I confess: I have totally given up watching (and completing) Neighbourhood Heroes. Mainly cos, it isn’t the usual OCN dark, slicky fare. Not that Heroes is boring…it’s juz, not as interesting. (sorry)
Thankfully, post-Heroes, OCN regains its momentum. Vampire is typical OCN-fare: dark, bloody, monstrous (literally), but slick.
- Lee-joon (from Heard it Through the Grapevine) as Yoon-san. Ex-cop who suffered a bad chest? lung? injury during a failed undercover op, and turns to working as a private investigator. Keen observation skills and an almost Sherlockian ability to solve crimes. So the added bonus of super strength when he turns into a vampire later will make him near-invincible.
- Oh Jung-se (from The Lovers) as Yong Gu-hyung. Also an ex-cop (served for 15 years in the force) turned PI (though he probably left cos of the $$). I don’t think he is blood-related to San, but as a partner, he is caring and very brotherly towards San.
- Lee Se-young as Han Gyeo-wool. Supposedly an ex-convict whom Gu-hyung threw into juvenile detention centre years ago, she is also an ex-hacker, ex-cat burglar and what have you. Quick on the uptake and feisty, she rounds up the PI team as the latest addition — turning from client to partner.
- Kim Yoon-hye (from Flower Boy Next Door) as Jung Yoo-jin. San’s mysterious ex-girlfriend, who used to be on the same undercover team as San. She is also the one who gave him that chest wound. She is supposed to be dead…but San finds traces that she MAY be alive. He is obsessed with finding her.
Full recaps: Dramabeans (not sure if they are recapping this for good. If no, you can rely on our site) 😛
The opening shows San (as a vampire) standing on top of a building, pondering about the significance of Nights. He later (with his superhuman strength) beats up a bunch of thugs.
Flashback to 5 years ago: a human San, and rookie cop practises judo with his friend, Tae-woo. A girl, Yoo-jin, looks on, and a flicker of disappointment (?) crosses her face when San loses. Later, the 3 of them are called into the Police Comm’s office and given a task to go undercover. The job apparently fails, as next we see is San rescuing a bound up Yoo-jin and the trio make their escape, narrowly getting killed by a bunch of gangsters.
Enroute in their getaway car, Yoo-jin suddenly orders Tae-woo to pull over. She gets out of the car, in a very agitated state. San tries to cajole her to get in, but she suddenly apologises and pulls out a gun. Yoo-jin shoots San in the chest and leaves him there bleeding. Not long after she gets into the car with Tae-woo, the vehicle exploded.
5 years later, San has left the police force (prob due to his injury?) and has teamed up with Gu-hyung in a PI firm. They mainly track down spouses who have affairs, or help out inept detectives (played by An Se-ha) to solve crimes. San is impressive with his level of observation and deduction.
The duo’s first weird case arrives in the form of Gyeo-wool. She literally breaks into their house/office, and strolls in helping herself to the food and drinks there. (i like her already) Claiming to be an ex-convict whom Gu-hyung once thrown into juvie, Gyeo-wool now seeks the duo’s help to uncover what her “oppa” (in the romantic sense) is up to. Gu-hyung isn’t keen to take up the job offer, but when San sees the pic that Gyeo-wool has taken (when she tailed her oppa), he agrees to the case.
Reason for San’s change of mind is the pic shows Gyu-min (Gyeo-wool’s oppa) talking to a cloaked woman, who is fingering a sun pendant necklace. That pendant is similar to what Yoo-jin used to wear, and the mysterious woman plays with it exactly like how Yoo-jin would do when she is nervous.
The trio tails Gyu-min one night into a nightclub, and San + Gu-hyung narrowly escapes being beaten into pulp when they stumble into the kitchen and meet a group of mobsters cleaning up…something (that looks like blood). But later on, San and Gu-hyung are smashed up very badly by an irate Gyu-min, who has discovered his tail. Gyeo-wool intervenes to stop her oppa from killing the duo. Turns out that Gyeo-wool is not Gyu-min’s lover, but his sister. Gyu-min used to work in a lab as a research scientist (specializing in blood works), and he recently quit his job…when his fiancé disappeared.
In Gyu-min’s room, San and Gu-hyung find an access card which leads them back to the same nightclub. This time, they visit in the day, pretending to be health inspection officers. They manage to gain access via the card to the backroom behind the kitchen, and discover a computer with files of “Helper” names on it…plus another freezer room full of blood packs. Mobster chief arrives then, and catches them redhanded. Luckily, Gyeo-wool is quick thinking enough to plan the guys’ escape.
Mobster chief is later sent to tail San and Gu-hyung by his boss — a mysterious woman whose face we don’t see, but we do see that sun pendant on her neck. Mobster chief follows San and Gu-hyung (+ Gyeo-wool) to Gyu-min fiancé’s house. Gyu-min and his fiancé are both in there…the rooms are kept dark and Gyu-min is promising his fiancé that he will “heal” her. We learn that Gyu-min’s fiancé has been bitten by Yoo-jin (?) when treating her for burns (?)… and that has turned her into a vampire. Later on, fiancé has bitten Gyu-min while he is treating her.
Of cos, the humans who are entering the house has no idea of the monsters residing inside, and San tries to question Gyu-min about Yoo-jin (or potential Yoo-jin). They get interrupted by Mobster Boss making a ruckus outside — he is holding Gyeo-wool as hostage, in return for the files which San has stolen from the computers. Gyu-min’s fiancé sees the situation, and decides to sacrifice herself. She flies out of the house and grabs hold of Mobster Boss. As she burns under the sunlight, the heat is transferred to Mobster Boss and he burns with her.
However, that sets off a volley of shots as Mobster Boss screams in pain from being incinerated alive. The ricochet of bullets sprays towards an unconscious Gyeo-wool, and San rushes to protect her with his own body, taking a bullet to the heart in return. When Gyu-min sees what happens, he injects his new strain of blood (which is supposed to help cure his fiancé) into San. Apparently, this new strain is far superior to the existing vampire virus? blood? cos San doesn’t burn up in daylight. Once he completes turning San into a monster, Gyu-min allows himself to turn to ashes under the sun.
Vampire adopts Blood‘s theory that vampirism is caused by a bacteria/ virus in the blood, and infection occurs through blood transfusion (or saliva to blood, aka biting). Plus, the infected blood can be genetically modified to become “superior”. But other than this premise, the entire show is of cos, very different from Blood‘s narrative. At least there’s no annoying hospital politics.
Unlike previous OCN’s vampire offerings (notably Vampire Prosecutor), we get to see San as a human first before he turns monster. And he is notably impressive — as a detective — before his transformation. Goodness knows what else he can achieve when he acquires vampiric sharp senses and superhuman strength. (we will know next week)
Interesting though that Vampire shows San’s change in status as part of the narrative. Cos it will give his character more depth as he struggles with concealing? adapting? to his new powers. Unlike Prosecutor, where we only get snippets (mainly from flashbacks) of Min Tae-yeon’s dilemma over his newfound strengths. Tae-yeon in Prosecutor has already gotten used to his vampire status and all the cloak and dagger stuff he needs to do in order to prevent his monstrosity from being discovered. Same for Park Ji-sang in Blood. We don’t get much of the adjustment from human to vampire, juz a short glimpse of his tortured childhood when he realizes he isn’t fully human, before seeing Ji-sang again as a doctor.
I do hope that Vampire works into its narrative San’s bewilderment and self-loathing (before finally accepting) of his current status…and not to forget, how his partners (both old and new) adapt to this non-human amongst their midst. I am sure cohabiting with a nocturnal, blood craving, non-human isn’t exactly the easiest task on earth…