Joo-man (played by Lee Kwang-soo) is a gangster. Specifically his job title is collector. People take out debts, and when they don't pay, Joo-man shows up at their door to rough them up and make clear the consequences for continued welching. It's a daily grind. Joo-man doesn't exactly hate the work, but he feels like a jerk just often enough that beating people up doesn't grant him much of a release. Joo-man impulsively ends up joing a college hockey team technically for the sake of a specific job but more practically because the man realizes he needs a hobby.
"Puck!" is a mashup of gangster melodrama and inspirational sports genres. I can't quite recall ever having seen this particular combination before and it's kind of obvious why. Especially by the second half the tone whiplash gets to be really bad. We're constantly jumping around from generally cheerful sports scenes to Joo-man's day job, which inevitably involves people getting beat up who don't really deserve it.
The backdrop is rather grim, and weirdly enough, "Puck!" doesn't even address the background problems that much. The drama ends immediately after the end of the big climactic game, and the question of what exactly Joo-man is going to do next is deliberately left unanswered. Hockey's nice and all, but it's not exactly the kind of activity you can pin career aspirations on. The team's other actual students are presumably studying some other trade.
"Puck!" isn't all bad. There is some decent humor thrown in here. The title is actually a fairly obvious multilingual pun- a reference to Joo-man's tendency to swear and how the Korean pronunciation of the word is identical to a fairly well-known English curse. When Joo-man is legitimately angry it's very easy to mentally imagine his lines this way. It's telling how Joo-man only really gets mad at the small stuff. His inevitable conflict with the gang boss Sang-soo (played by Kim Byung-ok) shows surprisingly little resistance, because Joo-man knows he screwed up.
But this again is where whiplash gets to be a problem. We have big dramatic scenes like Joo-man beggining Sang-soo for a last chance, and contrast that with the goofiness that marks the first episode's cliffhanger- one that very predictably and ridiculously involves a speeding train. I can definitely give the production team points for effort- the hockey scenes look great, and even outside the ice rink the camerawork is pretty decent. Even so, overall I wasn't that enthralled with "Puck!".
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Puck!""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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