If you believe in giving people second chances, I think you’ll appreciate the Kdrama Bad Guys. Notice I didn’t say you’d enjoy the show but rather that you would appreciate it. This drama is filled to overflowing with gratuitous violence which made it difficult to actually enjoy, but I did appreciate it – a lot. Bad Guys is an older show (from 2014) but it’s message is timeless – “You disregard how people change and only see them with prejudice because of past crimes they committed.” – Oh Gu-Tak “A person should be given a chance to do something good.” – Park Wong-Chul
When the police commissioner’s son is murdered trying to stop a killer, he turns to an old friend, Oh Gu-Tak, to help him catch the person responsible for taking his son from him. Detective Oh decides to take on the task as long as he can make his own team, consisting of three criminals currently serving time in prison. His philosophy is that in order to catch a beast you need a team of beasts. Police Investigator Yoo Mi-Young (the only female on the top-secret team) doesn’t think it’s a good idea to ask criminals for help. If they’re released, what’s to keep them from escaping? But Oh Gu-Tak explains, “These beasts, with the right incentive, will be very obedient.” And just what, exactly, could the “right incentive” be? Well, the three convicts chosen are told, “Once you arrest a criminal, you’ll return to prison. However, if we receive another order, you will be deployed again. You catch a criminal, you reduce your sentence. Of course, once you clear your sentence, you will be free…” This unconventional, top-secret team is affiliated with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Special Crime Investigation Division whose role it is to solve cases the first line police couldn’t. So, is Detective Oh correct in his thinking? Are bad guys really willing to catch bad guys?
Who are the three men Oh Gu-Tak wants on his team?
Park Woong-Cheol is the guy behind the Dong-Bang gang that took over Seoul’s underworld in just 25 days. However, just when the Dong-Bang faction had gotten hold of the capital city’s underworld, he was arrested and imprisoned. Just like he was on the outside, Woong-Cheol is the head guy inside the prison, serving a 28 year sentence. The man is huge and can take someone down with just one punch.
Jung Tae-Soo is a contract killer, one of the best of the best, with a past no one knows about. He was wearing clothes stained with his victims blood when he went to the police station one day and turned himself in. He was convicted and is serving a 22 year sentence. He is fairly quiet and reflective.
Lee Jung-Moon had a documented IQ of 165 at the age of 12 years old. He is South Korea’s youngest member of Mensa International, the youngest person to attain a PhD in mathematics, and the youngest serial killer, murdering 15 people in a nine month span, although he claims to not remember a thing about the murders. He has been classified a psychopath, receiving a score of 38 on The Psychopathy Checklist, the highest score being 40.
“Park Woong-Cheol has power, Jung Tae-Soo has skills, and Lee Jung-Moon has intelligence. Mix those together right and there isn’t a criminal under the sun they couldn’t catch.” – Oh Gu-Tak
Known by his nickname, Mad Dog, because he is the first to “show his teeth,” Oh Gu-Tak has a tendency to use excessive force, preferring to act first and talk later. He sincerely believes, “If you beat a good person, it is violence. But if you beat a bad guy, then it is justice.” After his daughter was murdered his only goal was to catch her killer but he was suspended from the police force. This top-secret assignment could be the way for him to have that suspension lifted.
Every single actor in this drama is 100% perfectly cast.
Fifty-three year old Kim Sang-Joong (Oh Gu-Tak) was in the Marine Corps before embarking on an acting career at the age of 25. His debut came in 1990 by way of the stage play I Love Bread and he was a co-founder of the theater troupe Extreme Legend. He quickly moved on to film and television and became known for his distinctive voice and confident charismatic acting. In 2008 he became the host of the long running show I Would Like to Know which has a format similar to that of Unsolved Mysteries. I know him best from his role in City Hunter.
After his amazing performance in the movie Train to Busan (if you haven’t seen it yet I suggest you don’t wait any longer) for which he won a Best Supporting Actor award, 47 year old Ma Dong-Seok has become one of South Korea’s most popular and bankable actors. It’s no surprise his character in this drama (Park Woong-Cheol) is a superb fighter because he was once the personal trainer of mixed martial artists Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. Don Lee is his westernized name. He studied at Columbia State University majoring in Health and Physical Education. The man’s in amazing shape!
Jo Dong-Hyuk (Jung Tae-Soo) has performed on stage, in film, and on TV. The 40 year old actor began his entertainment career with a bit part in the 2002 film Make it Big and then had roles in a few erotic films. Other than Bad Guys I’ve also seen him in The K2. He attended Myongji University, studying Social Physical Education but dropped out before he could graduate. Oh well, P.E.’s loss is Kdramaland’s gain.
You can read about Park Hae-Jin (Lee Jung-Moon) in my Man to Man review.
A ton of testosterone flows throughout this show. Aside from all the women who are victims, there are only two female characters – Police Inspector Yoo Mi-Young and the leader of the organ trafficking gang.
I liked the premise of this show – use criminals to catch bad guys. It sounded interesting and gritty but I had no idea it would make me feel the way I did at the end. Although murder is not something foreign to these three men, they start to see life through the eyes of a sympathetic human being. They have to track down a serial killer and topple a huge human trafficking/organ trafficking syndicate and through that process they begin to notice suffering and fear, and it changes them. The rest of this paragraph is a spoiler alert… Jung Tae-Soo says, “The grief and pain of losing someone precious, the guilt and remorse of taking someone precious away, I now know about those feelings, so now I can’t kill anymore.” That is true repentance which is defined as “sincere regret or remorse.”
If you’ve ever watched a police show and wished the cops didn’t have to follow rules while trying to apprehend the suspects then you’re really going to like this show. Because these men are not law enforcement officers they are able to get away with doing things a cop could never do without serious consequences, and I loved it. Once a killer is caught, all an officer can do is handcuff the person and take them away but these guys don’t have those kinds of rules to follow. They can beat the guy to a pulp once he’s caught and no one gets in trouble.
The costuming, make-up, and hair folks who worked on Bad Guys really need some well-deserved praise. These men not only acted their parts perfectly but they also looked like hardened criminals. Oh Gu-Tak’s face is often greasy and his hair, like Lee Jung-Moon’s, is always hanging in his eyes, hiding part of his face.
Bad Guys – The Movie will be released in theaters sometime next year (2019). Based on the Kdrama, Kim Sang-Joon (Oh Gu-Tak) and Ma Dong-Seok (Park Woong-Cheol) will be reprising their roles for the movie. Also, Han Jung-Hoon wrote the script for both the drama and the movie. It is definitely something I’ll be watching out for!
I only caught one “oops” and it wasn’t anything that really mattered. In one scene, Park Woong-Cheol is resting with his head supported by a neck pillow. We see him, eyes closed, with the pillow facing one way and then when he opens his eyes the pillow is facing the other way around. No big deal but a mistake none the less.
The sound of the songs Reason, sung by Roo, and Break Up, performed by Yoon Hyung-Ryul, fit into the feel of the drama well. These aren’t cute, light songs because the show can’t be described with those adjectives. Listen to those particular songs (you can find them on YouTube) and you’ll get a feel for what the drama is like. Enough said.
I think the most impressive background in the drama is the top-secret team’s hide-out/meeting place – an old abandoned church. I, for one, don’t think that was an accident. The show’s main theme is about people being able to change and what better symbol can they give these reforming criminals than a place that represents repentance and forgiveness? Very clever, indeed.
I’ll end my review of Bad Guys with a wonderful message from the show… “True happiness is when someone else is happy with me.” And on that note, may you have a truly happy day!
Good mysteries surrounding the “bad guys” pasts
Extremely interesting characters
Great fight scenes
The amount of graphic violence may be upsetting for some viewers