K-Drama Review: Family Love Fuels Justice-Seeking Vigilantes In “Lookout”
“Lookout” enthralls an outwitting game of law manipulation between heroes and villains.
Theme: Legal, Drama, Crime
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Period: 22 May 2017 – 11 July 2017
Lookout nails an intense picture of justice-seeking posse, determined to pursue redemption for their loved ones. An unlikely team of – a hacker, an introverted CCTV reader, a police officer and a prosecutor, gang up together to take down a cunning villain, who abuses law to his advantage.
MBC joins the prosecutor-psychopath trend for 2017 in presenting a well-played criminal chase, which the heroes are left with no choice but to break the rules in their quest of unraveling the power exploitation of an evil chief prosecutor.
Lookout is an exhilarating drive from its inception, which it felt like as a viewer, I have passed the five stages of grief. It gives a myriad of emotions that if you do a binge watch, you will probably drain yourself. It’s my warning to you.
Because of the shared pain from the injustice suffered by their family members, the assembled whistle blowers work together to reveal the cover ups and corruption happening in the probing and execution of the law. Through solving the interconnected cases that involve their loved ones, they slowly become a new kind of family relying to each other’s warmth.
Kim Young Kwang, who played Prosecutor Jang Do Han, brilliantly acted a devious character by being a pretentious anti-hero that turned out to be the mastermind of the plan to defeat the equally astute main villain. His two-faced character rendition presents a stunning shift of acting depth that surprised me as a viewer. His final sacrifice sent me to a traumatic oblivion, but as the story calls for it, I snap out of the happy ending I hoped for.
Lee Si Young, as an actress, is natural on her feisty persona, but tear-inducing on her vulnerable scenes. As she holds the rein on the action elements of the narrative, it is a refreshing take to see her strut gutsy fight sequences in the story which is typically tasked for the lead men.
The supporting roles of Bo Mi and Kyung Soo give decent showing while providing the light notes in the relatively emotionally exhausting narrative. I particularly notice Key’s hacker role, maybe it’s the hair, but his character immersion is commendable. The supporting veteran actors are all functional that I can differentiate. And yes Lookout, thank you for bringing Shin Dong Wook oppa back in dramaland.
Lookout indulges with ample amount of character showdowns that frustrates and gratifies the audience. While the story unfolds, I often brace myself on the cliff-hangers, empathize on the weak moments of the protagonists and cringe on the wickedness of the antiheroes.
Jo Soo Ji versus Yoon Si Wan
The young psychotic antagonist carves a disturbing performance. I hope he will be the last underage psycho for 2017 K-Dramaland. The newbie actor dares to invest in a role requiring keen receptiveness to his varying images projected in the story. His creepy smirk haunts the distressed single mother, who lost her innocent daughter to his preposterous misdeed. Their encounters are always poignant, starting on how Soo Ji’s desperately clamored for due process. But the law-executing body she diligently worked with forsakes her. She has lost in all the concurrences she had with him, owing to his clever handling of the situations surrounding them. Even to their final showdown, she gets a half-baked redemption on Si Wan’s hinted outcome. Her struggle with the insane high schooler sets one part of the story’s groundwork, which contributes to the stimulating plot. Her situation, even the wrong acts she was forced to take, shows her weakness as a human, who only wants a closure she deserves.
Jang Do Han versus Yoon Seung Ro
The equally smart prosecutors play an excellent chess game before the expected goodness that prevails aftermath. In order to execute the trap to the all-knowing shrewd chief prosecutor, Do Han infiltrates his office in a friendly disguise before showing his true colors. Prosecutor Yoon counters the attacks by making sure that he is always one step ahead of Team Lookout. Until the betrayal of his loyal retainer, the lead villain calmly sprees on his vile ways in the show. That is why when Do Han comes out gritty, unveiling all he maneuvered to take him down, it is so rewarding. The mind games they play provide some of the exciting frames in the storyline. I appreciate how the villain pulls out his iniquitous persona in a serene manner, emphasizing how annoying his overbearance is.
Jang Do Han versus Jo Soo Ji
For Do Han’s revenge plan to work, the conflict surrounding Soo Ji’s daughter’s death must happen. He assumes an atrocious character, who lobbies the release of her daughter’s killer. When the gang uncovers his real identity she begins to understand how his father’s fate caused him to devote his life in making the villain pay for his unrighteousness. Just when they finally hit their goal, he comes clean on how he could have saved Yu Na’s life, but he chooses not because it propels the case that will catch the villain for good. With his unforgivable deed, Soo Ji is torn big time. Yet she understands why he had to do it.
Team Lookout is formed to make the chief prosecutor pay for his law alterations and power desecration. They work on cases related to their family members one by one before getting a ticket to jeopardize the antagonist goal of securing an even more immense position. All the plot bends take on an exciting path up to the culminating point, which will deplete your energy. So, consider you are forewarned.
True, that it is weird to focus on the villain sketches in the drama, but I think the execution of the conflicts derived from the family related villains layers the story well against the character motivations of the protagonists. The father-and-son fiends are hard to deal with due to their intellect and quick grasp of the situations thrown at them. They are not even working together so I can’t imagine if they are. As source of the problem in the story, their successful depiction and eventual sad ending hits a satisfying note in proving how good trumps evil all the time.
What Just Happened Ending?
*Spoiler Alert, I Repeat *Spoiler Alert
Do Han dies to protect Soo Ji. In a way, the writing might have drawn it like that as the final redemption of his character. I say, there is no need for that. Even Soo Ji understands why he has to do it. When a drama runs a heavy plot, I expect a happy ending, simply because the hardships conquered call for it. I did not expect that ending for the character, who set in motion of the highs and lows of the narrative. It made me sad that it took a while to muster my strength to write my thoughts about this drama *chuckles Why him? Why is there a need to kill him?
I cannot afford to rant all day about the happy ending that Lookout chooses not to give. I know it is justified, given the grim story pretext. I have to point out though that the character closures are lacking. The story as a whole notches a fair conclusion, but they miss the part to tie Si Wan’s issues neatly with his parents, marking him as a straight abominable person. At least, his parents get that realization frame of how they push their son to his path unknowingly. It was a happy occasion for Team Lookout when the storm passed, but the void left by Do Han’s demise made it hard for me to be completely happy.
Lookout parades unstable character illustrations that are strong for the most part, dwindling halfway before picking up its footing as it hits the climactic stride. The interesting and disheartening connections of the cast cushion the writing lapses. There are gaps and misses along the way, but the sturdy plot twists make up for the inconsistencies of the storytelling.
While it is not polished, Lookout takes pride on setting the agonizing story framework as the integral strength of the drama. Targeting human emotions, it will make the audience stay with the team to cheer and to understand their pain.
Lookout rides on a heavy tone yet not overly dramatic, that is why it is appealing. It thrives on straight legal and crime premise. If you are soft-hearted, be prepared for it.
A diligent police officer, Detective Jo Soo Ji (Lee Si Young) is a loving single mother. When her daughter died, she teams up with hacker Gong Kyung Soo (Key) and an introverted woman Seo Bo Mi (Kim Seul Gi), skilled in monitoring CCTV cameras. Togethr, they work together to pin down the corruption of Chief Prosecutor Yoon Seung Ro, who is also the father of Yoon Si Wan, the psychopath murderer of Soo Ji’s daughter.
They untangle cases related to the team’s family members, which are all manipulated by the Chief Prosecutor while he was climbing up the ladder of power.
Prosecutor Jang Do Han (Kim Young Kwang) orchestrates the revelations of Chief Prosecutor’s evil deeds by assembling the team, who are fueled to seek justice on the unfortunate deaths of their loved ones. He pretends to be on the villain’s side, setting up the string of evidences that will disarm the invincible villain. He is supported by a Priest Lee Kwan Woo (Shin Dong Wook), who lends his name and identity as they hold grudges toward Prosecutor Yoon as sons of his power play victims.
The team eventually discovers his true identity, and demands to work openly as a group. The murder case of Bo Mi’s family and Kyung Soo’s mother pushes pressure to Prosecutor Yoon, who is set to be appointed as Attorney General.
Prosecutor Jang unveils his intentions when they trap the detective, who does Prosecutor Yoon’s dirty works. But he commits suicide to avoid confessing at the hearing. Kim Eun Jung (Kim Tae Hoon), the upright prosecutor who harbors a furtive love toward Soo Ji, realizes too late that his clean approach of bringing out justice is no match to Prosecutor Yoon’s cunning ways. His father, who is on a bind for absolving the spy case against Prosecutor Jang’s father, is used by the villain to counter the hero’s attack.
On the day of Prosecutor Yoon’s hearing, the villain takes care of the witnesses of his crime in exchange of favors he has promised them.
Prosecutor Jang presents himself as the last witness. He reveals Prosecutor Yoon’s order to cover up his son’s murder case, and admits to the investigation that he is a witness to how Yoon Si Wan has brought Yu Na to the building rooftop. Unfortunately, he was too late to stop him when he pushed her down from the building.
Unbeknownst to Prosecutor Yoon, his detective retainer feigns death, and is being cared for by Prosecutor Jang and his team as the trump card for the case. He confesses to his old boss’ evil doings as Soo Ji and the gang find a way to air the recorded conversations of Prosecutor Yoon and his right hand in the hearing.
The Chief Prosecutor is finally caught but his psychopath son schemes an unexpected attack by luring Soo Ji’s superior – Detective Lee’s daughter to a building, where he imprisoned her. Si Wan commences a game where he orders Detective Lee to bring Soo Ji to an abandoned building. He commands her to kill Soo Ji, while threatening that her daughter Se Won will die if she does not comply.
Prosecutor Jang rushes to Soo Ji’s aid, while Bo Mi and Kyung Soo works on tracing Se Won. Worried about her daughter, Detective Lee fires her gun to Soo Ji. Prosecutor Jang arrives and holds on to her gunshot as Soo Ji finally remembers who helped her when she was fatally shot last time. It is an exchange of bargaining with the young psycho and tracking where his hostage is.
Kyung Soo finally finds her, and they report that she is safe. Si Wan rushes to push Soo Ji out of the building. But Prosecutor Jang shoves her away and falls on the ground with the villain.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rewatch Value: 7.5/10
Plus Factors: Hero-Villain Showdown, Notable Main Lead Portrayals, Thrilling Storyline
Oh No Moments: Disheartening Ending
Related Dramas: Punch, Defendant