Bad Papa is about a struggling man (Jang Hyuk) that has financial and family problems who discovers a miracle drug that allows him to gain a career fighting mixed martial arts by enhancing his physical abilities.
I went into Bad Papa pretty blind having only been aware of the basic plot and seen a couple teasers. There wasn’t much buzz around the drama, so it was easy to avoid any fan reaction. And I have to say, Bad Papa is such an underrated drama! It’s pretty different from most of the dramas out there, and it was just an all around pleasant surprise in the most amazing kind of way.
Jang Hyuk plays our struggling family man Yoo Ji Cheol. Ji Cheol has made some bad decisions in life and that lands him with financial and family problems. He’s a good guy though and genuinely wants to make his family happy. So when a miracle drug gives him that opportunity, he embraces it. But he has no idea what is really going on with the mystery drug he starts taking and what it could cost him.
Son Yeo Eun is Ji Cheol’s wife Choi Sun Joo. She has had to give up her dreams of being a writer to support her family with multiple jobs to make up for Ji Cheol’s bad choices. But as he begins a new career in mixed martial arts, she gets the chance to write the autobiography of her old friend. It turns out that friend is Ji Cheol’s rival who may have other plans in mind though.
Next we have Shin Eun Soo as Yoo Young Son. She is the daughter of Ji Cheol and Sun Joo. She is a typical teenager who dreams of being a dancer. Her father’s choices caused her to put a hold on that dream, but she decided to take the chance to go for it again.
Then there is Ha Joon who plays Lee Min Woo. Min Woo is a long time rival of Ji Cheol. He’s see the opportunity to take him down not only in the ring but by getting close to Ji Cheol’s wife.
Let’s be honest here. Initially, my main draw for Bad Papa was Jang Hyuk. I just had to give it a look for him. But that’s not to say I wasn’t interested in the plot. Dramas with a sports aspect are still not that common, so I was curious to see how that would play out. The idea of a struggling man who uses a miracle drug also piqued my interest. And I really thought Jang Hyuk would perfectly fit a character who is a MMA fighter as well as a family man.
As one would expect, Jang Hyuk just commanded the screen with his presence. I really liked this character for him. He felt like such a regular guy, yet he was very multifaceted. And Jang Hyuk just brought him to life whether it be as the struggling family man or the fighter in the ring.
Ji Cheol was just such an interesting character. He really was oblivious to a lot of things and tended to focus on money to solve his problems, but he was a good guy, and his heart was in the right place.
Many times he just seemed kind of pitiful as he couldn’t quite do things right. Then he goes on such an emotional journey with so many ups and downs. And Jang Hyuk really brought that emotion out in every way.
This drama itself really had all sorts of things going on. Of course, we’ve got Ji Cheol trying to deal with family and financial issues. That’s what leads him to taking the mystery drug. So then we embark on his journey to return to fighting.
He also has to deal with a rival, Min Woo, not only in the ring, but also as he makes a play for his wife, Sun Joo. Then Sun Joo is dealing with her own issues career wise and having difficulties with the marriage. Next we have a high school story as their daughter Young Son works to achieve her dream of becoming a dancer.
And finally, there’s this crazy situation going on with a company experimenting with the mystery drug Ji Cheol takes. They are doing all sorts of illegal things as the group is headed up by a villainous, baby-faced chaebol heir, Jung Chan Joong (Park Ji Bin).
Test subjects have bad reactions to the drug, murders are happening, and the whole thing is just crazy! The happenings at the drug test site were a bit over the top, but I got a kick out of it. Especially, Park Ji Bin’s performance. How is it that Jan Di’s little brother from Boys Over Flowers is playing this crazy villain?! He was fun to watch.
In some ways it felt like there might be too much going on in the drama, but it really kept things interesting all of the time. But this isn’t your typical kdrama, so many might not care for this type of story. There’s not a lot of romance, the story involves many different characters, some of it is a bit cheesy, and there’s lots of MMA fighting.
This is the kind of drama that explores many different themes, and it takes a certain appreciation for these kind of elements to fully enjoy the show. It particularly worked for me because I really liked how it mixed some very dramatic story lines with raw, real life issues.
The drama hits upon lots of family issues and did well at showing them from each of the members’ perspectives. The relationship between Ji Cheol and his daughter,Young Son, was particularly meaningful. I was genuinely interested in all of the characters and liked seeing the relationships play out. And though there was a good amount of dramatics there was also some humor to lighten things up.
The first half of the dramas tackles more of the family issues and Ji Cheol’s return to fighting. Then the second half shifts more to the happenings at the drug company as well as the aftermath of Ji Cheol’s rise to fame.
A topic not frequently dealt with in kdramas is drug use, and Bad Papa touches upon that. We not only learn more about how the mystery drug effects Ji Cheol, but we see what happens when an athlete turns to drugs to win. It’s something that affects not just the athlete, but their family, friends, their opponents, and their opponents’ families. It’s a difficult issue to deal with.
And of course we as the audience are rooting for Ji Cheol’s success, but we have to deal with the fact that he is using a drug to enhance his performance when he shouldn’t be. There’s a lot to take in, and who better than Jang Hyuk to bring about the many facets of Ji Cheol’s story.
Things get pretty serious towards the end of the drama as everything comes to a head with his career, family, and the shady drug company. It was all incredibly emotional, and the drama really highlighted it so well.
Bad Papa felt like a pretty unique show in Dramaland. It was this odd mixture of family, melodrama, action, and sports. I really liked the atmosphere of the drama and just really grew to like the characters.
I loved all of the topics it hit upon, and the plot was so engaging from start to finish. It made me laugh, cry, and experience so many emotions. Sometimes a drama comes along that surprises you, and Bad Papa was just that drama.
My Rating: 8.5/10
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