And I don’t mean hypnotically trance-like in a nice way. But ok…Reset does show some promise — after you get past the slow start. (i was telling kooriyuki that i nearly fell zzz with all the clicky pens)
- Chun Jung-myung as Prosecutor Cha Woo-jin. He is the Ace which the bumbly police force uses to magically obtain statements from hardcore or juz plain stubborn criminals. The catch though, is no one knows he obtains those confessions via hypnosis (maybe cos it won’t stand up in Court?). Woo-jin has his own ghost to exorcise — he has repressed a shocking memory of his girlfriend’s murder years ago, which is surfacing to his consciousness now in recurring nightmares. One night, he meets with a high schooler who he kinda finds familiar. Later on, he remembers her as having the same face as his dead ex.
- Kim So-hyun as Choi Seung-hee/ Kim Eun-bi. The former is the murdered ex-girlfriend, while the latter is the havoc high schooler whom Woo-jin meets one night. If Seung-hee is the chaste angel, then Eun-bi is her direct opposite. She and her gang are moonlighting as prostitutes when one “business deal” goes very wrong and lands Eun-bi in hot soup.
- Kim Hak-choel as Mob Boss Kim. His son, Kim In-suk, is killed after a night out with Eun-bi and friends. He is thirsting for a bloody revenge, and has pinned his hate on Eun-bi who is the last person to see his son alive (and well, she did leave her incriminating flick knife in his son’s head).
Unlike most OCN thrillers, Reset doesn’t start off in the midst of a crime. Rather, we see a pretty disturbing collage of someone’s nightmares — a dead girl with a bloodied face zombie walks towards the screen. Luckily, we are pulled back to safer reality when the owner of the nightmare wakes up on a psychiatrist’s couch. Prosecutor Cha Woo-jin informs his psychiatrist (his sunbae or hoobae?) that he has been having the same nightmare the last few weeks, and the dream has been getting more vivid. His psychiatrist comments that the nightmare likely stems from a repressed memory — but should Woo-jin force the memories to surface now via hypnosis, he may suffer psychological damage. A fact Woo-jin should know too, since he is also a skilled hypnotist.
Interestingly, Woo-jin prefers to keep his hypnosis skills a secret. He works for the Prosecutor Office, but gets called (by the not-so-efficient police force) to help with stubborn criminals quite frequently. The police superintendent especially favours his unorthodox skills at extracting confessions from hardcore criminals. We are given a brief demo when Woo-jin is called in again to extract a confession from mob boss Kim’s son (Kim In-suk), who is accused of murdering his girlfriend. The hypnosis process goes briefly like this: Woo-jin switches off the intercom, takes out his clicker pen, clicks on it slowly for (an annoying) few minutes, and hey presto! criminal In-suk starts jabbering off the whole process of how he committed the murder.
Unfortunately, the police force still doesn’t manage to nab In-suk, cos mob boss Kim hired a really good (ex-cop) lawyer. In the evening after dinner, Woo-jin and a detective run across a bunch of gangsterish high school girls who are working the streets with their pimp. One of them, Eun-bi, catches Woo-jin’s eye…he finds her vaguely familiar. The pimp notices Woo-jin’s “interest” and offers the girls or Eun-bi to accompany him for a night out — and other “services” after. Woo-jin refuses…but In-suk overhears the exchange and he calls the pimp over to bring the girls to a noraebang bar. Of cos his intention is anything but singing…
Next day though, In-suk is found dead in an alley, stabbed in the back of his neck by a flick knife owned by Eun-bi. She is dragged to the police station for questioning, but claims she can’t remember anything the night before as she has been drugged. Woo-jin learns of her arrest and speeds down to the station to interview her. Cos he only has 10mins, he does a fast-forward version of hypnosis and learns that she has indeed been drugged, and was nearly raped had she not struggled and ran off. She got onto a cab, and vaguely saw an ahjusshi with a mole glaring at In-suk. Woo-jin tries to persuade the police to look for the ahjusshi, but the police are more interested in closing the case quickly for fear of angering mob boss Kim — who has already placed a reward on Eun-bi’s head. (and i mean that literally)
To buy more time for Eun-bi, Woo-jin meets with scary mob boss Kim, who is practising his moves on a bloody golf club that has the pimp’s brains all over it. Mob boss Kim agrees to a 48h extension to hunt down the real murderer.
Later in the day however, the ahjusshi suspect drives himself down to the station to confess. However, he’d only talk to Woo-jin and fends off other officers’ interference with his gun. But the message he gives to Woo-jin is really creepy. He starts humming a song which Woo-jin used to sing to Seung-hee and makes references to her murder, as though he is privy to the whole incident. But before Woo-jin can ask him more questions, he sets himself and his truck on fire.
I find Reset unusual in its format — the opening doesn’t feel like a crime thriller, but more a horror flick. Instead of starting in the middle of a murder (or whatever violent crime), we have the image of zombie-ghost Seung-hee stumbling towards the screen. A little like Sadako in The Ring (that Jap horror flick). I do HOPE that it doesn’t go down the way like Cheo-yong, where the crime and the supernatural mix starts to get a little annoying after a while.
As for the use of hypnosis, well…I really had to suspend my disbelief in the stratosphere. Bottom-line: hypnosis doesn’t work on everyone, so Woo-jin muz be using magic instead to induce an immediate trance on his subjects. Also, the extorted confession under hypnosis is unlikely to hold water in court — a point which Reset brings across; but rather than for practicality, it adds a mysterious dimension to our baby-faced Prosecutor Cha. I can’t help but draw parallels between Prosecutor Cha and Vampire Prosecutor — both crack cases based on some supernatural abilites (ok, one of them IS a supernatural being), and both are suave and slick dressers. Cheo-yong has the ability, but is not exactly the best dressed detective around. (maybe that’s cos he’s only a detective, not a prosecutor)
The pace for Reset is also aligned with the hypnosis theme — it is rather slow and sleep inducing for the first half of ep1. The speed picks up though in the later half, and towards the end it is almost like the hypnotist is waking you up with the truck explosion and the weird ahjusshi (watching a person burns himself alive should wake you up). Oh, and I forgot to mention, the weird ahjusshi seems to be taking orders over the phone from someone. He receives a call with some instructions and goes straight to the police station and blast himself up…after delivering that cryptic message to Woo-jin. And because Reset is not like previous OCN’s episodic crime thrillers, the ending to ep1 is more “whut??!” than an enlightened “ahhh….”
The stepping away from the one-crime-per-episode format makes Reset similar to tvN’s earlier (failed) offering Gap-dong. Despite the supernatural-like opening, the ending tone of Reset — the shadowy mastermind, the unsolved murder committed, the protagonist who appears aloof but is actually scarred from his past, and the play on the human psyche — all of these elements can be found in Gap-dong as well. However, I am quite confident Reset will not flounder (and sink) along the way like Gap-dong (which btw, should read better as a novel), cos of less episodes (less meandering) and well, OCN is OCN…the home to slick thrillers. (or well dressed prosecutors with magical abilities)
So yes, I will continue to stick around and watch Reset — despite some misgivings about the use of hynopsis.