Eun-beom (played by Baek Sung-hyun) manages a part-time job search website. He has to take care of his little sister Eun-byeol (played by Kim Ji-young-III), but other than that life is mostly unremarkable. Matters take a turn for the dramatic when on a live debate show Seong-woo (played by Jang Se-hyun) takes the entire production hostage. And from there the story takes an even more bizarre and outlandish turn. What could possibly be more extreme than a deranged hostage negotiation? Well...I don't want to ruin it.
"Drama Special - Live Shock" is standard genre fiction. It is in fact so standard, and so unsurprising, that if I told you the specific kind of story it was it's hard to imagine anyone but the most die-hard genre fans would want to watch it. I'm not just being a jerk here- until a third of the way through "Drama Special - Live Shock" itself is deliberately vague about what kind of story it wants to tell. Until the hostage situation starts going badly the universe the characters occupy appears to be totally mundane.
Unfortunately the characterization is so thinly drawn that the introduction mostly just ends up feeling like a waste of time, especially when we get to the action thriller elements that are what director Kim Dong-hwi obviously actually cares about. And I have to admit, there is definitely some sadistic pleasure to be had in watching innocent people on the run and completely freaking out because, well, this is definitely a situation that warrants freaking out.
But while the pulpy elements in "Drama Special - Live Shock" are pretty solid, the story suffers from its own genericness. Eun-beom isn't really a heroic figure, and yet he makes decisions that quite literally result in people dying. I mean look, I get that (some of) the people Eun-beom ends up killing probably deserved it, but Eun-beom doesn't even find out what the real conspiracy is until quite a ways into the story.
The moral issues of this would be less problematic except that as we see Seong-woo's grievance is not necessarily an irreversible one. This potentially interesting genre twist isn't really utilized much, though, except to the extent that we get a kind of happy ending. "Drama Special - Live Shock" is by no means the worst drama special I've ever seen, and it does have its charms. But honestly, after seeing the (very spoilery) preview, I was really hoping for something a lot more innovative.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Live Shock""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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