Review – The K2

Review – The K2

The K2.  In which I die and go to heaven.

Summary:  Shady politician is almost caught having an affair, which would have ended his run for president, so he quickly sweeps the witnesses under the carpet – except for one random dude, who turns out to be Super Wook.  Super Wook says “I don’t like the look of that carpet.  When’s the last time you cleaned it?”  Since the Super Wook can’t be silenced or killed, the politician and his wife decide to hire him… going with the old “friends close, enemies closer” rule.  Super Wook becomes the bodyguard of the shady politician and ends up neck deep in their personal lives (which are about as comfortable as a barbed wire mattress – these people are NOT pleasant).

This is a high production value action packed political thriller with enough romance to melt butter.  I loooooooooooved it.  We’re talking explosions, breaking through glass windows, car chases, epic fight sequences, guns, bombs, hostages, espionage, military and black ops and more!  Think… James Bond or Jason Bourne.  This is Ji Chang Wook kickin’ butt and looking fantastic doing it (as always).  This is globe trotting, big political conspiracy, high stakes ACTION.

If you actually watched this as it was airing, then I pity you.  Cause action dramas are hard to enjoy when you have huge gaps of time in between episodes.  The K2 is best watched in chunks, if not binged.  So, dedicate a few days to it and soak in the sweaty awesome sauce.  Sit back… let it blow you away….

Overall Rating – 10/10.  Super Wook For Sixteen Hours.  YES, SWEET JESUS, YES!

MORE MORE MORE (including lots of spoilers and poking of bears and fun)

First of all…

Ji Chang Wook has grown up a bit and he’s looking mighty fine.  My word, I feel like this drama should have come with a “fan service” warning… as in “Ladies (and gents), you may need to fan yourself during this drama cause it’s gonna get hot.”

I mean… a nude shower fight scene involving a dozen guys?  Really?  Are you taking requests or something?  Just like Japanese anime seems to offer “fan service” in the form of huge breasts and frequent glimpses of girls underpants, K-dramas give us six pack abs, muscled arms, and blurred male nether regions.  And Ji Chang Wook.  The man fills out a pair of pants, people.  This ain’t no skinny, skinny Korean guy.  Dudes aren’t really even my thing, but Ji Chang Wook is freakin’ gorgeous.  I’d jump that train.

Ji Chang Wook is a great action hero – and for whatever reason, I have no problem believing he’s this impossibly great badass who has mastered every known martial arts skill and combat tactic, even though he’s… what?  30ish?  The dude does his own stunts, for the most part… which is hella impressive.

He plays this disenfranchised military guy whose been through just about everything… apparently… and knows how to do everything… apparently.  There is basically NO SKILL this dude doesn’t have.  And like I said, I have no problem with this.  He’s like James Bond.  Or Jason Bourne.  Or Batman.  I don’t even have to push my reason aside, it happily passes me the popcorn and we both enjoy this super hero together.  Sometimes you just go with it.  And with Ji Chang Wook, you go with it.

Just like he can go from badass to impossibly adorable in 0.25 seconds.  Is there nothing Super Wook can’t do?  (let’s never find out)

So, Super Wook goes rogue and globe trotting for a while but ends up back in Korea and the next thing you know he’s tangled up in the web of the Madame Evil Queen… who I loved from the first episode.  Can we just go ahead and give Song Yoon-A the Oscar for Best Actress, or whatever the Korean equivalent is?  Cause she was outstanding!  She played one hell of a ruthless, unstable lady and she NAILED IT.  I was scared to death of her, just like everyone else in the show.  Quite possibly my new favorite evil woman of all time.

I adore a super villainous lady – especially one who has an equally crazy lady secretary who would gladly run over people for her mistress with her car (am I right?  Her secretary was awesome!).

I think distrust of politicians is universal – so we love nothing more than imagining them being as wicked and as dastardly as possible.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe because it confirms our suspicions.  Maybe because we need super villains.  Maybe because we want someone to blame for how horrible the world can be.  That’s another essay.  But whatever the reasons, it’s awesome to have just horrible, horrible people at the top of the pyramid sometimes in dramas.  These magnificent powerful people that are just soulless, corrupt, miserable corpses who spend all their time plotting against each other and getting in and out of fancy of cars.  I honestly love to imagine while our smiling politicians are shaking hands they are secretly threatening each others in low whispers.  If this is true… I feel like they’re earning their paychecks.

Oh My God, remember when the Evil Queen & her Brother had that show down over Anna (aka, Miss Innocence)?  And they ended up on the phone at the end, casually laughing, and she says, “Oh, how funny, I almost killed your wife!”  I almost choked on my chicken salad sandwich.  And her brother just laughs too, with that horrible fake laugh of his, but you can tell his blood is boiling!  Oh, these people are wicked…

And poor Super Wook just got thrown right in the middle of all of them.  Not that he seemed to mind.  He seemed right at home, truth be told.  Among his element.  Especially with the Evil Queen.

Madame Evil Queen and Super Wook had CHEMISTRY.  Not exactly romantic chemistry… but not exactly NOT romantic chemistry.  I think they both interested each other.  They were strong, they were broken, they were loners, they were smart.  I think they admired each other, almost immediately.  Worthy adversaries.  The best villains are the ones that are almost friends.  Almost.  They revealed themselves to each other, taking calculated risks, exposing weaknesses, telling stories, exposing vulnerabilities.  He could show his dark past, she could show her soft side (it was very small, she’s basically irredeemable pure bred evil… let’s not forget, she had her henchmen try to set some old people on fire…) – these were aspects of themselves they wanted hidden from others but were able to share with each other… because they were, in a way, such opposites.  And yet equals.  These were tests they gave each other. They were… complicated.

I loved it when he told her she was just like all the others – that she was a killer, no different than the person who murdered his fiance.  And she gave him the whole “But was I not once a sheep?” speech… with the “Wolves give birth to wolves” bit at the end… like an evil prophetic warning that all goodness is bound to be corrupted.  Chills!

I also like how they were careful NEVER TO TOUCH each other.  It felt very purposeful.  And the rare occasions they did touch, it always held meaning.  When he rescued her from the car crash – it signified a change in their relationship (literally from trying to kill her to saving her).  When he put his hand on her back and told her straighten up at the funeral, another change in their relationship (signifying he had her back, literally, that he chosen to support her over the other baddies out there).  Their screen time together was electric and they both gave their best performances, as actors, when they were together.

If they hadn’t written in that little detail about Super Wook going rogue and working for “Black Stone”… which I assume is a reference to Blackwater… then I would have had a problem believing he would work for the woman he literally tried to kill (and who tried to kill him) just one episode before.  But that’s how mercenaries work, so okay.  Super Wook was a mercenary death machine… which is largely glossed over, as he has jumped up on moral high ground and has no intention of leaving those lofty heights during this show.

How cool was the whole back story of Super Wook being engaged to the Iraqi girl?  That was unexpected.  And framed for her murder, no less.  Good Lord… that was emotional.  I was devastated for him and immediately ready to sign my name to his petition for revenge.  That boy can cry, too…

Anyways, you can’t have an Evil Queen without a Snow White.  So let’s talk about the crazy daughter, Anna… heretofore referred to as Miss Innocence, capital “I.”  Framed for murder.  Hidden away from childhood.  Kept from the world.  Basically a princess locked in a tower.  No friends, no phone, no formal education, no experiences to speak of.  Complete blank slate.  So… basically a sheet of white paper.  As innocent as you can get.  She might as well have been an infant with breasts.  I thought it was interesting that Super Wook gets all smitten with her watching her dance around with a package of ramen, like a delighted three year old.  Uh…?  Okay.  A girl wants to eat cheap noodles and she’s the most fascinating adorable creature on the planet?  Jesus.  He hadn’t even found her cool hide out yet.  (maybe he’d seen Love Rain… I mean, she was pretty freakin’ adorable in that drama, right?) I also thought it was interesting that the writers paired her with the obviously experienced and worldly keeper, J4, with her red lipstick, frequent cursing, seductive overt behavior and obvious carnal desires.  The virgin and the whore.  How cliche, eh?

Miss Innocence also wears white.  Almost exclusively.  Just in case you didn’t realize they were hammering you in the face with that the whole innocence motif.  She’s virginal, by gosh!  How many nun costumes must they dress her in?  We get it, we get it.  White as snow.  Fairy tale princess… must be rescued… must be awakened with a kiss… groan… we get it.  WE GET IT.  Snow White.

Now, I’m no scientist… but I’m pretty sure there’s some fuzzy science behind the Mirror A.I.  Do I care?  Uh, nope.  Cause I love an A.I. in any shape and form, especially when it’s a pretty multi-colored underground box that lights up like pastel dream.  Though I may have snorted with laughter when it suggested the reason his fiance was killed was because she overheard something secret.  Duh, Mirror.  You’re a real genius machine, aren’t you?  Geesh.  But whatever.  I was along for the ride at that point, and already in LOVE with the whole mysterious “Cloud Nine” room that was actually a sub basement where the elite bastards hung around and plotted to ruin people on pristine white couches.  Can someone serve them blue martinis?  Cause that’s about all that’s missing from this silly but sinister secret nightclub.  I totally wanted to go.

And again… do I mind how heavy handed these fairy tale references are?  A magic mirror that only responds to the Evil Queen?  Looooove it!

(side note – when she gave him full access to her Magic Mirror… cough cough… whoa.  That was intense.  That was basically as intimate as these two were ever gonna get.  That was, honestly, her most valued possession… so it was no small thing that she let Sexy Pants Super Wook be a cosigner on that account.  That’s Evil Queen equivalent to “you can do whatever you want to me in the bedroom” and she knew it and he knew it and it just kinda sat there between them in the hospital room but they were trying to play it off all cool and collected but simmer simmer simmer and when her brother walked in – even he felt it and was like “Hey, what’s with the mood in here?”).  Fan me!

You can’t have an Evil Queen without the spineless weak king.  And our weak king is the BEST and by that I mean the WORST.  He shall hence forth be renamed our Piece of Shit King, or POSKY for short.  POSKY is so pathetic that even he knows he’s pathetic.  He literally makes the Evil Queen sick he’s so pathetic.  I mean… you have to be a special brand of loser to make an Evil Queen think you’re disgusting.  POSKY is a vain, womanizing, lying, cheating, deceitful pig who has been wearing so many masks for so long he doesn’t even remember what his actual face looks like anymore.  For all he knows, it’s rotted away… which he quietly suspects it has, and he’s too chicken shit to find out.  He is just the kind of guy who would be elected President in this dystopian K-drama full of horrible people with power.  A puppet master.  The mighty Oz, great and terrible.  An illusion.   POSKY may become President, but he will not be winning Father of the Year.

And he isn’t even the worst character!  There are so many shady politicians in this show, each one their own brand of horrible.  I loved it.  I love devious people.  They make dramas more fun.

On a random note – why hasn’t the expression “Netizens” caught on in America?  It’s the perfect expression for the online collective.  Every single time I hear it, I think “that should be a thing here.  Why isn’t that a thing here?”  Why isn’t that a thing here?  Huh?  Netizens?  I’m talking to you!

The music from this drama wore me out.  It was phenomenal!  And so diverse.  We had choirs, we had rock, we had folk music, we had hymns, we had… German?  Yup, German!  One of my favorite love songs from the show was this beautiful German ballad… it was lovely and sweeping and made me sigh repeatedly.  After much flopping about on the interwebs, I tracked it down.  Apparently it’s a Korean singer… with a very thick Korean accent singing in German, so that even the Germans listening to it barely understood the lyrics.  But who cares!  It’s so beautiful it transcends language.

Link to the Korean info HERE.

The romance in this drama was pretty awesome.  Mainly because Ji Chang Wook is so cute when he smiles that it doesn’t take much.  The first kiss under a blanket was particularly charming.  Chasing each other around the beach never gets old either.

But let’s just take a moment and give a round of applause to the surprise couple in this drama….

K1 & J4!

Their unexpected love proclamation and kiss on the beach was funny and sweet.  I especially love how it was still going on… even when the scene switched to K2 and Miss Innocence, K1 & J4 were still going to town in the background.  Awww!  Get it, tigers!

Now, I’ve been reading all kinds of little snippets about Ji Chang Wook not wanting to do any more action dramas because they’re physically exhausting (I believe it)… but let’s hope he rests up a bit and changes his mind.  I’d say he’s got at least three more in him.  Your 30s are your prime, mister!  Embrace the glory days!  No one else is quite as good as he is, in my opinion.  Because he’s got that All-Around-Hero vibe… you know, save the world, save the country, save the girl, save your soul and then bring him home and feed him apple pie with mom kinda vibe.  I think it’s a waste to have a guy like this in a standard drama… I mean, sure, a few, just so he can relax, but… come on!

… look at this smug expression he’s pulling off…

Ain’t no one gonna stop this guy.  So he shouldn’t stop himself, in my opinion.

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT…. ending discussion ahead…

Now that we’re at the end, can we talk about the end?  And how much I loved the end?  I mean… I was ready to throw confetti if someone had shot either the Evil Queen or POSKY in the face in episode 15, but by episode 16 the show had worked its magic and made me sniffle a little bit as the two faced death together in a giant glass box.  I mean… what a great ending!  WHAT A GREAT ENDING!  I loved it.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

I still don’t know what to say about finding out she didn’t murder Anna’s mom.  I mean… what?  I almost felt that was unnecessary.  Don’t take her claws away at the last minute.  But whatever.  She had let that experience turn her into a monster and hollow out her insides… and she admitted that it had.  It was a bitter, sad confession… and again, can we just start throwing Oscars at Song Yoon-A?  (not the face!)  Neither her nor her husband were redeemed, really, at the end, but it still felt like a great way for them to go out with at least a small sliver of dignity.  With a giant bomb in a beautiful glass room in a secret underground lair with a polite AI in the walls.  Can I please die that way?

Everyone else got their just dues and we suffered through another Subway endorsement.  It was perfection.

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