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City Hunter (2011) Episode 2 Recap
Finally, our City Hunter arrives in the city. We branch out our storyline a little, and more characters appear. But none so easy on the eyes as Lee Min Ho! We get to see more of those infamous City Hunter *ahem* skills, which I'm sure are in the interest of the plan. So, on we go..
Right away we’re plunged into a training sequence – it looks like right after Yun Seong makes his vow for revenge, before going to America. Can I say I really love this montage? (Lee Min Ho doing martial arts in the pouring rain and mud notwithstanding). Yun Seong has hung the bullet that killed his father around his neck.
The drug farm ups production, and we see chests of money and gold bars transported to a massive villa in the jungle – no more rough and tough for drug lord Jin Pyo. The fast-paced soundtrack is really well used here, by the way.
There on the verandah Jin Pyo, now walking with prosthetic and cane, hands a folder to Yun Seong – his acceptance into MIT, plus papers that confirm he was a resident of Texas, along with passport and ID. Yun Seong will now be known by his Korean name (that’s what Jin Pyo has always called him, but up till now others called him by his Thai name, Chai) and in America by John Lee. Jin Pyo offers some final advice: “Be careful never to reveal your identity. Doing so will cause everyone around you to die in a blood bath. Don’t trust anyone, and don’t fall in love.” I’m guessing that last one will cause some problems later on…Kim Na Na, anyone?
Flash forward to where the last episode left off, at the fountain. Then we get a bit of Na Na’s backstory: her father (not Shik Joon!) is in a coma in the hospital, and has been in a vegetative state for 10 years. The doctor advises her to give up, as he keeps getting sick and the bills are piling up. Na Na, though, still says she will not give up on her father “who is like this because of me.” Through her tears, she begs the doctor to save him.
She keeps a bright face when she’s working her several jobs to make ends meet. One of these is a ‘bullet driver’ for a nightclub (to take home tipsy patrons). Yun Seong (who’s at the nightclub) seems to know about her background and requests her as a driver, for himself and the woman he’s canoodling with. Yun Seong’s face is quiet as he approaches Na Na, who’s quick-changed into a short clubbing dress, but he doesn’t show that he knows her. He only gives her the address – a hotel.
As they’re preparing to drive off, a man comes over to accost Kim Min Hee (Yun Seong’s lady friend) even though she says she doesn’t know him. This is prosecutor Kim Myeong Ju (Lee Jong Hyuk). Hilariously, he starts with a crisp “I need to see this lady. I am…” and then realizes he’s forgotten his official ID card. Disregarding that, he starts to pull Min Hee out of the car. She struggles, which is enough to bring Na Na around for her defense. Myeong Ju protests “I’m not who you think I am” and ignores her; angry, Na Na smoothly executes a judo flip and slams him on the ground. They drive off, leaving him frustrated that he couldn’t catch Lee Kyeong Wan’s mistress.
Min Hee starts getting handsy in the back, although Yun Seong’s attention is mostly focused on Na Na. She, however, is not taking this behavior, and stops the car to get out. When Yun Seong protests, she demands $10 (for half the work) and snatches it from his pocket. When she gets to the bus stop, though, she finds that she’s left her cell phone in the car.
At the hotel, Yun Seong prods Min Hee for info about her ‘sponsor’ Lee Kyeong Wan, whom she says has contacts in the construction business and who seems to be giving bribes. A recorder under a side table catches this conversation. The phone rings as he’s asking about bribes – it’s Na Na, calling about her phone. He hangs up, leaving her frustrated about missed calls, which for her are missed jobs. Yun Seong is just at the point where a nearly asleep Min Hee tells him about a notebook in which Lee writes down the transactions, when he hears sirens. Turns out, Na Na set off the burglary alarm on the car.
She’s not there when he gets there though – she’s at the hospital. The hospital officials are not willing to perform a stent surgery on a vegetative patient, but Na Na begs her doctor to do it, and that she will earn the money one day. Suddenly she hears: “Do the surgery. I’ve paid for it, so do it.” It’s Yun Seong, who’s followed her here with her cell phone. He’s a bit standoffish even when she promises to pay him back.
Next morning, Na Na receives a call that she has been accepted into the Blue House as a bodyguard. During orientation, guess who walks in but Yun Seong, who is introduced as the hotshot new PhD professor in security systems from MIT. He’s also friendlier toward Na Na as he identifies her in the lineup of bodyguards.
Na Na and her colleague Shin Eun Ha (Yang Jin Seong), however, are pulled out of the regular training for a different job – the will be bodyguards not for the President, but his difficult youngest daughter Choe Da Hye (Gu Ha Ra). They take their vows (with a bit of hesitation at the promise to be “a shield for bullets”) even though this is something of a demotion from guarding the President.
The two security teams (the bodyguard team and the office communications team) have a judo contest. The bodyguard team naturally creams the office nerds, including Na Na, who’s paired with Yun Seong. He’s got to be going easy on her. She continues to pester him for his account number to pay him back, but he dismisses the money. Slamming him down and holding him there, she explains: “That money saved my father’s life. He’s precious to me, so I don’t want a freebie. The more precious it is, the more I must endure and protect it, no matter how hard it is.” These words strike a chord in Yun Seong, but he doesn’t agree to give his account number until she twists up his leg.
Aaand, shower scene! Yun Seong, still wearing the bullet around his neck, thinks about Na Na.
He meets with her offer her a contract – to pay him back, she’ll drive and perform 200 errands for him. Na Na signs.
They’re brought in to meet the President and the guardee, Da Hye. Yun Seong plays the patriot, earning himself a handshake from Presiden Choe Eung Chan. So part of his plan is to assassinate the sitting President of Korea! Wow, this kicks the revenge plan up a notch. Da Hye is even more interested in Yun Seong and gives him a flirty look, to be met with a snort. This doesn’t stop her from demanding English lessons from him, which he again blows off.
Miffed, she takes out her attitude on her bodyguards, dismissing their ‘school-and-home’ expectations.
Yun Seong contacts Jin Pyo in Thailand, offering info on Congressman Lee Kyeong Wan (Lee Hyo Jin), one of the five targets: He’s now in charge of Construction and Transportation, and supports charities like Sunshine Welfare Center. He’s also rumored to be favoring Hye Won Construction with contracts, in return for huge bribes. These bribes also seem to come from local district offices.
Yun Seong asks why he is only being asked to kill Congressman Lee Kyeong Wan, where there are four more. So he doesn’t yet know who the other four are – which means he hasn’t made the Blue House connection yet. Jin Pyo replies that this man is the only one that he’s definitely sure was responsible for the team’s death. If they pursue him, the rest will be revealed. Yun Seong volunteers to kill Lee in his own way, in a way ‘that no-one will be able to forgive him’. Jin Pyo accepts this.
Myeong Ju is interrogating a suspect, prodding him about bribes from Hye Won to Congressman Lee. He instructs his team to investigate, and also to arrest the Congressman. Alas, no dice on the last one, because the Lee Kyeong Wan is a Congressman with money and influence. No matter how much Myeong Ju protests that the shoddy Hye Won Construction’s work caused great damage to lives and property, the boss refuses to place an arrest order.
Myeong Ju doesn’t give up, and instead goes to Congressman Lee’s home to personally wrangle some information out of him. The conversation is what you’d expect – Myeong Ju insinuating, the Congressman ranting about his own integrity and sincerity Yeah, we all believe you, dude. We also learn that Myeong Ju’s father is an old buddy of the Congressman. This is the situation when Yun Seong breaks in to the home, standing in the hall listening in behind a glass screen. Seeing the coats hanging there, he reaches into a pocket for the phone and inserts a chip in it, as well as taking the notebook in there. Really? That’s where you keep a notebook with your incriminating bribe list?)
Unfortunately, the phone rings at this moment and both Myeong Ju and the Congressman notice Yun Seong standing there. He manages to cut the electricity with a device he’d planted in the console outside previously, and drives off.
At home for the night, Na Na speaks to the picture of her mother and father, promising to be a good bodyguard just like her dad.
Likewise in his swankier apartment, Yun Seong flips through the notebook: lots of names, including Sunshine Welfare, with big figures written next to them. Looks like serious bribes are being handled here.
Na Na’s first day at work doesn’t start off well, as she overcautiously half-nelsons a guy who lent Da Hye his notes. Neither of the classmates take this well, with Da Hye bitterly noting that this is why she never had friends. She cheers up, though, as she informs her two bodyguards that they’re going clubbing tonight, and hands them the (in)appropriate attire.
At the club, Da Hye is enjoying herself hugely; likewise, Eun Ha is enjoying herself, but Na Na less so. She excuses herself to go to the bathroom, but Da Hye spies that chance and slips off. This also happens to be the club where Yun Seong and Min Hee are meeting up again. Min Hee happily informs him that her boyfriend has cut all contact and broken up, anticipating a fling with Yun Seong. He, however, coldly dumps her as well, saying that now that other men don’t want her, neither does he.
Striding off with an angry Min Hee behind him, he spies an excuse in Na Na, who’s just exited the bathroom. With a cheery “Hello! I’ve been waiting for you”, he grabs her in a kiss. Shocked, Na Na just stands there as he tucks a $1000 bill in her dress strap and walks off. Suddenly angry, she walks back up to him and executes her favorite judo flip and slams him down, handing him back the money “for medical expenses.”
She has to rush off when she gets a phone call from Eun Ha about their missing charge. Running out of the club, she smacks straight into Myeong Ju, who’s lying in wait for Min Hee (who has just gone off in a taxi). They both recognize each other, and are much friendlier this time around and information-swap. Myeong Ju tells Na Na that he saw Da Hye running outside, and she likewise tips him off that the ‘unlucky guy’ (Yun Seong) may have some info on Min Hee.
Next day, the two bodyguards are getting a scolding from the boss, when Na Na gets an errand call from Yun Seong. She’s still miffed at the kiss, and accidentally lets it be known that it was her first. Yun Seong is extremely amused. He’s still giving her silly grins at judo practice, so she does away with mercy and lets loose with the literal arm-twisting. Yun Seong retaliates by expertly twisting her foot, in a moment where he forgets to play the office nerd.
Na Na’s foot isn’t doing so well, so on her way out of the building to the hospital she spies Myeong Ju accosting Yun Seong about Min Hee. Yun Seong plays the playboy, pretending that she was just a one night stand. Frustrated, Myeong Ju turns away and sees Na Na limping along. (In high heels – why are they part of a bodyguard’s uniform?). He offers her a ride, which she gladly accepts – until Yun Seong zooms in in his car and insists on taking her, since it was his fault.
At the hospital, they walk in on a nurse yelling after two kids. When Na Na inquires, she replies that the girl keeps coming to the hospital for allergy reactions to wheat, and won’t stop eating bread no matter how much she tells them to go to Sunshine Welfare for rice instead. The mention of Sunshine Welfare has Yun Seong pricking up his ears, but he doesn’t think too much of it. Na Na, though, definitely knows the kids live in her building and don’t live on welfare, so when she spots them on the side of the road (eating bread) she makes Yun Seong get out to chase them. They take off on a crosswalk, but are nearly caught under a black car – Congressman Lee, who tells his driver to keep going. The car stops a little way over to drop off a kid and take on another man, which is where Yun Seong spots the Congressman.
Inside the car, the conversation between the men informs us that other is welfare director Shim Sae Dong, and that some sort of embezzlement is going on.
Yun Seong drops Na Na home, but since her foot is still acting up, he just sweeps her up in his arms and carries her in despite her protests. Once in, he notes all the cheery touches and proposes a ramen dinner. As they eat, he notices the red stickers on everything, which Na Na tells him are to pay back the hospital debt – turns out, the same crash which killed her mother left her dad in a coma.
They’re interrupted by the boy from downstairs, since his sister is having an allergy attack. Turns out, their dad has disappeared and the kids don’t want to be called beggars for getting rice coupons from Sunshine. After the hospital treatment, Na Na tackles the welfare office, where she’s told that the kids are receiving monthly payments. When she retorts that the kids are starving, the director (the same one in league with the congressman) quickly tries to shove blame on the kids, saying that they probably sell the coupons. Yun Seong is angry at this too, and insinuates that the money is going elsewhere. On the way out, he takes careful note of the security cameras…
Okay, this episode was a lot less intense and focused than Episode 1. It took all episode to make the welfare-embezzlement connection, which is on the slow side. In addition, well over half the episode focused on Na Na. I get that she’s the main love interest, but doesn’t Yun Seong’s plan involve more? Park Min Young plays her well enough, but her character is a bit off (hardworking, spunky girl working to pay off family debt) to sit well with the revenge theme. The lighter romance buildup is not really well integrated into the revenge theme.
On the good side: I like the fact that Myeong Ju has the same agenda as Yun Seong, except that he works inside the law. It will be interesting to see how the two men go for the same goal with different principles. The directing and cinematography continue to bring out the best in nighttime Seoul, and the OST adds to the more sophisticated mood. Let’s hope for more progress in Episode 3!
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