12 June 2013

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Heartless City (Moojung Doshi) - Episode 1 (A SqueeCap)

Posted by JoAnne on June 12, 2013
JoAnne: I thought that the SqueeCaps would be a one-time thing, and then Episode 4 of Cruel City happened and I lost my mind over Doctor’s Son. We'll get caught up as quickly as possible, and then who does what might change week to week. Especially once Shuk is back up to speed (with more than awesome gifs and pics as in this post), because we do want the writing/comment format again. Yay! SqueeCaps!
kakashi: And so it continues ... no rest for the wicked! Yes, I admit I was hoping to get some rest from excessive giffing and blogging! Why hasn't anybody told me how much work this is?! So this better be good, ladies! Or I'll send the Doctor's son over your way to kick your collective behinds! 
SqueeCap of Heartless City, Episode 1

JoAnne: We have a moody start with the city at night, one nervous man hurrying down the street, and another in uniform riding in a chauffeured car. That’s Mi Hong-gi, the Senior General Superintendent of Police, played by Son Chang-min. He slowly shreds to pieces the certificate of appreciation he has been presented, an unreadable expression on his face.
kakashi: He looks a bit like Jackie Chan, doesn't he? Or even a lot? So much that it keeps kinda surprising you that Jackie Chan is in a KDrama? And I do wonder a little about the shredding. Is it to show us that he is a really cool, and really modest kinda guy who doesn't like to be decorated - or is to show us that he might have an ulterior motive?
JoAnne:  My guess is he has no respect for the people who gave it to him. Is that because he's bad, though, or is that because he is good?
JoAnne: Mi has the driver stop the car so he can speak privately to the man we saw on the sidewalk, who has called with news about a drug dealer called Scale (They actually say Jeoul (저울) which means scale or balance, but for a while I thought they were just saying Scale in some really, really weird Konglish.) He tells Mi that this is the last time, and I wonder why such a high ranking officer is the contact while several police cars worth of cops search a club and find nothing. Two detectives and their squad leader stand outside, wondering where ‘the director’ got his bad information. Behind them, Sidewalk Man crashes down onto the roof of one of the cars.
kakashi: That's what you call having an impact.
JoAnne: Oooh, I LIKE to start things off with a bang.
JoAnne: Wayyyyy up on top of the building, in darkness so thick you almost miss the guy in the black suit, we meet Baksa Adeul (The Doctor's Son)/Jung Shi-hyun (the disturbingly sexy Jung Kyung-ho in his first post-MS role. Yay! A shower must be near!)  He reports that everything is taken care of, and I admire his poker face and sad, sad eyes. I actually have a very Batman-like feel about this shot. The Dark Hero, alone above the city. Is this guy a hero, though?
kakashi: I saw him first! I mean ... I saw and liked him first in Time Between Dog and Wolf, so back off there, JoAnne. You know, it happens all the time, actors suddenly get popular and drooled over by everybody and their dog when they're in a new series, but others have had them in their hearts for such a long time before. Yeah, OK, I admit it: I drooled mainly over Lee Jun-ki in TBDaW, but I did notice that Jung Kyung-ho is kinda hot. Though he is much, much hotter post-army. Leaner, meaner, sexier. What I mean to say in a nutshell: He is mine.
JoAnne: The dead man was an undercover officer, of course. At his funeral (kakashi: also noticed how it always rains really hard when there's a funeral?) we learn that the detectives had no idea what he was doing and we meet former cop Ji Hyung-min (Lee Jae-yoon). Full disclosure: Lee Jae Yoon and his beefy yumminess are the reason I started this series.
kakashi: See? Have Lee Jae-yoon and leave Jung Kyung-ho to me. Lee Jae-yoon is too massive for my taste. Like a tree. Or a bear? No, a human tower! And his face is too angular. And I don't like his haircut. [end nag-rant] But I might change my mind later. Happens to me often.
JoAnne: Sometimes I want a fancier meal, though.

JoAnne: Superintendent Mi wants to know if Hyung Min will lead a special task force to catch Scale. He’s offering complete autonomy and assurances that with his protection, no one will bother them. Is it just me or did his ‘no one’ sound a lot like ‘someone in particular’? Of course Hyung Min accepts, and I begin to worry because I know that absolute authority corrupts absolutely.
kakashi: Oh dear, I hope this isn't how the Korean police really works. Even though I must admit, I would love to head a team like this. I'd do very bad things.
JoAnne: A busy evening begins with Hyung Min at a restaurant informing our female detective Lee Kyung-mi (Go Na-eun) that he‘s coming back to the force and ends with Kyung Mi completely misreading a situation and and embarrassing her dongsaeng, Soo Min (Nam Gyu-ri). Along the way, we realize that Hyung Min had been planning to propose that evening, complete with candles and a ring on top of a very cute cake. Beefy, smart, and sweet: me likey.
kakashi: I felt really bad for Mr. Neanderthal there. And: I'm going into this as neutral as possible (I am Swiss after all), but I have never liked Nam Gyu-ri. Okay, understatement of the year: I can't stand her. But I am willing to give her another chance because I'm feeling generous today.
JoAnne: Her eyes creep me out, but I only know her from 49 Days.
JoAnne: The next day we meet our good guys: Hyung Min, the three detectives we’d met earlier (Squad Chief Yang is pleased, Kyung Mi is frustrated, and Kim Do-hoon looks downright pissed), plus a fourth member, thus far unnamed. He’s a familiar face from King 2 Hearts - Choi Kwon, of the sweet disposition and rubber face. And our bad guys: Scale (Kim Byung Ok here. It looks like he might have stolen part of his wardrobe from Fashion King.) Scale is a big deal bad guy and the team will have to catch his Number Twos first: Meth Kim and Halibut. They handle the day to day leadership tasks.
kakashi: Going for the classic gangster set-up there, show. Okay, I don't mind - but please do not go cliché, hear me? I've seen so many gangster-boss and doofus-subordinate plots in my life already ... 
JoAnne: Somewhere fancy, Scale multitasks: putt practice, dastardly business on the phone, and right-wing rhetoric that makes me laugh when considering what he does for a living. Guests are announced while Scale smiles and switches his putter for a larger club as a large sheet of plastic is spread on the floor. It’s so matter of fact that I hardly register the activity at first. Within seconds, Scale beats the older gentleman to death in front of the son. The women standing around do not acknowledge what’s happening, and all the son does is vomit. Not gonna lie - this was a shocking scene. We lost a SqueeCapper here, sadly, but this kind of thing is not for everyone. I'm way more grossed out by the vomiting than the blood, so let’s hope we don't have that again.
Never trust someone who lays out plastic for you to stand on,
kakashi: He is totally channelling Christopher Walken, this guy! (Shuk mentioned that) But not only that: he is also channelling Gaddafi and his female bodyguards. As brutal as the scene was, the female staff - all dressed exactly the same - made me chuckle. Oh dear, I'm so desensitized to violence ...
JoAnne: It made me laugh too. The outfits and the girls, not the beating. Definitely not the vomiting.

JoAnne: Another busy night: the task force waits for a dealer known as Birdie. We witness an unexpected trade of a small child for drugs, Kyung Mi’s ability to kick ass, and Hyung Min’s desire to protect her.
kakashi: The kid-bit made me realize that this show will not go light on us. Brace yourselves, ladies. 
JoAnne: We learn that the team gets along well and observe that Do Hoon may have feelings for Kyung Mi. We hear in a voice over that Scale is laundering money through a construction company and that chairman can’t be touched because he’s being investigated by the prosecutor’s office. It turns out that Birdie was just the means to get to a crooked prosecutor named Ahn.  Ji has a drink with him while outlining what he wants. The older man warns him not to get too comfortable because of his father, the Head Prosecutor - but the next day he produces the requested information.
kakashi: I guess those little character-introduction things are needed at the beginning of a show. However, I once again see some cliché-trap ahead. Careful, show. The emotionally scarred police-type heroine, a little rough, loving her job, not afraid of injuries for example ... been there, done that!

JoAnne: Up on the roof – they really like it up there - our lovers gaze over the city while Hyung Min muses about the beauty that disappears as soon as he looks closely. We see a montage of drugs moving about the city and into the drinks of already inebriated girls, then another of money changing hands, all with the help of what look like ordinary citizens going about their business. Their normalcy is chilling and conveys just how deeply embedded this activity is and just what a daunting task this group faces.kakashi: Awesomesauce. I will get my team colleagues to pass me coffee like that starting from tomorrow. All the way from the top floor, where our cafeteria is. And btw, I'm not feeling these two "lovebirds" yet. Filing them under VBC (="Very Boring Couple") for the moment. Hope Doctor's Son will spice thing up. Everywhere he goes. Between these two. Etc.
JoAnne: We see Baksa Adeul alone in a bare office with a desk drawer full of cell phones. (kakashi: I want to be like him when I grow up!) With one he instructs someone to leave the money where it is. Another is a call from Halibut. Next stop, a meeting with Scale and his Number Twos. Can I call them The Shits? Baksa first avoids and then calmly accepts various forms of abuse from Scale, but the look in his eyes is deadly. Were you this sexy before the Army, Kyung Ho? I don’t remember it that way. Not a hair is out of place even though blood runs down his temple, and Baksa calmly states that the current structure doesn’t work for him and he wants 40 percent. More abuse while Baksa just stands there with his awesome poker face, interrupted by the entrance of Scale’s son whinging about a Girl Nine concert. I google Girl Nine but only come up with Nine Muses, a subset of Girl’s Generation. Since girl groups do not exist as far as I’m concerned I stop there. Scale wanders off with his son and the look on Baksa’s face is chilling and very, very sexy.
kakashi: Please refer to claims further up. He is mine (and for your information: no, he was not as sexy before the Army. The Army actually MAKES them that sexy. It is one of the purposes of the Korean Army. In his case, it's mainly the loss of babyfat and some more maturity that gets him from somewhat promising to über-sexy)
JoAnne: Our bloody hero thinks deep thoughts and visits first a drugstore where Soo Min works and then an abandoned amusement park. How come I want to call this guy a hero? The stop at the store serves only to distress me as I realize that at certain angles Baksa‘s hair has a Gu Jun Pyo-esque curl to it, and the camera work in the park puzzles me: is someone watching him and taking photos? When Scale learns that the money still hasn’t been deposited he orders Baksa’s death, causing Meth Kim and Halibut to commiserate over their difficulties. Apparently the organization that they structured to provide anonymity from the cops now works to protect their colleague. I giggle. Halibut visits Kim Hyun-soo (Yoon Hyun Min) at the Kring Building, (made famous for us in WAML thanks to Shuk’s Google Fu) and interrupts office sexy times with the news that the Doctor is finished now and Soo can help them or die, too.
kakashi: At this point, I'm torn between loving Doctor's Son with all my heart and more or loving this incredibly yummy new specimen with all my heart and more. No claims to him, I've never seen him in anything before. As I am not so good when it comes to difficult choices, I'm just going for loving them BOTH. It's called win-win situation.
JoAnne: I like the way you think.
who can resist this?! o_o
JoAnne: Lover Boy dissembles. We see that he is loyal to Baksa (yay!) and after their rooftop conversation he gives an order over the phone: Hit it now. Can we drink every time someone goes up to the roof? Why do I LIKE these two so much already? Will we have some bromance? We learn that Baksa Adeul has been in the organization for 8 years and has big plans. Later, our two handsome boys walk calmly in their dapper suits through crowds of brawling men, having breached the walls of Scale’s headquarters. Every now and then Hyun Soo takes a swing at somebody for fun, but Baksa just walks through the fights like they aren’t even there. I squee a little. They wait at the head of the table only to discover that Scale is gone. Baksa casually flips Scale’s chair over so that the back lies on the ground as they leave. Oooooh - BURN.
kakashi: It was this scene that made me realize this show could be really, really good. If they keep this up. Oh yes, I'm still squeeing! Major Bromance vibes flowing my way out of the screen and they make me shiver with delight.
JoAnne: Halibut is having a bad night. First he’s kidnapped by Baksa and forced to give up Meth Kim’s whereabouts, then he’s told he’d better leave town if he wants to live. He tries to do that just that but gets kidnapped and beaten by Hyung Min. He has no idea who or what is going on, but gives up Meth Kim yet again. The rest of the team break in and ‘arrest’ Hyung Min and rescue Halibut.
kakashi: Is it just me or did other people also think this scene was kinda bleh? Too forced. I don't like it when shows try really, really hard to make a point. I.e. that Hyung-min is a bad boy. I get it. He can be tough and crazy. Move on.  
this is the REAL tough guy!
JoAnne: Under the bridge at the Han River (yes, really - lovely lights!) Hyun Soo and Baksa Adeul change plans after learning that Halibut spilled the beans to the cops. I don’t think Baksa really means to let the night go without a fight and I’m right: Our team is already in place at the location Halibut has squealed to the entire world as the Doctor’s Son arrives alone.
kakashi: I'm also squealing cause that entrance is so.cool. 
 
JoAnne: The team has no idea who he is, but gangsters soon begin to arrive. As Kim and his men walk down a narrow hallway they’re attacked from behind by a deadly efficient Baksa, and by the end of this scene I think he is the baddest of all bad-ass M-F’ers on the planet and I also want to make out with him (kakashi: I see you're not going to step away from him. Fine. Let's share! But I get to make out with him first!!! Jo: FINE.). It helps that this is where we are introduced to the awesome first song of the OST:
JoAnne: Honestly, his big concession to taking out a dozen armed men with some kind of walkie talkie, a suit coat, and a knife is that he unbuttons his jacket. Somewhere deep inside me a cave woman wakes up and purrs in anticipation. I think it’s because he looks so SAD to have to do this. I don’t mind a bad boy, but he should be reluctant.
kakashi: Hm. Sad? Not sure. I'd say he is a bit bored. And reluctant? Hell no. He is aiming to get to the top and he is going there. I am sure we'll get the moral-side of him later, but at this moment, he is just power-hungry. And sexy. And awesome. And evil. And badass.
JoAnne: A shot rings out inside the building and the police descend. Hyung Min is the first to reach the hall way full of bodies and looks amazed. Meth Kim and one other person are missing, based on body count. As the team leader learns of the existence of Baksa, we watch the man in question drive an immaculate sedan across the Han River on an otherwise empty bridge. Meth Kim is trussed up like a turkey in the back. Hyung Min and Kyung Mi end up talking about the night’s events, deciding that this must be a coup from within and looking impressed. I know I am. Or we're all a little nervous.
kakashi: Oh yes. Giggly and nervous over so much awesomeness. But here's a major plot-problem (yeah, I know, RL and KDrama should not be compared with each other, but I must! I can't help myself!): Even though it made JoAnne giggle that their organizational structure makes it hard for the bad guys to find their brethren bad buys, this is just not how drug cartels work. The police not knowing this guy, worse, never even have heard of him? Impossible or the biggest intel fail ever. Drug operations do not work in cell structures. They cannot. There is a large supply chain needed for a working drug operation (also see the scene where they hand things to each other = your supply chain in action) and where there is a supply chain, there is a network with nodes and connections. You leave traces and you can be identified. A key figure, a node for eight years and not identified? Nope. 
JoAnne: Oh, you wanna talk supply-chain... (settles in for work talk). 
JoAnne: Girl Nine perform listlessly for Scale and his creepy son. I spend useless time wondering what four women could possibly have that would add up to nine and after acknowledging that it’s probably not incense sticks I decide I’ll just go with nipples. This makes me laugh, and I almost miss the bit where the drug kingpin instructs his son to study hard in school and then gets mad when the kid says he wants to be a singer. Soo breaks in with some henchmen and tosses Meth Kim onto the ground. Baksa Adeul saunters coolly into the room. ‘Did you enjoy the singing?’ he asks.
kakashi: Nipple power! Awesome! But hey, who cares who this is. Somebody debuting? (Debutting? How is this spelled? JoAnne: Debuting, I think. kakashi: Yeah, thought it had not much to do with "butt") In any case, I'm feeling really uneasy about the son here. Not Doctor's Son, but Scale's son. The kid is showing signs of bratiness and violence, for sure, but he is also cute and a kid after all. What is Baksa going to do in front of this kid?! Show your reluctant side, boy! Hear me?

Final Thoughts:

JoAnne: Damn, this is good. Atmospheric, action packed, mysterious. Touches of humor that make me laugh out loud, but overall, intense. I like the bad guy and I’m not sure why, but I’m completely ok with it. There are some minor things that ring a bit false that I noticed while watching but for the life of me I can’t think of them now and I don’t even care. I’ve got NO complaints about acting or directing or the look of the thing other than that everything seems to happen at night in the dark (making it hard to see.) I’m hooked.
kakashi: Well. Let me start with the good: The bromance-couple and the action scenes. Plus, our anti-hero is intriguing, even though I do hope we'll get a bit more than just sad-bored poker-face in the future. Like a shower scene. (Haha, I know there's one coming up! a little birdie told me!) My biggest beef is with the "seen that like 1000000 times before" aspects. There is a lot of them, but the biggest issue for me is how the female cop comes across. Why does Korea have such a hard time with good (as in intriguing, surprising, multi-layered) female characters? Especially when so many writers are in fact females! I also don't yet get much of a thrill out of the (potentially rogue-)cop. Mr. Neanderthal is very dull-boring if you ask me, so let's hope things get spiced up a little in episode 2! (and JoAnne, you need to hurry up ... we need to do some catching up fast!) 

Next Up: Episode 2
I demand more guyliner globally!

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