This was one cruel cruel cruel and heartless city indeed! Every ep of Cruel City (AKA Heartless City) was deliciously intriguing, filled with noir and above all else it was filled with lots and lots of intensity. I started this and then I left it on halt for a while before resuming it and essentially marathoning through the remaining eps. Despite all the stops and starts that I had with the drama, every time I resumed it there was always something about the drama that kept me wanting to stick around. Everything in the drama worked perfectly well together, though most credit would have to go to the sensational writing. This was a really well-written drama and best of all was the consistency from it. I loved the pacing of it; it was fast paced but very consistent from the start right through to the end. CC went above and beyond my expectations delivering a drama that was just so damn good.
Set in the underworld of noir and crime, CC was definitely not short of action. In fact, there was pretty much so kick-ass punches and blows in every ep. More often than not, they had something to do with the delicious eye candy that appeared on my screen every ep – Jung Shi Hyun/Park Sa “Doctor’s Son” (Jung Kyung Ho). Caught between the world of good and bad, it was a tough call for him remain true to himself. There were times where he almost fell out of his territory but in the end, his interior self pushed through and every step that he took spelt out his name. The writers did an exceptional job in writing out the character of Shi Hyun and Kyung Ho did an equally exceptional job in bringing Shi Hyun on-screen. Shi Hyun is a mysterious, mesmerising and meticulous character. He took the story into his hands and what we got to witness was him battling his way through this life-dangering world. He, who is a very wel principled man, knows clearly what his situation is and will not hesitate to make minor sacrifices for the greater good.
Even though the city is cruel with a stash of lies left and right, it did bring about a lot of dense and real relationships. That is because of the emotions that have invested into these relationships. Even though they might not stand on the same time, but those emotions are something very real between them. Shi Hyun and Kim Hyun Soo (Yoon Hyun Min) might stand on different sides of the spectrum but they had a friendship that was drenched with bromance. Shi Hyun was willing to go to all odds including putting his identity on the just to defend him. Shi Hyun’s sacrifices for this best friend was huge but what Hyun Soo would do for him is comparably just as big. Regardless of how much Shi Hyun would put on the line, Hyun Soo would help him. Their bromance spoke something spectacular and their friendship is not something that will change regardless of their identity.
After Shi Hyun, my favourite character would have to be the headstrong noona to Shi Hyun – Lee Jin Sook (Kim Yoo Mi). She might have been billed as the second-lead actress, but she stole the limelight from Yoon Soo Min (Nam Gyu Ri) the entire time with her feisty personality. She is just very strong willed and knows very know where she wants to go and how she is going to achieve it. I love that her determination in her fights and her willingness to protect Shi Hyun at all costs. He means a lot to her and even though the drama did not go to explore how that came about, you can really see the tight bond between them. She doesn’t want to see him get hurt (well, hurt hurt) and neither does he. They have a very heavy-knitted relationship between and through every ep, we got to see just how strong their relationship is. The most touching moments were when they sincerely told each other (multiple times) that they just want them to be happy.
I really enjoyed watching Jin Sook and Soo Min’s sister relationship but it was really Jin Sook who made their relationship something that I really enjoyed watching. I loved the sincerity between them, something that is prevalent with majority of the relationships here. What they shared between them was a genuine warmth that would not have been possible should Soo Min have gone into this world with a cold heart. Soo Min knows that the people she is dealing with and her intentions for entering this underworld contains emotional feelings which would affect her prejudice on how she views them. But she built a relationship with them, none so more than with Jin Sook who really saw her as a younger sister. After getting to know Jin Sook, she became Soo Min’s unni and Soo Min really appreciated her as an unni. They developed a caring and warm relationship, something that is genuine and honest.
The directing and the portrayal of the drama was superb. The atmosphere was just spot on. I loved the mysterious vibe that it gave off. I think that the lighting colour scheme was something really well done here. They stuck with the gray backgrounds and even with the appearance of colours, it stuck with the eerie side of the colour wheel and this in turn attributed to the overall vibe of the drama. Colour is not something that I pay attention to much in dramas but here it played an important role and beneath that there is underlying meaning to each scene. I also thought the OST was a perfect fit for the drama. It offered a very mysterious and secretive tone especially by having the same song being played at the end of each ep.
As much as I enjoyed this drama, I just couldn’t love it as much as I wanted to. Though, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who feels this way. lol. This had nothing to do with the drama, but rather my understanding of the drama. CC was exceptional in delivering a well thought out and executed drama, so much so that it made following on with the drama quite difficult. There was a lot going on with the plot and lots of characters who played a vital role so if you did not follow on from the beginning, it made it even harder to follow along afterwards. I thought I did a good job in grasping the drama but then I realised that I was wrong. Cruel City is a drama that is much more suited to Korean speakers due to its complexity. Even after watching the ep and reading various recaps, I still had difficulty in understanding the drama. There was just a lot going on that I got lost in the midst of it. It was only until the second half to three quarter of the way through that I really felt that I understood it, but even then my grasp on it was still very weak. It honestly has nothing to do with the drama but comes from my inability with the Korean language and just my poor grasp of the drama. CC is an amazing drama and I truly enjoyed every bit of it that I could but I just wish that I had a better holding for it.
CC is a drama that is beautifully and carefully scripted and then spectacularly brought on-screen. Actions, lies, betrayals, tension and eagerness were some of the many things filled in this jam-packed drama. It was folded with lots of meticulous precision and never once faltering to create a tear. It’s a fantastic drama that leaves you wanting for more. And you can always have more by re-watching it! It’s definitely worth it! (: