‘Bad And Crazy’ review: a wild, violent cop drama that’s surprisingly heavy on the sentimentality

Corruption aplenty in this adrenaline-charged, but surprisingly sensitive iQIYI original K-drama series, which packs quite a punch

Bad And Crazy starts with the introduction of promotion-seeking anti-corruption cop Ryu Soo-yeol (played by drama heavyweight Lee Dong-wook), who is willing to set aside all moral righteousness in his pursuit of power. Things begin to go awry for him when he awakens to find his car smashed to pieces, before continuously being beaten to a pulp with no recollection or evidence for who the culprit might be.

Eventually, Soo-yeol (through the help of a befuddled psychiatrist) puts the pieces together and realises he is suffering from split-personality disorder. The offender who has been terrorising him is in fact himself. Or, rather, it’s his motorcycle-helmeted alter ego “K”, Soo-yeol’s righteous (but crazy) other half, played flawlessly by Squid Game alumni Wi Ha-joon. Essentially, it’s a tale of two sides of the same person – as the show’s name subtly suggests.

Elsewhere, Oh Kyeong-tae (Cha Hak-yeon, aka N of VIXX) is the newbie cop that’s dedicated to fairness. In the first few episodes, he uncovers a complicated murder case of a little girl he meets in the street. The murder case leads back to a crooked politician, which ultimately adds a crucial layer to the story that intertwines with everything else. While might feel a little disposable initially, but his later vindication will have you punching the air in relief.

As the story develops further, we feel a little more empathy towards Soo-yeol. The most professionally successful member of his immediate family, he inadvertently feels pressure to provide for them. With his mother in ill-health and his clueless brother running the family Pizzeria, Soo-yeol’s motivations and seeming disregard for everyone else around him begin to make a bit more sense. And if you think it’s hard not to love Soo-yeol and K now, learning about his more than devastating upbringing (after hisdual personality raises eyebrows at the office and he’s sent to see a questionable mental health professional) will make you love him, while alsointertwining him personally in the murder case..

Away from this, things in the take another left with the introduction of a murderous Korean-Russian drug ring to the fold. At this point, the show teeters on the edge of having one corruption-driven plot arcs too many, but give it a chance – it does actually work. Though, the fact it does is hugely attributable to Kim Hieora’s performance as Boss Yang, the formidable, lollipop-sucking cartel kingpin.

Bad And Crazy, Lee Dongwook and Wi Ha-joon
Credit: tvN

The male-driven cast also play off very well with seasoned actor Han Ji-eun’s (Be Melodramatic), who plays the only female lead Lee Hui-gyeom. Though she starts off as what seems to be an expendable character, introduced as Soo-yeol’s ex-girlfriend, Hui-gyeom later gets to show and shine as a highly competent and indispensable member of the anti-corruption task force. She never feels subordinate next to the male-dominated cast, nor is she just there to add a romance arc, but is really crucial to the series.

Bad And Crazy has one of those casts that you know you’re going to miss when the show’s over. Meanwhile, the plot about a disingenuous, corrupt police officer who’s willing to double-cross anyone and everyone in order to rise through the ranks isn’t a new concept, but is made fresh again with the split-personality twist.

It manages to deliver a violence-charged story that is surprisingly peppered with sentimentality, including a realistic (for K-drama standards) romance plot thread. At moments, the show even tries to break down the taboos around talking about mental illness. While it can seem like the show is staggering through what feels like a million different story arcs – which borders perilously close to being messy or confusing – but the water-tight writing, the pitch-perfect casting and great production value manage to salvage the series and save it from running wild.

Bad And Crazy is available to watch now on iQIYI

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