Thursday, February 21, 2013

KDrama Review: City Hunter

Picture credit:
The Gist: Friends and comrades, Lee Jin-pyo (Kim Sang-joong) and Park Mu-yeol (Park Sang-min) are ready to do their country proud when they are called to a secret mission: assassinate North Korea’s high ranking officials. However, mid-duty, South Korea’s leaders decide the mission could lead to scandal and take out their own men to hide their secret. Protected by his friend, Jin-pyo is able to escape back to his homeland as the only survivor. He then abducts Park’s son, names him Lee Yoon-sung (Lee Min-ho) and trains him fiercely in combat to one day avenge his father. That moment comes when Yoon-sung gets a job at the Blue House (Korea’s White House), where he is poised to take down the five people who commanded his father’s death. Things are complicated, however, when he begins to take notice of the president’s daughter’s bodyguard, Kim Na-na (Park Min-young). Her increasing interest in him threatens to expose his identity as City Hunter as he fulfills his uncle’s quest or revenge.
1.The Action

Picture credit:

Lee Min-ho is proving himself much more than a pretty face as he fights his way through the romances he’s cast in. One of the things that make this drama worthwhile are the tension filled fight scenes. Well set and choreographed, the battle sequences are charged and exciting, perfectly displaying our feature character.
2.The Romance

Picture credit:

Of course it’s going to be complicated when a bodyguard to the President’s family falls in love with a terrorist, which is really what Yoon-sung is. I’m surprised at how sweet the moments between the two macho types got. For someone as stoic as a bodyguard, Na-na is totally adorable. When Yoon-sung is staying with her is really when the drama gains traction.
1.Slow Start

Picture credit:

The entire first episode had me bored out of my skull for how action packed the whole thing was. I don’t really care for the politics of the show and I felt like it took too long to find its footing. That said, I’m glad I stuck with it because it definitely does pick up as time goes on.
2.Lee Jin-pyo

Picture credit:

You have to feel bad for the guy, I mean, his country betrayed him and his best friend dies. That really doesn’t warrant stealing his son and raising him to be a killing machine, but whatever. Still, I never made a good connection with Jin-pyo. You feel bad for him and he’s the only father figure Yoon-sung knows, but his obsession makes him bitter and unlikable. However, considering that most of this dissonance I feel for the character is intentional, I’m letting it slide as a decent device by the drama.
1.The Politics
Honestly, I feel totally split about this show. I really like the personal aspect and the chemistry between our two leads, but the political backdrop and constant ranting from characters we don’t know about made me seriously disinterested. The revenge is the backbone of this show and I just couldn’t possibly care less about it. I know in my head I should care, but it just wasn’t that interesting to watch any of the officials converse. Min-ho’s other show, Faith, does a better job of mixing the political with the personal.
So… the romance and action of the show really suit leading man Lee Min-ho and are equally interesting and heart wrenching to boot. That doesn’t really make up for how muddled the plot is in political drama, most of which left me bored and not really wanting to continue watching the show. The ending is satisfying, but it’s a long haul to get there.
Final Grade: C

Picture credit:


  1. The longer this went, the worse it got. I'd agree with the "C". One of those where I watched it all to see what happened in the end and that was the only reason.

    1. I so agree! I think the more it focused on the plotting and less on the relationships, it just left me a bit uninterested, which is a shame, since I liked the actors well enough. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

  2. I am the odd woman out, this was one of my favorite Korean dramas. Maybe I just have more tolerance for plotting and adventure arcs that are built on a series of quests. However, if I were going to show it to the average American, I would probably skip the first 30 minutes of episode one, because that was just egregious. But I did like the Thailand half of the episode.

    I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that possibly explains Jin Pyo's mad, obsessive and excruciatingly long, drawn out revenge is that the best friend was actually his lover. Shakespeare would have trouble following some of his convoluted plotting. Seriously, he's Special Ops and cold-blooded as fuck, he would have had no trouble torturing the truth out of the Assemblyman-guy when he first gets back to Seoul.