Red Or Blue?
Episode 1 of Taxi Driver begins with the announcement that Cho Do-Chul is being released from prison after 10 years behind bars. A crowd gather outside, unhappy at this sexual predator being released.
They demand he be locked back up, as items are thrown left and right. This entire event happens to be broadcast live too, and as everyone starts throwing things at Do-Chul, he locks eyes with a woman he recognizes. However, he gets into a taxi and takes off to Busan.
Reporters follow in hot pursuit, prompting our mysterious taxi driver to turn on the police radio and listen to their chatter. Suddenly, the taxi starts racing down the backstreets, with a fellow employee stopping the other works courtesy of a smoking engine and a broken engine.
Do-Chul laughs in triumph…until he realizes he’s going in the wrong direction. They’re not going to Busan after all. Do-Chul tries to intimidate the driver but Do-Ki is having none of it.
After some light antagonization, Do-Ki stabs the man and knocks him out. Entering a tunnel, he works with a fellow driver, Jang Sung-Cheol. With numerous other workers dotted around, the pair switch the cars and remove any labels or discerning markings that could tell these cars apart. The pair then head off undetected.
In the hospital, a criminal is handcuffed to the bed courtesy of a detective named Kang Ha-Na. She calls him out for being a fraud and eventually heads back downstairs.
As she does, she learns that Do-Chul has gone missing. She’s determined to try and find him, heading in to pitch this idea to the chief. Only, Sung-Cheol happens to be in the room who’s the Chairman of an organization called Blue Bird. These guys facilitate and nurture convicts who have just been released from prison.
Meanwhile, Do-Ki heads out on the road again where he notices a car full of kids is being tailed by another full of criminals. Do-Ki blocks the criminals off though, eventually leading to him forced to pull over. Do-Ki is no pushover and he singlehandedly takes out all three men.
That evening, a suicidal woman called Kang Maria hangs on the edge of a bridge. She sobs, telling her Mum she doesn’t want to die. On the ledge however, happens to be a message – a sticker from Deluxe Taxi Service. “Don’t die, get revenge. We’ll do it for you.”
This is enough for Do-Ki to pick the girl up by the side of the road and confirm they’re heading off to get revenge. While they do, we hear a bit more about Maria’s backstory.
She has a level 3 disability and is currently 18 years old. Her future looks bright when she signs a contract to begin computer work. Only, she’s actually duped. These men are crooks are force her to descale fish. She initially refuses, prompting these despicable men to grab her and lock the girl inside a barrel until she agrees to work.
In the morning, shivering and shocked, Maria reluctantly agrees to work for them. However, she never stopped trying to find a way out. That night she managed to race away, only to be picked up by the police. Unfortunately this officer also happens to be corrupt, working with the businessmen.
Now we cut back to the present. Do-Ki leaves a special coin and a note for her, prompting Maria to play the Taxi game by the side of the road at an arcade machine. Inserting the coin, she’s given a few ground rules including not telling anyone about the work. She’s then given a very simple choice. Press the blue option if you want to get revenge and the red if you don’t. Maria chooses the blue.
The taxi firm immediately receive instructions to get revenge, prompting them all to work and fix up the Deluxe Taxi in the basement. In fact, the group intend to add on a special front bumper that allows them to ram through walls.
Do-Chul however, happens to be with Chairman Baek. He’s still alive but this chairman is known for being pretty erratic and lashing out. Do-Ki is not comfortable about keeping him there but agrees to grin and bear this for the time being.
Meanwhile, the group discuss their latest targets – Park Ju Chan and Cho Jung-Kwon. These are the businessmen abusing their workers and the ones responsible for hurting Maria.
With their targets in place, Do-Ki heads inside and retraces Maria’s steps, including the route she took to get away. Part of that stems from her hand being cut and one of the workers rushing her to hospital.
Just as Do-Ki starts to understand the set-up and what’s happened, Go Eun teams up with Kyung-Koo and Jin-Eon to trick the workers into buying chicken. Only, this is all laced with sedatives, sending them to sleep.
Do-Ki easily gets inside the safe with them asleep, courtesy of Go-Eun’s brilliance, and manages to hack their phones too. Within this, he finds numerous pictures of Maria’s abuse, including one showing her kept inside the barrel.
Meanwhile, Investigator Wang teams up with Ha-Na as they learn that the taxi picking up Do-Chul was unregistered. Ha-Na immediately rings Sung-Cheol upon hearing this, quizzing him over the unregistered taxi and Do-Chul. He feigns ignorance, and eventually hangs up when he confronts Chairman Baek, who has Do-Chul locked up in the cellar.
We then cut back 4 years ago; February 2017 to be precise. Here we see a murderer called Nam Kyu-Jung giving a demonstration on exactly how he killed his victim, a big grin plastered on his face. One of the men in attendance happens to be a young Do-Ki. He’s absolutely furious, trying in vain to get close to the murderer.
This is what eventually led Sung-Cheol to him, seeing qualities of himself in this man. Do-Ki also faced the same suicidal thoughts that Maria did and contemplated ending things on the bridge. Sung-Cheol however, offered a way out; a job driving for him and getting revenge.
The Episode Review
Diving into Taxi Driver, this drama gives off some serious OCN vibes. There’s certainly qualities here that really lend itself to the channel, including the pulsating instrumental music and the dark storyline.
The whole idea of a taxi firm working to get revenge on behalf of clients is intriguing and so far it’s played out in a compelling way too. It’s clear Do-Ki has a tragic past giving him motivation, but so too has Sung-Cheol. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out over the coming episodes.
Meanwhile, the supporting team are given their own roles too ,with a mix of comedic and more straight shooting scenes. Again, it’s a little too early to see how this will develop but so far there’s some great foundational work done for this show to grow into.
Nestled in the middle of the Penthouse trilogy line-up, Taxi Driver could have a hard time standing out but if the early season ratings are anything to go by, this could prove to be a promising little dark horse in the midst of some heavy-hitting dramas.