WARNING: this post may include SPOILERS. Don’t read if you haven’t seen the drama yet and you don’t want to be spoiled.
How do I blog about You Who Came From The Stars? The experience is proving to be too difficult to put into words. (Or maybe it’s just my brain currently wired towards writing audit reports, hence, it’s too difficult to switch to blog mode. Proof: I used the word ‘hence’.)
I normally don’t watch Korean dramas in (near) real-time, unless said drama has Rain or Song Hye Kyo in the cast. I wait for it to finish, then leech them off from my K-drama source. My reasons for this are (1) I would already know if the drama is good enough to invest 16++ hours on; and (2) if the second episode for the week ends in a cliffhanger, I wouldn’t have to wait one week to find out what will happen next.
I looked forward to Star when casting was first announced because I totally loved the chemistry between Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun in the movie The Thieves. However, I had no intentions of watching it as it was airing in Korea. It was my friends’ constant excitement and praise week after week over Star that made me give in at Episode 6 and watch it. By the time Episode 8 aired in Korea, I found myself among those who patiently refreshed torrent sites waiting for the RAW file upload and woke up early the following morning to check if English subs are already out. It was that engrossing.
What is the magic of Star that it came to the point where millions of people all over the world screamed “NOOOooooo…!!!” in virtual unison when it was announced that one episode will be preempted to give way to the Lunar New Year festivities?
For me, the Number 1 reason would be the chemistry between the two lead stars Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun. There’s an obvious age gap between the two – with the female being much older – but for some reason, they made it work. They’re convincing as lovers. We could credit their acting skills, as well, especially Kim Soo Hyun who was described by their director as one of the finest actors of his generation. I totally agree with this. We all know he’s so young, but he takes the role of a 400 year-old college professor and we still lapped it all up. I am totally convinced that there’s no other actor in his 20’s who could take the Do Min Joon role so convincingly as Kim Soo Hyun.
As for Jun Ji Hyun… can I just say that I totally did not expect her to be sooooo effin’ good at comedy? I mean, did anyone actually expect to laugh out loud at scenes that had Jun Ji Hyun on it? I didn’t. She was so refreshing to watch. It takes so much guts for an actress who is known to have a glamorous image to tackle a role that required her to look and act silly and cartoonish. She went down and dirty with it, and it works. It worked to the point where some viewers found it off when [SPOILER] she was seriously crying nearly all the time at the final episode, as opposed to the previous episodes where she was shown bawling her eyes out in a comedic way. Don’t get me wrong, I think JJH did well in her dramatic scenes, too. But we’ve seen her do that before, as opposed to her doing slapstick comedy. I’m seeing JJH in a different light now.
But despite the electrifying chemistry between the two leads, the drama would not work if the rest of the cast are duds. In Star, even the supporting cast are perfect for their roles. I read an article which said that Park Hae Jin was supposed to take on the evil brother Lee Jae Kyung role, but the actor set to play Hee Kyung backed out so Hae Jin took that role instead. The evil brother role eventually went to Shin Sung Rok, who slayed (pun intended) that character.
At one point, some of us were actually worried that Park Hae Jin was under-performing as the love-sick Lee Hee Kyung and being out-shadowed by the other men who are not Kim Soo Hyun in the drama: Shin Sung Rok, Oh Sang Jin who plays the prosecutor Yoo Seok, CSY’s little brother Ahn Jae Hyun who can be Lee Min Ho and Kim Woo Bin’s love child if they mated. And then came Episodes 18 and 19, and finally it’s Park Hae Jin’s time to shine.
Gah, PHJ’s acting on this scene and at the confession scene with Hee Kyung’s father killed me.
Everyone else was great, too. Yoo In Na as the stealthily bitchy Yoo Se Mi (although I think her character lost its significance by the latter part of the drama), the rival moms, Jae Kyung and Hee Kyung’s father (OMG, that confession scene with Hae Jin was simply fantastic), the prosecutor and the cop, Hong Jin Kyung as Bok Cha who provided much comic relief (by the way, she’s actually as supermodel, so that’s another glamorous woman who was deglamorized on this drama). [MAJOR EDIT] OMG, I can’t believe I forgot Kim Chang Wan as Lawyer Jang who was so amazing in that farewell scene with Do Min Joon!
I think the weakest link on this drama was
Bae Suzy’s cameo the young actress who played the younger Song Yi. I just don’t see her growing up to be Jun Ji Hyun. For one thing, did she eventually grow a mole when she became an adult? (Yeah, yeah, I’m nitpicking.)
But an awesome cast would not work if the script itself was bad. This is one of the very few dramas that did not have a weak episode. Each episode has a good mix of drama and comedy. The screenplay flowed steadily, although as previously mentioned, I noticed that the Yoo Se Mi character became insignificant by the latter third of the series. The character simply got lost in the flow of the story. I particularly loved the epilogues which explained or revealed certain parts of the episode or the story as a whole.
As for the much-ballyhooed finale…
I may have been in the minority, particularly among the international fans. But I am totally satisfied at the ending. For one thing, I am so glad that the ridiculous spoiler that came out a day before the finale was not true. The thing with this kind of drama that became so successful is that, it would be difficult for the writer to come up with an ending that will satisfy the whims of all of its audience. She could either kill DMJ off, or let him go back alive to his home planet, or let him stay until he adapts to becoming a human and eventually creates seven half-human-half-alien babies with CSY and for sure, there will be violent objections. What she did was a stroke of genius: let Do Min Joon go back and forth to his planet and Earth, and keep it open-ended so that the audience can create an ending of their choice. I think it’s the best possible ending they could have.
I absolutely have no objections that they didn’t expound on DMJ’s life outside of Earth (although they could’ve at least explained why he showers with a towel around his waist), nor at the fact that Hee Kyung remained as the loyal, love-sick friend/admirer of Cheon Song Yi. If he ended up being paired with Se Mi just for his character to have closure, I would strenuously object because that is so NOT the character of Hee Kyung who even stood up to DMJ and told him that he will stay by CSY’s side once he (DMJ) leaves. I love that for once, this drama strayed away from the usual K-drama formula of amnesia, dying of cancer (although the alien got sick), super-evil characters turning good (the psycho remained a psycho), lovesick second leads deciding to pair up in the end just so their characters would not become pathetic losers. That’s the closest to reality that this drama could go.
Lastly, I super-love the fact that we got real lip-lock action on this drama instead of the usual Korean drama version where men are like boa constrictors and women are like dead fish.