Country of origin: South Korea
Lee Kang To is an ambitious and callous Korean officer employed by the Japanese colonists. Despite his mother’s disapproval of his work and his own brother’s antagonistic history with the Japanese, Kang To continues to play by the colonist’s rules in hopes of becoming successful and bringing his family out of poverty. However, a mysterious figure wearing a traditional Bridal Mask always seems to get in Kang To’s way. The Bridal Mask appears as a Zorro-like figure who protects the people from the Japanese colonists’ oppression and abuse of power. An unexpected turn events brings Kang To to cross paths with the mysterious Bridal Mask, changing his future and the nation’s history forever. ~~ Based on the hit manhwa series of the same name. (MDL)
Do you know that moment when you expect something amazing because the premise sounds good, the historical period is rarely touched, there’s a pressumed amazing cast, amazing costumes, a story pretty much Asian Zorro/Robin Hood themed and then, when you start it and as further and futher in you go, you just realize everything is crumbling right before your eyes? That is exactly what I feel about this drama. WARNING: I don’t deny that I’m a bit butthurt about this drama, so don’t read further expecting me to nice about it. lol (And this is my second review of the year and omg..it’s once again bad. Please, don’t think that I’m unable to appreciate anything, I’m just unlucky. XD)
Storywise, it started off intriguing, no use denying it. In the adverse setting of the Korean Annexation to Japan, there’s a Korean man working for the Japanese police force, against all odds, a Japanese man that wished to be a teacher for the Koreans, a Korean woman that tried to do everything in her powers to make a difference and, finally, Bridal Mask, the supposed-central image of the rebellion. I was excited, I was pumped up for what there was to come…then episodes 3-5 came, which quickly managed to shatter the show’s own originality and any type of logical sense and consistency of the characters with it. The plot turned sloppy, full of plot holes, full of plot conveniences, only for two main reasons: fanservice and melodrama.
Characters kept being forced to turn conveniently stupid and conveniently “intelligent” (sometimes there was no way for a character to connect one event with another, they just randomly did) to keep the plot dragging or moving depending of the situation; some other characters had no point whatsoever and were there just for the sole purpose of pretending the plot was more complex than what it really is (or just be decoration to distract us fangirls… Yes, I’m looking at you, Katsuyama), only so these so-said characters to either get completely forgotten or ignored, in the end, when it was more convenient, or just simply remain decoration. Main characters even forgot things they were supposed to know only for the “omg, I’m so shocked (」゜ロ゜)」 ” moments later on, where I seriously started questioning if they were being serious or came to hope that I was wrong and remembered things wrong…Well, nope. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong.
The plot also likes to go in circle a lot, all revolved around the capturing and releasing of ONE single character and that goes on for the first 10 or so episodes, continously, or them just pretending to do something, going back and forth different locations, when in the end it rarely even matters. Also, the characters are rarely careful, even Bridal Mask himself; I still question how the rebellion managed to go on through 28 episodes without being destroyed by their superficiality (going in and out of a secret camp without any control, bringing inside the camp whoever without any control, Bridal Mask revealing his identity to people without thinking if that person can by any chance turn into a traitor etc.). The lack of details is horrible as well and the sense of time and space felt simply broken. I feel justified to say that Bridal Mask‘s plot has turned into a running gag by the end.¯\_ʘᗜʘ_/¯
Talking about the main characters, I remotely liked them for the first few episodes, then their personalities started to get twisted and contorted for some reasons that I did not see. Usually, when there’s a plot twist, a character takes a certain decision or reacts in a certain way, the questions that I first ask myself while watching are: who? why? how?. In Bridal Mask, I barely managed to answer one of those questions to make all three have some type of cohesive logic, unless I was either generally biased and ignored the parts that didn’t fit or assumed things that I had no reason to believe. ┐(￣ー￣)┌
Starting with Kang To’s detective skills going up and down and his general insensitivity to the death of two people that the drama wanted to make us believe he was close with, continuing with Shunji presumably “confused” (to me he was simply one of the worst written characters I have ever seen in a media¯\_(☯෴☯)_/¯ ), Mok Dan’s conversion to damsel in distress with the sole main purpose of writing 100 Ways On How To Get Captured guide for future damsels in distress (forgive my sarcasm, but try to understand) and ending with the rest of the side characters which were completely one-dimensional (safe from maybe Rara, but she has as many issues as Kang To and Mok Dan have combined, even though she’s more likeable than Mok Dan). The number of characters, that besides being one-dimensional were at least consistent,even though also conveniently stupid/ignorant/cheesy/decoration, can be counted on the fingers of one hand: Abe, Goiso, Katsuyama, Konno, and they had almost to none development, but maybe that was good, I’m scared that if they had any, Goiso would have ended up turning into a monk and Abe into a serial killer.(๑˃̵ᴗ˂̵)و
The show also had romance, something inbetween a love triangle and a love square, but I’m not really certain that I can consider it as such. I was hyped up by what was supposed to be the main pairing, but then that died and got burried when I realized that it was all false. Mok Dan only loved Bridal Mask because he was Bridal Mask, stubbornly clinging to the ideal of “prince charming on white horse that would bring justice”; combined with the fantasms of her own past. Something was definitely missing. Genuinity. Not Mok Dan and none of the people involved in the romance had genuine feelings, but just loved an image from their past that they remembered, or an ideal, or both, but not what they saw in the present. It was too much fanservice. They ignored the present and avoided at all costs to make questions, as well as refused to develop. As for the side romances, most of them had as little essence as the main romance, but I give credits to Katsuyama and Rara’s relationship, as the only one that I cared for in the end.
Acting wise, I didn’t give it a high rating either. This is not me hating on everything related to this drama, it’s the truth that I only remotely liked Joo Won (Kang To), Han Chae Ah (Rara) and Shin Hyun Joon’s (Kang San) acting. As for the rest of the cast, they were completely forgettable, even though I recognize Park Ki Woong (Shunji) and Jin Se Yeon (Mok Dan) for some moments of brillance. It might not have even been their fault, their characters were just bad and they had to somehow make it look legit, but it was impossible even for them. Nice try though.
I have to also condemn some of the acting and scenography/make-up work when it came to the torture scenes and after effects. They were cringily bad: the whip looked broken (clothes didn’t rip, whipping wounds appeared in places they weren’t even hit on,only to change position when the scene changed again), they generally still looked way too pretty and clean for having been tortured the way the drama suggests (unless they were unimportant characters that didn’t have to look pretty and surprisingly, those made it look actually more realistic in reactions too), wounds randomly disappeared ( ex. Mok Dan’s naked back was flawless despite her clothes being full of blood), the nail cage looked as light as a feather and the burning iron only left out steam and nothing else. Bombing, stabbing, blood and shooting effects were also cringely bad, almost looked done by an amateur. Another thing I have to give credit for, though, is that Kinpei and Katsuyama actually had some very good martial and swordmanship skills, they almost looked professional.
The OST gets the highest rating for me. There’s more diversity than what I heard in any Korean drama I have watched and all tracks are fairly beautiful; if it’s one thing I’ll remember of Bridal Mask, it will be the Bridal mask theme. Definitely.
Overall, Bridal Mask is inbetween a Horrible and Very Bad show, but not really categorizing in any of the two grades. So that’s why 2,5. I realize how my opinion won’t be in the least popular considering Bridal Mask‘s positive ratings, but I can just theorize that the show simply managed to trick most number of people into believing that it’s something more than just a mess, or you probably just liked to assume what it could have been, while the drama plays heavily ambiguous and doesn’t give you a “yes” and neither a “no”. I am aware of what Bridal mask was supposed to be, I can assume it as well as anybody else, but as I said above, I, personally, have not enough of a reason or proof to reach that assumed conclusion, unless I covered my eyes and pretended that everything that I really saw was a lie. And that’s impossible, since I just continued it in order to see what level of bad it could have reached and it was entertaining to point out the sins till the last 6 or so episodes when I started to hope it would just finally END.
And I’m not even kidding you on that. Me and a friend actually wrote a document of sins during certain parts of the show similar to what you would get from CinemaSins. You can read the document here, if any of you is actually interested.
So, did you watch Bridal Mask? Did you like it? Disliked it? If not, would you consider watching it? Let me know in the comments 🙂 I promise that despite souding butthurt, I won’t bite. XD