[Review] Incarnation of Money – 돈의 화신

YEAH, YEAH, THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL AND SUCH

Special branch prosecutor Lee Cha Don (Kang Ji Hwan) is quick-witted and smart but his ego causes him to lose everything.  By losing it all, he regains memory of his lost past and becomes determined to find justice for his family.  Bok Jae In (Hwang Jung Eum) is the daughter of a loan shark.  Despite her weight, she remains positive and spunky until a certain good-looking prosecutor crosses her path.

This is my second time around with Director Han Jung Hwan and Writers Jang Young Chul and Jung Kyung Soon.  I loved History of a Salaryman so much that I wanted to go again with this team.  Can’t say if Giant has the same plot progression but that wouldn’t surprise me.  They tend to start their dramas off at the heart of the mystery and then go back in time to tell the beginning of the story.  This one is no different but it’s a good plot device as it gets you straight to the core of the story.

I can’t say I loved this drama as much as their last.  I found the contemporary sageuk an interesting aspect of Salaryman where this was more of your traditional, melodrama thriller.

However, it’s been a long time since I last saw Kang Ji Hwan in anything decent that I welcomed it with open arms.  The drama really plays to his strengths bringing out his wacky comedic side while not downplaying his talent for drama.  It’s been awhile since he met a script that showcased that.

I also liked the chemistry between him and Hwang Jung Eum but I mostly ‘shipped their comedic chemistry.  Both actors are great at physical gags that you can’t help cracking up at the absurdity of their scenes and it definitely the highlight of their relationship.

EXID – Up & Down

EXID(이엑스아이디) – Up & Down

On the flip side, the writers clearly paint Ji Se Kwang (Park Sang Min) as the villain here and that’s another archetype that stays consistent in their dramas. I understand the reasons behind Se Kwang’s revenge against Cha Don’s dad and honestly I can’t really blame him for it.  Cha Don’s dad made Se Kwang’s dad take the fall for him and died in jail due to poor health.

I did wish that Se Kwang had more depth but I also understand that that’s not how the writers wanted to depict this character. It doesn’t matter if there are small glimpses of humanity there can only be one Darth Vader.

You just didn’t have any sympathy for Se Kwang.  He goes from trying to right a wrong, becomes an influential prosecutor but ends up becoming thoroughly corrupted.  There were so many opportunities for a turning point but he never looks back.

You can also place Cha Don in that same harsh light as he doesn’t start off a bit unscrupulous.  The difference is that Cha Don learns to forgive and help those that aided Se Kwang if they can change their ways.  So Se Kwang’s point of no return is Cha Don’s road to redemption.

The drama wraps up predictably but it’s still a good ride.  If you haven’t seen Giant or History of a Salaryman, it’s worth trying out this production team because they know how to tell a good story.  If you’ve seen and loved their previous dramas, then I might be hesitant to give it my complete recommendation.  I think that’ll depend on how much you like the cast.

I, for one, couldn’t help ogling over Kang Ji Hwan and just like Cha Don, I’m willing to forgive Kang Ji Hwan for the travesty of his last two projects.

Rating

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