Doubtful Victory: Long Con

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Another con, but of a different type. Now this crime/detective story has a heavier plot than the other ones airing. Doubtful Victory tells the journey of a young man who escaped from prison to pretend to be a detective in order to find a large sum of dirty money! Yoon Gyun Sang pays Jong Sam, a young delinquent who was a sacrificial lamb in a big scam. He was put in jail on death row since his teens and has only known the prison life until he escapes in order to help his friend’s sister. He has a knack of escaping sticky situations and places. A fellow inmate had been discharged from the prison, but had become obsessed with killing his friend’s younger sister. After observing a fellow inmate, he was able to escape the prison. However, he encounters and becomes involved in a larger corruption scheme on his way. Recently a detective had been murdered because he was a whistleblower on some corrupt officials. Coincidentally, he had used the car that had the dead body in it to escape which drew the ire of the men trying to clean up the situation. While he did manage to save the sister, in a twist of events, he had to pretend to become the dead cop in order to find the stashed cash the cop had stolen. With many powerful people chasing after him as well as the betrayal of people he thought were mentors or friends, he has to find that money in order to survive in the outside world. Not only that, he still has to play the role of a detective under the watchful eye of the police force.

I swear Yoon Gyun Sang has the best comedic timing and expressions. He’s got that half apologetic and half exasperated look often in this drama. Also, I love a good long con and IL Seung is so slippery, he hasn’t been caught yet! I am also heavy advocate for underdog characters since I just love seeing them trump the more powerful and rich. What I would love to have seen more of is the childhood versions of our OTP as they had such sparking chemistry. Hye Sung plays a fun role here as well as the more skilled detective in the force, but isn’t getting the recognition for it. I love strong women and I hope she becomes IL Seung’s helper in his terrible situation. He is so caught up in the web of corruption, it is going to be hard to get his own life and identity back! This is well thought out drama that I am definitely going to watch till the end!

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Two Cops: Double Trouble

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One Cop. Two Cop. Detective. Con Artist. We are on a police procedural spree. Jo Jung Suk plays one half (or is it technically both) of two souls inhabited one body. His original self is a detective skilled in martial arts and chasing down the bad guys. However, after he tries to find out who killed his mentor and partner, it all goes downhill from there. With a mysterious gang chasing after him, his soul gets bumped for a con artist’s. They were in an accident together that left the con artist, Soo Chang, comatose and his spirit bouncing into Suks’ Detective Cha Dong Tak’s body in certain situations. When Cha Dong Tak is in possession of his own body, he is the only who can hear Soo Chang’s voice next to him. Soo Chang is charismatic, sly, and smooth talker while Cha Dong Tak is a blunt jerk most of the time. Both realize that they are not only connected in the past, but are now tied in the future until they figure out the mystery and corruption in the police force. However, the two hard headed individuals often clash and have their own motives. This makes it extra confusing for the reporter, Song Ji An, who is only trying to get a scoop from who she thinks is Cha Dong Tak. Both are flirty with her, but she finds it weird that the detective’s personality changes so often!

I like Jo Jung Suk, but I feel like Hyeri as the reporter is wholly unneeded in this drama. It wouldn’t take away from they story at all if it was just a fun bromance between Jung Suk and Sun Ho. It is very fun to watch Jung Suk act as the con artist, but I’m still finding the story oddly choppy and just not very engaging for me (I’m 10 episodes in so it’s not like I haven’t tried). Perhaps its not the right timing and I may come back for this later!

Black: Grim Reapers

Black_(Korean_Drama)-P1.jpgI came into this drama with fairly low expectations, but I was blown away. Dark dramas are my thing, but not always supernatural. However, the interesting pairing of leads here got me interested. After all, OCN has never let me down. Black tells the story of Ha Ram and Han Moo Gang/Black, well I guess more of Black. Ha Ram grew up with a unique gift, the ability to see death before it happens. She sees it as a black shadow next to the victim who will die soon. The black shadows are actually grim reapers waiting to reap the souls. Unfortunately, her skill isolates her in society and she is afraid to look at people knowing what might happen to them. Moo Gang, a average detective manages to get entangled with her after a case. He begins to believe in her skill and tells her its not a curse. He says she can use it to save people from their deaths. Coincidentally, he was also her first love when they met in childhood. However, after they decided to start saving imminently dying people, Moo Gang gets shot in the head. He effectively “died” and his body was taken over by a Grim Reaper who was out to hunt down his runaway partner. 444, the reaper, renamed Black, has a completely different personality than Moo Gang. However, Ha Ram doesn’t know that Moo Gang is already dead and that the person before her is just the possessed one. She is unable to see the black shadow in him as he wears all black and part of the reason why she uses sunglasses in order to not see shadows. Black tries to convince her to help him find his partner. However, he doesn’t know what he got himself into as he realizes the body he possesses is already involved in a complicated situation.

Song Seung Heon and Go Ara have never really amazing actors in my book, decent and tolerable. HOWEVER, their roles this time played to their strengths and it is perfect. Song plays Black, who is awkward, deadpan, and a grim reaper who is not used to the human world. His limited expressions is funny and his change of personality is hilarious to watch as well as the reactions of his fellow detectives. Meanwhile, Go Ara is great as the fragile girl who is so lonely due to others shunning her. Watching them try to work together is really interesting. However, I can see a harsh betrayal coming soon when Ha Ram finds out that Black is not who he says he is and has been using her all this time. Though I’m sure, he will soften and probably catch feelings. Oh what a complicated puzzle that will create. I hope I won’t have too much heartbreak here.

Witch’s Court: *itch’s Court

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So much sass and so much win. The amount of procedural dramas are skyrocketing this winter and I love it. Witch’s Court tells the story of Ma I Deum, a fierce and manipulative prosecutor who has no reservations and even use underhanded methods in order to win her cases. She has been a prosecutor for 7 years and only cares about her ambition and climbing up that hierarchy. Ma had a rough past where her mother ran away/kidnapped due to a sexual abuse case her mother was involved with. Coincidentally, she was transferred to the sexual violence crimes unit after she offended some higher ups during a case. For her, this was her career’s death sentence at first. However, knowing Ma, she still managed to get on the news for winning her cases in a dramatic fashion. Also working in this unit is Prosecutor Yeo, a past psychiatrist turned prosecutor. He is straight-laced and cares about the humanistic and emotional side of the victims. At first, Yeo is frustrated by Ma’s seemingly narrow minded aim to just win cases no matter the consequences it has on the victim. However, slowly he sees the vulnerable side of Ma whose barriers are slowly broken down by him. They are a match made in heaven in their field, with Yeo molding Ma into a softer version of herself. Unfortunately for them, it seems that their past is tied a little more closely due to the mysterious disappearance of Ma’s mother.

While it is named Witch’s Court, clearly, there is a another name we can substitute it with that also rhymes. You know what I’m getting at! We see a female lead that is the complete opposite of what we are used too and a gender reversal in a way. Ma is the hard, unforgiving, cold prosecutor with a traumatized past. She is the one who is ruthless and only cares about winning. I love the way Ryeo Won portrays this role. She is so expressive and raw in her emotions. It comes off natural and engaging. Yeo meanwhile takes the usual role given to female leads, the soft and emotional side. He cares about the feelings of victims and doesn’t want to harm the victims even if it will win a case. I have loved Yoon Hyun Min ever since I laid eyes on Cruel City. He is a solid actor who is finally getting the lead roles he deserves. Every performance from him has been great and I look forward to him choosing other type of roles other than procedural dramas. While at first, I was shocked and disturbed by Ma’s way, slowly, I came to love her smart and clever thinking. She doesn’t care that people comment on her ambitiousness. She revels in it and uses it to her advantage. She knows how to use other people’s weaknesses and isn’t shy about it. Furthermore, sexual abuse cases is such a sensitive topic in S. Korea and not much talked about it even if it is rampant. We only see articles of it when its someone famous, but I’m sure with the hierarchal and patriarchal society, much of it goes unreported. This drama shines a glaring light at these situations which is a wonderful way to get this problem acknowledged and hopefully ameliorated.

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!

Yong Pal: Healer on the Run!

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If Good Doctor had a revamp coupled with flavors of Innocent Man, Doctor Stranger, and Healer, you would have the drama baby of Yong-Pal. Joo Won of Good Doctor reprises his role as a doctor, but this time, one of great ability, fearlessness, and genius, rather like Doctor Stranger. Joon Won is Tae Hyun, a gifted resident who works at a famous hospital, but makes money on the side to pay off his enormous debts to a loan shark. Professional by the day, he receives calls at night to go on jobs, mostly to stitch up gangsters, who then pay him loads of money. With this money, he slowly pays off the debts he has from treating his sister’s renal? failure (dialysis treatments). However, his money grubbing doesn’t stop there. He also subtly threatens rich VIP families at the hospital for extra “money gifts” for saving their loved ones. Even with his doctor income, shady surgeries at night, and bribe receiving, he is barely making ends meet and has barely made a dent in his own medical school tuition expenses. At the hospital, he is well known for his skills and even the professors ask him for help, no matter the humiliation from asking a mere resident. However, hidden well in the hospital is a special lady who is kept in a medical coma by her devil of a brother. After her lover had died in a brutal car accident, Yeo Jin played by Kim Tae Hee, tried to commit suicide by throwing herself out the window. She survived, but cannot wake as her brother takes control of the family fortunes. One of the Chief Surgeons is also in on this scheme as he is paid a heavy sum for keeping her under. Meanwhile, Tae Hyun who is known by Yong Pal on the streets, comes across a bad deal. He is forced to save a gangster boss, but has a run in with the police. After a long police car chase, he and the boss end up on the railing of a bridge. Tae Hyun, who must not get caught, decides to inject him and the boss with epi pens in order to up their body function for a mere few minutes and jumps into the river below. Though he is affectionately called the quack doctor on the streets, he is well known for keeping people alive if they can’t go to the hospital.

A thousand times yes for this drama! I LOVE Joo Won, even though I may not love all his projects. However, he is one of those special actors who throws himself wholly into whatever character he is playing. He has a totally different role as a doctor in Yong Pal versus the timid one in Good Doctor. Yong Pal has a Healer type personality (pun intended) where he is tenacious, ambitious, money hungry, and fearless. But he has Innocent Man issues where his little sister requires hospital treatments that are sucking the lifeblood out of him. He is pushed to unsavory actions in order to make ends meet. I not only love the medical aspect, but also the dash of action thriller. Yong pal is sassy and a likable character. When the police were chasing him, I definitely had a flashback to Gaksital. Oh Yong Pal, a mask again? Better not let them find you and keep that double identity!

As for the other half of this story with Kim Tae Hee, at the moment, I have no judgement of her yet. She is breathtakingly beautiful in motion and stillness. I hope to see how her acting career has helped her improve as I have heard that she did very well in that traditional drama. However, the section of the hospital where she is kept is so gorgeous in technology and aesthetics. Really, wow! However, I am not used to this VIP section of a hospital idea. In the US, no matter how famous or rich you are, EVERYBODY is the same and everybody is treated the SAME! So, let this sleeping beauty wake soon!

PS. The posters are just a treat for the eyes. Beautiful graphic design!

Bad Guys

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Bad Guys

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.