It is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend!

Being born in a duck yard doesn’t matter, if only you are hatched from a swan egg

Hans Christian Andersen

Goodbye Mr. Black  (2016)
Also known as
Gutbai Miseuteo Beullaek
Crime,    Melodrama,    Romance,   Thriller,   Tragedy
Written by
Directed by
Han Hee (ko)   &   Kim Seong-wook
Country of Origin
South Korea

oh! … brief

A young boy ‘rescued’ in his early childhood and raised alongside a boy and girl, allows his jealousy, anger and bitterness to eat away at all the good in his life. The kdrama follows the depraved pathway to creating his own version of hell on earth and how a single bad decision to cheat can forever change the lives of everyone in his circle.

oh! … talks drama

The whole melodrama thing, especially revenge-styled isn’t my thing, but this isn’t exactly what Goodbye Mr Black is. I enjoyed this, maybe because there is some action (fight scenes), some thrilling aspects and a great story. Based on a manhwa (the Korean version of a Japanese manga) of the same title and written by  Hwang Mi-na (ko), the storyline is credible and interesting.

Moon Hee-jung who wrote the script for the production, did a savvy job with climatic plot twists and thrilling character development. The narration was strong and the characters were well portrayed through their lines and backstories. I like when a writer knows the difference between building intensity and suspense versus building excessive melodrama. Moon Hee-jung used impressive skills in creating the perfect balance of intensity, suspense and melodrama without it culminating in the hellish monstrosity where so many kdrama melodramas end up.

One part of the writing that I enjoyed was the way the bad guys were portrayed as having things go their way so they could be successful and how the good guys struggled daily with obstacles and life events that made their journey that much harder but brought the good guys closer together, like a tight-knit community. It was very astute. When the tables turn, the bad guys are scrambling to ensure their livelihood doesn’t alter

The two directors, Han Hee (ko) and Kim Seong-wook did a good job with directing the filming of this production which had a few serious chase scenes, fight scenes and was shot both on a set, outdoors and on location in Thailand. Every scene was well-planned and filmed well, but the editing was messy in a lot of places.

Costumes were mostly snappy dress suits for both the men and the women, except for the leading lady who had her own style, certainly not typical of a ‘journalist’ or reporter, not by western standards, but I liked it anyway. And I loved her cheeky tomboy short haircut!

The music that accompanied the kdrama was brought together by artists like Baek Ji Young, Bae Soo Jung, Song Yoo Bin and the talented 2BiC. I particularly like the instrumentals for writing, I’m listening to them as I write this piece.

The cast had some unusual choices but was stellar for the most part.

Cha Ji-won aka Mr Black was played by Lee Jin-wook, someone I’m not that familiar with but I know another of his drama productions is one my list. His interpretation of his character was absorbing, at times penetrating. I loved the way he used his facial expression and body language to mask the emotions of his character. I think that his acting was so understated and natural that he got lost in the limelight a little. But, having said that I look forward to seeing more of this young guy! If you like a man in uniform (which woman can honestly say she doesn’t?), then you’ll love seeing him in his Navy whites.

His love interest Khaya aka Kim Swan aka Bael Eun-young and leading lady was played by Moon Chae-won. She was just incredible in this role. I loved her interpretation of her character in the early episodes. She did such a good job of setting up the backbone for the later episodes where the determined, fearless tomboy was needed to juggle the many obstacles. I was very impressed with her acting skills and how she developed her character’s quirkiness in a more mature manner. She was splendid!

Min Seon-jae, the friend-turned-bad-guy was played by Kim Kang-woo and wow, this was a complex character to have to interpret. All that emotion boiling under the surface and then exploding in outbursts and eventually bordering on insanity. Truly did a great job of portraying the sociopath. Kim Kang-woo’s performance was penetrating at times and formidable too.

I was rather surprised that they included Seo Woo-jin in the leads because, in my opinion, this role was more supportive than leading. Having said that, Seo Woo-jin was played by Song Jae-rim, one of my favourites. I still think he isn’t getting the leading roles he deserves and I look forward to a role where you can see all his acting skills that lurk beneath the surface. As Seo Woo-jin he was energetic and a natural, but, he wasn’t in a role where he could dominate. I still love him!

Yoon Ma-ri, the object of Min Seon-jae’s affection was played by Yoo In-young. I don’t know what it is about this actress, but I just don’t like her! Her performances always seem shallow and flat. But it worked for this production, for some strange reason. I’ll have to see if I can add something else she plays in, maybe a film, to see if there is a difference in her acting style for film versus drama. Her performance did not distract from the overall appeal of the production, I just expected more and I got a lot less!

oh! … sidekicks

There were many supporting cast members who did exceptional jobs in their roles, but those that deserve mentioning, follow.

Go Sung-min, played by the very talented Lee Won-jong was a hilarious jack-of-all-trades character in this production. The facial expressions were excessive, and there was some over-acting, but I believe this was asked for so that some light relief to all the intense moments was found. Lee Won-jong was wonderful once again!

Ahn Gye-dong, another of Mr Black’s loyal right-hand men was played by Bae Yoo-ram (ko). This guy was convincing in this role and his acting skills require an honourable mention. I particularly enjoyed his repeated looks of concern and expressive eyes!

Baek Eun-do, the ultimate bad guy, was played by seasoned actor Jeon Gook-hwan. Typically cast in similar bad guy roles, this one was no exception. He has a unique style of interpreting his character and painting that person to be a formidable, imposing and borderline insane sociopath or psychopath. He succeeded in this production to once again make me despise his every breath. Formidable!

Okay, I’m going, to be honest here, most kdrama actors are really young. The industry appeals and markets to the young female audience, I get that! And if the actors are not super-gorgeous and super-young, then they are old and haggard, for the most part. But every so often, an age-appropriate actor with imposing physique and acting skills comes along. For me, this production offered the character Park Beom-sik (another bad, bad guy). Played by the mature Seo Beom-sik whose acting skills alone are impressive, but when combined with his commanding sex-appeal, well, I don’t think I need to write more. A minor role in this production, but he is in a fair number of dramas and films on my list, so you’ll be hearing more about his acting skills in the future. As park Beom-sik, Seo Beom-sik was an imposing hardened criminal. His facial expressions were deft. He excelled in his fight scenes. He was all round fabulous and yes, eye-candy for a more mature female viewer.

oh! … that’s a wrap

I enjoyed Goodbye Mr Black. I would watch it again, but it isn’t something that you could watch more than a few times.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy revenge-styled kdramas that focus on criminal activity and aren’t as melodramatically intense.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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