Some charm and chemistry among its characters helps Netflix’s new Thai drama Hook along, but a clichéd plot, cheap production and over-exaggerated effects prevent it from being a knockout.
This recap of Hook (Netflix Thai Drama) season 1, episode 1, “Round 1: Yap”, contains spoilers.
I must confess that my knowledge of Thai dramas is limited, so I was admittedly shocked when the first episode of Netflix’s Hook, “Round 1: Yap”, began busting out Looney Tunes sound effects and other silly flourishes to accentuate its intermittently charming but largely rote story of unlikely friendship. It’s an odd effect, and will probably prove a divisive one, much like the show’s lurching shifts between drama and comedy.
Hook episode 1 introduces this wavering tone, as well as the core characters: Man, son of the highly-regarded fighter Wanchai, and Saifah, a charming but unsure fellow student who Man runs into quite by chance after trying – and failing – to avenge the theft of his friend Yod’s girlfriend. These two hapless chaps form a decently charismatic central pairing, and the odds against them are established quickly as Saifah and his love interest Dandao are threatened for knowledge of Man.
The theme of personal pride being at stake is reflected everywhere in “Round 1: Yap”, especially in Man’s father, whose stinging defeat led him down a bottle – or several – and both Man and his sister, Ying, who have rather different takes on the notion of “giving up” and such. Saifah, too, feels emasculated after his run-in with the gang, and wants to learn to fight, first from Wanchai, who refuses, and then from Ying, who seems keen.
You can see some of Hook’s ideas and subplots in their earliest phases here, but none stand out as particularly fresh. In some ways, the exaggerated reactions, mannerisms, and sound effects seem designed to distract from this, or perhaps from the cheap-looking production, but at this early stage, before the characters are really bedded in, I couldn’t say that it succeeds. Hook episode 1 might display a little charm, a little chemistry even, but what it mostly displays is something you’ve seen before in an unusually ridiculous way. Mileage may vary.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.