Review: Reply 1988 (응답하라 1988) (2015) - South Korea
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
One of the best family and coming of age Korean drama in the past decade is without doubt “Reply 1988”. Emotionally engaging right from the get to, this is easily one of those tearjerker experience that goes from strength to strength. Well meaning in its message of family values, cultural experience, growing up, first love and unity of childhood friendship bonds. Produced and directed by Shin Won-ho (famous for the entire “Reply” series), there are so many heart warming moments that never allows the audience to stop for a moment to pause.
Lee Hyeri plays the central character of Sung Duk-seon as the likeable neighbour high school girl struggling to get the right grades for college. Hyeri shines as the cute eyed next door neighbour girl type and the chemistry between her group of childhood friends and her family is simply beautiful to relate. The popular Park Bo-gum plays the quite and stoic genius go-player and one of the love interest of Hyeri. Bo-gum charms his way through the series. Ryu Jun-yeol is the other love interest and plays the hard ball type character with a soft heart with perfection. Go Kyung-pyo plays the dependable student president and the more matured of the kids. His relationship with Hyeri’s older sister (played furiously with character by Ryu Hye-young) remains a highlight. Lee Dong-hwi dances his way throughout the series with plenty of good comic timing.
The rest of the entire ensemble cast of the families on the neighbourhood street is equally outstanding. Sung Dong-il and Lee Il-hwa continues their great “Reply” form as Hyeri’s parents, meanwhile, Kim Sung-kyun and Ra Mi-ran plays the love-hate couple and parents of Jun-yeol to perfection. Older brother played by Ann Jae-hong is priceless in his quest for laugh out loud moments. Kim Sung-young and Choi Moo-sung rounds out the mothers and fathers with great display of selfless love for their children.
All in all, “Reply 1988” is one of those nostalgic and touching K-drama from start to finish. It’s difficult to find a boring moment as the audience is heavily invested in each of the characters and their ups and downs in life and everything. For great dramas, the engaging characters are so important as their performances are utterly convincing. For 21 episode (90 minutes each), “Reply 1988” succeeds with flying colours with the audience questing for more. Hallmark of a series that will stand the test of time.
I rated it 9.5/10