun, diary. It engages me on the visceral level but never insults my intelligence. There are no stock characters stuck in there as mere plot devices. Okay, maybe the president’s youngest daughter, who’s there to make the president look stupid somehow. But I don’t really mind her because she brings out the grumpy Yoon-sung. Do you know how cute he is when he’s irked? But not as cute as the positively beaming Yoon-sung when he manages to squirrel his way into Na-na’s apartment as landlord and housemate.
The thing about City Hunter is that it’s not stingy with the dishy; there’s enough to go around. If a viewer’s not taken with Yoon-sung (how is that possible, though?), he or she just needs to look a little farther.
I said “farther,” not “father”!
Oh well, let’s not begrudge the older man his time in the
sauna sun; who knew what a dish he might have been years ago? Enough to beget a son like our prosecutor.
The last time I watched Lee Joon-hyeok was two years ago in City Hall where he played Cha Seung-won’s secretary. What a pleasant surprise to see him here in a fleshed-out second lead role where he’s given plenty of room to shine and leave a mark. The prosecutor seeking justice and upholding the law, yet secretly hiding a dastardly secret about his politician father. The divorcee who can’t seem to get over his wife. The Daddy-Long-Legs who’s been supporting and writing to Na-na for ten years. The city hunter’s pursuer.
At one point in the drama Yoon-sung asks Kim Young-joo point-blank: “You follow me around so much, do you like me?”
Of course he does, silly Yoon-sung! Don’t you see how his eyes gleam at the sight of you, and how he fairly salivates? The more I watch the two of you together, the more I see the beginnings of a beautiful
bromance friendship. It shouldn’t be long before you two realize you’re on the same side.
There’s another beautiful friendship here and this one is touching in the pair’s devotion to each other. In fact, the older man is practically a mother to the motherless Yoon-sung, feeding and protecting him. Though fearful of Lee Jin-pyo’s wrath, Bae Man-deok will do anything for Yoon-sung, even smearing the latter’s shirt with dollops of snot.
Heart and humor. I didn’t expect to find both in City Hunter but I am. But why am I surprised at the humanity on display here, diary? After all, the second female lead isn’t a bitch but an animal-loving vet. She’s not elbowing Na-na for Yoon-sung, at least not in the eleven episodes I’ve watched so far.
I like Jin Se-hee because of how Hwang Sun-hee plays her, stoic and quietly observant, seeing but not demanding to know. I like her because she’s our city hunter’s friend. Welcome to the Yoon-sung fan club, dear doc. Thank you for not ratting on him to your ex-husband, the zealous prosecutor.
So I’ve found myself a new drama to like. In three weeks it will end and then the sadness will start all over again. I don’t know why, dear diary, but it’s been hard bidding goodbye to the dramas I’ve loved this year. This past weekend was especially difficult.
But City Hunter has come along, an unexpected salve, and I’ve gotten so addicted to it, too. It’s pure escapism. It’s Lee Min-ho. It’s thundie eating her biggest humble pie ever.