CLIPPING SHORT THE NOODLES OF LONGEVITY
Kim Gil Do (Jo Jae Hyun) is the master of stealing identities. He kills his friend Ha Jung Tae and his family in order to take his identity in order to build an empire from a traditional noodle restaurant.
However, Ha Jung Tae’s young son survives and takes on the name, Moo Myung (Chun Jung Myung), meaning “no name”. He grows up with two other friends at the orphanage, Chae Yeo Kyung (Jung Yoo Mi) and Park Tae Ha (Lee Sang Yeob), and eventually meets Kim Da Hae (Gong Seung Yun). All three are connected to Kim Gil Do and each have their own agenda when it comes to him.
I have to admit that upon hearing the title of this drama I was a bit perplexed. Sometimes you can get a sense of the story and what to expect from the drama by just reading the title. Other times, the title choice is a bit of an enigma. Was this drama supposed to come off as Iron Chef: The Noodle Edition? This is all to say that the title didn’t or still doesn’t quite capture the revenge aspect of the drama.
However, the first few episodes were great in creating this larger-than-life villain. I was taken by how Kim Gil Do was built up as an infamous Keyser Soze-like character. His deeds were despicable and yet he has managed to be a few steps ahead of the law and those were sought revenge against him. We see that Gil Do was an integral part in building this noodle empire but the ultimate goal for building this empire was to attain glory and power.
Once I got into the drama, I began to understand the underlying meaning of “noodles”. Extending from Chinese culture, noodles are typically consumed on important holidays or anniversaries to reflect living a long life, especially if you are able to consume it without breaking it into small pieces. I think it is important to note that this metaphor is often contrasted with Myung objective in taking Gil Do down.
I also think the noodles are a metaphor for the parallel lives all these characters are living. Even though Myung seems to have a similar agenda to Yeo Kyung and Tae Ha, they all seem to go through their “lives” alone. For the most part, I think that inability to trust each other or fear that someone else they love will get hurt is what causes Gil Do to get away with his evil deeds for so long. That’s also the master of the con that Gil Do is able to pull over on these characters’ lives.
However, I think the drama’s biggest problem was in deciding what to do with Gil Do’s character as the drama progressed. He suddenly seems to grow a conscience with the appearance of Da Hae in Gil Do’s life. Don’t get me wrong as his drive for power doesn’t change him into being a nice guy but I think there were two ways Da Hae’s backstory could have worked out. I was unimpressed with the backstory the drama decides to go with because it seemed like the story was being used to show that Gil Do was growing a conscious.
Perhaps, this decision was to show what final moves Gil Do was going to make at the end of the drama but I honestly didn’t need the drama to humanize Gil Do. In fact, I think the drama was more interesting when Gil Do was being painted as a monster and with the revelations of “other monsters” in the drama, I felt the drama lost its suspenseful momentum.
The thing that does remain consistent throughout the drama is the show’s cinematography. The vintage look of the drama makes the show feel eerie and timeless. At times, it felt like I was looking at old war photographs, like when you look at old sepia-toned photographs in your history book but you can’t comprehend the expressions on the people’s faces.
As much as I wanted to understand the story behind these people’s faces, the drama delivers a very ambiguous answer about revenge and allegiances. This is not the thing that entirely turns me off about the drama but rather I’m not sure what the takeaway is supposed to be. Perhaps, the moral at the end of the day is that revenge is never all that sweet. And yet, I can’t help but shake this feeling emptiness like I’ve consumed a bowl of exquisitely plated noodles but not wholly satisfied by it.