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K-drama review: Mobeomtaxi or Taxi Driver is a show with a villain so vicious, you are scared for the hero

This show on Amazon Prime Video will make you wish there was a Rainbow Taxi Service to help you extract revenge too!

May 29, 2022 / 09:04 PM IST
Lee Je-Hoon in Korean drama 'Taxi Driver'. (Image: Screen grab/viu)

Lee Je-Hoon in Korean drama 'Taxi Driver'. (Image: Screen grab/viu)

A taxi driver picks up a notorious criminal out on a technicality in a deluxe cab and then swiftly loses the cops and the paparazzi following them. The frustrated prosecutor Kang Ha-Na (Esom) vows to find the taxi and catch the baddie before he kills anyone else. If you are wondering why Lee Je-Hoon is driving a cab that picks up criminals, you will be happy to know that his mission is to stop bad guys from getting away. He works for Revenge Taxi.

A crib better than James Bond, Revenge Taxi is first and foremost a great idea. Imagine a scenario where you are down and out on your luck, betrayed by friends and workmates, ready to jump into the cold Han river and end it all when you see a little note printed on the bridge: Don’t kill yourself, get revenge, call Rainbow Taxi. The person in tears has not imagined that revenge could be an option and stops from giving up.

The cab pulls up, the person shares their grievance and is dropped off at a place where can make their choice calmly (usually in front of a video game screen or an ATM screen).

Our hero who has heard (and recorded) the story in the cab comes back to the HQ (you have to marvel at how beautifully the revenge cab is camouflaged). The HQ is an innocuous cab centre. This cab centre is run by a genial gent Jang Sung-Chul (played by Kim Eui-Sung, a veteran of movies, notably Train To Busan, and K-dramas like Memories of Alhambra).

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Based on a webtoon, Revenge Taxi (altogether a better name than Taxi Driver) has three other members: an expert hacker (of course!) and two men who are not only mechanical geniuses but also manage to get to the strangest of places without too much effort.

As the show unfolds, you realise that by helping others, they are helping themselves. The darkness of the secrets that are laid bare hurt you as much as they do the victims. The trouble that the young hacker faced horrified me beyond belief. If you’ve heard stories of young girls who come to Bombay with Bollywood dreams and go home shattered, then the hacker Ahn Go-Eun’s story will resonate with you. Pyo Ye-Jin who plays the hacker does such a good job that you begin to see her trauma as your own.

K-drama worlds are as patriarchal as they can get. But when a girl puts on a helmet and rides off on a motorbike to chase after bad guys, no one raises an eyebrow. And in this show one of the biggest villains is a woman, Baek Sung-Mi (Cha Ji-Yeon is all red nails and lips and stylish shoes), who is heartless to boot.

But it was her secretary Goo Suk-Tae, played by the talented Lee Ho-Cheol, who gave me the shivers. The calm with which his character attacked the victims (including the hero) is seldom shown in K-dramas where knives are blurred too. He’s a big guy but that size is deceptive. He’s shown to be so quick with his knife that I had to use the rewind button to see how he flicks the knife. And then again when the moment of reveal comes, I yelled into the night (watching alone has its advantages!) and hit the pause button to cough out the popcorn I had swallowed out of surprise. I too would have jumped out of the window if I had to face the same reveal that made Goo Suk-Tae cackle. And as the hero says, ‘Why doesn’t he die?’

Speaking of the hero, Kim Do-Ki  is a soldier who comes home to find his mother murdered. He aids those who want to extract revenge in the show, and you don’t doubt his ability to get ‘your bad-man’. I loved his over the top avatar in one episode about a phone phishing scam where poor folk lose their savings…

What is so cool about this show is that they don’t try to include romance between the lead characters just because they’re supposed to. They show caring and attraction but leave it there. How men and women work together without the gender thing occupying valuable show time. The storytelling then becomes superior, and this idea is so clever, it tackles subjects that vary from bullying at school to women being cyberbullied over salacious videos, from phishing to missing people. But the good guys who create K-dramas don’t let you forget that revenge is a bad idea in real life. But one can wish, can’t one? And we are never allowed to forget that the killer whom Kim Do-Ki picked up in the cab at the beginning of the show has gone missing. And he’s a cold-blooded killer. Who is his next target?

We have always prided ourselves on being people who take the high road, but if you are seething inside over wrongs done to you that are hard to let go of, then you will wish there was a Revenge Taxi service in your town too.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
first published: May 29, 2022 08:59 pm
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