L.U.C.A.: The Beginning (hereafter referred to simply as L.U.C.A.) is a combination action/sci-fi/romance drama that is sure to have a second season. Yes, it could stand on its own but fans of the show need a L.U.C.A. Part Two!
For slightly over 20 years, evil, greedy people have been secretly working on a scientific project known simply as L.U.C.A. Z-0, their one-and-only success, escaped decades ago and trying to duplicate him has proven futile. Failed attempt after failed attempt has left the leaders of the project floundering and more desperate than ever to reach their desired goal. When, by chance, Z-0 is finally located, the people responsible for creating him will stop at absolutely nothing to retrieve their perfect specimen to finally bring about the “Age of Glory.”
Ji-O is a quiet loner that ekes out a meager existence. He has realized that keeping his distance from people is not only safer for him but for others as well. All Ji-O wants is to be left alone to live as normal humans do but his special abilities make that an impossibility. With the combined DNA of an electric eel, fruit fly, bat, and jellyfish Ji-O is a spectacular, one-of-a-kind human – or is he a monster? Ji-O has speedy cell-regenerating abilities, amazing reflexes, extreme strength, and he can manipulate electricity in his own body. Sadly, after incidents when he has used his abilities to their limit he passes out and wakes up with his memories erased.
Hanul Gu-Reum is an inspector at the Juan Metropolitan Police Agency. After graduating from the Police Academy, she had been assigned to Felony and Homicide before recently being transferred to the Criminal Investigation Unit due to insubordination. For the past six years, she has been obsessed with a case she has been secretly investigating on her own – the disappearance of her parents. When she was ten-years-old they left her at home while they went on an errand and that was the last she saw of them. After meeting Ji-O she realizes that, as a child, he was in her home the night her parents disappeared and she’s determined to discover if he is the one responsible for her growing up without parents.
Once a member of the Military Special Forces, Yi-Son was set up and imprisoned for something that wasn’t his fault. To get out of prison he became the lead henchman for Kim Cheol-Soo, one of the leaders of the L.U.C.A. Project. He, and the three people directly under him, were tasked with bringing Ji-O back. After a previous encounter with Ji-O, Yi-Son has a damaged right arm and he’s eager to take his revenge.
According to Kim Cheol-Soo, Dr. Ryu Joon-Gu-Kwon “is truly the epitome of evil.” After being caught manipulating human cells for genetic engineering he was expelled from academia and imprisoned on embezzlement charges. However, after he left prison he went right back to work, in secret, trying to develop the ultimate human. He is the director of Human Tech, the front for his evil genius work. His insatiable ego is what drives him and he considers himself a god.
Wanting ultimate power, Hwang Jung-A teamed up with Dr. Ryu at the onset of the L.U.C.A. Project. Relying on the vulnerability of humans, she formed a religious cult to get followers that would willingly give her anything she asked for, be it money or their very lives. She sees herself as the boss of the whole project.
Kim Cheol-Soo is driven by greed. He and Dr. Ryu go back decades and when he found out about the evil scientist’s genetic engineering he got behind him, backing the man with money so the work could continue. He acts subservient to Hwang Jung-A’s face but behind her back, he’s plotting her overthrow.
Won-Yi became acquainted with Ji-O when they were in a Catholic orphanage together as children and is his only friend. He is aware of Ji-O’s special abilities and has often had his friend use them for his benefit.
I fell in love with Kim Rae-Won (Ji-O) about two episodes into the first thing I ever saw him in – Which Star Are You From? Since it had been three years since he had last been in a drama I was overjoyed when I found out he would be in L.U.C.A.: The Beginning. For information about this amazingly talented actor, you can check out my review of Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me.
Thirty-six-year-old Lee Da-Hee plays the part of Inspector Hanul Gu-Reum. In 2002, at the age of 17, Da-Hee was a finalist in the SBS Super Elite Model Contest. A year later, she began her acting career appearing as “cafe girl” in the Kdrama Thousand Years of Love. After several more dramas, she had her big-screen debut in 2008 through the movie Delivering Love. People really began to take notice of her after her role in the drama I Can Hear Your Voice and the following year she was given her first leading role in the crime drama Big Man. She co-hosted the reality series Queendom as well as its sequel Road to Kingdom.
L.U.C.A. is an acronym for Last Universal Common Ancestor. Although the show explains it well, I still went to the internet to see if it was an authentic scientific idea or just something clever the writer had made up. What I found was – “Last Universal Common Ancestor… is the most recent population of organisms from which all organisms now living on Earth have a common descent – the most recent common ancestor of all current life on Earth.” It’s an amazing, authentic, and totally original idea for a drama. Kudos to the imagination of the show’s writer, Cheon Seon-Il.
Ji-O’s abilities reminded me of the X-Men. Like Wolverine, Ji-O can heal (regenerate) his own body; he can manipulate electricity, like Storm; and he’s not quite as powerful as Beast but his strength far exceeds that of the average man. Something to think about – if you could genetically manipulate your cells with that of a few other creatures, what animals would you want to be a part of you?
At first, I wasn’t all that impressed with this drama. I remember thinking, Kim Rae-Won is much too good an actor to be playing a confused loner with superpowers. However, by the time I was halfway through the show (there are 12 episodes, each being about an hour and 15 minutes in length) I was completely hooked. The writer had finally flushed out Ji-O’s personality and allowed the audience to see there was so much more to him than the recluse we observe in the beginning. Twists, turns, and tangles hide around every corner which made it extremely difficult for me to predict what would happen next. In fact, the show didn’t go in the direction I thought it was headed. The ending was a total surprise! Everything is all set up nicely for a sequel. Yes, please!
I found it very interesting that each main person in the show had their own reason that kept them wrapped up in the whole L.U.C.A. Project, and not one was the same.
*Ego – Dr. Ryu wanted to be a god.
*Greed – Kim Cheol-Soo wanted money.
*Revenge – Yi Sung wanted to hurt Ji-O.
*Global domination – Hwang Jung-A wanted power.
*Peace of mind – Hanul Gu-Reum wanted answers.
One of the most impressive things about L.U.C.A. is that it’s chock-full of amazing fight/action scenes. Imagine ex-Special Forces soldiers turned mercenaries trying to catch a guy with superpowers that is afraid for his life. The show is a rollercoaster of battles – one fight ends and then we’re given a short reprieve, just long enough to catch our breath, before they’re at it again. People being thrown against walls, explosions knocking over cars… it’s absolutely awesome! (I grew up sitting next to my dad watching all kinds of action movies which is probably why I enjoy them so much.)
Because L.U.C.A.’s plot is pure fantasy I was able to go along with the amazing things that went on, but there were a couple of actions that were just too unbelievable to accept – like someone picking a handcuff lock with a pin in their teeth, someone fighting several people at one time with an infant tied to their back, Ji-O not being able to get past a metal fence even though he can blow up a car… those kinds of things brought the show’s score down a bit for me. One thing the drama did help me realize – even with glowing, light-blue eyes, Kim Rae-Won is still gorgeously handsome.
I read an article that compared L.U.C.A. to Awaken, probably because they both deal with experimenting on human children. Both shows were shown on tvN with L.U.C.A. following in Awaken’s time slot. But L.U.C.A., with a 5.799 nationwide average, faired a bit better in the ratings than Awaken did with its 4.539. You may be thinking those scores are pretty low but tvN is a cable channel, which naturally translates into fewer viewers. On Viki.com the fans reversed the scores, giving Awaken a 9.5 and L.U.C.A. a lower 8.7. Which one did I like better? Well… both were good in their own way. However, my roommate had to wake me up because I was moaning in my sleep one night after I had watched L.U.C.A. Yep, it gave me a nightmare.
“Look at me. Voice to me. Find the tree. Please let me sleep on it so I can breathe.” Does that make any sense at all to you? It’s some of the words to the drama’s theme song, L.U.C.A. The song’s music fits perfectly with the gritty feel of the show but the nonsense English words ruin the whole thing. Lee Da-Hee, the actress who plays Hanul Gu-Reum, sings the acoustic version of the song Your Eyes. The English sentences on that are strange as well.
I guess the setting that stood out the most to me was the evil scientist’s laboratories. Fetuses in jars, animals in cages, computers, and machinery everywhere… it’s eerie.
L.U.C.A.: The Beginning is a perfect name for this drama. At first, I thought Ji-O, himself was “the beginning” but I was wrong. The real beginning of this show comes at the very end!
Kim Rae-Won is amazing
Extremely original plot
Ji-O’s awesome superpowers
Tremendous action/fight scenes
Excellent special effects
Set up for a sequel
Some emotionally difficult scenes
Weird English words in the music