After the debacle that was the first episode of the live action TV adaptation of City Hunter, I was looking for some Korean action series to sink my teeth into. Given that I have keep seeing advertisements for the series The K2, I decided to find a place to watch it online. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!!
The series begins at night, with a young girl finding her mother lying on the floor of her parent’s bedroom after the youngster heard the front door open and later taken to a convent in Italy. Years later, we see our heroine Go An-na (Im Yoona) grown up escaping the convent, a place that has been used as a prison of sorts for the duration of her stay. She runs into the city, feet bloody and body covered in an apparent nightgown. We cut to a badly injured and bandaged man our hero Kim Je-ha (Ji Chang-wook) waking in a bed in the same city. We soon see him on the move and avoiding CCTV. As the two reach the same underground train station, he notices the young woman in distress and attempts to stay on track because he obviously needs to get out of town. After seeing her followed by a suspicious man with a headpiece and attempting to manhandle her on a train platform, our hero intervenes in what is one of the most spectacular hand to hand fight sequences that I have seen in a TV show, perhaps even in film as well. After defeating the other man, he checks for ID and determines that the guy is part of the Italian police and attempts to flee thinking that maybe the girl that he rescued may be a criminal. After incapacitating some uniform police that were called to deal with an apparent mugging (he was seen taken the wallet of the guy on the platform), he emerges from the subway to see the same young woman recaptured and again pleading for assistance. He decides not to intercede for other reasons.
Six months later, our hero is working back in South Korea for an advertisement company. He is asked to fix a political banner on a skyrise where a candidate for the upcoming Presidential election is having a liason with a young woman. She pours some suspicious powder into a glass of wine and intices her unsuspecting beau to drink it. An old lady that cleans the building vouches for the banner guy downstairs and our hero goes to deal with the banner. While he is dealing with the banner, he first sees the young woman and the politician getting physical before curtains are drawn and the drugs take affect. In the underground parking lot, a bunch of now masked guys turn up in SUVs and start taking our the security. A member of the squad is carrying a large camera with him. One of the victims before loosing consciousness hits a button that locks down the room that the unconscious candidate is in. As our hero secures one of the lower parts of the banners, he sees some of the men assaulting members of the building security and he attempts to warn the old lady that he met earlier. He attempts to breaks the window before she is clocked in the head. Using a screwdriver thrown at high velocity, he breaks the window and begins fighting the bad guys in order to get to the old lady and get her medical treatment. In lieu of the police arriving, the bad guys get the message to shove off.
We now cut to the wife of the presidential candidate that is currently putting on the guise of the good wife in an interview. When a touchy question comes up, we see her demeanor crack ever so slightly. After the interview is over, we find her having makeup removed and she learns about the attack on the building that her husband was staying. She talks about the opposition organizing the attack to an assistant that is obviously part of her inner circle. Discussion of using the “other woman” is tabled for later. We move to the guy that she spoke to on the phone, and plans are put in play to take out the banner hanger that saw the candidate in the room earlier that night. As the team reach K2’s place of residence, we see one of the chaps that had talked to him later watching videos of K2 fighting the team earlier recognizing K2 from his fighting technique. He suggests to the boss that the team should be called off because the banner hanger will likely kill them, but is rebuffed because the boss is a moron. Cut to K2 hearing some dudes coming up the driveway and going into immediate stealth mode because the most company that he’s had at his shed of late has been a stray kitten that he fed earlier that afternoon. More fighting in which he seriously fucks up the other guys but leaves them all grievously injured. The previous flunky and another guy arrive soon after K2 gets the hell out of there, and is relieved that nobody is dead.
We cut to the politician and his wife at their house. She receives a phone call and tells him that his daughter has escaped again, and it is revealed that the woman is holding the girl as a prisoner of sorts elsewhere. Cut to the young woman that we saw in the beginning running barefoot and in a nightie around town again. After narrowly avoiding being hit by a car, she has a flashback of her mother’s death leaving lots of questions open about what is up with her evil stepmother, her father and his political opponent.
To begin with, this show heavily relied upon fighting scenes. The action sequences were spectacular. The flashy moves was minimal with most of the attacks looking functional. Ji Chang-wook also seems to have done a lot of the sequences himself, which suggests that I should probably check out some of his other roles because the dude has some serious skill.
The dialogue was minimal but worked well to draw me into what was going on. It made sense and helped move the plot along without falling into the trap of the infamous info dump. Some characters also had a level of subtlety to their dialogue as well, which made me wonder what they weren’t saying because it mattered just as much as what they were. This created several hooks because we aren’t given all of the answers from the get-go. This made the plot more compelling because I understood that there was a lot more going on then is immediately revealed.
As for the cast, I am pretty happy with the choices. The actors and actresses did an awesome good based on what I have seen so far, giving me some people to look out for in other films and television shows. They also had some decent settings to work in, such as the place in Italy that we see in several of the scenes with the character Go An-na.
In conclusion, I am really happy with what I’ve seen of the show so far. It has a lot of stuff going on in the plot and I really look forward to seeing how K2 and Go An-na’s story plays out over the remaining episodes in the series. If you enjoy action and political thrillers, then this show will likely appeal, but do not expect instant gratification because this story is about uncovering secrets over time. It might be a little dramatic for some folks as well, but I think that the drama was appropriate to the tone of the story.