Beautiful people can be funny, too. Backstreet Rookie starring Ji Chang Wook (The K2) and Kim Yoo Jung (Clean with Passion for Now) is a crazy comedy that reminds me of something Stephen Chow of Kung Fu Hustle fame would come up with. Sadly, I’m not digging it for now, but both Ji and Kim are pretty funny. Kim’s character’s violence is over the top and not meant to be serious, yet it just made me uneasy while watching. Beating people up when you don’t get your way isn’t really funny, no matter how it’s portrayed. What’s fascinating to me is the setting: Ji’s character owns a 24-hour convenience store, and even though I only watched a couple episodes, it was interesting to see him struggle with keeping the store running. He’s a hard worker sort of at the top of his game, but with serious self-confidence issues who lets a girl much his junior run circles around him. Thus, the comedy. Might give it another try later on to see if both characters improve.
Although this one isn’t a fairy tale, being set in a forest gives the show a fairy tale quality. Forest stars the handsome Park Hae Jin (Cheese in the Trap) and Jo Bo Ah (Tale of the Nine-Tailed) and is about a rescue worker and a doctor who end up as roommates in a remote forest village. The acting is great in this, both leads are their characters and have great screen presence and amazing chemistry. I take back what I said about Jo needing to work on her acting. She didn’t really have chemistry with the other leads I’ve seen her with. Here, the chemistry is blinding obvious. Park is spectacular and although his character is somewhat of a bad boy, he’s still likable and quite funny to boot. That reminds me, I never finished watching Man to Man that he was in… The second lead, No Gwang Sik is fun to watch, too. This is his first drama and he looks comfortable and great on screen. His looks bring to mind Peter Pan or Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The forest setting is refreshing and the cinematographer did an amazing job. Every shot looks magical. The plot, however, is all over the place, at least up until episode 13 (there are 32 episodes), and I really think this is one show that does not benefit from half-hour episodes. Because the setting itself is more relaxed than the usual city setting, it would have made more sense to put Forest into one-hour episodes. The timing is often too rushed and throws things off. As far as where the show is going, I’m not sure if we’re to suddenly find out this is a magical forest of some kind or merely that the leads have a childhood trauma they experienced there. Or is this a morality tale about corporations infringing on nature, a la Ferngully? We’ll see.
The romance is fun and the banter hilarious, but at times it is just bicker, bicker, bicker. Always thought it would be kind of fun to have a romance where you tease each other and fake fight all day, but now I’m not sure. Peace is probably a lot better, and more relaxing. But, wow, when they finally kiss is it worth it: all that pent up passion. Probably one of the best kisses I’ve seen in kdramas, and I’ve watched a lot. The key is that she really kisses him back, which doesn’t happen often on these shows. Did I mention their chemistry is off the charts?
Intrigued to see where the story goes and if Park’s character actually turns out being a good guy for both the forest and the girl. He keeps telling her she has a confidence problem, and it’s true. Both characters have psychological issues to deal with, but Jo’s character, the doctor, has deeper problems than just panic attacks. Her character and Ji Chang Wook’s character from Backstreet Rookie should get together to form a self-help club. Despite also having bouts of mental trauma resurfacing, Park’s character has perhaps too much confidence in himself. However, I think it would be sad to see him fall, as his character is so smart. It would be nice to see him win at the game he’s playing, and hopefully, that would end up being a win for all of them. Despite its flaws, Forest is definitely a show worth watching.