Saturday, 26 March 2016

KDrama Review : City Hunter


Hello I'm 5 years late but where the City Hunter slash Lee Min Ho fangirls party at?! :D In other words, guess who just finished watching City Hunter (and broke her new year's resolution of holding self back from finishing a kdrama in 2 days)?? Meeeeee goreng.

You know the drill. L-R : A, Kim Na Na (played by Park Min Young), Hero (played by Lee Min Ho), B, Annoying Kid.



Let's start with the things that I love about City Hunter.

Lee Min Ho's acting. God bless him for having such a tall & lanky figure, with good lucks to match, and sleek moves. This kind of almost surreal combo is a bonanza. His character was basically the major central point the drama orbits around, its trajectory went from a fun, mischievous guy to a tragically wounded (both physically and emotionally) man who just wished to lead a normal life, one without being besmirched by revenge. Although his emotional scenes didn't quite get to me (the only scenes of him that I spilled tears for was in the first episode and the last episode), but his action scenes were astonishingly epic. For most of his scenes, I think he executed the stunts himself, without using a stunt double much which is not something a lot of actors are willing to do!! Though there's no denying that this man's agility is above average, I found out that Lee Min Ho did sustain some injuries while filming but just his effort of training 2 months for this drama was commendable, and I dare say his injuries were well worth it because the scenes turned out pretty damn well onscreen. I'll never forget the water battle fight and the spoon fight.




And ummm I think it's no longer news that he has the ability to make a woman's insides churn with his gaze and small facial movements?






I don't know about anyone else, but to me this drama's first episode is arguably the most convincing, gripping first episode of all the first episodes that I've ever watched. I cried when the 20 military men of the furtive Operation Clean Sweep were shot dead in the sea by their own people (because should the secret operation be known by other parties, the government would face severe diplomatic issues with other countries), leaving one sole survivor, whose name I forgot but let's just call him C (who should've been on the drama poster! Why the hell is A in the poster?! And Annoying Kid?!). This is C, I'll get back to his character.



Cried again when Hero's mother realised that her 1-month-old baby had been abducted. Cried again when Hero witnessed his sort of godmother being shot to death by a pack of Siamese gangsters. TOO MUCH CRYING INVOLVED IN JUST THE FIRST EPISODE, and fighting scenes galore, but simply put, an excellent first episode. The following 2-3 episodes were a bit boring and confusing, alas necessary to build the foreground of the story.

Oh you probably figured it out, the only thing that spurred me to watch this drama is none other than PARK. MIN. YOUNG!!!!! (insert a gajillion of heart eyes emojis) Good God. How much more gorgeous & adorable can this tough cookie be?! She played Kim Na Na in this drama, a young girl who just got employed in the Blue House to be a security agent for prominent people. As if her pretty face has not done enough damage to my self esteem, she wowed me yet again with her judo skills in this drama, with no use of a stunt double. There are some scenes involving Kim Na Na that are my favourites, such as when she aimed her gun at the City Hunter from the back, without knowing that she was about to put a bullet through someone she loves. That scene gave me conflicting feelings because even though it was not good news for Hero, it made me feel so, so proud of Kim Na Na, for performing her duties very well to protect the political figure, as ordered by the Blue House, with utmost professionalism and competency. Like, she had a gun in her hand and she was not scared to use it, no hint of hesitation in her eyes. Another favourite is when she barged into a gang of gangsters (seriously Sheera, a gang of gangsters.... My lexis is appalling hahaha) who were homing in on Hero, and took down the gangsters one by one in order to save the Hero, buttttt she got shot in her shoulder. God, I completely lost my shit when she got shot. She was crying because she thought she was going to die and I was crying because I thought she was going to die and Hero was crying because he didn't want her to die, it was basically a crying festival lah. I've mentioned this before, and before, and I'm saying this again because it fascinates me to no end still - SHE HAS A BUTTON ON HER BODY THAT MAKES HER CRY! And she cries prettily pulak tu ugh.


And then we have this ahjusshi character,




HIS CHARACTER IS SO, SO FUNNY! I always look forward to his screentime. He's like the Alfred to Hero's Batman, he's the one preparing hearty meals for Hero, and also the one responsible for using all of Hero's credit cards to buy home appliances. Their bickering about shopping addiction made them seem like an old married couple, which cracked me up so HARD! No doubt my favourite character of this drama :) And I look forward to Kwang Soo's screentime also, him and his haircut, which is a terrible misfortune..... 




I guess the ethos of this drama is revenge. C is hell-bent on serving sweet justice to his foes, the 5 men of power who decided it was okay to terminate the lives of the 20 military men. But those years of suppressing the revenge inside of him ate away on his sympathy, if he even had any to begin with. Apology? Forgiveness? Not in his life dictionary. I find C's character to be some sort of an enigma, from the beginning of the drama all the way to the end, and it was his character that was very hard for me to relate to. His idea of revenge was to retaliate his comrades' death with another blood feud, but Hero didn't share the same sentiments.

This is when conflict rose. How does Hero change C's distorted worldview and abort C's revenge mission, how does he go against C, when all this while he's always believed that C was his father?

So for a sustained period of time within the drama, Hero was essentially fighting against C, despite the deep tie that they're both bound to. It's interesting to see in this scenario that they're both emotional; C was so emotionally fixated to vindicate his comrades' death without much foresight, while Hero on the other hand was emotional but slightly more rational, not using his circumstances to gain leeway to throw tantrums and kill everyone. Between the two of them, Hero was the more mature one. Even though many scenes later it was unfolded to him that his real biological father is actually the President (DID NOT SEE THAT COMING), Hero couldn't just turn the other cheek to C. I'm glad that Hero's affection for C was indifferent even with that new piece of information. C was the one who raised him up, C was the father figure his whole life, so naturally Hero had a sense of filial duty towards C, and love. Hero loved C, for what that's worth. But did C love Hero as a father? Or did C raise him up & prime him with the mastery of fighting skills just as a tool to execute that revenge? Unfortunately, it took C's death to prove that he loved Hero after all. Not only did C die, but he died after falsely admitting that he's City Hunter, thus putting an end to the life of the 'City Hunter'. That's him making sure that after all this messy revenge business, Hero would have a whole new life ahead of him, not on the run as the City Hunter (who's already in murky waters with the law), but as he himself. That's C fulfilling the demand of his 'son' to have a normal life that Hero had been desperately dreaming of, in order to save Hero from being incriminated. Korean dramas once again pushed the thematic angst that you do not need to be related by blood to have that kind of devotion & make that kind of sacrifice for another person.

Of course there are no perfect dramas, all dramas are flawed and this one's no exception. There are many things I dislike and wish could be done differently. For starters, Lee Min Ho could do without the haircut and the long sideburns and all the clothes he wore in the drama!! But that could be purely down to my personal preferences. I hate that Hero was always saying mean things to Kim Na Na so as to not let Kim Na Na fall for him, and Kim Na Na's mute acceptance of his misbehaviour because her feelings > rationale.... -_- Girl. That kind of tension was not good for my heart. And the fact that they somehow came to a consensus that Kim Na Na will wait until Hero settles everything & puts an end to it, so that Hero can come back to Kim Na Na and then they can proceed with their love life. Again, personal preferences, because I prefer seeing a couple fighting together to make things work, to a guy who fights his war solo just because it's his fight. I want Kim Na Na to be included in his fight, to feel that she's needed, even though the fight wasn't hers, because I want Kim Na Na to be his backbone, his support system. He could've just told Kim Na Na to stay over at his house with ahjusshi keeping an eye on her, there are so many ways to protect Kim Na Na without pushing her aside as though she didn't matter! Hero had a lot of unexpected things going on for him, I thought ahjusshi and Kim Na Na should be the constant in his life. Besides, Hero only laughed when he's together with them! Also, I think it's a bit unrealistic that no one recognised sooner that Hero is the City Hunter. I mean, he's sooo tall! And he didn't even disguise himself very well most of the time, he may as well just walk around with 'City Hunter' written across his forehead. The ending fell a bit short of my expectations, I was yearning for more interaction between Hero and Kim Na Na, like I don't know, holding hands while enjoying a panoramic view of the city, idk, anything more than the mere exchanged smiles in that last episode. I would have appreciated a little sneak peek into Hero's life post-revenge, not to the point of belabouring it into candy coated future, but you know, just enough to put my heart at ease after 20 episodes of tachycardia. Haha. And I just wanted to see if Hero was able to recover from the tragedy and revert back to the fun, playful guy who's full of hijinks that he portrayed back in the first episode, and if he ever gets around to visit a stylist for a makeover that he's in dire need of.

So, here comes the ultimate question (that Emma actually asked me) : Healer or City Hunter?

Healer still, guys.

You might think I'm biased but you'll get where I'm coming from once you've watched Healer for yourself hahaha. City Hunter and Healer both have a lot of similarities but their storylines are very different. Healer's plot echoes in me just a bit louder and reaches a bit deeper into my emotions (I cried approximately 700 times while watching Healer, and like 4-5 times while watching City Hunter).

Even so, I have to give credit where it's due - for its lack of emotional depth, I think City Hunter made up for with its exhilarating action. In fact, I think City Hunter surpasses Healer in terms of its action by a large margin.

And, I'm not sure if this is even worth mentioning, but City Hunter is the first drama I watched that the characters used iPhone instead of Samsung hahaha.

Anyway, I loved City Hunter. I loved the battle of core integrity VS decades-old visceral revenge. I loved that C was just so twisted all he could think of was getting back at the foes and that he saw no other resolution than their deaths, while Hero wanted their wrongdoings to be let known by everyone and punished by the law, thus serving the 20 fallen soldiers the justice that they rightly deserved. I loved that Hero wanted the 5 men to be punished for the right reasons. And even though romance took a back seat in this drama, giving the limelight almost entirely to action, the chemistry between Park Min Young and Lee Min Ho was palpable, heck I'm not surprised that they actually did date in real life afterwards for a few months. What I am actually surprised of is that no one prompted me to watch this drama sooner?? Not even my veteran KDrama-addicted friends, knowing how much I enjoyed Healer?? I'm offended. Hahaha. But anyway, City Hunter stabbed me multiple times, left me bleeding, stabbed me again, sunk its claws in me, and made its way to the second spot of my favourite KDramas. 9/10 for City Hunter! I should also probably come to the admission that I, Shahirah Hasbullah, have a thing for fluffy romance with a good dose of adrenaline-inducing action.

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