Si-ho has finally achieved the difficult task of completing a character arc- no mean feat considering the poor girl's psychosis is largely a result of her not having any decent social interaction. Still, the humility does her good. At various times Si-ho has hated both Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong for their "betrayal", but ultimately she's just relieved to be alive and largely unhated. That Si-ho makes Bok-joo angrier by accident than she ever did on purpose provides a useful segue into the next conflict.
"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" has very excellent segues. This drama massively jumps around in tone a lot, and it's surprising how little whiplash there is. We go from concern over Si-ho's medical emergency to amusement at Bok-joo self-consciously being irrationally angry and Joon-hyeong, then there's the heroic struggle to save Coach Seong-eun and every single time the sense of continuity is excellent. Bok-joo jumps around all over the place emotionally depending on what the situation calls for.
That requires some pretty powerful tonal balance- I remain impressed at the production team for making the transitions so seamless. Naturally it helps that the individual pieces are all so strong. Bok-joo and Joon-hyeong are, for all their immaturities, genuinely good kids who are willing at a moment's notice to stick their necks out for their friends. While I wouldn't go so far as to call them selfless, there's nary a selfish bone in their bodies. That makes it easy to root for them.
And then there's those amazing faces. Even Dae-ho has a pretty good exaggerated face- remember Dae-ho? It's hard to recall his name very easily since everyone just calls him Bok-joo's uncle. Like so many of the story elements in "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" this one is very well integrated into the overall storyline. Sure it's funny that everyone calls him that. Yet it can also be pretty insulting for a person to never be referred to by their actual name.
That's another factor I like. The characters are all being forced to work for their happy endings. These are not impossible tasks by any means. There just needs to be a sincere effort at communication and reading the situation. This is harder than it sounds, divided as the cast is between immature college students and adults who have had surprisingly little success in growing up. All the same, they're persevering.
Review by William Schwartz
"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" is directed by Oh Hyeon-jong, written by Kim Soo-jin-III and Yang Hee-seong, and features Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kyung Soo-jin, Lee Jae-yoon, Lee Joo-young and Cho Hye-jung.
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" Episode 13"
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