Woots. In celebration of the station’s 20th anniversary, OCN decides to venture into longer running mini-series. We all are quite familiar with OCN’s dark and gritty police flicks, but this time, the station’s giving us 2 eps in a week instead of the usual one-per-week format. Brace yourself for an overdose! (actually, with all the cops flicks this season, i am kinda already overdosed)
- Kim Moo-yul as Kim Do-hyeong. Your typical (?) straitlaced bank employee. He falls in love with mysterious(ly) beautiful Joo-young, and proposes to her. Only to have her disappear suddenly.
- Ko Sung-hee as Yoon Joo-young. A woman with a dark past. Once mistress to Mob Boss Song, she braved betraying him after she falls in love with Do-hyeong and wants to re-start her life. Unfortunately, the past catches up with her. And she runs? or is kidnapped?
- Lee Si-young as Detective Cha Yoon-mi. She befriends Joo-young after the latter agrees to become a spy for her 3 years ago, in the sting operation to capture Mob Boss Song. When Yoon-mi hears about Joo-young’s disappearance, she is worried. (and rightfully so…)
- Lee Jae-yong as Mob Boss Song Hak-soo. An infamous human and organs trafficker, he was finally caught by Yoon-mi (with help from Joo-young) and given a long term (10 year) sentence. Unfortunately, he manages to get out on parole after 3 years. And no prizes for guessing his motivation — yep, cos of Joo-young.
Yoon-mi narrates as the voiceover in the opening, as she describes how people, desperate for money, turn to illegal moneylenders and end up digging their own graves. Those who are unable to pay up, and who are written off as “bad debts” by the moneylenders, are referred to the Shadows Syndicate, headed by Mob Boss Song. Boss Song will pay off the outstanding debts to the moneylenders in return for the “fresh meat” (the debtor).
As to what Boss Song does with them: the young girls who borrow money to pay off their school loans, will be sold to cheap brothels overseas. The others will be amputated and made to work as beggars. Or they are sold to underground drug production factories. Ultimately, when the “meat” becomes stale (almost near death), they are cut opened and organs taken from them to be sold on the black market.
Yoon-mi was hot on the tail of Boss Song for years, and finally managed to capture him with the help of Joo-young. Joo-young was then Boss Song’s favourite mistress and given her proximity to him, was able to provide damning evidence of his crimes.
Joo-young had agreed to this dangerous mission because she chances upon Do-hyeong during a trip to his bank one day. They fall in love with each other and Joo-young decides that she wants a new life. However, she was so scared of Boss Song being released on bail that she chose not to approach Do-hyeong after that first encounter. Only after a year later when Boss Song is convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, that she returns to the bank and Do-hyeong.
Roll forward to 3 years later.
Bank exec Do-hyeong excitedly proposes to Joo-young, whom he has been co-habiting with for close to 2 years. Joo-young is hesitant to accept the proposal…until her gynae breaks the news to her that she is 5 weeks pregnant.
However, Boss Song has also managed to track down Joo-young through his lackey, and he knows Joo-young has betrayed him. He manages to pull some strings and gets himself out on probation way before his 10-year stint is up. A fact that Yoon-mi only finds out later.
On the same day which Boss Song is released from prison, Joo-young is at the apartment which she shares with Do-hyeong, preparing dinner in anticipation of breaking the happy news of her pregnancy and acceptance of his proposal to him. However, she receives an unidentified call (from Boss Song?), and drops her dinner preparation, hastily leaving Do-hyeong’s apartment. Her movements are tracked by CCTVs up till the building’s entrance.
Interestingly though, Do-hyeong also received a mysterious call that day… which leaves him in a sour mood. The fried chicken stall’s owner remembered Do-hyeong dropping by before he goes home to Joo-young and said that Do-hyeong “looked angry”.
After exhausting all means of locating Joo-young, Do-hyeong finally makes a police report. Only to be brushed off by Yoon-mi’s rather insensitive colleague, who keeps sniping that maybe Joo-young ran off with another man. When Yoon-mi finds out in the evening that Joo-young is reported missing, her police instinct kicks in, and she gathers her team to focus on finding Joo-young. They drop by Do-hyeong’s house to interview him.
The fact that Do-hyeong only reported Joo-young’s disappearance on the 4th day is something which Yoon-mi picks up during her interview. She is also sharp enough to spot that Do-hyeong is unaware of the pregnancy even though he had claimed to know about it in his first statement to the police. Yoon-mi shares her niggling doubts about Do-hyeong and her worries about Joo-young’s safety with her sunbae, Jin-gi, who was also in the sting operation against Boss Song 3 years ago.
On his own though, Do-hyeong manages to pick up a piece of paper where Joo-young had scribbled a telephone number. He gets his colleague to help trace the caller’s identity, a thug hired by Moneylender Park — who is a client of his bank (of cos Park goes under the guise of a construction firm’s owner). He confronts Park about Joo-young, and beats his thugs into pulp. We learn later that Do-hyeong was trained as a Marine, and was well known for his peerless combat skills.
Park, the bully turned piss-in-his-pants coward, immediately flees from Do-hyeong in his car, and even gives himself up to police patrol for “drunk driving”. He points to Do-hyeong, who is hot on his tail, and manages to get the police to chase after him. Do-hyeong calls Yoon-mi for help to shake off the police, and she obliges. She almost manages to get him off the hook, until one of the more alert police officer demands that Do-hyeong opens his car’s boot.
Boss Song’s frozen and very dead body is stashed in the boot.
Getting Lee Si-young to play cop amps up the badass factor in Bride. At least the fight scenes look realistic — as early as 5 mins into Bride, Yoon-mi is bodily thrown around and had beer bottles hurled at her face by Boss Song. Of cos she returns the treatment in kind.
Kwon Moo-yul too, plays a convincing Do-hyeong. The strait laced, proper bank exec who is 200% accountant, and 0% sycophant. At the same time, you can’t help but feel there’s something hidden below the surface as early as ep1. He appears to be unfailingly polite and gracious…but there’s juz something odd (and creepy) about him. For one, his impeccable self-control is contrasted with some of his actions. He doesn’t know how to take Joo-young’s hints on not wanting to go home (she purposely waits out the last bus)…but is the first to purchase an apartment and suggests cohabitation. And later, he purchases a car for Joo-young, even though he doesn’t like to drive and prefers to cycle to work. His reason: Joo-young is the reason why he feels “alive”. (juz like that, and the gift is a car + an apartment. what a nice, loaded boyfriend…or what a scary boyfriend…or maybe i’m juz jealous)
Despite looking like the typical nerdy accountant-type, Do-hyeong is scary when he loses control. He nearly beats up Yoon-mi’s colleague and we have seen him literally flatten the burly thugs who surround Moneylender Park. All this culminates in the revelation of his “secret” identity — an ex-Marine. Thankfully. Cos a nerdy accountant isn’t going to be up to the job in rescuing his bride-to-be from the Underworld.
The twist at the end of ep2 is interesting. I’d thought Boss Song is the Big Baddie in Bride and the head of the Shadows Syndicate. But, no. There is another even bigger, badder Boss behind.