It took me a very long time to get started on this series. The first fifteen minutes of the first episode always lost my interest, so I couldn’t continue. However, while trying to decide what drama to watch with no pressure, I decided to stick it out.
I have to say – I really like it! Action/Thriller Junkie is happy! (This is a first impressions recap of episodes 1-3)
Lee Soo Hyun (played by Park Gun Tae/Lee Jun Ki) is a bright kid raised by his single mother in Thailand. His mother is a DA trying to bust a drug ring – the Jung Triad – and his father is an NIS agent killed in action. He falls in love at first sight with Ari (Jung Min Ah/Nam Sang Mi), because kids at that age just do naturally. What he doesn’t know is that she is the daughter of a right-hand-man in the Jung Triad.
Ari’s father, Mao (Choi Jae Sung), is usually absent, and so her surrogate father is another Triad underling, Seo Young Kil (Jung Sung Mo). Seo loves Ari, and her mother, but he can’t really protect them. When his affair with the mother is found out, Mao turns violent. Seo decides to protect the two girls he loves by snitching on a drug deal to Lee Soo Hyun’s mother, and in exchange receives asylum in Korea. Assisting Soo Hyun’s mother in the operation is Kang Joong Ho (Lee Ki Young), who is also former partners with Soo Hyun’s father.
The drug bust goes bad, and the mother is depressed and sorry for having failed in the mission. She takes a few days off to just have fun with her son, feeling also sorry for not being a better mother. Unfortunately, during their happy meal, Mao comes in masked and shoots her point blank in front of Soo Hyun. He’s about to shoot again when Soo Hyun puts his hand in front of the nozzle. Mao doesn’t kill Soo Hyun; he’s met him when Ari introduced him as a friend, and so he won’t hurt him. He’s also just lost Ari and his wife to Seo, but it doesn’t diminish his love for his daughter.
Now orphaned, Joong Ho takes Soo Hyun back home and adopts him as his own son. His wife is resistent to the idea, and his son, Min Ki (later played by Jung Kyung Ho) is cool to the idea. However, Min Ki and Soo Hyun have a hard time getting along at first, and then end up in a school yard fight. Joong Ho punishes the both of them with the bamboo stick – no favorites at all! – and Soo Hyun yells that they should have just left him to die in Thailand. His impertinence leads to more hits, which shocks Min Ki and the wife. She quickly protects Soo Hyun; he’s now completely folded into the family and they’re very understanding of his situation.
The kids grow up to be awesome adults – Soo Hyun is the more serious and talented NIS agent, and Min Ki is the playboy slacker NIS agent. (I initially assumed it’d be the opposite!) Soo Hyun is assigned to the field, and Min Ki is assigned to data analysis.
Because of Min Ki’s playboy ways, he pursues Ji Woo aggressively. He even enlists Soo Hyun to help play wingman, but when Soo Hyun notices Ji Woo’s planner with the Thai letters for ‘Ari’, the two old friends reunite. Min Ki grows jealous that Ji Woo likes Soo Hyun more, but Soo Hyun makes it clear that he’s not interested in her. (Yet…)
When Soo Hyun is sent to the field for reconnaissance on a Jung Triad member coming to Korea to make a deal with the Spider gang, he recognizes Mao as his mother’s killer because of a tattoo on his arm. (Gangsters – please stop having haircuts that scream Yakuza, or identifiable tattoos.) He chases after Mao, and fires a shot at him out of revenge. The only person he tells the true story to is his father, Joong Ho, and he lies in his statement to his supervisor. However, Min Ki is tasked with reviewing the files from the case (more out of general procedure) and he finds a discrepancy in Soo Hyun’s story. He’s soooo guilty about it because Soo Hyun gets fired.
But Soo Hyun has a plan – and it involves going back to Thailand. Too bad Ji Woo also found out his plans, and is going with him.
What I enjoy about watching old dramas is that when I see an actor I recognize from a later drama, I scream – “Hey! That guy was in So-and-So!” For example – Lee Tae Sung (Playful Kiss, 9 End 2 Outs), Jung Sung Mo (Peninsula), Lee Ki Young (History of a Salaryman), Park Gun Tae (growing up nicely in Warrior Baek Dong Soo), Jung Ho Bin (IRIS and ATHENA), and Kim Gab Soo (in every freakin’ drama you can think of). It’s just this giddy fan in me that thinks – “He was in THIS!?”
Anyways – the actors are great overall, and I give special kudos to Lee Jun Ki and Jung Kyung Ho. I expected these boys to grow up as rivals, and I was so happy to be wrong. These two have one hell of a bromance, constantly teasing each other and supporting each other. Though Soo Hyun is the younger one (by a couple of months) he is the more successful one, and Min Ki never minded being compared to him. The only time he’s not happy at the comparison is when he’s trying to get Ji Woo, but she won’t fall for his advances.
This is kind of reminding me of the friendship between Lee Dong Wook and Lee Jun Ki’s characters in My Girl.
It’s so refreshing to see that they’re not rivals at work, though they unwittingly cross paths and affect each other’s jobs. I think the writing for their characters, plus their easygoing chemistry makes me really root for these two. Ji Woo can go disappear – my OTP is Soo Hyun and Min Ki. Plus, Lee Jun Ki looks fine in this drama!
The story took a while to pick up, but after a tedious episode 1, I finally got interested. In three episodes we cover a lot of ground, which is quite impressive for me. It’s a quick, simple set up, and now we’re watching how all the events will develop. Most action dramas are 20 episodes long at least, and so because Time is 16 episodes, the writing is that much faster. There are some plot holes and some questions I have, such as whether Soo Hyun recognizes his mother’s killer as Ji Woo’s father. But I’m willing to see if they’ll go over that in later episodes.
My biggest gripe is with the editing. You want bad editing, this is it. I believe that editing should tell you the story with all the necessary frames and scenes; that’s my style. The shorter the better – cut to the chase. However, especially so in episode 1, we have plenty of needless scenic shots that simply slow down the pace of the drama, and provide repetitive information. My example is the part where the mother is leading a team for the drug bust; how many more helicopter and boat shots do you need?
I don’t know if the editing will improve, but I do hope the story does. I like it fast paced, and if it continues the pace it set up in episodes 2-3, then I think I can enjoy and finish this drama.
Since Peninsula is off my table, I need another action drama to get into.
Verdict: will keep watching at a leisurely pace.