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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Neighborhood Hero


동네의 영웅


Title -  Dongneui Yeongung
Aka -  Local Hero
Writer -  Jang Min suk
Genre -  Action, Espionage
Episodes -  16
Network -  OCN
Broadcast - 2016, Jan to Mar
Cinderella -  Nope



Cast


Park Shi hoo                      Jo Sung ha               Lee Soo hyuk                     Kwon Yu ri        


Plot


Secret agent Baek Shi yoon (Park Shi hoo) leaves behind his previous life of danger to run a bar in a small town, where he helps the locals with their problems. ~ DramaWiki (w/edits)

Review


Kind of, but not quite.

This is more about Baek Shi yoon trying to right a three-year old wrong that occurred in Macao during his last mission as a Secret Agent.

The 16-episode nail-biter begins with him entering a spacious bar (more like a lounge) called Neighborhood, which just happens to be located in a quiet neighborhood of Seoul known as the
Culture District.

The 'bar' owner is an old man who plays a key role in the first quarter of this thriller, but we don't learn right away what his actual role is or about his connection to Shi yoon.

The old man is preparing to sell Neighborhood and Shi yoon ends up buying it with the promise to keep everything (and everyone) exactly as it is with zero changes.




Kwon Yu ri's Bae Jung yeon is a part-time hostess and aspiring script writer in the process of completing a Spy Thriller piece for a contest she's hoping to win.

Lee Soo hyuk's Choi Chan gyoo is an aspiring Policeman who continues to fail the entrance exam and wanders into Neighborhood, thus striking up a friendship with all three.

Jung yeon's friend owns a small cafe in the Culture District, which is being strong-armed by hired thugs to vacate their businesses in order for a super-mall, Something Hallyu Mall, to be built.

The thugs are intimidating Jung yeon's friend with their thug-like tactics, and Shi yoon ju-ust happens to overhear and witness the confrontation, so he slips a ball cap atop his head and enters the shop, kicking the thug's ass big-time.

Jung yeon is blown away and proceeds to start a legend-tale about the Neighborhood Hero she titles The Shadow.




There are as many bad guys in this one as there are good, but the amount of red herrings tossed our way each episode became difficult to keep up with until I gave up trying to second-guess anything and just sat back to be entertained without trying.

There were a few intense scenes as well, but none more terrifying or shocking, really, as the one that involved our Is He or Isn't He detective, Im Tae ho (Jo Sung ha) being manipulated by his sunbae.

The police department head is being bought by the New York born & raised street rat turned entrepreneur who is hell-bent on building this ...Hallyu Mall thing smack dab in the heart of Seoul's 'culture' district.

Tae ho is easily talked into entering an aside business by this sunbae for a whopping 3m Won a week, which translates to roughly 2500 a week U.S.

Tae ho's boss is a muddleheaded guy who plays both sides until the very end, but his underlings remain true to their calling start to finish.

Here's where things begin to fall apart, though.

This sinister Sunbae with tons and tons of Won to toss around seemed like he had a big part until it was time for him to exit stage left, and then it was like Why Was This Guy Involved at All?

Then there is the other Sunbae who worked alongside Shi yoon and a few other Agents, whom they loved and trusted the way that they would a real hyung/oppa until the fated Macao incident that (supposedly) set this whole thing in motion.

So, with the table now turned, we're led to believe that he is the bad guy, the Detective's Sunbae is a worse guy, and this New York street rat (who can't speak a lick of proper English, btw) is a really, REALLY bad guy.



But, why?

Why all the false trails when we know what happened in Macao and why Shi hoon is so determined to get to the bottom of that issue?

It is understandable that the Police Commissioner would be taking bribes and that his subordinate would look the other way . . . and even that seemingly adorable Det. Tae ho is eager and willing to participate in an utterly questionable side job offered by an equally questionable Sunbae.

We're not supposed to believe anyone, I get that much.

I just don't get why.

It was too much too fast and too soon for me to really comprehend the heart of the issue (the PLOT), which leads me to my second beef with this one.

What the hell WAS the plot, exactly?

The super mall (with its massive clothes pin design up top) that will replace a few city blocks and displace hundreds of people and their livelihoods?

The fact that an outside interest is in control of the police AND the CIO?

Or, was I honestly supposed to cling to the original premise: the Macao fiasco that took the life of a fellow agent?

Was it really Shi yoon's revenge plan that was supposed to lead this drama to a believable conclusion?




It certainly didn't revolve around his becoming The Shadow and righting wrongs that happen to citizens of The Culture District.

Wait.

It was the memoirs written by the old man, wasn't it?

*Sigh

And, what was it about Choi Chan gyoo (Lee Soo hyuk) that left me feeling so empty and unfulfilled inside?

What about his desire to learn Martial Arts from Shi yoon so that he could play The Shadow, too?

Why was this touched upon numerous times and yet never acted upon at any point?

At the start of the drama, Chan gyoo is only interested in passing the entrance exam to become a full-fledge cop.

Then he's hell-bent on becoming The Shadow.

For sixteen episodes both are conveniently forgotten so that he can vacillate between the good-guy/bad-guy routine, which never felt right or seemed believable at any time.

Chan gyoo's role seemed viable and then it didn't, and then it made sense, and then it seemed pointless and confusing.


Lee Soo hyuk

He just never really amounted to anything no matter how hard he tried or SAID he wanted to try, and that makes no sense.

The only real scenario that felt fully developed and ran smoothly was the relationship between Det. Tae ho and his family, and with his chuckling yet sinister Sunbae.

However, his wife started to play an important role as an advisor of sorts, but then she just  poof  and reverted back to the dutiful wife role, rarely seen or heard from again.

WHY?

The 'Shadow' premise fell by the wayside a few episodes in and never really amounted to anything, either. Although it was resuscitated at the end.





The residents fighting to keep their businesses running while being threatened by second-rate thugs whom a most terrifying, power-hungry man hired to get that job done, also seemed to come and go at random points in the sixteen episodes, too.

That aspect took up a good few episodes before fading into oblivion and then being resurrected a third of the way through for a repeat performance of the same thing and then it drifted away silently before returning in the middle of episode sixteen -- with a very cheesy, lackluster finale, I might add.

Also, the two romances that never got off the ground even if one of them proved shockingly non-Korean in its brief, five-minute lifespan somewhere in the first half of the show.



the only time I'm ever a big fan of 'reality' TV 

Shi yoon's agent girlfriend (another Is She or Isn't She) was the only one I felt wasn't quite deserving of a big-star role like this one.

She is stiff, predictable, and doesn't appear to take herself or her role seriously, so it was a turn-off and made me wish she wasn't there at all.

Knowing I am at the mercy of incompetent/lazy subbers, it was confusing to hear American names being tossed out there for dramatic effect and obvious intent, but again, the names were dropped and then never came up again.

Ever.

So, why?

This was simply way too much information, sub-plotting, and smoke screen for me to actually get into the story as much as I really wanted to do, and with a whole lot of unnecessary and forgotten to make it all the more confusing to follow.

And yet it was still a good watch loaded with plenty of action, suspense, and mystery.


The ending was cute, too.

I just don't know for sure if it hinted at a second season, and if it did, I don't know how interested I'd be in watching more of this convoluted way of thinking script writing.

Pick a plot and run with it, and if you add sub-plots, fine, just don't let them dominate and cause the main plot to become vague to the viewer.

And, for heaven's sake, study up on mystery writing before making a second attempt.

Wanting to employ EVERY formulaic genre ideal to tell an already complex tale involving intrigue is asking way too much of the viewer and only adds to the overall confusion a GOOD mystery is supposed to entail.

I gave this one 4 stars for the entertainment value and non-Cinderella, nothing more.











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