Fight My Way is a romantic comedy drama that depicts the lives of four childhood friends as they grow and deal with career and relationship struggles. This is Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won’s first on-screen pairing. Park Seo Joon has starred in several dramas while this is Kim Ji Won’s first lead role. The latter, however, has already proven herself as a strong second lead in The Heirs and Descendants of the Sun. She even beat her co-star Song Hye Kyo at the 30th KBS Drama Awards when she received the Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries.
Kim Ji Won plays Choi Ae Ra, an aspiring news anchor who ends up with a job at a mall’s reception desk. Park Seo Joon plays Go Dong Man, a former award-winning taekwondo player who gives up on this sport after a heartbreaking incident that occurred in one of his fights. Their best friends Kim Joo Man and Baek Sul Hee have been dating for six years but their relationship is put to the test when a persistent intern suddenly tries to come in between.
The series starts off with scenes of how our leads lived as high school hotshots who were always at the top of their game. Years passed, they are still together but they fight to get out of their “third-rate” lives. The then-popular taekwondo player now works as a tick exterminator while the aspiring female announcer tries to land her dream job but she doesn’t get a chance due to her insufficient “specs”. (Specs is the Konglish word for qualifications which include exam scores, volunteer work, contest participation, and other things that would make their resume look impressive.)
One of the show’s main selling point is having characters whose lives are just as normal and difficult as everyone else in real life. No chaebol birth secrets that could turn them into millionaires overnight. No powerful connections to give them a shortcut to fame. The characters are ordinary young adults who pursue their dreams, learn from their mistakes, and more importantly, through thick and thin, are always there for each other. You can believe the “Fantastic Four” are really the best of friends thanks to the actors’ realistic performances and the show’s adorable childhood flashbacks.
Still, the biggest factor for the show’s high ratings is the romcom aspect. Dong Man and Ae Ra are total BFF goals with their cute bickering and at times, cringe-worthy aegyo. They have known each other for more than 20 years so it’s nice to see how their romance blossoms naturally and how they try to overcome the fear of possibly losing each other. Having a romantic relationship with your best friend is indeed a huge gamble so I was moved when Dong Man said, “If it’s all or nothing, We’d take all.” Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won’s chemistry is simply off-the-charts, I’d totally rejoice if they date in real life.
At first, I wasn’t emotionally invested with Joo Man and Sul Hee’s arc because I didn’t see why it’s necessary to hide their relationship at work and why they have to delay their marriage when they’ve been acting like a married couple for years. I thought they were both frustrating: Joo Man with his “concern” for the intern, and Sul Hee with her inability to show her anger. When Sul Hee finally started to speak up, that’s when I began to root for her. Actress Song Ha Yoon delivered the heart-tugging break up scene in a strong and poignant way that I actually felt like it reopened some of my own old wounds. Despite the predictable reconciliation, I’m glad that the show did not feel the need to give Sul Hee a makeover or a rebound guy to find herself. Sul Hee is Sul Hee and she is amazing.
Fight My Way‘s plot is simple but it manages to present the different facets of its characters. We witnessed how Dong Man, Ae Ra, Joo Man, and Sul Hee act in both their triumphant and vulnerable moments, and in those times we either cheer or root for them. The same goes for some of the side characters. In other dramas, it usually feels rushed and quite hard to believe when someone who’s initially annoying suddenly turns into a good person once the show reaches its final episode. In the case of Fight My Way, these characters are just realistically irrational at times. Such was the case with Hye Ran’s irritating clinginess, Ye Jin’s stupid Joo Man obsession, and Nam-Il’s natural jealousy. But my favorite side characters are definitely the sassy landlady Hwang Bok Hee and adorable Coach Sundae Hwang Jang Ho.
The series wins the audience over with its well-built theme of love and friendship. It’s hard to nitpick on the negative things since I feel that the writer is able to highlight the characters’ charms and flaws. The two leads especially work so well together, one character doesn’t overshadow the other. They both have their family issues, career aspirations, and romantic point of views. They find their own resolution in the emotional latter part of the show.
Fight My Way should have had at least two more episodes to wrap things up a little more neatly but I still enjoyed the show as a whole anyway. More than just a standard romcom, it’s a feel-good slice of life drama with some sexy UFC action and inspiring lines that really hit home.