Liar Game (2014)
TYPE: Korean Drama
WHERE TO WATCH: VIKI
WHERE TO GET RECAPS: Dramabeans
My Rating: 5 out of 5
SYNOPSIS: Nam Da-Jung is an innocent college student who passes a hidden camera audition and is invited to join the reality show Liar Game, a psychological survival game wherein participants trick each other and the one who ultimately succeeds wins the prize money of ₩10 billion (US$9.3 million). Tempted with the chance to pay off her debts, Da-Jung joins the game and gets conned out of the initial money given to her. In desperation, she asks genius ex-con swindler and former psychology professor Ha Woo-Jin to help her win the game. (source: Wikipedia)
I happened upon Liar Game after seeing it on the front page of VIKI. I knew next to nothing about the drama except that Shin Sung-Rok (the villain in My Love From Another Star) was in it.
After 2 episodes, I was totally hooked.
I’m not a fan of many manga/manhwa-to-screen adaptations. Shows like Goong or Boys before Flowers have had enormous popularity, but never made it on the list of my favorite Korean Dramas.
This Korean version, however, is slick brain candy on screen. Seriously. I love this kind of make-you-think, now-turn-the-tables, just-question-everyone-and-everything stuff. There’s something so heady about smart dramas.
Ex-con and professor of psychology, Ha Woo-Jin
I fell for hero, Ha Woo-Jin, the moment he came on screen. Yes, it was partly because of his awesome hair, brooding gaze, and dimples, but his character through each episode only made me love him more.
"Never trust anyone."
On paper Ha Woo-Jin is your typical silent, strong guy that are a dime a dozen in K-drama land (and might I add dramas everywhere around the world?). But Ha Woo-Jin carries such intensity on the screen even when he’s just standing there. Not to mention when he’s being brilliant.
The idea that Ha Woo-Jin, an ex-con who uses psychology to discern if people are lying, partners with a sweet and far-too-trusting girl in a nothing-is-as-it-seems reality game for millions of $$$ is the stuff drama-dreams are made of people!
Excuse me while I do a happy dance and swoon from remembering exciting drama-moments.
Nam Da-Jung, our angelic heroine, while initially the hardest character to warm up to, won me with her journey and a satisfying end for her character.
Hard-working & empathetic Nam Da-Jung
Though it’s not easy to relate to the goodest of good Cinderella heroines, Nam Da-Jung’s actress, Kim So-Eun has a natural likableness and cuteness. I went into this fully expecting Da-Jung to represent a trope more than a person, so I was happy to see her character slowly grow and become more than just the most trusting woman that ever existed. In fact, by the end I saw her strength in trusting despite enormous opposition, when the lies that surrounded her would've broken a weaker but more calloused person.
And then - the villain, Kang Do-Young. Oh my freakin’ gosh, I love him! I already liked the actor, Shin Sung-Rok, from his role in My Love From Another Star where he managed to grab my attention even with his limited caricature role.
Shin Sung-Rok in My Love...
Shin Sung-Rok in Liar Game
Shin Sung-Rok is the kind of actor that has a natural presence on screen – with his gigantic grin, deep voice and compelling gaze. He’s the kind you’d watch in a boring show just to hear his voice and laugh. (Like I love to hear Rufus Sewell, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston).
Kang Do-Young being his usual charismatic and devilish self
Kang Do-Young is as deceptive as his game of lies. On the outside he looks like a slick, brilliant and controlled businessman, but every now and then we catch a glimpse of something sinister lurking inside - something bordering on the crazy side. And full of pain.
And what’s more scary and exciting than a brilliant-yet-crazy game host wanting to play mind games with his contestants? The tension between Do-Young and Woo-Jin positively crackles on the screen and draws us back for more, more questions, more answers, and more clashing between the two super-geeks with emotional issues.
Early on in the show, Kang Do-Young explains his vision for the Liar Game show – his desire to see humanity’s masks lifted when faced with greed. His pessimistic view is that a person would do anything for money including turning their backs on those they trust.
I think that was what kept me anticipating each weekly episode. That fascinating and almost philosophical look at the battle between greed and selflessness. And how that escalates into a bloody battle between truth and dishonesty. Between hope and despairing reality.
Kang Do-Young’s words are truly prophetic; backstabbing and mistrust almost destroys the contestants of Liar Game. Greed rears its ugly head from the get-go wrecking havoc on the contestants’ hearts and minds. But honesty, compassion, and trust won’t go down without a fight, and in Woo-Jin and Da-Jung we see those qualities persevere to the end.