My Newest K-drama Love: Healer Korean Drama Review
Well, I haven't built any time machines recently (YET!), but thanks to Healer, I was able to recapture that feeling of really, really loving a drama for the first time in way too long. I loved this show.
There's a lot of hype over Healer, which definitely added to my personal enjoyment of the series. I don't always catch the biggest shows right at the height of their popularity, but this time, my personal fangirling happened to coincide with everyone else's fangirling, which only made me more excited.
No, seriously. I got waaaaaaay too excited. Like texting all of my non-K-drama-watching friends and family and telling them to watch Healer excited. I. can't. stop. gushing. over. this. show.
So if you want an even-keeled review, I might not be able to help this time...
I guess mass obsession is great for the people caught up in the moment, but it does tend to put a damper on the viewing experience for people who come to the drama a bit later. It's easy to think "Wait, that's it? What was all the fuss about?"
So here's my disclaimer about Healer: It's an action romance. Nothing more. Nothing less. It isn't going to shatter your worldview or leave you thinking for months after the last episode. It's just an action romance.
|Do you disapprove of people leaping off of buildings? Then this isn't the show for you.|
But still. As an action romance, it's practically perfect in every way.
Healer knows exactly what kind of show it is, but it doesn't let a "fluff" genre like action romance get in the way of doing a good job. The writers, actors, and directors took a decently engaging plot and executed it with care, transforming it into an incredibly engaging viewer experience.
When I say that almost every element worked, I really mean it. The pacing was excellent, spacing out less-exciting scenes to avoid that dreaded "episode 15 slump." There was a nice balance of laugh-out-loud humor, heart-thumping romance, and nail-biting action throughout the series. The soundtrack was catchy and memorable. Perhaps best of all, no one caught amnesia!
Above all else, Healer had a well-rounded cast. Instead of focusing on the main leads with maybe one or two fun side characters surrounded by one-dimensional filler characters, the world of Healer was stuffed to the brim with people you couldn't help but love and care about. There really weren't any weak links. I can't even pinpoint who my favorite character is. It's clearly Min Ja—until Young Shin's dad makes me cry. Or mini Healer pops up to save the day. I mean, my favorite part of the entire show wasn't even a romantic moment—it was that stunning training sequence between Teacher and Healer in the abandoned building.
|But seriously, Min Ja is obviously my real favorite.|
Even the main villain was more nuanced than usual, and I caught myself feeling sorry for him from time to time. Aside from the Big Bad Elder and his sniveling sidekick, everyone had a story and some depth.
Okay, so I know I already just said "above all else" to explain the importance of the cast, but I'm going to "above all else" that "above all else" with this most most important factor in my Healer obsession:
Wow. Just WOW. Look, if you want to see some handsome eye candy, you can head to pretty much any show out there, but if you want to see some actual acting, look no further. By virtue of their scripts, the vast majority of K-drama actors (including, I'm afraid, some favorite veterans) simply swing back and forth between stoic disdain and full-on shouting with very little in the middle. Ok, so some sob-crying usually makes the cut.
But Ji Chang Wook is one of those rare K-drama finds who doesn't over-act or under-act. Instead, everything he does feels incredibly natural, like I'm watching a real person living through these experiences, as out-of-the-ordinary as those experiences may be.
As Healer/Jung Hoo/Bong Soo, he was able to convey more emotion with the slightest little twitch of a facial muscle than many actors and actresses do with a massive screaming fit. Not only that, but he acted with his entire body instead of just his face. Perhaps that's his theater background at work. Whatever it was, it worked, and now I'm completely mesmerized by him and may have to watch Bachelor's Vegetable Store to see more (words I never thought I would utter in a million years).
Of course, we can't talk about him without his leading lady. I haven't really had strong feelings either way about Park Min Young in the past, but I felt that she suited this role well, and the Jung Hoo/Young Shin couple was my favorite kind of OTP—one where I could see why they wanted to be together, and I believed the relationship development wholeheartedly.
|Do I really need two screenshots to prove my point? Probably not, but are you gonna complain about it?|
While we're at it, we should also mention the third member of our trio, Kim Moon Ho. Yoo Ji Tae could have disappeared next to our OTP pretty easily, but he held his own really well, keeping me absolutely invested in his side of the story.
Ok, so here's the part of the review where I talk about things I didn't like:
Uh, I guess I didn't like it when Young Shin did obviously dangerous things like getting into the villain's car? I also didn't really like that "Eternal Love" song because it sounded like it came straight out of the 90s, but not in a good way.
Other than that, I really can't think of anything. I mean, the logical part of my brain knows there were probably problems with the show, but they don't come to mind at the moment, and I would really rather just bask in the glow of my enjoyment a little while longer. Don't rain on my Healer-obsessed parade, okay?
So thank you, Healer, for reminding me how thoroughly enjoyable a K-drama can be. My feelings for you are genuine.
Where to watch Healer:
Viki (2-week delay for North America)