Seven minutes and 33 seconds into this drama I excitedly uttered the word “wow” out loud. Kdrama lovers – buckle up because you’re in for one helluva ride with this Taxi Driver.
“Taxi Driver: (phone number)
Don’t kill yourself, take revenge.
We will do it for you.”
When the victims of crime feel the law insufficiently punishes criminals, they look for real justice by calling Rainbow Transportation and, right away, a premium taxi driver is sent to meet them. An old-fashioned cassette tape recorder is used to capture the victim’s every word as they open up to the driver and explain why they want revenge. The customer is driven to a specific place and given one last chance to decide if they really want revenge or have changed their mind and no longer want the premium taxi’s service. If the former is still desired, the cassette tape is secretly played for five special Rainbow Transportation employees and a vote is taken to decide whether or not the case is accepted. If the vote is in the affirmative, the premium taxi’s meter begins running and it’s only a matter of time before vengeance is satisfied.
The man who drives Rainbow’s premium taxi is Kim Do-Ki, a former special forces soldier. His father passed away when he was just a boy so he was raised by his single mom. A few years ago, while out on break from the military, he came home and discovered his mother had been the victim of a brutal murder. Although a man was arrested and convicted for the heinous crime, he ended up committing suicide while in prison, which made Do-Ki feel like his mother’s killer had never received a just punishment. When Jang Sung-Chul, the CEO of Rainbow Transportation, approached Do-Ki, offering him the opportunity to exact revenge on behalf of other victims of crime, the quiet man who mostly keeps to himself agreed to become part of the secret revenge group. Do-Ki is respected by the other four people on the team and is thought of as the second in command. Do-Ki works out in his spare time and, thanks to his special forces training, is an incredible fighter – able to take on a small army of men all at the same time and come off conqueror.
Jang Sung-Chul is the soft-spoken middle-aged owner and CEO of Rainbow Transportation, the person who started the revenge taxi service. He’s also the director of Bluebird Victim Advocacy Center, a nonprofit foundation created to help victims of crime and their families. Twenty years ago, after his parents were brutally murdered, he decided he’d “collect all the trash” in society and isolate them from the world forever. To that end, there’s a sign in his house that reads, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Nestled deep below his home (which connects to Rainbow Transportation) there is a secret cave that serves as the revenge team’s headquarters. The place is filled with all kinds of high-tech equipment and amazing gadgets the little group uses while seeking revenge on behalf of others.
The lone female and youngest person on the revenge team is Ahn Go-Eun. When her older sister committed suicide, due to being an unwitting participant in a crime, Go-Eun was devastated and began searching the internet in the hope of punishing the people who were indirectly responsible for her sister’s death. As a result, Go-Eun is a whiz with computers and can hack into any system in no time flat, a talent that proves to be indispensable to the taxi revenge group. She lives in the same building as Do-Ki and has a slight crush on the man (but then again, who wouldn’t?) but has never admitted it to anyone.
Choi Kyung-Goo is the head mechanic of the taxi revenge team. The man is extremely smart and has come up with some amazing inventions, such as the premium taxi’s unbreakable windshield and a gigantic removable front bumper that can help the car break through walls without sustaining damage. He joined the team after his younger brother and new sister-in-law were brutally murdered.
Park Jin-Eon is the other mechanic in the group. He, too, is brilliant and has also invented things the revenge taxi folks use. His sister was married to Kyung-Goo’s brother so the two men are kind of like family, sharing the same pain. He’s not the type to win in a fight but the man is very kind and has a friendly personality. He often worries about Go-Eun’s happiness and safety.
Kang Ha-Na is a tenacious prosecutor employed at the Seoul Northern District Prosecutors Office. She wants the justice system to work the way it should and can get quite frustrated if she sees the law is unable to punish a perpetrator. She’s often the last one to leave the office at night, preferring, instead, to sleep at her desk than to go home and lose momentum on a case. She works within the boundaries of the law and has a high moral character. At first, Ha-Na does not like Do-Ki, thinking him rude and arrogant, but warms up to him when she finally realizes he’s a good man. Ha-Na is the prosecutor chosen to work hand-in-hand with Jang Sung-Chul as part of the Bluebird Foundation.
Baek Sung-Mi, referred to as Dame by her right-hand man, is evil to the core. To the outside world, she is the Chairwoman of Nakhon C&C but that is just her cover. Money is all that matters to the malevolent woman and she is infamously cruel among loan sharks. Through mutual necessity, Baek is associated with the revenge taxi group.
For information about Lee Je-Hoon, the actor who plays the drama’s titular character, Taxi Driver Kim Do-Ki, you can go to my Move to Heaven review.
Prosecutor Kang Ha-Na is played by Esom (her birth name is Lee So-Young). You can read about her by clicking on my review of The Third Charm.
To avoid making this review extremely lengthy I’ll just briefly mention the actors/actresses who play the supporting characters…
Kim Eui-Sung plays the part of Jang Sung-Chul
Pyo Ye-Jin’s character is Ahn Go-Eun
Choi Kyung-Goo is played by Jang Hyuk-Jin
Bae Yoo-Ram’s role is Park Jin-Eon
and Cha Ji-Yeon plays the part of Baek Sung-Mi.
There’s no way anyone could sit and watch this drama without asking themself these two questions – If I could pay a person to take revenge on someone who had turned me into a victim, would I do it? and would I be willing to work for a vigilante organization to justly punish people the law can’t or won’t?
I wasn’t even all the way through the first episode before the DC Superhero Batman came to mind. The similarities between the Dark Knight and the premium taxi driver are plentiful.
Bruce Wayne and Kim Do-Ki come across as mild-mannered guys but have an alternate persona that can be brutal when it comes to criminals.
Both Batman and Kim Do-Ki drive an amazing black car capable of doing things normal automobiles can’t.
Both men’s headquarters are located underground and known only to the few people that know their secret.
Both men’s caves are decked out with amazing gadgets that help the hero fight crime.
Both Batman’s mother and father and Do-Ki’s mother were murdered.
Because of their parents’ deaths, both men became determined to not only stop criminals but make sure they adequately pay for their crimes.
Both men are vigilantes, working outside the law to punish the bad guys.
There is one law enforcement officer who knows who the vigilante is and what he does but allows him to keep doing what he’s doing.
Both men can beat the crap out of a small bunch of thugs.
Taxi Driver is filled to the brim with phenomenal action/fight scenes that showcase Lee Je-Hoon’s amazing physical abilities. Move to Heaven introduced us to that man’s athletic physique and proved to us that he knew at least the basics of fighting. This drama’s action choreographer did a wonderful job making the fights exciting while keeping them looking fairly realistic.
The ending is very good, finishing things off while still leaving the door open for a sequel. However, I’d only want that to happen if the same actors/actresses played the same characters. It just wouldn’t do to have anyone else fill those roles.
Each episode ends by showing a profound quote from that particular episode as well as giving information about who to call/what to do if you’re a victim of a crime. How great is that?
At the end of the drama, we see the words, “The crime in the drama is based on the actual crimes committed in Korea.” And what, exactly, are those crimes? Well, the secret group at Rainbow Transportation takes revenge for victims (and the family of the victims) of voice phishing, missing person/murder, illegal pornography, bullying, employee abuse, organ trafficking, and wrongful imprisonment (a person found guilty and punished that was really innocent). All of the cases the taxi service takes are very interesting!
The last episode of Taxi Driver, which was based on the web tune Deluxe Taxi by Carlos and Lee Jae-Jin, achieved the fourth-highest rating of any Friday-Saturday drama in SBS history. Yep, the show is that good.
The drama is not without a few noticeable “oops.” In an ambulance, the person laying on the stretcher is not wearing glasses but as he is being wheeled into surgery he has glasses on. Oops! In another scene, an explosion throws Prosecutor Kang Ha-Na to the ground and then we watch as she slowly stands up. However, a second later we see her still sitting on the ground as people rush to see if she’s okay. Oops! There are others but these two bothered me the most.
The soundtrack’s top three songs are Silence, Moon Light, and Run Away. It was impossible for me to sit still when Silence, performed by the rock band YB (formerly know as Yoon Do-Hyun Band), was played. Moon Light, sung by Sanha, is another great fast-paced song that often played as Kim Do-Ki was beating the crap out of bad guys. So cool! Simon Dominic raps Run Away, switching between English and Korean. Now that’s talent!
The settings that stand out most in my memory are the cells Chairwoman Baek Sung-Mi and her goons manage and Rainbow Transportation’s headquarters/cave. The way the premium taxi and the motorcycle come up out of the ground is so awesome!
This show is a must-see for those of you who like crime and/or action dramas, and Batman fans will love it as well. The next time I need to call a Taxi Driver I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that Kim Do-Ki will show up!
Lee Je-Hoon’s acting and fight scenes
Revenge team members have great synergy
Puts a Kdrama spin on DC Comic’s Batman
The fight/action scenes are superb and very entertaining
Varied revenge cases
Leaves things open for a sequel
Cool cave and cells
Each episode gives information to real victims of crime so they can seek help
A few minor “oops”