TL;DR: Hero? What hero? Look at all of these fascinating ladies!
Oh my god, where do I even start with Yoo-jin? Maybe I should just make a list:
- Hides behind the Perfect Wife mask. Master manipulator to get others to praise her.
- Is prepared with her interviewer’s weakness beforehand just in case she needs to make the interviewer stop asking uncomfortable questions.
- Has security quaking in their boots at the mere mention that she might be displeased.
- Takes her husband’s cheating in stride and is fully capable of orchestrating cleanup.
- Is in an antagonistic but beneficial relationship with said husband. What is he giving her that someone else couldn’t? Now there’s a question.
- Is impeccably dressed. She has crafted herself an image and she wears the hell out of it.
Like, aside from the cheating spouse bit, I’m totally thrilled that Yoo-jin has basically all of the markers of a male villainous mastermind, from the family-friendly façade and to the utter ruthlessness. She is playing her own game, and I adored her interview with Ji-yeon. This was a bit of “show, don’t tell” done well, as the interplay between the two of them (and Yoo-jin’s assistant) made it very clear when the questions gradually shifted toward uncomfortable territory.
That pleasant-but-threatening exchange between Yoo-jin and Ji-yeon? I swooned. Please tell me Ji-yeon is going to be a recurring character!
I’m afraid I missed Yoo-jin’s assistant’s name (was she named?), but she was fascinating in the Yong-pal-esque-creepy-assistant/caretaker way. (Seriously, though—the makeup removal scene was eerily reminiscent of the nurse dressing up the heroine in Yong-pal.) I’ve got a thing for trusted lieutenants, and they’re so rarely women in the media I consume. And even though I suspect the odds are low, I’m crossing my fingers that we won’t just end up being baited with her and Yoo-jin’s characters.
There were a couple other Yong-pal items that carried over, like the hero with a secret identity, and an angry heroine held captive. I never finished Yong-pal—it lost my interest as soon as they got out of the hospital—but there was a lot of promise in the premise. With any luck, The K2 will be able to avoid some of the most egregious pitfalls (hit live-shoots way too early, flat out editing errors, a plot that went off the rails from what I gather, etc.).
That said, I’m not sure what to think of this director (+fight coordinator) so far. There are some absolutely lovely shots (backed by an over-the-top orchestra/choir of doom), but the fight scenes were filmed really…I’m not sure how to explain it, but I spent most of the fight scenes frowning because it just felt off. Like sometimes it felt like they were dropping frames, and other times the camera was doing complicated moves while utterly mundane choreography was happening. Get on the same page, please.
Anna is mostly a cypher so far, but she’s an intriguing one. How many times has she busted out of that convent after scraping up enough loose change for a train ticket? Has she made it progressively further each time? How close has she come to freedom? Was it really necessary to stick her there if she was just a run-of-the-mill love child? Was her mother really murdered, or did she commit suicide? I don’t know. But I want to find out!
And it’s a smaller detail, but I really enjoy that the production team didn’t shy away from showing her all dirty and sweaty and bloody and gross. Sure, the (innocent/pure) woman in white fleeing evil is a compelling image, but it’s also hard, nasty work. Anna has earned her scrapes and dirtied soles and bloody nails and mussed, sweaty hair.
Similarly, there was very little pretty when it came to Jae-ha. His injuries didn’t give him a small splash of blood or bruise that nicely accented his cheekbones—that mess was everywhere, and watching him struggle in his hotel room was such a change of pace from the in-pain-and-bleeding-slightly-but-still-pretty Chul in W. There’s weight behind these hurts.
I’m not as interested in Jae-ha yet, mostly because his character seems like it has been built from some pretty basic action hero tropes. (Including a woman having to get hurt in order to fuel some of his badassery. Honestly, if forced to choose between that and a hero activating badass mode in order to protect a woman—like he did twice for Anna—I will take the latter over the former hundreds of times over.) I’m hoping that once Jae-ha has the chance to interact with more people instead of just fight them, his character will start to be more interesting.
Not all of this is Jae-ha’s fault, of course, but he’s been stuck with some weird/eye-roll-worthy scenes. Most of the fights had some interesting bits to them, but the whole setup for the fight in the skyscraper just baffled me. You actually expect me to believe that political rival hired a bunch of mercenaries to beat their way into a secure building (causing grievous bodily harm to multiple people in the process) in order to get staged photos of a guy cheating? You couldn’t just…I don’t know, send some spy cams in with the lady? Bribed some of the maintenance staff to do that if she didn’t have the technical know-how? I mean, you did entrust her to drug him, so maybe you could trust her to take some photos? But no, you’ve got to storm the place special-forces style (WITH A PERSONAL BATTERING RAM, no less) so you can get pictures with a professional camera. I just…there’s got to be an easier way, you know?
And this secure building (WITH PANIC DOORS THAT AUTO LOCK IF AN ALARM SOUNDS) somehow has the shittiest security team ever? Like, they didn’t even have a dedicated CCTV room. Just the dude in the lobby with his back toward the main entrance, like that’s not the worst positioning ever. The mercenaries beat their through dozens of security people and made it up several stories before a single security person could hit a panic button to alert off-site teams that they had a serious problem and needed backup? And then–
I remember that this is the Yong-pal writer, and I sigh. Please be better than last time. Consider what’s plausible for the genre and what’s just outright ridiculous.
Like the blue glitter face masks.
By the Numbers
- Creepy convents: 1
- Fight scenes: 7
- Slow-mo, looking over the shoulder shots: 4
- Bechdel Test: 1 episode passed