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K-Review: 'Neighborhood Hero' Is Surprisingly Funny

BY Julie Jones | Jan 27, 2016 09:29 AM EST

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"Neighborhood Hero" may be about spies and betrayal but it's surprisingly funny. Don't be dissuaded by the grim and violent first few scenes, the drama finds its sense of humor in the first episode.

The storyline is pretty straightforward. An intelligence agent and his team are betrayed and when the operative is finally freed from an unjust imprisonment he seeks revenge. Except that the stage for his revenge is a neighborhood bar.

The characters are well drawn. Park Shi Hoo plays the operative who buys a bar because spies frequent it. That way he can track down the people inside his agency that betrayed him. But he can't stop himself from being a good guy. He wears possibly the silliest disguise anywhere, basically a baseball hat and face mask, and becomes an avenging neighborhood hero. Yes, there's some campy action scenes, but the best part of this drama is how dryly funny it is.

Girls' Generation's Kwon Yuri plays a waitress who aspires to write spy dramas. She's puzzling over what to write when she is unknowingly surrounded by spies. Most of the people who visit the bar are spies or former spies.

She thinks her boss is boring, not knowing he was a spy or that he is the masked hero who saved her.

Lee Soo Hyuk shines as a young police-officer-wanna-be. He's really likable but not too bright or just maybe very distracted by life. Otherwise he might have seen the mess he was getting himself into when he signed on to monitor people for a mysterious agency. He's goodhearted but so hopeless at his monitoring that he falls asleep on the shoulder of the man he is supposed to be tailing. Game over.

Jo Sung Ha is perfect as the policeman, who lets himself get tempted by a shady deal. He's so likable that it's easy to overlook his faults. He's the kind of policeman that helps kids start over. He's a family man with three kids that he loves and they all need lessons he must pay for. What he's doing is not really illegal, is it?

These three likable but potentially lethal players get to interact and it's a lot of fun. There are also plenty of bad guys to defeat in this drama and the odds are they will band up to defeat them.

The drama is Park Shi Hoo's first since a scandal in 2013 kept him from considering work in Korea.

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