Yes! It’s time for another K-Drama review. My blog has been revolving around this drama for quite some time now as I have watched it and have been updating expectations based on plot and cast, episode recaps, mid run review and predictions etc. I posted the last episode recaps post a few days ago and normally I wouldn’t delay the review THIS long but this drama left quite a bit of an impact, so I had to wrap around that and recover before I posted my thoughts on the review.
For all the episode recaps, and associated posts on this drama on my blog, all you need to do is click the link here! Now onto the spoiler free review of Black!
Title : Black (English), 블랙 (Korean), Beullaek (Romanised)
Country of origin : South Korea
Language : Korean
Created by : Studio Dragon
Written by : Choi Ran
Directed by : Kim Hong Sun
Starring : Song Seung Heon, Go Ara, Lee El, Kim Dong Jun
Number of seasons : 1
Number of episodes : 18
Status : Completed
Broadcasted on : OCN, Netflix
Broadcasted : October 14 – December 10 of 2017
Episode durations : Typically around an hour
Genre : Fantasy Thriller
The story starts with Moo Gang who is a junior detective in the violent crimes unit. He’s not really the best detective out there though, he has a very fragile stomach and he pukes over bodies and evidence and is basically always fumbling and causing problems for his team.
It’s at this point that he meets Ha Ram.
Ha Ram is not your typical woman, she has a problem – she can see shadows behind people that are about to die and if she touches the “shadow” she can also see the manner of their death. As expected this doesn’t really comes easy to Ha Ram as she faces many challenges.
It’s at this point that our story develops to have Moo Gang and Ha Ram work together, Ha Ram wants to use her abilities to save lives and Moo Gang seems to be having a secret investigation of his own into something too. And it looks like Moo Gang might even be Ha Ram’s long lost childhood love who she fondly calls Joon oppa.
But Moo Gang eventually gets shot by a secret sniper and is presumed dead when he suddenly awakens with a totally new persona inside him. And it is another person in him – the most feared grim reaper #444 has taken over Moo Gang’s body to find his missing partner before the Death squad captures him and punishes him by changing him into a ferocious three headed beast. He realises he may need Ha Ram’s help to find his partner as she can see reapers who are hiding within humans but as the two work together they go straight in to a 20 years old cold murder case that just escalates this to a whole other level.
Intertwined into this story is also Man Soo, the illegitimate heir of the Chairman of the Royal group whose elder half brother doesn’t like him one bit. He ends up playing a huge role in how the entire story wraps out as well.
It may feel like I have kind of let out the whole point of the plot but I honestly haven’t. It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a K-Drama that just has so many layers, characters and incidents all perfectly bound together to form this drama.
Now let’s see where do we start? Let’s start at the plot? The thing about this drama is that it starts with just the problems faced by Moo Gang/Black and Ha Ram and they try to work out solutions for that. It’s from there that the cold murder case creeps in on them. As we slowly went through the story of both these halves I expected either one of them to overtake the other. I didn’t want the purpose of the characters to overshadow the murder case as it was really interesting and kept us guessing. But I didn’t want our characters to lose their purpose either as that had ignited an interest in me too. I’m glad to say that the show has managed to balance both aspects perfectly. And it’s just not that, there are so many crimes and cases, incidents and characters that frame out this story. Aside from the fact that you really have to have your eyes peeled for this one, it played justice to each character.
And when I mean all the characters I mean the mostly direct ones that were involved in the plot. There was this additional character brought out at literally the end – I don’t understand why that was required? It was perfect as it is? I’m just guessing they wanted to add a more dramatic element to the drama to wrap it up. But fear not, this little nuance is not going to damage the experience of enjoying this drama!
Now this is not a merry little story either. When they mean a cold murder case, grim reapers and criminals they really meant it dark. It’s not like a horror movie but it’s not pleasant and includes many elements like corruption, crimes, murder, suicide, drugs, prostitution, tragedies and so many things. If you’re a little faint hearted on that note you may want to stay away. If you really want to know it’s not gruesome with horribly damaged bodies or intestines spilling out of people but it’s something that has fused these elements together as well, so I’m just putting it out there!
The setting of the story is set in the modern day and I’m assuming the city of Seoul and other states and districts around South Korea. I’ve been talking a lot about the plot but it’s what makes this drama this good and it’s something that I haven’t come across really good in a while. It will leave you confused, guessing, shocked, crying, happy and everything in between. Kudos to the story writers for the wonderful plot! The last I’ve seen something so imaginative was in the drama Circle.
Coming to the performance by the actors I think I’m going to point out our leading man Song Seung Heon first. I last saw him in the classic Autumn in my heart.
While he was gentle, soft and emotional in that one here he was first clumsy, cute and mysterious as Moo Gang. Authoritative, powerful, bossy and a perfect embodiment of a grim reaper whose the boss – if there ever was one! I don’t know if this really counts but after he became the character Black, his voice modulation while representing the character really caught my attention. It was careless , unbothered but delivered angst, emotions and everything whenever needed. It’s even more surprising how effortlessly he delivered the comedic seuquences too!
Coming to Go Ara, I don’t have too many complaints but I didn’t see her shine exceptionally either as she wasn’t really given any defining instances in the story where she would have to steer her acting capabilities like Song Seung Heon did. On that note I really loved Man Soo’s character you can’t help but empathise, not sympathise, but empathise with him completely from beginning to end. At this point of discussing characters can I just give a huge shout out to the suppporting cast. I’m sure if any of them had fumbled in their performance this would not have been what it is. Like I mentioned when discussing the plot there are so many characters that come in and out through the story who are absolutely vital pieces of the puzzle. I would at this point like to highlight Officer Kwang, Clara, Soo Wan, Man Ho, as some of my most favorite supporting cast characters!
I would also like to highlight that this drama ensured that it didn’t spin out to be romance drama between the two leads. Most people are not “happy” with how it ended, but honestly if you give it some thought, isn’t that the most realistic ending possible? I was initially a little upset that Moo Gang was displayed to Ha Ram as her childhood love and I really didn’t want a destined lovers kind of growth here, I was in it for the story, but somehow they wrapped that up to blend in to point with the story too.
All in all,if you want a fantasy thriller that keeps you glued on to the screen for what it claims, then this is THE ONE for you! Let me know what you felt while watching this in the comments I would love to fangirl over it in the comments section!
Now to end this I have something to ask those who watched the series (if you didn’t watch the series don’t worry this ain’t a spoiler). Throughout the series Black wears a black suit and pants combination. At one point in the story he realizes that Ha Ram can see the reapers inside humans and is glad that he has always worn black around her even before he knew it, so that she won’t see the shadow in Moo Gang’s body. However in this scene, when Black has just taken over Moo Gang’s body and is in the hospital he is shown to be wearing a white hospital gown and Ha Ram is seen staring right at him. Why didn’t she see the shadow? Have I found an error in the series? Haha! Let me know in the comments!
Image courtesy : Google Image Search