Think of Robin Hood – robbing from the wicked, rich people and giving to the poor but, in the case of Player there’s a little twist, the poor are themselves.
Expert con man, Kang Ha-Ri has gathered the best of the best to make up his band of merry men, plus one woman. The little team’s goal is to bring people to justice while taking their ill-gotten gains for themselves. After all, taking the millions the bad guys have obtained and stashed away through illegal means is bound to be more painful than actually serving prison time. Criminals know that at least once they’ve done their time their precious money will still be there when they come out. But Ha-Ri makes sure the villains end up with nothing, and that’s true punishment. Ha-Ri and his group operate with Prosecutor Jang In-Gyu’s full knowledge and consent. Yes, they break the law in order to trap the real criminals but the laws they break don’t harm innocent citizens so Prosecutor Jang is able to look the other way where they are concerned. In fact, they even reach a deal – the little band of outlaws are free to keep the money they find as they are gathering the evidence Prosecutor Jang needs to put the criminals behind bars.
Not much is known about Kang Ha-Ri. He just appeared from nowhere. He’s a very elusive character with an air of mystery about him. He is sly, extremely intelligent, a good fighter, can think on his feet, is quite charming and he uses all those qualities to his advantage when pulling a con job. He thinks he can do most any thing and, it turns out, he’s right. Ha-Ri is the leader of the group.
Until recently, Do Jin-Woong was a nationally recognized fighter. He wasn’t affiliated with a particular gang or organization but he didn’t mind using his fists for any side, as long as he was paid. There’s a rumor that he’s never lost in a one on one fight. He takes care of himself physically and, in spite of his giant size, is a pretty tender-hearted guy.
While still in high school Im Byeong-Min won security system hackathons. He swept the top three renowned international hacking defense competitions – DIXCON CTF, WELCON in Taiwan, and KAPCON in Japan. He also became the first Asian winner when he participated in the final attack of the Canada Financial Security Hacking Competition. There’s even a rumor the NIS scouted him when he was just 20 years old. In his line of work (computer hacking) he is known to have the “hands of God.”
Although Cha Ah-Ryung is the only female of the group she is pretty much thought of as just one of the guys. She was raised in an orphanage and became streetwise at a very early age. She is a proficient pickpocket and can open just about any lock that needs a key. She not only fights as good as most men, but she is amazing at driving a car and riding a motorcycle. Ha-Ri scouts her out to be the team’s main getaway driver.
The Criminal Profit Recovery Team’s leader is Prosecutor Jang In-Gyu. He is honest, hardworking, and respected by his team members. Fifteen years ago it was revealed his mentor, Prosecutor Choi, was taking bribes and, as a result, ended up committing suicide but In-Gyu refused to believe that was the case. Ha-Ri’s team is able to do things he, as a law abiding prosecutor, can’t do and he doesn’t mind letting them get away with taking the cash they find along the way if they are able to secure the evidence he needs to put away the criminals he’s after.
For some information about gorgeous Song Seung-Heon, the actor who plays Kang Ha-Ri, you can go to my Black review.
Unfortunately, as much as I searched I wasn’t able to find out much of anything about Tae Won-Suk, the massive man who plays fighter Do Jin-Woong other than the fact that he deliberately gained 30 Kg (66 pounds), mostly muscle, for his role in this drama. A much slimmer Won-Suk has been in other Kdramas such as Radio Romance, Return, Witch at Court, Manhole, Strongest Deliveryman, Distorted, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo, Fantastic, Decendants of the Sun, and many, many more.
Hacker extraordinaire, Lim Byung-Min, is played by 36 year old Lee Si-Eon. He is a very familiar face in Kdramas, appearing in shows like Remember, W – Two Worlds, Chief Kim, Whisper, Man to Man, My Sassy Girl, Into the World Again, Two Cops, and I’m Not a Robot to name just a few. However, he’s probably most known for his role in Reply 1997. He’s also appeared in movies.
Check out my Bride of the Water God review for information about Krystal Jung, the actress who plays the part of Cha Ah-Ryung.
Forty-nine year old Kim Won-Hae, whose character is Prosecutor Jang, began his acting career with the 2007 Kdrama Beautiful Days. Since then he’s bounced back and forth from feature films to TV. However, he’s probably most known from his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live Korea, 2011 through 2013. He recently won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the 2017 Kdrama While You Were Sleeping.
Throughout the show Ha-Ri’s gang goes up against government officials, law enforcement personnel, and some out-n-out thugs but, unbeknownst to all but Ha-Ri, each case they take is linked to an even bigger one. The main bad guy simply goes by the title “that man.” No one mentions his name and many people work for him without even knowing who he is. He’s bad, very bad, and one of those people who justifies his evil behavior with “because I can,” and that’s chilling. I’m not telling you any more because much of this drama’s appeal is due to the mystery. So this is all you’re getting from me.
The writing is wow. I don’t know how people can think up such intricate stuff. It would be awesome if people like Ha-Ri’s gang actually existed. Bad guys beware! Also, the cast’s chemistry is excellent which just makes the friendships in the show seem genuine. I’d be very surprised if the actors weren’t close during filming.
The fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed and perfectly executed, and there’s a lot of them packed into the show’s 14 hours. With all of the punching, kicking, and running that goes on I didn’t notice a single slip up. It’s quite impressive.
Player aired on OCN which is a cable network so the audience is relatively smaller compared to free-to-air public broadcast TV but the show’s ending episode pulled in a decent 5.8% nationwide.
Now, for the music… the song Player is performed by Dok2 and features Jinsil from the electro-house trio Mad Soul Child. Dok2’s rapping is excellent but Jinsil’s voice just sounds like she’s taken a bunch of sleeping pills and is singing to keep herself awake. It’s too bad because the song has the potential to be really good if sung by another artist. The Vane sings Changer, a song whose sound is perfect for the edgy plot of the show. Luna, from f(x), sings Bluffing – “I don’t believe you.” Her voice is perfect for the seductive song. Anyone sung by Nam Tae-Hyun, and Yesterday performed by JK Kim Dong-Wook, are the only two slow songs on the soundtrack.
The main repeated backdrop in the show is Ha-Ri’s house, which ends up being the gang’s hideout. It’s like a huge, old factory kind of building that’s been turned into living space. Kind of cool and it fits the outlaws personalities perfectly.
If you like watching crooks get what they deserve Player is one show you need on your Kdramas list and, if you’re anything like me, by the time you finish it you’ll wish you were a part of a group like Ha-Ri’s.
Clever, intricate writing
Top notch acting
Great chemistry between actors/characters
Fantastic, exciting fight scenes
No “oops” (that I caught)