Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coffee prince - Kdrama Review

Coffee Prince or 'The First shop of Coffee prince'(2007) is the latest South Korean drama that I have seen. The plot is based on a novel 'Coffee Prince Store #1'. The drama is fairly good and its a romantic story based in where else-a coffee shop. It starred Yoon Eun Hye, Gong Yoo,Lee Sun Gyun and Chae Jung Ahn.

Eun Chan(Yoon Eun Hye) is a poor hardworking young woman who does a lot of jobs to support her family. She is tomboyish and looks like a guy which works out to her advantage while delivering food, working at odd jobs and other tasks. Through a series of circumstances she lands a job in a coffee shop that only employs guys. Since everyone thinks she is a guy and being in dire need of a job, she goes on with the charade.

The owner of the shop is Han Kyul(Gong Yoo) who is actually a heir to a huge food corporation but has been assigned the run down coffeshop so that he can prove himself capable to his grandmother. Through a series of incidents he falls in love with Eun chan. But obviously the situation is severely complicated as it’s a guy falling for another guy(or so he thinks). Cue more drama and anger and misunderstandings.

There is also another love story that is more on the matured side between the coffee shop owner's cousin(Lee Sun Gyun) and his long time girlfriend(Chae Jung Ahn). They are on-off lovers who have just reunited after a period of separation. It is interesting that both the coffee shop owner and his cousin brother fall for the same woman at different points in the plot. This second parallel love story shows how long time couples deal with infedility, boredom and other issues that come along at a later stage in life.

The other characters or princes in the coffee shop include the owner's mischievious playboy type friend(who keeps saying 'My Chan' in the most adorable manner), a wimpy dumb guy who is besotted with Eun chan's sister and a good looking waffle maker(Kim Jae Wook) who speaks in Japanese whenever he has to talk.

When I saw the characters working in the coffee shop, I was instantly reminded of the South Korean Movie 'Antique Bakery'. It had a similar setting with 4-5 really good looking guys working in a coffeeshop/bakery. In fact the waffle making guy in coffee prince played a pivotal role in Antique bakery. I thought that he was terrific and quite cool as a gay guy in the movie. I hope he gets more parts like 'Antique Bakery' so that we can see more of him. In coffee prince though it’s sad cause he has a half baked role and hardly any lines but he is still very good eye candy.

Coffee prince drama was quite bold for two reasons. There was the whole homosexuality tone that was shown in a very mature manner. After a certain point, the central character does not care anymore that he has fallen in love with a guy or how he will explain it to society.

Secondly the kisses in Coffee Prince were definitely not PG13 like other Korean dramas. You could see clearly that the actors were told not to be prudish about kissing on screen and it shows. However to use a cliche, the kisses are not forced and are important whenever they occur in the context of the story. I believe that future Korean dramas were warned to tone down kisses because of the flak that the drama makers got from this drama's scenes.

Eun Chan's character was well acted by Yoon Eun Hye. A lot of credit for the success of the drama belongs to her. The surprising part is the actress actually looks so tomboyish that it is very difficult to make out that she is a girl. She was very cute in the entire drama without trying too hard. I liked the scene when she breaks down and cries on the road after Han Kyul rejects her on realizing her identity. One thing I was stunned to see was Eun Chan(the girl) carrying Han Kyul on her back after a drinking session while walking on heels. I have no freaking idea how she did that. If that isn't back breaking, I dont know what is.

In the initial episode, I was'nt too sure about Han Kyul(Gong Yoo) but he kept looking and acting better as the series wore on. By the time the finale rolls around, he looked like the best dish in the coffee shop. It was very amusing to watch him troubling Eun chan and then later how he struggles to make sense of his own love. The two stars of the show have tremendous chemistry and its fun to see their expressions change with the dialogues from playful banter to jealousy to love.

The love story is quite believable and you can actually sense how Eun chan's personality affects the people around her. There is a scene in the last episode where Han kyul is trying to prevent her from entering his house. It is so funny especially in the context of why he is doing that. Also his proposal scene is beyond sweet, loved his complete dialogue in that. Thankfully there is not too much interference from elderly people and evil relations to derail the love story. The main emphasis in the drama is always on being true in love.

Unlike 'Boys Over flowers' or 'Lovers in Paris', this one does not have too many lavish sets and exotic locations but it is still nice to see a local drama. Coffee prince has a good storyline and although it takes a while to warm up to the characters, this is one coffee worth savoring at your leisure.

No comments: