Korean Drama Review : Memories of the Alhambra –– Worth Giving it A Shot?
Memories of the Alhambra tells the unique and suspenseful love story of Yoo Jin Woo and Jung Hee Joo.
Strong spirited Yoo Jin Woo (Hyun Bin) is the CEO of an investment company with a degree in engineering and a knack for developing video games. He has an adventurous and competitive spirit. Suffering after his best friend betrays him, he takes a business trip to Granada, Spain in search of the mysterious inventor of an innovative augmented-reality video game. He ends up at a hostel that Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye) owns.
Thus, the story begins; in Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, where a traveler and a hotelier get entangled in a strange situation and are both drawn into a series of strange and unexpected events.
A Sneak Peek Into The Story :
“Are you…Yoo Jin Woo?” came a young man’s voice from the end of the line. Yoo Jin Woo rubbed his eyes in exhaustion and peeled the phone from his ear to look at the caller ID. Still disoriented from sleep as well as not knowing who was the person calling him in the middle of the night, Jin Woo sighed as he answered, “Yes, that’s me. Who are you?”
“I met Mr. Cha Hyeong-seok here. You…you know Mr. Cha Hyeong-seok, right? You guys are, f-f-friends,” the boy continued to stutter. Jin Woo sat up on the bed, already having his attention caught as soon as the name Cha Hyeong-seok came out of the boy’s mouth.
“He offered me 10 billion won. T-t-ten billion sounds great, but he’s a really bad guy. So I wasn’t going to take his offer,” he continued as if Jin Woo hadn’t spoken at all. “I was going to call you first, and then I read an article about you coming to Barcelona. I sent you an email. Could you please read it?”
“You sent me an email?” Jin Woo replied, still puzzled as to what the young man was talking about.
“I’d hate to sell it to that guy, but I have to decide by tomorr––,” he suddenly stopped talking, before continuing again in a renewed sense of urgency and panic, “L-l-let’s meet in G-g-granada. Please wait for me at Hostal Bonita. I stay there occasionally.”
And the line cuts off.
Jin Woo stared at his phone bewilderedly for a short second after trying to call back to the same number only to have a machine operator respond to him in Spanish. Disgruntled and still half awake, Jin Woo was ready to swipe the whole thing under the rug and go back to sleep before he suddenly recalled the boy saying something about an email.
Titled “Memories of the Alhambra”, Jin Woo’s eyes went wide when he read the contents of the email. Following the email, Jin Woo quickly made a few phone calls to his informant about the whereabouts of Cha Hyeong-seok –– who was Jin Woo’s rival in both personal and professional life –– and ordered to have a background check on the young man who called him in the middle of the night –– who appeared to be a game programmer.
The next flight tickets to Granada were instantly booked, and clothes too, were haphazardly thrown in the luggage. After rushing around the apartment trying to put things together as fast as he could, Jin Woo stood in his living room as he tried to catch his breath. He took in his apartment living room while recalling his brief and odd phone conversation with the programmer. If what was written in the email proved to be true, this could just be the start of something incredible, with up to a hundred trillion won at stake. All the more reason he need to see it with his own eyes, and close the deal as soon as possible before Cha Hyeong-seok beat him to it.
Well, well, well. Look who’s back to the land of
the living Korean dramas. *laughs*
Yes, your girl is officially back. Both from her self imposed break from blogging, and Kdrama watching. I will be actively trying to watch more Korean dramas in this year of 2019 since the dramas this year seems a whole lot more promising that the year before. Yes, this is me passive aggressively shading the Korean dramas of 2018. Jokes aside though, the Korean dramas that are scheduled to come out this year does seem a whole lot better than the shit show that was last year. So hopefully–– fingers crossed –– your girl will be able to watch more Korean dramas this time around.
Now, let’s get my squirrel brain on track. Memories of the Alhambra. Truthfully, I have mixed feelings regarding this drama. For one, if we’re going to be really really honest here for just a second, I must say, I would never have picked this drama up had it not been for all the hype that was surrounding the casts and the drama itself.
Leading Actors and Actress
I have never been a fan of Park Shin Hye, no offense. I’ve just never liked her acting, as personally, I really don’t think she’s all that people make her out to be. Yes, she’s beautiful. Sure, she is talented. But her acting really isn’t that good. I mean, even if it is, by now I don’t think I’ll live to the day where she stops playing characters who only sit there and cry her eyes out. Again, this is by no means me trying to bash her, this is purely my opinion regarding PSH.
I have watched a few of her dramas, and I could not –– for the love of bacon and everything that’s delicious –– recall a drama where she wasn’t balling her eyes out every few minutes.
With that said, I think it’s clear that in Memories of the Alhambra, Park Shin Hye didn’t really make any impact to me –– acting and/or character wise.
The one who’s acting that takes the cake in my opinion, is Hyun Bin. I have never seen any of his movies, or dramas before this, and I must admit, I am pleasantly shocked. When I first heard of Hyun Bin, it was for something not-so-good that he did in the past, which might have painted him in a more negative light than I’d like to admit. So I did go into this drama being skeptical of him and his acting skills.
However, after finishing this drama earlier this week, I cannot say one bad thing about this man regarding this acting. The way he showed the subtlest of emotions, and his consistency of acting throughout the whole show never fails to blow my mind. Despite it being a fantasy drama, I love how Hyun Bin really managed to add real depth into his character. He truly outdid himself in this show, and I hope he get a whole bunch of love and praises for his hard work because this man deserves it.
Now, onto the plot. Being that this drama was created by the same writer who made the infamous Korean drama W–Two Worlds, and who was known for her creative yet out-of-this world fantasy concept, Memories of the Alhambra is definitely one of its kind.
With that said, it is not without flaws. As unique of a concept as it was; it being a game that could be played in real life using augmented reality and whatnot, I think they did a god awful job at explaining how the game works, the effects it will have on its players, how to end the game… to be honest, the writer did a horrible job at explaining, period.
I get that watching a show should be like a journey. Where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show trusting that the producing crew will do justice to the show. But honestly, it’s a tad bit hard to do just that when there’s a whole lot of things that were left unexplained throughout the show and being continuously dragged out until the end with a hasty explanation to cover it up.
Because, uh, excuse me writer lady. If you haven’t already know, you don’t just drag your audience along for 15 episodes having them confused as fuck as to what’s going on, and why things suddenly change mid show only to placate us with a half-assed explanation at the very last episode.
Here, let me give you an example (please be forewarned that this will contain a mild spoiler).
At the beginning of the show, a player should put on clear lenses into their eyes to be able to login and play the game. Without it, said player will not be able to login, hence will be unable to play the game. So far, understandable, right? Now, suddenly, in the middle of the story the plot changes and players can suddenly login to the game with or without the clear lenses. But it was only a selected players who can do that, not all the players who are in the game.
Not only that, when at first it was only set out to be something as simple as an augmented reality game, took a whole lot more sinister turn when the player could not only get hurt during the game, that will also affect their well being in real life, but they might also die from the game too if they were injured too badly.
I mean, okay. There were a hell of a lot of questions there, but you know what, it’s okay. We’ll give it a shot. I went with it, because as I mentioned, there were no explanations about this whatsoever other than the conclusions that I made for myself. Which was, of course, the idea that there was a bug in the game that caused the sudden change in the game. And I watched all the way to the end hoping that there will be a more concrete and detailed explanation at the final episode since Korean dramas like cramming everything important in the last few episodes.
But nothing. What the viewers got after 15 episodes of speculating and theorizing was a hell lot of glossed over and half-assed explanation. *shrugs*
Negatives aside, one thing that I commend this writer on, was the fact that she was not afraid to kill off key characters in the story. I have watched enough Korean dramas to know that the writers almost never, ever, ever kill key characters. On that point, I am very impressed as it adds shock value to the characters that the audiences somehow take for granted thinking that those characters will continue down the drama unharmed.
The Verdict :
After all the ranting, raving and mild cussing about Memories of the Alhambra that I did above, we have finally come to the billion dollar question. Should you watch this show? Is it worth your time?
I would say, yes.
Despite the not so great explaining of what’s going on, and the lead actress being nothing more than a pretty face, I still think that the concept in itself is interesting enough to give it a go. With the sole reason that I have never seen any dramas or movies with a concept as unique as this before.
Moreover, I’m not trying to be rude, but Hyun Bin’s (the male lead) acting alone is actually enough to keep the boat afloat. So if what worries you about picking up this drama is the lead female actress’ lack of involvement, let me assure you, he did more than pick the slack up, so there is nothing to worry about in that department.
One thing that you need to keep in mind before starting the show is that Korean dramas tend to be more lighthearted. So don’t go into Memories of the Alhambra expecting the complexity of something like that of Doctor Who or Supernatural because you are more than likely to be disappointed. A lot of Korean dramas are very character based than storyline based. So long as you keep that in mind, and also the fact that the ending to this drama might just leave you feeling a tad bit unsatisfied, I think you will enjoy Memories of the Alhambra just fine.