Player: Episode 1
Fast-paced and frantic, OCN’s Player jumps into the Saturday-Sunday line-up at full speed and chock-full of heisty goodness. With all kinds of criminals profiting off the good people in the world, our team of swindlers are here to take back what was unlawfully gained, but only if they can keep their act together long enough to pull it off.
EPISODE 1: “Robbed Before His Eyes”
As a mysterious man drives toward a prison, a news report details the impending presidential pardon of several criminals, including a notorious loan shark known as Chairman CHEON DONG-SUB.
Inside the prison, the corrupt warden dotes over the aforementioned Chairman Cheon, who apparently received all sorts of special treatment from the warden while in prison. As the pair enjoy a meal together, another guard informs Chairman Cheon that a prosecutor is there to meet him.
The prosecutor is KANG HA-RI (Song Seung-heon), and he and Chairman Cheon trade barbed introductions with each other. Ha-ri quickly gets down to business, asking point blank where the chairman’s money launderer is hiding.
Chairman Cheon laughs off the question and suggests Ha-ri ask Prosecutor Jang, who is already spending all his energy trying to track down Cheon’s money. His tone quickly changes, though, when Ha-ri reveals a chart with a breakdown of the chairman’s entire organization, with most members already brought down by the prosecutors’ investigation.
Ha-ri calmly reveals that the launderer is his next target, and Chairman Cheon doesn’t seem to know where the man is hiding, angrily claiming that if anyone is going to find where the money launderer is hidden it will be himself.
Soon after, though, the money launderer gets a call from Chairman Cheon directly, who orders the laundering to be finished up and cleared out before the prosecution gets too close.
As Ha-ri exits the prison, he casually tosses his glasses and prosecutor ID badge in the trash, no longer needing to pretend to be a prosecutor. Instead he drives to a nearby hotel, and communicates with his colleague, hacker IM BYUNG-MIN (Lee Shi-un), to initiate their infiltration of Chairman Cheon’s secret office inside.
Ha-ri coolly snaps a photo of the security guard near the elevator and Byung-min quickly hacks into his social media to conjure an excuse to get him out of their way. It works perfectly, as one of the guards rushes off, telling his flustered colleague (cameo by Yoo Seung-ho) that he’ll send a replacement soon.
Cue Ha-ri, now in a security uniform, who waltzes right in to take the now-empty spot. However, instead of pretending to be the replacement, Ha-ri flashes police ID to the young guard, who is now visibly nervous.
Ha-ri makes nice with the young guard, and offers to let the guard off scot-free. It’s all a ploy so Ha-ri can get to the elevator alone, but it works to perfection as the young guard scurries off to avoid trouble.
Once Ha-ri is alone, he makes a call to report the situation to the previously mentioned Prosecutor JANG IN-KYU (Kim Won-hae), who quickly mobilizes his team.
At the hotel, the money laundering team arrive with all the money and head up to the private office, only to find Ha-ri there hastily unloading all of the money from the safe, even cheekily asking for help as the gangsters stare dumbfounded at the brazen thief.
But it turns out Ha-ri is not alone, and in walks the gargantuan muscle of the team DO JIN-WOONG (Tae Won-seok) with a massive smile on his face ready for a fight. The gangsters are no match for Jin-woong, who easily disposes of them.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Jang arrives with his team downstairs, and forcefully tries to get through the security barricade and into the hotel. With all the commotion in the background, Byung-min slips into a police uniform himself in preparation for the next stage.
When Prosecutor Jang finally makes it to Chairman Cheon’s office, all he finds is a collection of gangsters strewn across the room in a bloody mess, and Ha-ri and Jin-woong are nowhere to be found.
In the parking garage, Ha-ri and Jin-woong escape with all the money, throwing it in the back of the van that Byung-min prepared for them. Prosecutor Jang heads after them, but the con artists already have a massive head start.
Using Byung-min’s police uniform, the group manage to get past the police checkpoint without much scrutiny, but seconds later the cops realize their mistake and quickly give chase.
The three con men speed off with the police right on their tail, and all three men frantically panic as the chase continues, Jin-woong even trying to wrestle control of the steering wheel away from the back seat. It’s complete pandemonium inside the van with all three men yelling at each other.
Meanwhile, a mysterious biker calmly weaves through the pursuing cops and heads toward the team’s van. The chase heads toward a red light, and Byung-min just closes his eyes and speeds right through it, barely missing the vehicles in the intersection. As this happens, the biker pulls in front of the trailing cops and stops herself in front of their path, blocking the pursuit.
Relief washes over Ha-ri’s face as he peeks back to see the biker is the team’s fourth member, CHA AH-RYUNG (Krystal), and the boys celebrate their successful escape as Ah-ryung drives past their van shaking her head at them.
At the prison, Chairman Cheon is released and finds his cronies waiting for him outside. Seconds later, however, Prosecutor Jang arrives, and he hurries over to forcefully ask where Chairman Cheon’s money is.
Chairman Cheon denies that the office in the hotel belongs to him, but Prosecutor Jang just smiles back, “Is that right? Then I guess this isn’t yours either,” opening the back of the van to show all of Chairman Cheon’s money sitting there in the prosecution’s possession.
Dumbfounded, Chairman Cheon can’t respond, and Prosecutor Jang just taunts him, pulling Cheon into a hug before congratulating him on becoming completely broke.
Chairman Cheon desperately runs after Prosecutor Jang’s van, but there’s no way he is getting the 20 million dollars in illegal funds back.
As the van arrives at the prosecutor’s office, Prosecutor Jang faces a barrage of questions from reporters, though he does not reveal the name of his new team, and we see the four teammates arrive back at their headquarters smiling ear-to-ear with the success of their mission today.
One month earlier, Prosecutor Jang reviews the information the prosecutors have on Ha-ri’s team. Jin-woong is a former freelance fighter, and rumor is he never loses a fight. Byung-min is a world champion hacker who was working for Chairman Cheon, but disappeared right before Cheon’s arrest.
Finally, there is Ha-ri, who there is very little information on, though he was captured on CCTV footage at the scene of three major swindles of notorious gangsters. Prosecutor Jang vows to look more deeply into the team’s work.
Meanwhile, Byung-min leads the team through choosing their next target. He gives the team a selection of generic targets, but Ha-ri is unimpressed. Instead, Ha-ri wants to go after Chairman JI MOK-HYUN of Hyun-jin Group, a wealthy conglomerate.
Chairman Ji is already under investigation for bribery, but the 40 million dollars he used for his crimes could not be found by the prosecutors.
Byung-min worries about targeting a conglomerate, but Ha-ri assures him that they can just take on as much as they can handle and stick to their rule of only stealing money that the victim wouldn’t report to the police.
With Byung-min still wavering, Ha-ri and Jin-woong joke about how to divide up the money they’ll earn, and Byung-min finally caves. Jin-woong, though, wonders who will be driving for them this time, and Ha-ri cryptically answers that he knows someone who can.
Cut to Ah-ryung in a drive test vehicle, crawling along at a snail’s pace. Ha. Her instructor (cameo by Hong Seok-cheon) is clearly frustrated by her extremely cautious driving, but he tells her to just relax and follow the rules of the road and nobody will get mad at her.
Seconds later, an enraged driver pulls up beside her and viciously berates her before speeding ahead. Ah-ryung clarifies with the instructor that she can drive however she wants, and he agrees, thinking she means to continue at her plodding pace.
Naturally, she does the opposite, gearing up and expertly maneuvering her car through traffic to catch up with the driver who just told her off, pulling in front of him and forcing him to slam on the brakes.
Ah-ryung looks pleased with herself for a moment until she realizes she is in the middle of a driving test and looks over at her instructor cowering in the passenger seat. She accepts her fate that she is going to fail the test but the bawling instructor tells her that he is going to pass her and she perks up again.
Afterward, Ah-ryung passes by a shiny blue sports car and can’t help but take a closer look at it. She goes to open the door but hastily retreats, saying she promised herself she’d stop stealing.
She can’t resist the urge for long though, and decides she’ll just sit inside the car for a bit to get a feel for it. As she admires the inside of the car someone reaches in and offers her the key, startling her.
It’s Ha-ri, who deflects Ah-ryung’s questions back at her since she’s the one sitting in a car that doesn’t belong to her. Ha-ri knows about Ah-ryung’s prior stealing conviction, so he offers her a choice: go to the police, or go for a drive and chat about business.
With Ha-ri in the passenger seat, Ah-ryung races through Seoul, and Ha-ri brings her up to speed on their plan to steal from con artists. Ah-ryung questions Ha-ri’s intentions, and he claims he does it because he makes a lot of money.
When Ah-ryung asks if that’s the only reason, Ha-ri pauses to think about it and wonders aloud if that really is all.
As they continue forward a police car starts tailing them, and Ha-ri finally reveals that the car they’re in is actually stolen. Dismayed, Ah-ryung launches into action and speeds up to outrun the pursuing car.
Back at the team office, a disoriented Ha-ri introduces Ah-ryung as their new driver, though Jin-woong and Byung-min are openly against working with her, and Ah-ryung bites back that she can’t trust any of them either.
In court, Prosecutor Jang takes on the case of JI SEONG-GU, the heir to Hyun-jin group and Chairman Ji’s son, who is accused of raping a model multiple times before she committed suicide.
During the trial, Prosecutor Jang questions the model’s closest friend, who testifies to how much Seong-gu affected the model’s personal life. In a flashback we see that the testifying friend discovered the victim’s body at home on the night of the suicide alongside a note accusing Seong-gu of his crimes.
But back in the courtroom, the witness sides with Seong-gu, who apparently tampered with the witness to give false testimony and claim that the model was only using Seong-gu to get ahead in life.
Prosecutor Jang is shocked by the sudden reversal, and objects to her obvious perjury, but when the defense asks to cross-examine the judge quickly allows it, and Prosecutor Jang can only look on dumbfounded at the court’s blatant favoritism toward the defendant.
After Seong-gu is granted full bail, he casually walks over to Prosecutor Jang’s podium and offers slyly, “It’s so nice doing things by the law, just like you said,” before he saunters out with a grin over his manipulation of the law.
Elsewhere, the chief prosecutor promises Chairman Ji that his son’s case will be tidied up nicely. The chief prosecutor orders his underling to let Prosecutor Jang keep digging his own grave and they’ll be able to get rid of him when Prosecutor Jang makes a wrong move.
Prosecutor Jang, in his office, mulls over his conversation with the victim’s mother after the trial. She begged Prosecutor Jang to give up. “That scumbag has money and connections,” she cries, “there is no one who can stop this.”
Back at the con team’s office, the group digs through Chairman Ji’s family, and decide to go after Seong-gu to see if they can find any way to get to Chairman Ji through him.
Ha-ri formulates a plan of attack and directs the rest of the team to go about their tasks. Ah-ryung wonders aloud if Ha-ri is the one in charge here and Jin-woong defensively stammers that Ha-ri is not their boss.
Meanwhile, Seong-gu plans what to do to celebrate his release from prison, but as he texts a friend about his plans he runs right into a waitress bussing a table, knocking cutlery everywhere.
As she hastily cleans up the mess, Seong-gu’s face twists and he ominously texts back to his friend that he will be updating something today.
Later, Seong-gu sets up his camera to begin recording, and sure enough, there is the poor waitress bound and gagged on the floor in front of him.
Pants-less as he approaches her, Seong-gu offers to pay the waitress to stop her resisting, and when that doesn’t work, he gut-punches her into submission instead.
But just when it seems the waitress is pacified enough that it’s safe to unrestrain her, she lashes out and hits him with a golf club before dashing for the exit.
Not knowing where to run, though, she stows away in an empty stairwell and calls the police. Unfortunately, before she can finish the call for help, Seong-gu grabs her from behind and drags her back to the room.
Elsewhere, Jin-woong barges in to a detective’s home and forcefully convinces the detective to order his subordinate to hand over the files the police have on Seong-gu’s case to Ha-ri.
The boys dig through the files looking for anything they can find, but there’s not enough to put any significant pressure on Chairman Ji. Byung-min, though, finds CCTV footage of Seong-gu dragging his waitress victim to the building where she is currently held captive.
The team decide to look into the waitress, and when they head to her address they run into the girl’s mother outside. The mother informs them that the waitress was involved in an apparent hit-and-run and is now in a coma.
Seong-gu, in the meantime, chastises his friend for not taking care of the waitress properly (by killing her), though the friend assures Seong-gu that someone is already taking care of it.
When Seong-gu presses for details, the friend reveals that he hired a shadowy planner who is well-known for handling issues like this for wealthy clients, and Seong-gu seems relieved at the explanation.
Back at the waitress’ apartment, the mom brings Ha-ri and Jin-woong into the CCTV room, and they notice a suspicious man lurking around the waitress’ door earlier in the day, so Ha-ri calls in Byung-min to come dig deeper on site.
Byung-min uses his computer to identify the suspicious man as Seong-gu’s friend, and hacks into the man’s social media account with ease. While Byung-min works, Ha-ri tells Ah-ryung to stop tailing Chairman Ji and head back toward the rest of the team
Inside the social media account they find a link to a private website, and Byung-min cracks the password for it immediately. Their celebratory smiles soon fade when they see the site hosts the video of Seong-gu manhandling the now-comatose waitress.
A warning flashes on the screen and Byung-min rushes to end the connection, warning the others that their signal is being traced. Sure enough, a cavalcade of cars arrive and surround the team’s van.
Ha-ri struggles to start the engine so they can escape, and before he can make a break for it, someone smashes the car window in beside him.
It’s a bit tricky, when watching a show like this, to avoid comparisons to a show like Police Unit 38 (especially when the show itself is directly comparing a character to Ma Dong-seok). And while I do think there are some obvious similarities, one difference that really stood out to me was the pacing. This feels much more up-tempo by comparison.
Perhaps this is actually just a function of the team itself, who at even the slightest hint of trouble seem to go into full panic mode. They certainly seem to need Ah-ryung to drive for them, as whenever the boys get into a car chase on their own they go absolutely frantic. Even Ha-ri, who is generally smooth at all times, can’t keep his cool in the chaos of their getaways. But all the hysteria is definitely fun to watch and contributes to the sense of frenetic action that the show seems to be going for.
Speaking of Ha-ri, I’m intrigued as to what his motives are. He coyly dodged Ah-ryung’s questions about his past, but there was a hint that there’s more to his character than just wanting to make money. I find it hard to believe he just simply wants to bring the elite to justice simply out of virtue, so I wonder what could be the reason he so doggedly targets other swindlers.
I’m curious too, at this point, just how involved Prosecutor Jang actually is with the team. At first glance he seems to be on the outside, though his impromptu press conference after seizing Chairman Cheon’s funds seemed to imply that Ha-ri’s team was working with them in a somewhat official capacity. Yet for some reason he had to pretend(?) to send his men after Ha-ri’s team in the hotel. Obviously Prosecutor Jang was looking into the team’s work in the past and knows more about their plans than he lets on to his colleagues.
So what exactly brought Prosecutor Jang into the fold? Did he strike some kind of deal with Ha-ri because he was sick of seeing the rich get away with their crimes? He does seem like the only non-corrupt prosecutor on the force given what the Chief Prosecutor said, so it’s not that I don’t trust his intentions, and more that I just want to see how he found Ha-ri.
It’s a little odd that we spent so much time focused on Chairman Ji’s son when the goal is ostensibly to take down Chairman Ji. I get that they intend to use Seong-gu as a launching pad to get to Chairman Ji but it felt like we saw very little of what it is that makes Chairman Ji so contemptible that he needs to be taken down.
If anything, it feels like Seong-gu is the one who should have been the target all along. Given what Seong-gu is actually doing to people and getting away with, I’m worried that, when Seong-gu is eventually taken down and we refocus on Chairman Ji, we won’t feel the same urgency to bring him down too. Are we going to be as invested in taking on Chairman Ji if all he is guilty of is covering for his son’s misdeeds? Perhaps, though, he’s an even bigger monster than his son, but only time will tell.