Review: My Name (Korean)

I am genuinely fascinate and impressed by how many foreign television productions can tell full stories with nuanced, complicated characters who undergo legitimate arcs and evolutions with high production value on all levels in just a few episodes in a single season. And actually have a satisfying ending with no teases for more or implications of other impending seasons. It is a welcome change for the better, compared to the seemingly, never ending array of American production with ever diminishing returns on investment.

One of the unexpected benefits of the increasing streaming wars between the big platforms and players, particularly those with international reach, is the spread and incorporation of foreign programming into their services. Out of necessity to keep up with demand for more and more hours of content to appease their hungry audiences these platforms have dug into their foreign departments for series and films to promote. Netflix is one service who has taken great advantage of this and has pushed their foreign programming to pretty good success. The most famous recent example is Squid Games, but one I watched and appreciated would have to be My Name.

Somehow not the most violent scene in the series but a decent encompassing view of it.

My Name is the story of a young woman, Yoon Ji-woo aka Oh Hye-jin, who joins a powerful gang and puts all her trust into its leader after who father, a high ranking member of said gang, is murdered outside her door. After witnessing this brutal killing, Yoon Ji-woo begs Choi Mu-jin, the leader of the gang her father belonged to, to help her find her father’s killer and exact revenge. At first, he declines her offer finding Yoon Ji-woo weak and not understanding what it takes to kill a man, however he eventually relents and allows her to join his ranks seeing potential and opportunity in the woman.

From there, we see Yoon Ji-woo’s training and rise in the gang including some disturbing near incidents with other members of the gang. After some time, Choi Mu-jin manipulates events to place Yoon Ji-woo in the police force as his agent so that he will have an advantage over those who are trying to bring down him and his growing empire. Of course, not everything is as it really seems. There are secrets, heroes, rivals (both internal and external), and more forces conspiring against both Yoon Ji-woo and Choi Mu-jin that rise to a worthy and well earned climax and finale in the final episode.

An annoying villain whose end was very satisfying.

My Name was able to tell a complete story with various complicated characters who underwent legitimate narrative arcs with several beats in just under eight hours while never losing steam or condescending to audience or expectations. I won’t say it is a simple feat; in fact, it is rather difficult to pull off. But foreign productions seem to be able to do so with greater frequency. And on some level, I cannot help but wonder if there is some specific cause or reason that American productions are unable or uninterested in doing so.

Either way, highly recommend My Name available on Netflix. It is a truly solid show with a great cast, engaging story, and overall just impressive production.

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