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Thursday, August 12, 2010

High Kick Through the Roof 2 (2010)


High Kick Through the Roof 2
지붕 뚫고 하이킥
(Sept 2009 – Mar 2010)


who’s in it
Lee SoonJae (Stars Falling from the Sky)
Kim JaOk (Be Strong, GeumSoon!, My Lovely Kim SamSoon)
Oh HyunKyung (First Wives Club)
Daniel Choi (Cyrano, Dating Agency - film)
Shin SeKyung (Queen SeonDuk)
Yoon SiYoon (Baker King, Kim TakGu)
Hwang JungEum (East of Eden, Last Scandal of My Life)

what’s it about
An all-star cast of exceptional stars lead this ensemble family sitcom through 126 episodes of laughter, often via some quirky storytelling. Basically, we lucky viewers are given massive amounts of goofy awesomeness. And by all-star cast, I, of course, am referring mostly to everyone’s exceptionally shiny skill in bringing these characters to life, not necessarily their established names.

The basic story centers around the well-off Lee family and the entourage of people that encircle them. The plot is secondary to the characters, who are all so well-developed that they walk around with their own cloud full of stories to tell, and surprisingly, we actually care about what happens to all of them. The best way to sum up this drama [without giving away too many spoilers] is to quickly introduce the main characters:

Lee SoonJae (played by Lee SoonJae)

This well-dressed elder may be the distinguished founder and president of Lee SoonJae Food and Beverage to the public and a surly and bossy grandfather at home, but this flatulent widower is really a lover, not a fighter...although he is not below resorting to some wild antics to safeguard his passionate feelings for Kim JaOk, the headmistress of a high school—the same one where his daughter works and his nephew attends. Frankly, this old Romeo’s most charming charm is his desire to succeed in love at all costs.


Lee JiHoon (Daniel Choi)

Lee SoonJae’s son, a workaholic doctor who spends 99% of his time in the operating room or with his face buried inside a book is as enigmatic as he is difficult to pin down. The remaining percent of his free time is spent trying to avoid the chaos that is his family. Capable and fairly well-liked by his colleagues at the hospital, he is dedicated to his job and while a good doctor, still manages to be completely indifferent to the finer areas of human subtext thrown at him by those around him, most especially women. He is always matter of fact, almost to a fault, and his humor is often not received well. He spends most of his day walking past people instead of interacting with them. Amazingly, his charm is precisely this lack of interest in the world around him. Does a man like this have room in his life for more than just work?


Lee HyunKyung (Oh HyunKyung)

Lee SoonJae’s daughter, a former taekwondo athlete who’d been forced to give it up after injury, this formidable mother of two (son: JunHyuk, daughter: HaeRi) is now a physical education teacher. She is the real ruler of the Lee household (no matter what her father Lee SoonJae thinks) and she manages her entire family with an iron fist and a very high kick. Her physicality and tendency to use brute force to solve problems is her most endearing trait.


Jung BoSuk (Jung BoSuk)

Husband to Lee HyunKyung (above) but also a well-trodden doormat to the whole family, this mathematically challenged father is struggling to stay afloat in rough waters. Translation: rough waters being a family of strong-willed and loud personalities. Empty of logic and common sense, and the ability to communicate well, his constant and unrelenting, although always bumbling efforts to connect with his family is this man’s most likable trait.


Jung JoonHyuk (Yoon SiYoon)

Like his mother, this teenage rebel is good at fighting and smart, but he also inherited some of his father: he’s unmotivated and struggling in school, especially English. His goal in life is not to care, but he isn’t able to stay indifferent forever…especially when new people come into his life and force him to grow up. Temperamental but kind-hearted, he’s a soft mushy chocolate marshmallow with only a thin candy coating masquerading as a hard shell...and charmingly determined to hold onto his image as a tough guy.


Jung HaeRi (Jin JiHee)

If loud and shrill girls in pink that call everybody “fart butt” can be considered charming, then this little girl has a bucket full of charm. Lonely in a house full of too-busy and self-involved people, HaeRi spends most of her time chasing kalbi and begging for any scrap of attention she can manage.


Kang SeHo (Lee KiKwang)

His name sounds like ‘shrimp’ and he is likewise a meek and soft-spoken young man. JoonHyuk’s best friend…a boy with a high IQ but totally unlucky in love.


Shin SeKyung (Shin SeKyung)

Grew up in the mountains hiding from loan sharks with her father and younger sister until they’re forced to return to Seoul—without their father. She struggles to hold her family of two together until they are reunited with him again. Diligent and conservative, but awkward in the ways of people, she has trouble opening up to others. Through both hard and wonderful lessons about family and love, will this young girl be able to smile freely one day?


Shin ShinAe (Seo ShinAe)

With an insatiable appetite for all the delicious eats Seoul has to offer, she is beside herself in happiness after leaving the countryside behind. Her world that had once only consisted of her sister and father has suddenly expanded to include a wide assortment of characters, including many older brother figures such as Julien, her favorite French ahjussi-best friend.


Kim JaOk (Kim JaOk)

The target of amorous attentions from Lee SoonJae, this dainty woman is all pink frills and lace. The only snag? She’s mortal enemies with the daughter of the man she is dating…can this be overcome? She’s prissy and passive aggressive, but her heart is not without warmth.


Hwang JungEum (Hwang JungEum)

One of the four students renting a room in Kim JaOk’s hanok style house, she’s a perky, fashion and fun-loving student of Seowoon University. When a financial crisis sends her into the world of private tutoring, she’s mistaken for a Seoul University student instead…but being in desperate need of money, she adopts the lie and takes on rich brat Lee JoonHyuk (played by Yoon SiYoon), but she quickly finds out that the hot-headed teenager is almost too much for her to handle. But her greatest skill in life is perseverance…and the shocking ability to go through extreme lengths to reach any and all goals. She is a champagne flute overflowing with bubbles. Can someone like this do the impossible and tame the Lee men?


Julien (Julien Kang)

Tall as a tree, and as down to earth as one, Julien quickly befriends Shin SeKyung and Shin ShinAe when they are wandering the streets of Seoul on the brink of starvation. Why’s he so lovable? His heart is as big has his hands and feet.


Yoo InNa (Yoo InNa) and KwangSoo (Lee KwangSoo)

An aspiring singer couple, these two cheerful and oddball people round out the group living together at Kim JaOk’s house. KwangSoo is always in a state of jealousy and competition with the world and Yoo InNa loves her man, but she’s still keeping her eyes open in case…

commitment 
126 episodes

network
MBC

wildcard factor
126 episodes, each at a speedy 30 minutes each. The entire drama may have been on the longish side, but I promise you, the number 126 never felt so short. It will fly by.

Daniel Choi, Hwang JungEum, Yoon SiYoon did an admirable job as the leaders of the younger cast, and brought new spin to an old formula, making it feel like something we’ve never seen before. The capricious idiosyncrasies they brought to each their characters stayed consistent throughout and was always playfully fun to watch.

There were also some strange cameos by some big names scattered throughout the drama, including the likes of Park KyungLim, Yun JongShin, Jung IlWoo, Danny An, Kim Bum, Park ShinHye and Lee NaYoung. Intriguing, non?

first impressions
Wow, this was genuinely…funny, with laughter squeezed out of the most unexpected moments and most outlandish scenarios. I was literally laughing out loud with my hands clasped over mouth. How can characters this crazy and not of this planet actually still feel real and relatable? Even after only a few episodes, I felt like I knew all these people so well. All the main players get a quick intro in the first few hours and although some more fleeting than others, we were still able to deduce the core and crutch of every person in this wacky corner of Seoul. I knew right away, just after the first half hour, in fact, that I was going to love this drama. It was complete addiction. It is very rare for me to love a show so instantly, but this was definitely one such case. Total crack tv!

gave up

snoozer moments
I’m hard-pressed to find anything that was really boring about this one, although I did have my less liked story arcs, but even the less exciting digressions were amusing in their own way and served to further develop one character or another, so valuable time spent nevertheless.

soju-guzzling
Oh yes, a few characters were wound up so tight in their own neurosis, if alcohol hadn’t helped, there would have been no progress at all! I looked forward to the occasional soju-binging that came around, although it was practiced by only a few characters. After all, this was a family sitcom with lots of “minors.” Read between arrows if you want to be spoiled -- { Shin SeKyung’s rendition of a first-time drunk girl was seriously roll-on-the-floor hilarious } --

what didn’t work
See below

what did
There was an abundance of fart and bathroom humor, which in general, isn’t my favorite type of gag. They used it so frequently in this drama in every imaginable situation, I found it amusing half the time, and the other, a mild nuisance, but never detrimental to the show.

what made me want to gouge my eyes out
N/A

I do want to mention, however, that usually foreign actors have the potential to be painful points within a drama, but Julien Kang was not an acting-sore. He wasn’t the strongest actor, but he was capable and, well, rather endearing in his haltingly flat Korean.

what kept me going
It was all good but I did especially enjoy Hwang JungEum and Daniel Choi’s characters. Oh, the bantering between these two...it was something to behold. Many, many parts ridiculous, but all parts entertaining.

A lot of this drama was about clever narrative and dialogue and I looked forward to seeing the next absurd situation, episode after episode.
______________________________

Other factors:
predictability No
engrish Yes, there was a lot of inexplicable English. But this show was all about equal opportunity and Julien Kang had some good punches at Korean, as well.
originality Yes (well, considering this is season 2)
eye-candy Well, yes, of course, notably newbie Yoon SiYoon (who has a passing resemblance to the Iljimae boys: Lee JunKi and Jung IlWoo); and of course, model-like Daniel Choi
hair and fashion In truth, Daniel Choi’s manner of dress, let’s just call it professorial chic to keep it brief, well, it is definitely my favorite type of style on a guy. So I’d have to say fashion was a definite thumbs up. Likewise, Hwang JungEum was always dressed adorably, one designer of choice being Marc Jacobs, another personal favorite of mine. Actually, there wasn’t a bad dresser in the bunch. Even the school uniforms were trendy and hip.
______________________________

is it worth trying to find?
Absolutely, why are you even hesitating?

total enjoyment factor 
10/10
(With a caveat. See end of review)

total disdain factor

why this review is completely biased
Daniel Choi and Hwang JungEum were brilliant here, individually and in their interactions with other characters. And...any show that gives homage to the Velvet Underground gets props from me.

could a non-kdrama fan like this
Yes. Fart humor tends to transcend boundaries.

verdict
One thing that really set this show apart from others, even other great dramas, was its ability to pace itself perfectly. There was, of course, the ongoing story that was furthered every episode but each half hour also had a self-contained issue, a specific conflict per episode. This helped keep things interesting and engaging at every turn. Also, at the start of the show, each character initially interacted with only a handful of people within the cast, but as the show progressed, so did their world and by the end most everyone was able to fit their puzzle piece against everyone else. The manner in which the different individuals collided and bounced off one another was the most fascinating part of this really eccentric show. For a really long sitcom, it was a pleasure from start to finish and there were very few moments that were truly dull.

The storytelling angles the writers took were truly creative and ingenious and sometimes I wondered about their bizarre imagination. Like experimenting with different camera tricks, they entertained us by playing around with various ways to unravel a thread. Thank you, writers. They found the best ways to highlight every character, the most pointed way to show their humor, depth and most importantly, their humanity.

There are probably only a small box worth of kdramas that I would consider the kind of show that would appeal to every drama watcher, the type of offering that is so harmless yet so irresistible that I see a multi-generational viewership—from younger viewers to even casual viewers like my father, who is definitely stingy when it comes to offering his favorable opinion on tv shows.

I kept this review fairly vague for a reason, carefully avoiding any specific details in regards to plot. No spoilers! This one is not about the destination, but a leisurely walk through the woods enjoying the wildflowers and scenery. It would be best enjoyed without a map. Don’t read about it, just hurry and check this one out if you haven’t already!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WARNING! I almost didn’t write this last part of my review but changed my mind after the fact and decided it needed to be said. WARNING! DO NOT READ hidden text if you dont want to know the ending, and I REALLY recommend not reading this last paragraph, which is kind of cruel on my part I guess, to dangle the carrot then tell you not to eat it...anyhow, I stress, it’s best to watch this one without a map, enjoy the scenery, not the destination. Hidden text inside-- { I loved this drama until the very end...until the very last fifteen minutes, that is. If I were to judge this drama with the inclusion of the last minutes, however, it would be a negative negative NEGATIVE score...I won’t lie, High Kick 2’s conclusion could possibly be THE WORST ending in the history of all kdramas, and that’s saying a lot...BUT BUT BUT after the shock wore off, I came to the difficult decision that I had loved the characters in this drama toooo much to write the whole thing completely off in one fatal swoop...and decided to grade it on the 63 hours that came before that last horrific scene. The shameful writers were obviously pandering to the crowd  but I need to let it go, and I will [one day], but let me say this last thing: it was a cheat, plain and simple. Any writer worth salt will tell you that using death as a way to make a point, in and of itself, is a cheap plot mechanic. And to use it as a final resolution? Using it to falsify a deeper meaning in one final jab? Even worse.  In fact, that is why most beginner writing classes forbid newbie writing students from using it as a plot device. It is an oft overused and abused gimmick. Ultimately, it is a pity this show couldn’t stay true to itself; a pity the writers couldn’t be content and proud to have delivered a well-made and happy sitcom until the very end. Their cheap trick to Thelma and Louise the end was ultimately cruel to the characters and to the viewership, and worse, almost cheeky in delivery, like a bad inside joke. Death is death, not a romantic segueway, not an epilogue. As one blogger put it somewhere, it was complete and utter bullcrapola. So anyway, despite that, despite my belief that the end of a kdrama is quite possibly the most crucial part of a show, I still offered the glowing review above. Wobbly legged as I was, I will not judge it on the .01% failure, but remember so much else that was wonderful about it. I resolutely stand by my 10 }

10 comments:

  1. lol... when i was reading ur review, i was like... did she not watch the ending??!! and then i read ur last section.. haha, glad u agree with me there. WTF!! no need to say more. (and i rarely use curse words).
    if it was up to me, i would erase that last part from my memory, which i actually will do when i rewatch this thing for fun...to be honest, i did fast forward quite a few times but i still loved this! it was fun! and i liked all the eye-candy, hmmm, i meant cast in this as well but i still have to say i have a soft spot for the first installment cuz i love jung il woo, and really liked his subtle "love line" with the teacher min jung, well a one-sided crush really, and kibum and chansung and hyesung were SO cute.
    anyways, i would say that the ending ALMOST ruined the whole drama for me but in the end, it didnt... i forgave it. but i still say it's crap.

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  2. Amen to that, you speak the truth!!!

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  3. I can't believe the end either. I freakin' marathoned all 126 episodes over a week or so. I just wish that the end never even happened. I need some happiness to fix this maybe I'll go rewatch bandage or something.

    But I thought that all teh characters managed to hold up well and I usually don't like the length of weekday dramas so A+++ (not including the end)

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  4. I just finished the drama last night, and my finals start this week. What bad timing. I've still getting over it and I'm the type of person who shed tears over this kind of stuff....so it's a little hard for me to accept. I really wish that the PD was in front of me right now so I could beat the crap out of him until he decides to remake the ending. It's a useless thought but it's what's keeping me from losing my mind during the ever-important exam week. I really like you're review and it'll take some time before I can accept it like you and enjoy rewatching some episodes of the oh-so-amazing kdrama. I don't feel like watching anything else right now. I think this is the end of my drama addiction for the time being.

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  5. It took me a long time to get over it myself...actually, to be honest, I don't know that I've even completely recovered yet...it was truly one of the most traumatic drama endings ever. EVER. I feel your pain!

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  6. I finished the dram while ago and loved it.... but I really wanna know what is the music in the last part of the last episode?? does anyone know?

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  7. OMG..I so freaking enjoyed this sitcom (Minus the ending). I've given all my time just to finish this sitcom because I'm so hooked up with the story. It teaches a lesson of life and fun to watch. Everything was great except that the ending really did not cross my mind. Never expected that. I felt sad, it was really horrible. Why should it be like that?? I just don't get it..

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  8. this was da FIRST time i ever watched a 126 episode Kdrama & now i feel its an utter WASTE! i started watching it coz of Gikwang & then loved it more after seeing Yoon Shi Yoon & even Sekyung... but to think SHE herself suggest the death of her character to the PD!!! that just makes me dislike her sooo very much!X( i read on dramabeans that the ending was changed just 2days before the finale which means there was to be a different ending.. i just wish some1 would write about it somewhere so that we could all move on & have the much needed closure! :(

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just finished high kick yesterday and still pretty much feeling the pain of that last 15 minutes. I went into this knowing someone was going to die, but i found my self laughing so much at the beginning few episodes that i stuck with it. The characters were so endearing, now i know why daniel choi, hwang jung eum rose to stardom after this, their pranks on each other were just gold. shin se kyung was also one of my favourites and at the beginning I wrote these guys off as not the ones who would die cos that would just be ridiculous and then that last 15 minutes....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Warning! This is a really negative comment and sorry for my bad English. I'm watching it just to eps. 10, but I eagerly want to say something to lessen my feelings. I think this drama has a great potential to be a must-see, thanks to every edges, a comedy sitcom, lots of nice actors/actresses, and a prestigious previous part. However, there are certain points that almost ruin my positive for it.
    First, there are too much automatic/edited laughs (or gags) in such coward situations that I'd rather wrinkle my forehead. For example, when the little nasty behaves badly and many other normal situations that I couldn't understand why the heck they laughed.
    Second, oh my gosh, this is the worst impression. I can't understand why they behaved so ill, impolite and cruel to their own families? Talked like that to your parents, brothers and sisters, even your grandpa? And laughed sometimes? Oh gosh! Can't believe it! And they laughed? Even the Westerners won't do that and laugh at the same time, I'm pretty sure. Furthermore, how can they treat their employees so ruthless like that, even a child can do such unkind actions like to the other? Severely scolding, hitting? I can find there's a big gap between the rich and the poor in Korea and something involved with their culture of the "above" and the "lower", so that they behaved so in the dramas. I have no idea if it's true in Korea, but I can't bear with the drama in particular, and the whole perspective/lifestyle in general.
    And one more thing that probably arouse an anger among the drama lovers here. I can't believe that lots of people love this without any negative comments or the same opinion as mine, except ones with some complains about the ending? Oh gosh!

    ReplyDelete

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