From the Grim Reaper to a Nine-Tailed Fox, Lee Dong-wook has played a variety of roles over his two-decade-long career. This time, he is back as a detective in the new drama Bad and Crazy.
This review contains spoilers.
Written by Kim Sae-bom and directed by Yoo Sun-bong, the two come together for the second time after working with each other on the hit OCN drama The Uncanny Counter. Their new creation, Bad and Crazy, follows bad guy Ryu Soo-yeol (Lee Dong-wook), an expert detective that turns a blind eye to corruption to gain an edge in obtaining a promotion. When rookie cop Oh Gyung-tae (Cha Hak-yeon) interferes with a missing woman’s case that has ties to Assemblyman Do Yoo-gon (Lim Ki-hong) and his cousin Do In-beom’s (Lee Sang-hong) corruption. Yoo-gun promises Soo-yeol a promotion in exchange for helping clean up his and his cousin’s mess. However, Bad and Crazy takes corruption in the justice system to new heights by twisting the standard vigilante trope, in turn questioning what is right in the face of corruption.
From the beginning, it is clear there is more to Soo-yeol than just being a corrupt cop. He has moments where he has no memory of doing certain things, including the time where he forgot he damaged his car by stomping on it. Even though this may be a little insane, the actual “crazy” in Bad and Crazy isn’t introduced until a mysterious biker vigilante shows up. This crazy guy – K – is played by Squid Game actor Wi Ha-joon, who is extremely passionate about justice. The two opposite personalities force the audience to contemplate their own definitions of corruption.
K drives Soo-yeol to question his sanity because whenever he shows up, he either leaves the detective battered and bruised or drags him into dangerous situations around the city. When Soo-yeol complains about being assaulted by the biker, nobody believes him. Not only do people refuse to believe him, but they are also unable to see K.
Even though others fail to see K, that does not stop the biker from also pushing Soo-yeol to think about his morals. The vigilante seems to always appear to beat Soo-yeol up after he has done something wrong. If he is not injuring the detective, he is bringing Soo-yeol to places that are critical to the case involving the missing woman. These locations include places where the detective finds critical evidence about the true nature of the lady’s disappearance.
In actuality, the woman was killed by Yoo-gun and the murder was covered up by In-beom. When the two discover this, Soo-yeol originally wanted to get rid of the incriminating evidence and in trying to do so, he damages the evidence. On the other hand, K, with his hero complex, takes it upon himself to send a flying kick to the assemblyman’s face. Yet, it is revealed in episode two that K is Soo-yeol. In order for Soo-yeol to avoid going to prison for hitting a political figure, he is forced to find indisputable evidence of Yoo-gun’s crime.
K’s actions not only complicate Soo-yeol’s life but also him as a character. Soo-yeol is characterized as a man that is willing to turn a blind eye to climb up the corporate ladder. Having a split personality that will gladly put himself in danger without thinking of the consequences for the sake of being a hero twists the standard vigilante trope. The said trope often has a vigilante that is trying to stop a corrupt police force, while the police villainize the vigilante for trying to expose their corruption. In the case of Bad and Crazy, Soo-yeol is both the vigilante and the corrupt police. Thus, creating a complex character that questions the boundaries of justice and righteousness.
Justice is supposed to be the quality of being impartial in making decisions, while righteousness is defined as being morally correct. Even though Soo-yeol is a high-ranking cop, he does not take action unless he gains something in the end. Hence, whatever justice he does provide fails to be true justice because it is not delivered impartially, nor are his actions righteous. When K comes into the picture, acting as the physical manifestation of Soo-yeol’s righteous conscience, K pushes the detective to do what is right even if still slightly impartial.
If K never publicly kicked the assemblyman, Soo-yeol would have no reason to try to convict him of murder. Since Soo-yeol did not want to go to jail or lose his job, he did everything he could to get unrefutable evidence that Yoo-gun killed the woman. By doing so, he was reinstated, with a career highlight case. Even though he technically only served justice for his own benefit, he does the right thing this time because of his vigilante split personality.
This idea is furthered when Soo-Yeol’s ex-girlfriend Lee Hui-gyeom (Han Ji-eun) – a cop – is suspected of foul play when she and her division are hit by a car and attacked by a mysterious man while transporting Yoo-gun to a different prison. The suspicion arises as she is the only one left alive even though others were found to have stab wounds. K has feelings for Hui-gyeom and makes a deal with Soo-yeol, stating that he will leave him alone forever if Soo-yeol helps clear her name. Since K does not allow Soo-yeol to take bribes anymore and left him broke after donating all the money from bribes, Soo-yeol agrees to this deal. Soo-yeol’s desire to expose the truth about Hui-gyeom’s situation stems from self-serving motivations to eliminate K. Hence, Soo-yeol’s inevitable choice to pursue justice furthers the idea that his morally correct self forces him to do the righteous thing.
By twisting the vigilante trope to make a single character with two completely different desires and forcing them to coincide is an incredibly interesting concept that provides a unique watching experience for the audience.
(Images via iQiyi.)