‘Flex X Cop’ K-Drama review: Ahn Bo-Hyun and Park Ji-hyun’s police procedural is an engaging watch from start-to-finish

There is a lot to love in this largely fun and thoroughly engaging police procedural, with four immensely likeable detectives at its helm

Updated - April 06, 2024 05:58 pm IST

Published - April 05, 2024 05:52 pm IST

Park Ji-hyun and Ahn Bo-hyun in a still from Flex X Cop

Park Ji-hyun and Ahn Bo-hyun in a still from Flex X Cop | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When it comes to comfort television, the comfortable predictability that a police procedural lends itself to is unparalleled. Episode after episode, featuring a familiar group of investigators as they take on cases that come their way, the dynamics they share, and friendship, love, and self-discovery along the way thrown in.

The recently concluded Flex X Cop starts off seemingly outlandish and sets the stage for a largely fun procedural. After a run-in with the law enforcement authorities, Spoilt and rich heir Jin I-Soo (Ahn Bo-Hyun) finds himself having to join the violent crimes unit at Gangha station as a detective. The stakes are high. His father, whom he has a troubled relationship with, is in the midst of amping up his campaign to become the city’s mayor, and there is immense public scrutiny. The team he joins is led by the no-nonsense Lee Gang-hyun (Park Ji-hyun), a prickly and smart detective. There is also the young, starry-eyed Choi Kyung-jin (Kim Shin-bi), who is in awe of I-soo’s lavish life and social media persona, and in contrast, Park Jun-young (Kang Sang-jun), who remains largely unimpressed by I-soo’s swagger.

The team is suitably annoyed with I-soo’s entry, and his privilege, and resents having to babysit him through work. He, on the other hand, having always been a fan of chasing thrills, is intrigued about his new job and is thrilled at having been given a chance to delve into some real-time police work (the show starts with him navigating through an elaborate game involving a hostage situation). I-soo, being a silver spoon, is both a boon and a bane for the team– as easy as it is for him to get an audience with the elite during an investigation or channel his many social media followers to aid in a manhunt, he is equally reckless and hasty. In one of the best laugh-out-loud moments from the show, I-soo does not hesitate to rather clumsily leap out of a window from a multi-storeyed building while in hot pursuit of a suspect as a horrified Gang-hyun watches on. The first few episodes largely focus on I-soo trying his best to fit in, how he can use his chaebol status to aid with investigation work, and how he plays a role in lending some perspective to cases involving the elite. 

The detectives at Gangha police station

The detectives at Gangha police station | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Flex X Cop isn’t, however, all fun and games, and I-soo, thankfully, is not reduced to a caricature. The writing, in fact, spends considerable time on his troubled relationship with his family as an illegitimate heir to the Hansu group and the trauma of losing his mother as a child. He might be at loggerheads with his father, Jin Myeong-chul (Jang Hyung-sung), and has to face a barrage of verbal abuse from his step-mother, but we also see how he dotes on his step-brother Jin Seung-ju (Kwak Si-yang) and vice-versa. This is perhaps the show’s biggest victory; the fact that the writing humanises I-soo and spends considerable time on his life outside of the station. This is best summed up by Ganghyun, who tells him that while he may be rich, and condescending, he also does not hesitate to organise a funeral for a victim who has no family or ensure a wronged artist gets her own moment in the spotlight. 

Flex X Cop (Korean)
Director: Kim Jae-hong
Cast: Ahn Bo-Hyun, Park Ji-Hyun, Kang Sang-jun, Kim Shin-bi
Episodes: 16
Storyline: A chaebol finds himself unexpectedly joining the violent crimes department and delving into real-time investigative work

While the four-detective team from the violent crimes unit takes up various cases, the K-Drama does away with the traditional one-case-per-episode format and adopts a more flexible writing style where nearly two episodes are dedicated to each case. There are also two main storylines that run parallelly – one that focuses on the death of I-soo’s mother and the wrongful service termination of Ganghyun’s father, Lee Hyung-jun (Kwon Hae-hyo), the former head of the criminal division.

Despite familial tensions, I-soo and his step-brother Seung-ju remain close

Despite familial tensions, I-soo and his step-brother Seung-ju remain close | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

These two plot points take centre stage in the show’s last six episodes, and there is a sharp shift in the overall tone. This, however, does not feel forced. Flex X Cop has to be one of the rare shows in recent times that does not have pacing issues in its latter half since there is more than enough happening. Despite the second season being announced, the writing here thankfully feels focused and complete and not just solely focused on a build-up for a new season.

Gangha’s station’s team of detectives – I-soo, Gang-hyun, Jun-young, and Kyung-jin are immensely likable. This might be Bo-hyun’s most effortless outing yet. He manages to nail the smug, confident I-soo and equally shines in the more sobering parts when tragedy befalls. When the show’s tone shifts, he adapts quickly and is vulnerable and believable. Ji-Hyun plays Ganghyun with a measured, nuanced air, especially given that there are more than a few subtle nods as to how her time in the Gangha station has been as a lone female detective sees her warming up to I-soo and her eccentricities and how the team gradually grows to trust and have each other’s backs.

Gang-hyun and I-soo strike up a slow but steady friendship through the course of the show

Gang-hyun and I-soo strike up a slow but steady friendship through the course of the show

Though they tease the prospect of a romance, this season of Flex X Cop thankfully does away with delving deeper there. It would have felt wrong, given what was happening in the final few episodes. The slow progression of I-soo and Ganghyun’s relationship from colleagues to grudging friends, and to being a source of support for each other feels earned. Ji-Hyun matches Bo-hyun’s energy in her own way and the two share great chemistry– especially as an investigating team.

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Compared to a long list of excellent Korean crime thrillers or procedurals, which include Signal, The Voice, Taxi Driver, and Beyond Evil, Flex X Cop takes a more comedic, light-hearted route, especially in its initial episodes. Despite how the show progressively becomes serious, given the personal tragedies of its protagonists it seeks to delve into, it remains engaging and cohesive throughout. If the prospect of a second season means more adventures from the team of four from Gangha station, we are all buckled up and ready.

All episodes of Flex X Cop are streaming on Disney+ 

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