This is a short review, as unfortunately I can’t recommend this drama–particularly the second half. It’s fine while the antics abound and he’s running around trying to keep his heart (literally) from the hands of his family, but as soon as the story buckles down to get serious it loses steam. In a major way, which is the opposite of what I want in a plot. But there is a fun themes to explore, so I wanted to do a review on it. It gets a 2/5 on plot, a 3/5 on characters and 3/5 on philosophy.
NOTE: I’m not doing a spoilers section for this review, I didn’t care about it that much. There are some basic plot points mentioned throughout, but nothing too serious.
Themes/Questions: What is a family, who deserves your love
KBS Big Man Posters via Onnythea (which is now deleted?)
Premise: You hear “home is where the heart is” all the time, but in Big Man that takes on a more punny connotation. Ji-hyuk’s a delinquent guy with new Chaebol family, and they want his heart, that’s all. Really. In fact, after they have him mugged and drugged their original plan was to just add his name to the register, take the organ and go… until he woke up. Then it’s all “oh, my long lost son” and “here, take over a part of the company!”. These hijinks last for half the drama until he finds out… and then it turns all serious revenge-y and business politick-y. Considerably less fun, but at least he gets the girl in the end.
My Thoughts: K-dramas are great at families, the good and the bad. It seems like every show has one of two sets: the heartwarming always-got-your-back family, and the scheming collection of manipulative bad words. But while there are plenty of examples for each type of family, I haven’t found many k-dramas to explain why these people receive the love they do–whether it’s deserved or not.
Big Man is that drama for me. There’s an interesting set of foils in the family casts: one “related” to Ji-hyuk by blood and one that has no relation to him but shared experience. So which one gets his love? Well, as viewers the choice is obvious: we know neither is really a blood tie, but only one wants him dead. But for Ji-hyuk the decision isn’t quite that easy–he believes he’s related to this Chaebol family and goes to great lengths to protect them. He doesn’t even bat an eye when he learns of his new hyung’s criminal dealings, just asks what he can do to help. That attitude doesn’t ever change, until he discovers what his new mom and pop really need from him, after which he decides he’s ticked off and needs revenge. He bands together with his makeshift family from before (regaining their confidence after having semi-abandoned them) and rises up to take down the baddies.
On the surface, it feels like a very classic theme–one seen often in Western media. It’s not who gave birth to you but who cared for you that counts. But when you get a bit deeper in, you wonder what they’re really saying. After all, from Ji-hyuk’s point of view he’s been the epitome of a dutiful son.
It makes an interesting clash of ideas. The blood relation is still loved and cared for while identified as such, and he goes out on a very thin limb to protect them from themselves. Then after the reveal he feels all the rage of having been mistreated and swears revenge. It manages to support both ideals, one albeit given more subconsciously. In the forefront of your brain you’re thinking “aww, he chooses the family that’s cared for him and realizes their importance”… but you also reinforce this idea that “well, now he’s their son. It’s only right for him to help them”. You understand that he’s not really related, but the concept of loyalty to a technical family still remains. A big part of the reasoning behind his revenge isn’t the attempted murder at all, it’s that they claimed to be family and were not.
The tie of blood is strong, like it or not. It’s something Ji-hyuk wants badly, to be a part of a family with all its borders and trappings. The family hijinks are what really grabbed me in this show as they were the more layered area. And because media often controls common perception–what they depict as normal is often what the masses accept as such–it’s nice to see both sides of the “who deserves your love” question represented… even if one of the families is full of backstabbing murderers? ^^
This is all really just something to think about, if you decide to watch Big Man. But be warned–the second half trudges, and the business politics get heavy. And if you have seen it, what did you think?
Thanks for reading,
Featured image via Annyeong Haseyo Arg