Woo Do Hwan and Lee Sang Yi are charismatic and captivating leading men as two boxers who get caught up in the dark and violent world of underground money lending. A strong mix of personal, character-driven stories and exciting, pulpy action make Netflix’s Bloodhounds (사냥개들) one fun, thrilling ride.
The setting is 2020 when the world is navigating a global pandemic. Kim Gun Woo (Woo Do Hwan) is an aspiring boxer who comes into huge debt when his mother is swindled by predatory loan sharks taking advantage of COVID-induced uncertainty. With the help of fellow boxer and new friend Hong Woo Jin (Lee Sang Yi), Gun Woo meets Mr. Choi Tae Ho (Huh Joon Ho), a former legend in the world of money lending, but now benevolently provides no-interest loans to people who have no money for medical treatment.
However, this has them all set on a crash course with Kim Myeong Gil (Park Sung Woong), the most notorious loan shark who maintains a stranglehold on the underground industry as well as authorities and influential people through violently collecting on his big and small accounts.
After continually getting beat down, both figuratively and literally, and watching others get treated the same as well, Gun Woo and Woo Jin are resolved to not only avenge those who have been wronged, but also to bring Myeong Gil to justice.
Bloodhounds feels very much like a feature film spread out across eight episodes. And that is said in a positive way. The series is fast-paced. Never does the series feel like it is full of filler, nor does it rush through its many twists and turns. And definitely does not speed through its many emotionally affecting moments too.
The quieter character moments get just as much time to play out as the exciting and intense action scenes. Well-choregraphed fights are able to be balanced with the more personal stories, especially that of the main characters.
Bloodhounds also has a nice infusion of humor and lighthearted moments. Most of the time, that is care of our two leads Gun Woo and Woo Jin. Woo Do Hwan and Lee Sang Yi deliver in all aspects of their characters. Being able to evoke a youthful, hot-blooded personality along with being noble, good-guy heroes.
The fast friendship and “bromance” between the two is definitely one of, if not the highlight of the series. The strong chemistry between Woo Do Hwan and Lee Sang Yi is really so engaging and adds so much fun to their relationship dynamic. Having their wholesome personalities contrast with the deadly world they get swept up in helps make the series’ climax all the more satisfying.
The series also features a strong supporting cast, most especially veterans of badassery Heo Jun Ho and Park Sung Woong as characters seemingly tailor-made for them.
Also part of the cast is Kim Sae Ron who was convicted of drunk driving as the series was wrapping up production. Playing Hyeon Ju, Mr. Choi’s adoptive granddaughter and heir to his benevolent lending business, Kim Sae Ron does very well in her scenes that were left in. But the series’ only bumps are probably towards the end when it has to make up for her removal from the show. It does perfectly fine even with the abrupt exit of her character. But it also opens up questions as to what potential story had to be changed to accommodate the last-minute disruption.
Anyway, that is only a small part of what is ultimately an overall well-made series.
Bloodhounds is a non-stop ride. A thrilling and fun ride that offers exciting action and emotionally affecting character-driven story. Its strong cast and slick production make for a fast-paced and satisfying experience.