Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Netflix Picks: Memories of the Alhambra

Korean actor/heartthrob Hyun Bin is all over social media these days because of his product endorsements for a local phone network and a local clothing line. This is all thanks to a renewed fascination with the guy because of the popularity of his recent TV series Crash Landing on You, which was on the top 10 list of Netflix Philippines for quite some time.

I say renewed fascination because Hyun Bin already had another series that became popular in the country in the past: My Lovely Sam Soon (where he was the male lead and had Daniel Henney as a co-star). I must admit, my attention was not on Hyun Bin back then, but Crash Landing on You made me pay attention to him now. Because of that, I decided to check out another one of his TV shows on Netflix, Memories of the Alhambra.

The series is about Hyun Bin’s character Jin Woo, the CEO of a tech company that is developing an optical device that he aims to use for augmented reality applications. He receives a phone call from a young man who sends him a copy of the game that he has developed that makes use of his optical device. This starts an adventure from Spain to South Korea as he tries to figure out the mystery behind the game and what happened to the young man who created it.

I loved the concept of the series, of this man who was obsessed with this game and finding out how it works. The effects for the parts where he is interacting with the game were amazing, I actually wondered how it would be like if something like this existed in real life (without the dying for real if you died in the game, that is).

A romantic element was added with the story about the ex who married his former friend (and fiercest competitor) and the sister of the young game developer (played by Park Shin Hye), but I felt that those were secondary to the main story and were not that necessary the story. You could easily skip those elements and still have a good show. 

Hyun Bin is very handsome and charming in this series, just as much as he was in Crash Landing on You. I love that there are a lot of action elements to this that lets him show off as an action hero. The whole troubled genius role also meant seeing a side of him that I have not seen him play with the other roles that I have seen him in before.

This series is equal parts action, adventure, romance, and mystery with gaming as the centerpiece. All of it set to magnificent views of Spain and South Korea. If you like any (or all) of these elements, you would probably like Memories of the Alhambra. At the typical Korean drama format of 16 episodes, it is a quick watch and good enough to binge on. Honestly though, I wish there were more episodes or, if possible, a second season.

The last episode and the way it ended left some room for there to be a second season -- but with the way most Korean shows are, there probably will not be any. Still, the ending left a tease that makes me wish that there were more. With all the swiping at high tech graphics that Hyun Bin is doing in his commercials for Smart, I cannot help but be reminded of his role in this TV series and wishing he could do another season.

With technology the way it is today, I do not think that the game/concept they presented in the show is that far off. Except for actual death in-game happening in real life, I would love to see that game exist in our reality. If it can have a virtual Hyun Bin in it, even better.


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