Lee Min Ho as Lee Yun Seong
Park Min Young as Kim Na Na
Lee Joon Hyuk as Kim Young Joo
Hwang Sun Hee as Jin Sae Hee
Kim Sang Joong as Lee Jin Pyo
Chun Ho Jin as Choi Eung Chan
Kim Sang Ho as Bae Shik Joong
For more information on this series: City Hunter (Korean Drama)
As a forewarning, this article includes quite a few spoilers that I had no choice but to include if I wanted to get my opinions across. But then again, a lot of other places that have blogged about this series, whether as a single post or an episode-by-episode follow-up, have given away even more details than I am willing to give away. Just be glad I'm still keeping some opinions to myself.
Nonetheless, you have been warned that I have included some details that may or may not ruin the story for you, but I DID graciously leave out some other very significant surprises that the series brought (even to me) that I never expected; especially something big that occurs in the last few episodes that sort of caught me by surprised, but that I should have seen coming.
Eventually, wikipedia is going to have an entire summary including the ending anyway.
Also, this particular article ended up getting much longer than I had initially intended for it to get. With so much going on in the series and so many opinions floating around in my mind, every time that I reread the post, I wanted to include a little bit more information here and there. I formally apologize for the long post and hope that in the future my thoughts articles will be less rambling. I make no promises, however, and hopefully everyone will just bear with me until I can figure out the best way to blog without going overboard.
Of course, for a less detailed article depicting a summary and brief thoughts without obvious spoilers, please refer to: intro info: City Hunter.
While strictly a fan of romantic comedy story lines, it's probably a bit of a wonder that I even picked up City Hunter at all, save for the fact that this series was also tagged as romance alongside it's main genre of action. Growing up with three boys is a good way for someone like me to have multiple genre interests outside of romantic comedies or romance dramas. I DO enjoy the occasional action movie or drama series as well as adventures and especially fantasy. But my main interest has always been in the romantic comedy area; second would by anything that has a bit of action, adventure or fantasy elements laced with a romantic side plot. Those romantic side plots really do wonders if they're executed correctly.
In fact, The Bourne Identity, which I will make a brief reference to later in this article, is actually one of my favorite movies because of the action, thrill, suspense and the top-notch story telling as well as excellently choreographed fighting sequences. The very brief romantic side plot was also a giddy bonus.
At the time that I started writing this article, there were still two last episodes left to be viewed, but wanting to get a jumpstart on my review, I wasn't too concerned with them anyway. After all, a suspense filled thriller like this can only be reviewed in one way-- without giving away too many of the turning points. If I want to keep my reaction on the ending at a neutral standpoint, then not having seen the ending while writing this article has it's advantages. Unfortunately, spoilers DO lie ahead and I have chosen to include some details of the ending after finishing the series.
City Hunter is full of engaging and exciting events that have you wanting to continue on until the very end. Even as I write this, I regret starting the series so early since it had yet to finish airing; it took me a total of two days to finish watching all 18 episodes that were available, and that's only because I spent a good amount of time loitering around and forcing myself to do other activities after watching the first five episodes. Otherwise, one day would have been all that I needed-- this is the impact that City Hunter had on me. Knowing that I would end up becoming anxious for the last two episodes almost immediately, I wanted to bide my time and watch the series slowly so as not to ruin my own state of anxiety.
Nonetheless, as soon as I started watching the next episode, I was so caught up in it that I kept pushing forward to the next even with the intention of taking another break around episode ten to drag out the experience a little bit. But in the end, I finished all eighteen episodes and, as I began to write this series' article, I anxiously awaited the last two episodes as I desperately wanted to know how the story would conclude.
THIS is how engaging the story line was for me and has absolutely nothing to do with the all too popular Lee Min Ho who seems to be the driving force of every other fangirl's intent on watching City Hunter. I will admit, however, that the romance plot plays a rather significant role in my continued pursuit too. With series like this that aren't based solely on the romance, it's a guess up in the air whether or not the main couple will end up together by the very end. For one thing, we are already given the impression that the main pairing, Lee Yun Seong and Kim Na Na would be a romance doomed to fail -- or at least that's the impression I got.
Case in point: The ending of episode one shows the two appearing in the same place at a fountain, doing their own thing, but not seeing each other (they do not know each other at this point). They don't interact with each other and in a small bit of slow motion play, the people move among and around the main couple in blurs as they continue on with their current activities. And then, without even any contact at all, Yun Seong walks away in that same, simple slow motion play. To me, it felt like a bad omen for the fate of this couple -- to be separate even after they get together.
With hopes that they DO end up together, happily ever after or the like, I could only anticipate the ending and hope for the best.
To date, I am still a newbie in the Korean drama arena. This is the fifth Korean drama series that I started watching. I have finished three others and am still in the middle of waiting for the next few episodes of currently airing Heartstrings to come forth. Needing English subtitles makes the wait even more agonizing. And so, before anyone else makes any assumptions, I did not pick up this drama series because I am a fan of Lee Min Ho or anything like that. I don't even really know who he is. But I can say that after watching his performance as Lee Yun Seong in this series, I've become quite interested in other series that he might have a starring role in. There's some sort of charm to his sometimes quiet, sometimes serious, and sometimes boyishly playful personality; whether it's a real part of him or a part of the character he is cast as. But no matter what it is, I'm thoroughly intrigued by this young man and plan on following his career starting at present. In fact, I plan on picking up Personal Taste sometime soon, probably as soon as I finish City Hunter; as for Hana Yori Dango, I have a personal vendetta against that particular story line and so it might be a while before I even consider it -- but we'll see.
I picked up City Hunter for two reasons: 1) For some unknown nonsense, because it was said to be based off of a popular Japanese manga, it held some sort of interest over me (don't ask questions, my mind is not normal enough for a proper answer), and 2) The genre of romance being tagged to it concerning a secret city hero and a strong female character was also a plus. Strange reasons, no? And then I was also thinking, "City Hunter... action packed... like a detective agency thing... hmm..." Of course, this is based off of what I read about the original manga.
Back to the City Hunter drama series, I can say that this is a difficult series to review, unlike the romantic comedies that I watch all the time. Romantic comedies, after all, have extremely predictable story lines no matter how original you try to make them. You can never give too much away in that genre when you're talking about them because there are few elements of surprise. Then again, as my brother says, the more stories you read, the more movies and drama you watch, and the more games with story lines that you play, the better you are at predicting what happens next -- because there are only so many ways to turn the plot in certain directions. It's the moment that you cannot seem to predict the next event that makes you thrilled to be watching a certain series. I don't think I've gotten the grasp of the typical Korean drama formula yet, but my bias has always been that they're major tear-jerkers and end tragically when given the chance, but have a lot of really good heart-warming scenes at all the right places.
City Hunter seems to boast these elements. There are plot devices used that are rather cliched from the beginning, but then there are small details and then the secrets on top of secrets that become revealed as the series progresses -- THESE are what kept me so transfixed on the series as a whole. When you think you know what's going on, something happens to make you wonder all over again. And revealing secrets, whether big or small, was what this series ended up doing throughout -- and so I can only reveal very little about the plot without killing the mood for everyone. There are so many details to keep in mind and so many characters to try to follow and determine whether they were significant to the plot or not.
The series starts off at a setting in 1983 involving an attack on a candidacy event wherein some of the candidates are killed, but the president is not. Convinced that this was an act of terrorism on South Korea from North Korea, a special team of soldiers is dispatched to North Korea to kill significant officials in retaliation. Unfortunately, partway through this mission, officials of the South Korean government decide that this military action should not take place; in order to cover up what they did, the twenty one men sent on the 1983 mission are killed in the waters of Nampo in North Korea where they thought that they were meeting their submarine ride back home. All but Lee Jin Pyo (Kim Sang Joong) are murdered by their own country and thus, Lee Jin Pyo vows vengeance for his comrades, targetting the five men who had chosen to keep secret this mission by sacrificing twenty lives. He procedes to abduct his friend, Park Moo Yul's newborn baby boy from his mother, leaving her a note that she should forget about her husband and child and go live a new, happy life.
Devastated by this, I think we as the audience knows that his plans for her won't happen so easily. Why on earth, I kept asking myself, would you taking away a mother's young child be a "happy" thing for her? Why would someone do that to a mother? The answer to that appears rather clear soon as the series progresses that Lee Jin Pyo has his own selfish desires of revenge at hand and intends to include the young boy in his plans. Of course, at the series' end, we realize that the plans for revenge run much deeper than what the viewers might have thought.
Raising the child he names Yun Seong in a remote area of Asia known as the Golden Triangle (which I'm assuming is somewhere near Thailand), Lee Jin Pyo begins his long term plans for revenge against the five men in the South Korean government who killed his twenty comrades. Lee Min Ho is cast as Lee Yun Seong who grows up being trained by his "father" in combat arts and survival while they run a drug trade for money. Yun Seong knows nothing about his family history while he is growing up until one day when Lee Jin Pyo is injured saving Yun Seong from a land mine and chooses to finally tell Yun Seong the entire history of how his father and nineteen other men died at the hands of their own country and so all these years, he has been planning to take revenge on the people who deserve it with Yun Seong to help him carry out this revenge. For the sake of the father who raised him and for the sake of his lost parents, Yun Seong chooses to take on this responsibility. He changes his rambunctious, wild ways, focuses on his training, goes to college at MIT to learn all sorts of cool things, and then arrives back in South Korea, 28 years after the Nampo massacre, and enters the Blue House (the President's palace) as an IT expert in the National Communication Network Team where he can utilize Korea's best technology and information database to find out what he needs to know to carry out his plans.
As most similar story lines like these go, Yun Seong is warned by his father that he cannot trust anyone and he especially cannot fall in love, because falling in love will make him weaker as well as put the people around him in danger.
This is where Kim Na Na (Park Min Young) comes into the story line to jump start the doomed romance that is to take place. Back in the Triangle, Yun Seong had saved a man named Bae Shik Joong who was about to be beaten for gambling problems. Because of this, he loyally follows Yun Seong, assisting him and cooking for him and taking care of his needs. The two form a very close kinship that Yun Seong describes as like having a mother, older brother and older sister in one package. Shik Joong ahjussi had on him a picture of a young girl whom Yun Seong immediately takes a shine to because she is pretty and he ends up framing and keeping the picture by his bedside, slowly growing an attachment to a girl he's never met before. Kim Na Na is a girl that Shik Joong knows, but won't elaborate on, except that when Yun Seong returns to South Korea, Shik Joong tasks the young man to look for and then take care of Na Na whenever he gets the chance. As part of the plot devices playing out, Shik Joong ahjussi's interest in Na Na's well being span into a much deeper reason than just feeling pity for her.
As fate would have it, not only does Kim Na Na also start working at the Blue House as a bodyguard, but time and time again, she comes across situations where Yun Seong is forced to step in and help her out. Na Na has lived a tragic ten years of her life ever since her parents were caught in a car accident that left her father in a coma and her mother dead. And so with a strengthened personality, geared to survive in life and keep the money coming in for her father's hospital bills as well as her own home, Na Na struggles through life, but doesn't mope about it. This fiery personality, a strong sense of responsibility, and some weird cheerfulness and optimism despite her circumstances seems to draw Yun Seong to her even more so than he had already been. I think her tragic loss of her parents and her struggle to survive also plucks at some chord in Yun Seong's heart, allowing him to relate with her on the similar matter of not having parents around. Heart-warming scenes where she somehow manages to lighten up Yun Seong's dark mood at certain points acts as a chisel to pick into his heart. Eventually, the two begin to slowly fall in love with one another.
The story then continues on to follow Yun Seong as he keeps his identity a secret and starts his revenge plans. Although he is working with his father, his idea of revenge is completely different than his father's "shoot to kill" ideals. Defying his father's intended killing spree, Yun Seong instead merely reveals the corruption of each man as he is found, publicly ruining that man and allowing the prosecution to take care of the rest. It is known fairly early on that Yun Seong has no intentions of killing anyone at all, unlike his father who would even shoot an innocent bystander to get what he wanted. It is commendable that Yun Seong has learned and fully understands the concept of a circular revenge cyle that only ends up causing more suffering and endless bloodshed. Because if his ultimate aim is to kill the men responsible for the Nampo mass murder, then that would leave one more innocent child to grow up contemplating the ideals of revenge. The cycles would never stop.
Of the five men who were responsible, the viewers already know that one is Choi Eung Chan, the current president of South Korea and another is a man who Lee Jin Pyo identifies as Lee Kyung Wan. The rest, he says, will have to be figured out after they punish Lee Kyung Wan. But for reasons of his own, Lee Jin Pyo only tells Yun Seong about Lee Kyung Wan and neglects to inform Yun Seong that there is another man's identity he already knows. After the corruptions of the first target, Lee Kyung Wan are revealed and he is sent to jail, Yun Seong's secret identity as the mysterious hero is endearingly nicknamed City Hunter.
As the IT expert at the Blue House, however, Yun Seong is simply a man who received a PhD at a young age, excels at computer technology, but is physically weak and cannot even take a punch. While the viewers all know that Yun Seong has already been trained to be a fighting machine, it's a little fun to watch as he allows the 4th level Judo Kim Na Na to throw him over her shoulder continuously during their training sessions at the Blue House. There's a particular scene in which Yun Seong secretly trips Na Na while she's about to smash him to the ground again, but apparently, the young man does not realize his own strength and ends up hurting Na Na's ankle to the point that it's hard for her to walk. I thought it was kind of funny. Yun Seong trained with elite experts in the Triangle after all and it didn't seem to occur to him that he's a lot stronger than normal city people.
Of course, I also found myself wondering how everyone would believe that a tall, physically well built young man was really that weak. He certainly doesn't look like he can't even flip a girl over his shoulder, or that he can't even take a punch.
Since I AM a newly joined Korean drama series lover, I have no previous biases about any of the actors cast in this series. Lee Min Ho does an excellent job of portraying the struggling, yet kick butt hot Lee Yun Seong. As the infamous City Hunter, he is awesome and cool and as the Lee Yun Seong working in the Blue House, he pulls off the arrogant MIT, spoiled rich brat personality rather well. It's the playboy image he's supposed to be projecting that doesn't come across as very believable. I'm not sure if it's his fairly serious expressions or just the fact that, as the viewer, you know that he has a heavy duty resting on top of his heart of gold that doesn't allow for such a lucrative activity in his life. Because Yun Seong is a nice guy after all despite his open claims to being a playboy and a rude, arrogant brat. Nonetheless, I admire the character of Lee Yun Seong, if only for the mere fact that he's not a one hundred percent perfect master mind; because as many have pointed out, he makes a few careless mistakes amidst some of his planning.
While a lot of people might feel like this is poorly written or poorly directed, I think there is almost an intention of allowing a few mistakes to be made on Yun Seong's part. They aren't fatal mistakes, but even if they were, it's only because Yun Seong is human after all. Yun Seong was trained by his military turned drug lord father on the ways of survival. He was not described as being the best of the best and while he does come across as being intelligent and pretty much prefect at everything, these minor mistakes that he makes come across as making him a bit more normal. He's not Superman or Batman. This isn't Bourne Identity where the guy was trained to be a perfect agent and killing machine.
Yun Seong was brought up with combative skills and took to learning his own education in order to fulfill a revenge plan. Of course, there are a few instances where I felt he was being a little careless and for his skill should have been able to avoid. But these were all in good timing, because if Yun Seong was good at everything and ended up pulling through all of his plans wonderfully, then he'd be an arrogant god and we wouldn't have those tragic conflicts he goes through time and time again. He would see that he's good enough to protect Na Na and all the people around him, and he wouldn't even worry about his father's threats.
Nonetheless, those instances actually helped to propel the drama forward.
Aside from that, I enjoyed watching the few instances where he tends to act like an immature, playful brat, getting easily tempered and having his own fits of tantrums when things don't go right for him. Or just laughing at random things that he finds as Na Na's misfortunes. They make for creating a cute inner personality underneath that cold and cool exterior that he's supposed to project as the secret hero City Hunter.
The character of Kim Na Na is one of the few that I actually like among female protagonists. Kim Na Na is a cheerful and good-natured young woman looking to survive in life for the sake of her home and her father's hospital bills. Na Na has been spending her life trying to make ends meet with several part-time jobs when the series opens. She later gets accepted into the Blue House which helps to solve some of her financial problems. Unlike a lot of other female protagonists portrayed in Asian drama, Na Na is very strong of personality and admirable as a person. She takes on her responsibilities like the best of them and she doesn't spend too much time crying over her disastrous life or a lost love to the point that her character loses resolve for anything else -- even when she encounters the heart-wrenching issues of falling in love with someone who cannot love her back, she still continues on with her life, working as a bodyguard at the Blue House and making money to move on. This is because she knows that she has no other choice and that a lost love does not mean that she has to stop surviving or drop all of her duties.
Park Min Young does a great job as the head strong and uniquely brave Kim Na Na who struggled with a tragic past, an emotional new love relationship, and her duties as a human bulletproof vest to the President. I'm glad that she's not a complete tomboy, but she's also not a hundred percent girly either. She's that right balance of a simple young woman living her simple life as a secret service bodyguard who happened to fall in love with a not so simple young man with a secret life.
It was fun watching the two main characters start to fall in love with each other, and because of the romance that was doomed from the start, every heart-warming and fun-filled scene depicting the two of them makes for those sweet little memories that you can look back on and smile about. Because Yun Seong's life was destined to never be a normal one, it's nice that he can enjoy a few light-hearted moments where he can laugh and be happy. While it's hard to tell whether or not Yun Seong starts off with a secret attraction towards Na Na, it's quite evident that because of the picture of Na Na he'd gotten from his Shik Joong ahjussi, he had already grown a small attachment to her; going beyond just looking out for her safety and welfare as Shik Joong asks for.
Because, knowing full well that he isn't supposed to fall in love, Yun Seong should have detached himself from Na Na as much as he could, but he still goes out of his way to do things for her that don't have to do with her safety or wellfare. But time and time again, after upsetting her or turning her away from him, he still continues to do things that waver her heart in his favor; despite the fact that Na Na was very determined to cut him out of her life believing that he was a terrible, arrogant playboy with no morals.
But then again, if he didn't grow attached to her, we wouldn't be able to watch a tragic romance unfold and be caught up in all the heart-wrenching ups and downs of this lovely relationship. Yun Seong's personality would seem too mechanical; his unhesitant caring for Na Na's welfare as well as her emotional stability and happiness shows that he's human and still quite a young man after all. He gets jealous when she's around the prosecutor, Kim Young Joo, and his heart is tested whenever she goes through problems with her life, and he's uncomfortable when she's outright upset with him and refuses to even acknowledge his existent.
Poor Lee Yun Seong is simply a young man wanting to fulfill his desires of being a normal person able to lead a normal life and have a normal love life; but conflicted with the fact that he could never have any of that.
As far as the rest of the characters go, they are portrayed rather well, but aside from Lee Jin Pyo, Choi Eung Chan and Bae Shik Joong, very little of the story line revolves enough around them to be significant. The rest of the Blue House staff is there for the sake of having minor characters, Jin Sae Hee's role was rather one-fold, and Prosecutor Kim Young Joo only had one vendetta that propelled his very existence in the entire series making him a very background type of character up until his significance finally shows in the end.
Even the inkling of a possible love triangle (or love rectangle if you include Sae Hee) seems to taper off almost completely and our main couple fall in love with each other effortlessly, without third party obstacles. It is a personal relief to me that the producers choose not to include an unnecessary love triangle or rectangle since this main couple's romantic turmoil is complicated enough as it is. The small inkling of Sae Hee being attracted to Yun Seong was forgotten and Kim Young Joo's interest in Na Na is revealed further on in the story as not being romantically linked. It was like that hint of a love rectangle was only there for our main couple to realize their jealousy at seeing the other with another person who might interfere with their romance.
Nonetheless, as I finished up the series, I found that I was a little disappointed in the role that Kim Young Joo was given. He's the city hero who doesn't need to hide from the public's eye. As a prosecutor, he is justified in all of his means, has sworn to uphold the law, and will do anything to bring down the corruption (as long as it is within his law-abiding power to do so). But because the government is corrupt to begin with, the tag team efforts of the City Hunter to bring all evidence and culprits to the prosecutor's office for Kim Young Joo to deal with was a rather intriguing idea. Unfortunately, Kim Young Joo, despite agreeing with what the City Hunter does, cannot seem to condone some of the unlawful actions that City Hunter takes to get there, even if no innocent bystander was hurt. The series doesn't elaborate much on a possible relationship between the prosecutor and the City Hunter being able to work together as a team to bring justice into a corrupt nation. For this, I am hopeful that maybe after Yun Seong finishes his revenge plans and chooses to become a full time City Hunter for leisure, he can collaborate with the prosecutor's office in this aspect.
Unfortunately, as I already stated, Kim Young Joo's character was rather one-dimensional. While he was a brave and admirable person with secrets of his own, his only plight seemed to be continuously chasing after City Hunter's shadows and picking up cases where City Hunter leaves him. Kim Young Joo's role was a little cheated from him, is what I'm trying to get at. His role was supposed to be so much more significant than what was given him, and it isn't until the end of the series that you realize just how much this guy was taken for granted. You find it heartbreaking, almost, to realize that the prosecutor could have been executed in a much more grand fashion throughout the series rather than just some annoying, justice seeking, workaholic man chasing after the shadows of the secret city hero just to lose out to him every time.
Bae Shik Joong was presented beautifully as the maternal slash paternal guardian and "spouse-like" character in Yun Seong's life. He presented the right amount of fear for his and Yun Seong's safety, but also projected an undying loyalty that would put even himself in danger just for Yun Seong. Shik Joong ahjussi was a wonderful man despite his faults and in spite of them and so I'm glad that Yun Seong had such a person to aid him through his struggles.
Lee Jin Pyo was hard to grasp as the main antagonist in this series. Because ultimately, despite his open declarations of war on Yun Seong, he still harbors fatherly love for the young man he raised for twenty eight years and the viewers can see that it hurts him to see his son turn against him or even face any life-threatening dangers. While Yun Seong might have started off as a pawn for revenge in Lee Jin Pyo's plans, it seems that there is no doubting the father and son relationship that reared its head on the two so naturally.
As for the president, Choi Eung Chan, he was simply a good man, trying to do good things, but held a terrible corrupt secret that would become his downfall. Nonetheless, as some have described, Choi Eung Chan was a beautiful man with great aspirations and dreams. Even as a person, I feel that his faults don't outweigh his greatness. So it's unfortunate that good people can make mistakes for a greater cause and be condemned in such a way.
Back to the rest of the cast, I especially enjoyed the strange little bodyguard and president's youngest daughter relationship. Choi Da Hye, the youngest daughter of the president starts off with an impression of being a bratty, snobby young girl out to make trouble for the two female bodyguards who are assigned to her, which includes Na Na. But the young girl turns out to be a simple bratty daughter, with no evil intents and only a strange knack of trying to run away from her studies since she's described as academically incompetent. This is a relief for me since the story line already has enough complications without having to add on a snobby young girl to make life worse for Na Na -- so it was rather refreshing that the girl turned out to simply be bratty and spoiled and that was it; and she even eventually starts to care for Na Na and the other bodyguard like friends -- albeit, in her own strange little way.
The music for this series is excellent, with rotating ending themes dependent on the mood of the episodes' endings, and then also a captivating instrumental score of background music and insert songs. Choreography isn't the best, as I have grown up watching action and have seen a lot of the best sequences; but, nonetheles, the action was great to watch. I found myself getting a burst of excitement watching Yun Seong's fight scenes because there are some movements that are very unique and cool. The fangirl in me swoons at his oozing of hotness whenever he shows off his fighting skills. The technology that is displayed throughout the series, from the touch screen phones to the navigation systems and the tablets are all really awesome to see. Yun Seong's house is amazing!
As an ending to this series' thoughts post, I'm intent to include the bias that has been built against this series due to the fact that it doesn't follow the story line based on the manga created by Tsukasa Hojo. People have been criticizing the characters, the story line, and pretty much the entire production.
While I have not personally read the manga or watched the anime, I cannot compare story lines or characters. But the Korean drama adaptation, as judging from how I had so quickly crunched through every episode within two days, goes to show that the series as a stand-alone is great in itself -- at least to me it is. Maybe there would have been less of a fuss if the producers had not connected their television drama series with the manga; after all, according to the hyper fans of the original City Hunter manga, the plot and the characters are apparently nowhere near anything like the manga. The series might have fought better being a stand-alone series with a coincidentally identical name to the manga.
Then again, I guess marketing had some ideas up their sleeves anyway. The City Hunter series might not have gotten as much attention without the hook line; and then with people who don't really care for similarities between the original, we remained with the series itself because it was very captivating throughout. According to the nearly perfect ratings of the series in Korea, it looks like despite the dissimilarities between manga and series, a lot of people still enjoyed the series up to it's grand ending.
I myself have always preferred that adaptations be similar enough to the original if not better. Movies that take the term "based on" and then change the story line usually don't fare very well. HOWEVER, that's not to say that adaptations are always bad if they don't follow the original. I've seen a few series and movie adaptations before that don't quite follow the book it was based off of and still manage to be rather outstanding -- able to be a stand-alone in spite of its connection with its book base. Sometimes, even at the expense of changing significant parts of the story line, the adaptation can either be better, worse, or just as good in it's own way.
In this case, seeing as how I've never read the manga or seen the anime, and seeing as how I will probably never get around to them, I'm fairly content with the way that the Korean adaptation was produced and directed. Once again, it proved to be engaging and exciting.
After all, the number one complaint seems to be the main character, Yun Seong, being based off of the original manga's Saeba Ryo not being the same type of character. In descriptions, while Ryo is described as having feelings for his tomboy partner, he is given the personality of a perverted skirt-chaser who will jump at any chance to have his women. While I was totally expecting this to take place for the main character in the series, Lee Min Ho really DOESN'T show off the penchant for being a player -- many have pointed out that he really does not look like he could be a player.
The series had started the atmosphere out with a possibility for him doing as much, going around and getting close to women in order to get information from them. Yun Seong knows that he's good looking and can attract women, so he uses this as one of his pawns, but he doesn't ever actually sleep with any of them nor does he even really play with any feelings too seriously. But he casts off his public image as Lee Yun Seong, the player for all to see. Openly, he's always boasting about having a girlfriend waiting for him or a date with some new girl or his one night stands. But never once has he ever really appeared with a random girl unless she was significant in giving him information that he needed to carry out his plans.
And I think, as a woman, I rather enjoyed this side of Lee Yun Seong as opposed to making him a true womanizer. It certainly DOES help fangirls all around continue to fall wrecklessly in love with him. After so many episodes of City Hunter, it REALLY is hard to see Lee Yun Seong in the role of a player. It would be pretty strange, in my opinion.
So, I'm just saying that everyone should take the series however you want to. The producers can't make everyone happy after all, and if this is the way that they have chosen to make their adaptation, then so be it. If you don't like the changes, then don't watch it. If you can put aside your biases for the original, then try to enjoy the series, because it is very excellent for action drama standards. If you know nothing about the manga or the anime, then don't worry about it because the series was a great experience to follow along with.
I'm thinking that the hyped up excitement that City Hunter had gotten as being the first live action adaptation of the manga might have given it too much expectation. And when that happens, the disappointment from fans of the original will definitely surface; but for those of us who have never even touched the City Hunter manga, this series was just like any other kick butt action series with a suspense-filled story line and actually, rather well-thought out characters.
And so what if Lee Min Ho might have been a popular pretty boy cast as the main character in order to pull in the ratings due to his fans? Just because he's good looking, does that mean he can't perform his role with the best of them? Lee Min Ho, as far as I'm concerned, truly brought out the character of Lee Yun Seong wonderfully. Lee Min Ho being good looking just happens to come as a bonus next to his great acting skills.
The one thing I figured would have been better and would have brought more suspense to the show would be hiding the identities of all the rest of the five men that Lee Jin Pyo and Yun Seong are targetting from the viewers. The audience knows early on in the series who all was involved in the betrayal at the beginning and it takes a little bit of the fun out of trying to figure out which man was part of the incident. The audience sometimes like to play detective alongside the main characters too. Nonetheless, the idea of our heroes finding out one by one which men were involved and then investigating and revealing their corrupt behavior proved to be rather interesting to follow along with. Unfortunately, aside from the President, the other four were blatantly obvious corrupt officials-- it was a little bland and you'd think at least one of them should have been a litte more inconspicuous about his bad deeds and make it hard to ruin him. At least one more of these men should have been the type who was wanting to turn over a new leaf instead of continuing his corruption, making it so easy to figure him out and so hard to pity when he loses everything. A bit of surprise for the viewers would have been fun.
City Hunter was an excellent experience and I am definitely not adverse to rewatching it again and again. As I close this article up, I have successfully finished watching the entirety of the series, including the last two episodes. I had prepared myself for both a happy ending and a sad ending and I can clearly say that it is a satisfying ending for me.
This coming up spoiler, you have been warned, hopefully won't be too much of a shock to people, but the news is all over the place anyway, and I'm sure wikipedia will end up summarizing the series in full soon, happy ending included. And so, yes, the series ends with a light-hearted and happy tone, though there was a slight sense of dissatisfaction that the end suddenly does a skip forward after the revenge plan's ultimate conclusion and our main couple, supposedly separated for a time, doesn't get that long-awaited for reunion that fans had anticipated -- it was merely a simple scene, lasting a whole of five seconds with two sets of smiles as Yun Seong and Na Na smile warmly at each other. And that was it. A little interaction would have been nice, like a hug or even holding hands or a few words.
And an explanation would have been nice as well. After Yun Seong was shot, there was the sense of the direction trying to make him out to be dead. Na Na appears in mourning, even Yun Seong's mother is wearing black and she is ready to leave the country with Shik Joong ahjussi to start life over again in America. Yun Seong is nowhere to be seen and there had been no sign of a jump forward in time. It is mentioned that Na Na's comatose father finally passed away which was why she was in mourning, and so I had my hopes up that Yun Seong had made it just fine and was waiting for Na Na somewhere else while the producers play tricks with fragile fangirl minds. And then they mention that Yun Seong and Na Na both no longer work at the Blue House with no explanation as to where Na Na plans to go now and where Yun Seong went either.
Then we finally see Na Na leaving at the airport when she spots Yun Seong walking down a different hallway and so rushes off to find him. When they finally see each other, we are given warm smiles from both parties, but there is no interaction aside from that. Because of this, viewers are conflicted -- at least I was conflicted -- about this supposed reunion. I personally and frightfully thought that Na Na was just seeing a ghostly appearance of Yun Seong in her own imaginations. There is no indication that that's not what was going on. Because this happens a lot in a lot of storylines and the viewers are left to interpret the ending as they will. If I hadn't come across an article where the producer assures all the
I would have been disappointed with the series up until a possible sequel is suddenly sprung on me with Yun Seong and Na Na taking center stage once again in an all new story line for City Hunter. Maybe I would have been surprisingly giddy with excitement and revoke my dissatisfaction for the first ending. Who knows? I just hope there really WILL be a sequel to appease my need for more Yun Seong, more Na Na, more excitement, and more satisfying romance.
My only big question was: Where the heck was Yun Seong during this time jump and why do the two need to reunite? After he was shot, shouldn't Na Na have stayed with him? Where did he go and if Na Na hadn't gone chasing after him, was he just going to keep moving forward without her? The ending was good, but it also brought about a lot of questions that made my head spin.
As a few news sources indicate, the series ends in a way that has viewers anticipating a possible sequel to City Hunter, and so in response to that, this blogger is definitely in support of a possible second season. After all, how else would fans be able to continue their worship of such a great series, the kick butt hot Yun Seong, and the long awaited romance to unfold between our beloved couple?
Just for the action and the suspense alone, I would recommend this series to anyone. Park Min Young is pretty and spunky, Lee Min Ho is adorable and hot and cool at the same time, and the rest of the characters were portrayed very well. It takes quite a bit for me to become so stuck on a certain series, and not mind watching it a couple more times over, so there's no doubting that, in my own personal opinion, City Hunter is very unique and special. Hopefully, I'll be able to find another series similar to it that I'll like, with the right amount of action, romance, and suspense as this one.
While it didn't have as big a cult following as a series such as Iris did, it was just as loved, I am certain. So with Iris planning on an official sequel sometime this year, I'm hoping that soon, City Hunter will pick up the same intentions, with the same characters, played by the same actors. And then I can continue on with my life happily guzzling lovely Korean drama series without worrying about getting sick of them.