Dollars Heist: Korea – Joint Financial Region: Episode 1 (1st Impressions)
Netflix’s newest drama drop is a remake of the well-known Spanish heist series, and the initial episode is jam-packed with globe constructing, character introductions, violence, and twists. It appears like it is off to a very good start out, but is it binge-worthy? Properly, that selection will probably be determined by your private taste.
Editor’s note: Coverage will continue with a second complete evaluation, so please refrain from discussing any plot points beyond Episode 1 in this post.
EPISODE 1 1st IMPRESSIONS
Set in a fictional close to-future when North and South Korea are nonetheless navigating the political, social, and financial ramifications of their current reunification, Dollars Heist: Korea – Joint Financial Region turns out to be a incredibly literal — and excessively extended — title for our newest drama. The Joint Financial Region (JEA), a city constructed on the web-site of the Joint Safety Region (JSA), was constructed as a symbolic hub for citizens of North and South Korea to function and reside in harmony. The JEA is also house to the Unified Korea Mint, the setting of our heist — but initial, some backstory.
It need to come as no surprise that corrupt and greedy men and women located methods to exploit poor North Koreans migrating to the south, and amongst these North Korean hopefuls searching for a improved life is our narrator, later identified as TOKYO (Jeon Jong-seo). When she moves south, she’s swindled out of her dollars and finds herself functioning demeaning jobs in order to spend back a dirty, sexist loan shark… till lastly she has sufficient.
See, Tokyo may well have grown up (secretly) dancing to BTS music — just like any other K-pop fan from about the globe — but she’s a member of additional than one particular ARMY, getting also served in North Korea’s military. She expertly eliminates the loan shark and steals his dollars, and for the subsequent year she becomes a Robin Hood-like character, stealing — and killing — criminals who have been exploiting and scamming North Koreans.
Sooner or later her personal crimes catch up to her, and she finds herself injured, on the run from the police, and prepared to finish her life to escape every thing. That is when the PROFESSOR (Yoo Ji-tae) recruits her to be a component of his group of ragtag criminals. Their objective: steal four trillion won from the Unified Korea Mint.
In addition to Tokyo, we’re introduced to the Professor’s other seven recruits as they every single choose a city-primarily based codename to preserve their anonymity. There’s RIO (Lee Hyun-woo), the energetic laptop hacker with the appears and lovability of a K-pop star, but with the supposed dance moves of a Muppets character.
MOSCOW (Lee Won-jong) is a former miner who can dig by means of something, and his son DENVER (Kim Ji-hoon) is a street fighter who selects a city close to the Rocky Mountains due to the fact Philadelphia, the actual setting of his favourite film Rocky, is also tough for him to pronounce. NAIROBI (Jang Yoon-ju), the crew’s obligatory sex-pot, is a counterfeit artist, and brothers OSLO (Lee Kyu-ho) and HELSINKI (a further Kim Ji-hoon) are a pair of former gang members who deliver the muscle.
And lastly, there’s BERLIN (Park Hae-soo) who, according to Tokyo, has a knack for generating men and women really feel nervous. Offered that he escaped from the Kaechon forced labor camp, which is infamous in North Korea for getting no survivors, it is logical to assume his polished outward look hides a unsafe side.
5 months immediately after the Professor’s crew is formed, we reduce to the Unified Korea Mint, exactly where it seems small business is as usual. We’re introduced to CHO YOUNG-MIN (Park Myung-hoon), the Director of the Mint Bureau, and we find out rather promptly that he is a grade-A scumbag.
His clear prejudice against North Koreans didn’t cease him from manipulating his workplace girlfriend YOON MI-SUN (Lee Joo-bin) into considering he would divorce his wife and assist bring her family members south. When she tells him that she’s pregnant, he claims that he had a vasectomy and calls her a whore due to the fact the child can not possibly be his. A thing tells me he’s a significant, fat, gaslighting liar, although.
Although the rest of the group hijacks the incoming shipment of currency paper and infiltrates the Mint Bureau in disguise, Tokyo and Nairobi enter by means of the front door wearing wigs and carrying duffle bags complete of guns. When inside, our group of robbers round up all their hostages and blindfold them, but Tokyo has to hunt down one particular missing individual in unique: ANNE KIM (Lee Si-woo), one particular of the quite a few students on a field trip to tour the Mint Bureau.
Tokyo locates her in the women’s restroom, exactly where she snuck off to Facetime her American boyfriend on (what seems to be) an iPhone 11… in the year 2026(ish). If the presence of an (outdated) iPhone — as an alternative of a Samsung — wasn’t an clear sufficient of a clue at this “K-drama” was created by an American enterprise, then certainly the clumsy dub-more than of Anne’s English dialogue in the course of her bathroom cyber flirtation was a dead giveaway.
With the hostages subdued and beneath Berlin’s watchful eyes, Moscow, Denver, and Rio function to unlock the secure. When it is open, they celebrate like Scrooge McDuck and roll about in the giant pile of dollars, but sooner or later they have to get back to small business and commence the subsequent stage of their strategy: intentionally set off the Mint Bureau’s alarms and wait for the police to arrive.
4 of the robbers stage an attempted escape, which leads to a genuine shoot-out with the police. It is in the course of this altercation that Tokyo hints — for the initial time — that she may well have been remiss in blindly trusting the Professor and his strategy. A flashback to when Tokyo taught Rio how to shoot a gun shows him questioning her trust, and at the time, she’d referred to as him immature for not understanding. In the present, although, she acknowledges the Professor’s insistence that no one particular would get hurt (by their hands) didn’t account for the truth that the police would not be operating beneath the similar idealism. Was this failure the outcome of his poor organizing or a strategic omission?
Rio is shot, and as the 4 robbers retreat back inside — as per their original strategy — they drag him with them. Fortunately, Rio’s bullet proof vest protected him from significant injury, and offered that he nonetheless has the power to flirt with Tokyo, he’ll reside to possibly die a further day.
With the leaders of each nations now conscious of the attack on the Mint Bureau, a joint job force is developed to deal with the circumstance. CHA MOO-HYUK (Kim Sung-oh) is a former specific ops agent dispatched from the north, and SUN WOO-JIN (Kim Yun-jin) is a South Korean negotiator. The two of them are instantly at odds with one particular a further, as Moo-hyuk is of the mindset that they need to go in guns blazing, and Woo-jin has to coolly remind him that they have additional than 50 hostages to account for — or did he neglect?
Back inside the locked down constructing, the robbers have passed out matching jumpsuits and masks to all the hostages they are now dressed like the robbers. Rio’s also hacked the Mint Bureau’s telephone line, so when Woo-jin calls to negotiate, she’s patched by means of to the Professor, who utilizes a voice distortion software program whilst he strategically feeds her false intel and pretends to be one particular of 4 hapless robbers whose plans went awry.
Moo-hyuk latches onto the news that there are only 4 robbers and prepares his group to raid the constructing. No one particular in the testosterone-filled command center desires to listen to Woo-jin when she cautions that the guy on the telephone could have been lying about the quantity of robbers. Alternatively, she’s forcefully removed from the job force and told to go house, but immediately after checking her texts from her new boyfriend, she decides to meet him at his cafe.
It is at this point that we find out that her lover is the Professor, who she knows as Sun-ho. See, whilst the sexist members of the joint job force assumed Woo-jin was appointed as the negotiator due to the fact her quickly-to-be-ex-husband is an influential South Korean politician, the reality is that the Professor strategically created her the ideal candidate for the job by exposing her competitors’ scandals. Component of his heist strategy hinges on her aiding in their operation with no her understanding it.
Case in point: when Woo-jin texted him that she was leaving the scene and headed to his cafe, he knew it was a sign that the North Korean operatives had gained the upper hand and would be storming the castle quickly. The Professor employed this understanding to warn his group on the inside, so they — along with their hostages wearing matching masks and jumpsuits — have been stationed at all the entry points when the job force breached the perimeter with cameras to assess the circumstance.
At the similar time, our robbers release a public Youtube video of Young-min and Anne begging the joint job force not to shoot due to the fact the hostages are wearing the similar disguise as the robbers. This video serves 3 purposes. 1st — and most of course — the job force now knows they can’t shoot willy-nilly into the constructing. Second, Moo-hyuk and his trigger-content group will face public backlash if they act irrationally and trigger innocent casualties. And lastly, it serves to determine Anne, the US Ambassador’s daughter, as one particular of the hostages.
As the Professor planned, the soldiers retreat, and Woo-jin is referred to as back to the scene. With the job force unable to get entry to the constructing with no endangering the hostages, our robbers have purchased themselves sufficient time to full their genuine mission: employing the Mint Bureau’s gear to print four trillion in untraceable legal tender.
As far as initial impressions go, this one particular was quite strong, even if this show does fall in line with Netflix’s other “K-dramas” and deliver us with a further gritty, violent story beautifully packaged in the streaming platform’s significant spending budget cinematography. Dollars Heist: Korea – Joint Financial Region was effectively strategic in revealing bits and pieces of the Professor’s strategy to the audience by means of intermittent flashbacks, and all round, I felt engaged with the heist elements of the story and with the person characterizations of our ensemble cast.
Although Tokyo, as the in some cases narrator, was the most featured robber, I’d say all the members of the crew got just sufficient screen time to get a sense of their common personalities and make interest in their backstories. And on the opposing team’s side, we got a strong introduction to Woo-jin, a further powerful female fighting for respect in her male-dominated profession. Although some of Woo-jin’s lines felt like they have been pulled from a textbook on how to portray badass girls characters, I assume her partnership with the Professor will add an intriguing layer of vulnerability to her character, based on how their story plays out. Either way, I’m also eager to see how she fares against the Professor in their cat-and-mouse game.
Although I do have a lot of praise for the initial episode of Dollars Heist: Korea – Joint Financial Region, it ought to be acknowledged that this is not your common K-drama, as most of you currently suspect. In a lot of methods, it feels like a further Squid Game, and not just due to the fact of the brightly colored jumpsuits and masks. Or due to the fact it stars Park Hae-soo. Or due to the fact it prominently options a female character from North Korea…
I imply, there’s all of that, also, but additional normally each dramas are claustrophobically suspenseful — mostly confined to one particular setting and dripping with the unsettling feeling that sooner or later one particular of our favourite characters is bound to die. So if you weren’t a fan of Squid Game you need to likely stay clear of this one particular. And for these of us who decide on to proceed, let’s all hold hands and hope that the adorable Rio tends to make it out alive.
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