Kim Sul Woo is a mysterious National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent whose identity is known only by a few superiors at the top of the agency. As a highly skilled and suave agent, he can accomplish any and every mission he is assigned. When a large conglomerate, Songsan Group, is identified as a threat to the country, Sul Woo needs to go undercover again. One day, he is ordered to infiltrate a private party held by Chairman Victor, a Russian oil tycoon, and extract the legendary wood carvings hidden in the compound. However, his best cover is to get himself attached to world star Yeo Woon Guang as his elite bodyguard, and so begins a whole new unexpected mission for Sul Woo. Woon Guang was a nameless stuntman who became a top star through unexpected good fortune after starring in a Hollywood hero series called, "Dark Death." He is in his forties and now specializes in acting as a villain. The often childlike Woon Guang is constantly involved in some scandal, and despite his occasional innocence, the world star is conceited and brash. He bullies Sul Woo, who panders to his every whim. Meanwhile, Sul Woo is preparing for his secret mission. Unfortunately, he also has to deal with Cha Do Ha, Woon Guang's manager, who used to be the head of his fan club, and is enamored with the celebrity. She is wary of Sul Woo, and anxious that Woon Guang may be interested in him, so she constantly gets in Sul Woo's way. While the secret mission must be completed, the seemingly perfect bodyguard and the world star's fan manager continue to collide, and their relationship may be something Sul Woo could not have expected. (Source: JTBC) Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
I felt that the drama was light and easy to enjoy in comparison to other secret agent dramas that I have seen! There was no great conspiracy, loads of secrecy, huge amount of fighting scenes, etc etc. I liked that the plot focused on a secret agent who becomes a bodyguard to an actor and still carries out his duties as an agent: it made the story work - of course very unrealistic but which drama isn't xD
I have to say the cast was great! All of the actors fit their characters and made the drama work. I really have to give kuddos to Park HaeJin's acting in this! His actions and facial reactions just brought the drama a kind of humour I really enjoy! And maybe because of this as well that it was nice to watch, and more light hearted than other secret agent dramas.
Of course, I did have a hard time to come in terms with Kim Min Jung's hair - seriously they cut her hair way to short!!
The story surrounds a guy who is part of a secret government organization that employs so called ghost agents. Professional fighters/warriors (or whatever you may call it - agents) who get on secret missions around the world and are not allowed to have any deep feelings or connections with other people since that would compromise their work. These ghost agents here are the very cliché of every spy agent you can possibly think of.
The story starts to evolve in that direction. Agent K (Park Hae Jin) takes on a mission and unexpectedly starts to develop real feelings for a woman he has to con along the way.
I can stick with all kinds of dramas, even with the bad ones if they make me curious enough to want to watch the next episode, because that is one grave reason for me to either enjoy or be disappointed with a show. Even if a story makes me pull out my hair because the protagonists are acting all nonsensical. Yeah, I'm that kind of a shallow person. I can handle trashy dramas as well as cheesy ones - if they don't take it too far but entertain me.
So, the worst thing that can actually happen to a drama and that makes me lose interest throughout the whole way, is when it becomes plain boring. Sadly, Man to Man was exactly that for me. There's nothing special about it. It feels like one of the biggest cliché-heavy mainstream action spy dramas I've ever seen, and it gives off the feel that the producers wanted to reach as many viewers as possible, what is eventually the main reason why it failed to impress me at all. The (seemingly hidden) spark didn't reach me.
I didn't expect much when I began watching it, but I would have never expected it to be like that. I'm sincerely sorry to say this and I feel bad for the high-level cast but I was extremely disappointed with many things - not everything. There was also something that kept me going and therefore made me complete it, so don't be too frustrated with my opinion.
One thing that wasn't able to... touch me was the romance. Don't hit me. It was just suddenly there somewhere along the line. I never understood why K fell in love with this particular woman and not all the other ones he used for his previous missions. They had their cute moments, I admit that and I enjoyed them to a certain point. But it never made me excited.
Many people were annoyed by the female lead in the beginning but started to like her later on. For me it was the other way around. I liked her in the first episodes but as the story went further, she became a bothersome side character whose behavior annoyed me at times. Kim Min Jung had a strange way of portraying her role, especially the way she spoke. Though I admit that there were also some few scenes where I could empathize with her, for example during the more serious moments and/or when she got hurt. But the overall view of her character was plain and without any depth, and there was no character development whatsoever. And that was actually the problem with most of the characters. Superficial stereotypes who never stood out or made their appearance memorable.
The other thing and probably the biggest flaw in my eyes was the spy story, and partly at fault are eventually its characters who never made me invested enough in their circumstances to even be thrilled by their next move. The execution of the overall story, the hidden wheel in the background, the step by step revelations... everything had a choppy feel to it. It failed to build up the right amount of suspense to make me excited enough about its secretive picture.
I rarely drop dramas, seriously. I want to watch the whole thing when I start something. So, if there is even ONE thing that got my attention, I'll see it through. Man to Man does have some good parts to it, too.
First of all would be the villain. Yeon Jung Hoon. I was so happy to finally see him again after such a long time and he didn't disappoint me. His performance was great in every aspect and to the smallest details. Whenever he appeared, my attention level rose to new heights. He was calm, smart and cocky. He played one greedy bastard but he also felt human in some ways. He was playing his role with such passion that he made me root for him all the way. And his story even had a satisfying wrap up.
The other thing that I enjoyed alot was the bromance. They managed to pull off that part quite well, although I wasn't always completely pleased with it because it lacked screen-time. I would have loved to see more interactions between all those guys and the bonds they had developed over time. Of course all their hilarious moments together were priceless and filled me up with joy. So, when it comes to this I definitely need to mention Park Sung Woong. I was looking forward to his appearance in this show and he never let me down. He was the epitome of bromance and needs special appreciation next to Yeon Jung Hoon.
I was also quite attached to Jung Man Shik's and Tae In Ho's characters here, and I think I need to include this to show that I did like some things.
Park Hae Jin is a special case in this drama. I'm not saying he was bad. He definitely wasn't. His acting was good most times and I enjoyed it. His character-display was just a bit average. Honestly, I've seen way better performances of him in Cheese in the Trap and Bad Guys.
See? Not everything was bad. And I admit that they had some short-while thrilling scenes during the last episodes. I give them that.
Don't take my personal opinion to heart. I know that many people enjoyed this, so it's a controversial issue in the end. But maybe there are some others who agree with me ;) Would I recommend it? Honestly, I have no idea. I would probably prefer other dramas over this.
Btw, my rating for the music... Well, it's not very high, I know. The drama had some nice songs but those themes that were played during the spy and action scenes were getting on my nerves at some point.