Noir K-dramas Cruel City and Shark Both Wrap Up with Much Talked About Endings

It’s a triplicate of K-drama finales this week what with Cruel City (Heartless City), Shark (Don’t Look Back), and I Hear Your Voice all ending. IHYV fans will have to wait two more days to see how their beloved drama wraps up after getting a 2-episode extension, but CC and Shark aired their 20th and last episode today and the reaction from fans was interesting indeed. I’ll keep everything that happened until after the jump to be a good spoiler-free Koala. In a nice symmetry, both dramas were intended to be dark and gritty, though only CC really captured the mood and stayed with it the entire way. CC also benefitted from a mesmerizing performance by Jung Kyung Ho that helped smooth over the leaps in logic whereas Shark never had that kind of performance from its leading man Kim Nam Gil. I always think romance should be well-integrated but remain ancillary to the narrative in dramas like these, where there is a greater objective to be reached for the main character whether its revenge or redemption. The viewer is in for the journey and the ending needs to feel organic to the road traveled even if it’s not a happy one or even one that feels particularly gratifying. As the storyteller, the drama owes the audience to say “this is what happens after all is said and done” even if it doesn’t necessary have catharsis. This is the backbone of noir, the very framework requires that the storyteller never let the dictates of the audience influence the ending. CC always reminded me of the critically acclaimed movie Infernal Affairs and that movie famously had two endings – the international one what remained true to its vision and one for Mainland China at the request of its censors. I appreciate storytelling that has integrity and confidence, and I think both CC and Shark bore the hallmarks of its creator’s vision from beginning to end. Whether as the viewer we are particularly pleased with that vision, that remains for each viewer to ascertain. Continue reading