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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Night Light" Episode 1

2016/11/21

I-kyeong (played by Lee Yo-won) is a brutally tough businesswoman. Se-jin (played by UEE) is a street tough who's good at business. Together they...have an antagonistic countenance as part and parcel of an ominous flashforward before the action rewinds to a week earlier. It's fairly evident that "Night Light" is planning to toss us into the middle of a high-stakes upper class financial war, but as of yet, the exact motivations of its characters are left unclear.

What we do know is that I-kyeong is frightening..ly stylish. And also frightening in the conventional sense. Consider the Russian Roulette scene. Yes, there is a Russian Roulette scene that while somewhat predictable, is nonetheless a pretty fantastic setpiece for letting Lee Yo-won demonstrate that I-kyeong is not a woman who can at all be subdued or be remotely intimidated. Theatrics barely even slow her down.

Unluckily for Se-jin, her entire gimmick is theatrics. While she puts these to good effect in the scenes we have seen so far, we also get more vulnerable glimpses of Se-jin which show that she is no island. While Se-jin has the best instincts of anyone on her team, ultimately, Se-jin needs other people to cover for her pretty frequently. This makes her a very empathetic counterpoint to I-kyeong, whose only use for other people is as goons to follow the grunt work of her generally brilliant political deductions.

The tone in "Night Light" is pretty transparently one of showcasing awesome powerful women. You know, I've never really gotten the appeal of generally sociopathic hyper-competent men, yet seeing a female version of this in I-kyeong, I have to admit she does have that glow. Women want to be her and men want to...well, you can guess, I'm sure. I-kyeong is at her most attractive when she is scary and it's no small help that Lee Yo-won rocks that wardrobe. So what if she's evil? I can change her.

Whatever the direct conflict ends up being between I-kyeong and Se-jin, the real battle is going to be the tonal one. Does I-kyeong succeed in destroying all of her enemies, knowing no joy except the fact that they were crushed by her personally? Or does Se-jin make the realization at some point that there's more to life than awesome clothes and revenge?Right now I-kyeong's argument is the more compelling one- and as long as she continues to have unsympathetic antagonists, that will remain the case.

Review by William Schwartz

"Night Light" is directed by Lee Jae-dong, written by Han Ji-hoon and features Lee Yo-won, Jin Goo, UEE, Choi Il-hwa, Choi Min and Shim Yi-young.

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