Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Yoo Hyang
Repaying your sorrows is only a phone call away. Under the veil, Rainbow Taxi Company takes ‘personal acts of revenge’ to restore and protect the justice that the law and society failed to. The company plans its way to revenge and carries it out like a monster on behalf of wronged victims. This is the outline of SBS’s Taxi Driver. The show provides thrilling satisfaction as it unfolds a story about punishing criminals who are out of the authority’s surveillance. The series is about taking commissions for personal revenge.
Taxi Driver depicts a Dark Hero figure like Vincenzo – a show that started before Taxi Driver – where they fight evil with evil. The leader of the vindictive show is Kim Do Gi, a former Special Mission Group Captain. While he silently fulfills his task as a Taxi Driver, he makes his presence felt when he starts on a mission. The character carries out the mission with resolute boldness and sober decision-making skills, no matter what kind of crisis he faces. When needed, he also shows off his power, taking on a group of people alone. Rather than pitying the victims who ask him to take revenge for them, he uses his energy to punish the root of the problem ruthlessly. Behind him are his colleagues from the Rainbow Taxi Company, who support him on the mission with high-tech.
On the one hand, Kim Do Gi and the Rainbow Taxi Company stand on cartoon-like grounds as the work is based on a webtoon. On the other hand, the cases that make them move are based on actual incidents directed by Park Joon Woo, who previously worked on Unanswered Questions. The show starts with Cho Do Cheol, a child sex offender, being released from prison after serving his sentence in the first episode. It also depicts the labor exploitation by the salted fish factory that violated the rights of intellectually disabled people, the continued school violence in the negligence of adults, and the assault of online storage service company employees done by its CEO. As such, these resemble the real-life cases reported in the media and caused public outrage.
The show’s purpose and goal are clear. It questions whether justice in our society is working adequately, and it places blame on the absurd reality. The perpetrators, who should face the lawful consequence, are protected by the law and sneak out of the radar. Meanwhile, their victims have to live in pain and anger. Kim Do Gi and the Rainbow Taxi Company thus make their moves without tolerating such ridiculous realities. They take action in a bold way that the system was never able to. And they make the perpetrators pay a fair price for what they have done. Although the process of the revenge may seem unrealistic, a vicarious sense of satisfaction follows as we have seen so many cases where the law and society did not live up to their names.
However, the crude production holds you back when you try to enjoy the satisfaction to its fullest. First, it’s in the way the show illustrates crime. As pointed out from the first episode, the show gives the impression that it is trying to flaunt violent scenes by focusing on how brutal the incident is. Specific accounts of the appalling cases do not make the show more engaging. It could be another form of violence. While this is not a problem solely relevant to Taxi Driver, it is disappointing to see a lack of prudence in the way of reenacting the crime.
Considering how interesting the subject matter is, the plot seems simple while the characters feel ill-fitting. Though still in its early days, the show appears like Kim Do Gi’s one-man show. This is because his teammates in the Rainbow Taxi Company remain as supporting roles for him. The pace at which Kang Ha Na, the prosecutor that opposes Kim Do Gi and the Rainbow Taxi Company’s principles, enters the central narrative is too slow. Each episode draws from real-life events, but the dramatic tension decreases as the show is focused on using anger as a driving force. Therefore, problems in the series are way too easily resolved.
Nevertheless, expectations are remaining for Taxi Driver. The character development may be loose, but the actors’ superb performances catch the eyes. In particular, Lee Je Hoon perfectly fits the character, so much so that the gossips about his stunt double are forgotten. The actor makes the show enjoyable as he depicts Kim Do Gi, who usually is quite yet completely changes when starting on a planned mission. It’s delightful to compare Kim Do Gi before and after he goes on a mission. Esom makes viewers anticipate her performance in future episodes as she is fiercer in the show than she was in Samjin Company English Class as Yoo Na. Pyo Ye Jin also suits the series without awkwardness, despite joining later on. Kim Eui Sung is also making a solid presence as he treats the perpetrators and the victims with two different faces.
The car chase scenes are beyond expectations. They were called for since the story is takes place in a Taxi Company. Hence, a lot of work went into these spectacular scenes. The speedy car chases were seen right from the first episode, and Kim Do Gi’s parking scene in the third episode is indeed the best part. Car chases are not common in existing series, so this is one way to show the difference from the other series.
The only thing remaining is the show’s plot. Until now, the elements outside of the work garnered attention, such as the events based on true stories. However, to come to a successful end, it is crucial to focus on filling the plot. Despite its purpose to deal with social issues, Taxi Driver is about a dark hero. Therefore, the characters from the Rainbow Taxi Company and Kim Do Gi need to be more precise. Although it is important for the incidents to call for anger, they need to be more detailed for them to provide satisfaction to viewers while punishing criminals. I hope the regretful moments from the early stages of the show will be refurbished in future plot development.
Verdict: A K-Dark Hero series in need of a little more effort! (6/10)
Editor Hong Hyun Jung: K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.