philosophy at age eight

“If you cannot control your peanut butter, you cannot expect to control your life.”
~ Judah-ism

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

fugitive plan b (korean drama)

Fugitive Plan B (also known as Runaway: Plan B)  (2010)
Director: Kang Jung Hwan
Starring: Bi (Full House, A Love to Kill, I'm a cyborg, but that's okay), Lee Na Young, Lee Jung Jin, Yoon Jin Seo, Daniel Henney (My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Spring Waltz)

Synopsis, found here:
During the Korean War, a vast amount of money disappeared. Now, some 60 years later, the money has reappeared, leading to a frantic chase across the globe. Jin Yi (Lee Na Young) is a seemingly innocent woman who has hidden motives for approaching Ji Woo (Bi). Her plans are complicated by an unexpected romance developing between them, as well as the numerous pursuers hot on their trail. Kieko (Uehara Takako) is a famous Japanese singer who also gets tangled up in a relationship with this man. Little do they know that her father Hiroki (Takenaka Naoto), apart from being a business man, is a powerful yakuza. In this love triangle, who will finally win the love of Ji Woo?

I barely know how to address that synopsis, because it just... so doesn't describe what the show was about. The romance was secondary by far to the mystery and action... and Keiko, the random Japanese singer? Her character just dropped halfway through the show, with barely a footnote.  Fugitive Plan B was in no way about two girls fighting over Ji Woo's love. It was about staying alive long enough to solve a mystery of lost gold, leading--of course--to rich, corrupt men in power.

Kai (Daniel Henney), Jin Yi's fiance
As is the case with many of my favorite Korean shows, the viewer is exposed to a lot of beautiful scenery, as they shot on-site in Korea, Japan, Shanghai and Macau. A lot of chase scenes covered a lot of territory. There were some funny moments, but many were too overplayed to engage me. I know the actor, Bi, can do comedy, since I enjoyed Full House quite a bit. But in Fugitive Plan B, it felt at times like watching someone with dissociative identity disorder bounce back and forth from dead serious to horsey bray of a laugh. The frequent and sudden swipe of his long and pointy tongue around his face, like a dog in a cartoon, just begged projectile vomiting. When he made that moist Pop! sound with his lips? I wanted to hurt someone, preferably him.

It was the typical fashion of setting up a shallow character that you question at the start, so you can watch them experience the full spectrum of human emotions and depth later through many trials and tribulations. But I never understand why they have to throw the absolute worst at you in the first episode. I swear some of the first episode could have come straight out of a Van Damme movie from the 80s. We almost stopped watching, like so many shows before, just because it was so "ick!" Here's just one example of what I mean; not the worst by far, but one that I'm willing to actually feature on my blog. The worst one is the last in the string of photos found here. Peruse at your own risk.

The strongest impression I got off the lead female character is that she kept reminding me of Ashley Judd, which probably isn't the desired response. But she just left me a bit cold. 

Chief detective Doo So and So Ran
The Korean cops trying to catch the outlawed Ji Woo, particularly Do Soo (Lee Jung Jin) and So Ran (Yoon Jin Seo), were just about the best feature of the show. Their quirky relationship with each other, and eventually Do Soo's relationship with Ji Woo, stood out as the most appealing parts of the show for me.
To be honest, it was fun watching their fight scenes in the beginning half of the show, because Do Soo was so butt-hurt about having been shot (though he was wearing a bullet proof vest) by Ji Woo during one of his past escapes from the law. So Do Soo is nothing but enthusiastic in the chase, and Ji Woo would totally transform during those chase scenes from deadly serious to prankster little boy. Not that he wasn't honestly trying to escape, but that he just enjoyed teasing Do Soo... just a little too much. It was obvious from the first or second episode that Ji Woo actually had a reluctant affection for his bulldog pursuer. Here are some pictures, but that and many more can be found here:

Yeah, Jiwoo eventually lost this fight ;)

As usual, it was a long and complicated story line that I won't go into depth on.  But overall, despite some really aggravating parts, the takeaway was that we enjoyed the series.  There was a definite focus on quality of action over quality of character, a trait I usually avoid.  But I was ready for a light, fun show, and Fugitive Plan B delivered that and more.

Below is a trailer, which also shows that really embarrassing Van Damme moment at the very end.  :P

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