Before you get into this review, let me warn you that I am a BIG fan of actor Ji Chang Wook and this review will contain a lot of praises for my most favourite Korean actor. So, if you don’t like him (which is impossible because how can anybody, not like Ji Chang Wook?) then do not proceed further.
I was a little surprised when Ji Chang Wook stated that Suspicious Partner is his first try at rom-com because I always saw him as a romantic hero. I later realised that his previous dramas were more of action and less of romance. His role in ‘Empress Ki’ was comical but the show was more of drama and less of comedy. So, that does make Suspicious Partner his first rom-com. And I wish I could personally tell him that he did a great job at it.
Suspicious Partner (aka Love In Trouble) (2017) (40 episodes)
Eun Bong Hee (Nam Ji Hyun) is a lawyer in the making and works as an intern with Noh Ji Wook (Ji Chang Wook). However, before signing up to work as an intern, Bong Hee had once mistaken Ji Wook for a molester and had publicly accused Ji Wook of misbehaving with her. Ji Wook remembers her false accusation and ensures that she pays for it while working for him.
Though Ji Wook appears as a stern boss on the exterior, he is actually a softie who helps Bong Hee when she has trouble with her ex-boyfriend. One day, Bong Hee returns home from the general store and finds her ex-boyfriend stabbed to death in her house. She calls the police who then arrest her for murdering her ex-boyfriend. In such a testing time, she calls Ji Wook for help. Despite being Bong Hee’s prosecutor, Ji Wook manages to set her free from the trial which eventually costs him his beloved job. He then wishes to never see Bong Hee again as helping her meant career suicide for him.
But Ji Wook and Bong Hee are destined to meet again as they see each other two years later in a court case where they stand on opposite sides.
(For those who are new to Korean dramas, you might be confused seeing 40 episodes numbered for the drama. However, the drama is actually 20 episodes long and each episode has been divided into 2 episodes spanning 30-35 minutes each. Korean dramas are usually 60 minutes long per episode. However, Korean dramas are now banned in China which has led to a lot of losses for the Korean entertainment industry. So, some of the broadcasting networks have decided to split each episode into two which gives them more time to add commercials in between the episodes and help them earn more revenue.)
Let’s weigh this rom-com cum suspense drama on our show beam balance and see what makes these two unlikely partners a hit.
Ji Chang Wook: There is a reason why actor Ji Chang Wook is my favourite. Apart from his ridiculously handsome face,
and HAWT body,
there is one important quality in him that makes him the perfect drama hero for me.
That quality is the conviction with which he does romantic scenes. The director of the show is clearly aware of Chang Wook’s forte and has used every opportunity to showcase Chang Wook’s plus points. Some scenes show Ji Wook suffering from some internal turmoil and he is unable to say it aloud so he just gazes at Bong Hee. I would kill to have Chang Wook look at me with those eyes.
And not just romance, he is damn freaking good even in emotional scenes. The scene when Officer Bang is hanging between life and death and a shattered Ji Wook pounds on the door wailing for his friend gave me goose bumps.
What is it that Ji Chang Wook can’t do? Well, he does need to work on his comic timing (and his dance too. He sucks at dancing but thankfully he does not really need it as an actor in Korean entertainment industry). He is like India’s Hrithik Roshan who aces emotional and romantic scenes like no other actor but is on a weaker footing when it comes to comedy. But I could see it in this show itself that Chang Wook is working hard on improving his comic timing and I am sure he will get better.
Ji Chang Wook is enlisting for mandatory military service on 14th August and will be missing from action for the next two years. I am going to miss my Oppa dearly 🙂 The way K-pop and K-dramas are catching up in India I hope that in the next two years K-drama actors come to India to promote their work. And I hope to see Ji Chang Wook in India some day.
Nam Ji Hyun: Talking about comic timing, there couldn’t have been a better actress than Nam Ji Hyun to pull off amusing scenes so effortlessly.
The funny scenes on the show seemed funny because of Nam Ji Hyun. Her pleasing personality and bright warm smile make me happy, very happy. Bong Hee is supposed to be a black belt champion who fights like a professional but I felt there was a lot of scope in that department for Ji Hyun. Her few fighting scenes did not look very convincing to me. However, her expressive face made up for all her shortcomings.
Several actresses turned down the role of Eun Bong Hee before Nam Ji Hyun signed up for it. And I was thrilled to know that I would be seeing two of my favourite actors together in a drama.
Lead Couple Chemistry: I am not just a regular fan girl but a crazy obsessive possessive fangirl who can’t share her Oppa with anybody else. And I will admit here that the chemistry between Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hyun was so amazing that I hated to see them together. After seeing their explosive and passionate love scene I almost wanted to kill Nam Ji Hyun because I was just so envious of her.
Jealousy aside, a love story can be successful only when the lead couple shares good on-screen chemistry. If you see any other show of Ji Chang Wook, you will know that he can build chemistry with even a rock. He looks at his female lead with such adoration that I am convinced of his love for them. However, if Ji Wook and Bong Hee look great together then it is not only because of Ji Chang Wook but also because Nam Ji Hyun complemented him well. Her acting skills matched with his and together they created magic on screen.
Fans have been rooting for them to date in real life. I would have laughed at the fans optimism but after the Song-Song couple breaking the news of their marriage, I feel anything is possible and nobody would be happier than me to see Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hyun together. (I am lying. I want Ji Chang Wook to be with ME and not anybody else.)
Eun Hyuk: Me and my obsession with second leads. Argh!!! Thankfully this second lead is not in a love triangle with the main lead so you see he is different. Eun Hyuk’s character is funny, friendly and vital to the story.
I like all the supporting characters on the show, but Eun Hyuk is my favourite because through most part of the show his personality seemed hard for me to define. He seemed almost mysterious to me as I tried to figure out if he was a comical character or a serious dude. Well, he is a blend of comedy and seriousness which is why I like the character a lot.
He is a friend who screwed up big time with his besties and repents it. He tries his best to win Ji Wook’s trust and helps him whenever he can. He gives Bong Hee the additional boost she needs to act upon her feelings for Ji Wook. He is that one character whose presence makes me feel rest assured that no matter how bad things go for Ji Wook and Bong Hee, Eun Hyuk will help them out of it.
Though I liked Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s love story it was Eun Hyuk and Yoo Jung’s love story that I was more interested in. It is because you know that Ji Wook and Bong Hee, like any other couple, will meet and separate and then meet again to be together forever.
The same applies to Eun Hyuk and Yoo Jung too but their story development was slow paced and uncertain. In spite of the evident chemistry, I still wasn’t sure if they would eventually end up together or not and this made me root for them so bad that I couldn’t wait to see them finally admit their feelings.
Bromance: This show had a lot of bromance happening between Ji Wook and his friends Eun Hyuk, Officer Bang, CEO Byun. These men play an important role in Ji Wook’s life and they all are cool. Ji Wook’s awkward, almost rebellious, relationship with his foster father CEO Byun is cute because when you feel worried for Ji Wook’s reckless decisions you know he has CEO Byun’s backing who will take good care of him. Similarly, when Ji Wook needs an extra hand at work you know his work will be done by his right-hand Officer Bang. And lastly, the frenemy turned friend (?) Eun Hyuk and Ji Wook share and easy and interesting chemistry. I loved their banter and their minor fights. I couldn’t help clapping in glee whenever they would act friendly each other.
Direction and Sound Track: After Goblin it was Suspicious Partner that I felt was beautifully directed and edited. The cinematography was excellent. I have to mention the kiss scenes here. Whenever there is was kiss scene, the audio would suddenly go off till the song would resume after a few moments of complete silence. This lack of sound baffled me at first but then I really appreciated the idea of having no sound till the two characters grow closer in the scene.
The show’s OST includes peppy songs like ‘Eye Contact’ by Kim EZ and ‘Why You’ by Seenroot that symbolize Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s initial relationship.
Meanwhile, ‘Breathing All Day’ by Bumkey and ‘How About You’ by Cheeze is for the lovely moments that Ji Wook and Bong Hee share in the show.
Ending: I have been ranting in my last few drama reviews of how I was left disappointed and cheated of a good conclusion to several dramas. Suspicious Partner surprised me not only during its run but also with its stunning conclusion. The ending was totally shocking as I really did not expect the puzzle to solve in a way that would leave me astonished with the final picture. I did not expect such an unpredictable twist. And I would applaud the writer for unravelling the mystery so skillfully and giving me the classic ending I was starved for.
Story Pacing: Though I loved the show a lot, I have to admit that it does get a little boring for a few episodes in the middle. The show was funny, romantic, and suspenseful. But I did not like it when the villain disappeared for a few episodes. In the villain’s absence, the focus turns to developing the love story between Ji Wook and Bong Hee, which was cute but for me the story went off-track for those few episodes. It was necessary to show how Ji Wook and Bong Hee are connected with an incident that occurred in the past. However, even though I loved Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s love story, I really missed the villain and awaited his return eagerly.
The show beam balance is overloaded with good weights. Thus implying that it is a thoroughly entertaining drama. Suspicious Partner is my bias Ji Chang Wook’s final drama before he enlists for mandatory military service and I am so happy with his impeccable performance in the show. Yes, his comic timing can be worked upon but other than that my dear Oppa rocks all departments of dramatic acting. Actress Nam Ji Hyun stuns with her immaculate performance and fills in wherever Chang Wook falls short. Her dazzling smile always manages to melt my heart and I really love watching her dramas. Chang Wook and Ji Hyun together make this show endearing and entertaining.
I give this show 4 out of 5 rating. Suspicious Partner is a rom-com that is beautifully blended with suspense and some drama. The show does slow down a bit but manages to catch up in the end. Watch it because it should not be missed for any reason.
Image Courtesy: The Story Works, Dramabeans.com