Sunday, September 25, 2016

'Bring It on, Ghost' Is Surprisingly a Lot of Fun

Bring It On, Ghost – alternately known as Let’s Fight, Ghost or Hey Ghost, Let’s Fight – surprised the heck out of me.  After finding Doctors a let-down, I thought I might give watching K-drama a rest (also, because the fall season of American TV shows has come; I need more time for that).  But reading about Bring It On, Ghost’s premise made me curious enough to give the first episode a try.  I immediately found the tone and the execution of the premise very enjoyable.  I also became interested on where the arcs could be going.  Hence, I was compelled to watch the entire 16-episode series.  I wasn’t expecting that I would have this much fun with it.

It tells the story of a college student named Park Bong-pal (Ok Taec-yeon) who grew up with the ability to see ghosts.  He works part-time as an exorcist, beating up and banishing ghosts for a fee, and hopes to save enough money so he can pay to have his ability removed.  One night, he encounters a feisty, amnesiac high school ghost named Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun).  They scuffle, which result to an accidental kiss that triggers Hyun-ji to remember some vague memories when she was still alive.  Realizing that Bong-pal might be the key for her to remember her past and “move on”, she badgers him for his help.  Bong-pal agrees.  But in exchange, Hyun-ji has to help him fight ghosts.  As their ghost fighting partnership progresses and flourishes, they begin to develop feelings for each other as well as learn the secrets that connect their pasts.
Actually, the storytelling of Bring It On, Ghost is not smart at all.  When you start thinking about it, you would realize that it ended leaving several plot holes, loose ends, and unexplored or unfinished plot points.  There are also times when the writing ventures to what I call “unforgivably dumb territory”, like bringing unnecessary melodrama to the story or letting the characters make dumb decisions in order to create drama – clichéd drama tropes that I hate.  Fortunately, such parts are within tolerable amounts.

What it lacks in smarts, it makes up with interesting arcs, a narrative that uses its premise entertainingly well, and just being delightfully quirky.  A lot of its jokes work.  But though it’s lighthearted and funny in general, it also makes its horror facet work – delivering effective scares and utilizing excellent visual effects (for a TV production).  Its attempts of suspense are also carried out well.
As for the romance, well, I didn’t “swoon” as I did with I Hear Your Voice (again, my ultimate K-drama benchmark), but it’s actually one of the better developed romantic arcs I’ve seen in K-drama.  They make a cute couple.  I love the process of how Bong-pal and Hyun-ji got together.  They literally started out fighting each other.  Then, even as friends and partners, they were bickering a lot.  They were adorable.  And when they finally became a couple, it was done in a very satisfying manner.  I also liked how other people think of Bong-pal as weird or crazy whenever he interacts with Hyun-ji since they can’t see her.  All these things led to making the time they had to become a couple for the second time (watch the series to know what I mean by that) much more gratifying.

The supporting cast is solid.  I was disappointed with what the main villain is supposed to be (and how the final fight turned out) because the build up – wrapped in fascinating mystery – was done way better than the reveal of his actual identity and his connections to Bong-pal and Hyun-ji.  Still, he served his role in the narrative quite well.   Then there’s the duo of Choi Cheon-san (Kang Ki-young) and Kim In-rang (Lee David), which provided consistent laughs.  But the best supporting character is, hands down, Monk Myung-cheol (Kim Sang-ho).  He was important in moving the plot forward, he had the best dramatic parts, and I love how his character shifted from that of an inept comic relief into a badass.  His smug and firm expression when he confronted and engaged in a staring contest with the villain for the first time was a great fist-pumping moment.
Again, I didn’t expect to like Bring It On, Ghost this much.  It’s not brilliant at all.  But sometimes a show doesn’t need to be.  Sometimes, it just needs to be fun.  And Bring It On, Ghost is bursting with so much fun.

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