Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Brain (The Brilliance of Shin Ha Kyun)



I’m not really a fan of medical drama/drama with doctors/hospital/labs. But I’m so glad I watched Brain.

If you asked me what’s so special about this one, my answer is Shin Ha Kyun. I don’t know who he was – never seen him in anything before Brain – but he completely brought me under his spell with his character Lee Gang Hun.

I’m a sucker for not nice guy protagonists so it goes without saying that Lee Gang Hun’s ambition, determination, God complex, abrupt manner, scheming and super brain make me swoon at his feet.     

Shin Ha Kyun is not Jo Hyun Jae or Song Seung Hun who could enslave you (okay, me) with just one of their smiles. But if we’re talking about acting skills he reminds me of Kim Myung Min who lights up and electrifies the screen with just his presence.

Shin Ha Kyun’s Lee Gang Hun captivated me as much as Kim Myung Min’s Maestro Kang stole my heart and forever making me his fan. After Brain all other medical dramas pale in comparison. And I have a feeling that Lee Gang Hun has ruined me for good. No other male lead could ever be as ‘evil’ as him.



Unlike other supposedly bad heroes who are driven by revenge and trying to bring the down fall of their enemies Lee Gang Hun doesn’t want to bring any body down he just wants to be on top because he sincerely believes that he is the best. And he mind you really is.

What makes Brain special besides Shin Ha Kyun’s Lee Gang Hun is the story itself. No matter how good the acting is if the story sucks no drama could win the love of its audience. The presence of good/interesting characters is a must. Pretty faces help too – FYI the interns in Brain are a real treat.

Having said that, there’s nothing really new in Brain’s storyline, we’ve seen it all before in many dramas. But what determines a drama as a good or a bad one is its delivery and execution. The details matter. Two dramas could have exactly the same plot but not quality.

Although Brain doesn’t put a heavy focus on the romance it actually has the most appealing romantic scenes that pull me in and make me want to re-watch them over and over again.

We always have second male leads who are totally awesome and in some cases even better than the male leads, but rarely do we find a second female lead who we don’t want to strangle or curse to death. 

The second female lead in Brain – Jang Yu Jin, is the first second female lead I don’t hate despite her efforts and tricks to make Lee Gang Hun love her. I kind of like her and feel sorry for her. I have a feeling that’s also how Lee Gang Hun feels for her.

Jang Yu Jin is actually better than Yun Ji Hye – the female lead, who in spite of being a neurosurgeon doesn’t seem all that smart. While Jang Yu Jin who keeps saying that she doesn’t have brain is actually quite good and shrewd in reading Lee Gang Hun.

I like how unlike other male lead who keeps being nice to both the first and second female leads hence makes it difficult for them not to love him, Lee Gang Hun wastes not an effort nor time to entice these ladies.

He’s particularly mean to Yun Ji Hye not because he hates her but because I think without his knowledge she gets under his skin and rubs him the wrong way.

Unless Yun Ji Hye is totally crazy she could not take all his razor sharp stares, mean looks, insults or his habit of pointing his finger right at her forehead as seductive moves.

As for Jang Yu Jin,  despite her having everything that a man could ever want, Lee Gang Hun doesn’t even bother to be polite or delicate in saying how he feels about her and bluntly says, ‘I rejected you because I have no feeling for you’. No apologies what so ever. Love it.

I also love seeing how Lee Gang Hun who doesn’t like to bow his head to other people especially to those with less capabilities than him bows his head to Prof. Go Jae Hak because he thinks that Prof. Go Jae Hak could help him to further his career and because he has an inherent dislike for Prof. Kim Sang Chul.

Talking about brain, Prof. Kim Sang Chul – the world renowned brain surgeon, is the only person who has an equal brain power with Dr. Lee Gang Hun, unfortunately their personalities clash badly.



Prof. Kim Sang Chul is the most kind-hearted doctor/person you’ll ever see in any drama. Every time he turns out to be even better than what he appears to be the more suspicious I become of him. No body could be that good.

On the other hand I admire the bad Dr. Lee Gang Hun.  Others might see his actions as unethical, unprofessional or simply not right but I love how he makes his own choices and does whatever it takes to get what he wants. 

To Prof. Kim Sang Chul consternation Lee Gang Hun even changes his attitude from distant contempt towards him to sucking up big time when he finds out from Prof. Go Jae Hak that he needs his approval to be appointed as the next Assistant Professor.

He starts sprouting nonsense like he needs to watch Prof. Kim Sang Chul in the OR because he’s still not up to the required standard and still has much to learn.

Unfortunately for Lee Gang Hun, it doesn’t take long for Prof. Kim Sang Chul to understand why this extreme change of attitude and promptly tells him to stop his acting because no matter what he does he won’t like him.

Well, I don’t care what Prof. Kim Sang Chul thinks because the more I see Lee Gang Hun does whatever it takes to get what he wants the more I like him. Most of other heroes are so boring in their goodness. But not Lee Gang Hun.

He is like a dangerous snake that forces you to keep your eyes on him. You don’t want to look at the disgusting creature but you can’t take your eyes off him. He might strike you when you’re not looking. Or looking too closely.

That’s exactly what happens to Yun Ji Hye when she goes into Dr. Seo Jun Suk’s room to borrow a book and finds the sleeping Lee Gang Hun on the couch.

As attending doctors and former classmates Lee Gang Hun and Soe Jun Suk share an office that is often used by Lee Gang Hun as his sleeping quarter when he has to work late. Or slightly drunk when things are just too hard to swallow.

Shin Ha Kyun’s Lee Gang Hun is very compelling and captivating. He deserves a female lead who is as compelling or at least unusual as him but having both incredible male and female characters in a same drama is something that only happens if you’re lucky.

But there are dramas where both the male and female leads are something to talk about. Twinkle Twinkle for example has an incredibly awesome male lead and just as awesome female lead. Coffee House also has an incredible female lead and an unforgettable male lead.

It is unfortunate that Yun Ji Hye is just the standard kdrama heroine. But nevertheless, the scenes when Lee Gang Hun and Yun Ji Hye are together are quite adorable and romantic in its own weird way. 

Lee Gang Hun who at that time has every reason to hate and being mean to Yun Ji Hye –  not to mention the right to once again being the Professor from hell to his stupid student – takes the incapable Yun Ji Hye into his own capable hands and teaches her how to tie the knots, the most basic skill for a surgeon that she can’t do.

Something about that slightly drunk God teaching that stupid girl is oddly romantic. I even find his ‘Do it 100 more times’ order more touching than confession of I love you. This scene is one of my favorites.


I love how different his approach is to Soe Jun Suk's who actually loves Ji Hye. Soe Jun Suk is all about feelings and emotions. He berates and threats her colleague who belittles her capabilities – which as Ji Hye points out, done nothing but to make other people misunderstand the nature of their relationship.

Lee Gang Hun on the other hand although he gives his students and other nurses nightmare, is totally committed into making them a better doctor/person that could save the lives of their patients. He gives credits where they due.

Another scene that I love is where Lee Gang Hun and Yun Ji Hye fall asleep together while waiting for their critical patient. Gosh. So adorable. I might not have Lee Gang Hun’s brain but I think I get it right when I think that he likes her.

Now, let’s talk about the kissing scene. I’m not a big fan of kissing scenes. Most of them are totally useless. They convey and reveal no significant meanings to the audience. But there are always exceptions where the kissing scenes totally change the dynamic of the dramas.

The phone booth kissing scene in Coffee House, the kitchen kissing scene in Twinkle Twinkle or the first kissing scene in It Started with a Kiss are the example of game changing kissing scenes. The bubblegum kiss in this one could also be considered as a game changing scene.

Lee Gang Hun might not say that he likes Yun Ji Hye too after hearing her admission that yes she likes him, she did what she did because she likes him. But the fact that instead of pointing his finger again at her forehead like he used to do he starts to clean up the left over bubblegum on her face speaks volume.

The fact that he got distracted while picking up the bubblegum on the corner of her mouth and gives her a small peck instead is a revelation. This is from a guy who coldly turns his back on a stunningly beautiful half naked woman who throws herself at him. He has a very tight control over himself. 

I totally swoon when after that small peck he goes for a full open mouthed kiss that stuns the hell out Yun Ji Hye and me. I think I almost have a heart attack. The shock doesn’t surpass the one I got after seeing the phone booth kiss in Coffee House but it is close.


There are other moments that are too cute for words but I think I have given enough spoilers.

In short, this medical drama is the best medical drama there is. This is also one of the best dramas in 2011. Come to think of it 2011 was actually the year where we could find so many good dramas.

Any way, even if medical drama is not your cup of tea, I’m sure you’ll like this one once you’ve seen it. Shin Ha Kyun’s Lee Gang Hun is not an easy character to forget.

4 comments:

elizamannion2363 said...

I totally agree with the review! Shin Ha-kyun is incredible, his acting is second to none and his ability to draw the audence into the story and make you feel all the emotions his character is feeling in amasing. I have watched him in some other films and he is the best actor in Korea. In "my Brother" is is soft and sweet, as he is in "A Letter from Mars", his acting in "No Mercy For The Rude", is again brilliant, he only speaks at the end (his character is mute) when he tells the love interest "I love You", I am crying and in bits at the end of those 3 films and I have yet to see his other work. I adore him, beautiful acting and in real life he is very humble, shy, a very gentle man.

Fixy said...

I'll try to look for those films ^_^

Anonymous said...

It's 2016 and I still love Shin Ha Kyun and his acting...Hope to see more of him this year and the next years to come. BTW, your post was great. Brain is still the best kdrama I've seen as of late.

Fixy said...

I certainly think it's still the best medical drama there is.