BOTTOM LINE: An Underrated, Bingeable Departed-Meets-Kill-Bill Series!
Rating: 7 /10
Skin N Swear: Plenty of swearing as well as some skin. Also, lots of blood
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Thriller, Action, Crime, Drama|
What Is the Story About?
After her father is discovered as a wanted gangster by the cops, high-schooler Yoon Ji-woo’s life quickly falls apart. Her father, Yoon Dong-hoon, is on the run, cops regularly tail her from home to school and back, hoping to catch her father and her classmates & their families keep making her school life unbearable. However, after a bad phone call on her 17th birthday, her dad turns up at her doorstep – only to be brutally murdered in front of her by an unknown man. After realizing that her ill-spoken words caused Dong-hoon to come and meet Ji-woo which eventually leads to his death, she has only one goal now – to find her father’s killer and kill him herself. How will she find him? And even if she does, will she be able to deal the killing blow?
While a web series such as this depends on a lot of elements such as good action sequences, stunt coordinators, direction, editing, cinematography, music and so on and so forth – the acting is just as important and the web series has three main actors it depends on. While Han So-hee and Park Hee-soon will be the expected two out of the previously mentioned three, the third one is actually an actor who plays a vital side character, Kim Sang-ho.
Kim Sang-ho gives us an unbelievable performance in My Name as Narcotics Unit head, Cha Gi-ho. Sang-ho’s ability to portray such a nuanced, well-written character is to his credit and for a role that required such experience, this Korean actor is perfect. In the case of Park Hee-soon, he is unforgettable as Choi Mu-jin. While he masquerades as the good guy during the first half of My Name and is revealed as the primary antagonist in the second, he manages to weave together a powerful performance that makes us feel sorry for him by the end (just a little bit). Han So-hee is brilliant as our protagonist Yoon Ji-woo. While her character may seem monotonous at times and So-hee’s acting may feel wooden – the few times we see emotion on her face, she is powerful and enthralling.
Like the title of this review suggests, it is a mafia/cop infiltration that turns into one hell of an ass-kicking revenge plot. While My Name is not without its issues, the series shines as a whole and is exceptionally bingeable, making it very hard to stop due to its brilliant editing at the end of each episode.
So let us start with the simple stuff, the story. Normally a story like this would be very predictable and had it been a two-hour film, it would have easily fallen flat before the film could properly take off. But because My Name is a web series with eight-hour-long-episodes, we get the backstories and motivations of every important character on screen – giving us an insight into the decisions they make. Ji-woo is cold, unemotional and almost wooden at times, but volatile when she is forced to face her feelings. Choi Mu-jin is world-weary, trusts almost no one and has a kill-or-be-killed mentality that has served him well over the years – which he breaks for only one person. Cha Gi-ho cares for his underlings, but he is also irrational, easily irritable when anything concerning Mu-jin appears in front of him and is extremely dangerous when backed into a corner. Jeon Pil-do becomes angry easily, but he manages to find solace in the law – even in unwinnable conditions. Yoon Dong-hoon is flighty but he returns home as soon as he finds out that his daughter needs him. Each character’s character (which is mentioned or not mentioned) is shown quite early in the web series, but you understand why they are the way they are, during these eight episodes. The casting is good, the acting even better.
The web series has a lot of brilliant fight sequences – and many featuring long takes. This means that Han So-hee has to perform a lot of her own stunts and she does a good job on screen. Pretty much every action sequence on My Name – be it a car chase, an on-foot chase, fights, a battle royale, slaughter, etc. are all very cinematic. The editing team, stunt coordinators, the director, Kim Jin-min and the rest deserve praise for their work.
However the web series do have some flaws – one of the major ones being that the second half becomes predictable. While the ending is unique in its own way, we still saw the end coming – the predictability ruining the final buildup (The final fight scene is good though). There is also the unwanted and forced upon romance plotline that is not needed at all. Ji-woo and Pil-do have a platonic friendship and Pil-do’s understanding of Ji-woo’s need for revenge would still work even without them having sex. Even when Pil-do dies, the friendship would have been more than enough for her to come seeking revenge. But no, the show does what many shows needlessly do – tack on an unnecessary romance plot without any proper buildup. This is bad, because if the show runners wanted these two characters to have a relationship, they should have put elements of romance in episodes prior – which is what they did with every plot twist/event in the series; mention elements of it beforehand.
Another issue is the show’s liberal use of its original theme song, which is also titled “My Name”. Normally using the theme song multiple times in a show or a movie is not a bad thing, especially since the song is so good. Like really good. But the song is dropped at least thrice per episode, sometimes during sequences where the song doesn’t work with the situation. This makes one quickly tires of an exceptional song, and that is an error by the music department. And with the song playing whenever a new plot twist is revealed, it eventually starts to kill the “plot twist vibe” as well. Also, the show was like one or two plot twists shy of a “plot twist overkill series”, by the way.
Still, the show is quite amazing besides these problems. The show primarily discusses themes of revenge, loneliness, learning to survive and understanding one’s identity. Tackling it in a noir thriller style gangster revenge series such as My Name makes it even better – even if our protagonist has some ridiculous plot armor protection.
Overall, My Name is a must watch noir crime thriller series. This Korean version of Departed-meets-Kill-Bill TV series is highly bingeable and quite entertaining. The acting is exceptional, and while the plot armor is thick, for many characters, one usually forgets about it for the brilliant story (except for Jin-woo’s armor – that is quite thick).
Many will be surprised by this, but we consider Ahn Bo-hyun as a supporting actor. While he does get a significant amount of screen time, he is primarily added as a love interest for our protagonist. Still, the actor is exceptional during his first half of the screen appearance, and if we forget the love scene, he pretty much gives a consistent performance throughout. Yoon Kyung-ho also gives us a few vital scenes featuring the protagonist and the antagonist as well – providing backstory for both characters. Chang Ryul and Lee Hak-joo have smaller roles, but they do well as the supporting cast, especially the former.
Music and Other Departments?
As mentioned earlier, the original theme song for this film is really good. Props to the music department. But their liberal use of this amazing song makes the web series worse. The cinematography, story and direction are all brilliant, but the editing department does an exceptional job – making us want to binge the next episode after the previous one is completed.
Episode End Edits & Plot Twists
Casting & Acting
The Repetition Of The Original Theme Song
Unnecessary Romance Plotline
Ji-woo’s Ridiculous Plot Armor
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Yes. If you are a fan of gangster thrillers, this film is a must-watch.
My Name Netflix Review by Binged Bureau
We are hiring: We are looking for part time writers who can create ‘original’ stories. Send your sample story to [email protected] (Emails without sample articles will not be considered). Freshers can apply.