Y’all, recapping is so tough, oh my gosh. But I’m handling it because Fight for My Way is giving me life! This drama has all the stylish-retro-throwback fun that the title and teasers promised, plus the cinematography, directing, and acting are so on point; I was immediately pulled right in.
I love the playful retro flavor that was throughout the entire first episode and I loved the hint of what was to come with the secret from Go Dong-won’s past that is holding him back. I laughed so much at Aera’s revelation with her boyfriend; I don’t want to give it away, but it was hilarious. I expect the throwback-martial arts fun to kick into full gear in episode two, but for now, let’s all just love on episode 1. The recap for episode 1 is below!
EPISODE 1: RECAP
We start off with images of the famous Thailand movie OngBak which is known for its action real to life action and fighting scenes. Seriously it was a super big underground hit. The scene they are watching is the first crazy fight scene of the movie. Dong-man and Joo-man are both engrossed in what they are watching. If Ong-bak throws an elbow, then they throw and elbow, if Ong-bak punches, then they punch as well.
Their undoing came at the climax of the fight scene where Ong-bak jumps onto the other fighters shoulders and double elbows him in the head. Dong-man and Joo-man as so into the scene that they both drop to their knees and then fly their elbows down onto the desk making a loud noise and sending their handheld played cascading to the floor.
The teacher stops what he is doing and turns around, “Who’s making all that noise?” Of course, Dong-man and Joo-man try to play it off by ducking their heads at first and then Dong-man looks behind him as if he were looking for the perpetrator. The teacher wasn’t having it though, he knows who the no good trouble makers are in the classroom and sends something whizzing at both of them (chalk or something). The teacher is really accurate because it hits them both; they immediately stand up and apologize.
Their teacher looks annoyed yet playful and calls them the man-man brothers because their names both have man in it. He tells them to solve this pop-problem and they won’t get punished (hit). They both know they have no chance of solving it, so they ask for leniency and for the teacher to just ignore what they did just this time…pretty please? But the teacher was like, come up here and get hit.
They immediately started thinking up an answer to the pop question and settled on 50%. Surprise surprise the teacher is happy and starts clapping. He tells them to come to the front to get their prize.
Dong-man and Joo-man are elated as they high five and strut up the isle doing their Ong-bak moves. But when they get to the front the teacher tells them to take their position to get hit, they were nowhere near close to the right answer.
Another student sitting in the front raises his hand to answer the question. “It’s 11%” he says. Dong-man and Joo-man both look at him with daggers before the teacher tells them, “Since you said 50%, how about 50 licks,” and proceeded to hit them on their legs with the man-man brothers hollering at the pain and hopping around, pleading their case for the teacher to go easy on them. Gah, talk about harsh punishments.
We cut to the girls class where Solhee and Aera are receiving punishment of their own. It looks like their teacher confiscated a mic from Aera and just finished hitting Aera on the hands. She was currently telling Solhee to give up her headband. Apparently, headbands are against the school code. Aera is shaking her hands at the pain and Solhee is shaking her head. They both argue with the teacher that they need those things. Aera was going to be an announcer one day and Solhee was going to be a wonderful mother. The teacher calls them by their class rank and tells them to improve their grades. They both sulk as their teacher walks away with their belongings.
Back at Dong-man and Joo-man’s school, we see a crowd of kids gambling. The big winner is a girl sitting at the middle of the table, as smug as can be. She must run the school, or at least that classroom, because another girl student comes huffing and puffing to the table, “There is no more coffee milk” she says in-between breaths. The head girl is annoyed as all smug girls are.
The boy from before (the really smart one) then comes up, delivering the most cherished snack item at the school, the coffee milk. He gives it to the smug girl (who’s name is Bora). Instead of being appreciative or grateful, the girl just tells the boy to stop being like that. She doesn’t like him.
But when she see’s Dong-man strutting past doing his Ong-bak moves, she immediately pulls her hair out of her ponytail and puts on a beautiful innocent look. Dong-man doesn’t notice, he is way too into his Ong-bak strut with Joo-man.
Later on we see that Dong-man has that same coffee milk on his desk (The writing was changed from To: Bora to From: Bora). Dong-man still doesn’t think anything of it, but Joo-man tells him it is hard to get coffee milk yet Bora always has a coffee milk for him. Aw, she must always give Dong-man the coffee milk that the nerdy kid gives her. Joo-man then starts asking Dong-man if he is going to confess to Bora. If he is going to confess then he can’t do it in that tacky red country-bumpkin shirt he has on. He has to do it in a stylish Seoul shirt like the one the nerdy kid had on. Cue nerdy kid taking off his jacket and inspecting his shirt.
They both decide to go offer the coffee milk for exchange for the shirt for a day. The nerdy kid is like “Um, I don’t know about this.” But Joo-man and Dong-man are adamant. They are begging him, pleeeease. The nerdy kid takes the coffee milk and sees that it is the same coffee milk he gave Bora with the “To: Bora” changed to “From: Bora.” But instead of looking hurt, the poor thing just looks confused.
Cut to Solhee and Aera at their school in the countryside. They are in the bathroom scheming and putting makeup on in an unattractive way. They said they need to get to Seoul to watch Dong-man fight and they are going to do it by any means necessary. Well, their “means” is to look sick enough so the teacher lets them out early. Their teacher has been around the block though and is having none of that. She wipes off their makeup and a stunned Solhee and Aera both bow their apologies and leaves.
But they are not easily deterred, they come back two more times with various ailments. The teacher shooed them away on all occasions. After exhausting all their ideas, they sit dejected in the hallway. SOlhee continues to offer up ideas, but her ideas aren’t practical. But then, a stroke of luck. The teacher’s car alarm goes off giving Aera and Solhee enough time to run into the teachers’ lounge and take their headband and microphone back. They hightail it out of there and run overjoyed that they made it out of the school. Their teachers are yelling after them, but they decide they will just take whatever punishment comes tomorrow. They have to be in Seoul to support their Dong-man!
At the tournament, they quickly realize they are not the only ones cheering on Dong-man. He has an entire crowd of his schoolmates cheering for him with signs and everything. Aera and Solhee aren’t to be outdone though, with her mic, Aera yells at Dong-man to hit hit hit! She yells so loudly that everyone turns to look at her, even Dong-man and his coach, lol. It looks like she has done this before because the coach says, “She’s here again?” But they snap out of it and get their minds back into the fight.
The fight looks close with both fighters hopping around Taekwondo style and doing all sorts of spin kicks. Dong-man finally times a spin kick perfectly and kicks his opponent in the leg, causing his opponent to pause in pain for a moment. At that instance, Dong-man does his signature spin kick move and knocks out his opponent. He won!
He throws his arms up triumphantly and immediately runs to the sidelines. His coach is ecstatic as well and puts his arms out to receive the hug he expects, but Dong-man just runs under his coaches arms directly to his crowd of cheers. Here is where the plan he and Joo-man were talking about is about to come to fruition.
Dong-man pulls off this taekwondo jersey, revealing the chic Seoul style shirt underneath, and throws his jersey into the crowd. Aera catches the jersey and looks ecstatic. But instead of talking to Aera Dong-man confesses his feeling to Bora. Bora smiles and flips her head all over the place. Aera looks at Bora flipping her head and is so annoyed by it. Actually, she has been annoyed by Bora flipping her hair all evening.
The final straw came when Bora was rude to the nerdy boy for asking why Bora liked Dong-man, “He can’t even do math!” But Bora just said a bunch of mean stuff to the nerdy boy, causing him to run away. I don’t understand how anyone can be this girls friend. Aera thinks the same way and gets up to leave, but while doing so she purposely hits Bora in the head with her sign. She says, “Sorry, sorry,” in English instead of Korean, which signifies to me that she isn’t sorry, but feels a sense of obligation to apologize and does it flippantly. They are about to really get into it as Bora continues to confront Aera and Aera continues to say “I said Sorry didn’t I!” But the scene cuts to the present.
In the present we see each character living what appears to be a glamorous life. Aera cuts through a line of people in her fashionable attire to entire the department store like a VIP guest, Dong-man goes to the penthouse suite of a high rise in a doctor’s coat, Solhee looks sophisticated as she struts carefree on a bridge as people turn to look at her, and Dong-man enters a building with several people behind him as if he is the head of a large company, ready for a firm round of negotiations.
But the truth is far less glamorous. Aera is an information desk clerk (which is why she got into the building early), Dong-man is an exterminator (his jacket is a “bug doctor” jacket), Solhee is a receptionist, and Dong-man is a poor negotiator at the same company Solhee works for (he keeps smiling and asking for a discount and the owner just keeps shaking his head no).
We cut to Aera who is secretly texting her boyfriend behind the counter. Her boyfriend is trying to pass a law test and Aera is checking in on him to see how he did. He is not responding though, so she expects the worse, “Maybe he failed again?”
While Aera is behind the counter someone casually passes by but then immediately stops in her tracks. It is an old frenemy of Aera’s named Chan-sook. Aera pretends not to notice Chan-sook at first, but her frenemy is persistent and invites Aera out for a drink in the department store VIP room.
Chan-sook is all kinds of annoying as she makes trifling comments about Aera, “I bet you’ve never been here before,” “You should date more to your level,” “Look at my ring,” but Aera isn’t the one and she can definitely hold her own against any trifling B*** that steps to her. What follows is a verbal sparring session ala the video game Street Fighter (which goes with the retro-throwback-karate vibe the show is trying). Whenever one of the ladies gets a good dig on the other the signature move of a Street Fighter character is shown on the screen, indicating that they won that particular verbal sparring session.
Somewhere across town Dong-man is going on a blind date (mat-sun, where two people go on a blind date with the purpose of getting married). The woman looks serious about Dong-man and her mat-sun, but Dong-man looks like he just fell out of the sky. All he talks about is himself and irrelevant things (loudly at that). The woman wants to know about Dong-man’s sporting life when he was younger, she heard he used to be really good at some sport. But Dong-man just gets quiet and says he never played anything when he was young. Poor thing, I hope what he did wasn’t so bad.
Cut to Solhee having a hard time at work. She has a customer on the line who thinks the item his wife purchased smells like dog farts. Solhee tries to calm the man down, but she does a poor job. Her supervisor steps in to correct it and then takes Solhee away to reprimand her. The reprimand wasn’t so bad, but it was underhanded. The supervisor told Solhee that she should get married. She should date someone and get married.
It looks like Solhee has that thought a lot too because when she sees her boo Joo-man, she brings it up. Joo-man ignores it. Joo-man does look like he cares for Solhee a great deal though because he went out of his way to disrupt Solhee and her supervisor’s meeting. He basically kicked the supervisor out of the room by saying the full-time staffers had a meeting soon (though Solhee knew their meeting wasn’t for another 2 hours).
We also got a brief look at the potential “other girl” in this scene. When Joo-man was trying to interrupt Solhee’s talking to, he took some paperwork from another young woman. the young woman looked happy that Joo-man was helping her, but Joo-man looked like he didn’t really notice and was just pretending to be polite to help out Solhee.
We cut back to Aera who wound up the champion of the verbal sparring session, but as Aera stands out on the terrace of the building, she doesn’t look like much of a winner. She is holding the wedding invitation Chan-sook gave her and looks solemn at the least. She decides to use this moment to call her boyfriend.
When her boyfriend answers, we see him stuffing his face and having a good ole time eating at a local restaurant. She asks him how he did and he tells her he failed and he wants to go on a cross-country bike ride to clear his head. Aera is irate. She tells him he should clear his head after he passes, not before. He needs to put his mind to use first! Lol.
Cut to Dong-man who is still as oblivious as ever with his blind-date. The date wasn’t going so well for the young woman, though she still wanted to be polite to Dong-man. When Dong-man said he was an exterminator and could give her a ride in his exterminator car, she was ready to bolt. However, DOng-man was clueless (or pretending to be?) and ran over the taxi the woman was in. He said he paid for coffee this time so maybe on Friday, she could buy soju? The woman was done with being polite and said, “Look here little brother, here is the money for the coffee,” and drove off. She wanted nothing to do with him.
Dong-man was looking at the money and wondering what just transpired when he got a call from Error (Aera sounds like error). He didn’t want to meet with her, but she said she would buy him some meat, which changed his tune real quick. He hustle to meet her at the department store.
While at the department store he couldn’t find Aera at her desk (she was probably still sulking somewhere) so he went to look around. This led him to get stuck in the winding door with Chan-sook (the sign on the door said “do not push or it will stop” but Chan-sook kept pushing it). In a hilarious moment, Chan-sook saw that Dong-man’s jacket said, doctor. She looked up with romantic music and lighting and saw that Dong-man was young with a had a head full of hair, whereas her soon-to-be husband is old and bald. She was immediately taken by Dong-man.
They introduce each other and Chan-sook finds out that Dong-man is a friend of Aera’s, though Aera plays it off that they might be more than friends just to get under Chan-sooks skin a little more. Chan-sook was like “Wow, you’re not dating him? His handsome!” But Aera says Dong-man is just barely average, not on par with the guy she is seeing now, but she keeps Dong-man around because he likes her so much.
Chan-sook looks hella jealous.
Later Aera and Dong-man are at a restaurant abut to eat their food. Dong-man see’s some men looking at Aera’s legs and tells her to switch seats with him (he shows concern for her several times in this episode, I think this is the first time it happened). Dong-man then goes on to get excited about his meat, but Aera notices Chan-sook peaking in on them and wants to continue getting under her skin, so she tells Dong-man to pet her hair.
Dong-man looks completely grossed out, seriously. He is like, “No! Why!” But Aera tells him, if you don’t pet my hair then I won’t buy meat for you.” He reluctantly does what she says, but he does it very badly. Aera is left with her bangs looking all kinds of crazy. It worked though because Chan-sook storms off with all her luxury items in tow.
Dong-man and Aera then get on with talking and ordering. Everything is going well until the conversation goes around to Aera’s boyfriend, Moo-ki. Dong-man thinks Aera does too much for Moo-ki, but when he pressed her on it, Aera says to shut up or she won’t pay for his meal. He shuts up, lol.
It looks like Aera knows that her boyfriend is worthless, but she cares for him and see’s something in him that other people don’t see. Because of that little something she only sees in him, she wants to help him succeed. It’s frustrating though because she is basically his Sugar Mama. She does everything for him.
Cut to her buying him a bike for this cross-country trip he wants to take. She was upset at him about it before, but she wants to support him so she goes out of her way to buy him the most expensive bicycle she could afford. The owner of the bike shops says it is a discounted bike and has 8 gears. She should buy it because the deal won’t last long.
Aera is sold and buys the bike. But instead of riding it to Woo-ki’s place, she painstakingly puts it on a bus and then lugs it up a huge hill. One thing to note here is that Korea is different from the US when it comes to hills and money. In the US, if you live on a hill, it means your rich. But in Korea, if you live on a hill, it means you’re poor. So with Aera pushing the bike all the way up the hill, the director is trying to show us that her boyfriend lives in a poor area.
She arrives at her boyfriend’s place which turns out to be a gosiwon, which is a dorm-like building where people go to stay with the single purpose of studying all day with no distractions. One of the people who lives there sees Aera and flips out. He runs inside and tells everyone she is there and knocks frantically on someone’s door. When Aera comes in (with the bike in tow) Woo-ki casually exits his room looking like he was just sleeping. He sees the bike and comments that it only has 8 gears (yes he just did that). Aera looks at him annoyed but holds it in.
She notices that his pants are inside out, but chalks it up to studying so much. She tells him to get it together in a playful tone. They enter the kitchen area and a woman is there who was not there before. Everyone looks like they are trying to act like things are normal, which makes Aera stand out even more as the only normally acting person there.
Her spidey sense is on though because she feels like something is amiss. The three or so students eating are laughing at things that aren’t funny, the woman’s hands are shaking, and people are just acting weird in general. She notices that the woman’s sweater looks like a match with Woo-ki’s pants. Wooki is horrible at playing it cool because his leg starts to shake uncontrollably. Aera then notices Woo-ki’s cigarette smell on the woman’s sweater. They were busted and Aera was not about to stand for that s***.
You needn’t say nothing but a word, because Aera pulled her purse right off and proceeded to beat Moo-ki up and down the hall. It was glorious to behold, which is why I tried to screen cap the entire sequence for you below.
What follows is a touching scene where Aera is sitting in the remains of the kitchen with her designer purse. It turns out that Moo-ki bought her that purse with the little money he had, which is why Aera cherishes it so much. She said it didn’t even matter to her if he passed his test, she had decided that she would take care of him either way because he had a good heart.
Hilariously the woman Moo-ki cheated with feels bad and tells Mooki to at least get on his knees in front of her. The look Aera gives her is so hilarious in a, “I can’t believe this is happening to me” way.
But now the woman is on her mind so Aera then goes on to say that it would have been better if Moo-ki cheated on someone younger than her or prettier than her or at least someone with a lot of money. The woman raises her hand and says’s, “Actually…”
Yep, it turns out that this poor looking older woman is rolling in the dough. She has a hit restaurant that makes simple food and the people love it. The woman has changed clothes now and is wearing all designer attire. To make matters worse, Moo-ki rolls up on a crazy expensive looking bike that has 28 gears, complete with all the proper attire. On top of that, Moo-ki is driving his new boo’s Range Rover which she lent to him for his trip. It is a big slap in the face to Aera.
Aera tries to resolve the little dignity she has and pulls her Micky mouse headband out of the woman’s head saying, “This is mine.” Moo-ki offers to drive her home in the Range Rover, but Aera gets a taxi instead. Unfortunately, the taxi can’t fit the bicycle inside so the taxi driver tells her to call a truck, or even better, just ride it home. Aera yells back that she doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle! Ah, no wonder she was breaking her back to lug it everywhere earlier. Aw, that makes the gesture even more touching.
Cut to Dong-man who is talking with his former taekwondo coach, Hwang Jang-ho. Hwang Jang-ho always shows up in Dong-man’s neighborhood because he wants Dong-man to fight again. They have some fun back and forth where Jang-ho tells Dong-ma “Once a coach, always a coach! Once a martial artist, always a martial artist!” and reminds Dong-man to speak formally to him. I love their delightful back and forth, but it soon takes a turn when the conversation gets on the situation that happened in the past. Dong-man looks really hurt. I am so curious about what happened! Maybe Dong-man and his rival fixed a fight for money or something?
Dong-man is waiting at a bus stop deep in thought. It looks like he is contemplating just how badly his life turned after that one incident so long ago. To make matters worse, there is breaking news that a famously beautiful newscaster divorced her millionaire husband after three years of marriage. It appears that Dong-man might know this woman and perhaps they were together. Hmm, could she be the girl from the high School?
Meanwhile, Aera is having a much worse day as she is very reluctantly riding to her home in her boyfriend’s side-chicks Range Rover. She is so embarrassed that she is pretending to be asleep. But when she hears the breaking news of the anchorwoman divorcing, she hops up and tries to grab the Sugar Mama’s phone so she can find out some more information. The shock of her suddenly hopping to life causes Moo-ki to try and protect his side-chick (but let’s be honest, his main girl) which causes them to almost hit Dong-man who is crossing the street.
Outside the car, thankfully, Dong-man isn’t hit or hurt, but inside the car, Moo-ki motions to the belly of his woman as if she is carrying his child. Aera just looks at them both, you know she’s thinking, “How can this situation get any worse? It just got worse.”
Dong-man is ready to curse out the drivers, but then he sees that it is Aera’s boyfriend and he exasperatedly says, “Ah Moo-ki, did you come to see Aera! Wow, the cars so expensive.” he says it in the same tone he was using to show how scared he was, so it is a funny change.
It takes Dong-man a minute to figure out what was going on. At first, he thinks the woman is Moo-ki’s aunt, then he thinks it is his mother. He asks Moo-ki if he got into it with Aera because Aera is acting strange and saying Dong-man should get an insurance payout.
Aera is trying to explain everything, “She-*sniff*-has-*sniff*-his-*sniff*-baby.” But she is blubbering and Dong-man can’t understand her clearly. Aera gets herself together enough to point at the cheating couple and basically said, “This bastard made a baby with this woman!”
Now it clicks for Dong-man. I love how they put red in the background to illustrate his anger. Dong-man goes off on Moo-ki. But surprisingly, the Sugar Mama backs up her man and attacks DOng-man. She screams at Dong-man to let go of her baby or she will kill him! This woman is not playing around. It is really funny because she was so sweet throughout her scenes, this was the first time she raised her voice or did anything angry. She basically went from 0 to 60 like a Tesla.
Cut to Aera and Dong-man walking on a bridge. Dong-man is riding the bike next to Aera and explaining that he couldn’t go off on the woman because she is a woman and is carrying a baby. Aera mentions the breaking news report from earlier, but Dong-man doesn’t want to talk about it and walks ahead of her with the bike. Poor thing must have gotten his heart super crazy broken.
Aera rushes along, but her shoe breaks and she falls on the stairs. That is the straw that broke the camels back as she starts crying buckets of tears. To add insult to injury Dong-man yells at her for crying over something like a shoe (dude, it’s so much more than the shoe) and kicks her shoe over the edge. That makes Aera cry even more as she yells between sobs, “Why are you kicking my thi-i-ings!”
On top of that, while they are walking up their street her purse breaks. Dong-man berates Aera again saying, “Why do you keep that jerks things.” He then feels bad so he buys her a new bag. He tells her it’s sturdy so it will last a long time and to put rocks in it the next time she wants to beat some guy. He also buys her some shoes.
Aera looks so happy, seriously. It’s really adorable how happy she looks. She takes the bag and puts all their alcohol in it and hops down the street in her new shoes. When they are near their homes Dong-man asks Aera if she really likes the bag that much and she tells him she does. She can fit a lot of drinks in there, it was really sturdy.
Dong-man then pets her on the head like a little kid and she tells him that is exactly what she wanted him to do earlier! He was like “What?” so he does it again. She tells him that girls like things like that, it makes their heart beat faster. He asks her if her heart beats faster when he does it and she was like “…um, yeah?” he then feels her face and says she was flushed, what was wrong with her. They have a tender stare off where it looks like someone will confess, but Dong-man just tells her to stop drinking so much alcohol and rolls off on the bike. They get to their stairs and start their walk back up to their places.
All the while a mysterious woman has been watching them. Everything tells us this woman is probably the newscaster from the breaking story, and I am guessing that she is also Dong-man’s High School crush. We shall see!
The epilogue is adorable. Apparently, Bora and Aera did get into it at the Taekwondo competition, lol. At first, Dong-man is on Bora’s side, but then he sees that Aera is hurt and quickly switches to her side. He tells Bora she cheated and tells Aera not to pick fights she can’t win. He then tells her they should go to the hospital right now. Aera turns around and flips her hair at Bora, yep, she knows how to win an argument. Love that. I put the epilogue below in caption format. It was really adorable.
Alright, that’s the end of my recap! This took way longer than I thought it would. I thought I could finish in maybe 5 hours, but it is +24 hours later and I’m still working hard at it. I have a full-time day job though, so there’s that. I am going to publish this one as is, but I will definitely come back and tweak spelling and grammar corrections throughout the week. I also want to add a character description to the top. Hopefully, I can get the second recap up in the next 48 hours or at least before episode 3 airs!