The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

You Are All Surrounded

You're All Surrounded

Title: 너희들은 포위됐다 / Neoheedeuleun Powidwaessda
Genre: Action, comedy, romance
Episodes: 20
Network: SBS
Broadcast: 2014 - May to July



Four newly recruited policemen in their 20s have never thought about becoming detectives, but end up entering the violent crimes unit at the Gangnam police station. The drama will follow their journey to become good detectives. ~~


Well, for one thing, this wasn't an awful production, and for another, we got to stare at a darker, slightly more mature Lee Seung gi for 20 episodes.

However, it's tough to look beyond the slacker writing and mish-mosh second-half and come away feeling great about having watched this one.

It's been awhile since I did the as-they're-released watch, and I actually had to go back to some of the videos for a refresher course in order to write this blog post.

Which says something about the memorable moments factor (the script) of this drama.

For the first few episodes, we're introduced to early-age and then at-the-moment character leads and how they tie in for the eventual climax, which usually occurs toward the latter half of Episode 19 or the middle of episode 20.

We got right away how the two leads (love interests) met and developed their lopsided love affair with him being interested and her being flighty start to finish, but this is a crime drama more than it is a romance.

Something horrible happens to our nerdy, uptight Eun Dae koo that throws him into a vengeful, dark persona for the rest of his days. He seeks vengeance by growing up to become a cop and joining the force in Gangnam.

This threw me, because he isn't from Seoul, and Seoul isn't where the horrible incidents took place, but I guess I'm not supposed to think or worry about that bit of fact.

So, in present day, the four rookies are thrown together and end up under the care and disinterest of a grizzled veteran on the force (Seo Pan seok) and his milquetoast side-kick (Lee Eung do); a fat guy with a wife and six+ children at home.

Dae koo behaved far more elusive than I expected (or wanted).

I also had to believe that Soo sun cared only about becoming the best cop this side of Seoul, and that nothing and no one was going to prevent that from happening . . . because that is something EVERY drama and EVERY novel touts as being right, fair, and expected of today's woman.


In the first few episodes, it was great to have these four enter another incident and practice their crime-solving skills. They are four unique characters with their own special abilities who don't get along all that well together yet end up making a crackerjack TEAM when push comes to shove.

In-between these great situations, we are led down a slow and repetitive path toward the solving of that case from the past, and the turtle pace at which we discover these truths becomes annoying.

How the relationships are tied together, what ones involvement actually is in that earlier case, and who some of the aside characters actually are instead of making us believe something false for 12 or even 18 of the 20 episodes.

Then the episode capers just stopped coming, and the story concentrated solely on the decades-old case from Dae koo and Soo sun's past.

Repetition ensues, with a few more glimpses into Pan seok's past and his tie-in with that case.

Dae koo's character was too hard-ass for me to believe he was capable of falling in love with anyone besides his late mother. The passion for revenge consumed him to the point where he became this one-dimensional character with a one-track mind and nothing or no one would stand in his way.

So, the aside romance aspects fell on deaf ears for me.

But! There were enough cute and humorous instances to make me want to keep watching just to find out how it all turns out for everyone.

It was too much information about too many aside characters and too little information about what we really needed and wanted to know for my taste.

My Take

If you're going to delve into the depths of an aside character, you need to see it through to the end before moving on to someone else and not dabble here and there without really coming to any conclusions at all.

And, speaking of carrot dangling: when your viewer figures out the answers before they're revealed, then you know you're doing something wrong.

Timing is key, I think, and this drama starred a few actors I'd watched in other dramas prior to watching You're All Surrounded, which cast a strange, biased effect on my feelings for them in this drama.

Go Ara starred in Answer Me, 1994 -- perhaps the worst of the Answer Me series -- so, it was tough trying to be objective about her here.

Seo Yi sook was in Unkind Women, my introduction to her, and BOY was she ever the quintessential Korean Hag in that one. Here, she's a department head inside the police and a mentor to Dae koo, but about mid-way through the story, we're led to believe she's batting for the wrong team.

Cha Seung won came to me via The Greatest Love, City Hall, and the episodes of Athena that I watched, but even in You're All Surrounded, he still has a jarring presence, doesn't he?

So unlike Korean stereotype and yet full-blooded Korean with all of the Korean-like mentality and mannerisms.

He's a true conundrum in the human spectrum of things, and I can't honestly say whether I like or hate him, can tolerate or cannot abide by him, think he's hot or not, etc.

Dude takes some getting used to, that's for sure.

Finally, there is the main (and only) reason why I watched this drama clean through despite its flaws: Lee Seung gi.

And, I warned myself going in that it wouldn't be fair to compare his acting ability with the last drama we saw him in, Nine-Tail Fox.

Trouble is, that's asking a bit too much of a fan, right?

The expectation bar was raised way, too high after that one for me not to want to see him in anything, but to see him elevated to the next level of acting ability and quality product.

Unfortunately, for me, You're All Surrounded was pure hype because he starred in it, and very little in the way of compelling substance.


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