City Hunter – a review of drama
Officially my first review in this blog. Enjoy!
Original title: 시티헌터 / City Hunter
Country: South Korea
Episodes: 20 episodes around 60 mins each
Based on: Japanese manga “City Hunter” by Tsukasa Hojo.
Continue reading to know more about the TV series and my review.
I’ve watched the whole series twice already. I watched it for the first time because it’s called “City Hunter” and I’m a fan of Tsukasa Hojo’s “City Hunter” manga. So, first I’ll write some similarities and differences between drama and the manga it’s inspired by.
Comparison of City Hunter drama and manga
I need to warn you. The drama is only inspired by the manga. The plot is very different, the main character is not that lewd or comical. The plot of the drama is totally unrelated to the manga. It’s centred on politics and punishing the past crimes of certain high officials.
Ryo Saeba (original) and John Lee (Korean name: Lee Yoon-sung) share some similarities in their history. Ryo Saeba was born in a a warn-torn village somewhere in Central America. After the war ended, he moved to USA, then finally to Tokyo. John Lee (USA name) was born in Seoul, but for most of his life (since 1 month old) he grew up in Golden Triangle, among the drug mafia. He moved to USA, for studies at MIT, and then finally to Seoul again.
Japanese City Hunter gets his work by using the blackboard in a public place. When XYZ is written there, he knows somebody wants to hire him. He selects the jobs just from the sexy ladies. Korean City Hunter works driven by the desire to revenge. He gets to know the targets one by one, usually told him by his step-father. The XYZ is used differently in the South Korean TV series.
Both City Hunters are great at shooting. Tho the only time we see John Lee using a gun is during practice. Too bad.
Original City Hunter is chasing after girls. Korean City Hunter is often labelled as a ladies man, on the outside. The difference is that even when he goes with a lady to a hotel room, he’s very stiff and almost not getting any intimate contact. Not very convincing, and an epic fail when compared to Ryo Saeba. I won’t even mention the difference in looks. Everybody can choose preferred one.
Ryo Saeba’s partner is Kaori, a tomboy, often mistaken for a handsome boy (bishonen). She’s in love with Ryo. At one point of time Lee Yoon-sung also gets a female sidekick – Kim Na-na. She can be labelled as a tomboy only because of her martial arts/gun skills. She can’t be confused with a boy. Eventually she falls in love with Yoon-sung.
Ryo Saeba has a friend, from his times in the Central America. He’s bald and he’s called Umibozu. John Lee also have a friend from his times in the Golden Triangle. He’s somewhat bald and called Bae Man-duk.
The plot in South Korean drama, as I wrote earlier, is different. I’ve read the manga long time ago, so I can’t exactly claim that some other plots in the drama weren’t based on the manga. Obvious differences are: Korean City Hunter works in the Blue House (Presidential Office) and is hiding his combat skills leading life as an IT specialist. As opposed to Ryo Saeba, who is a private detective figure. John Lee is wealthy rich, using the money his step-father got by drug trafficking. That’s the total opposition of the original City Hunter, always on the verge of bankruptcy.
The quality of TV series
The Korean City Hunter drama isn’t bad. It’s quite good, if you don’t try to look at it by the lenses of the original City Hunter story. I enjoyed the political plot, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like to see the corrupt officials getting severe punishment for their actions even when they can’t be punished under the law. I liked it when City Hunter adjusted his methods for each of the corrupt officials. The selection of wrongdoings were also interesting. For example from buying flawed army equipment, factory worker’s health issues, to using the monetary aid for poor by the official.
There are some interesting sub-plots. The City Hunter and his step-father relations. The City Hunter and prosecutor Kim Young-joo, who wants to punish both the officials and City Hunter, for breaking the law in his justice quest. The best love-related arc was between prosecutor and his ex-wife. Comical relief is added by Bae Man-duk, addict to home shopping; Choi Da-hye, a not-so-bright daughter of South Korea’s President; and Ko Ki-joon’s interest and swaying from Shin Eun-ah, one of the bodyguards in the Blue House.
There are some flawed plots. They especially centre around Kim Na-na, one of the bodyguards in the Blue House and a love interest of City Hunter. The girl had hard time getting accepted into her dream job, that of a bodyguard in the Blue House, like her father. Later it’s revealed she was accepted kinda because she was pitied by the director. She’s constantly in debts. She was already, before she started working in the Blue House. So why it was a surprise for her boss that she has a money issues and because of them she can get fired from the work is beyond me. You shouldn’t have accept her in the first place!
I disliked the love plot between John Lee and Kim Na-na. Gah, seriously? The story arc of relations between the main character and his mother is… ummm, it need fixing. The mother is one of the characters I dislike the most.
It’s irritating that they gave some plots and didn’t use them at all. What was the whole point of learning to shoot from childhood when the main character didn’t even shoot once outside shooting range?
My rating of Korean drama City Hunter: 6/10. It was fun and interesting despite the flaws I mentioned above. I’ll probably see it again, for the third time, in the future. If you’re a fan of original City Hunter, this series might be disappointing.
I bought a 5-DVD-set of City Hunter in Indonesia. It’s labelled as an “original product”. I had so much problems with playing the DVD! Different DVDs bought in Indonesia didn’t give me so many problems. Nor different DVDs from South Korea. The Indonesian version is poorly encoded. It took me a long time to solve the problem of strange resolution and subtitles not fitting the screen. I’ve solved this problem only in Windows, for now. I still have to solve it in Linux.
The English translation in DVD has often grammar mistakes.
The quality of this City Hunter DVD: 1/10.