Non, je ne regrette rien: The Package, eps. 1-2 review

October 19, 2017 at 7:30 am 3 comments

selfie

Tourism, The Package, 2017

Okay, fuck it. This blog is now all-CNBLUE all the time. Or at least for the next post or two.

After an absence of three years on the small screen, CNBLUE leader Jung Yonghwa has made his latest appearance in a Kdrama in the wacky romcom THE PACKAGE. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from this project except some pretty scenery from France, so the screwball comedy style of the first two episodes has been a really nice surprise.

The premise is simple—a motley crew of seven Korean tourists take a package tour to France, led by expat Yoon SoSo (Lee Yeon-hee), their patient and long-suffering tour guide. As per kdramas, they along the way they discover various things about themselves and each other.

The freak, The Package, 2017

What sets this drama apart from some of the others that I’ve seen is its completely wacky humor. Yonghwa plays the main lead, San Maru, but instead of being a typical dreamboat heroic type he’s a total freak who has random B&D fantasies, giggles while grabbing an armful of vibrators in a Paris sex toy shop, and constantly takes goofy selfies, even while he’s waiting to be grilled in an interrogation room in the Paris airport. But beneath this dorky exterior is a sensitive and upright soul, which Yonghwa ably conveys through his expressive puppy-dog eyes.

Yeon Hee as SoSo, the tour guide with a past, is Maru’s potential love interest, and she hides her mysterious history behind her smiling professional façade. Like Maru she’s fleeing some kind of romantic disappointment so no doubt they’ll hook up sometime before the drama ends.

20171016_150531_4803

Boredom, The Package, 2017

Rounding out the cast are a young couple who are past the romantic part of their relationship and are now in the boredom period, a grumpy-ass ahjussi and his forbearing and possibly seriously ill wife, and a man who may or may not be traveling with his young mistress.

wait for me

Screwball, The Package, 2017

The whole thing is played against the gorgeous French scenery and true to form the cinematography by the Korean cameraperson is top-notch. The first two eps displayed a screwball sensibility that at times hearkened back to the best of Lubitsch or Capra, kdrama style, with characters randomly discussing their bowel movements or making madcap slo-mo dashes through the streets of Paris, coffee cups a-flying, while taking broad pratfalls along the way.

 

skinship2

Skinship, The Package, 2017

Yet underneath all of the slapstick nonsense is a more serious tone, as Maru is forced to work on end-of-the-year reports for his shady company back in Korea even while he’s on his vacation, and SoSo deals with the precarities of contingent employment in her adopted country. By the end of the second ep we got a sense of some of the romance to come, too, as the two unattached characters Maru and Soso shared some accidental skinship and bonded over their fondness for the poignant 1991 French film Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (The Lovers on the Bridge).

Yonghwa had the dubious good fortune of debuting in the 2009 drama YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL before he had had much acting experience and in that show and his next drama, HEARTSTRINGS, he was as wooden as a day-old bagel. His performances improved quite a bit in subsequent dramas and by his fourth role, in the clever 2014 saeguk THE THREE MUSKETEERS, he had learned how to convincingly create a memorable character through his acting. But first impressions are often indelible so he’s faced a lot of prejudice against his acting skills due to his stiff performances in those first two shows.

 

bra

Fool, The Package, 2017

So it’s great to see that in the first two eps of THE PACKAGE Yonghwa completely dispels any doubts about his acting skilz, as he nicely develops Maru’s character, at times a wide-eyed fool completely lacking in social skills, and at others an innocent abroad in a world of crooks and thieves. His comic timing is quite on point and he manages to go from gleeful to confused to emo in a split second.


Gratuitous pulchritude, The Package, 2017

He’s also featured in the hallowed and time-honored kdrama convention known as the “gratuitous leading man topless scene.” In this case it takes place at the end of the first ep (if you want to skip to it immediately) as the camera lovingly documents his semi-nude torso, detailing his toned bod from all angles of view.

DLYc6s-VAAApNeG

Tourist herding, The Package, 2017

But despite the allure of this display of pulchritude, it’s Yonghwa’s endearing and layered performance as the loveable oddball San Maru that’s made the biggest impression on me so far. His leading lady Lee Yeon Hee does a good job conveying the banality of her job as she herds cranky tourists around France. I’m hoping that future eps may allow the SoSo and Maru to improve on their verbal sparring ala Hepburn and Tracy.  And will we get to see a Yonghwa screen kiss this time around? The truth will only come out in the watching, but this drama is just heartfelt and breezy enough to make me want to see more.

DMeLRhqVoAEF5VQ

Melo medical, Hospital Ship, 2017

NOTE: This has been a banner year for CNBLUE members appearing in Korean dramas. In addition to Yonghwa’s leading man role in THE PACKAGE, his bandmates have all been cast as the male lead in various shows. Drummer Kang Minhyuk is currently starring in the very popular medical melodrama HOSPITAL SHIP, along with kdrama queen Ha Ji Won (THE SECRET GARDEN; EMPRESS KI), and the show has been one of the top-rated dramas in South Korea much since its premiere in August.

chae-seo-jin-lee-jong-hyun

Throwback romance, Girls Generation 1979, 2017

Guitarist Lee Jonghyun has been the male lead in not one but two dramas in 2017, the saeguk comedy MY ONLY LOVE SONG that screened on the Netflix platform in June, and GIRLS GENERATION 1979, the throwback teen drama that aired in the fall. After bassist Lee Jungshin appeared as the second lead in the historical remake of MY SASSY GIRL in early summer he was cast as the lead in LONGING HEART, a time-travel romance that will premiere in December. Somewhere in there in 2017 CNBLUE also managed to release two albums in three different languages and tour twice in Japan and once across Asia. Yonghwa added in his own two solo album releases and went on an eleven-show tour in Japan this year.

CNBLUE’s frenetic activity in 2017 is quite possibly a clue that one or more of them (Yonghwa almost certainly) will be enlisting sometime in 2018, and no doubt at least one of the CNBLUE members will squeeze in a role another drama or two before they start to go off to the army. Sometimes I think that after working so hard for close to a decade the military might seem like a respite of sorts for CNBLUE. But I have hope that they’ll come back from their enlistment and create more glorious music together and appear in even more dramas in the years to come.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: angelababy, CNBLUE, Girls Generation 1979, Hospital Ship, Jung Yonghwa, Kang Minhyuk, Lee Jonghyun, Lee Jungshin, Longing Heart, My Only Love Song, My Sassy Girl, The Package. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

We’re Like A Puzzle: CNBLUE in Taipei/Yonghwa in Kobe concert reviews

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sharon Lim  |  October 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I quote, “Okay, fuck it. This blog is now all-CNBLUE all the time. Or at least for the next post or two.”
    I’d just like to point out that it’s one of the reasons why I follow you. Heh! 😁
    Other than the fact that you articulate so well (which I’ve mentioned before), I’ve actually learned a number of things about CNBLUE that I didn’t come across until I read your blog.
    Yes, the boys are really doing things this year at a frenetic pace, and it boggles the mind how they (esp JYH with his solo album releases and concerts) manage to do concert after concert without losing it!
    They still have their Starting Over Arena Concerts, which I am trying very hard to get tickets to, so I’d be really thankful if someone could tell me how to go about this seeing as I don’t reside in Japan.
    I don’t really know what I’ll be doing once JYH goes into the army, but I’m hoping the 3/4 remaining will still be active and at least let me have some part of them. Better yet, why not just go all at once into service.
    Yes, I’m enjoying The Package so far. It’s a nice departure from the usual K-dramas (scenery, at least) and I do love Yonghwa’s portrayal of San Maru. I think he has come a long, long, way since his first forays into acting. I hope this is because he has gained more confidence during those years is putting it to good use. I haven’t actually read of anyone commenting negatively on his acting in this drama as yet.
    I do apologise for rambling on, Valerie. As usual, you write a wonderful piece.
    Have a great weekend!

    Reply
    • 2. valeriesoe  |  October 20, 2017 at 4:57 am

      Hey Sharon, thanks so much, glad you’re enjoying the CNBLUE spam! I always enjoy writing about their activities. I’m not sure exactly why they’ve been so productive this year but I’m not complaining. And THE PACKAGE has been a really pleasant treat, so I’m happy to have it gracing my screens. So far so good–
      RE: Japan tickets. I had a Japanese BOICE help me out with buying tix so if you want me to hook you just DM me on twitter. @vsoe

      Reply
      • 3. Sharon Lim  |  October 23, 2017 at 1:38 am

        Yup, I’m not complaining either. 😀
        Thanks, Valerie, I’ve actually connected with someone who resides in Japan and she wants to go for the concert as well. She’s attempting to get tickets for us.
        If it doesn’t work out, I’ll DM you.
        Thanks again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


supported by

Blog Stats

  • 380,371 hits

Archives

tweetorama


%d bloggers like this: