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Cruel City
37 people found this review helpful

by amrita828

May 21, 2015
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 5
Overall 9.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 10.0
Music 10.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This is the kind of drama which deserves the highest possible marks in terms of directing, acting and soundtrack. The reason why I'm "only" giving it a 9, is because despite its high level of tension and the splendid typecasting of some characters, it took me an unreasonable amount of time to warm up to it and when I finally did, my brain was already complaining loudly. Admittedly, Jung Kyung Ho and his superb impersonation of a sensual and tormented Doc's Son DID capture my heart and other parts of my body very early on but, clearly, they can't be used to write a review. I understand where this plot wants to go, and I even appreciated – to some extent - the never-ending shifts of most characters from one side to the other, when not somewhere in between. However, it gets a little surreal in the long run, to the point that the unpredictable becomes predictable: once you know nothing is as it seems, you're prepared to think the opposite of what they want you to think – hence seeing through the smoke curtain. Therefore, if it weren't for the heartthrobbing Paksa Adil and all the scenes he's in bar none, this drama would be a sequel of police actions going askew either because some corrupted high power butts in or because they are as incospicuous as a baobab tree in the desert. Not to mention the nth old, or fat, or old and fat villain sitting on some baroque chair and acting like a lunatic buddha ordering this or that killing. I need to confess: at times I yawned. And why do the powerful and corrupted always meet at Japanese restaurants? Does sashimi embody the "raw" quality of the Korean politics? Unfortunately, there's no way to explain the faults of this plot without spoiling it. Suffice to know that I stopped watching it for the plot and just went for the way scenes were shot and acted. Now, if it were possible to rate direction and cinematography in particular, it would be a completely different story, since the drama is visually and technically impeccable. Attention to details, colouring and the use of light – or lack thereof - all are spot on and intensely evocative. I found many of the characters extremely interesting, constantly fluctuating between dark and shade – light is completely absent here – and the acting by Kim Yoo Mi and Choi Moo Sung impressed me no end. Kim Yoo Mi in particular gives life to an amazing character, extremely stubborn as a "boss" and wonderfully human as a woman. My liking of her character is all due to her acting, because, let's face it, the poor actress's actions consist mostly on moving from an armchair to a sofa with a glass of whisky in her beautifully manicured hand. It's therefore the subtle changes of her face that tell her story. As for Jung Kyung Ho's, it'd deserve a review on its own, so mesmerizing it was. His character is the best written one: you can peel off layer after layer and there's still something to find. The actor's take of it, suavely ruthless and gracefully tormented, makes his Doc's Son into one of those unforgettable characters who are going to stay with you for a very long time. Without him, this drama would be nothing more than a morbid, blurred photograph of an improbable criminal world. His onscreen chemistry with Nam Gyu Ri and his "putative family" is palpable and great to watch, but then again, I think this actor would have great chemistry with a tree trunk, if needed. On the opposite side of the spectrum there's Ji Hyeong Min, the super cop who got so much on my nerves I want to forget him with all my might. He goes from being as likable as an ingrown nail to suddenly grasping the situation to no avail whatsoever. Truth be told, the whole police force – the official one, that is – could have heavily contributed to the comic if this drama had a comic intention, which it doesn't. The level of corruption and the number of undercovers borders on ridicule. The soundtrack is classy, powerful, always appropriate. In short, marvelous. I am not going to rewatch this drama any time soon, if ever. Intense but frustrating, it is the kind of experience which leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth, since the ultimate meaning of it seems to be that justice is a mere word, a utopia for philosophers and dreamers. I have no doubt this is so in real life too, but at least when dealing with the world of fiction, I'd rather be deceived.
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