[Review] Bad Guys – 나쁜 녀석들

WHATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU?

After being unable to catch an elusive serial killer, the Deputy Chief of Police asks former police detective, Oh Goo Tak (Kim Sang Joong) to help catch the criminal. Oh Goo Tak agrees to help and recruits a team of incarcerated criminals to his task force. Their hunting team is made up of Mob Boss Park Woong Chul (Ma Dong Seok), Contract Assassin Jung Tae Soo (Jo Dong Hyuk) and Serial Killer Psychopath Lee Jung Moon (Park Hae Jin). Police Inspector Yoo Mi Young (Kang Ye Won) is assigned to keep watch over this pack of crazy, ravenous dogs but she also keeps a wary eye out for Oh Goo Tak, the pack’s leader.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen grittier crime dramas given its chance to shine on Korean cable TV. Certainly, OCN is one of those networks who cater to this genre similar to many of the gritty hits we’ve seen from this network, Bad Guys seems to continue in that tradition. The drama gives us rich character development interwoven in a tautly gripping thriller.

Oh Goo Tak is brought on by his superior to catch an elusive criminal but he has one condition; he wants to handpick a bunch of convicts to help him. Right there from the get-go, there something that’s quite not right about Oh Goo Tak. I mean, who can really blame him? He left the police force after the brutal murder of his daughter and he’s never recovered from that tragedy.

Kim Sang Joong has always been great at playing these calculating and methodical characters over the years but with Oh Goo Tak, he adds a menacing demeanor that lies just below the surface. We can see it when Inspector Yoo Mi Young pushes his buttons. Clearly the metaphor of dogs is crucial to this drama and Oh Goo Tak is just a snarling dog who is just at the edge, ready to the attack.

Although Kim Sang Joong leads the pack of Crazy Dogs, the diversity of the team really added color to the story.

Ma Dong Seok is able to bring humor while Jo Dong Hyuk brings his dry wit. When it comes to Park Woong Chul and Jung Tae Soo, money, social standing, power are the things that drive them.

As for Park Hae Jin, because his character lacks empathy, he brought a lot of question marks. Like Oh Goo Tak, Lee Jung Moon is lethal in that you’re not sure what will make him snap. At first, when Lee Jung Moon brings up the question of whether he actually guilty of the crimes he’s been convicted of, it comes off as a lie. He literally sought out his ex-girlfriend and threatened her.

However with each profession of innocence, we begin to wonder ourselves while still maintaining our distance as we want to stand ready for the twist. Despite a few repetitive moments with his character, like being stabbed multiple times, I was satisfied with how they wrapped up his story. And while it’s incredibly hard for an actor to show no emotion and yet come across as sympathetic, Park Hae Jin does a fantastic job in convincing us.

In a strongly male character-driven series, I was a little put off by the way women were depicted in the series. Most of the victims are women in this series. As for Yoo Mi Young, she’s an important character because she drives the plot. In some ways, she’s in the same position as the viewer. She’s an interrogator, judge and jury. Without her egging Oh Goo Tak on or defying Deputy Chief Nam (Kang Shin Il), we would have never gotten these stoic men to reveal their true natures. She’s smart and painted as an up-and-comer within the police force considering her young age.

And yet, the plot felt deliberately manipulative when she joins Prosecutor Oh’s (Kim Tae Hoon) bandwagon. He comes off as highly suspicious from the moment he appears in front of the group and his involvement in their cases seems all too convenient that I found it hard to believe that she was quick to trust him. Perhaps considering she’s an ingénue, it made me wonder if they wanted to paint her as inexperienced but I couldn’t help but see (from my feminist soapbox) that she was just another woman being duped or taken advantage of.

Similar to many OCN dramas before it, this drama is noirishly cinematic. Between the darkness of the night scenes and the austere lighting of the day, it depicts the bleakness of the people and the world that they inhabit.

Then there’s the converted church that the Crazy Dog Task Force uses as their command center. Sure, the fact that they are in a church could show that these men are absolving their sins but the production team uses a harsh spotlight streaming pointedly on certain characters in the scene. Light is typically supposed to portray goodness of character or transparency but the fact that it is a blinding light seems to point things in the opposite direction.

Bad Guys has got three important things working for it. Great acting, great writing in a sophisticated production package. There were a few bumps along the way but not enough to distract us from the overall edge of our seat mystery. Having said that, I sincerely hope that OCN does not decide to do a Season 2. I think we got such a satisfying bookending and OCN does not have a good track record of keeping us on the hook for another run based on a successful initial hit series. Let’s not jump the shark on this one.

Rating

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