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Friday, September 22, 2023

“Han River Police” Review: Navigating Waters of Crime and Brotherhood

Culture"Han River Police" Review: Navigating Waters of Crime and Brotherhood

Set against the backdrop of the bustling Han River, Disney+ introduces its Korean original, “Han River Police”, a riveting action-comedy that masterfully weaves the bond of brotherhood with the tumultuous waters of crime and treachery.

At the heart of this narrative is a diverse team of police officers, hailing from different walks of life but united by their duty to patrol the river. This includes quelling unruly party boats, the grim responsibility of recovering bodies, and confronting influential ferry corporations, making every day an unpredictable adventure.

Our main trio comprises the muscular and charismatic Han Du-jin, played by the talented Kwon Sang-woo, who is known for his roles in productions like “Curtain Call”; the weathered Lee Cheon-seok, depicted by Kim Hee-won, whose experience speaks volumes in every gaze; and the fresh-faced Kim Ji-soo, brought to life by Shin Hyun-seung. Their actions are guided by the experienced Captain Do Hyun-il, portrayed by Sung Dong-il, rekindling his on-screen camaraderie with Kwon from the popular “The Accidental Detective” series. The seasoned Seo Young-hee further adds depth to the ensemble as Yoon Hyo-sun, a warm-hearted restaurateur of the Han River Moonlight restaurant, a haven where these officers unwind after grueling shifts.

While Hyo-sun offers solace with her delicacies, her heart secretly yearns for Park Ho-san’s character, Baek Chul, a former cop entangled in a web of regret and redemption. Chul, having shared the police brotherhood with Du-jin and Cheon-seok, finds himself at odds after a tragedy claims the life of their close friend, Won-jin. With blame and grief clouding judgments, Chul departs from the force, charting a course filled with moral dilemmas as he ventures into murky waters to provide for his late friend’s family.

Amidst this landscape of dedication and dilemma enters Do Na-hee, characterized by Bae Da-bin, a vivacious officer from another team. Her unbridled admiration for Du-jin adds a layer of comedic relief, even though her advances often find themselves unreciprocated. But not all intentions along the Han River are noble. Enter the villainous corporate heir, Go Gi-seok, played by Lee Sang-yi. A symbol of entitlement and arrogance, Gi-seok’s ambitions soon spell disaster when his defiance causes a cruise to capsize. As fate would have it, both Du-jin’s team and Chul’s barge race against time to rescue the distressed passengers, testing their limits and loyalties.

“Han River Police” launches with a high-octane sequence that may catch viewers off guard—a hijacking scenario right on the Han River. Yet, it cleverly pivots to reveal a training operation, a testament to the series’ knack for blending humor with suspense. The ensuing episodes invest significantly in character-building, elucidating complex relationships and personal motivations. While this deep dive into character intricacies might slow the pace momentarily, the urgency picks up with the ferry incident. However, viewers familiar with South Korea’s history might draw uncomfortable parallels with the tragic Sewol Ferry disaster of 2014.

One of the show’s recurring themes is the exploration of machismo, especially in Du-jin’s character. His need to constantly prove his mettle, be it through rigorous workouts or confrontations, is both endearing and exasperating. While the intrigue lies in pursuing investigations, the series might benefit from distancing its antagonists from typical corporate villain tropes. Nonetheless, “Han River Police” promises a journey of action, emotions, and revelations, making it a worthy watch for fans of Korean drama.


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