It is unsurprising that, given the upsurge in interest in Korean TV, notably following the runaway success of Squid Sport final 12 months, Netflix has positioned itself because the premier streamer of Okay-dramas in Western international locations. This summer season, the service has added Café Minamdang to the checklist. The collection started within the final week of June and is at the moment midway by an 18-episode run.
The collection’ protagonist, Nam Han-joon, is the world’s flashiest con artist. A natty dresser with an air of uber-cool about him, he makes use of chilly studying to work out the motivations behind enterprise associates, shoppers, and marks. All of the whereas, he maintains a mystical aura, full with props, to provide the impression his powers of deduction are right down to shamanic skills. The stage is ready for Han-joon to hold out swindle after swindle, aided and abetted by his hacker sister.
This is why you have to be watching.
Café Minamdang: The Forged
Set in Seoul, Café Minamdang options a few of the South Korean capital’s most well-known landmarks and some seedier areas, because it befits the underworld plot.
Within the function of Nam Han-joon is Search engine optimisation In-guk, a long-established star on Korean TV. The actor not too long ago grew to become higher recognized to Western audiences as Myul Mang in Doom At Your Service, final 12 months’s fantasy romance on Viki. It is simple to see how In-guk’s efficiency because the angel whose very presence dooms these round him to misfortune introduced him to the eye of Café Minamdang‘s producers. Right here, he brings the identical depth to his work as Han-joon. Starring reverse is Oh Yeon-seo as Han Jae-hee. Each stars minimize their enamel in Okay-pop, as In-guk was the winner of the fact TV present Celebrity Okay and Yeon-seo is a founding member of LUV.
Jung Man-sik, who had a supporting function in final 12 months’s well-reviewed political thriller Escape From Mogadishu, helps spherical out the forged with Heo Jae-ho and Jung Ha-joon. The actors play a trio of detectives — one grizzled, one superstitious, one moist behind the ears — who’re discomfited when Yeon-seo, because the “Ghost of Han,” an nearly legendary detective able to taking down complete gangs of crooks single-handed, finds herself of their midst.
Café Minamdang: The Plot
The storytelling is economical to a fault, however what Café Minamdang lacks in curiosity within the scenic path to the plot, it greater than makes up for in route. With smash cuts galore, a bevy of maximum close-ups, tender focus photographs, the odd sepia-tinged childhood flashback, and a few spectacular drone protection of motion scenes, in addition to a naked minimal of exposition, the scene transitions attain a degree of slickness uncommon even for K-dramas.
In-guk’s comedic chops are put to good use in his portrayal of his character’s seemingly boundless ego (key traces: “I am so bored with being so standard!” and “Why am I so attractive?”). Kang Mi-na performs it droll as Han-joon’s sister, a nationwide intelligence service operator turned freelance hacker who provides Han-joon the lowdown on potential marks.
However an equally wealthy supply of humor is the fixed stream of genre-bending and homages. Within the first episode alone, we get Hans Zimmer-esque orchestral stabs and a Matrix-style battle scene courtesy of Oh Yeon-seo in some very Carrie-Anne Moss-stylized getup, full with slo-mo closeups and wirework. Within the subsequent, the present switches genres once more, and the beginnings of an opposites-attract, love-hate romance between Han-joon and Jae-hee are sketched (if certainly that is the way it will prove). Refined it isn’t, as their first huge row ends with a kick within the shins for Han-joon. The viewers will get compensation in the way in which of fast-paced plot improvement.
Because the Story Continues
As the stress builds between Han-joon and his concern for “managing” the wants of his VVIP shoppers, and Jae-hee, who’s seeking to nook a felony she does not but know is Han-joon, the pair cross swords on a couple of event. Han-joon getting a shady buyer off the hook on a technicality supposedly dropped at him by the “spirits,” for instance. However the labyrinthine plot requires a “consumer of the week”-type construction whereas permitting the separate story arcs to develop independently.
Taken as a comedy firstly, Café Minamdang will be forgiven for its occasional forays into farce, notably relating to the full-on battle scenes. To not point out the infodumps which have grow to be more and more frequent methods of filling within the viewers on lacking plot factors in current episodes. However the high-octane thrills and spills, the laughs, and the dedicated performances of the ensemble forged make for a uniquely entertaining mixture.
How and The place to Watch
The ultimate episode of Café Minamdang‘s first season is because of premiere on August 23, 2022. Episodes drop on Netflix each Monday and Tuesday.