With all the fantastic new dramas airing these days, it’s easy to miss hidden gems from a few years ago. Whenever a drama makes its debut, there’s bound to be a good few challengers in the ring at the same time, all competing for viewers. Whilst one will inevitably win the ratings war, this doesn’t always mean that the others aren’t worth your time. This is definitely the case for the drama we’re reviewing this week. Airing at the same time as Master’s Sun in 2013, many viewers went for the chemistry driven narrative of that drama rather than the fast-paced thrills of Two Weeks. However, what it lacks in romantic plotline it makes up for in all other areas. Two Weeks is, on the surface, a mystery thriller that aims to keep you gripped to the end. But at its core, it’s all heart. Tender relationships and emotional decisions are what drive this drama forward, leading to a satisfying conclusion that showcases the tight writing and excellent acting.
(If you want a small taster of the emotional heart of this drama, check out the scene below. We dare you not to cry!)
Two Weeks follows Jang Tae San (Lee Joon Gi), a low-level gangster caught up in plots far bigger than him. In his past, he met and fell in love with Seo In Hye (Park Ha Sun), keeping his less savoury activities hidden from her whilst the dated. Eight years after a bitter break up, a reluctant yet desperate In Hye seeks Tae San out, asking him to take a blood test. Her daughter, Soo Jin, has acute leukaemia, and only a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor will save her life. Her biological father might be her last hope – and her father, to his great surprise, is Tae San. However, things threaten to get a whole lot more complicated when an innocent woman is murdered, and Tae San is framed. With only two weeks left until Soo Jin must have surgery, Tae San goes on the run, hoping to clear his name and, most importantly, save his daughter’s life.
It’s that strong premise that the drama prides itself on all the way through. Rarely does it feel like it deviates. The urgency is key to the pacing, particularly in the first half of the drama. As a fugitive, Tae San is constantly on the run, unable to trust anyone. In these episodes, the writer, So Hyun Kyung, lingers only when necessary, for scenes that have an emotional impact. Quiet moments in which we see Soo Jin’s plight, or Tae San’s disbelief at his unbelievable situation. Of course, this works in favour of the rest of the pacing. These quiet moments contrast with the desperate action of police hunts and daring escapes, upping the emotional stakes as well as the life-threatening ones.
The only place in which this method falters is the final episodes. In order to outsmart the two main villains, Tae San teams up with Prosecutor Park Jae Kyung, who has her own reasons for helping. This gives them many scenes in which they discuss the current situation, and plan accordingly. In order to keep the suspense high throughout these scenes, the writer uses the trick of withholding information. An outcome is presented, allowing the protagonists to successfully (or sometimes unsuccessfully) undertake their plan. The audience, however, is not yet privy to how this is meant to take place. Thus, afterwards, we flashback to a part of the conversation we didn’t see before. This works well in allowing for a continuous variation in the pacing of scenes. Plotting, followed by the intense action and suspense of whether they will succeed, followed by an explanation. It is a sacrifice at times of the audience’s belief. The formula is relied upon heavily in these final episodes, making for plotting that starts to feel a little repetitive.
Thankfully, this is only overused in the very final stages of the drama, and therefore doesn’t have time to outstay it’s welcome. And that is a very good thing, because the rest of the time, the drama shines. Keeping to that central story of Tae San’s fight for survival, the supporting characters and story arcs are always used to further the plot. There are no strange tangents here for unnecessary comedy, no characters that feel as though they get too much screen time. And most importantly, there are very few moments in which the viewer is left wanting to skip ahead to get back on track. Interactions between Moon Il Seok and Cho Seo Hee (Kim Hye Ok), the two masterminds behind Tae San’s framing, are brilliantly infuriating, stoking the hatred for everything they’ve done. Digressions to the police officers aiding the prosecutors in finding Tae San are always surrounding the case, yet with their own small plotlines woven in. One such side story sees an officer suspected of feeding information to the bad guys, something that isn’t given too much time, but just enough to cause extra suspicion and paranoia for the audience. Outside of the three main characters, the drama makes certain to leave every other character as a suspect. No one can be trusted until they prove themselves.
It’s partly this that makes Tae San’s character so easy to root for. There are some dramatic changes he undergoes through the fourteen days, and to say that Lee Joon Gi portrays these with intensity and dedication would be a fair understatement. He doesn’t hold back in this role, every emotion splashed across his face making Tae San’s journey more heart-wrenching. His relationship with Soo Jin is undeniably the strongest part of this drama, however. Lee Chae Mi as Soo Jin is incredibly adorable and smart. She holds her own around the adult actors with ease and often steals scenes just with a smile. Soo Jin’s unrelenting belief in her father is so pure that there is simply no way anyone could not be moved.
The love and relationships across the entire drama are believable and never overdone. A love triangle between Tae San, In Hye and In Hye’s fiance Im Seung Woo (Ryu Soo Young) could have been possible, and while the writer does allow for the motions of such a complicated tangle of current and past relationships to influence these characters, it’s never taken further than that. Seung Woo, as a police officer hunting for Tae San, is placed in a unique position when he finds out the identity of the Soo Jin’s biological father, and having these emotions affect Seung Woo’s motivations adds another layer of depth to various encounters.
But it would be cheating if we said too much about just what these encounters are. It may be an old drama by today’s standards, but Two Weeks certainly holds its own. It’s perhaps one of the best action thrillers, never sacrificing emotion and well-written character moments for a little extra suspense. If you’re in need of something different after a rom-com, or simply want to see some incredible acting combined with great writing, you should start here. Just don’t blame us when the suspense is too much! Now, just one more episode…