I marathoned the superb revenge
melodrama Shark (2013), and couldn't sleep all
night after starting it, because it was so packed with
tension in every episode! I loved actress Ye Jin Son and
actor Nam Gil Kim as the leads, they had sublime chemistry
together, and I loved their younger counterpart actors,
Soo Jin Kyung and Joon Suk Yun, who played their
characters as teenagers in set-up and flashback scenes.
Never before have I seen two young actors who so perfectly
captured the physical and emotional characteristics of the
adult actors; I think Korea often strives in their casting
to match them up in appearance as best as possible, to
their credit. Many other countries'
entertainment production companies don't really care, or
think it's important enough.
The cinematography was lustrous
and breathtaking on Shark, beyond
beautiful! Many of the images, such as the one below,
were like classic paintings! I would freeze the images
just to STARE at them in amazement! Images of beaches,
lakes, woods, nighttime and
daytime skies, gardens, picturesque
streets and buildings, not to mention
startling human facial
close-ups on occasion, were all unforgettable. Korea
has the best camera people in the world, with a real
eye for beauty! Forget Hollywood. They long ago
abandoned beauty. All the superficial people in that
industry today care about is petty politics, not Art.
soundtrack was lovely and haunting, just perfect
for this poignant story of two people caught up in
a web of intrigue, murder, and revenge.
The Youngsters Fall In Love
For some unfathomable reason in
the K-drama world Shark falls under the radar
unfairly, and needs more exposure. Perhaps because it
uses a more conventional, older, dreamy and languid
style of film-making technique than kids today are
used to; for anyone over thirty, however, I think they
would fall in love with this show as much as I did. I
hate to bandy the word around, but Shark is a
true masterpiece, because of its classic film style
and the excellence of its imagery, written script,
soundtrack, and outstanding performances.
The Story: A teen boy
named Yi Soo Han (Joon
Suk Yun) meets the teen daughter Hae
Woo Jo (Soo Jin Kyung) of
his father's new rich employer Sang Gook Jo (veteran
actor Jung Gil Lee) and they take a liking to one
another. They spend a lot of time together after
school, and Hae Woo likes to videotape her new
friend. At one point she asks him what his favorite
animal is, and he answers the shark, because the
shark is a pitiful creature since if it stops moving
it will die.
No one loves sharks, instead, they fear them. This
little videotaped scene becomes precious to Hae Woo
over the years, and is heavily symbolic of the life
her friend Yi Soo will have to live in future.
There is tension for Hae Woo's parents at home, as
their marriage is about to break up. Her mother
leaves the home permanently, leaving Hae Woo with
her petulant and selfish father, Ui Son Jo (Gyu Chul
Kim), who never really had time to spare for her due
to his - ahem! - extra-curricular activities with
women. Hae Woo's grandfather Sang Gook has been more
of a "father" to her over the years, although he can
often be overbearing and controlling too.
Who goes to heaven? The one who
doesn't repent? Or the one who does?
Meanwhile Yi Soo's father
Young Han (In Ki Jung) is secretly haunted by
memories of torturing men in some dark past days of
Korea's history under a dictatorship, sins that he
deeply regrets, and this history might be connected
to someone in Hae Woo's own family.
Then one night Yi Soo witnesses the death of his
father caused by an apparent hit and run "accident".
As a witness, Yi Soo himself becomes a target of
assassination, and while in a phone booth talking to
Hae Woo, telling her they will never be separated,
he is hit by a truck and almost killed. His body is
removed from the accident site by a Japanese man who
is involved with a shady crime syndicate, and he is
secretly taken to Japan, where he undergoes
significant plastic surgery to heal from the brutal
attempt upon his life. Hae Woo is told that Yi Soo
died, but she never truly believes it. Who the real
culprit was who was behind Yi Soo's father's death
and his own attempted murder is something that Yi
Soo pledges to himself to uncover someday.
The Famous Romantic Walk In
Years later Yi
Soo returns to Korea as Yoshimura Junichiro (beyond
wonderful Nam Gil Kim) from Japan, with plans to take
revenge on the people who caused his family's downfall.
Hae Woo (Ye Jin Son),
whom he has never forgotten, is about to get married to
their former fellow classmate Joon Young Oh (Suk Jin Ha
now a hotel manager. Yi Soo arrives at the hotel where
the ceremony is to take place and stares at Hae Woo from
a distance, and she looks back at him, obviously
wondering who he is. But he quickly realizes he cannot
be distracted too much by Hae Woo: he needs to find his
father's killer and take his revenge. This is his
primary goal, no matter whom he has to hurt who might
get in his way.
Hae Woo has become a
prosecutor, in part to see if she could ever uncover the
facts behind Yi Soo's "death". Yi Soo as Yoshimura
slowly and secretly begins dropping oblique hints to her
that the boy she once loved is still alive and may even
be nearby, watching her. She meets "Yoshimura" on a
number of social occasions and each time she is reminded
more and more of Yi Soo, and the old attraction between
them starts to re-surface.
After being given information that he did not die, Hae
Woo even goes to Japan and while there tries to track
down what might have happened to Yi Soo. A shark
necklace she had made for Yi Soo as a teen girl surfaces
in the home of the man who had taken care of him for
some time after his attempted murder. Overwhelmed with
emotion at this discovery, Hae Woo faints and finds
herself in the comforting arms of "Yoshimura", who has
already made it plain to her that he is attracted to
her. What effects will this growing attraction have on
her marriage to Joon Young? Joon Young is a very sweet
and attentive, trusting husband. Yet she still cannot
completely forget Yi Soo since they were so cruelly
separated in their youth. Finding out what happened to
him is a compulsion she cannot control.
Yi Soo had had a little sister named Yi Hyun Han (played so nicely by
actress Bo Ra Nam), who was adopted after the
death of their father. Her adoptive father, Bang Jin
Byun (Won Sang Park), is a detective who works closely
with Hae Woo professionally. Soon it becomes apparent to
Yi Soo that even his sister might be in danger from the
men who want him killed!
Meanwhile, with the quiet help of another cop friend,
Soo Hyun Kim (Soo Hyuk Lee), Hae Woo is becoming more
and more convinced that Yoshimura is really Yi Soo. Will
he ever admit the truth to her, even if she asks him
point blank? Will Yi Soo ever finally discover for sure
who it was who murdered his father and destroyed his
family? If he does, can he trust Hae Woo with that
critical information, especially when she seems intent
on stopping him from taking revenge? What will Hae Woo's
reaction be when she discovers the culprit might
actually be someone in her own family AND that the
ramifications might even go beyond Yi Soo's life to the
nation's welfare as a whole?
Once again, in this twenty episode darkly romantic
melodrama, we have many twists and turns that will
surprise you. What we have here is essentially an
Orpheus story; even the title love song is called Between
Heaven And Hell. You grow to love all the good but
flawed people in this drama, and grow to despise the
villains. And that's how it should be in the best of
stories. Definitely give Shark your undivided
attention. You will be glad you did! Remember, folks,
it's a ... (shhhhhh!) ..... MASTERPIECE!