Revenge is often described as a dish best served cold, but what if you lack the culinary skills to prepare it? Taxi Driver is Netflix’s latest South Korean import that asks the question, what if there was a service who could craft the revenge for you; “Don’t die. Take revenge. We’ll do it for you.”
That service is the Rainbow Taxi Company. Staffed by those who have also suffered horrible hardships, the secret gadget-laden Deluxe Rainbow Taxi, as driven by ex-military man Kim Do-gi (Lee Je-hoon), appears to those with desperate need to deliver for them what they cannot do for themselves.
Under the watchful eye of calm boss Mr Jang (Kim Eui-sung, Train to Busan), Do-gi and his team guide Taxi Driver through a satisfying route of justice and drama.
What Is Taxi Driver About?
In any show, most plotting struggles to maintain pace for 16 straight hour long episodes but Taxi Driver has an excellent structure.
The Rainbow Taxi Company takes on ‘revenge jobs’ that in of themselves take up 2 – 3 episodes each. There is always the promise of something fresh around the corner, even as the background plot ramps up to take over for the final run of episodes.
Star, Je-hoon, as the infiltrator and unbeatable fists of the operation, has a host of jobs weighing on his acting shoulders. His default personality is deadpan anger which means that on first watch Taxi Driver struggles to immediately sucker you in.
However, his performance periodically switches up as he goes undercover to assess how best to deliver his clients’ revenge. His ‘sweet but unflappable’ teacher act, or his ‘cocksure businessman’ swagger make for much of the fun light-hearted moments.
Yet Taxi Driver is a show bristling with fury. It covers subjects such as abuse of the mentally handicapped, sexual assault and revenge porn, high school bullying, phone phishing scams, and murderers who escape due to failings of the prosecution.
One episode even ends with an epilogue covering the real life case it was based upon of a man wrongly framed for murder. These subjects are never dealt with flippantly, which is to the show’s credit.
For the bulk of the time the format delivers on episodic mini-stories. Some time is spent with the victim as we witness the horrible situation they are in (which usually ties in to a personal story from one of the Rainbow Taxi team).
Do-gi then infiltrates the situation under an assumed (and radically different) persona. And it culminates in his superior fighting skills beating the snot out of someone we know to thoroughly deserve it. It scratches the revenge genre itch nicely each time.
Outside of this format bubbles another plot line – Rainbow are operating outside of the law, so where do they put their captives? – and external factors that would derail their efforts. Prosecutor Kang Ha-na (Esom / Lee So-young putting in an excellent performance) is doggedly on their case and the uneasy alliance between Mr Jang and ruthless crime boss Baek Sung-mi (Cha Jiyeon) threatens to derail the whole operation.
Taxi Driver Official Trailer
Is Taxi Driver Worth Watching?
As exhilarating as Do-gi’s beatdowns are, it is a shame that he mostly stands apart and aloof from his teammates, life-threatening danger not withstanding: his time is mostly spent butting heads with Ha-na.
Esom embodies a belligerent but conflicted presence and her scenes with Je-hoon sparkle with tension, especially when his calm barrier occasionally slips. These moments make up for stealing time away from a focus on team camaraderie.
Outside of Do-gi, the team are a delight to spend time with. Skilled hacker Ahn Go-eun, gullible mechanic Choi Kyung-goo, and sincere but naïve Park Jin-eon fill out the gang, all under the calm but cold leadership of a crystal-eyed Mr Jang.
Similarly, Baek’s maniacal witch routine and her steadfast henchmen drive a believable bubbling threat forward under the surface of each episode.
A few episodes in to Taxi Driver and you will be happily paying your fare. As the stakes rise so will your heart rate, and your eyes won’t even glance at the meter racking up over 16 hours of watch time.
Season 2 is on the way, so book your reservation now.
Words by Mike Record
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