After quite a bad run with "Vampire Detective", OCN is back with something bigger and better. "Squad 38" is shaping up to be one entertaining and nicely made summer movie in drama form. Taxes might sound boring, but with a duo of unlikely partners going after a Big Bad and corruption being the name of the game, there is plenty to enjoy here.
Neither taxes or crime are concepts one would associate with comedy and yet the drama nicely juggles all three in its first four episodes. There are genuinely witty, laugh-out-loud moments in this and many tie in nicely to the social commentary and character development. Ma Dong-seok is a hoot and a half as the honorable, but gullible Baek Seong-il and Seo In-guk makes you want to slap the smirk off of Yang Jeong-do's face, which seems to be how we are supposed to feel about them. Their chemistry works and the supporting cast is lovely.
The series is pretty impressive in presentation, too. It is nicely filmed and very well paced, giving it a cinematic feel, the action is good and the concepts are simple, but presented in a thrilling way. "Squad 38" does not have the meatiest of stories, it has to be said. There are rich cartoonish bad guys, corrupt officials and a mysterious benefactor behind the young conman. Even so, its simple premise does not lower its entertainment value whatsoever.
This is perhaps the reason why we have actual villains with violent tendencies and dark secrets here. While this does kill the potential for a more realistic and relevant look into tax evasion, having a series where the biggest evil are raging older women holding onto their jewelry would probably not appeal to the main audience of a channel known for its action and crime shows. At the same time, I worry about the comedy side of things, which already dies down in episode four.
Another element which worries me is the potential romance between Cheon Seong-hee (Choi Soo-young) and Jeong-do. The story does not really need it at this point and Seong-hee's character is actually a nice addition and the person who keeps Seong-il a little grounded. It would be a shame to lose her to the position of love trophy. Nevertheless, some light romantic side story kept out of the way of the show's main appeal can work well.
Personal worries notwithstanding, "Squad 38" is doing extremely well so far. I am not sure if the current main villain will be the Big Bad, as he is also used for comedy at times. We have a menacing detective around and the aforementioned mysterious benefactor, so I expect more players to join up soon. I am looking forward to it.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Squad 38""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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