The comment sections for the K2 recaps were full of insightful thoughts and opinions. From the start, Jane Tilly saw positives and negatives of this series. When I asked if she’d be interested in writing a guest review, she agreed, though unforeseen circumstances delayed the review. Jane Tilly, take it away…
First of all, I appreciate the opportunity to be a guest commentator! I have been following KJT’s amusings for just over a year and have enjoyed the comradery we all share watching Korean Drama. I apologize for the belated nature of my commentary; my laptop crashed and burned in November and due to extenuating circumstances of an increased workload due to 2 coworkers dramatic exits with no replacements *SIGHS WITH A HINT OF RESENTMENT*, I have only recently had time to recover some files.
What did I like best about K2?
*Ji Chang Wook as Je Ha. Je Ha’s swept back ‘do and countable abs made him absolutely irresistible – RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! Je Ha was a protagonist knight in shining armor with equipped with Special Forces skills and a bone to pick with those responsible for murdering his fiancée in Iraq. The pièce de résistance was his soft spot for the innocent. Je Ha reluctantly joined forces with Yoo Jin to gain access to her resources as a means to exact his revenge. Oh…did I mention we had many opportunities to check out Ji Chang Wook’s fine physique and fighting skills throughout this series!
* Song Yoon Ah as Yoo Jin. Yoo Jin was one multifaceted mama—ranging from a wounded and pitiful victim to a psychotic, cold-hearted and evil witch, spelled with a capital “B”. Just when you start to feel sorry for Yoo Jin, you had to recall she has no compunction about killing innocents—she was an “ends justifies the means” kind of character. This fascinating character had us rooting for her one minute and then wanting her to be punished for her evil deeds in the next minute.
Kuddos to Song Yoon Ah for her portrayal of Yoo Jin that gained a loyal following among Korean ahjummas, much to the chagrin of the writers. Despite Yoo Jin’s amoral tendencies, I appreciate a strong female lead, who goes after what she wants, even if it was Je Ha. Is there an ahjumma out there who wouldn’t kick into cougar mode after being rescued from a burning car and carried away wrapped in Je Ha’s muscular arms while being pressed up against that rockin’ body! Whew, I need ice water! *FANNING MYSELF*
* Thrilling car chase and actions scenes. I thought the car chase in episode 3 was the most exhilarating car chase I’ve seen in any drama. KJT likened their crashing into cars and other obstacles like to a pinball game. There were so many awesome fight scenes—with JSS at the warehouse, the assassin at the orchard couple’s house, the assault captain at the safe house and of course a special mention to the nude fight scene—I read the network got fined by a government agency for that one.
* Great side characters added a savory flavor to the story. Master Song’s comedic relief lightened the mood and Team Leader So and Col. Jo supporting Je Ha warmed our hearts.
* I ❤ the ice/ding hand signals between Je Ha and Anna. These hand signals were introduced half-way through the series and were effectively used intermittently through the remaining episodes.
* The writer’s excelled at producing antagonists. Yoo Jin, her half-brother Jung Won, slimy politicians Jang and Park, and Chief Kim.
* Justice prevailed! At least for the major protagonists: Yoo Jin, Assemblyman Jang, Assemblyman Park and Jung Won. Others who were not punished for their evil deeds were Chief Kim, Jung Won’s mother and father-in-law and the other members of the Smoking Consortium.
* Redemption of Yoo Jin and Se Joon. These morally bankrupt characters had a final scene that was beyond my expectations. Their interaction buried the animosity between them, gave them honor and allowed them to die in peace. I was touched by Se Joon’s genuine words to Yoo Jin “Won’t you be my companion on the road to the underworld?” Se Joon knew where they were headed…
* The OST. Who knew choral music could be so compelling as a score?
What did I like the least about K2?
*Incongruous Subway product placement. 1) As Je Ha fought for his life on the operating table, he shared a dream with Anna which had them standing in the line at Subway. Who dreams of standing in a line, especially in a life threatening situation? You might think about your loved ones, but not where you ate. 2) Our lovebirds finally reunited and were headed out of Dodge, okay…Seoul…but wait…let’s stop at Subway, have a picnic, and comment on how tasty the sandwiches are…seriously?!? Admittedly I only go to Subway a couple times a month, but it has been 4 months and I have not been back yet. These tacky product placements were too blatant and inappropriately timed.
*Master Song made into a murderer. How could the writers make our “sweet curmudgeonly, just-want-to-wrap-him-up-in-a-hug Master Song” (as described by Beez), into a murderer? They should have laid the death of Anna’s mother at Yoo Jin’s feet as she already had blood on her hands. no, nO, NO, NOT our Master Song!!!
* Meaningful moments milked for more than they were worth. The PD beat to death several potentially sweet scenes (the ramen dance, beach frolic, and blanket kiss) until the sweetness was long gone and you simply wanted the scene to end, or enjoy a Subway product placement. Overkill was this PD’s trademark.
* Tedious romance. Anna experienced PTSD from her mother’s murder and being cloistered in her formative years as she was held hostage for 10+ years by the Evil Queen (Yoo Jin). Anna was emotionally scarred, socially dysfunctional and a lived a zombie-like existence for the first 5-6 episodes. I did find Anna to be very likeable until halfway through the series she started to use her brain. Anna was pitiable and foolish to take on Yoo Jin without consideration of the consequences. I think I would have preferred to have the part of Anna played by a child, which I read somewhere was the original intent, or to have no romance at all. This scarred young woman was not ready for a romantic relationship.
* Mid-series flounder. The storyline and action started out strong, floundered, and then thankfully rallied to a surprisingly satisfying last episode.
* Je Ha having superhuman strength less than 24 hours after he had flat lined. Yup, other dramas have been unrealistic about this too, Descendants of the Sun was another example.
* Blatant political corruption. I was incredulous about the level of corruption of the assemblymen and police. It makes me wonder how much corruption goes on in real life in the U.S. and Korea.
Would I recommend watching the K2?
Ji Chang Wook and Song Yoon Ah’s portrayal of their characters was excellent and kept the story going. The fight scenes were superb! I ❤ when justice prevails, as it did in this story. The ending was so much more satisfying than I expected; most of the loose ends were wrapped up, truth and justice were triumphed, Yoo Jin and Se Joon were redeemed and the romantic leads literally walk off into the sunset … I love a happy ending.
Are there similar Kdramas I’d recommend?
Healer Ji Chang Wook stars as a Clark Kent/Superman, sans the cape and super powers, type action hero seeking truth of and justice for his father’s death. Will he find the truth and get justice? Will he break out of his loner lifestyle? Will he get the girl?
Time Between Dog and Wolf Lee Joon Gi stars as a disgraced NIS agent who goes undercover in a Korean branch of a Thai organized crime gang to take down the culprit of the murder of his father and mother and restore his NIS status. While working undercover in the mafia a near death experience causes him amnesia. Will he remember who he was and find truth and justice before he becomes too entrenched in the mafia?
Lee Min Ho stars as a young man raised by his father’s best friend/comrade for the purpose of taking revenge on the five government officials responsible for his father’s unjust death. Lee Min Ho intends justice, while the father who raised him plans lethal revenge—will justice or revenge prevail?
Illjimae Lee Joon Gi stars as a Joseon noble, whose father was unjustly framed and executed for treason. As a child fugitive, he ended up with PTSD (and no memory) while being chased by assassins. As a child he was reluctantly taken in and raised by his father’s former slave and mistress and her affable husband. As an adult he regains his memory and becomes a Joseon Robin Hood, robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, as he seeks for justice for death of his father. Will he get justice or will he be caught? As a Lee Joon Gi fan, I loved this drama and didn’t mind the unrealistic/fantasy aspects of the story.