Hi, Alysers! I am excited to share with you my review on My Name, one of the biggest k-dramas today!
K-dramas have recently been gaining worldwide fame, and My Name quickly followed the acclamation of Squid Game. It reached Top 3 of the Netflix Global charts, and as a fan of Han So Hee, I couldn’t be prouder.
Of course, there are also valid reasons why people are jumping on the My Name hype train. And so, in this post, I will review the elements of My Name that make it stand out from other K-dramas. Let’s get to it!
A Gripping Storyline
My Name revolves around the story of Yoon Ji Woo, a revenge-driven woman who wants to avenge her father’s murder. She ends up becoming a member of an organized crime ring, and by the instructions of Choi Moo Jin, the boss of the biggest drug ring in Korea, she enters the police force as an undercover agent. By day, she’s a police officer. By night, she is a dark, vengeful force to be reckoned with.
Yoon Ji Woo’s partner when she joins the police is Jeon Pil Do, a police detective in the Drug Investigation Unit. He is an upright citizen and is a stickler for rules. There is also Cha Gi Ho, the team leader of the Drug Investigation Unit. He and Choi Moo Jin have long been enemies, with Cha Gi Ho vowing to take down his crime ring before he retires.
Amid the interactions of the characters, Ji Woo seeks out the person who truly killed her father. Now, I know revenge plots where the main character sheds her identity to get revenge are not unique. But the way the plot unfolded certainly had me at the edge of my seat.
I also found it interesting that the narratives and everyday interactions unfolded at a fairly slow pace. In contrast, the action scenes were high-tension and speedy. I found that this dynamic helped me move from one episode to the next without minding the time. In a way, it added variety and set a rhythm for viewers to follow.
For the most part, despite the story being cut into eight episodes, I never felt as if I was pulled out of the story. The cliffhangers were not abrupt, and the plot was unveiled through a continuous narrative.
The realistic fight scenes
I have to give credit where it is due. Did you know that Han So Hee trained every day for three months to prepare for this role? She gained 10 kg for the role and did all of her fight scenes without a stunt double. Her dedication is astounding, and it certainly paid off. The fights were gritty, intense, and riveting. I’m normally not a fan of physical action scenes, but they were so well-done that I found it difficult to look away.
It was also interesting that the fights involved knives instead of the guns that we’re so used to in other action shows. The handwork and coordination were fascinating to watch since they seemed to employ a certain type of choreography. With gun fights, the characters would only have to haphazardly fire a few rounds. With melee fight scenes, they had to utilize a certain kind of finesse.
Now, some viewers complained that the knife fights took them out of the show. They just felt like it wasn’t realistic for gang members to keep knives instead of guns. What they didn’t realize is that Korea actually has a strict gun legislation. As such, people who are not a part of the military, police, and government find it difficult to access guns. Yes, this includes gang members. They also don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, so they try to avoid guns as much as possible.
This is why guns were portrayed as a status symbol within the gang. Moo jin was the only one who had a gun, and he even kept it locked up in a safe! And so, in this sense, the fight scenes involving knives were only a testament to how realistic the fight scenes were.
The cinematography and soundtrack
One of the things that I appreciate about k-dramas is that they really invest in good cinematography. They take the time to set the tone and pace the show according to the storyline. This means bright pastel colors for spring, feel-good shows and brown tints, and rainy scenes for melodramas. For My Name, this meant the use of an angsty color palette. The drama frequently used the colors red, brown, and black, to increase the tension within scenes.
I also took notice of the camera movements, as they zoomed in and panned out at appropriate moments. None of it felt awkward or forced, and if anything, the director was able to use the shots to convey an even deeper emotion organically.
All of these were complemented by the rather unique soundtrack. It has a mix of original songs, with accompanying atmospheric music to portray the emotions involved in a certain scene.
The plot twists
Be warned: this section contains spoilers.
I have already watched countless dramas, and I’m usually able to predict plot twists from the beginning. Now, although I had my suspicions about the identity of the murderer of Ji Woo’s father, I was very surprised to find out the identity of Ji Woo’s father. That was one plot twist I did not see coming.
The death of Pil Do also caught me completely off guard. A part of me had expected or hoped that he and Ji Woo would eventually move on and live a happy life together. But in just one moment, all that was taken away. Truth be told, I was heartbroken. Although I understand in hindsight that this was meant to solidify Ji Woo’s drive to kill her father’s murdered, I also felt pain for Ji Woo. It seemed that every person she loved was simply taken away from her, and she didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Because of this, I also felt as if the ending was rather abrupt. It was as if all the things going on in the last episode left me with a plethora of unanswered questions. That’s rather disappointing, given how well the series has done for the first seven episodes. Still, a part of that may be due to the fact that I’m a stickler for happy endings. Sadly, you can’t really expect that in a show like this.
My Name is a stunning noir series that deserves the attention it is getting. The actors were able to completely embody their characters, to the point that I felt as if I was watching a documentary instead of a drama. The portrayal of their emotions was authentic, and they did not shy away from exposing the realities of pain, grief, anger, and revenge.
The first half of the series was particularly captivating. The second half, while still good, sometimes felt contrived because of certain plot twists or loopholes. For instance, inasmuch as the fight scenes were done extremely well, I also needed a suspension of disbelief to believe that Ji Woo could get stabbed that much and that often without dying. Still, it is a drama after all.
And because of that, I can hold out hope that in an alternate reality, Ji Woo is able to live the life that she deserves: happy with the people that she loves.
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