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Thursday, December 25, 2014

[mslee's thoughts] PUNCH First Review - Powerful Start That Leaves Viewers Wanting More


Director : Lee Myung Woo
 works
[Something Happened in Bali / All In]

Writer: Park Kyung Soo
works
[Empire of Gold/The Chaser]

Network : SBS

Main Cast:

Kim Rae Won as Park Jung Hwan
Kim A-Joong as Shin Ha Kyung
Cho Jae Hyun as Lee Tae Joon

First Impression

Wow! First episode was powerful and like the title, it left a feeling of being punched in the stomach as the story unfolded. Kim Rae Won is so good and fits the character very well. His screen presence is strong and forceful. I love that his character is not the perfect hero but leans on the villain side with questionable principles supporting corrupt government officials like Lee Tae Joon, contender for next Chief Prosecutor/Prosecutor General.

It was like watching a mafia movie, reminds me of The Godfather. The loyalty and friendship tugs  the heart. It is not simply sunbae/hoobae relation that exist between Park Jung Hwan and Lee Tae Joon. They have been through a lot as the story suggested. For the times that one was in the brink of being caught for something that deals with bribery or fabrication of evidence, one would salvage the other. This is how Jung Hwan and Tae Joon are to one another.

I love how they are portrayed as the villains in the story yet viewers can find it in their hearts to understand the bond that binds them. It goes deep and even Park Hyuk Kwon as Jo Kang Jae can't penetrate or even dreamed of replacing Jung Hwan in his position as the most trusted person of Lee Tae Joon.

Now, seeing that the writer is the one who made Chaser and Empire of Gold, I am not surprised at how it is being written with fast paced development and how viewers hang on for next scenes. Although it brought me back to the times I watched EOG and felt that I rode a blockbuster ride but the end was a bit unsatisfactory to my taste. Anyway, I think I will give this writer another chance because he does deliver the best dialogues and scenes so far. 

So there was really no surprise that I am loving the plot and the development of the story. I won't wait for love lines between Park Jung Hwan and his ex-wife Shin Ha Kyung for I have somehow known how the writer works and focuses only on the synopsis of the story. I am positive that the most interesting parts are yet to be unfolded.

Episode 1 gave us the starting point of the story and how the politics inside the bureau of Prosecution are being tested for loyalty and being divided from the good guys and the bad guys. Unfortunately, Ha Kyung and Jung Hwan have different principles they follow. Jung Hwan will do anything to block all hindrance in Lee Tae Joon's path even if he has to blackmail Kim Eung Soo as Jung Gook Hyun emotionally with his son who was caught with marijuana in the US. Connections are a must in this game of cat and mouse. Fortunately, Jung Hwan has yet to fail his missions for Tae Joon. 

The fight between right and wrong started when the bus driver of Ye Rin [daughter of Jung Hwan and Ha Gyung] had brake malfunction leading to an accident. Luckily, the children were all okay but the driver who sacrificed himself when he chose to hit the runaway vehicle to a pole that led him being unconscious and wounded heavily.

Lee Tae Joon's brother, Lee Tae Seop owns the bus company and had a case about SUA or sudden unintended acceleration which Jung Hwan buried in favor of his superior. Now he has to face Ha Kyung who promised the wife of the driver that she will make a case on it. It is either Jung Hwan helped her or tried to stop her from uncovering the bribery and corruption that went on with the case.

He threatened her about getting custody of Ye Rin if she appeared at the hearing for the next Chief Prosecutor. The Minister of Justice Yoon Ji Suk [Choi Myung Gil] is out to get Lee Tae Joon for all his underhand dealings in the department.  Ha Kyung was in a dilemma. She appeared on the hearing but failed to block Lee Tae Joon. She cried as she uttered the words I'm sorry. Jung Hwan won against her.

Jo Kang Jae was pushed aside by Jung Hwan which made the former angry and frustrated. Next in line is Jung Hwan and  Lee Tae Joon promised him everything in his power to go the distance with him no matter what. They have been together for the last seven years. But then a twist came when Jung Hwan found out he has tumor in his brain and will only live another six months. The best surgeon for the job is someone who was inside the prison for medical malpractice or corruption. Jung Hwan again pull all the strings to make the doctor got out temporarily with a document signing as acknowledging his crime so that he could be bailed out. He promised that after his surgery becomes a success, he will represent him for his trial.

But under the knife, something happened. Even before the doctor could pull out the tumor, he fell in a comatose. Everyone thought it was only a matter of days and he won't be able to get back or wake up. His mother cried as she watched him lying on the bed. Ha Kyung was positive that he would be back despite the small probability. Lee Tae Joon was crushed learning about what happened to his most cherished man. He wanted to wait for him but Jo Kang Jae took the opportunity to replaced Jung Hwan. An accident happened when Yang Sang Ho, who was the witness for the SUA in Tae Joon's brother's company and who was supposed to be a witness for Ha Gyung but was persuaded by Jung Hwan before he got surgery to choose their side and a great job awaiting him, fell off the building and died. At the condominium where he stayed, Tae Joon's brother, Lee Tae Seop came and they had not arrived at a compromise. He run to the rooftop with a recording from his phone about their conversation that will put the blame on  Lee Tae Seop. He fell from the rooftop when he pushed him to get the phone. Witnessed by Ha Kyung who was there to meet Sang Ho, incidentally. She even saw who was at the rooftop. She called for an ambulance and the police. Before he died, he grabbed her wrist, leaving a mark on it. She promised him she will take care of his family.

The tables turned on Ha Kyung when Kang Jae accused her as the murderer. Tae Joon was against the idea because she is Jung Hwan's wife [or ex-wife] and he could not find it in his heart to betray Jung Hwan even if he thought he will soon die. But the Minister of Justice put his brother on the list of names banned to leave the country. Ha Kyung was arrested. The bureau was divided. Connections are vital. Evidences are manipulated. even the wife of Sang Ho was bribed to testify against Ha Kyung. Yoon Ji Sook is doing her best to protect Ha Kyung but her resources are limited.

The best part of episode 4 was when Jung Hwan woke up from his coma. But only to find that his surgery failed and his time became even shorter. Only three months left to put everything in it's place. Choi Yeon Jin [ Seo Ji Hye] is Jung Hwan's assistant. Her character is a bit mysterious because it suggested that she has feelings for Jung Hwan whenever the camera would focus on her face looking at him or at Ha Kyung. But that is all there is to it. Her loyalty and ambition to reach the top led her to meet Yoon Ji Sook and told her about Sang Ho being in the condominium and Tae Joon's brother met him at the time of the accident. Gang Jae had manipulated the evidence by taking out someone's ID in a gambling house and made it looked like Lee Tae Seop was arrested at the time of Sang Ho's accident. Choi Yeon Jin was about to hold a press conference but Jung Hwan came and  persuaded her not to do it and stay by Tae Joon's side.

Ha Kyung is still detained. Jung Hwan met with Tae Joon and asked that he give him Ha Kyung but Tae Joon's hands are already tied and can not undo what they did to Ha Kyung. He told Jung Hwan to let his wife stay for two years as he and Ye Rin leave for US. The doctor conspired with Jung Hwan to let Tae Joon and everyone think that the tumor is gone and he is okay. Jung Hwan argued that he gave him back Yeon Jin so he must release Ha Kyung. But then, he was denied.

Yoon Ji Sook denied that she met Yeon Jin that caused her caught lying when a video or CCTV showed that they met. The purpose is to make her step down from leading the investigation of the case.

Before the episode ends, Jung Hwan called her saying he will get Ha Kyung out.  But the preview is more interesting because Jung Hwan will do it his own way. No turning a new leaf but do what he thinks is best to get Ha Kyung out.

I like that Jung Hwan's character is staying the way it is. It is his strong point. And it is unbelievable for someone like him to change in a short span. And I am liking him that way. I now look forward how friendship between him and Tae Joon would break.

I can't wait for next episode.
Certainly, the drama started powerful and compelling that leaves me wanting more.

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