I finished Hidden Identity! Another drama (or in this case drama club) is in the bag. Now comes the inevitable review. Did I like it? Well, at the beginning I did. Through the middle it was okay, then by the end of the drama, I was riding the Eye Roll City train on my way to What the Fudgeville.
So what happened?
Well, surprise surprise, I have some ideas, and am more than happy to share with anyone who shows the slightest interest in listening.
As I mentioned before, this drama I watched with a DramaFever drama club, which means every week, after the two episodes, I’d sit there with my partners Cici and Aunnie, choose a theme for the episodes and then chat about it. The last week it suddenly dawned on me. Not only were we choosing a theme for each of the episodes, the writer very clearly had a theme for the entire storyline, are monsters made or are they born? And, taken in context of this theme, the show was interesting and very successful.
Looking back it’s not even like the writer tried to hide the theme all that hard. As a matter of fact, with the introduction of one of the (many, many, many) villains, Nam In Ho who was reading Frankenstein and commented upon himself being a monster, it was a bit of a slap in the face, a LOOK AT ME, AREN’T I CLEVER?
Throughout the drama, which we start off seeing as Gun Woo’s story (though’ unfortunately, he’s slowly diminished throughout the drama as he’s ‘reformed’,) we are introduced to this gruff, damaged, bag of angst–and he has quite the reason to be. Through flashbacks we see him as happy regular Joe who has a girlfriend, a Hyung who he loves, and after she is murdered in front of him, everything he has is taken from him. The Hyung (who happens to get the girlfriends brother) separates from him (I’m not entirely sure he doesn’t blame Gun Woo for what happened a bit) leaving Gun Woo on his own, and Gun Woo is sure that everything he loves is destroyed by him being around. Queue predictable death of his partner right after Gun Woo shows his softer side to him just a bit, and our guy is a live wire, not caring what happens to him—he’s just out for revenge.
Through the story Gun Woo joins the crime fighting team in order to help them bring down the bad guy league who was ultimately responsible for the death of his girlfriend (the team his Hyung so handily is a part of). Though they work just barely on this side of the law Gun Woo chafes under the procedure and legalities. In his need for revenge he spins out of control several times, wanting to take the law into his own hands, but finally realizes the best way to handle these things is through the law. (This is when he gets boring.) So, Gun Woo had the painful backstory, and the kick butt fighting skills which could have caused him to go off track to the side of evil, but he made his choice. He chose to be good.
This is compared to the hidden ‘Ghost’ and his (again, many many) minions that our team chases throughout the story. Again, spoiler warning, Ghost turns out to be not so much a person as an organization run by the leader of the NSA in order to get back at the government for wiping out the original Ghost and his team 20 years ago, something they did to keep a secret mission secret, labeling all the team traitors. Little did they know that the NSA leader scooped up all the kids made orphans by the event, sent them to an orphanage and raised them himself. This is why, throughout the drama, we found villains who were willing to die rather than give up who they were working for. Poor kids were trained right from the start to give their lives for the cause.
At the end you wonder, would the original Ghost have approved of his successors plans? He was doing his deeds in order to uncover a horrible thing the government did. The new Ghost was killing people, infecting people, using children, and ultimately planning on murdering whole sections of the population in order to uncover the truth? Does one bad thing make up for lots and lots of other bad things? My vote is no.
Granted the NSA agent got cold feet before actually releasing the toxin but he did so many things before that, including raising the boy to be a killer, one who did not care for any innocent lives around him, I can’t really give him a pass on that. It was his last “I raised a monster?” Which did it for me. Yeah. You raised a monster. You raised a bunch of monsters—this one was the only one who didn’t blindly follow your lead, who didn’t die rather than giving you up. Who is the monster here? That would be you my un-friend.
So that part of the drama that was pretty successful.
Let’s move onto things that irritated me. Let’s go with unrealistic fight scenes. Yes, most fight scenes are pretty unrealistic. Within this drama we have Gun Woo, several times taking on whole gangs of men. There was that one fight scene where he was hit in the back of the head multiple times with giant planks of wood. Did he go down? Nope. How about that time he jumped off the building with the gangster landing on the car? Still alive. It’s almost as if he had some sort of special Gun Woo super fighter powers. But then he was taken out in a single hit when Officer Min wanted to keep him safe and out of a fight? Or the last fight scene when he’s basically killed by that one old guy? It seems like he was that amazing fighting machine until the writer needed him to be otherwise.
Now let’s talk villains. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of villians. We’d no more than get introduced to the bad guy, learn some information about him and then he’d be dead. This was especially hard once we got to Frankenstein, the almost biggest big bad, Nam In Ho who was the one who originally killed Gun Woo’s girlfriend. He just seems so unstoppable, the bad guys take such effort in getting him out of prison, even hinted at a “we’re very disappointed in you and if you step out of line again I’ll kill you myself” storyline and yet he’s dispatched only a few episodes later. Why put so much effort into crafting these interesting people if you aren’t going to do anything with them? By the end of the drama there was too many characters for you to keep track of–let alone like or dislike–and by the time the actual Ghost was revealed, it just didn’t matter. Not to mention the writer had us suspecting every other government agency that wasn’t our own crime team, when one of them did turn out to be bad, it was a bit of a “of course!”
Add these all in with the writers fetish for the red herrings and writing coincidences (come on, bad guy just happens to be the detectives estranged father? Well wasn’t that handy? While Hidden Identity started out with a bang, and was fairly interesting for a while, by the end, I didn’t care for it. Sorry Gun Woo. Sorry Kim Bum.
Actually, though the I didn’t care for the characters or the writing, the acting was pretty top-notch. Kim Bum killed it as a ball of angst. The guy who played Nam In Ho was downright scary. For them, I wish this drama had been better.