Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
The exhilarating thrill of bare-knuckle action courses through Netflix’s new series Bloodhounds. In eight episodes, Woo Do Hwan and Lee Sang Yi deliver a pulse-pounding tale of two young boxers, blending fierce action and sweet bromance. Despite a touch of controversy stemming from Kim Sae Ron’s DUI charge prior to the show’s release, Bloodhounds is a well-crafted show that delivers all the ingredients of an entertaining binge-watch.
Bloodhounds artfully weaves a tale of two young men who pit their lives against the nefarious world of loan sharks. Director Kim Joo Hwan, known for his deft depiction of male camaraderie against evil in films like Midnight Runners and The Divine Fury, brings his signature touch to his first foray into television, even switching up the original webtoon’s sport from judo to boxing and incorporating elements of COVID-19. This amps up not only the impact of the action scenes but also the narrative’s resonance with reality. Moreover, the bromance, a trademark of his storytelling, unfolds in even more vibrant colors than before.
The characters Gun Woo (Woo Do Hwan) and Woo Jin (Lee Sang Yi) are a lot similar to the memorable duo, Ki Koon (Park Seo Joon) and Hee Yeol (Kang Ha Neul), from Midnight Runners. Like them, this new duo confronts injustice with youthful energy and a strong sense of righteousness. Despite occasional lapses into despair, the power of their camaraderie continually fuels their resilience and fosters their growth. Their rocky yet blood-covered journey, layered with warmth and familiarity, readily compels viewers to rally behind them.
Woo Do Hwan and Lee breathe fresh life into the familiar bromance with performances that are unexpectedly delightful. Woo undergoes a remarkable transformation from his villain role in The Divine Fury to Gun Woo, a kind-hearted, naive young man. His slightly hesitant voice and innocent gaze contribute to a compelling portrayal of this righteous character. Meanwhile, Lee strikes a perfect balance with his slick portrayal of the somewhat cocky and crafty Woo Jin. His impressive physical transformation to fit the role of a boxer is both astonishing and refreshing.
The show also successfully integrates the realities of the pandemic, which significantly affected the lower middle-class economy in recent years. Even the cartoonish characters smoothly anchor into the drama, enhancing viewer engagement. The despicable loan shark Myung Gil, played by Park Sung Woong, is particularly menacing in this context. Myung Gil, driven by greed, surpasses all villains in heinousness, exploiting people’s livelihoods in the pandemic. Park’s portrayal, infused with vulgarity, leaves a uniquely malignant imprint, distinguishing him from his previous villainous roles.
The bare-knuckle action sequences are as central to the narrative as the storyline itself. The rhythmically pulsating fights between Gun Woo-Woo Jin and the loan sharks are executed with remarkable agility and physicality. Both Woo and Lee not only perfectly embody their boxer characters but also brilliantly execute their agile action sequences. Even to the uninitiated, their movements are captivating, providing a different kind of enjoyment from the punchfest seen in the recent hit, The Roundup: No Way Out, starring Ma Dong Seok. Not only that, but actors Lee Hae Young, Ryu Soo Young, Huh Jun Ho, and Park Sung Woong also bring their action skills to the table, offering a thrilling spectacle with swords, motorcycles, and more. Among them, Lee Hae Young and Ryu Soo Young present eye-pleasing action, leaving viewers wanting more.
The primary downside of Bloodhounds might be the controversy surrounding Kim Sae Ron. Hyun Ju, a central character alongside Gun Woo and Woo Jin, plays a vital role in their exploration of the ruthless loan sharking world and shaping the trio’s chemistry. Hence, editing her out completely or re-shooting the entire show clearly wasn’t an option. The director’s decision to drop her during the series creates a narrative gap and disrupts the chemistry. However, the superb performances of Woo and Lee offset this loss, pouring their utmost into the series to compensate for the disruption caused by an external scandal. One can only hope their commendable efforts will bear fruits. (7/10)
Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a 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.