Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
L.U.C.A.: The Beginning is the perfect example of how not to write a story. With a botched ending, some contrived plot points and unconvincing characters, LUCA is easily one of 2021’s biggest disappointments.
On paper, L.U.C.A. actually has a really fascinating and unique premise. The show certainly lulls you into a false sense of security, starting off at a breathless pace, with lots of action, tension and dazzling set pieces. After the first two episodes, you’d think this would be a sure-fire hit for tvN, taking the best parts of superhero origin stories and combining that with elements of Final Fantasy VII’s antagonist, Sephiroth. The execution however, feels closer to Batman Forever.
The story takes place in the near future and begins with an incredibly alluring opening. In the dead of night, a hooded figure charges up an abandoned building cradling a baby. Dropping it off the edge, the baby suddenly crackles and sparks to life. Electric currents surge through the air as it seems this baby is some sort of chosen one.
We then cut across to a man named Ji-O, an amnesia-stricken guy on the run and chased by thugs. He soon finds out he’s armed with the same electrical powers that child was, and sets out to uncover the truth about who – or what – he is.
While this is going on, we’re introduced to spunky detective Goo-Reum who remains determined to make a name for herself in the police force. Her methods are risky though, and most of this hostility stems from the haunting memories of her parents being killed while she was a child.
As Goo-Reum chases after the truth, she runs into Ji-O and the two become entangled in this fight for the truth. Along the way the pair meet a group of cultists known as LUCA, government agents, a mad scientist known as Joong-Kwon and even a group of hired goons fronted by a man named Yi-Son.
There’s a lot going on here and what begins as an intriguing puzzle box soon disintegrates into a mush of half-baked nonsensical elements that just don’t work well together at all.
I won’t divulge everything that happens of course, but suffice to say every cliché in thee book is thrown in. You’ve got illogical character choices, a profound lack of logic, antagonists with insane plot armour, a ham-fisted ending and some pretty manic character arcs that would make Game of Thrones Season 8 blush.
Goo-Reum for example, begins as a competent police office but soon descends into a damsel in distress and a bit of a hypocrite to be honest, coming off the back of a contrived time jump – which ironically is where the trouble begins.
The story is made worse by a lack of chemistry between the actors too and LUCA really feels like it’s been written by multiple different people across the 12 episodes. Around episode 8 or so, the show really does take a quite noticeable nose-dive in quality.
In fact, what begins as an intriguing idea just seems to run out of energy by the end and when episode 12 does eventually finish, leaving things with an open cliffhanger, you’ll undoubtedly see this as a massive missed opportunity.
Having said that, the show is graced with a pretty decent soundtrack, featuring some excellent tracks to set the mood. In fact, both the visuals and the sound design in this show are fantastic and really help give this a big-screen feel. Props to the entire production crew, you really can feel that they’ve given everything to this project. It’s just a pity that the writing has let them down.
Episode 2 is a great example of this too, with an absolutely breathtaking elevator fight. It’s filmed completely with one shot, with no cuts from the camera, and swings around in such a clever way. This fight sequence is easily the stand-out element of the entire show and if you don’t get around to watching this series, please take 3 minutes out your day to watch this fight sequence, as it really is sublime.
Unfortunately, L.U.C.A.: The Beginning doesn’t capitalize on its early season spark and fails to deliver an electrifying Korean drama. Instead, those sparks eventually die out, leaving a frustrating and disappointing wasted opportunity.