Action, Spies, Thriller, Entertainment, GO~ Reminiscent of K2, Man to Man is like the comedic version of it. Touted as the new Netflix foray into the Korean entertainment industry, I am just hoping they won’t knock off the airing schedule and free subtitles! Man to Man tells the story of a ghost spy named Kim Sul-Woo. He is an expert spy who has been on many missions with his latest one being to infiltrate a hidden mansion in Europe to find a hidden figurine. This figurine is of upmost important to huge companies in Korea and the politics attached to the upper crust society. However, to do this, he must become the bodyguard of a popular action movie star. The owner of the mansion loves this movie star and had invited him to the mystery home for a party. Said movie star is Woon Gwang, a notoriously hard to get along with man who is a dramatic flair. Sul-Woo with his charm manages to instill himself next to the movie star to the consternation of Do-Ha, the star’s manager. Do-Ha is Woon-Gwang’s utmost fangirl and a little on the psychotic end. She is completely distrustful of Sul-Woo’s intentions which are ironically correct as he has ulterior motives. However, again and again, Sul-Woo proves himself worthy to be the bodyguard and saves them from several awkward situations. With half the drama being comedy and the other half action, it is an interesting mix of a drama that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
As it is the first drama of 2016 for me, I hoped to get off to a good start this year. I had some expectations due to the hype of this webtoon and my love for the actor, Park Hae Jin. Luckily, I am pleased to see how Cheese in the Trap is shaping out. The story tells of a young girl, Hong Seol, who at first glance seems like a Candy, but isn’t quite. She is from a poor family background and of course works multiple jobs to pay for tuition at her university. She does have that diligent attitude like most main leads, but also has a frightening colder side on rare occasion. At university, she happens to cross paths with Yoo Jung, a seemingly perfect sunbae who is smart, friendly, and handsome. However, interestingly enough, he has a very manipulative and dark side. He enjoys getting his way, not by dirtying his own hands, but by subtly forcing others to match his agenda. Hong Seol sees through his kind facade and he seems intrigued by how much she dislikes him. However, Yoo Jung is persistent about figuring out Hong Seol and worms himself into her life. She grudgingly becomes closer to him and they even start to date. Meanwhile, a rebel like young man, Baek In-Ho, manages insert himself into her life as well through several coincidences. They establish a friendly rapport and even bicker! However, Baek In-Ho seems to have a dark history with Yoo Jung. While their history hasn’t come into clear focus yet, it seems that Yoon Jung had something to do with Baek In-Ho breaking his piano-playing hands. However, it does seem to be more than that since In-Ho’s family seem to be living off of Yoo Jung’s chaebol household’s money as well. Yoo Jung is not quite a likable character as he becomes disturbingly cold and double-edged at times, to the point where you start to think if he has any real emotions at all.
Through the many teasers before the premier, I had pegged Cheese in the Trap as a rom-com. However, its darker half has got me interested. Park Hae Jin seems to be drawing on his Bad Guys role at times and becomes very cold/frightening at times to the point where you think he might have actually killed a guy in his past. He has that way of intensely staring and that cruel smirk which makes me wonder if Hong Seol will get seriously hurt if she is in his way. Meanwhile Hong Seol is pretty relatable and I enjoy how the whole story is told through her point of view. We hear her thoughts in addition to the actual dialogue. I am definitely looking forward to how this story is going to pan out (though I can already feel that my heart is going to break for rebel In Ho!).
Bad Guys is a deliciously dark procedural drama series. The drama focuses on a special investigation unit that tracks down vicious killers and cold cases that the regular police force cannot solve. However, the unique part about this team is that 3/5 of the members are actually convicted criminals. Woong-Cheol is a powerful gangster who used to have a lot of territory before getting incarcerated. Tae Soo is a contract killer who turned himself in. The third is Jung Moon, the youngest serial killer with genius level intelligence who mysteriously does not remember the murders he commits. With the brawn, killer instinct, and intelligence of these three criminals, they are a force to be reckoned with. Leading the team is suspended team leader Goo-Tak, who uses excessive force. Goo-Tak also harbors inner pain as his own daughter was murdered brutally. Rounding out the team is inspector Mi-Young who tries to reason and keep the team together. For each case that one of the prisoners solves, they get to reduce their sentence by a couple of years until they become completely free. Off to a rocky start, each criminal works mostly alone in order to reduce their own sentence when together they would be more formidable. The first procedural drama that I’ve watched in awhile, I really enjoy how the drama does not sugarcoat the seedy underworld and shows society at its ugliest. However, in the same vein, it shows that sometimes reform is possible as the criminals learn to save lives instead of taking them. The cinematography is also great complete with smoldering stares and broodiness from all four males. Though at times, Goo-Tak takes the broody to the next level, just a bit too dramatic. However, overall, it is a well-made drama that is underrated.