Welp, once again an action packed drama starring Ji Chang Wook has me hooked and eagerly waiting for next week – I will admit to being a huge “Jason Bourne” movie buff, I love action films. This week began our journey with Je-Ha, an ex-mercenary Special Forces soldier who is hired to be the bodyguard of Choi Yoo Jin (Song Yoon Ah) and just like he did in his previous drama “Healer”, I’m already rooting for and firmly on Je-Ha’s side. There’s something special about the way Ji Chang Wook moves during fight scenes, it appears effortless! I did read somewhere that he mentioned this might be his last “action” drama because he suffered a major neck injury but reading that made me want to cry – I feel like he’s made for this type of drama and love watching his fight scenes but I don’t want him seriously hurt either. Ottoke?
However, this drama isn’t all about fighting, there’s a lot more going on and if you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss important clues. It begins with a young girl leaving her bed when she sees lights outside and thinking it’s her father, she rushes out to see him. Instead of “Appa”, she sees lights coming from under the door to her Mothers room and enters to find Mom on the floor surrounded by pills. As the camera pans, we see someone behind her – this person slowly closes the door as they exit. The next thing we see is this little girl, whose name is Anna (Yoona) being taken to a convent full of nuns and as she’s taken inside, the huge, heavy doors close behind her. She turns to look back, her face clearly showing fear and sorrow.
We next see her as an adult, still wearing a white dress but barefoot as she escapes from the convent and makes her way to the city. As she runs through the streets, knowing full well someone is chasing her, she literally bumps into Je-Ha (Ji Chang Wook). Why he was in Spain, why he woke up in a room covered in blood or where he’s going are all mysteries at this point and I’m not even sure those things are important.
She apologizes in Korean, he answers in Korean. This surprises her but she immediately begs for his help: some “bad men” are chasing her. He’s not eager to get involved until he sees one of the men attempt to grab her and then he intervenes, telling her to run. The subway fight scene was amazing, ending with a sleeper-hold, which makes the bad guy pass out cold. It’s then that Je-Ha searches the guys pockets and discovers he’s a cop. Ruh, oh. As he makes his way out of the subway, he sees Anna, now trapped inside a locked car, with another cop standing guard. She sees him too and pounds on the window, begging him to help. With despair and sorrow written on his face, he slowly shakes his head and leaves in a taxi.
A time jump takes us forward 6 months. Je-Ha is now working for a sign maker and is told by his boss that a banner has come lose, it needs to be taken care of. He heads over to the hotel and we see the banner in question is for a Presidential Candidate. Je-Ha is initially denied entry until an elderly cleaning woman steps up to help and he makes his way to the roof. Using ropes, he rappelles down the side of the hotel and begins tying the banner back in place.
We’re next introduced to Jang Se Joon (Jo Sung Ha), who enters a hotel room where a working girl is waiting. She’s pouring wine but then also adds a little “something” extra, I’m gonna guess it’s a roofie. Before getting down to business, Se Joon’s attention is interrupted by a talk show on TV. His wife, Choi Yoo Jin (Song Yoon-Ah) is being interviewed and drops a few hints we need to pay attention to. She’s fake as hell, trying to convince people she makes Se Joon breakfast every morning, which makes him laugh. I’m guessing there’s no love in this marriage, at least from his side? Or he’s just a cheating dog. I’m not sure about her side yet.
Yoo Jin talks about her parents being Se Joon’s only in-laws, (implying he’s never been married) and she is the only daughter of powerful conglomerate JB Group. It seems she still has stock in the company – although she attempts to deny this. She also implies her family did not want her husband to go into politics, which is why her late father cut off all ties with her. As the reporter probes further, Yoo Jin’s assistant calls for a break and both women turn off their microphones. Yoo Jin ends up threatening the reporter (something about the reporters son) in order to get her to back off these unpleasant topics and get back on track about her becoming First Lady.
Se Joon drinks the wine, the TV is shut off and as he’s making out with the working girl – he looks up and sees Je-Ha outside the window. He turns his face and walks away but suddenly the roofie takes effect and he passes out. At the same time, Je-Ha notices some masked gunmen entering the building and watches in horror as one of them strikes the elderly cleaning lady with a club. He breaks the glass, flies into the room on his rope and another fight breaks out. When the masked men hear that cops are coming, they escape. Je-Ha watches as the elderly woman is taken to a hospital in an ambulance before he drives off, heading home.
The working girl was basically an attempt to blackmail Se Joon, showing he’s unfit to be President but Yoo Jin sends her own private bodyguards to handle the problem. Once they find out a “banner hanger” saw the whole thing, it becomes imperative they find this guy. One of the senior bodyguards, Chief Jo, recognizes footage of Je-Ha fighting and warns them this guy is an elite, special forces soldier who trained under him and he’s very dangerous. He’s the best of the best. I’m thinking Rambo and who is going to draw first blood. LOL!
It’s too late though as they’ve already sent another team out to take care of the “banner hanger”. We are 50 minutes into episode 1 and this is Ji Chang Wook’s 3rd major fight scene, I can see why he’s tired and sore! He again takes them all out and escapes. Se Joon comes home to find Yoo Jin sitting calmly on the couch reading. She tells him Anna ran away again, he warns her if anything bad happens to Anna – their contract is null and void. I can’t say I’m surprised, there’s clearly NO LOVE at all in this marriage. These two people seem to hate each other so I’m really hoping we’re eventually given a good reason for them to be together. Something beyond both of them being power-hungry ego maniacs? And this also explains why Anna has been hidden away – no one knows this man has a grown daughter and I don’t think Yoo Jin wants anyone to know.
Anna escapes again but this time, a famous Italian designer snaps a photo of her as she stands frozen in front of his car. He posts it on his Instagram (LOL) asking who she is, he’s desperate to make her his new muse. In flashback, we see Anna giving her Mom the bottle of sleeping pills that possibly killed her but in the present, Anna is saying in Italian she did NOT kill her mother. Hmm, I’m happy she knows – I’d hate to spend the majority of the drama with her under the illusion she killed her own mother. We also see why she has a social phobia and doesn’t like flashbulbs from cameras going off in her face. As a child, she was taken to the police station after her mother’s death, surrounded by reporters and hundreds of cameras going off in her face. This tells me either her Mom was or her Dad is famous enough that she was all over the news as a child.
The private bodyguards are brought before Yoo Jin, who makes her displeasure that they let the “banner-hanger” get away known. She’s scary calm but creepy as she makes it clear that she’ll give them one more chance: find the guy. From there, she’ll handle things herself. Her assistant then informs her about the photo posted online of Anna, netizens are already investigating to discover who she is. Yoo Jin is furious but when the assistant mentions they should take care of the Anna ‘problem’ for good, Yoo Jin yells that Anna is the only leverage she has to control Se Joon. She makes the decision to have Anna brought home.
The meeting between these two women was something I’ve been looking forward to and neither of them let me down. Yoo Jin calmly cooks food and asks Anna if she’s eaten yet when she’s brought into the room in a wheelchair. Anna’s immediate reaction is attempting to rise from the chair and attack but she’s held back. Yoo Jin mentions she looks like her Mom and thinks Anna should be grateful she’s taken such good care of her all these years. As Anna looks at her incredulously, Yoo Jin says she did it all for Anna and her father’s sake. Anna spits out that she remembers everything, she knows her Mom didn’t commit suicide. This wipes the smile off Yoo Jin’s face. She steps forward to pat Anna’s hair and tells her this is why she should have just become a nun. Wow, she’s seriously creepy insane.
The private bodyguards find Je-Ha using police force street camera footage and send out one lone guy to take care of him. Je-Ha again fights his way out of it and finally learns WHO is behind the groups being sent to take him out. He approaches Yoo Jin’s home and sees Anna being carried inside, unconscious but doesn’t recognize her at this point. He makes his way inside and a show down begins between him and Yoo Jin. Her bodyguards enter the room and all point their lasers at Je-Ha’s chest. Yoo Jin is smug but also creepy as she tells him she didn’t think he would be this handsome. (Blech) She makes it clear she’s sorry he just happened to see something he shouldn’t have…which means he has to die. And she intends to kill anyone around him as well – friends, family or foes. Seriously, this woman is so scary, the hair on my neck is standing up.
He’s handcuffed, tied up and thrown in the back of a van but a delay (caused by REAL cops) outside the house gives him time to work his way loose. One more massive fight scene as he takes out 6 of the bodyguards, grabs a gun and stomps his way back into the house. Placing the gun against Yoo Jin’s temple, he hears a female voice telling him to shoot her. As he looks up, he sees Anna standing in a doorway, screaming at him to shoot her. He flashes back on her begging for his help in Spain as his eyes widen in shock.
Things moved very quickly for a beginning but I loved it. It’s easy to get mired down in little silly details – like the fact that Anna kept running away from the convent with no shoes on – and miss important information though. While there is still much we don’t know, we do know that Anna has been kept hidden all these years so that Yoo Jin could perpetuate the myth Se Joon had never been married before. Having a grown daughter show up and having to explain would be a major problem for his Presidential Campaign. But why Yoo Jin wants this kept secret is a mystery, as is why she’s so hell-bent on making Se Joon the President. Does she want to be First Lady that badly? I’m eager to learn what is in this contract Se Joon signed and why.
We also know Anna herself knows she didn’t kill her Mom and is filled with hatred towards Yoo Jin. I’m not sure if her hatred spills over to her Appa but I’m going to guess she hates him just as much, if not more. Se Joon is aware his daughter was being held captive but the contract he signed with Yoo Jin prevents him from doing anything about it. This raises huge questions in my mind: is he also so power-hungry that he would sacrifice his own child?
And then there’s Je-Ha, a trained, elite mercenary soldier who seems to want to bury his past and believes the good in people. He’s willing to give people a chance and doesn’t want those around him harmed because of his past. Unfortunately he’s stumbled upon a war between a Presidential Candidate and his crazy, dangerous wife and will most likely be dragged further into the mess if he attempts to set Anna free (if that is, in fact, his goal). I can’t wait to find out how and more important, why he agrees to be Yoo Jin’s bodyguard.
The scenery in this drama is gorgeous, the photography is excellent and the actors are all giving more than 100%. I’m VERY impressed with Song Yoon-Ah, never having seen her work before. She’s taken evil to a whole new level for me, her bite is given with eerie calm and that makes her scarier than any drama villain I’ve encountered before. Ji Chang Wook never fails to give his all, his fight scenes are perfect and evidence that he’s working his bum off. I do hope he can relax for a few episodes so he won’t be so sore but I have to admit, I’m a huge fan of his action scenes.
And Yoona…WOW, what a performance. I’ll admit I had my doubts that she could play a damaged young woman with phobias in a melo but she’s doing a great job. I also realize she wasn’t in many scenes yet but the little I did see, I give her kudos for. I could feel her fear of the flashbulbs as she stood in the middle of the street shaking, I could feel her hatred for Yoo Jin burning out of her eyes when she was brought home. I hope she’s able to continue giving a good performance but for now, I’m happy at how far she’s come. I can’t wait for next week!