Mad Dog: Call My Bluff!

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This is my bread and butter, peeps! Good old procedural, crime, squad goals! Some people find small story episodes annoying, but I love seeing all these different cases! Mad Dog tells the story of Kang Woo and Min Joon, two alphas of their field who are tied together by a common tragedy. Kang Woo is the head of Mad Dog, an agency that catches scam artists who commit insurance fraud. He used to be a former detective, but now he manages a team of specialists that help him expose these con artists whether that be through legal or more often illegal means. Before he quit being a detective, he experience a huge trauma. His wife and only son died tragically in an airplane that the pilot was using to commit suicide with. Coincidentally enough, the pilot’s younger brother was Min Joon, Kang Woo’s current competition. Min Joon is a genius swindler who seems have an ulterior motive and has been following Mad Dog closely. He at first seems to be working for the opposite team and naive-looking. However, his true cunning colors show as he is one step before Mad Dog in all their cases. They come to a head when Kang Woo and Min Joon make a bet on an insurance claim issue. Min Joon wins the first round, but shows his warmth by compensating the victims that he seemed to be against at first. Mad Dog are confused at his hidden motives and are not sure whether to trust him or not. However, it seems like he wants to cooperate and bring down these con artists as well!

Woo Do Hwan, my baby from Save Me is giving me another great performance as Min Joon, the young swindler. He has such a large range of emotions, some subtle, some expressive. I love how he can go from naive happy go lucky to cold one 1 sec. Kang Woo played by Ji Tae is a hard hitter too. I’ve always enjoyed his ahjussi roles as he delves into them deeply. Another member of Save Me, Jo Jae Yoon, is now on the moral right side of the squad! Though it looks like he can’t get away form that ex-convict character. He just plays it so well! I love his comedic timing! Mad Dog is shaping up to be an excellent though provoking piece as some procedurals always are. I hope to see a bromance between Kang Woo and Min Joon soon though!

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Innocent Defendant: Prison Break

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Dark crime or law dramas are again right up my alley. I find it especially interesting to see the cat and mouse game between an intelligent villain and our hero. Innocent Defendant is about Jeong Woo, a prosecutor who ends up waking up in jail with no memories of the previous four months. Jeong Woo was a successful and dogged prosecutor who was not afraid to dig deep into cases and even put himself in harms way to crack a case. However, he buried his nose too deep in a murder case committed by Cha Min Ho, the twin brother of a conglomerate heir. Cha Min Ho is a playboy twin who ended up killing a golddigger in a drunken fit. Instead of owning up to his crimes like his brother told him to, he ends up killing his twin brother to take his place. He had always been jealous of his twin, Cha Seon Ho who was the apple of his father’s eye and heir to the conglomerate. Min Ho decides to push his brother off the building and become him when Seon Ho died. He used the cover story that the brother who had fallen was actually him and that he had committed suicide out of guilt. Of course, Jeong Woo suspects something foul is at play because he thinks that Min Ho is not the type to commit suicide. Jeong Woo ends up finding out that Min Ho is actually alive and pretending, but he has no evidence to prove it. One day after his daughter’s birthday, he wakes up the next morning in a jail cell. He doesn’t remember what has happened and thinks that something is playing a trick on him. He is told that he is on death row because he had somehow killed his loving wife and daughter. They are unable to find his daughter’s “body”, and he is unable to remember what exactly has happened. Apparently he has been having these repeat losses of memory in jail for the past four months with the gaps getting larger and larger. Jeong Woo is furious and heartbroken as he cannot remember and accept what is going on.

I love a good thriller and mystery. Ji Sung is one of my favorite actors as he has one of the most expressive faces I have ever had the pleasure to watch. He definitely throws his entire being into the role. His anguish is so hard to watch. Juxtaposing him is another fantastic actor, Uhm Ki Joon. I have seen him in more villainous roles and he plays them to a “T”. The more evil his character is, the better his acting becomes. Not only does he play one character, but he plays two, or even three (if you count him pretending to be his brother). As for the female leads in the story, I have no reads on them yet except for the quick appearance of Yuri. So far, the drama seems to be an on your seat thriller that will keep me guessing as what is really going on. I hope that Jeong Woo will be able to recover some of his memories and be able to go against Min ho soon!

Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: Pint-sized Strength

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AHHHH so cute. CUTE! Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon is such a lovely fluffy drama with a surprisingly dark streak. I guess the trend these days is to have serial killers in your dramas with each one getting creepier than the one before. Park Bo Young plays Bong Soon, a girl with supernatural strength. However, she can only use that strength for the greater good or else she would break out and lose her powers. Bong Soon has a hard time controlling her power at times which leads to funny hijinks. One day she witnesses an event where a group of gangsters were bullying a bus driver and a group of preschoolers. She uses her strength to beat them up to the point where they end up in the hospital. Funny thing is that Ahn Min Hyuk, young and rich CEO of a game company witnesses this entire interaction and decides to hire her as his bodyguard. Over the past few weeks, he had been threatened by a an unknown caller who is threatening to ruin his company if he decides to inherit his father’s conglomerate. While hesitant at first, Bong Soon ends up taking the job because her dream is to become a game developer. Soon a love triangle ensues as Min Hyuk falls for her, but pretend to be a homosexual so that she can stay over at his house as a proper lady. Of course, she mistakens him as having the hots for her crush, a young police officer that she grew up with. Guk Du, the police officer doesn’t know about Bongsoon’s strength and thinks she is a childhood that needs to be protected. While this sounds all fun and games, the dark area of the show comes from a serial killer/kidnapper that is terrorizing Bongsoon’s neighborhood. The kidnapper has been taking young girls and trapping them in his jail cells as his brides. Bongsoon becomes a witness later on as the kidnapper tried to take her friend.

All three main leads are actors and actresses that I adore. They are expressive and wonderful at acting. Most importantly, they have great chemistry with each other considering the unique love triangle that we have. Whenever Bong Soon uses her strength, its quite funny considering the situations she gets herself into. Bong Soon and Min Hyuk also have a great relationship that you usually don’t see in a kdrama. Min Hyuk isn’t a complete jerk and finds this strong girl in his life very attractive. They work on building a strong foundation in friendship. They also push each other to be better and supports each other in times of need. Of course, my previous Ji Soo playing Guk Du is so adorably obliviously cute and in love with Bong Soon as well. Even Guk Du and Min Hyuk have good chemistry together even if they are always alpha fighting. I just hope to see Guk Du’s astonished reaction to when he finds out that Bong Soon is stronger than he thought. This drama has all the goodies, light fluffiness and dark crime.

Voice – Tuned In

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After vacationing for three weeks, I finally finished my winter Korean dramas. However, oddly enough, I haven’t been in the mood much to start a new batch of dramas. It may also be due to the fact that I am marathoning through Vampire Diaries. Voice, though, is the only one so far, that I have started for this spring. This drama tells the story of Jin Hyuk, a ex-detective who lost his wife to a serial killer. However, before she had died, she had called the emergency response center. They could not get to her in time. The woman who had responded to her call was Kwon-Joo. Kwon-Joo had the special talent of sensitive hearing due to an illness when she was younger. Everyone thought the culprit was a certain male and no one would listen to the details she gave because it did not match the person she caught. The tragedy of the event changed their lives forever. Jin Hyuk went on a three year bender while Kwon Joo decided to improve her skill set in America. Fast forward three years, Kwon Joo comes back to revamp the emergency response system. She wants to create the Golden Time team where an emergency team of police officers are dispatched and apprehend the perpetrator within ten minutes. She wants Jin Hyuk to head the team, but to his reluctance the ridicule of the entire police department. Furthermore, she is still searching for the killer who had murdered Jin Hyuk’s wife. Slowly, through multiple cases, these two manage to work together and save several people. Jin Hyuk finds out about her special ability and trust begins to develop between them.

OCN, this trusty cable network, always has gritty crime dramas that are right up my alley. Jang Hyuk is a talented actor who portrays Jin Hyuk’s doggedness and fierceness very well. Of course, I also missed his insane laugh from Fated To Love you. He has a talent for playing intense characters. As for Lee Ha-Na, this is my first drama with her. She plays a decent character who is actually strong in her own right in a world run by men. She doesn’t take any nonsense or ridicule from the men in her workplace and puts her foot down to get what she needs. I appreciate this type of female character that you don’t get to see a lot in a crime drama. As for the culprit, I have a good idea of who is playing him. However, the show throws out several red herrings which makes me wonder if there is a bigger twist. I of course had suspected his partner for playing a part in the tragedy, but who knows? I love these kind of shows that keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing.

 

 

 

Pied Piper: Follow Me if You Dare

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Even though I am still withdrawing from the excellent Signal drama, I decided to start this crime thriller to fill that void in my heart. As crime dramas go, there is always a special unit that is established to utilize one special technique or follow one type of crime. Pied Piper decides to take the crisis negotiation route. Joo Sung Chan starts out as a private negotiator for big corporate businesses that need to get out of sticky situations. Confident and famous for his abilities, Sung Chan gets paid handsomely for his services that serve the business’s interest even at expense of citizens with lower social economic status. However, one deal goes a little sideways and he loses a hostage. However, he plays it off with the media so that he and the company will not look bad. Yet, karma comes back around as the remaining sibling of the hostage decides he wants to revenge. As a result Sung Chan loses his fiance and a police officer dies in a standoff that he was unable to diffuse. To make matters more complicated, he received a mysterious phone call in the middle of the crisis.  The person on the other side hummed to the tune of The Pied Piper (childhood story), and threatened him to confess his wrongdoings in order to save the person he loved. However, the situation became ultimately unsalvageable. The police officer who died was the uncle of Myung Ha, a young female officer who wishes to become as great of a negotiator as her uncle. She believed that situations could be diffused just by listening to the victim and eventually Sung Chan takes her under his wing. However, they get off to a bad start as she was ex-SWAT and believed he was a just a scammer. Later these two join forces in the police squad to diffuse more situations such as terrorism, suicides, standoffs, etc. Interestingly enough, each time they encounter a crises, they find that the Pied Piper is involved and is using these innocent people who are desperate to his own ends.

While the drama does not have many well known actors, Pied Piper still holds its own as a great crime thriller. It is interesting to see how each situation is diffused, hopefully with minimal casualties. I am also extremely curious to see who the Pied Piper is as he seems to be a mole in the police force because he is often a step before the team. I like how the female lead, Myung Ha, is physically stronger than Sung Chan and reins him when he gets out of line. It makes for a funny dynamic as Sung Chan has a silver tongue and uses that to worm himself out of sticky situations. With these two joining forces, they will be a team to be reckoned with.

P.S. Unfortunately subbing has been a little on the slow side as it was picked up pretty late by drama subbing channels.

 

Last: The Last One Standing

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Cable channels just give me a unique selection of dramas these days that mainstream can’t compete with. JTBC has just released Last on what I feel like as the down-low, even though fairly famous actors, Yoon Kye Sung and Lee Beom Soo are headlining it. In Last, we have a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of story. Yoon Kye Sung plays Tae-Ho, a skilled go-getter stocks trader who is not afraid to use insider information to manipulate trends. However, his wolf on Wall Street attitude and arrogance unfortunately makes him lose 35 billion won in one feel swoop. Of course the money he was playing with came from a loan shark who did not hesitate to make the hit on him and his buddy. Although he gets dumped in the sea and almost drowns inside the locked car, Tae Ho’s pride will not allow him to die this way. He manages to escape, but loses his good friend. Now, without money and friends, he roams the streets as a homeless person. However, his pride will not allow him to beg in the streets or even take a free meal at the homeless shelter. He vows to gain everything back that he had lost. To do this, he manages to take out one of the 7 Seoul Bosses who run a homeless money laundering operation. The operation takes the money that the homeless makes through different means and funnels it up to the top boss who actually makes more than 10billion this way. Tae-Ho takes out the lowest ranking boss and aims to work his way to the top. However, he doesn’t know that the money he had lost through stocks had been part of the top boss’s money. He convinces boss number two to help him and teach him how to fight. Tae Ho is a quick learner, but he crunches numbers and not people.

While I had never been an avid fan of Yoon Kye Sung, I am definitely won over by his portrayal in this show. I had always remembered him as a kind ahjussi from The Greatest Love who does that Daddy Long Legs roles. However, I am loving this arrogant, but hard working attitude he shows here. You can feel his passion and ambition. I am definitely looking forward to him taking out each level of boss and finally going head to head with the top boss. The story is not your run of the mill fight or crime drama. There is heart and humor as well. We see an interesting aspect of a world that many of us don’t usually take into consideration. It shows a fairly structured homeless population infrastructure that actually generates more money than you would expect. What an interesting concept! I started this drama on a whimsy, but will definitely follow it closely!

 

I Remember You: Who Remembers Me?

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Ah the potential is there! While I do enjoy the more grungy crime thrillers that air on the cable channels, I am still open to mainstream types if they are done well. This drama combines lightheartedness with a streak of pitch black. However, what the drama really reminds me of is BBC SHERLOCK, yes Korean Sherlock, down to the tinkling and jaunty musical OST. Not only that, but a genius investigator who sees and processes more information than the average human (floating numbers like Sherlock BBC). Maybe not as psychopathic as Sherlock, but more than halfway there. Anyways, enough with the similarities, the drama does have enough to hold its own.

Lee Hyun, that genius investigator arrives in the middle of a crime scene investigation and nobody knows who he is. Well, except for one person, Ji-An, otherwise known as his childhood stalker. Of course he does not remember her as she only ever watched him from afar. Lee Hyun had come back from studying abroad in America and has a long trail of awards, degrees, and honors behind his name. He was sent along with a egotistical team leader to investigate some recent serial killings. And for Lee Hyun, to find his father’s murderer and his missing younger brother. The team mistakes him as the killer at first. While the first half of the episode is all laughs and jokes, which almost turned me off, the second half roped me in. As Lee Hyun goes back to his childhood home, he remembers his difficult past. As an extremely precocious child, he was mature beyond his years and knew things that others didn’t. This scared his father at times and made him doubt his own child. His father was a criminal interviewer and studies jailed psychopaths. Lee Joon Young is a young psychopath that his father was very interested in, especially in the person’s childhood. Why? Because, the man is also extremely smart and different than others just like his own son. He worries and doubts even more that his own son would grow up to be like this killer. One day, as Lee Hyun takes his father’s forgotten bag to work, he makes accidental contact with Joon Young. They have a conversation and even make a promise before his father finds him and freaks out. Goaded by Joon Young’s insinuation that his son is just like him, the father is scared into thinking his child is a monster. This leads him to seclude his son in a secure place he built so that he wouldn’t have contact with the outside world and vice versa. This was an effort to “protect him” for when Joon Young gets out of jail and to normalize him. What. Lee Hyun is devastated to confirm that his father thinks of him as a monster and doesn’t trust him. The drama begs the question: are monsters born or made?

An interesting pairing for sure, Jang Nara and Seo In Guk. Jang Nara has that super baby face that makes her younger by a thousand years for sure. Her role is meh though in the drama so far, painting her as a almost stalker type who is also happy-go-lucky, not at all the elite investigator I though I was getting from the summary. Hopefully, her character will develop, this is not to say her acting is bad. Jang Nara always had an A+ in acting in my books. Chemistry with Seo In Guk? Hmm not sure yet, to be honest. Now Seo In Guk as Sherlock? Getting there and hopefully will see more in episode 2. Not as psychopathic and a little more adjusted than BBC Sherlock. But still eccentric and a streak of mischievousness. Now, the child actor for Seo In Guk, wow I must say! He is both adorable, but also scarily mature in the way his father was afraid. Very great acting from such a small child! Also, D.O of EXO makes an excellent creepy cameo as Joon Young. While not on the level of creep factor as Lee Joon of Gap Dong, D.O is making excellent strides in his acting career. I was definitely chilled by his emotionless appearance and intermittent smirking. It also might be that D.O’s character Joon Young has kidnapped Lee Hyun’s younger brother to mold a monster out of him.

My Beautiful Bride: Gone Girl

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The Kdrama gods have shown their mercy. I finally found English subs for My Beautiful Bride. Another brilliant grungy OCN crime production that has me spellbound. This story follows the tragic underworld of loan sharking combined with organ harvesting. Cha Yoon Mi, a female detective, chases the Shadow leader of the organ harvesting operation and finally puts the leader Son Hak Soo away for 10 years with the help of an insider. However, the informant, who happens to be the past lover of Son Hak Soo, disappears after the man she betrayed was put into jail. Meanwhile, Kim Do Hyung, a seemingly straight-laced no nonsense (or fun) bank manager leads a nondescript life with his beautiful girlfriend, Yoon Joo-Young. Manager Kim is a very strict about managing the company’s money and isn’t the kind of guy that plays around. He is the type that would rather send a cake than take a client out for drinks and girls. He loves riding his bicycle everyday and didn’t find meaning in life until he met Joo-Young. Joo-young fell for him at first sight and hoped to get close to him. However, she turned out to be the disappeared informant of the organ harvesting operation. She wanted to start her life anew with this handsome manager. Luckily things worked out between them and they lived together for two years. He even proposed marriage at the expense of his richer household. However, she is hesitant about marrying him at first since he knows nothing of her past. One day, as he is riding home to her for dinner, she gets a mysterious phone call that sends her running. Joo-young disappears and Do Hyung has no way of finding her. She even left her wedding ring, but there were no signs of forced entry. Driven to the police station, he lists her as a missing person and attracts the attention of Yoon Mi who recognizes her past informant’s face. An investigation starts as Hak Soo is released from prison on parole. Do Hyung gets entangled with the unsavory loan shark organization as his investigates by himself. We also get to see his past military history where he was part of a special division of marines that traveled from N.Korea and back, meaning super badass fighter. Unfortunately, he gets caught by cops while chasing the leader of a loan shark group. What really astounds everyone else is that he happens to also have the frozen corpse of Hak Soo in his trunk.

I love it. Another dark goody from OCN. It seems now a days, all these badass detectives or leading fighters were part of some special division during their military service. Take Bummie from Hidden Identity for example! Not that I’m complaining! Anyways, while the three main leads are not from the famous group of actors, I find their acting pretty decent. Kim Moo Yul, plaing Do Hyung, is a new face to me. A little stiff, but that may be part of his super stiff character, and military background? With Joon Young captured, we probably won’t see too much of her unless she pops up somewhere else. Ko Sung Hee has been a hit or miss for me, but its a hit so far. As for Lee Si Young, she is looking amazing, beautiful, and even more improved since her BOF days. I very much enjoy strong female characters and she definitely shows it as the leader of the investigations. The filming is also great, juxtapositioning the main couple’s dreamy courtship and the grungy reality of debt paying. Awesome series to follow!

Check out this amazing OST !

Hidden Identity: Angels in a Demon’s Mask

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A thousand times yes! My special craving for crime thrillers has been fulfilled yet again. Interestingly enough, TVN takes a leaf out of OCN’s book and produces a grungy noir piece. Cha Gun Woo plays a broody detective who has suffered a lot of traumas in his career. As a man of few words, others find it hard to work with him. However, he has a warm heart and holds his friends dear. Unfortunately, on a stakeout, Gun Woo loses his partner of 6 years and falls into a deeper state of depression. He also blames himself for the death of his girlfriend a few years past when she became involved in one of his investigations. His sunbae, Tae In, is the brother of the dead girlfriend and threw himself into undercover work in a gang in order to find out who killed her. When Tae In became exposed, Gun Woo was called in to also become undercover in order to find where Tae In was being tortured. Gun Woo plays a gambler who would do anything for money and gets recruited by the gang. He becomes part of the gang’s scheme to steal the hologram for Seoul’s new printed money. Although reluctant, Gun Woo joins the team in order to repay his debt to Tae In and find his girlfriend’s killer. In a moment of moral conflict, Gun Woo had to “kill” Tae In in front of the gang in order to keep his cover as a cop. Luckily, each cop has a molar installed with medicine that will put them into a coma instead. Tae In survived the stabbing that he actually initiated so that Gun Woo would not have to pull the first move. Although Gun Woo is exposed after the hologram code is stolen, he continues to participate in the investigation team.

Color me surprised when pretty Kim Bum transforms himself into gritty Gun Woo. In the past I have always remembered him as the pretty playboy type who has the most gorgeous smile. What a change here! Barely saying a few lines each episode, he conveys all his emotions through his expressions. I never realized how expressive he could be and how well he plays the angst angle. His crew cut, mustache, and broody air really changes him completely. I also enjoy how this series has a strong female character who really kicks arse, multiple arse by herself! Although I wished he would be undercover longer as I love seeing double agent tropes, the story must move on! I feel like this is a great career move to play this variety of character for Kim Bum. Coming from the team of Bad Guys, the fighting choreography is also on point. With brilliant moves that gets my blood pumping! This is definitely my top drama to watch right now!

Missing Noir M

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Crime-related dramas seem to fall into two categories, cop squads who can’t find their own butts or genius detective with a few sidekicks. Now if the main point of the drama is romance with a side of cop, then fine, you can have your incompetent police force. However, for me, I believe a good crime drama needs these ingredients: intelligent problem solvers, interesting crime scenes, actually clever villains, and a certain dash of gray aggressiveness that says hey, the world isn’t black and white. One crime drama in the past met this formula, Bad Guys and Hannibal, and I’ve hit it again with Missing Noir M.

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