When Lee Gyeong Mi dies during an undercover mission, Yun Su Min and Ji Hyeong Min are determined to catch the killer, a drug lord known only as Doctor's Son. Su Min, with Hyeong Min's help, goes undercover in an attempt to hunt and kill the man behind the name, when she runs into a familiar face; Jeong Si Hyeon, a man she's had a crush on. Now faced with life or death stakes, Su Min is left to navigate the drug world where everyone wears a mask and betrayal is commonplace.
Cruel City is a successful cop show because it manages to [mostly] avoid the failings so commonly seen; all the characters are a shade of grey, twists and turns abound allowing the story continue to grow and there's actual action happening on screen, so little time is spent talking and more time is spent in adrenaline racing scenes.
The plot of the show is well thought out and the characters greatly fleshed. And while it can get confusing tracking the multitude of characters - with their nicknames, real names and crisscrossing connections - it all weaves together tightly, so that there's tension as we wait for the other shoe to drop.
And the acting is superb on many fronts. They go from vulnerable to hard-core, determined to scared and everyone does a great job. But the star is Jeong Si Hyeon, who takes his image of good-hearted guys and shatters it by playing someone whose been in the dirt, trampled on and cold enough to no be afraid to take down as many men as needed to accomplish his goals. This is his best project yet.
The direction helps greatly. Gorgeously shot, the fight scenes don't give you motion sickness and shots linger when needed. My only real complaint is that sometimes shots got repeated often (such as scenes of people drinking, because if someone didn't kill you, the sheer amount of liquor will), but it's up in the air whether that's a writing issue or a directional choice.
If you want something a bit more gritty, with the rush of action, the well thought out plans and some romance thrown in, Cruel City may just be the drama you need.
By far, the best drama of 2013 to date. Once you're hooked, it doesn't let you go. I could watch this a few more times and not get bored haha
The plot is very well written and the characters are well performed too. Si Hyeon, Safari, Hyeong Min, Jin Suk, Hong Gi, they were all really awesome. Special mention has to go to Jeong Gyeong Ho for his 5-star performance in this badass role, I had only seen him in Smile You before that, completely different role. I expect him to go from strength to strength now.
While the plot itself is well written and well-woven, there are quite a lot of details that are actually strange, if not weird. Especially towards the end when we really wanted to catch the bad guys and it was all to obvious that the bad guys were getting plenty of help from the higher levels of the political world. That was for me, the main blot in the script which was otherwise fine. That Si Hyeon and Safari were undercover cops is a good thing I thought, maybe Si Hyeon's real identity could have been disclosed later but the timing on Safari's discosure was spot-on.
One thing I really liked about this show was how it kept all the characters linked together, and everytime we could see small bits and pieces of their past with each-other, how their relations evolved throughout the drama. The script gave roughly equal air-time to every character and gave insights into their thoughts at just the right time. I found this particular aspect of the drama to be one of its main strenghts.
Out of 10, I would give it 9.5, even for the glaring story blot towards the end. It would be unfair on the drama to destroy it just for that, when the whole story, the performances and the realization were so good. The qualities of the drama outshine its deficiencies because after you've finished watching it : if you keep in mind what you liked over what you didn't, then it means the drama did enough to win you over.
These are my thoughts, only a few days after having finished the drama. I whole-heartedly recommend this drama, especially for those looking to get over major disappointments like You're the Best Lee Soon Shin, to name but a few.