Heartless City (also known as Cruel City) tells the story of a woman named Soo Min (Nam Gyu Ri) who goes undercover to bring down a notorious drug ring leader who goes by the name of Doctor’s Son (Jung Kyung Ho). Aided by the detective who arranged her undercover mission, Ji Hyung Min (Lee Jae Yoon), she finds herself in a world where secrets abound and the lines between right and wrong begin to blur.
Heartless City is a crime thriller noir filled with moody cinematography which creates the feel that you are in the dark underworld of organized crime. It’s a world that is populated by many villains and ever-changing mob leaders.
While we do have the really bad guys, we also have those bad guys that live in a world of gray. They do bad things, but they have a heart and develop genuine friendships. There are those who reluctantly ended up in their situations and see no other way to live. It’s a complicated world to be sure.
We definitely get a riveting performance from our leading man, Jung Kyung Ho. His character, Shi Hyun, is certainly complex and much of what happens to the other characters stems from him. He is the driving force behind many of the actions the others pursue. Shi Hyun has a lot to deal with and finds himself confused as to who to trust and what he should do.
Soo Min starts out as an innocent, happy go lucky girl who finds herself thrust into the dark world of crime on a mission of revenge. She always maintains that pleasant, girl next door sort of personality, but she too soon realizes that nothing is as it seems on the surface.
Detective Ji Hyung Min (Lee Jae Yoon) is a man with mission. Bring down Doctor’s Son. His drive leads him to be quite cold and disconnected from others emotionally. It makes things difficult when Soo Min needs his support. But things complicate for him as he learns he may have enemies closer than he originally thought.
Lee Jin Sook (Kim Yoo Mi) is close with Shi Hyun which is why Soo Min initially gets close to her. Things become complicated when she begins to develop a real sisterly relationship with her. Jin Sook is a strong woman who has had to harden herself because of the life she has lived. Trust is of the utmost importance to her.
Min Hong Ki (Son Chang Min) is the Chief of Police and an instrumental force behind a lot of the happenings in the drama. He’s a tough, no-nonsense kind of guy who really just ends up with his hands in too many different pots.
There was some intense and wonderful chemistry between Shi Hyun and Soo Min. Their scenes were always tense and electrically charged. I just wish there were more of them! Yes, I understand this isn’t a romantic drama, but I felt we only got a small taste of the possibilities of their relationship. I would have loved to have seen more of them together.
Heartless City actually started off quite strong. I have to say that my favorite part of it was the first five episodes. And it’s not that the drama has any real problems after that, there’s just one particular twist that I felt made it lose a little steam for me.
But on that note, the drama has plenty of twists and a great pace that helps things move along quickly. The combination of the large cast and quick pacing did make it difficult to connect with many of the characters though. It’s also a drama you need to pay attention to so that you don’t miss the details. Details are important.
So despite a few shortcomings, I found Heartless City to be a nice watch. Crime thrillers aren’t usually my favorite genre, so I would say those who do like these types of shows will probably love Heartless City. With slick production, moody cinematography, layered characters, and plenty of action, Heartless City exceled at delivering when it needed to.
My Rating: 7/10
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