I hate terminal illness dramas. I hate knowing the ending before I start, and I hate the most Kim Rae Won always being stuck in miserable roles. But I couldn't possibly ignore his comeback, and I started this. If you’re not planning to watch the drama because of all the above OR because it’s legal; let me assure you of one thing: this is not what you imagine. This drama is different in every single aspect - in a good way.
I honestly expected a melodrama, but ended up finding a thriller. To use my friend’s expression, Punch had me glued to the screen for more than 7 hours (Googling and discussing it aside). Yes, I’ve never watched a drama like this.
Okay, first of all, throw away all the synopsis things you read before the drama started. God, I was expecting some trashy mourning throughout the drama. It’s true I’ve cried watching the 7 episodes more than I would watching a whole melo series, but you know those tears that just rush down while you’re clueless to why and how! You know those moments when you start trembling all over and screaming begging the ‘’bad’’ guy not to commit terrible things! That’s exactly Punch.
Park Jeong Hwan (Kim Rae Won) is a brilliant, shrewd, fearless and ambitious prosecutor. He’s ambitious to the extent that he divorced his wife, Shin Ha Gyeong (Kim Ah Joong) when she tried to block his way. To reach his goal he carries his boss, Lee Tae Jun (Jo Jae Hyeon) on his shoulders and cleans his mess. Because of his ambition, he disregards rules, principles, and even human relationships; therefore he’s got many enemies waiting to drag him down. Once the road to his goals starts clearing, he finds that he’s diagnosed with the same disease that ended his father’s life. While struggling with his illness, he gets betrayed. Park Jeong Hwan finds himself at a crossroad between his immense desire to live for his dreams and the family he loves, his deep belief that there’s not much time left, his sense of betrayal and the urge for revenge and that thin ray of conscience lying somewhere at the foot of the cave of his heart. What would Jeong Hwan do and how would he live the short time left for him?
Well, everyone knows how great Kim Rae Won is. I do!! I liked him well enough before, but I’ve officially fallen in love with him here. I’ve never EVER watched such a charismatic a**h***. It’s not your typical jerk main lead. It’s a real terrible lout who cares nothing for people and does things his way. Such an outstanding genius who holds one belief; the world is rotten (suddenly reminding me of Death Note’s Kira!!).
Because of many past experiences which get slowly unraveled as the story goes, he gets rid of all the Utopian ideals and follows his ambitions. His stares, smirks, and tone are contagious. I have no idea how the staff could work with him. Not only that he also lost weight for the role. He IS the role. Watching Punch I can’t remember him playing any other role; like this was written for him - just for Kim Rae Won. The pain his eyes and his facial expressions convey are so striking my tears start flowing on their own. He’s just perfect!!
Shin Ha Gyeong (Kim Ah Joong) is just my type of girl; to some extent. She’s beautiful, elegant, eloquent, caring, clever, capable and upright; too upright honestly. She abides by the law to the letter and never comprises. Once she finds herself between the person she once loved and her principles, she undergoes a terrible struggle. What will she choose?!
Once she’s on screen, it’s like the drama is all about her and Jeong Hwan. It’s not like the forced female lead they always push into the dramas. She’s there doing a great job. I applaud her.
Now comes our conniving villain. Wow!! This is my first time watching Jo Jae Hyun, and I completely commend his misconduct. He’s a born villain. I’m totally impressed by the amount of hatred his eyes express. I watch lots of bad guys, but it’s been a long time since one has influenced me so bad as to hate him. I’m currently hating Lee Tae Jun’s guts.
This Lee Tae Jun is the Prosecutor Chief. He had a terrible childhood and he ‘’crawled his way up’’, to use his own expressions. He used all methods to help him reach his goals. He cares about some people but never tolerates betrayal. Once someone steps on his pride or hurts the people he cares about, he bares his fangs ready to attack. To Jeong Hwan whom he trusted with all his might one day, he’ll prove an aggressive enemy.
The chemistry and intensity between the protagonist and the antagonist are completely epic. The fact that they both understand each other’s worth and read one another’s mind is in itself a classic. The moments between the two are priceless.
The drama is set in the prosecution world, but it’s not about cases as much as it is about the power struggle between the authorities there. It’s about who bites first. It painfully expresses how low we humans can stoop for our own greed but at the same time it shows how complicated and pitiful our human existence is. It’s a misanthropic approach to life that will slap you out of the hope for a better world.
I like the embedded messages in the deep conversations in the drama in general and their use of proverbs, puns, and poetry. It gives a different taste to the story.
There’s that song that has been played once so far with a scene of Kim Rae Won in the utmost pain that makes the drama worth watching. Every single moment is precious. Totally worth the time spent on it.