K-Drama Special – Hero

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Hero is a 16 part television drama from Korea.  I decided to have a look at it after being impressed by Yoon So-yi in Arahan and Shadowless Sword.  It is an interesting beast.

The story concerns in the main a young reporter (Lee Jun-ki) who402px-Hero%28MBC%29_OfficialPoster whilst seems initially to be working in the more tabloid end of journalism, has a loftier desire – to use his reporting to bring justice for the little person.  Of course there is a sad back story about how his parents (including his award winning Journalist father) were murdered in front of his eyes many years ago, and of course as the drama unfolds he gets the chance to find those responsible and potentially gain some measure of revenge.  He is assisted in this by an equally wronged ex-Gangster (played with his tongue firmly in his cheek by Things Fall Apart Regular Baek Yun-shik), and the reporters from his newspaper.  Yoon So-yi plays a Police Lieutenant who initially despises out hero, but eventually mellows and assists.  Rounding off the main players are Uhm Ki-joon, an ex classmate of our hero, who secretly has a similar back-story, but has more Machiavellian ideas about how to gain revenge.

As always I am not going to try and spoil anything here, but in short this is a lovely looking, sometime amusing and always entertaining television show.  Lee Jun-ki is especially charismatic, and easily holds the show together, despite his pretty-boy looks.  Yoon So-yi struggles a little for chemistry early on (but then to be fair she was the third actress assigned the role and only came on board after filming had started).  It is of course a TV show, so you have to accept that the acting is going to be somewhat mixed in talent (and has that common fault where most of the cast are young and attractive, with a couple of rather senior players thrown in). 

The music cues are a little basic and occasionally incongruous, again giving away the speed at which such shows are put together.

It has several big problems though. 

Firstly, it is at least 5 or 6 episodes too long.  We have at least 3 occasions where in the real world the main bad guys would be beaten, yet although events conspire against our heroes, they rise again, pretty much as though nothing has happened. 

Secondly, there is that common complaint that I have about the mix of tones on display.  The show is relatively light, with many supporting characters being on the comedic side.  This would be ok if the show was not dealing with some quite weighty and sometimes rather dark issues – we are talking about Gangsters running in politics, corruption, media manipulation, Police incompetence and most upsetting of all – infanticide. 

Thirdly, the final episode seems oddly short.  After 15 previous episodes of struggle, things wrap up a little too quickly, and half the episode is given away to a “2 Years Later” flash forward.  Yoon So-yi is also strangely sidelined for most of the episode, which again puts the effort into her characterisation somewhat wasted. 

The biggest issue with the show is that it is effectively a small show with a limited cast working in a small geographical area, that is attempting to tell a BIG story that should have wide reaching consequences, not just in Seoul, but in all of South Korea, and probably internationally.

Saying all this though does not stop the show being an entertaining diversion.  If you have the time, and can accept the faults it undoubtedly has, it is certainly worth watching.

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