*icon oddly appropriate*
I have a confession to make - I have mainlined three episodes of the cable drama The Empress
(bringing total watched eps to 4) and to say I am obsessed would be an understatement. In fact, I am downloading raws expressly to cap (the only subs are streaming on viki), which is always a sure sign of obsession.
Jotei, the jdrama this is (somewhat loosely) based on, was a drama that made me horrifiedly amused (or is it amusedly horrified?) at its badness. But The Empress kept everything that had potential in Jotei (poor girl driven into prostitution and revenge, call-girl rivalry, horrid rich people who need to be brought down, thug with a heart of gold) and jettisoned everything that didn't - the horrifying 'acting,' the characters' unrealistic youth and bizarre behavior.
Our heroine, In Hwa, is a lot more reluctant than was Kato Rosa's version (she manages both spine and fragility and always seems one step short of deciding it all isn't worth it and killing herself - significantly, when she thanks Hyuk for all the things he's done for her, keeping her from killing herself is one action she skips). And at least for now, four eps in, she is not scheming to sell her virginity like the heroine of Jotei, but tries to do it (to have her debts paid) and ultimately cannot. Sure, she can be bitchy and go for the jugular, but you always sense the fragility beneath.
But the biggest character change is our hero. In Jotei (played by the awesome but miscast Matsuda Shota, who was also the only person in the cast who bothered to act), Naoto was a small-time gangster who lured gals into the flesh trade and who fell for our heroine when she fought off his rape attempts by telling him she must keep her virginity because she wants to sell it (yes, you read that correctly). I am not sure how that translates to epic OTP (or even any sane characters), and thankfully, the kdrama writers decided to jettison that entirely. In the Korean version, Hyuk, our hero, is a thug with the saddest eyes in the world (and the sexiest thing I've seen in a good long time. My hormones go insane), who doesn't want to follow his father's footsteps and join the Mob, but does so in order to get enough money to pay off In Hwa's debt so she could leave the brothel (because this drama is ANGSTY, she doesn't know that, and also gets her debts paid off by rich old creep minutes before he shows off with the money. Woe. I know I should not be emotionally involved in a kdrama melodrama - it never ends well - but I cannot help it). He is her knight in tattered armor, rescuing her again again, full of unspoken but utter adoration, but she is too driven and damaged to really do anything about it.
I mean, how can I not love them with scenes like this?
His mob hyungnim decided that spending a night with In Hwa would be a great present so he had drunk-unconscious Hyuk dropped in a hotel and then ordered In Hwa to show up there and spend the night. Of course, there was no sex once Hyuk woke up, but that scene *gibbers*.
Theirs is a rather different dynamic from that in Jotei, but it's pretty much designed to get me obsessed - a damaged gal and a thug who worships the ground she walks is pretty much my dream pairing.
Basically, from crackly crack this has turned into a competently made melodrama and you know how I go for those. It actually makes me think of a much darker, twisted mirror to New Tales of the Gisaeng
, or how it could go if Gisaeng wasn't a family drama.
Have a MV from the first half of the series.
Is anyone on my flist is watching this at all? Because if you love melos or stories of dysfunction, you are missing out!