비: The Ultimate Triple Threat (& then some…)

9 07 2010

Okay, so I really wanted to post this straight after my Sang Doo episode 16 thing, but darn you MatsuJun!!!!!! Oh well. Randomness I serve…

Here is my tribute to Bi <3

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Once upon a time, it was cool to like Bi (aka aka Rain aka Jung Ji Hoon.)

Remember those times (those good ol’ times)?

I (barely) do.

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[ Oh the innocence. ]

The man was my first major Korean celebrity fandom (translation: the stalking of essentially useless goods branded w/ his face &/or his name O_o) It was the 2004 Korean romantic comedy Full House that shot him to superstardom @ the dawn of the Hallyu wave. The series helped spawn his music career to Superman heights. We took notice of him. I took (blazing) notice of him. He was unconventional looking… but waaaaah, strangely, alluring attractive. And, ‘ey-o, chotto matte kudasai! He knows how to swerve his hips, too! And not just in the slashy “Look at me I am a Johnny K‘s man-boy” way, Bi can absolutely rock it w/ the best of them. After hitting the big time, he didn’t slow down & try to wing the rest of his career solely by flashing his midriff (though he did certainly frequent the action- & not that I have issues w/ that ;O), he continued to strive hard & take on more projects than the number of stomach crunches he did every day.

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Nikon Japan came close to selling me a D80 by using Kimura‘s face. Nikon Korea? Also a fair effort! ]

But then… his face (& his abs) got plastered on every second product across all of PanAsia & not long after, the great Hollywood itch found its way to the man’s chicken-protein-infused six-pack body (sorry for all the ab-tastic references lol) Suddenly, I was reluctant to tell any more of my white friends that, long ago, I had fallen for this Korean dude who speaks fluent urban-fool Engrish (btw, have I mentioned his abs already?? lololo)

It’s not that I’m embarrassed by Bi‘s “let’s try to crack the American market” antics, it’s just that… I’m sad [insert teary-angry emoticon here.] I’m sad that the image he is presenting to the mainstream American audience isn’t the same guy that I fell for. That same guy who drew so many (predominantly Asian) girls (& some boys) in & buckled them down for the long haul. (Pun intended) rain, hail or shine, his monstrous legion of hard core fans will not sway one bit in their support for the man. And yes, I am one of those stupid, unswayable supporters *inserts Speed Racer DVD -_-;* (though I’m not looney enough to cast a million online votes for the man to make him one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. Or the ultimate MTV Badass *slaps buttocks*)

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[ Seriously, dude. ]

Alot of his fellow Korean celeb peers speak v. highly of him & many of his dongsengs practically idolise the guy, seeing Bi‘s success as the pinnacle of what they’re out there to achieve (click HERE to read what several male Korean celebs think about Bi :)) He is respected. He is a role model. He is known to always give his all irrespective of whether he is singing, dancing or acting- entertainment is his art. And his dedication has definitely paid off. But even w/ all the fame & fortune, there is still this sense of humility about him. I know it won’t matter what he does for the rest of his time in the spotlight, my fascination w/ him will never flame out. No matter what he does to his hair, no matter how much he (or someone else) f**ks up his acting projects, no matter how many concerts he cancels, no matter the number of magic sticks he prances about, no matter what kinda audience he slaps his tushie in front of on stage, I will still like him. The singer, the dancer, the actor, the ultimate triple threat of Asia- Bi.

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Bi as a SINGER: from a bad guy to getting back to the basic.

(Warning; I may veer off onto some tangent to complain about the usage of the term R’n’B >_<;;;;;;)

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[ Bi w/ Chinese singer Leehom @ the 2008 Beijing Olympics having a grand old time ! ]

When artists from random countries approach you for a collaboration opportunity, that is a sure fire sign that you have made it. Not that it’s always something to get too excited about as usually these guys are just trying (& needing) to cash in on your fame but hey, the entertainment industry is all about mutual benefits, ne?

Upon researching material for this post, I came across something I had never known- a Thai remix of I Do, ft Thai singer, Panadda Actually, it’s more like a Thai rap flicked into the hook of the song but still. Yep.

Oh, but the Bi cross-other-nations duets doesn’t stop there. We have (click on song title to link to youtube clips!):

Perfect Interaction w/ Wang Lee Hom

Man Up w/ Omarion

Oh Yeah & Too Much w/ Ai

^^These are the official releases. He also did a little jingle w/ Christina Aguilera in a 2006 Pepsi CF. Then there was the Kung Fu Panda track. And, at one time, apparently Lil’ Kim tried to hijack Bi‘s vocals for one of her tracks although I don’t think anything ever eventuated (thanking every hiphop executive this side of JYP‘s face.) On top of that, the man also tried his hand at a head-to-toe Mandarin track, Memory In My Hand for a Pantech commercial in 2006. Nice melody (& v. cool CF dance) but my parents claimed to not fully understand the words that were coming out of his mouth lol.

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[ Bad Guy Bi was oh-so-good. ]

Now that the whack is out  the way, can I just say- musically, in terms of Bi‘s solo material, I waaaaaay preferred his earlier stuff. I suppose this is because I grew up grooving away to 90s & early 2000s Contemporary R’n’B, a vibe that is very evidently present in Bi‘s earlier tunes (think, Bad Guy, How To Avoid The Sun.) I think there was much more soul in these works. I really enjoyed his It’s Raining stage for there was a catchy dose of pop w/o bubblegum overkill; however, everything since has been too club-banger for my taste (Rain’s World ? Eugh. Rainism ? Hmm.) Blame the mainstream moguls for mutilating the classic R’n’B sound & stripping its substance, these days disfiguring it to what I would much rather label as urban pop (here comes my tangent lol) It actually repulses me when people refer to this style as R’n’B & saddening to see real R’n’B artists twisting their styles for the sake of their bank accounts *face palm* Too bad it’s more about the sales than the soul. Okay, rant over (for now x))

I’ve never considered Bi‘s voice to be overwhelmingly strong but there is a gravelly, (good) crackly tone in there that I think works well w/ a semi-more bluesy, soulful theme. I think his voice expresses both fire & tenderness. And voila, his latest (mini) album is ironically (N) titled Back To The Basic, & it’s definitely one big happy step back in the right direction for me (though okay, yes, it’s not always all about me lololol) This is one for the fans who have followed him right from his initial days *foxtrots across dance floor* (oops, wrong genre lol.)

Anyways, go HERE to access his album discography ^_^

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Bi as a DANCER: the second coming of Usher?

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[ “Dang, they can almost see my navel…” ]

I can’t help it but everytime I see Bi dance, I think of… U.S.H.E.R.R.A.Y.M.O.N.D. (♫♪♫ Now baby tell me whatcha wanna do wit me ♫♪♫ Nice & Slow = classic <333333) Maybe it’s their build, maybe it’s the stripping-off-the-shirt-in-the-rain thing, maybe it’s both of them being inspired by the G.O.A.T., the late King Of Pop; maybe it’s the pouty lips (eat your heart out, KAT-TUN‘s letter A boy) but you’d have to be crazy not to see some level of resemblance in their limb-popping action. The way they both dance- there is power, there is grace, there is fluidity, there is showmanship, there is storytelling- their dancing is like a piece of art unfolding to some phat (!) beats in front of your eyes. For all I care, these two can merely just twitch their pinky finger & I would deem it a legit dance move.

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[ Similar much? ]

You may not be able to distinguish Bi‘s style cleanly from Usher‘s yet that far from makes his ability & his presence any less awesome. I guess all those hours spent choreographing his moves in the subways of Seoul before he hit the big time was worth it, for the guy is regarded as one of best dancers of Asia- if not THE best. Hong Kong singer/dance/actor Aaron Kwok (who is one quarter of the legendary Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop) is the one other artist who I would consider to be a master of the art of dance. He exudes a completely different style to Bi, & is possibly a smidgen past his prime but is still just as prolifically commanding. I could watch these guys dance all day long (shirts on or off #^^#;;)

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Bi as an ACTOR: a gigolo, a celebrity, an ex-K1 boxer & a happy-go-lucky detective.

(WARNING: Spoiler alert!!!!!! Spoilers ahead!!!!!! Read at your own risk ><)

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And this where I know & love the man the most.

I will be side-stepping his cinematic work because, ah well, not everything needs to be spelled out so lucidly *bleeeeeeeeeeeeep* *ejects Speed Racer DVD & crushes disc. Crushes Ninja Assassin disc, too. Prepares to crush Cyborg disc but tosses it under bed instead* And, I am a dorama fan!

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In Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School as Cha Sang Doo.

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[ Sang Doo! We love you! ]

To this day, I still think this is Bi‘s best role (& the best series or movie he’s been a part of.) The character was written beautifully (kamsahamnida, Lee Kyung Hee) & Bi played the role w/o constraints. It felt natural that he was Sang Doo. His comedic faces were never puke-inducing cheesy, yet all his dramatic faces- his internal torment & loving emotions as Bori‘s father- came across w/ such guileless, earthy grace. I truly loved Sang Doo.

Sang Doo was a character w/ many untypical layers. He had gone through many challenges in his life & made alot of decisions which would appear questionable to the bulk of society but at the core, he was always & forever a good person. He always tried to imagine what would be best for the people he loved, & stood by the belief that even if it meant scarring his own life, that was the best thing to do. But seeing Sang Doo endure all these hardships & seeing his outcomes, I pose the question- is sacrificing yourself for others is in actual fact the best thing to do for them?

Bi interpreted Sang Doo so modestly it made me practically campaign for someone to die w/ him when I heard that truck speeding his way. And when I saw Eun Hwan lying on the road in his arms, even though they had died (IMO,) at long last I felt like their life together had begun. I’m so glad that he never had to be alone again, that someone else finally “sacrificed” for him. Sang Doo wasn’t just a well-written character in a well-written drama series, he was a person & I think Bi absolutely nailed it.

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In Full House as Lee Young Jae.
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[ I’m the King of… the South Korean pop scene? ]

Full House was actually my first Bi series. And you want the truth? *massages forehead*

When he first showed his face rocking up in that flashy sports car, my immediate reaction was, “Urrrrrr… So this is the main guy? Seriously, this dude, his face & all, he is the leading man, really? Why are his lips so… big~~? I don’t think I want to watch this anymore…”

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[ Glad I carried on :)) ]

Superficial, I know, but I soldiered on because I loved (notice past tense!) Song Hye Kyo, thanks to Autumn In My Heart & All In (this girl needs to pick up her acting chops ASAP before I lose complete interest in her. Showbiz love, it’s a tough world ><;;) Who would’ve guessed though, the more I looked at his face, the more I liked it gahahah. Ahem.

In hindsight, I’m not even fully sure why I loved this series as much as I did. There were tiresomely draggy drama queen moments from all the characters & well, nothing ever really happened. All I recall is alot of arguing. And- okay, now it’s coming back to me… I enjoyed the silly playfights btwn those two super attractive leads. And their sweet moments (ice-skating, hawker street hopping, teamwork housecleaning & permanent markering wedding bands on fingers… hell yes I am a sucker) were sincerely just that. Sweet, like candy. Like icecream. Like the feeling when Mr Whippy‘s van rocks up in front of your house & you energetically dash outside & ask, w/ a huge beaming grin on your face, for a soft serve cone drowned in hundreds & thousands xDDDDDD“““

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[ I want icecream ! ]

I also liked that they didn’t take themselves too seriously during the light-hearted moments. I think acting aloof is definitely Bi‘s thang (as opposed to acting He-man cool.) I mean, how gag-worthy the was the scene when Ji Eun walks in on Young Jae scoffing down the bimbimbap (…was it??? It’s been too many years since I’ve watched it!), his eyes pop out from his head & he just starts choking (^O^;) Or when he hops into the laundry tub behind her to “help” her wash the clothes? And of course, the notorious 3Bears performance- tears totally sparkled in my eyes xDD

Lee Young Jae is in many ways the stereotype romantic-comedy hero; the sterile-to-the-entire-world-at-first man who harbours an (often) unreturned long time love for some woman (who usually isn’t even deserving of such devoted attachment but whatever-Trevor -_-“) but Bi injected an endearingly playful & adorable luminosity to the role whilst maintaining a sense of street-coolness (this is crucial because after all, he is an idol.) His goofy faces were exaggerated but not retarded, in fact they made you do that aaaaawwwwww pouty face; yet, when he was serious, you were like, “Wow! What a man!” (☆U☆) Six-foot tall & muscly but still mighty huggable. I’m so glad he never gave in & went under the knife to slice in some double eye-lids because his lovable grinning face would def not have been the same w/o those squinty eyes ( ̄O ̄)  *hands to head like Mickey Mouse ears & starts bouncing side to side*

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In A Love To Kill as Kang Bok Gu.
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[ I will hug you still. ]

I was so holy-guacamole excited when I first found out this series was happening that I swear I almost danced my way to Korea. Things that immediately clicked for me: (1) a revenge love story that goes horribly wrong for the antihero & his “I never expected to fall in love w/ her” lover, (2) Lee Kyung Hee was the screenwriter (misa & Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School ❤-to-the-power-of-a-trillion) & (3) Bi going through rigorous training to persuade us that he is this former K1 boxer, his anatomy (& our eyes xD) illustriously reaping in the benefits (yeah yeah superficial again but… I don’t care~~~)

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[ Wannabe masterpiece? ]

And I honestly felt like, after the fluffy jaluffiness of Full House, such a deeply twisted role would be an intriguing test to Bi‘s acting aptitude. And given how convincing & magnetic he was in Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School I inevitably had a mammoth amount of faith in Kang Bok Gu. But convincing as a former K1-boxer-turned-pretend-celebrity-bodyguard-in-factual-seeking-revenge-for-his-poor-hyung-schemer he was not. And magnetic? Well, yeah you kept watching him but it was definitely not for the reasons you’d necessarily hope for.

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[ Sucky series aside, w/ all that griminess & scruffiness, I think Bi looked FINE. ]

Unlike Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School where everything was genuine & uncontrived, everything in A Love To Kill felt too deliberate & too simulated. It seemed too eager to be a classic, so much that it regurgitated in its own face. Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School was arguably just as melodramatic but somehow the series still felt free-spirited. And yeah life for Sang Doo was like dump-city w/ banana peels dispersed all over the ground but Bi still managed to make Sang Doo make you feel hope, joy & gratitude for being alive. Bi made you frown & tear up dearly for all of Sang Doo‘s hardships but not once did it feel like Sang Doo was shamelessly begging for your sympathy. But in A Love To Kill, things just kept getting worse & worse & worse & people just kept moping & moping & gaaaarrrghh!!! *fires shotgun* For crying out loud, I just wanted to tear my hair out & scream at the guys to just freaking let things go already.

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[ Based on her drama/movie resume, Shin Min A is def one of the luckiest girls ^^;; ]

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[ …except for when Bi was trying to gobble her noggin lol. ]

What could’ve been another breakthrough role for Bi turned out to be a lacklustre, over-thought performance. Kang Bok Gu really felt exhaustively over-studied, like a third-rate text book’s “how-to” character. I couldn’t feel any of Bi‘s natural instincts that I felt in Sang Doo! Let’s Go To School or even Full House. I felt as if he was trying to shove this character down my throat, but there wasn’t much substance to go down w/ it. The variety & depth in his expressions lacked, the nuances to his character were pale & he really didn’t bring out the complexities of Bok Gu, again, unlike the way he played Sang Doo, or even the way So Ji Sub played Cha Moo Hyuk in misa. I’m not saying that in A Love To Kill Bi was all wrong per se, he was just painful to watch. And it doesn’t help that I didn’t feel much chemistry btwn him & Shin Min A either >_<; (nor btwn the rest of the cast for that matter/..) To me it seemed like Bi really didn’t have a good time making this series, so if he didn’t wanna be there to tell the story, why should I wanna be there to even attempt to take it in?

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[ FAIL. ]

The scene I cringed at the most was when Bok Gu visits his comatose brother in hospital & he breaks down by his bed *major teeth clenching* Oh my. The slobbery shooting out of Bi‘s nostrils was unsightly. Someone puh-lease FedEx the man a ShamWow (!) so he can mop up the stuff leaking from his nose! I seriously do not get why some people think that as long as you get all your orifices running, you can evoke emotion. I’ve always felt that a good onscreen crier should have control over their tears & doesn’t need to wail non-stop to get the audience to feel what he or she is feeling. And I once thought that perhaps Bi could be a part of this elite group but this scene in A Love To Kill has surely made me think twice thrice.

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In Fugitive as Ji Woo.
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[ Operation Redemption? *fingers crossed* ]

So, what’s next?

Fugitive! Fugitive! Fugitive!

Not that it’s Bi who’s getting me the most excited (though he is getting me alot still, after all, I am a woman ^^;;) it’s because Lee Na Young is the leading lady! The girl can actually act (^_^)

We are set to be spoiled w/ some super glamorous filming locations (Seoul, Busan, Osaka, Yokohama, Shanghai, Beijing, Macau & Hong Kong) which will serve fit ‘n’ fine for all the money-chasing action planned for our good-looking protagonists. Daniel Henney has signed on to star in the series, too, so I suppose he will suffice as an eye candy side dish lol

The only “um+ah” I hold for the series is that apparently it is going to be a (wait for it)… a comedy. WTF??? This better not be an urbanised version of Kim Ji Woon‘s 2008 spaghetti western The Good The Bad & The Weird (boy did that movie disappoint me.) Last thing I want to see is a big blow on a big budget (see; EPIC FAIL: Air City.)

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Onwards & upwards!

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Well, I guess there’s nothing more to say except-

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Dear Bi. Dear Bi baby.

Please, redeem your last few acting endeavours. I know your adventures out in the big American world must’ve been eye-openingly fun but it’s time to get back to what got you to where you are now & what you do best. It’s time to get back to the basics. I am diggin’ on your latest music so please, now, I would like to see a piece of work to re-validate you as an actor. If you ruin things again, I will never forgive you ever, ever again. I will cremate my $120 Full House box set! I will pulverise my Special Edition Rain’s World CD+DVD! I will draw moustaches & devil horns on every single picture I have of you! I will-

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-no I won’t. That’s a lie.

Who am I to kid, darn it. Even if he screws things up again, I will still friggin’ love him.

And that’s a happily ever after.