Fight is a little similar to Reply: 1997 – we have a couple of friends who grew up together, not knowing that they had love and love each other. Difference is: I find Fight to be a little grittier than Reply, which is mostly all pretty nostalgia.
- Park Seo-joon (from Hwarang) as Ko Dong-man. He was the taekwondo extraordinaire in high school, but for some reasons (having to do with his Dad and a failing family business) had to give up his martial arts dream. After graduation, he ends up working on a contract basis as a pest controller (a new occupation-type for Kdramaland). He grew up with his bestie, Ae-ra, in the same neighbourhood.
- Kim Ji-won (from Descendants of the Sun) as Choi Ae-ra. She dreamt of being a news anchor in high school, but probably due to her less-than-stellar results, ends up working as an info counter girl in a department store.
- Ahn Jae-hong (from Reply: 1988) as Kim Joo-man. Dong-man’s other bestie, he now works in an online shopping company as the purchaser, and has an underground office romance with another of his long time friend, Seol-hee.
- Song Ha-yoon as Baek Seol-hee. Ae-ra’s female bestie. Her dream was to be happily married, and a homemaker. Unfortunately, Dong-man and her financial circumstances do not allow them to get hitched yet. She now works as a customer service hotline exec in the same company as Dong-man.
As with all stories centred round the mundane, it is hard to write a plot summary. The characters live their lives without much fanfare, and since the OTP are friends before they become a couple, their love line does not have the fireworks that other Kdrama’s rom-coms do.
We start off with the “Fantastic 4” (as the friends call themselves) in their respective high schools. Within the first 5 mins, you know they are not A-star students. Dong-man and Joo-man are more interested in watching kungfu videos in class, and Ae-ra and Seol-hee day dream throughout their lessons. We do learn that Dong-man has strong potential in taekwondo though, as he wins match after match in the inter-schools’ competitions.
But…years later, when they are all adults, none of them have attained their high school dreams. Ae-ra ends up working as an info counter customer service assistant, and her bestie, Seol-hee, as a hotline customer service agent. Dong-man, whom we thought would be a professional taekwondo competitor by now, has completely given up on his dreams, so much so the refuses to acknowledge it. There are hints in ep2 that something traumatic scarred him enough to drop his only love. And it has to do with his dad and their family’s business. Though that doesn’t stop his previous coach (who ended up as a hawker) from goading him to revive their dreams.
As for Joo-man and Seol-hee…I’d say Seol-hee achieved half (?) her dream? She has been secretly dating Joo-man (who works in the same company) for 6 years. And while marriage SEEMS to be on the cards, Joo-man is dragging his feet. Not cos he wants to play the field – from the way he (secretly) shields Seol-hee from her nasty supervisor and how he ignores another colleague’s advances, he seems to a pretty loyal guy. I guess he knows he and Seol-hee are still not financially stable enough to start a family.
Ae-ra also has a boyfriend, whom she has been financially supporting for years to study for the civil exam. Unfortunately, Leech Boyfriend decides to take it up with their gosiwon’s ahjumma instead. And to add salt to Ae-ra’s wounds, the ahjumma (who modestly says she owns an eatery) is actually loaded (her “eatery” comes in a chain). Suffice to say, the break up isn’t pretty (and ahjumma is also pregnant with Leech Boyfriend’s child). Ouch.
Dong-man himself had a difficult break up too. He used to be in a relationship with famous news anchor Hye-ran, and is visibly shaken when news of her divorce breaks out. Hye-ran appears to be interested to reunite with Dong-man though.
As mentioned, Fight is akin to Reply series, in the sense that both have the “coming-of-age” theme. Though in Fight’s case, it is sadder – but more realistic. There’s no rosy glow surrounding the 4 best friends’ life journeys. They had a fairly carefree adolescent period, but Reality hits them when they enter the working world. Like most of us, the so-called “potential” and “drive” they had when they were younger become dimmer as they struggle to make ends meet.
Not to say they are working in menial and low paying jobs. In fact, all of them have fairly ok income. Even enough for Ae-ra to support her Leech Boyfriend for years. But we (and they) know this isn’t what they want. Save for Seol-hee, the rest yearn for a different career path, whether they acknowledge it or not.
Grittiness aside, I do love Ae-ra as a character. She is spunky, and a spit fire to match. Though sometimes she can be a bit of a social klutz and annoyingly simple minded (like WHY support a boyfriend unconditionally for YEARS??), at least she knows how to make a strong comeback when needed. Like even though Rich Ahjumma “paid” her off to break up, Ae-ra ends up having the last “word” by pulling Ahjumma’s hair – not for a catfight, but to retrieve her hair tie. And later, she breaks all the side mirrors of some sleazeballs, and loftily telling them she will pay for repairs – after she gets her fill of revenge on their cars.
In contrast, Dong-man is juz…a simpleton. From our pov, we can see very clearly he cares for Ae-ra more than juz a friend would. He gets upset whenever Ae-ra gets hurt or is sad, and drops everything to run to her aid. And his behaviour stretches back all the way to their high school days – when Ae-ra clearly is slightly crushing on him (and she knows it but he doesn’t). I suppose it will take more work for Dong-man to figure out why he behaves so irrationally when it comes to Ae-ra.