My Lovely Sam Soon (2005) [16 episodes, approx 1 hour each] aka My Name is Kim Sam Soon
directed by Kim Yoon Chul, written by Kim Do Woo
starring Kim Sun Ah, Hyun Bin, Jung Ryu Won, Daniel Henney
Korean, English, French with English subtitles
Watch it for free (if in Canada or US)
When I decide to write a review, I like to pick a film or work that doesn’t have a lot of reviews. There isn’t much of a point in writing yet another review of a film that already has 30+ reviews online that I mostly agree with and are infinitely better written. But I’m making an exception here because I kind of disagree with the general online opinion of this show. That and there’s also a Canadian connection.
It’s not that My Lovely Sam Soon is bad but that high expectations should be ratcheted down a bit. No doubt it has plenty of great moments both funny (the adult characters cowering in fear of their moms) or touching (the first kiss between the leads). Ladies can probably appreciate the yummy eye candy in Daniel Henney (who was on the now canceled Three Rivers medical drama on CBS) and Hyun Bin. Its main character Kim Sam Soon (played most excellently by Kim Sun Ah) unlike almost every other female protagonist in Korean cinema isn’t some great beauty with a toothpick physique which makes it easy to root for her. Kim Sam Soon is bit chubby (barely actually, it’s pretty hilarious/ridiculous hearing other characters call her fat) and quick tempered who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and speak her mind. She quickly reminded me of Jun Ji Hyun’s character in My Sassy Girl because of their common trait of feistiness. The show essentially revolves around Sam Soon who is a patissier (ie baker) and the younger, handsome yet arrogant owner of the restaurant (played by Hyun Bin) where she works. They obviously clash at first which is fun to watch.
It took me a few episodes to get into this series. The first episode on its own really didn’t do much for me. I think the show really starts to hit its stride around episodes 5 or 6 which is about when Daniel Henney’s character is introduced. Henney does fine other than a few awkwardly delivered lines. He only speaks English and thus most of his scenes are with Jung Ryu Won whose English is very good since she spent some time in Australia. I really enjoyed their interaction more than the main leads at times.
However, my main problem lies with the writing of some of the characters. Without spoiling anything Hyun Bin’s character and the ex-girlfriend played by Jung Ryu Won (who’s really good at crying) just don’t make much sense at times. They make some ridiculous demands of other characters whose sole purpose seems to be creating more drama and grief. At times it becomes a bit repetitive and one wonders why the other characters put up with it. Henney’s character is the only one who seems rational and Kim Sun Ah’s character is ultimately not consistent with her beliefs.
The plot also stretches itself thin with the last few episodes with secondary characters magically returning at exactly the right moments to cause more predictable misunderstandings. In the end, I was entertained and hooked enough to finish the series but my feelings about it are decidedly mixed. For those who like their shows soapy, it probably won’t be difficult ignoring some of the typical genre conventions that spring up and simply enjoy the ride. However, those who aren’t already fans of the genre will likely be more frustrated.
Two songs on the show were created by Clazziquai whose comprised of a couple of Canadians. One of the songs is the theme song of the show which is nice and upbeat but the one below is my favorite of the two.