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Last Updated 21.07.2024 | 9:36 PM IST



Chief Detective 1958 Review: Lee Je Hoon and Lee Dong Hwi join forces to tackle corruption in fun investigative comedy-action prequel

en Bollywood News Chief Detective 1958 Review: Lee Je Hoon and Lee Dong Hwi join forces to tackle corruption in fun investigative comedy-action prequel

Chief Detective 1958 is a 2024 K-drama, a prequel to 1970s Korean series Chief Detective. This also stars Choi Woo Sung, Yoon Hyun Soo and Seo Eun Soo.

Lee Je Hoon, South Korea's chameleon-like actor, is no stranger to embodying characters who fight for justice.  His impressive performances in shows like Taxi Driver and Signal solidified his reputation for tackling complex roles that champion the wronged. Now, he's back with a fresh twist on that familiar identity in Chief Detective 1958. The series is a prequel to Chief Detective which ran for 18 years from 1971 to 1989. Interestingly, as the prequel premiered in South Korea, the story’s narrative translated into impressive viewership numbers. Chief Detective 1958 premiered on MBC on April 19, making history by achieving the highest ratings for any Friday-Saturday drama in the network's history. The first episode garnered a nationwide average of 10.1%, making it the most-watched program of its time slot.

Chief Detective 1958 Review: Lee Je Hoon and Lee Dong Hwi join forces to tackle corruption in fun investigative comedy-action prequel

On this show, Lee Je Hoon sheds his usual gravitas to portray Park Yeong Han, a hilariously unrefined detective with a surprising pedigree. Hailing from Hwangcheon province, Yeong Han boasts an unmatched record – the most cow thief arrests in the region! However, his talents are about to be put to a whole new test. Transferred to the bustling Seoul city police force, Yeong Han finds himself in a world far removed from his rural stomping grounds. Gone are the days of chasing cows; now, he's face-to-face with cunning gangsters and a city brimming with the strange and unsettling. Veteran actor Choi Bul Am, the original Park Yeong Han, made an appearance in the first episode of the drama, playing the role of the grandfather. The drama premiered on April 19, 2024. The drama stars Lee Je Hoon alongside Lee Dong Hwi, Choi Woo Sung, Yoon Hyun Soo and Seo Eun Soo.

Let’s start with the opening credits. The 2D animation graphics tease the audience about what is to come. It matches the comic tone of the drama overall, but also hints at a serious matter to be revealed soon. The action-movie-style opening sequence is definitely one of the good ones seen so far this year. The first episode takes a flashback approach to pay homage to the original series and the original Park Yeong Han. We see an old Park heading to the police station with some food for his grandson. There are some old photos of the staff and we are thus taken back to the heyday of Detective Park and his team.

Lee's portrayal of Park Yeong Han in the new drama is pure joy. Park, a good-natured country boy, is also a refreshingly honest officer. The fast-paced city life throws him some curveballs, but he quickly adapts and carves his own niche.  His unwavering optimism, fearless pursuit of justice, and camaraderie with his colleagues make him a strong contender for the audience's favourite character. But Park isn't a one-man show.

The supporting cast shines just as brightly. Lee Dong Hwi portrays Kim Sang Soon, also known as "Mad Dog." He's the classic tough guy with a hidden soft spot, revealed in rare moments. Choi Woo Sung embodies Cho Kyung Hwan, the team's literal muscle. Yoo Hyun Soo steps into the role of Seo Ho Jeong, the initially timid trainee who discovers a rebellious courage within himself. And finally, Choi Deok Moon plays Chief Yoo Dae Cheon, the kind of boss everyone dreams of having.

While Park has set a dynamic within the team after moving to the city, he also has a run-in with a bookstore owner. Beyond the engaging plot and endearing characters, the show boasts a delightful beginning of the romance between Park Yeong Han and Lee Hye Ju, played by Seo Eun Soo, which adds a sweet layer to the show.

The first two episodes of the drama put the wheels of crime and comedy in motion. Each episode runs for almost an hour. Dramas like these create more impact on the audience because of the narrative style. Despite there being a shred of predictability and evident foreshadowing, it is the last few minutes of the drama that surprise and shock the audience. So far, we have only seen comically laced run-ins between the detectives and the gangs, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Park Yeong Han has a murky past. We saw that during that small flashback when he was a part of the military police. The mark on his wrist is the same as the one we saw in the opening sequence. There is definitely some deeper connection between him and the snake-named gang members. The reason for his transfer to the city probably lies in this connection too.

Coming to the visual aspect of the drama, it is quite a delight to see the retro setting. It transports the audience to the era most of us only saw on screen. The old-school approach to crime investigation and the job as a police officer is a nostalgic and refreshing change from the modern-day crime thrillers where technology towers over everything. The impact of Chief Detective 1958 is quite evident as the drama premiere saw double-digit ratings.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a heartwarming tale of oddballs coming together, facing life and fighting crime together, then Chief Detective 1958 would make a good choice. The drama thrives on the classic underdog trope. Each character, with their humble beginnings and simple lives, embodies the spirit of overcoming adversity. The series is more than just a crime procedural. It's a heartwarming tale of found family, where a group of misfits come together to navigate the complexities of life and fight for what's right. The drama's old-school charm evokes a sense of nostalgia, even for a time we may have never lived through. The characters' simplicity, humble beginnings, and the slower pace of life in this bygone era create a world that's both relatable and captivating.

In episode 3’s teaser, we saw that Park Yeong Han and the team are faced with a new case and their skills are put to test. Policemen going in without any protective gear? Now that is something to stress about! We shall find out what exactly transpired in the show next week. Chief Detective 1958 is available on Disney+ Hotstar in most global regions. It will air on Friday and Saturday until May 18, 2024.

What do you think about Lee Je Hoon-starrer Chief Detective 1958?

Also Read: Lee Je Hoon Special: From Taxi Driver to Signal, 7 Korean movies and dramas which depict his diverse artistry


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