TVING’s “Bargain” is a kdrama that I had my eyes on for about a couple of months now. Its premise is super interesting and something that generally could not have been made and braodcasted on regular broadcasting channels, lucky for us, there is TVING now.
TVING and the length of the drama
Generally speaking, I like most TVING dramas I’ve come across. They’re really experimenting and letting directors and screenwriters have more freedom and fewer restrictions about the length of their projects.
TVING’s “Bargain” is going to be 6 episodes long and the first three episodes have already aired. Each episode is roughly 30 to 40 minutes in length and I think its a nice length so far. Many TVING dramas share this trait, they’re even shorter than their Netflix counterparts.
The script and characters
The script is based on a short film. The premise itself can actually fit a drama but, not the standard 16-episode format we’re so used to. Added to that, the subject matters it handles and its graphic nature make it a risky investment.
The story moves fast and everything is established well. I like how the main conflict was set up and how everything gets explained to different people. It doesn’t feel forced considering the situation they’re in.
There are also many scenes that I found kinda funny but also very crazy. The entire hotel is filled with crazy people. I had so much fun watching the drama.
I liked the writing choice to make Hyung soo a horrible human being, it tracks with the type of service the dude is seeking. None of the main or supporting characters are particularly likable, however, the director and screenwriters manage to lure you in and keep you glued to your seat because of how interesting everything else is. You run the risk of losing your audience if your main characters are objectively horrible people but I don’t think there is a risk here in this case.
Keuk Ryul is such an intriguing character that seems to have gone insane from the pressure he’s suffering through because of his father’s illness, it seems like he’s been more so cornered into this type of establishment rather than coming on his own because he is just that horrible of a human being. I don’t know if he’s always been like that or if he’s become like that. I wonder if he’s suffering from a mental illness or not because many things about him seem off. I hope this gets addressed.
Joo Young is also a fun character to watch, and it feels to me that she’s planning on just wrecking everything after the girls died. I wish to find out why she did this and became like this.
I have so many questions, some of which I am certain won’t be answered with the way the drama’s run time is set. I hope I am wrong and they end up answering a bulk of the questions I have.
I really liked TVING’s “Bargain” so far. I am so pleasantly surprised. I expected to like it but not to this degree. This is my type of content. Its gritty, its crazy, its fast-paced, its scary and at times, graphic but so much fun. So much is happening at all times that it is a very interesting directing method.
I am generally used to Korean directors sort of focusing on one scene at a time and tend to not want to overwhelm audiences or cause distractions. In the case of TVING’s “Bargain,” that’s not the directing method used. It appears very messy and all over the place and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
Its like a dizzying roller-coaster ride you can’t take escape. Its terrifying but you’re enjoying every moment. The directing method suits this premise very well. When you’re hit with an earthquake, things tend to become disorienting, especially in the case of a bad earthquake that basically traps you inside the building blocking every exit. Added to that, you have crazy people running many schemes including organ harvesting.
Thus, the type of characters that would generally engage in such happenings will not necessarily be sane or ‘nice’ per se. like I’ve talked about above.
The set design and editing
I also want to commend the set design department too on the amazing job, they really made it look like a legitimate earthquake, and the set design where the characters move from one part to the other was done so well.
The director has also said the drama was filmed in one take which is quite impressive and is probably a reason for its short length. There is not much editing in the drama or cuts as a result of this. I didn’t realize this at first but it also makes sense to use because its an earthquake and everything is happening so fast. The original short film also did the same.
Its a well-made kdrama, its sad its not on a bigger platform like Netflix. I think it would have easily become a bigger hit because of Netflix’s global reach. While I will not say that TVING’s “Bargain” is the type of kdrama every kdrama fan will like, I still believe it can encapsulate a sizable audience despite its gritty and graphic content.
I have no complaints about the performances, but I wanted to add this section to specifically commend rising actor Chang Ryul on his amazing performance. I’ve had my eyes on him for a little over a year now and I think he will be one of the biggest rising talents of 2023. The scene where he cries about his father and his need for a kidney. Where have you been Chang Ryul? Such a talented actor.
Jun Jong-Seo does well as expected and I loved Jin Sun-Kyu’s performance and I love the fact that he agreed to play this character. He’s known for playing goofy characters [for the most part] so its a nice change to see him play such an awful character.
I am also super excited for the 2nd half that shall air throughout November.