Again My Life: Episode 1 (First Impressions)
Hold onto your seats, Beanies, because you’re in for a fast and bumpy ride with the premiere of Again My Life. But like an old school wooden roller coaster that jerks and jostles you around, it’s still pretty fun.
Editor’s note: Continued drama coverage is pending based on Beanie feedback.
EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Our latest justice porn drama wastes no time introducing our protagonist and antagonist, and as far as first impressions go, there’s very little mystery about where our main characters lie on the good versus evil spectrum.
KIM HEE-WOO (Lee Jun-ki) is a righteous prosecutor who fights crime in the courtroom and — more questionably — on the streets, but there’s no denying that he’s on the side of justice. And if his moral compass — and sexy glasses — weren’t enough to have you rooting for him, he’s a kind-hearted soul who buys up all of an ajumma’s gimbap so she won’t get in trouble for illegally selling food in the subway station. Like all too-perfect-to-be-true heroes, this prosecutor has a white whale villain that he’s destined to defeat.
Enter JO TAE-SUB (Lee Kyung-young). He’s a politician and a “kingmaker” with a lot of important people in his pocket, including South Korea’s president and Chief Prosecutor KIM SEOK-HOON (Choi Kwang-il), Hee-woo’s boss. The public loves him, not knowing he’s secretly a criminal and blackmailing the country’s most powerful people into doing his bidding.
When Hee-woo presses charges against Tae-sub, these two foes finally meet and face-off across an interrogation table. There’s a lot of tension and verbal sparring that’s emphasized by split-screen staredowns and the intentional use of banmal to belittle each other. Hee-woo is confident that he has cornered Tae-sub and will trap him with his evidence and key witness.
Unfortunately, Tae-sub’s network of accomplices is wide, and he’s aware of the secret witness, who’s since been “persuaded” (i.e., tied to the roof of a very tall building until he fearfully agreed) to recant his testimony. Hee-woo is lured to the same rooftop, where he fights off Tae-sub’s hitman and two female lackeys.
Despite Hee-woo’s mixed martial arts skills, the hitman is able to get the best of Hee-woo and injects him with a drug cocktail before tossing him over the side of the building. In death, Hee-woo will be painted as a shamed, druggie prosecutor who committed suicide, and his accusations against Tae-sub will be discredited.
As Hee-woo falls to his death, time stops, and he magically reappears on the roof where a mysterious Woman in Red confirms that he is, indeed, dead. A reel of his life’s greatest — and not so great — hits plays out before him, and it’s a bit like the Rocky montage, as he goes from a poor and bullied underdog to a kick-butt prosecutor.
His impressive rise to success, however, still wasn’t enough to prepare for his attempted takedown of Tae-sub, and the Woman in Red is quick to point out his failure. Perhaps, though, his failed triumph over evil stems from his limited power. If he had one more life to spend, would he still use it to bring Tae-sub to justice? (Apparently, our bad guy is so evil that even otherworldly beings can’t wait long enough for him to die and be punished in the afterlife!)
Hee-woo emphatically assures her that he will dish Tae-sub a heaping dose of justice if he’s given a do-over, so she sends him back in time. Like, waaaaay back — as in he’s barely out of high school and still working at a convenience store. When she said he should take his time to prepare and trap Tae-sub perfectly, she meant it.
As Hee-woo adjusts to the time travel, he realizes that if he’s still working at the convenience store then there’s hope that his parents are still alive. He rushes to his childhood home to confirm this, and a voiceover explains that teenaged Hee-woo was ashamed of his poor, hard-working parents and often lashed out at them.
When they died tragically in a hit-and-run, he regretted being such an obstinate and ungrateful son. Thankfully, he traveled to a time before his Mom (Kim Hee-jung) and Dad’s (Park Chul-min) accident, so while he gets a jump start on honing his mind and body for his future face-off with Tae-sub, he also sets out to prevent their deaths.
The night in question arrives, and he waits for them outside the factory where they work. As he escorts them home, he makes sure to put his body between them and the road, and when the car comes plowing towards them, he pushes them out of the way. But then the episode ends, and we’re unsure if his last minute rescue attempt was successful.
It’s an effective cliffhanger that leaves me wanting to watch the next episode, but parts of the first episode felt extremely rushed. One minute I’m processing that Hee-woo has traveled back to his post-high school days, and the next I’m bombarded with his parents’ tragic death. It almost gave me whiplash, so I’m a bit concerned that the overall pacing of this drama will cause the story to burn out and become boring mid-way through.
That said, things did slow down a little bit once he time-traveled to 2007, and with a lot of years to cover between then and the present day, maybe the rest of the story will progress more smoothly. Pacing aside, though, the cinematography is crisp and often feels like a Hollywood action flick, and the OST is pretty bangin’.