Mean Guy — Review

When I first read of this drama, I didn’t think much of it because the synopsis wasn’t really that great and although all that pulled me to it was that Song Joong Ki had been cast as the main lead, it also made me doubt wanting to watch it because –as much as I love him – he had never been given a main lead before, and thinking how he is PYB I thought the drama would be another story of how this gorgeous man changes for this plain looking (so they say) girl next door.  As pretty much all actors start out: Kim Hyun Joong in Playful Kiss; Lee Min Ho in Boys over Flowers… you get the idea.

how cute XD

Okay, so that isn’t entirely wrong! He is gorgeous, and he does changes for his love. It follows the pattern. And here you would think I would not take this drama serious then, since I’m really looking for something that is totally different from that “boy changes for girl” sort of theory that Koreans obsess over. Really. Why can the character change for himself? Is that too hard? Anyway…

This drama is presented as a revenge drama. In a nutshell: A man who despite growing up poor and having to take care of a younger sick sister, always believed and saw the good in people, and what was beautiful in the world before condemning others. He falls in love with a noona from his neighborhood, Jae Hee, and his world is turned upside down from there on. He exacts a revenge plan against the woman who betrayed him. 

But really, revenge is not what this drama is about. However, I will leave that for the end. 😉

Quick summary of the first episode

The Innocent Man (aka Nice Guy)

So I have said Maru grew up poor taking care of his little sister who is often sick, but despite the struggles he gets into medical school and studies to be a doctor because the man is brilliant.

Jae Hee is also poor but unlike Maru she lived a life full of ugliness. Her father beat her up, her brother beat her up; plain and simple: she lives in utter misery.

One day, running from her dad, she finds refuge in Maru’s house and ever since then they become best friend. Maru, smitten with Jae Hee would do anything she asks. He loves her so much, he is willing to wait until she decides to reciprocate his feelings, and despite her liking him and hinting at being his woman all the time while in college, she’s still selfish about her feelings when it comes to Maru.

Yeah the woman has gained lots of bad traits from her dark childhood! And you would think it made her humble… pft.

One night –and the beginning of our drama –as Maru gets home from the hospital where he is completing his internship, he finds his sister on the floor with high fever. Right when he is about to take her to the hospital he receives a call from Jae Hee that she needs his help. She is crying, sounds extremely upset, “live or death” matter; Maru cannot help but rush over to her.

WRONG CHOICE number ONE what about choko Maru?!

Indeed Jae Hee is in deep trouble. She killed a man, and after trying to console her and think of a way to get out of it, Maru comes up with the plan of taking all the blame for what she has done.

WRONG CHOICE number TWO … this is really getting intense. -_-

Yes! He is that good of a person, yet, there is not one part of his decision that sounds good to me. He is not acting out of good principles; he is acting out of wants. The wish for the woman he loves to succeed finally after having such a horrible life, despite his own wishes to become a doctor.

I don’t think that we can say he is completely driven by good morals and therefore like him as a person, whether he did this out of humbleness, he still covered up a crime and that is not morally correct. We either don’t like him, and that is okay for he is an anti-hero, not exactly the kind of protagonist you would like; or we do like him because he is pitiful, or because he did a selfless act toward the woman he loves… mind you! What about his little sister? Not so selfless there. Yeah, it is clear what his priorities are.

Jae Hee becomes the woman of a rich man –her boss –and gives birth to his son. He has a daughter, Eun Gi, from his ex-wife.

Eun Gi is another character with deep scars as Jae Hee. Her mother left the house, and she made the choice to stay behind with her father although she evidently loved her mother as she carries a Barbie doll around and treasures it just because her mother gave it to her.

The fact that her mother died after living the house might be a thorn in her conscience and has her despising her father, her step-mother, and life all together. Here I see she really despises herself. That would make you into a very ugly person.

5 Years Later

Maru comes out of prison, and through a series of events he realizes that Jae Hee had never waited for him, and didn’t have the intention on going back to him. She was “happy” living in riches. He learns of Eun Gi’s strong apathy toward life, and elaborates a “revenge” plan against Jae Hee by getting close to Eun Gi.

WRONG CHOICE number THREE … we all know this never works, why can the characters know it too? 

I say “revenge” because at first it is not really revenge as he still loves Jae Hee deeply, and all he wants is to wake her up from her stupid notion that she belongs in that world. He is determined to bring her down to where she belongs.  In his messed up brain –otherwise good for medicine –Jae Hee belongs next to him. :O  I know!

Spoiler code: RED

This review is more a discussion on the drama. I will be discussing the things I found that in my opinion made the story lack in greatness, and I will contrast them with what would have actually worked or what did work. That said, it leaves me with pointing out the one thing it all falls under: the writing.

At this point you should ask yourself who wrote this drama? Lee Kyung-Hee… A Love To Kill anyone?

Okay, I have not watch the drama so I cannot say whether is a good or bad drama, but judging by the comments of one of my friends who happens to be a HUGE Bi Rain fan, and the story line of Nice Guy; I have to say A Love To Kill is not making it to my Plant To Watch list any time soon; maybe in another life if I’m reborn as a masochist.

*looks at picture for about one second*
Time to watch A Love To Kill

I should say that Lee Kyung-Hee also wrote: I’m Sorry, I love you which has pretty good reviews overall, despite it being super melodramatic. Also, Will It Snow for Christmas? and this one is another drama that got average reviews just like A Love To Kill. I know that I should form my own opinion of these dramas, but judging by what I have read of them, I won’t even take charge in the race. I mean, I have 100 dramas in my PTW for heaven’s sake.

Beginning of your nightmare

Let’s first go with story/plot. My rating is a 5.

The one thing I hated from this drama and that still continues to be the one thing that makes this drama fall short is the plot. In terms of story alone, we have a pretty good drama going: a man who seeks revenge on the woman he loves after being deeply betrayed by her. Not so original, but it could be incredibly good if done right.

Then, why? Why make the plot so contrived and full of unnecessary sorrow so as to make to viewer hate it with a passion equally strong? The answer is: bad writing. Or to be more precise: too much coffee before wreaking down all the madness on an otherwise beautiful script.

I WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER!!!! *throws protagonist on blazing fire*

NOT ENOUGH *bathes him in a hot tub of boiling water with scorpions – magically alive in all the frenzy*

NOT ENOUGH, NOT ENOUGH *pills his skin off little by little while singing the 10 Little Indian Song*

NOT ENOUGH!!! … omo I’m out of crazy sadistic ideas. *shudders*

On the plus side, it manages to hook you in because its fast paced and caters to modern viewers. Meaning the director knows what people want to see, and he goes for it full force. But more on that later…

I’m going to tell you what is wrong exactly (spoilers alert):

–         Time jumps where they are not needed.

Who asked you to be such a nice guy?? :p

In the first episode, what happened to the prison time? I was biting my nails waiting for it. I wanted to see Maru transition from goody two-shoes to rugged punk, and not in seconds. I wanted to see the evolution, and if the point was to show it through character and not story, it kind of failed at it.

New shoes! Because Maru did not go from his house to the airport to the plane to the Japan airport to the hotel!

Aside from a few gestures here and there –like when Maru goes to Japan following Eun Gi and after spending the whole night awake, working on saving her own hotel, he sits on a chair and puts his feet up on the table, lowers his head and snoozes away; yeah that was one of the few indications that he, having been in prison for 5 years, could sleep anywhere. It reminded me of a samurai who sleeps sitting on the floor with one eye opened. That was cool, but still, aside from that there was nothing else to indicate all his scars while in prison.

A person, and I don’t care who he was before, is bound to have more than a few scars from prison, and that includes physical. Tattoos? Scars from wounds? Odd behaviors? Outdated fashion? True, Maru does not have to have any of these things to please ME, and make me believe he spent 5 years in prison and comes from a poor background. I suppose they also thought it would make the character too stereotypical, but a tattoo wouldn’t have been too much, and did he pick up any habits? Like smoking.

Come on Korea! I know your citizens smoke like chimneys; I watch your films you know… if you are thinking of setting examples here I don’t think you need to worry about it with a character like Maru. He is way past being the perfect example.

*sigh* and yet the problem is none of these things really, is just that jumping from the window scene at the hotel to a gigolo Maru did not gave me time to assimilate he HAD SPENT 5 YEARS in prison.

Sweetest moment evaaaaaaaaaaaaa

So yeah, the actor didn’t have much to work with aside from gestures. He did his best. I take my hat off to him. He is amazing!!


The other indication was one of his jobs; gigolo. Come on! Really? So he becomes a gigolo and that is supposed to show me he has changed because he was in prison? I suppose they wanted to contrast the humble, decent Maru with a more arrogant miscreant human. Again, failed!

Maru was good nature, and he always remained good nature, what changed in him was his ability to believe in people, his trust in the principles of good vs evil, because despite he had not made the right choice 5 years ago, he still acted out of goodness. Becoming a gigolo does not show me this.

But we can still survive the bad twists and turns Maru takes, because what really makes this plot stinky is not Maru’s actions but Maru’s fate. Ehhhhh? 

How about this: have him frame people out of their money. He is not hurting a woman’s heart in the lowest form possible, but still showing he had to shed away some morals to make face against poverty. That shows me a person who despite being kind before, he created this whole lie to safe another person, so lying to feed his sister and himself is not so out of character. I’m not saying that framing people out of their money is less bad than being a gigolo, but it would have gone more with his character given that the time jump omitted who he became and presented us with just the actions after the transition; becoming a gigolo destroyed all the reasons why he went to jail in the first place! I mean, he was even still waiting for Jae Hee, which means he had some hopes. It totally defeats the purpose of making him a hopeless, beaten gigolo who doesn’t believe in love.

–         The accident in the tunnel

Hmmm… there were lots of discussions on whether they knew who they were or not. I even left tons of comments insisting they HAD to know who they were, or else the whole accident in the tunnel makes no sense, and at this point I don’t think it was even necessary. But I’ll elaborate.

Based on the thoughts of another writer, the accident in the tunnel is a possible scenario because Eun Gi and Maru were suicidal. Yes, I agree they could have been suicidal, especially Eun Gi. Maru, not so much.

If Maru is suicidal, he wouldn’t care to take “revenge” on Jae Hee, he wouldn’t have lived his life like an inanimate object waiting for his noona to come down from her apparent heaven. He is too determined and focused on what he wants to take his own life. However, considering that before the scene at the tunnel he had already quit his stupid revenge plan, and admited to himself he had lame reasons for living, I can believe he was suicidal more… still… a bit too much on the writers part.

What threw me off exactly is how it was done!

How about this: I would have believed more that Eun Gi had the intention on confronting Maru, and in the process of a heated argument tried to kill him taking herself down with him.

Perhaps she would have encounter him mid-way, cornered him to a cliff with her own car; gotten down and argued with him leading to both falling off the cliff because she wanted to push him. That would have been more believable than an accident in a tunnel.

What? She was driving thinking “when I see his car –because I’m sure he is JUST NOW driving back –I will crash into him.” Hmm… no!

Maru had lived for Jae Hee the moment he met her, he even pushed his sister aside and made Jae Hee his first priority. I assume he could have died in more ways than one throughout the time he spent in jail and then after it, but he remained alive because he was waiting for Jae Hee. We can then say, she was his reason for living even when she had betrayed him and he knew this. Then, if he succumbs himself to the “suicide” idea, this being started by Eun Gi (all in a matter of seconds, both minds connected past their struggles… wow lol) then he has completely given Eun Gi rights to his existence?? omo… okay, he just wanted to die like Eun Gi. Great.

–          Amnesia.

This is a double edge sword. It serves a purpose, and it also delays the inevitable: At the end, Eun Gi either hates Maru still, or forgives him.

It served the purpose of having her meet Maru again without judgment, but rather assuming that if they had dated before they must have loved each other. She continues to be romantic in the way she express her feelings, very passionate and open. However, she is not going to be after Maru like before. Once he told her he did not care for her in a very rough way, she took her new born pride and walked away from him. This Eun Gi I like. She shows she has learned to value herself, despite being someone with so many mental disabilities, like dyslexia, amnesia, and some inabilities to learn other things as easily as a healthy person would. She is cheerful and does not let her disabilities bring her down. As opposed to how she was before.

This is a positive way to see the amnesia card they pulled here. Also, giving that the accident she suffered was huge, it is not without believe that she should be damage physically or mentally.

How is not believable is that it delays the outcome of the drama and makes for unnecessary sorrow and situations that otherwise would have been omitted and the drama could have ended with 16 episodes very easily. I would have been so pleased.

episode 12 … THE END!

It seems writers now a day think that more anguish has to result in more episodes, and therefore will bring more money. Whatever. 

–         Maru’s Illness.

WHAT THE BANANAS IS THIS? Why is Maru ill? WHY? WHY? Poetic Justice?

Noooooooooooooo siree, this is not poetic justice for a character like Maru. In no way having him be ill will forgive every stupid decision he made at the beginning of this drama. That is the most cowardly way of presenting a character’s atonement. Bleh.

That is such a stupid cliché, my head was spinning from disbelief that I still had desire to watch this drama through till the end…. Yeah, I did. It ended in episode 12 for me. :p

Let’s see… In Beautiful Days, the main character looses EVERYTHING right in the middle of the drama, and has to start from scratch because he was, well, the meanest jerk ever!! THAT, my friend, is poetic justice.

Let me tell you what will probably happen: either Eun Gi remembers everything and sends Maru to hell, to later pick him back up because he is dying. OR. Maru does die.

Lee Kyung-HeeI have to say you deserve the trophy for best illusionist. You had me under a spell, not a 100% since I cringed with the time jump at the beginning (NO PRISON SCENES…. Noooooooooo. What really upset the hell out of me, is that I missed half naked men fighting in the cafeteria, and showering together *.*) but yeah… you had me fooled up till NOW.

As for character development. I have to say that it had its ups and downs. My rating is a 6.

I liked that we are presented with someone that can be good and bad, that makes the wrong choices, and that at then end has the desire to correct them. But at the same time, Maru is not consistent because of some details I have already discussed above, and also because at times it seemed like the author wanted him to do certain things to make the story more dramatic, as opposed to what the character would have actually done placed in a real situation. 

For example: the pivotal moment in which Maru realizes he has been a crazy jerk with EunGi and that his “unmeasured love” for JaeHee has its limits after all. DUH!

Why are you taking the cowardly way out?? o.O

He goes to the beach spot where he had planned a date with EunGi, to finally meet her as the Maru he is and not blind-Maru-controlled-by-JaeHee’s excuses. So here I was thinking: “God! Finally a man that knows what he wants and is not afraid to go for it” …. NO. I got the exact opposite. 

At the beach scene, Maru gives up on EunGi and their love in the most cowardly way a man could ever do. Because he thinks he does not deserve her, he dumps her in the meanest way possible. DUDE!! You made her fall head over heels for you; you turned her into a lunatic (not that she wasn’t one already); and now you are going to tell me you will walk away from her love because you think you don’t deserve it?

True, Maru showed some integrity by realizing he had done wrong and did not deserve her love; thinking that she could go on about her life and eventually love and be loved by someone who deserved her (Uh! Lawyer Park? hello!!). Yet, it was done with lies, and it makes me think it was more an act of cowardice than anything.

To have her go off thinking he is despicable, does not mean he deserves a medal for sacrificing his image in front of the woman he cares for. Instead, if he honestly says why they cannot be together, or that perhaps there needs to be a time of separation between them so that the scars can heal, it is more mature and understandable; and still, what happened after at the tunnel could have been excused by this just as well. Not that I would have played it like that, but that discussion is done and over.

Being too dramatic does not mean you feel more profound or deeper than anyone else. It just means you are a drama QUEEN. 

The good news is that later, his character shows exactly what I wanted from him here. So I kind of balanced this out a bit, but still, it bothers me that Asian writers – especially Korean because I have only seen this in a Korean dramas – think that sacrificing yourself is always the route to take, even at the cost of the other person’s happiness. Would it be a sacrifice if the other person is going to kill themselves because of it?? I’m confused here.

they do look nice together… omo *.*

With EunGi I had less problems.

I never understood why people thought she was strong at the beginning? Yeah she was a no BS person, and a tough woman. But her spirit was not strong, and although she had her say in most cases, her father always brought her confidence down, and this created a lonely, reclusive, EunGi.

That is not a strong person. That is someone who masks her wounds with a cast; like broken bones, only they don’t ever heal. She speaks her mind, and tells you what she is thinking no matter if it hurts you or if its unfair, just because she doesn’t want you to know SHE CARES.

The most consistent character was JaeHee. Because she had a reason to do everything she did and it was all understandable if looked at it from her perspective. I wouldn’t  have made the choices she made, but, she is a more believable character.

Jae Hee is a pathetic person, but oh so well played out.

She wanted to climb the ladder, and she did, taking to hell everyone else that helped her. This is a selfish woman, someone with no scruples or obligations — only to her son. This is someone who has an ambition and will not let anything stand in the way of it. Yet she is not without a heart. There were many occasions in where we saw a JaeHee that doubted; questioned what was right or wrong; judge her actions. Yes! She is evil, but not entirely without her own cause.

What I didn’t like about Jae Hee is the level of her selfishness, I detest selfish people, and the same goes for a character. But I admit that in her mind, she was acting the only way she knew how to act, the only way she was taught by her family. 

What really impressed me about her, was that despite being selfish she did not depend on others. True! She used others to do her willing, but she only used them (which is why I loathed her). She did not depend on someones love other than her son. I admire that.

Overall the writing of the characters is not as bad as the writing of the plot. Same goes for dialogue.

Things that saved this drama from complete and utter failure are acting, and directing. Like I said above, a the very start of this long, long, long review… lol; the directing was spot on! I mean, if you are a fanatic of cinematography, this drama is a most watch. There are good scenes; well presented, well acted, and the OST is incredible.

The actors did an awesome job with this one, and are – together with the director – the ones that pulled this drama through and through. But, given the flaws of the writing, it is only a GOOD drama and nothing else.

If you read my first impressions, you will see a totally different opinion of this drama. So, it leads me to believe that YES! It has an awesome start – despite some things – but it gradually goes downhill.

My rating is a 7 up to episode 14 which is what I watched without skipping, but my heart gave it all to this drama up to episode 12. Still, I skipped to the last episode ^^ my rating changes to a 6. The ending was HORRIBLE. 

Episode 12 puts closure to what hooks you in from the start. Because the revenge plan only serves as the power that propels the true main theme of this plot: Maru’s transition, from “nice guy” to MAN. His realization that he is in love with someone he probably does not deserve, and his resolution to take responsibility for her. To live for her. To fight for her. To love her like she deserves is what serves as the theme of this drama. His development through the love he felt for Eun Gi.

Now… after episode 14 in which we already know they are both fighting to get the company back from Jae Hee; all the remaining 6 episodes are totally unnecessary. It could have all been shrunken down into to episodes and the drama would have ended at 16. Yes I love 16 episodes drama, it means I don’t have to worry about fillers!!

6 episodes took to tell you what I predicted in one sentence (somewhere in this review lol)… no wait! that was the last episode. So what was the other 5 about? LOL. And the biggest question ever: Whatever happened to lawyer Park??? nway…

The true ending of this drama for me was episode 12 and that remains:

One day a woman walked into my life. I said the most hurtful things that I could think of, and pushed her away as hard as possible. but she came to me again.

This woman and I are very similar. I often see myself in her. She also has the scars that I have on my body. Tears in my head are also filled in her heart. I’m the one who gave her the scars and the tears. I should have never met her. I should have never let her walked into my lousy life.

I feel regret father. I feel regret for the first time in my whole life.

^ core of the story… that’s it. Pack your bags and take a vacation! On the itinerary we have: King of Dramas, and Priceless. What’s your pick?



Posted on November 17, 2012, in Dramas/Series and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I haven’t finished the drama yet, but I couldn’t wait to read your review and a voice out of the chorus of enthusiastic “masterpiece!”, “best drama ever!” and other amenities. 😛
    I reached episode 16 with a huge effort and am going to finish the drama despite it all, but unless the ending opens up a new universe of wonder – wich I strongly doubt since you deemed it horrible – I think I won’t even give it the benefit of a 6.
    I loved your review and agree on basically everything, with the added bonus of some healthy laughter at your “I will make you suffer!”, “Not enough” and “What the bananas is this”. Hahahaha. Thanks, you managed to remind me that from a morbid melodrama can even come out a laugh. 😉

    Also loved your analysis of the stupid tunnel incident, the glaring prison time void and the characterization – or lack thereof.
    I maintain Eun Gi is one of my most hated characters of all times, while I’m even ready to condone Jae Hee. As you rightly point out, she’s the only well written character – in a way, poetic justice it is, albeit a reversed, kind of twisted one.

    Thank you Twinny dear for the pleasant read. I should rush to watch the final… 4 episodes, but I have to say I’d rather clean the bathroom. 😛

    • I finished it – ok, I may just as well confess that in order to reach the end I made use of a little recaps here and there, just so that I could survive the experience and yet be able to talk about this drama.
      The ending? I’d love to insert a picture here, but since I can’t, let me give you the link.

      More effective than a lot of words, I suppose. 😛

      • Rita dear, you said it clearly “morbid melodrama” however I’m afraid that even then I would love this drama, if it werent because the writing was HORRIBLE. I cannot believe how bad the writing was, I mean…. was there even a time in which the writer said to herself: let me step back and smell the…. THORNS!!!!
        On the plus side the actors might have grown as actors a bit more… but I dread to think what was left in their minds after playing such characters -__-

        The END!! OH—-MYYYY—-GOD!! your picture says so well… loved it. hahahaha.

        Thanks for reading the review and glad I managed to bring you a few laughs.

  2. My rating for this was also a 6. It really could have been better and done in a shorter amount of episodes. I’m watching A Love to Kill right now and I think I’m going to like it better, even if just a little. One: it’s 16 episodes. Two: The intro/instrumental and music is better. Three: I like Rain’s character better than SJK’s character. But Shin Min Ah’s character has already started to get on my nerves, so we’ll see how that goes xD haha.

    I feel Nice Guy used every cliche they could think of, and it could have turned into something really good, but it was executed poorly. Like you mentioned, what happened to him during his time in prison?? What happened to him after the accident? What happened to him after he got stabbed and was liking on the ground. They never cleared any of these up, rather left it up to your imagination.

    I also agree that the characters were underdeveloped because you’re right, they never changed. They remained the same throughout the drama. After A Love to Kill, I think I’ll stay away from this writer’s dramas =__=

    Many people are like “this is the best drama ever!!” and “I cried so much” <– I didn't shed a single tear, which to me says enough about how this drama affected me.

    • They didn’t clear anything up by showing us, rather they let the actors tell us which it bugs me because sometimes its not enough!
      Like at the end, when after he is on the ground it jumps to 7 years and he is already a doctor!!! WTH? Yeah the little girl tells you everything that happened: he lost his memories and went to US to study and came back and moved to that little beach town…. wow, little girl your purpose for existing in this drama was just to explain to me what happened in 7 years. Now, you have done it, now you can go play with your dolls, here a candy… pft. The last episode was the worse episode I have ever seen in a Korean drama. :O

      The only time I cried in this drama was when they found each other after the accident, and then when he took her to the beach on a first date while he declared his love for her to his father. That made me shed a few tears because of the music, and the feelings involved between the two. Like I said, this story could have been so much better without all the unnecessary baggage. It could have been kept simple… the characters are complex enough.

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