이 죽일 놈의 사랑 (KBS, 16 Episodes)
Romantic Melodrama,
Grade: A

Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I wasn't prepared to be as impressed with this older revenge melodrama, A Love To Kill (2005) as I ended up being! It's superstar Rain's best acting performance, perhaps tied with his impressive one in the 2006 film I'm A Cyborg But That's Okay. I had tried to watch his comeback drama that he made after getting out of the military, called My Lovable Girl (2014), but it was such pablum I had to quit by the third episode; as much as I love him, the show was just awful; Rain needed an exciting, mature adventure or crime melodrama as his comeback vehicle, not a silly romantic show where his love interest was over a decade younger than him, and she couldn't act to boot! My advice is to avoid that miscalculation and to watch A Love To Kill instead! His performance is compelling and unforgettable.

Never dismiss a Korean drama out of hand just because it happens to be "old". I prefer the word "timeless" or "classic". Why are people still reading Shakespeare, or watching early silent movies? Their stories are universal and still appeal to people's emotions and sense of fair play; everyone knows intellectually that a person bent on revenge will ultimately hurt themselves. In the K-drama world, whether it's Bad Guy, Shark, or A Love To Kill, the person seeking the revenge has to learn the hard way that they themselves will reap what they have sown for others.


Creative Cinematography: Gritty, or Soft And Pretty?
Take your pick, A Love To Kill features both!

This revenge melodrama was directed with great flair by the drama director who did Padam, Padam,
Kim Kyu-tae. He has a unique eye for a beautiful shot, like many scenes in the first episode filmed on an expansive beach, underwater, over a bridge, or on a city building rooftop at night; he's also great at gritty shots, like those filmed in dark dirty alleyways, and the world of gangsters and poor people who are trying to make a quick buck, often illegally. The very last shot of our couple is unbelievably beautiful yet haunting -- but I won't provide spoilers, you'll have to watch it for yourself.

The Story: The basic story outline features an anti-hero type, Bok-Gu Kang (Rain) who loves his older brother Min-Gu Kang best in the world (Kim Young Jae). His older brother had fallen in love when he was younger with a pretty girl who became a famous actress, Eun Seok Cha (Shin Min Ah) but they had lost touch with one another over the years.

However, the brother has never forgotten her, and one night when he sees her face on a billboard as a famous person he is shocked, and he suddenly jumps off the roof of the building that he and Bok-Gu are standing on, apparently to commit suicide. Bok-Gu in horror screams out his name and lunges for him but it's too late. Min-Gu lives, but will never be the same again; he remains in a coma for a long time and when he finally emerges from the coma he is profoundly brain damaged, paralyzed, and cannot speak except to emit guttural sounds for a long time.

Bok-Gu, who is an aimless person and second rate fighter, determines to seek his revenge on Eun Seok, whom he unfairly blames for his brother's tragedy. He is hired as her chauffeur (shades of The Snow Queen) and deliberately makes it seem that he is attracted to her (even kissing her after a particularly gross event takes place in a dark street alleyway! Everyone who has seen this drama already will know which infamous kiss I mean!). ;)

Impressive Scenes from A Love To Kill
Warning; Spoilers

Eun Seok starts to fall for him of course (who could resist Rain?) but will he ultimately reveal to her that he has led her on for revenge, and if so, what will she do with that shocking information? Will she ever discover that Bok-Gu is the brother of her lost boyfriend from long ago, Min-Gu? And what about Bok-Gu himself? Was he really just pretending to fall in love with Eun Seok, or did his real feelings become involved?

Actress Kim Sa Rang is delightful as Da Jung,
and provides nice comic relief during a serious drama

On the sidelines pining for Bok-Gu, and jealous that he seems to be disregarding her for the pretty Eun Seok, is his long-term girl friend Da Jung Han (Kim Sa Rang, who played Oska's love in
Secret Garden), who blackmails Eun Seok for money, and a rich businessman named Joon Sung Kim (actor Ki-Woo Lee from Flower Boy Ramen Shop and the film The Classic) who is in love with Eun Seok and waits for her to get over Bok-Gu so he can marry her. Will Rain's character ultimately become noble and give up his planned revenge, and turn her over to Joon Sung for marriage so she can have a stable life?

Beautiful Shin Min

I hope Rain remains proud of his terrific work in this drama, and looks back to this show as a model for where his career should focus on in the future. Shin Min Ah was excellent too, as always; she's quite the scene stealer! Not to mention the woman is extraordinarily beautiful! Since the moment I first laid eyes on her in the 2005 film Sad Movie I thought she was an amazing actress. I will watch her in anything, old or new. 

Actor Kim Young Jae as Bok-Gu's brother Min-Gu,
wakes from a coma to stare at Eun Seok's picture for hours

Actor Kim Young Jae who played Rain's disabled brother was the standout character for me in this drama - just incredible, emotional acting work, playing a profoundly disabled man who silently understands what is going on with his brother and his messed up life, but who is still able to forgive him. I cried during many of his scenes. One of the most amazing scenes between the two brothers was when Min-Gu weeps due to his frustration with his disability, and Rain reaches out to his face and wipes the tears and snot coming out of his nose - not with a tissue, but with his own two hands. Now THAT is an actor who is willing to get his hands dirty for a performance - literally!

I recommend A Love To Kill to everyone who likes Rain or revenge dramas with many twists and turns in the plot. The OST was gorgeous too! I had to immediately buy my own copy on CD.

Don't miss this great drama. It's addictive -- even though it may be "old", it's superb entertainment. You can watch A Love To Kill by buying a great DVD boxset so you can watch it in HD. Look at all the accolades on its AMAZON PAGE!