Heartless City Comments
Without doubt this series, like any other, has had its fair share of shortcomings. For a writer who’s reputedly spent four years on the script, I’m surprised this didn’t pop up for him then. Although, to be fair, things on paper and on reel vary for many a reasons and sometimes, despite the writer’s best intentions, the story may fall short. And here, we enjoy an amazing ride that goes uphill until suddenly it just plummets down, and never gets back up.
The start of the finale episode, and the subsequent storyline that was developed in it was good and had potential-but it was not executed well. The whole idea-that Hong Ki goes behind Park Sa’s back and tries to make his own friends turn on him was excellent, but it’s not something that should have been left up to the eleventh hour. Because in this case we missed out on a lot of potential conflict as we weren’t even allowed to properly relate with it. An example: Soo’s reaction to Park Sa being a police officer. Yes, he’s hurt and you can see it in the moment he confronts Park Sa about it. We see him mourn the friendship he thought he had and then we see him go to Jin Suk about it. But after that, we never get to see his turnaround and final decision making. He knows Park Sa is a good friend, believes in him and that belief is tested when Hong Ki reveals the truth but Jin Suk assures him Park Sa is still his friend. Her words connect with him-you can see that in his expressions, but from that moment up to the moment he goes against Chairman Jo himself-what happens? It is so unfair that we’re left to imagine this part. This bromance was one of the important things in the series-it gives us perspective on Shi Hyun’s life as Park Sa but it was left underdeveloped and somewhat forgotten.
In this perspective, Jin Suk’s arc was better and totally well executed. You can see her trying to come to terms with the revelations, to seeing everything in a new light. And like a true friend and a person sincere to Park Sa, she decides to see things through his eyes and understand why he made the choices he made. She’s the one who realizes how really alone Park Sa must have been on that path and as a true Noona, she comforts him. Moreover, what makes me love her even more is the fact that in the end, she is glad that Park Sa is a police officer. She is glad that the crimes he committed, the bad he did, wasn’t for selfish purposes and perhaps realizes that deep down, Park Sa is still Shi Hyun-a normal good person. She totally overlooks the fact that he lied to her, reads beneath the lines-that Park Sa must have refused to abandon her and Soo, which causes Hong Ki to try and build the rift between them. And I so love her for it! Upto the end, she was the most awesome badass woman in this drama! *Salute*
Hyung Min and Soo Min were totally relegated to the background and their presence felt like their actions and presence at places was just too coincidental. When Hyung Min asks Officer OH and the female officer to help him against Hong Ki-they all end up doing little. And suddenly Soo Min decides to search his office. N being the baddie that Hong Ki is, he doesn’t even suspect anything or has any security measures to prevent it? Oh n yup, the usb magically disappeared. Unfortunately, we never even learn what is in it or why it was important.
Just like Hyung Min’s dad. We see him spending episodes creating the perfect replacement for Chairman Jo along with the reporters dad but suddenly he decides to turn himself in. I can see the reason he’d want to do that or be touched after hearing Park Sa beg him for his son’s sake-he already lost one son and this was like a wake up call lest he lose the other. But due to the little time constraint, we never get to see him reach the breaking point where he decides to ‘turn back’. Again an unanswered thing is-what was his and the reporter’s dad’s role in everything? Moreover, what exactly was everything!?
I liked Jo’s dialogue-that nothing would change even if he were to die and that even Park Sa would act the same if he were in Jo’s shoes. It’s a classic example of the concept that sometimes people don’t do evil for the sake of evil but because they have no other choice. How awesome would it have been if the drama hadn’t just veered into single man revenge theory and rather have stuck to its one man against one evil organization concept. I’m really feeling tempted to try and write my own story now just to get my satisfaction with characters and plot.
The Hong Ki x Park Sa confrontation scene totally lacked the suspense and thrill we’ve come to associate with HC. There was no undercurrent tension, no suspense, no loaded meanings to the conversations, except for the anguish and pain you could witness on Park Sa’s face. Hong Ki was his usual crazy self while Hyung Min and Soo Min seemed to be there just for the sake of having them there. Their presence nor amplified the tension of the scene, nor did it help the outcome any. The way Hong Ki flip flops from ‘You were like a son’ to ‘Arrest him!’ was laughable. What was the man thinking? I enjoyed Hong Ki as a character throughout the series-he was always intriguing because you were left to wonder about his motives even after you knew he was the bad guy. But suddenly, he’s been relegated to this person who’s madly orchestrating things (things we never get to see come to fruit because they were never given the time to develop) and then flip flapping in front of Park Sa and Hyung Min. At one point, I was like-are you insane? Can’t you see how stupidly you’re behaving here? I wonder no one was rolling their eyes at him-I was!
I can imagine myself loving the scene-if only it were given slightly more time. It feels so rushed, so out of the blue running so fast that you’re left feeling deprived. We’ve seen Park Sa from day one, we know how he thinks, what he thinks and how he feels, we’ve come to relate with him and at the very end of such an epic journey, the end like this makes it feel like going just half the distance and pretending you’re still epic. I loved the moment Park Sa was given the choice to let go of Hong Ki and return to the police but he refuses. It is so characteristic of him-he has spent eight years giving up his true self for a lie and can’t just turn back. Not because he doesn’t want to, but more because he doesn’t think he can. When he tells Soo Min that he’s still Park Sa, I agree with him. No matter how much he wants to be Shi Hyun, however much he’d just like to leave this life behind, he can’t because he’s lived in this lie for so long that he can’t face anything else or even fathom it. Example: he’s always telling Jin Suk to leave this world and go live freely but when the choice comes upon himself, he says he can’t because he feels tied down to his deeds here. Perhaps he believes he no longer deserves the freedom that would come by leaving this world behind. Maybe its his conscious, threatening to haunt him for everything he’s done, or maybe it’s the guilt of innocent blood on his hands-Kyung Mi’s, but either way, he feels tied to this world even as he feels trapped in it.
When he tells Hong Ki to finish what he started, it’s like giving Hong Ki that one last chance to prove his humanity- but Hong Ki chooses to save his own skin and like always, just drop someone else under the train. I’d say more than anything that Park Sa would have known this was coming when he offered Hong Ki that choice. Maybe he was prepared to die, if that’s what it took him to be free of Park Sa. Maybe he wasn’t confident of his own ability to overcome the last eight years of his life and move on, but either way, I’d say it was Hong Ki who failed him once again at the very last minute by choosing to forsake him.
In the end, Soo Min imagines Park Sa and then a young Kyung Mi and Park Sa, then we intercut to see a back profile of Park Sa, standing somewhere in a street. I think it’s probably reasonable to believe Park Sa died and that was what I thought until the moment they showed his back profile and the voiceover that interplays-Shi Hyun’s words about the world. And that had me thinking, why didn’t Soo Min imagine an adult Kyung Mi and Park Sa in the orphanage? She imagines their younger versions. I think that was her way of connecting with her Unni and Shi Hyun and the fact that they were young, carefree and happy at the orphanage is how she remembers them. Maybe she didn’t even see them, but it’s the drama’s way of telling us that she still carries them in her heart and unknowingly, she moved into Kyung Mi’s shoes by becoming another good police officer.
For the very last shot that gives us hope that Park Sa is alive, my first thought was-wow, he’s wearing a light colored suit! Maybe it’s to signify that he’s survived and is free of his past Park Sa persona. As the baddie Park Sa, he’d always wear those dark colored suits (which suit him and his guyliner so well, LOL!) and now, for the first time, you see him differently, without a dark suit and moreover, with his back to you, standing in a street, signifying that he’s moved on. But, his surviving also begs the question-why are Soo Min and Jin Suk acting as if he’s dead then? Which reminds me of Kyung Mi’s situation. Shi Hyun left her behind when he became Park Sa and she became a police officer, so now maybe he has also left Soo Min and Jin Suk behind too.
Which leads me back to my second theory, in retrospect to what Park Sa tells Chairman Jo right before he kills him. Chairman Jo mocks him, saying nothing will change even if Park Sa kills him and Park Sa tells him that he will end it. Maybe, just maybe Park Sa is still living in the underworld after all, but this time, he’s not following orders from anyone, but rather working to make the difference he wanted. He may not be motivated by revenge anymore but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his purpose either-he came to take down Busan-not just the head figures but the whole organization and the drug dealing with it, so now maybe, just maybe, he’s actually living on and doing that. It would explain the light colored suit-and him being on the phone. It’s like saying he’s still a part of this world but nobody really knows it and nobody can figure it out, just yet.
That said, what do you guys think?
Overall though, I’d say this was a great ride (I’d have used the word epic if the finale were good enough)! Thankfully, we had too many good and epic moments in this Heartless City (the whole run, except for the final few episodes was too good) that the little shortcomings-when they happened, were not enough to erode away the awesomeness of the whole series.
Posted on July 31, 2013, in Asian Cinema, Korean Cinema, Potpourri, Recaps, Uncategorized, Written Excerpts and tagged heartless city, heartless city episode 20 commets. Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.