R E V I E W – D R A M A
Prior to its release, Vincenzo was the focal point of K-drama fans solely for Song Joong-ki who starred as Vincenzo Cassano, a lawyer and Mafia consigliere. Much to its credit, this dark comedy-action drama didn’t stick to its generic portrayal of revenge, romance, and scenes of comic relief; rather, it presented us with a masterful blend of action, thriller, slices of life, fraternity, friendship, and more.
Consequently, it’s no wonder that Vincenzo has garnered audiences beyond its general viewers; leading itself to becoming one of the highest rated dramas in the past few weeks. After its premiere on 20 February, Vincenzo has been airing every Saturday and Sunday on South Korean television network tvN, followed by its release on Netflix after each episode. The last episode of this drama has been released on 2 May.
Directed by Kim Hee-won, Vincenzo is the story of Park Joo-hyung who was adopted at the age of 8 and grew up as Vincenzo in the Mafia Cassano family. The death of his father-figure followed by a family dispute forced him to flee from Italy to South Korea to retrieve gold bars left by a deceased Chinese businessman, as he planned to settle far away.
The gold bars were hidden under the basement of Geumga Plaza which was under forceful demolition by a crooked business entity called Babel Group. Together with the tenants of the Plaza, Vincenzo fought against Babel Group with the ulterior motive of recovering the gold. While doing so, he unearthed all the immoral acts carried out by the Group and ended up punishing the perpetrators.
Contrary to the usual K-drama tropes, there is no hero in Vincenzo who brought the criminals under justice, instead, they were punished brutally by the star of the story himself. In his own words: “I am just a scumbag who cleans up scum.” Vincenzo, therefore, featured a fight between two evils where the lesser evil wins.
Song Joong-ki excelled at executing the role of Vincenzo, crushing my initial thought that he would make a cute Mafia lawyer. Who knew ‘The Innocent Man’ or ‘Big Boss’ was capable of such a murderous glare? Joong-ki as Vincenzo was graceful, dignified, refined, but concurrently vicious and sinister.
There are endless things to love about this drama. The bonding among the tenants of the Plaza, the unexpected brotherhood between Vincenzo and Han-seo, the partnership between Cha-young – Vincenzo and Han-seok – Myung-hee were heartwarming. At the same time, seeing Vincenzo and Cha-young losing their parents and Han-seo was heart-wrenching.
Often in dramas, women from the protagonist’s team use their sex appeal to seduce their opponent and gather information. For the first time, in Vincenzo I saw the male character carry out this role, as his opponent was gay. Although the scene was used for comic relief, it brought freshness to the narrative.
There is hardly any loophole in the plot but I would have loved to see a glimpse of Vincenzo’s childhood in Italy – how he grew up coping with the monstrosities inside a Mafia family. There were a few comic scenes concerning Geumga Plaza tenants, especially Ahn Gi-Seok who is an agent of the International Security Intelligence Service, which felt imposed. But I am willing to give it a pass for the sake of dramatic representation.
Furthermore, the depiction of immensely corrupt prosecution and judicial system and spineless media was contemporary and relevant, still slightly improbable. Committing and cleaning up murders and pinning them on others seemed horribly easy throughout the drama, which was perplexing. Besides, Vincenzo being saved from the assassins by a flock of pigeons led by Inzaghi was fun to watch but utterly unrealistic.
The full-proof bizarre storyline was balanced flawlessly by the cast which is at the core of Vincenzo’s success. Precise use of Italian proverbs and mythic references from Buddhist and Christian scriptures brought uniqueness to the screenplay. All the characters were carefully constructed by the prominent screenwriter Park Jae-bum and the actors represented the dynamics of their respective characters skillfully.
Despite her first lead role in a K-drama, Jeon Yeo-been was stunning in her character Hong Cha-young. She nailed the sassy lawyer vibe who is full of coruscating wit, and her on-screen chemistry with Joong-ki was immaculate.
Ok Taec-yeon was beyond okay as Jung Han-seok or Jung Joon-woo. I was sceptical of his sudden transformation after the revelation of who Jung Joon-woo really is, but he effortlessly managed to change the trajectory of his acting to uphold his psycho character. His every course of action successfully left the viewers in despair.
Veteran actor Kim Yeo-jin brilliantly performed as Choi Myung-hee; I was enraged and disgusted by her character which defines her accomplishment. Kwak Deong-yeon also deserves accolades as his character Jang Han-seo left a poignant heartache among viewers.
The fine cinematography of the drama was complemented by exceptional visual effects which brought realistic essence in all the bloodshed, death, and action scenes. The entire shoot was done in Korea without travelling to Italy thanks to the visual effects. Being a fan of OST’s of K-dramas, I was delighted by the soundtracks of Vincenzo. The background scores enhanced the screenplay notwithstanding how repetitive they were.
Gripping storyline accompanied by phenomenal performances by the entire cast, backed by soothing cinematography with great CGI effects, top-notch production, and enjoyable soundtracks – Vincenzo has managed to tick most of the boxes required for triumphing over audiences’ hearts. So when are you going to start streaming Vincenzo?
Sharika Sabha is tired of convincing people that Economics doesn’t teach you how to make money. She loves human babies, books, and submitting assignments a few minutes before the deadline. She can be reached at [email protected]