LIVE BLOG: D.P.
|[Please be advised, this review may contain spoilers.]|
D.P. officially premiered August 27th on Netflix, and although every episode - six, overall - is currently available to stream, I will be watching D.P. and following up each episode with a mini-review here.
Cast: Jung Hae-in, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Sung-kyun, Son Seok-koo
[Click here to watch on Netflix]
I admit, the promise of observing Ahn Yoon-ho and Han Ho-yul on leave was exciting to me, so when the two were, unexpectedly, sent off to Busan to track another deserter, I groaned a little. That's not to say that I'm not enjoying D.P., but I fear the drama is heading in procedural territory, where each episode's focus is on a unique deserter mission. This is an impediment if one prioritizes character development over story-dictated action, and in only six episodes, I fail to see how Yoon-ho's character is fully-developed by drama's end.
It isn't for lack of trying, however, as D.P. tries to build on Yoon-ho's story a little bit every episode. Already, we know that Yoon-ho suffers from anger issues and hallucinations, both of which he struggles to contain - he beat his senior to a pulp in the first episode and, in episode two, he had visions of a dead deserter. In this episode, the revelation that Yoon-ho grew up in a home steeped in domestic violence is, perhaps, the cause of his mental issues. At the very least, it's the reason for Yoon-ho's obvious need to look after his mother and younger sister, since we learned previously that he financially supports his family.
The deserter in this episode, I felt, was the most interesting, thus far, though I was rather appalled by the way he treated his father and girlfriend. A dreadful human being, he was. For this reason, I was happy to witness his capture, whereas I am normally sympathetic to young men who feel they have to escape the military in order to avoid the bullying and hazing, as was the case in the first two instances. But this brute, I was cheering for his capture. I imagine his return will include quite a bit of time behind bars and, hopefully, a taste of his own medicine.
It's hard to believe that I am halfway through D.P., but I am enjoying it quite a bit. It isn't like any K-drama I've watched, ever, and I am not referring to the foul language and the brief nudity (how jarring was that, by the way!) but, rather, the drama's style. It is purposely brutal and unrelenting, and it makes for a harrowing watch, at times, but more importantly, it is true to form if military conditions are truly as harsh as D.P. portrays them.
Following the frenzy of the opener, the pace of this episode was noticeably slower. Gone, too, was the manic fervor and in its place a muted approach that is more conducive for storytelling. The story, seemingly, is of two military police officers tasked with pursuing and, ultimately, capturing deserters, but to think this is to give D.P. very little credit. D.P. is a psychological drama, and Ahn Yoon-ho is the subject. His vicious attack on his senior in the first episode was a hint of things to come, and in the closing moments of this episode, D.P. declared its true objective: the exploration of Ahn Yoon-ho's mind.
I mentioned in my last review that Ahn seems in control most of the time, so much that it almost feels as if it's by coercion, a method imposed by one to remain composed under pressure. This isn't innate, so I suspect Ahn was taught this, by a therapist, perhaps...or a teacher. I found it, especially, striking that he used this method in his prison cell, and now knowing about his visions of the deceased deserter, one must wonder if Ahn is, in fact, suicidal. In this way, D.P. is an exemplary character study of a young man tasked to capture men who are, in his mind, psychologically his equal.
Introduced in this episode was Ahn's new D.P. partner, Han Ho-yul, who, with his presence, has brought a bit of comedic relief. I'm not certain, however, that it's suitable. Although I enjoy some comedy in my dramas, I felt Han's humor went too far, especially in his pursuit of Choi Joo-mok. D.P. is a weighty drama with a focus on heavy subject matters, such as bullying and suicide, so it mustn't make light of this. Having said that, I find that Han is a worthy match for our earnest protagonist, who, at times, calls for a bit of ribbing.
All things considered, D.P. is a tremendous drama and, thus far, has displayed an array of positives. The acting, the script, etc., but topping the list, in my opinion, is the filming, which captures perfectly the mood. The scenes filmed in the military facility, in particular, are so grainy and murky that one almost feels a bit of claustrophobia. I imagine this is intentional, giving viewers a glimpse of what it might feel like for young cadets.
When I read that D.P. is dark and gritty, I immediately looked at it through the lens of a Korean drama for the reason that one doesn't often associate K-dramas with gritty. Korean films, perhaps, but television dramas rarely. But within the opening moments of D.P., one could tell: this show is not for the faint of heart. Gritty, in look and feel, D.P. wastes no time laying its cards on the table, for its story sets in motion a volatile affair that leaves vulnerable young men to the mercy of the military. Inside the confines of the military camp, the most susceptible are bullied, and outside of it, deserters are hunted.
This is the nature of D.P., and it is as gruesome as it sounds.
But the drama is, in actuality, a gripping portrayal of one young man's struggle to reconcile, firstly, with the pressures of military training and, secondly, with his recruitment into the military police, where he is tasked with finding deserters. Initially, Ahn Yoon-ho (Jung Hae-in) seems well-equipped to cope with it all with stoic resignation, but an uncertainty crops up occasionally, revealing a volatility that could at any moment surface in the most explosive way. This is a testament to Jung Hae-in's performance, who is, I feel, perfectly cast for this role, due to an intrinsic vulnerability. A single glance of his tells a story of conflict and confusion, as well as, a certain fear. It is a truly gifted performance.
On the whole, this episode set the tone with a shocking ending, which gave us a glimpse of Ahn Yoon-ho's fragile state of mind. This is a young man, though obedient and in control most of the time, who unleashed an alarmingly savage attack on a colleague that is unprecedented in Korean dramas. The sort of brutality witnessed here was stunning, and it hints at the aggression to come. I'm so ready.