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Review Detail

 
When It's At Night
 
When It's At Night 2010-06-21 04:06:23 neekyh
Overall rating 
 
7.5
Story 
 
8.0
Acting 
 
9.0
Music 
 
5.0
Satisfaction 
 
8.0
neekyh Reviewed by neekyh    June 21, 2010
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Culturally and Entertainingly Pleasing

Culturally and entertainingly pleasing, When It's at Night follows an inspector of the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration, Heo Cho Hwi, as she struggles to right the wrongs of her treasure-hunting father and return the items he stole back to the country. Her job becomes bumbled by the introduction of Kim Bum Sang into her working life, a womanizing art expert whom she clashes with from case to case. This drama has a special air which will entice viewers who desire something more out of their romantic comedy.

Unlike most dramas in its genre, When It's At Night does not center around the main romance, but rather the reclaiming of cultural treasures and Heo Cho Hwi's desire to do good in place of her father. This diversion is an exciting hook which viewers will enjoy, and American drama fiends may even link similarities to their own national shows to the story where romance very rarely plays a key part. Its execution seems very Hollywood because of this, but not in a way in which one feels let down. The relationships themselves seem very believable, and traits often found in romantic comedies are present here... if a bit toned down.

The characters are solid, though the main character Heo Cho Hwi may grate on the nerves of some. There seems to be a bit of an inconsistency in her abilities throughout the show; in the beginning we see her capability in getting past security defenses in the museum, but later in the same episode and throughout the series she seems much weaker and people step in to help her all the time when she should be perfectly capable to do it herself. That said, Kim Sun Ah portrays the character very well and her acting is very believable, but perhaps not as good as her portrayal of the title character in My Lovely Sam Soon. This may be due to the overall weakness of the main character who did not have as powerful characterization.

The main male lead, Kim Bum Sang, is a flirtatious player. His character is at times criminal but without being evil, giving him an interesting dynamic refreshing in a male lead especially because of how his actions provide a catalyst to the story. He seems consistent, even though his womanizing ways were only briefly touched upon despite being a major facet of his character. There was never really another love interest for Kim Bum Sang to pursue. I found this a bit odd, because most dramas have this and he is a player. But I assume that one never appeared because he was never serious about anyone before Heo Cho Hwi. I really enjoyed Lee Dong Gun's acting in this, even though I seemed to not like him very much in Sang Doo, Let's Go to School.

The chemistry between the two leads was not as strong as I would have liked it to be, and fell short in some areas. Watching the drama I can't really imagine the two continuing their relationship because the representation of it in the drama was so weak that one could assume any kind of ending after the finale, even a negative one. Even so, viewers might still like the weaker romantic dynamic in favor of a stronger plot and this does allow for more imagination as to how they would interact past the story itself. Even though the final few minutes of the show were a bit... pointless and not as well done the final moment between Heo Cho Hwi and Kim Bum Sang was well done.

The rest of the cast were very good; Kang Shi Wan who played the chief in the investigations team was an interesting love rival for Heo Cho Hwi's affection from Kim Bum Sang. His characterization was perhaps the most realistic and his facial expressions telling, and not at one point did his personality suffer from poor writing.

My favorite character was Wang Joo Hyun, who... in the first episode appeared to be the typical snooty love rival against Heo Cho Hwi. But she quickly evolved and her antics were very entertaining; Kim Bum Sang was never interested in her so she was never really a rival, even though she thought so for quite a long time. Her narcissism is unlike most representations of it in dramas today and writers should take note on how a rival should be written both in her case and in Kang Shi Wan's. Though she really was not a rival at all even though that was the writer's "intention". Her interactions with others were generally pleasing and the subplot between her and Kang Shi wan worth it.

Although Kim Bum Sang's career rival was too flat for anyone's liking and the show would have done better without him unless they explored a more dramatic version of Bum Sang's losses mid-series. Other characters, such as the regulations and investigation teams, though secondary characters, well and fitting for the story. The sudden disappearance of one character was a little odd. The villains were not evil at all times, just simply bad people making them interesting.

But of course the story! The cultural theft plot is what really made When It's At Night deserve its rating. Even as a non-native I felt very interested in the snippets of historical fact and cultural references so it is not alienating to foreigners who watch this show. There are not very many twists but the sub-plot of Heo Cho Hwi's father was very emotional and the identity of Robin Hood completely and pleasantly unsuspected.

Quality is great and the more action-packed scenes brilliant. The first episode was particularly good. However, I do not remember anything from the soundtrack so I wonder if the show itself would have been better if I could remember the songs and want to seek them out.

In all, When It's at Night is a great drama with a strong story and unique premise that all drama fans should check out.

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