"Often times I felt like wiping that smirk off his face by slapping him. That was how much I disliked Soo-hyoung and I guess that was how good his (Jang Dong Gun) performance was."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Original version is Korean, but you can find Mandarin dubbed version with Chinese/Malay subtitles. Just take note; the Malay subtitles are slightly better than All About Eve but the punctuation and the arrangement is just as bad, but not worse though. But sometimes the character finished talking and yet the subtitles just so slow in appearing. One episode the last 15 min don't have subtitles. Amazingly I could understand what was said. Maybe innately I do know Korean! Not really. I just go guessed and frankly I don't even know how accurate are the subtitles. I of course assume the Mandarin version is accurate.
No of Episodes
16, but I believe originally must be longer because some scenes just don't make sense.
There isn't one. The starting scene is always those music only and that music is like dying, like so slow and like so boring, all blue and like really suffering from terminal illness type of music. But the soundtrack inside the series is good, a mix of English and Korean songs.
I only know 4. The rest must be famous but I do not know them. It is interesting to see so many familiar faces that I saw in Dae Jang Geum aka Jewel In The Palace albeit 6 years later (Jewel in The Palace was made in 2003).
Jang Dong Gun - Kim Soo-hyoung
Son Chang-min - Kim Jun-ki
Lee Young Ae - Cha Min-joo
And plenty of people walking in and out of every scene.
Basically a medical drama with a very morbid twist towards the end, it details the love lives and rivalry between two brothers from a family of distinguished doctors who work in the same hospital ran by their grandfather but both are not actual brothers by blood relations. Soo-hyoung the younger, handsomer and more brilliant one is the adopted son but his adoption was as a result of some tragic circumstances and when Soo-hyoung, a brilliant but arrogant heart/lung specialist found out the awful truth, he was determined to seek revenge for whatever the price. His long suffering girlfriend Min-joo, also a doctor in the same hospital stood by him through his philandering attitude as well as ignoring her feelings most of the time until she almost died from a serious illness which made her realise she could do better to leave him whilst that made Soo-hyoung realise where his heart lies. Older brother Jun-ki made several mistakes when operating, one caused the death of his wife and the other caused the death of his good friend's wife. Filled with remorse he ran away, lost his memory and met the innocent and sweet Regina. He fell for her and gained his memory as well as his confidence as a doctor back again and returned to work, much to the chagrin of Soo-hyoung who wanted to get rid of this more patient and well liked brother of his. But things became much more complicated when Soo-hyoung himself was dying from an incurable disease whilst Regina was dying of a heart failure. One having a change of heart and the other in need of a new heart, both found solace in each other's company in the time of death and that was when Soo-hyoung made the decision that will change the lives of everybody forever.
This series was filmed in 1997, the same year where Jang Dong Gun later went on to film 2 more series, Myth Of A Hero which I am going to watch and Model, which I have finished watching and shall not torture myself anymore by watching it a second time. You could actually see him gaining a bit of weight in Model whilst in Medical Brothers, he looked somewhat younger but much slimmer and also taller. As Soo-hyoung, he is perpetually wearing his glasses which I suspect he was not too comfortable with because he kept touching them in the beginning of this series. This series was acclaimed in the sense that Jang Dong Gun was finally recognised for being a good actor, where some said he improved tremendously here. You can also find another future star in the making in here, that is Lee Young Ae who looked the same in 1997 and in 2003 and in 2005, so basically she has always looked older than her actual age.
There is no denying Jang Dong Gun and Lee Young Ae were both very young when this series was filmed. For example, Jang Dong Gun, now in 2005 is 34 and back then he was about 26 perhaps and yet in this series he played a 32 year old specialist. He looked much too young and much too awkward to play a specialist but every other scene he pulled it off admirably. Lee Young Ae was also around that age but in here she is playing perhaps the same age or maybe a year or two younger. She looked the age by the way but yet she paired off well with Jang Dong Gun because their acting compliment one another. I'll elaborate more on this.
What is very good about this series is in the Korean sense, it is as morbid as most Korean series made during that time. Someone has to die and he or she has to die in a dramatic fashion meant to shock. You won't find such an ending in Chinese series or at least in TVB series and so I find this series' ending radical. The surgical scenes looked very real, you can even see a heart beating up close. But half the time I do not know what they were saying, even in English by the way. However I enjoyed the medical discussions and the surgical scenes because I would never expect such authentic scenes even now more so in 1997 and this coming from an Asian series so to speak. How accurate were the medical treatments I do not know. Another good aspect of this series, apart from the acting is the engaging storyline. It's nothing new, it's very dramatic but somehow it works in making you sit up and pay attention, even when the subtitles are nowhere to be seen. I thorougly enjoyed every single scene between Soo-hyoung and Min-joo, I find their love story very suffering and yet very engaging. Plus you have some very interesting intimate scenes between these 2. Again I'll elaborate more on this later. The cinematography for certain scenes were good and the dialogue spoken by the characters very realistic. But the selling point of this series for a Jang Dong Gun fan is of course Jang Dong Gun himself. This was one of his earlier series and his rawness in acting shows but if people hailed this as his turning point in acting, I can only deduce that he must have been awful before this. I am not saying he's bad here but let's just say All About Eve totally made me fall for his charm and his great acting whilst this series, you see the diamond in the rough. More on this later.
Who is the villain?
If there is a villain in this series, I can't see him or her. There is no real villain and therein lies the attraction of this series. You can say the grandfather is the villain. After all he would commit murder to save the reputation of the hospital. Maybe not murder but there is a suggestion of it. Soo-hyoung's mother died on the operating table caused by Jun-ki's father who later committed suicide due to regrets. He found out he misdiagnosed the illness, which was actually caused by his own father who refused to confirm the findings. He left a suicide note that Soo-hyoung must be taken care for by the family. Then Soo-hyoung's father sued the hospital to know the truth of his wife's death and after a meeting with Jun-ki's grandfather, he became missing and never to be seen again. That I think is why Soo-hyoung thought the grandfather committed murder. The series never explained this at all and like Soo-hyoung one immediately deduce father died because of some foul play. Like Soo-hyoung told Min-joo; "I can understand if it was medical negligence but to kill my father, I can never accept that..." which was why he was bent on revenge which resulted in several doctors losing their reputation following one heart transplant and his grandfather slipping into coma and dying without regaining conciousness. So maybe the grandfather is the villain but yet he did what he did to protect the hospital. Not a noble reason but still a reason.
You can say Soo-hyoung is the villain. But I don't see it when he plotted his revenge against the grandfather but I do see it when he started to pursue his little sister (well, 25 years living together as sister and brother so that makes her a sister) and then broke her heart and drove her to commit suicide. That was just plain vicious and that was when I can't understand this character. In the beginning he looked like he really liked his sister and yet for revenge he was willing to go so low in character. The way he treated Min-joo was also disgusting to put it in plain words but yet what he did at the end of the series could only be said to be noble. So is he the villain? Maybe not.
The character of Soo-hyoung
As I have mentioned above, this is one character that is easy to hate and very difficult to like. He is disgusting with the way he carelessly kicked Min-joo aside. In fact in the beginning of this series, he returned after 1 year abroad in the States and his first scene was him stabbing a dying patient's heart in a very dramatic fashion in the A&E and thus saving his life. This character is meant to be radical from this 1st scene. He seems keen on seeing his brother fail, in fact he caused his brother to fail in one routine surgery, breaking his brother's confidence. It didn't help that the grandfather actually encouraged the rivalry but the more gentler older brother refused to be sucked into the rivalry. Basically Soo-hyoung is a great surgeon but knows very little on how to become a doctor whilst his older brother, Jun-ki a mediocre surgeon but is a great doctor as he always puts the patient's interest as first priority. Soo-hyoung views all surgeries like a game, a competition that he must complete within a certain time because he wanted to. From the beginning of the series until the end, he does things his way, whether in work, in life, love and even in death. He controls his own destiny and he refuses to listen to what others have to say.
And that is what makes this character so intriguing; he is simply such a bastard to begin with one can't help but fall for his I don't care attitude and devilish charm. He smirks a lot and he is all the time over confident. He pretends he doesn't care, especially when Min-joo was very sick and yet when alone he fears for her life and he cries. He does care but he just refuse to show it. When facing his own mortality, he was in disbelief, he feared death and he hated his impending doom. He ran away, he was in denial until he met Regina, who was also dying but accepted her fate calmly. In her company he found acceptance of his impending fate. Somehow she managed to calm him down and with her he wasn't the cocky arrogant Soo-hyoung, but a much calmer person. The change was interesting. I do wonder, if this series have gone on for another 10 episodes, could the writer suggest a love story between these two? It seems like for once Soo-hyoung did not view Regina, a pretty girl as just another conquest, he actually took the time to sit down and just enjoy her company. Very interesting.
His ending may be a bit shocking but I find it suitable. His reason was he was going to die sooner or later so why not sooner so that his death could give life to another, in this case Regina? The scene where his brother cried tearfully when he knew what Soo-hyoung did and how Min-joo was crying her heart out was devastating. Especially for Min-joo who at last had his heart all to herself only to have him die some time later, it was simply sad.
I find Soo-hyoung a very complex character, sinister, mean, arrogant, a total bastard and yet at the same time engaging, charismatic and absolutely charming when he wants to be.
The actor Jang Dong Gun
Looking much too young to be a specialist like Soo-hyoung, he more than made up for the lack of numbers as in age with his really engaging performance. I believe the editing may have caused some odd moments, and often I questioned why he had to be so mean to his older brother. Then it was much later I found out the entire family, including himself knew he was an adopted child and the fact that the grandfather encouraged the competition and rivalry, I think Soo-hyoung felt perhaps it would be to his advantage to kick his much respected brother out of the picture. The way Jang Dong Gun interpreted this character is not very easy to watch. I mean I kept thinking this is Hyung Chul you know, how can he act that way? Many said this was an improved acting from Jang Dong Gun. I almost didn't believe it because he was smirking so much but when I got used to all the smirking and realised some scenes were badly edited, I began to appreciate his performance. At times still raw but he got better towards the end with some classic moments. His worst scenes were the kissing scenes, because all that were camera angles. His best moments were often with Lee Young Ae or when he was alone, like banging on the table when he realised he was dying. There was nothing pretty about his performance because he was playing such an ugly bastard type of character. I never liked Soo-hyoung, not even until the end but he gave Soo-hyoung a certain sense of integrity; he sticks by his decision more or less, good or bad. A lesser actor would have done well in this character but would have given this character a sense of mocking the viewers. This character is dangerously close to doing that many times with his smirks and his arrogant attitude. Maybe it is because I am a big fan of Jang Dong Gun that I thought he gave this character quite simply character. I very much enjoyed his performance towards the end although the first 2 or 3 episodes had me in total disbelief that one can smirk that much. Often times I felt like wiping that smirk off his face by slapping him. That was how much I disliked Soo-hyoung and I guess that was how good his performance was.
I must mention that Soo-hyoung reminded me of Li Zheng in Model. Same smirk, same arrogance and self assured manner but Li Zheng was more bearable than Soo-hyoung though. At least he wasn't that malicious and Soo-hyoung was much too arrogant for his own good.
The character of Min-joo
At first glance I was kinda insulted by this character. A successful intelligent beautiful woman and yet got pushed around by that arrogant jerk Soo-hyoung. In fact the way Soo-hyoung had her wrapped around his fingers and she merely the follower to the clearly more dominant Soo-hyoung was really quite uncomfortable to watch, since I have my own views on how a woman like Min-joo should behave; namely dump him should be her first option. She was after all treated with such disrespect. The very first scene had him meeting her and she was angry with him for leaving one year ago without saying good bye, no letters or hellos all these while and he simply shot her back by saying "Did I ever said we were in a relationship? Did I ever said we are a couple? Did I ever said I love you?". Her heart was broken again and again and again throughout 16 episodes again and again and again.
But darn it, her character is very interesting to watch, especially the ordeal she went through for love. We never knew how they started, except that their relationship went back as far as 10 years ago, so I can only deduce they started off in the same hospital as colleagues and she fell very very hard for him. I can understand women in love tend to be a bit blinded; in Min-joo's case, she is not really blinded. She knew what she was getting into, she knew what kind of man Soo-hyoung was, she knew he did what he did simply to hurt her so as to confirm the fact that she was still truly, madly and very much deeply in love with him. She knew it, he knew it and she was the one who had to bear all consequences of him knowing that one singular fact; she loved him more than he loved her, and that was very obvious from episode 1. He did love her, in his own special I don't care type of way, if not he wouldn't have stayed around with her for 10 years. But he simply can't help but hurt her as well, by saying things like "Have I ever said I was ever going to marry you?". His was always a question, and her answer was always complete silence, because he was right; he never did say he will marry her or that he loved her. But she stuck around, hoping for one day he would change. When she became very sick, she woke up realising maybe she can let go of her feelings for Soo-hyoung and she decided to leave the hospital, but Soo-hyoung stopped her. She agreed to stay on the condition he leaves her alone and yet she allows him to walk in and out of her apartment as and when he likes and reluctantly but still willingly cooked for him. But all along, she thought she could ignore her feelings. When Soo-hyoung proposed to Jun-ki's sister, she was hurt beyond words. And then she got very sick. After she recovered, she told Jun-ki, "When I started going out with him, I knew I had to be a stupid foolish woman. I don't want to be that woman anymore, I will always love him but now I have learned to control my feelings". But by then Soo-hyoung realised he loved her. The way he proposed to her was also like in a very careless manner; he simply gave her the ring and said let's get married but give him 1 month to settle some personal issues. When she found out the sister tried to kill herself for Soo-hyoung, she simply returned the ring to him, but when all the ugly truth about the hospital broke out and Jun-ki was very angry with Soo-hyoung, she didn't hate him. Instead she went back to him and simply said "I want back my ring" and went on to drinking with him and simply said "If you have something to tell me, you better tell me now before I get drunk. If you don't want me to listen, wait a couple minutes; I'll be drunk soon". He then told her about his past, why he was seeking revenge and Min-joo finally thought she understood him but of course Soo-hyoung in his usual manner said "You thought you understand me, you don't. I never understood myself until I found out about this..." but the truth was Min-joo understood him perfectly. So Min-joo went back to him.
It may seem very tiresome to watch this woman going back and forth again and again but if you watched from episode 1, her character and her interaction with Soo-hyoung provided many classic moments that I believe in actual reality could happen. Their dialogue is very realistic, the way they interact is also very real and that kinda give me an impression that this couple could exist and utter those lines that seems very realistic.
One of the most heartfelt moment that even Soo-hyoung could feel was when he was very sick and he was in physical pain, Min-joo hugged him tightly and cried more dramatically, as if his physical pain could never match the emotional pain she was going through as she was looking at the love of her life in pain. I do think everytime Soo-hyoung feels pain, Min-joo felt it hundred times more. That was how much she loved him. Although he played her up, again and again, and never turning up for their wedding, she forgave him again and again. I guess that what love is and in a way Soo-hyoung loved her too. He may dictate the way the relationship is going, he also realise his death will cause her perhaps pain for a lifetime and he can't dictate that. If there was a sequel, I believe this character of Min-joo will live out the rest of her life alone. It is sad but in a way Soo-hyoung is one lucky guy.
If there is an indication on what kinda of relationship Soo-hyoung and Min-joo has, it is revealed somewhat in a scene where he just turned up one night, grab her and made love to her. Thereafter, I can't remember what she said but Soo-hyoung sarcastically said "What? Do you feel raped? That was what you said the first time we were together" and she said "That was because I wasn't ready back then" and he said "Do you feel raped now?" and she simply quietly replied "I am always ready after the first time". That is quite an indication isn't it?
All in all a very intriguing character forming a very inrtiguing couple. You feel sorry for Min-joo sometimes but you can't help but feel she brought this upon herself.
The actress Lee Young Ae
I never thought Lee Young Ae was a great actress, and I only seen her in 3 shows thus far. In JSA she was pretty but not very much uitilised and her performance was not memorable for me. In Dae Jang Geum she was monotone and sulky and at times boring and without much personality. I thought her performance got worse and worse. In Last Present she was as sulky but I thought her performance was moving and very watchable but still not as great as some would claim her to be. In this series I would think this is one of her earlier works. If you think she looks old now, I must mention that she looks the same even in this series which was made in 1997. Prettier, fresher but still as mature looking. So you might think her pairing with Jang Dong Gun as odd, since he had this baby face kinda looks. But oddly enough, I do think they paired off very well and their chemistry was very convincing. In fact I like this pairing more than the All About Eve pairing, since I see these two as equals and their banters were very interesting to watch. Lee Young Ae is as sulky in here as she was in all her other works but in here she has every right to be sulky since her character was often disappointed by Soo-hyoung. I was also a bit shocked that this series also boasted a lot of intimate scenes between herself and Jang Dong Gun and yet oddly enough I kinda hoped in real life it would be great if they were a real couple because they look so good together. I must say more on the intimate scenes; the kissing may be fake, but the throwing her on the bed, hiking up her skirts,ripping of her blouse were all real. There was also quite an extensive scene on Min-joo and Soo-hyoung making love although too dark to see much but still the suggestion is there and many such suggestive scenes.
But I find the most intimate scenes are often the non sexual ones and often times her best scenes like the way she ran after him when he simply left after waiting for awhile, the hurt in her eyes when she saw him kissing another woman (he did it deliberately), the way she hugged him tightly when he was in pain or those scenes where they were sitting far apart and yet the intensity is there. The scene where she cried as she held on to his lifeless body was very touching. I mean this woman spent 10 years waiting for this guy, finally he confessed he loved her and then he had to die. Kinda like injustice here being perpetrated! Anyway, I like Lee Young Ae's performance in here. A very good performance and she paired off perfectly with Jang Dong Gun.
The Character of Kim Jun-ki
This character seems condemned to killing wives on the operating table for the 1st half of this series. First his own wife, then his best friend's wife. How his best friend's wife died also was really Soo-hyoung's fault for distracting him, on purpose. In fact I was appalled at Soo-hyoung and disliked him even more. From episode one we all know he is the less popular brother and perhaps the less gifted in medicine and definitely the more mild mannered one who refused to take risks. Like I said, he is the doctor, Soo-hyoung the typical surgeon. But he is the more respected older brother; his older colleagues respected him and distrust Soo-hyoung. After all that has been done on him and his sister, he still finds it in his heart to forgive Soo-hyoung, by quietly saying "Please go back to Min-joo..." because he and Min-joo are friends though I thought they looked more intimate than just friends. And he forgave Soo-hyoung for everything when Min-joo told him about Soo-hyoung's revenge and all and about his illness, after all he can't deny his grandfather did all those things. Like he said to Soo-hyoung; "Mother and I have never seen you as an outsider" but Soo-hyoung of course smirked and sarcastically said "Really? Me, the enemy's son?". Can't blame him since he overheard his adopted mother said "How can I love an enemy's son who caused the death of my husband? I tried hard but I can't". His relationship with Regina and his short bout of amnesia was boring to the core. His best scenes were often with Jang Dong Gun and Lee Young Ae. I was hoping his character might fall for Min-joo because they seem very close but no such things which is good in way because then it would be too usual type of storyline. His chemistry with Regina was non existent. His character became interesting only when he was facing dilemma or when interacting with the other 2 main characters.
The actor, Son Chang Min
Performance wise, this actor was absolutely excellent. He has this kind caring patient older brother look. Not as good looking as Jang Dong Gun (who is, right?) but somehow his Jun-ki is very attractive because he seems like such a stable kinda guy who would make a promise and has every intention of keeping it unlike Soo-young who is those kind who makes a promise and has every intention of breaking it as the promise was made to gain something. He has a temper but in appropriate times. I think this actor made this boring character interesting. His best scene was almost ending scene as he was in the helicopter holding tightly the container and quietly crying. Why, I won't tell you. You have to watch this series youself but I think you can guess; since this is a Korean flick, think DRAMATIC, OVER THE TOP type of scenario and I would say you nailed the ending. Excellent performance, at times more confident than Jang Dong Gun's. I wonder what happened to this actor? Is he still acting?
The character of Regina
One word; pure. That's the whole aura of Regina and well boring. For someone who is about to die of heart failure, she can still go bicycling. A very strenous exercise mind you, especially for someone with her delicate condition.
The actress who acted as Regina
I think for every Korean star, especially women, there is a HK/Taiwan counterpart that looks like them. This girl reminds me of our Malaysian actress whose name escapes me right now. The one who was in Kindred Spirit. Less saucy but similar looks. Performance very bad, no chemistry with Son Chang-min and very boring. Only time interesting was when she was with Jang Dong Gun because he made her look interesting.
I saw Kang Deok Gu of Dae Jang Geum! Really like him. Much younger here though. Very good performance. Saw that bad doctor from Dae Jang Geum also, but this time playing a good friend and a good doctor. Good performance also, but nothing ever happens to his character anyway. Saw many actors and actresses walk in and out of any scenes, most were good for the little time they had on screen. None are memorable enough to mention though.
Some Aspects Analyzed
Doctors or Thugs?
In a way this series is quite defamatory of doctors. It shows doctors giving special privileges to special patients, receiving bribes, making underhanded deals with pharmacutical companies and worst of all, in fighting between seniors. When faced with extreme pressure, a senior is shown slapping a junior from another team, and I mean really slap. Then the seniors from that team hunt down this reckless senior and basically punched the daylights out of him. Then the bigger senior meets with the other team's bigger senior and started to exchange heated comments. Sometimes I wonder are they doctors or gangsters?
And in many series I have seen the Koreans beating people in such a way; they prefer to either kick your legs or really really slap your face until your hair fly all over your face. Seen this is Dae Jang Geum, Friend, The Coast Guard, Winter Sonata and now in this series. Is this a norm? Especially the kicking the legs part?
Good doctors or prone to negligence?
Negligence means mistakes which are not deliberate. The way this series goes, I am surprised the hospital is not wound up yet (as in bankrupt). Almost every other episode a patient dies because of the doctor's mistake, and make that the worst mistake. Like misdiagnosing an illness when a simple scan may correct that problem, accidentally cut the main vein of the patient, wrong surgical procedures, accidentally giving a higher dosage of I think maybe morphine and the worst mistake of all, and probably every doctor's worst nightmare, in a heart transplant, the ambulance meets with an accident, the heart dropped out of the ice box, the doctor having to take the plastic containing the heart and the essential fluid maintaining the heart in good transplant condition leaking and finally arriving at the OR with the patient's old heart already removed awaiting for the new heart and it arrives maybe an hour late with the fluid all drained out and the heart as dry as a stone, thereby rendering it simply useless for transplant. This happened to Soo-hyoung.
Of course in all these cases the hospital was never sued either because the hospital covered up the negligence, the patients were too poor to sue or simply accepted it as fate (like that heart transplant) or in Soo-hyoung's father's case, he vanished after he sued the company, presumably killed by the hospital. Really extreme cases if you ask me.
The Best Case
Very difficult to say. But I do think that heart transplant mishap can happen, may have happened and not something I like happening to me. But the most emotionally charged had to be the one where Min-joo's old patient begged her to kill him as he laid in extreme pain dying from brain cancer. Min-joo could never do that since it is called euthanasia. The old man's family heard his wishes. Then one day Min-joo ordered for I think morphine to be given to the patient, I actually thought she did it deliberately but actually it was an accident when the nurse misheard Min-joo as saying give it to the patient all at once and the patient died. Min-joo could not defend herself as she couldn't explain the mistake and she felt guilty as she did thought about killing the patient. The best scene in this case was the patient's family storming into her room and accusing her as the murderer and really threw things and almost hit her. They even refused to let her leave, locked the door and her colleagues had to knock down the door and carry them out. If there is one thing that I like about Korean series is their ability to go to the extreme with really the most realistic scenario. I was just a bit disappointed nobody told the family that the father wanted to die anyway but of course as doctors they can't say that. Worse was the hospital didn't even defend Min-joo. Very selfish hospital. Luckily Soo-hyoung found the evidence that it wasn't Min-joo's fault.
The Best Scene
Every scene between Soo-hyoung and Min-joo is best for me but the one I liked most and the most memorable thus far had to be the one where Min-joo was leaving for Seoul at the airport. She was looking around, probably for Soo-hyoung. Since Soo-hyoung is such a hot and cold person even I didn't know if he will be there to stop her. In the last minute a hand grabbed her hand and she dramatically flung around and there was Soo-hyoung. Next scene she was in his flashy car, which meant she missed her flight. I cheered of course.
The Worst Scene
Every scene of Regina and Soo-hyoung's older brother and all the scenes when he had some memory lost. Boring to the core.
Most Heartfelt Dialogue
Can't remember much but those I remembered was uttered by Min-joo as her heart was broken again and again and everything she uttered was truly devastating. But to me two scenes stuck in my mind. Soo-hyoung was sitting alone in Min-joo's apartment in the dark, and then he realised he was really dying. Cool as he was, he banged on the coffee table angrily and cried "I don't want to die! I can't die! I don't want to die!!". Of course with Regina he learned how to accept death, in fact to embrace it.
Another scene was his adoptive mother who once declared that she couldn't love an enemy's son came by to see Soo-hyoung in his hotel room I think. She knew he was sick then. Soo-hyoung told her "I don't hate you. If I were you, I wouldn't have been able to welcome my enemy's son into my own home, more so take care of him all these years". I guess in some ways he didn't hate her, but he definitely hated the grandfather. She tearfully looked at him and hugged him and said "Come home" and it was a tearful embrace. It was a very moving scene and to me when she said come home to this man who kinda caused her father in law's death and broke the heart of her daughter, I thought that was a very nice way to end their silent war.
The very first one by Soo-hyoung to Min-joo, "Did I ever say I love you to you? Did I ever ask you to wait for me? Did I ever say we are a couple?". Every word stung the heart of Min-joo and she was so very quiet. Very realistic dialogue, mean but still plausible. I must mention the one where Jun-ki ran away from home and Soo-hyoung wasn't a least bit worried. His adoptive mother looked at him and asked "Don't you worry about your brother? Don't you care?". Something like that. Not the best but memorable.
Definitely and without a doubt Min-joo and Soo-hyoung. Somehow Korean dramas is so successful in creating believable relationships, one we can hate, grow to like, love, and every pain and happiness the characters went through can be so very enjoyable as if the viewers were involved somehow. Of course the ending was very cruel to this couple. Somehow K-dramas are also very morbid, during that time most of their dramas ended in tragedy of some scale, the question is whether the character died happy or died happy. Yes, there is no sad death. Either from some incurable disease or best of all car accident. I feel very depressed after watching this series, in a way I feel so sorry for Min-joo but yet in a way feel very happy for her as well as at last she got her man, even if for a very short time. Like when she knew he was sick and he was still acting like he didn't care a thing and arrogant as hell, she tearfully said to him "I want to marry you. I don't care for how long, a month or a day, I want to be your wife". How long have I not heard such dialogue? A long time. Definitely one of TV's most memorable couple for the fact that either they spent their time apart in a miserable way or together in an even more miserable way and yet no doubt, both love each other deeply, in a very different way from one another.
Jang Dong Gun and Lee Young Ae truly make a very compatible couple and since Lee Young Ae is actively involved in movies now, I hope they will star in a movie together.
Best & Worst Aspects
16 episodes is very short in my opinion, but also not really the best aspect as some things must be edited and the series felt disjointed, like something was missing. Like Soo-hyoung being angry with Min-joo about something earlier on and yet I didn't know what.
Having BM subtitles is good but not also the best aspect, should be the worst aspect because frankly, either the words come out too fast or don't come out at all. Very frustrating. I can't bear to watch the Mandarin version because I simply love to hear the sarcasm in Soo-hyoung's voice and Min-joo's gentle patience in hers.
Very memorable characters, even the older brother, boring as he may be alone or with Regina but still memorable in many ways because of the unfortunate crisis he went through again and again. For me the most memorable is not Soo-hyoung. He is exciting, interesting, frustrating and overall very fun to watch. But it was Min-joo and her silence that got to me that made her the most memorable to me. The way she ran after Soo-hyoung as he went barging in and out of the hospital, her entire life seems to revolve around his mood, whether good, nasty or playful. In his life there was no place for her and yet she managed to stay in his life but often pushed aside, but she still persists in this what seem to be a very hopeless relationship. Some may be very offended with her attitude but after going through sayyyyy 10 episodes of all these stuff, I think I kinda understood why she stuck by. Quite simply, she loved him and whatever his flaws may be, she loved him still. That to me is very moving and for that I find this character very foolish but memorable.
Jang Dong Gun, handsome as he is but still very young looking but still handsome no matter what. His performance is very good and evenly matched by the very pretty Lee Young Ae. I think this is one of the other two performance of hers that I really like, the other is the tear jearker Last Present. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she had this "I'm doom" kinda expression that fitted Min-joo. Min-joo rarely smiled, and always in emotional pain. I must also mention Jun-ki as one of the best aspect. Not handsome but I still like him and find his face very agreeable.
The medical scenes are good, and the various ways of possible neglience suits are very eye opening if you ask me. But it is also one of the worst aspect in the sense that I thought Soo-hyoung is a lung expert, but he seems and is confirmed as a heart surgeon and yet he seems like an expert in everything. It seems 1 year in USA gave him like a wealth of ideas in medicine which I find patronising. You can't blame me for mistaking this expertise because
1. in his room there is always an x-ray of someone's body, and I thought maybe lungs but in actual fact the heart
2. BM translation kept writing "dada" and yes "dada" is chest which means heart but I thought lungs which is actually "paru-paru". The more accurate BM word for heart is "jantung".
And the way the hospital is ran is like thugs running the show. That to me is one of the worst aspect.
The ending is seriously one of the best ending I have ever seen for the fact that it was morbid and daring but also one of the worst because in my mind I wanted something else to happen.
Neither good nor bad, just interesting was the scene where Soo-hyoung strutted into the room where Min-joo was lying in coma and Jun-ki was there too, disgusted with his I don't care about Min-joo type of attitude when he did. He was sarcastic and when Jun-ki asked why he was there to see Min-joo since he didn't care, he just turned to Jun-ki and said that was because he wanted to be there and Min-joo wanted him to be there and he arrogantly said "Min-joo always listen to my instructions, if I tell her to wake up she will wake up... Min-joo ah...I am here..you better wake up now or I'll leave! Wake up Min-joo" and he turned to leave not expecting Min-joo to wake up but right at that moment, Min-joo woke up from her coma! Even Soo-hyoung was shocked at how obedient Min-joo was. Very interesting scene.
A very enjoyable series that is well written in some parts, realistic in many ways with very memorable scenes and very good performances. It is great to watch your favourite stars' early performances and to know what made them who they are today. Some performances may look raw but you will discover diamonds in the rough. I absolutely enjoyed this series and I kinda felt depressed after watching the last episode and this shows how effective this series was. I definitely recommend this one although a bit of film touch up would do wonders to the quality of the series. It felt grainy and it felt old. Anyway try to get one with better subtitles so as not to kill your mood. Jang Dong Gun and Lee Young Ae's fans must get this one.
Reel or Real?
One scene had me wondering did Jang Dong Gun did it for real? That was the scene where he was in extreme pain and so he needed to inject himself with painkillers. Most scene we see are inject but never see the needle going in. This one scene where he was lying across the desk in his office and I saw him pushing the needle of the syringe in and then out and I thought I saw a drop of blood forming on top of that punctured skin! Really real blood! I was convinced; he did that for real!
Discrepancies In Description Of Synopsis
I am quite surprised how inaccurate some synopsis are and they can be very misleading.
This was what was printed on the VCD cover;
"Kim Jun-ki (Son Chang-min) and Kim Soo-hyoung (Jang Dong-gun) are brothers practicing in the same hospital. Their kinship, however, does not imply they are blood relatives. Cha Min-joo (Lee Young-ae) is Kim Soo-hyoung's girlfriend who has been going out with Kim for years without knowing Kim's playful attitude towards love. An accident happens all out of sudden, sparking off drastic changes in their lives."
There are only 2 or 3 mistakes but I would deem them major mistakes.
Mistake no. 1
"Cha Min-joo (Lee Young-ae) is Kim Soo-hyoung's girlfriend who has been going out with Kim for years without knowing Kim's playful attitude towards love."
She knew he has a playful attitude towards love. I wouldn't deem kissing another woman in front of her, deliberately to hurt her and pushing her away when he didn't need her and beckoning her to him when he wants her is called playful. It is downright a very bastard sort of thing to do. And worse still, she knew all along and yet she accepted every insults he thrown at her (and I deem what he did as an insult to her) because she loved him and knew she can't bargain much since he knew she loved him more than he loved her. He dictated the rules and she followed them and no other way around that.
Mistake no. 2
"Kim Jun-ki (Son Chang-min) and Kim Soo-hyoung (Jang Dong-gun) are brothers practicing in the same hospital. Their kinship, however, does not imply they are blood relatives."
This is like an oxymoron of some sort. Brothers and yet not blood relatives. Maybe it should have been clearer to state that Soo-hyoung is adopted? And what kinship? It sounded like their relationship was rosy and happy when it should have been rivals in the same hospital or rather one sided rivalry.
Mistake no. 3
"An accident happens all out of sudden, sparking off drastic changes in their lives."
Well something drastic happened but not that one drastic event caused the changes. It was cumulative and what accident I wondered? The entire sentence was more like for suspense and drama only when it is not even the case. I am still wondering; what accident? I thought Soo-hyoung would be involved in an accident that revealed the fact that he was adopted but heck! He knew since he was 6 when he was adopted what! I am still wondering.
My Alternative Ending
In this series Soo-hyoung committed suicide and donated his heart to Regina. For a moment I thought he asked a doctor to kill him and extract his heart but actually no such over the top scenes. But I was thinking, if this series was remade, what could have been done differently? For one the ending.
I would want Jun-ki to be sick, and not Soo-hyoung. Since Soo-hyoung is so arrogant and all, it would be nice to show him changing into a better man without having the necessity to kill him off. Jun-ki should be sick, and during the times he was sick Soo-hyoung should go through a phase where he realised Jun-ki was indeed very good as an older brother and in the process and in an ironic twist would take over running the hospital and the household, but this time without malice and become a better man in the process. He would then marry Min-joo and mellow down.
I want this ending because it is still sad as someone will die (a required necessity in most K-dramas which would satisfy viewers who want to see death) and yet it is positive and happy (a rarity in most dramas without being sickeningly sweet and preachy which would satisfy viewers who want to see a good and happy ending). I am one of those viewers who wants a good end for Soo-hyoung. He shouldn't die, not because he is Jang Dong Gun but because in this series he is introduced as someone who is very good at what he does. Someone with such delicate hands and talent in healing the sick physically should be given a chance to flourish and learn to heal the sick emotionally which in this series Soo-hyoung never did since he lived his way, he died his way.
And definitely cut out several unnecessary characters.
Doctor! Doctor! Who Is Worse?
Let's see...Soo-hyoung is a surgeon first, a doctor second.
Reminds me of one of TV's most memorable surgeon, Dr Jeffrey Geiger of Chicago Hope. Very arrogant and his only friend was his best friend the mild mannered neurosurgeon, Dr Aaron Shutt. Why I can still remember their names because the 1st season of Chicago Hope introduced who was perhaps TV's most memorable surgeon because he had such an attitude problem but he was excellent in doing his job. I always remember one particular quote in that series where one of the doctor's I think said you may hate him him you would want to be on his operating table. The same can be said about Soo-hyoung but Soo-hyoung is really not that bad.
Another came to my mind is TV's newest doctor with an attitude problem, Dr Gregory House of House MD. Apart from Lost, this series is one of those I simply can't miss. He is a diagnosis doctor, a specialist who spends his time diagnosing an ailment. I think his is closest to the truth about doctors; they heal before they diagnose! Anyway, his arrogance is to this extent where he told his subordinate in what is probably the most memorable lines I have heard this year when he was accused as being arrogant;
"Your opinion of me won't change my opinion of myself but it might change my opinion of you..."
But he is really not that bad too. I think Soo-hyoung is worse because Soo-hyoung can be malicious and he really just wanted to do certain procedures whilst Dr House do care about the patients eventhough he refused to meet them.
So really, Soo-hyoung is like in between I guess.
I noticed a lot of Korean stars have a lookalike in HK entertainment world. If this series is remade I recommend the following...
Kevin Cheng. He has that smirk and devilish charm and for once I want to see him in a breakout role. I would love to see how he would interprete this role.
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO ...: I would bet Joe Ma since he is everywhere these days, irrespective of the fact that he doesn't have an ounce of charisma to carry this role.
Very difficult choice but I would feel Moses Chan can carry the gentleness in this character. Moreover he is supposed to be older and lesser looking but still as charismatic as the younger brother. So they don't look alike but they're not supposed to be related in the first place.
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO ...: I have a feeling either Bowie Lam or if the above character of Soo-hyoung already given to someone else, Joe Ma. I won't complain about Bowie but I feel Moses is more gentler.
Very difficult choice since she is ultra boring. I like Myolie Wu to be given this gentle role to see how she interpretes this role.
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO...: Shirley Yeung since she is so pure and all. Good choice also since it lives up to the boringness of the original actress but with an added special effects on the parts of the viewers; we will vomit blood.
She is the sister, very small role. Very difficult choice but I think Niki Chow will do.
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO...: Most probably Nikki Chow since she is everywhere these days.
Ahhhh very difficult choice. I like Maggie Cheung since she gives an impression she is a very strong person and so it would be interesting to see how she interpretes this role as Min-joo goes running after Soo-hyoung. BUT Kevin Cheng does look a bit too young for her though he is obviously older...second choice is Charmaine Sheh for a very simple reason; the clingy character of Min-joo suits her.
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO...: Name every other names you can think of. Top of the list is probably Gigi Lai. Melissa Ng no way since she looks too old for Kevin Cheng irrespective of her actual age. After Gigi Lai I have a feeling maybe Kenix Kwok. But I just have this dreaded feeling maybe, just maybe Sonija Kwok. All very bad choices.
Who else? Chun Pui lar!
BUT TVB WOULD GIVE THIS ROLE TO...: Probably Yu Yeung since Chun Pui may be too expensive to hire.