“Vincenzo” ended its run a couple of weeks ago but its only now that I am getting to write the article about it.
And since what I have to say won’t necessarily be the type of review anyone would want to read, I didn’t know whether it was necessary to publish it and receive hate and threats over it, which is often the case when I write about any popular Korean actor. In case I don’t agree with the masses opinions, I tend to receive terrible hate and sometimes threats over it.
After contemplating, I’ve decided to publish the article, so here are my thoughts on the drama.
Table of Contents:
- The plot- why so long?
- The characters- between the good and bad
- Song Joong ki- the role of a lifetime
- Closing remarks
Note: this is a subjective review. I will share my personal opinion while keeping in mind how others might perceive it. This is a spoiler review
The plot- why so long?
When I first walked in to “Vincenzo” I wasn’t aware the drama was going to be 20 episodes long but when I checked asianwiki, I was worried to say the least. Call it intuition or experience, but as someone who does this for a living and as someone who has been watching for a decade, I knew it was going to stall. I just knew it.
The idea behind the drama is honestly very interesting, what I have issues with happens to be the execution, not the idea per se.
The way the drama progressed from a selfish mafia boss who is only in Korea to steal the gold to a ‘sensible’ man who is willing to mass-murder people to achieve ‘justice’ was well done. In most kdramas, you don’t see such a huge shift and change in tone from the original set plan, and this I found to be refreshing.
20 episodes were too much for “Vincenzo,” honestly, 20 episodes would be too much even for the best kdrama out there, I rarely think any kdrama that had 20 episodes needed to be that long. 20 1-hour-long episodes are a lot of content and just thinking about writing such a massive project would require gives me a headache.
so, kudos to the screenwriter for making it mostly fun and consistent.
“Vincenzo” plot has two purposes, one is to retrieve the gold and the other is to take down Babel group. The gold part is important but used mostly as a tool for the main purpose which is to take down Babel.
The issue with “Vincenzo” is how it stalls until it gets to the point where they begin damaging the group. The screenwriter had so many episodes that he referred to what I call writing in circles, where you start at one point and evidently end up at the same point to make a circle.
So throughout roughly around 12 episodes of “Vincenzo,” the protagonists ‘attempt’ to bring down Babel only for everything to go back to point zero. What you’d expect would bring down Babel ‘almost’ happens but then the attempt gets reversed or resolved within 5 minutes, rinse and repeat. Then rinse and repeat.
Thus, by the end of each week, we’re almost back at the start line haven’t done anything that’s worth mentioning or bragging about, that’s my main issue with the plot.
The screenwriter almost wanted to treat this like a crime-thriller where the cast goes through new cases each week but in our case this can’t work because we don’t have ‘cases’ we have one ultimate goal and it is to take down Babel, but instead of making any irreversible damage or a dent on their reputation, the group mostly goes unscathed until episode 19.
It almost becomes a joke just how incompetent the police force is and how no one and absolutely no one questions the piling dead bodies and people disappearing or Babel being so damn shady. I get that they’re bought but logically speaking, wouldn’t at least one person notice something was seriously off? Or begin to investigate?
How “Vincenzo” was able to murder so many people and get away with it is puzzling.
The other thing the screenwriter defers to is the use of ‘false-positives,’ where he alludes to grave danger only for it to turn out to be something minor or not worth the suspense. For the first half, I was convinced and closely following the drama but as the second half approached, not only was the writing style already pretty easy to figure out but I was 100% sure no one was gonna die until episode 19, so whatever happened, it didn’t have the impact it should’ve had. To me, it was fun and all but not nearly as ‘suspenseful’ as what many fans say it is.
This is not to say they’re wrong, the issue is with me, I like challenging scripts, “Vincenzo” is not challenging in that sense, the lead is, but everything else is just… what I expect from a revenge vigilante drama.
Around episode 10 you could notice that the drama begins to stall and that’s when the ratings also stagnant, as expected. [talking about Korean ratings]
The drama maintains its viewers but can’t draw in more viewers, its not only until the finale that the drama breaks a ratings record.
I believe that if “Vincenzo” had been 14 or 16 episodes long, it would’ve easily managed to cross the 20% mark. Its a nice idea but its so sad that it had to be this long.
I could easily deduct about 4 to 6 episodes worth of content and honestly, it wouldn’t have an effect on the plot whatsoever, in case you know anything about writing… that is not good news the fact that so much of the drama is purely filler content to deliver one or two minor conclusions at the end of each week.
This is why “Vincenzo” was also frustrating at times because it took too long to get to the point.
Added to that, I wanted to see Babel destroyed properly and even with all the time the screenwriter had, he still couldn’t give it the proper send-off, it was relegated to a mere 2 minute of exposition that it was done in the final episode when in fact the best type of punishment Joon Woo could’ve been given was that, the destruction of something he truly cared about but instead we settled for the ruthless way he was murdered.
At any given point, Vincenzo could’ve easily gotten the gold and killed the bad guys. He could’ve easily threatened the tenants of the building or kidnapped them, take out the gold and then finish it by killing Joon Woo and the rest on his way out.
We’re told that it’d be bothersome for him to do so, but the screenwriter makes it abundantly clear he could’ve done it at any point. And he came so close to it multiple times so much so that the screenwriter had to come with dumb excuses as to why he couldn’t do it.
You could say he wanted to stay or he’s grown attached but we all knew, we knew as soon as he’s killed them there was no way he could’ve escaped it and we knew that he’d either die or escape the country. It was bound to happen, but it took so much to get to the finish line when it was a couple of meters away.
Since we had 20 episodes, we had plenty of time to go over each and every one including the supporting characters, and in that regard truth be told, “Vincenzo” had done well. In exception for two characters.
While Ms. Hong is given mostly a good arc and story, I still felt it was missing pieces.
If you recall, in the first half, “Vincenzo” doesn’t really try to murder anyone and he is especially careful around Hong because in reality, killing isn’t an easy thing to accept or process. Thus, the screenwriter put an emphasis on how Vincenzo avoids becoming the true ruthless mob boss he is until he is left with no choice but to do so because he was pushed to his limits.
But once its done and he murders someone in front of her, you see her feel a bit unsettled but she’s almost over it instantly. I know you’re going to say they were bad people, but still, logically speaking, no woman would feel safe around him.
I wanted to see more about how Hong felt hanging around such a murderer so closely. I wanted to see her closely doubt herself or at least show that she was scared to be around someone like him.
I am a woman too, and I’d imagine any logical woman would not have the same attitude Hong had towards Vincenzo once she knew he was truly a cold-blooded murderer. I wanted to see fear in her eyes, I wanted to see her fazed by it and despite how much the screenwriter alluded to it being difficult for her to accept that Vincenzo was truly a murderer she got over it pretty easy. If the screenwriter didn’t allude to that, I wouldn’t have talked about it because I’d assume she never cared.
I know you’re going to say, ‘but jasmine, they were bad people’ and I agree but my point isn’t about who is being killed but the act itself. Murder isn’t an easy thing to do or to accept and the screenwriter says so himself but then despite attempting to make a big deal out of the reality of Vincenzo, it’s quickly shoved aside and treated as if its nothing.
Also, Hong romancing a murderer was pretty odd. Do I need to say why its very odd and worrisome?
My issue with the fans who watched it is how they attempt to justify Vincenzo’s actions. Its one thing to enjoy a drama but another to defend his actions. I understand you like the actors but please…
The screenwriter at no point attempts to tell you what he’s doing was okay, Vincenzo himself says he knows he’s bad but won’t stop so I find it pretty sad how people tend to defend his actions.
The other character I wished to see more of was Lawyer Choi. She is by far one of the most terrifying female antagonists I’ve ever seen in a kdrama. The actress talked about the portrayal of the character. The most terrifying aspect is how nonthreatening she appears to be.
If I didn’t know who she was I’d say she’s just another ahjumma, and despite her very ‘average’ appearance and tone, she’s on par with Joon Woo and Vincenzo in term of ruthlessness.
I wanted to get to know why she’s done all of this, I wanted to see things from her perspective. Because every supporting character got fleshed out properly, I wanted the same for her but sadly, that never happened. She became a supporting 2D character that does things out of spite despite being intelligent and knowing when to jump ship.
I know what arguments people will bring up against this and I won’t say I don’t get them, but it’s a personal nitpick I have with the drama.
Song Joong ki- the role of a lifetime
The reason why I stuck around was the cast, specifically speaking Song Joong ki and Kwak Dong Yeon. Kwak Dong Yeon’s character was the only one I truly cared about because I knew he was a victim of circumstances and if he’d been in a better environment, he wouldn’t have turned out so twisted.
A lot of people are saying this is Song Joong ki’s IT performance, and I must say, I agree with it. I think this is his best performance in recent memory.
He’s always been amazing but there were several scenes in this drama where I was in awe of his portrayal of the character. His charisma truly helped fans sympathize and fall for what could’ve easily been the villain in another story.
Need I say how amazing he is? Or how he could portray a wide ray of emotions with his eyes only? I could write pages about his performance alone. I believe this is the role of his lifetime, it won’t be easy to come by such a complex character ever again. Above all, he’s so much fun to watch and I really liked his chemistry with Jeon Yeo Bin. I didn’t expect them to be so cute together. I still don’t like Vincenzo, the character, but it was fun watching him.
“Vincenzo” has had its issues, its by no means the perfect drama in my opinion nor does it have the best script, but it is still very memorable and if you like the cast enough, it will be a fun watch.
“Vincenzo” could’ve easily been even bigger in South Korea and the reason I am writing this is to talk about the wasted opportunities of the script. It is not meant to be a diss towards anyone. Everyone worked so hard, its just a shame the script couldn’t have been more precise in its delivery.
“Vincenzo” will be missed. I know I am in the minority with my opinion which is why I was hesitant to even write about it but I thought it would be a worthwhile discussion to have.
I wouldn’t say “Vincenzo” was overrated because so many parts of it make up what summarizes a good kdrama experience and I totally understand why everyone fell in love with it. I am picky, that’s all!
So what about your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let us discuss in the comment section below!