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Is Netflix's 'My Name' The Thriller You've Been Waiting For?

My Name Undercover Nemesis Mai Neim Han So-hee Yoon Ji-woo Oh Hye-jin Netflix
Min Jeehee / Netflix

The mixture of revenge, action, and suspense tends to be a magnificent combination. “My Name” has all of them. A thriller with a gut-wrenching beginning, the South Korean drama follows the story of Ji-woo (Han So-hee), a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. (Please note, this is a spoiler-free review.)

“My Name” picks up with a teenage Ji-woo getting mercilessly bullied. Her world has gotten turned upside down by her father becoming a fugitive drug lord. After a long and tiring day that saw Ji-woo defend herself in a dazzling sequence, “My Name” shifts gears. At home, Ji-woo decides she has had enough, and on her birthday, has a horrible conversation with her father.

A fateful and devastating twist will make her regret it forever. What ensues is a nerve-churning sequence of events as Ji-woo works to avenge her father. As has been the case in countless other revenge series or movies, it is best to keep how that journey unravels a bit of a secret. Writer Kim Ba-da has many surprises in store, making “My Name” sizzle and stir with tremendous dramatic quality.

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For instance, Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon), the best friend of Ji-woo’s father, takes Ji-woo under his wing, mentoring her in her revenge efforts. However, he does not offer her an easy lift in life, rather a tough-as-nails ladder to climb in proving herself. Is he a crime boss with a heart of gold? Or a calculating criminal mastermind (like Joe from “You”)? “My Name” spends Season 1 exploring the answer.

At the core of the series, which could be a miniseries or a continuing saga, is a story of revenge. It heavily plays on Confucius’ proverb, “Seek revenge and you should dig two graves, one for yourself.” That saying courses through the veins of “My Name” with tremendous pathos. Its flow twists and turns through the bloodstream of the Netflix show to dizzying results.

The show does a great job of explaining the love that is driving Ji-woo’s revenge. Her father, Yoon Dong-hoon (a splendid Yoon Kyung-ho), is a charismatic, loving man. So, this is not petty revenge. Ji-woo’s righteous vendetta is about setting right a horrible wrong, and “My Name” viewers should find themselves rooting for its anti-heroine. As Season 1 develops and Ji-woo’s circle grows, so does the series’ complexity.

Police detective Jeon Pil-do (Ahn Bo-Hyun) provides a law-and-order balance to the crime world’s decisive spin in the show’s early chapters. The sparks between Pil-do and Ji-Woo are apparent. Whether or not viewers should feel similar “sparkage” between Ji-woo and Choi Mu-jin is not clear. Regardless, this viewer felt chemistry coming from that direction too, and it is not a bad thing either.

It only elevates “My Name” and Ji-woo’s dizzying identity drama. The cast is phenomenal, with Han So-hee, Park Hee-soon, and Ahn Bo-Hyun bringing the heat as the central trio. Han brings the embattled spirit of Ji-woo into life at full force, while Ahn breathes effortless humanity into the pure soul that is Pil-do. Meanwhile, Park Hee-soon gives a staggering performance as the conflicted crime boss, Choi Mu-jin.

Park Hee-soon’s take is intensely dynamic, and in later episodes, downright profound. Choi Mu-jin is an amalgam of varying layers, interests, and desires, and Park articulates them all thoroughly. His and his co-stars’ performances help make “My Name” haunting far after the last episode has finished.

The writing never stalls as every episode builds towards an explosive finale. The action sequences are crisp, colorful, and bold, and Kim Jin-min’s direction keeps the tension constant. Completing the show is the beautiful love story that is needled through it, only deepening the sentimental stakes at play in “My Name.” All of this easily makes it another Netflix must-see.

“My Name” is currently streaming on Netflix alongside many other fantastic South Korean movies and TV shows. “My Halo Love” is one of them.

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