HOLY SMOKES, BATMAN! IT’S LEE MIN HO
I was so ready for this to be Shitty Hunter but pleasantly surprised when I heard that they were veering off from the manga because of Rain’s Fugitive: Plan B. Fugitive followed along the same plot lines as the City Hunter manga so the drama went in their own direction. (Sadly, I quit Fugitive halfway through the first episode hence the initial worry for City Hunter.) Programming wise, this was an excellent drama to go against Greatest Love and You’ve Fallen for Me. For those people that didn’t want to watch rom com, this action-adventure drama filled that void.
The story starts off with two Secret Service agents in Burma which ties in the real-life assassination attempt on the South Korean President by the North Koreans. (I love when they tie in history with fiction. Nerd alert.) The South Korean President is safe despite death of many his servicemen. A group of 5 high-ranking government officials vow to retaliate but they decide that this black ops mission will remain with them and the men that they send to execute the North Korean targets. The President will not be apprised of the mission in order to maintain plausible deniability.
Meanwhile, a baby boy is born to Park Mu Yeol, one of the Secret Service agents, and Lee Jin Pyo congratulates his friend and his wife.
When the President finds out, he publicly admits that the South Koreans are not involved and the Group of 5 scramble to conceal their involvement in the mission by killing all the soldiers. Lee Jin Pyo survives and returns to kidnap the baby boy to raise him to avenge his father’s death. Mind you, this is only the first half of the first episode. So much happens in this drama that I’m reluctant to reveal too much about the plot because I fear that the twists will be less exciting. Thus, I’m going to be choosy as to what I reveal here.
The first episode moves really quickly setting up the history, and getting our main character, Lee Yoon Sung (Lee Min Ho), in place to help aid his stepfather, Lee Jin Pyo (Kim Sang Joong) for the revenge plot. The revenge plot involves making the Group of 5 pay for betraying their fellow soldiers. And our City Hunter is born.
Through which Yoon Sung becomes employed as an IT guru at the Blue House along with newly badged, Secret Service agent Kim Nana (Park Min Young).
Yoon Sung wants the Group of 5 to be brought to justice. But for the last 27 years, Jin Pyo has had revenge on the brain that it skews all sanity. Kim Sang Joong is the perfect guy to play him as he has had years of training being in serious dramas and playing numerous bad guys. I mean, would you look at that revenge-driven, determined face of his? Jin Pyo’s thought bubble: “Don’t fuck with me.” Sigh, part of me misses him doing something comedic though.
While the two are often butting heads, Jin Pyo is usually one step ahead of Yoon Sung making him a difficult obstacle for our City Hunter. Ahjussi/Bae Man Duk (Kim Sang Ho) acts as Yoon Sung’s conscience and keeps him on the right side of morality (as well as being a scene stealer. Hee.).
Kim Nana is extremely charming and spunky and I like that about her because she brings light into this dark world of City Hunter’s. And the drama does well to balance these two worlds: the serious revenge seeking world that brings evildoers to justice and the light world with Ahjussi and Nana.
Lee Min Ho… The only other thing I’ve seen him in is Boys Over Flowers and I don’t get all fangirly about him. But I give him props for a job well done in City Hunter. He strikes the right comedic and dramatic chord for whatever scene he’s doing and doesn’t try to overdo it. Lee Joon Hyuk plays a more serious role as Kim Young Ju, the prosecutor on a mission to right all wrongs through the eyes of the law. In that way, his character is a bit more one-note like Lee Jin Pyo in that they are focused on one goal. I wish there was a bit more of a playful tug-of-war between Yoon Sung and Young Ju to even out the one-noteness but overall I was satisfied. I can accept supporting characters to be this way as our focus should mainly be going to Yoon Sung and his quest.
This drama has a cinema-grade quality in the way they film. I even like the graphic overlay the editors use at the end of each episode. It makes the drama feel epic and like a graphic novel all at the same time. For action sequences, they used Matrix-like editing to slow and speed up the movements which highlights the beauty of the cinematography but it’s difficult to show in stills.
And they stylistically foreshadowed the ending by magnifying Yoon Sung’s fears (I purposely chose these shots as to not spoil the ending).
Lim Jae Bum’s OST track was by far my favorite as his voice captured the spirit of fighting for justice despite all odds. The song titled “사랑 – Love” was pretty darn powerful. Also the instrumental tracks kept the scenes moving from the action-adventure moments to the easygoing scenes.
Lim Jae Bum – 사랑 (Love)https://chunkeemonkeeato.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/01-ec82aceb9e91-ec9e84ec9eacebb294.mp3%20
This is such a minor thing when you consider the series as a whole but the last few minutes definitely had a whatever effect on me. I understand why dramas pay fanservice to the audience and I often enjoy them but the time jump felt abrupt. It immediately deflated what was a high intensity episode. I’m pointing this out because that’s the last note this drama leaves us with. I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love the ending because of that jigsaw feel.