Money can make the world go round, and bring out the worst of people also.
Genre: Intrigue, Thriller, romance, comedy
Synopsis: A rich tycoon is murdered by his trusted aide, mistress and a few others out of money and revenge. The killers frame the tycoon’s wife for the murder and seize his fortune for themselves. His son, Lee Kang Seok (Kang Ji Hwan) manages to escape being killed but loses his memory and ends up under the care of Bok Hwal Soo, a powerful woman who grooms him into a prosecutor. With a new name, Lee Cha Don, he rises up the ranks and comes face to face with his father’s killers again. A battle of wits ensue and a series of events sets Cha Don on his path to revenge.
A thrilling ride indeed. I’m writing this a few hours after completing the series and I can still feel the adrenaline rush that I felt earlier. This drama is filled with lots of intrigue, scheming and smart moves by our hero and villain; it’s like watching an exciting game of chess! This drama impressed me mainly because everyone in the show were intelligent and were able to stand up against the many challenges that came their way. All too often in dramas, we have heroes who are too trusting, noble idiots, or characters who fail to piece the clues together that are laid out in front of them. Here, Lee Cha Don may be a genius, but his opponent Ji Se Kwang (Park Sang Min), the “leader” of the killers, is equally smart and it is a joy watching them foil each other’s plans. Even the females here are strong in their own ways, although their tenacity were not portrayed as well as the males. Fellow prosecutor Jeon Ji Hoo (Choi Yeo Jin) showed she had the guts to stand up to her superiors in order to serve justice to those who deserved, but her role was greatly diminished in the second half of the series, and worse, she became rather passive towards the end when she got infatuated with Ji Se Kwang. Our female lead Bok Jae In (Hwang Jung Eum), the daughter of the lady who sponsored Cha Don, only showed her full potential as a force to be reckoned towards the last leg of the series too.
I have less complaints about the other characters, and all the actors were impressive. I have seen Kang Ji Hwan in other shows, but I was most impressed by his performance here. He’s one of those actors who can deliver both comedic and serious scenes flawlessly. This drama had several funny moments here and there, sometimes at unexpected moments such that they seem oddly out of place, but Kang Ji Hwan’s smooth delivery helped weave the light and serious moments together nicely. Lee Moon Shik’s short appearance in two of the episodes was also a delight. The other actors who played the villains also did a good job in bringing out the many layers in their characters such that they were not just one-sided evil beings.
I see this drama as a form of expression for the writers to make a statement about the greed in society and human nature. You can glean several messages from this show — money is the root of all evil and it corrupts people, the different interpretations of Justice, and society’s pre-conceived perceptions of beauty. Lee Cha Don’s father was filthy rich but selfish and arrogant, and his death was brought about by his own wealth that he took so much pride in. Ji Se Kwang had lofty ideals about creating a perfect society but resorted to the wrong means to mete out justice. In fact, our hero Lee Cha Don was no better either as he had set out to be a righteous prosecutor but succumbed to greed and got corrupted by money just like his father’s killers whom he hated. We also saw how the Law can be used to mete out punishment to deserving criminals, but can also be manipulated to hurt the innocent. Then there’s Jae In who was constantly humiliated by Cha Don and others in society for being fat but gained acceptance after going under the knife. I have an issue with this story arc about Jae In’s transformation though as it seemed to be discriminating against fat people, and the story would not have been wholly different without Jae In being fat. In this case, it seemed like the writers wanted to address too many societal issues to the point of overkill. [SPOILER] Hence, I was glad that they made Jae In fat again at the last episode to show that Cha Don truly loved her for who she is and not her appearances. I especially liked how they touched on the topic of dementia though, The scenes of Bok Hwa Sool losing her memory and degenerating into a child-like old lady were heart-wrenching and touching. Mental illness was also touched upon in this show where perfectly normal people are sent to the asylum, only to end up on the verge of losing their senses because of the mistreatment by the asylum staff (I found these scenes disturbing). I think this somewhat reflects society’s treatment towards mentally ill people whom we tend to shun and disregard their words.
Exciting and thought-provoking, but all the plotting and monetary stuff about embezzlement and banks can get somewhat confusing (for me at least). Some minor flaws but generally fast-moving story with some heart-racing moments.
Enjoyment level: 8.5/10