Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Moving, on Hulu

Stan Lee always cautioned his superheroes: “with great power comes great responsibilities.” That is especially true for super-heroic parents. They are desperate to keep their powers and those of their offspring hidden from their old deep-state bosses in South Korea’s NIS. However, a superhuman assassin is hunting them all in the new Korean series, Moving, which premieres today on Hulu.

Lee Mi-hyeon has the super-heightened senses that every bratty child fears their parents must have. She is indeed one protective mother, but she has her reasons, as viewers will learn. To start with, her son Kim Bong-seok is unable to control his mysterious floating ability. Technically, they can sort of manage it with weights, but when unencumbered, he starts to rise, especially when his emotions are stimulated. That will make a relationship with Jang Hee-soo, the new senior transfer, tricky to pursue. Fortunately, she is surprisingly understanding. It turns out she has Wolverine-like powers to immediately heal, just like her father, Joo-won.

Some of the mysterious teachers at their high school seem to have an inkling about Kim and Jang’s powers, but they try not to let on. Instead, they have super-powered class president Lee Kang-hoon keep an eye on them. The two almost girlfriend and boyfriend are largely unaware of their interest. They also do not realize Lee Mi-hyeon and Jang Joo-won share some dramatic history, along with Kim’s father, Kim Do-shik.

After seven episodes mostly focusing on the super high schoolers and Frank, the Korean-American supervillain working his way through a super-powered hit-list,
Moving takes an extended, Dark Shadows-worthy detour into the past, explaining how Kim’s parents met, as super-human black ops agents for the NIS precursor agency, before the democratic transition.

This flashback is so extensive, it feels like an entirely different series. Jang Joo-won’s origin story takes so long, devoting an entire episode to his early days as a gangster, the producers of the
Fast & Furious and Mission Impossible franchises probably would have split it into two movies. In fact, the thirteen episodes provided for review do not even manage to return the series to the present time yet.

Arguably, the flashback episodes might be better than the high school-focused timeline, but they are definitely darker. Some viewers might be annoyed that Frank’s bosses are stereotypical CIA villains, but it obviously does not bother Disney (Hulu’s owners), since the CIA also worked with the bad guys in their recent Indiana Jones movie. At least a North Korean supernatural appears to be positioned the climactic villain.

Regardless, Han Hyo-joo is terrific playing Lee Mi-hyeon. Having a teenage son does not appear to have aged her a day, but she is a supernatural, so okay. Ryu Seong-ryong (who has notably played both good guys and bad guys in films like
Extreme Job, The Target, and War of the Arrows) is perfect as the invulnerable on the outside, brooding on the inside Jang Joo-won. Lee Jeong-ha is mostly likably nebbish as Kim Bong-seok, but his character’s awkwardness can be trying. However, Ko Yoon-jung is quite charismatic as Jang Hee-soo. Plus, Moon Sung-geun is spectacularly scummy as the dirtbag deputy intelligence agency director.

There are some impressive effects (probably exceeding expectations for Korean television), particularly the knock-down-drag-out fight between Jang and the equally regenerative Frank. The way it is resolved is quite satisfying. Its world view is mildly annoying, but the narrative’s complicated murkiness helps obscure the political implications.

borrows liberally form X-Men, Heroes, and all kinds of other superhero series, but its “supernatural” fight scenes are superior to most of the action of its predecessors. It is a slick production with some nicely written characters, but if you have a taste for donkatsu, it might make you hungry. Recommended for fans of superhero shows and morally ambiguous Korean spy thrillers, Moving starts streaming today (8/9) on Hulu.