A lot of dramas include action and crime, but there is usually more to it than the world of crime itself. Revenge, justice, survival and other manner of more grand elements are the goal of those stories. "Last" is an odd show in the sense that it approaches new topics and from a slightly different angle than what most shows go for. What has been quite a nice start can now hopefully evolve and succeed.
At a time when each given series seems to require several words to describe its often very different genres, this one comes in as a simple action crime show. There are subplots and each character clearly has their story, but the basic premise is simple. An arrogant, but skilled man makes a mistake, loses everything and then makes a probably bigger mistake to take it all back. There are fights, a lot of fights, gratuitous machismo and violence.
The biggest thing "Last" has going for it at the moment, cast and production value aside is its unique premise. Poor characters who are somehow wronged by rich ones is nothing new, but the world of the homeless is not exactly a top drama setting. There are characters here who would be stereotypes in other shows and the fact that the series is slowly revealing a lot of backstory for them and characterizing them is promising. No one is a saint here and their nuanced nature makes them engrossing.
Returning to the cast, the series is offering another rarity, especially as of late. There are talented actors here, for roles which they can carry, and they are given all they need to do just that. As sad as it is to admit, Korean drama has issues with casting and so works that do pay attention to it stand out in acting quality. The characters in the first four episodes are still on the shallow side that one meets in the genre. Remaining so is a possibility for them, but everything is pointing to richer material for the future.
Where the problems may lie for "Last" is in its story's lead and his place in the world. For one, Jang Tae-ho (Yoon Kye-sang) is an anti-hero. He is someone who did illegal work for bad people, almost died and instead of learning, he simply puts himself in worse danger. He wants money and pride. An anti-hero can work, but in order for him to work for 16 episodes, he needs to go through a fall and maturing phase. What he needs to do even more is to become more involved in a world still largely functioning without him.
At the moment there are conflicts, relationships and partnerships being built, which clearly have more to them in the past and will in the future. So in terms of having things to do, the series is setting up plenty. At the same time, the world of the homeless could be explored a bit better and there are some logic issues. The villain's (portrayed by Lee Beom-soo) power does not feel significant, the hero is intelligent, but has very slow moments too frequently. Usual, but still noticeable problems.
"Last" is an exciting and well-filmed series. It has colorful characters, a lot of visceral satisfaction through its fighting scenes, and a skilled cast. While still more of an action piece than a character drama, the foundation is there for character development and compelling exploration of morality through some of the people of Seoul's underground. If they focus on the human element more, this might just turn out great.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Last""
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