Underdog dramas: The Devil [K-drama, 2007]

Some of my comments while I was still reeling from the impact this drama had are in italics.  The comments in italics may contain some spoilers. The drama is of the heavy kind. However, fans of Joo Ji Hoo and Uhm Tae Woong should see it anyway, much as this is not a mainstream drama.

[Bladey]: I‘m hooked right from the very beginning, the story is immersive and attractive, I am liking the use of colour and camera and I like the OST a lot too. It’s so intense and riveting that I can’t seem to be able to put it away. Technically well done, good ambience, good tensions, but not that, the psychology is great. The two leads couldn’t have been more perfectly cast. For sure, it is not for everyone as it’s different from the usual stuff dramas are made of. Watching it was like journeying through inferno-from outer rings to the very heart of anguish. I really empathise strongly with these characters, the storyline kept me wanting.

Mawang blew me away with its intensity and with its acting. The acting was superb by all characters. The Korean original version follows much more the detective. And the detective offers intensity and clumsiness that is difficult not to sympathise with. There is a sense of warmth to UTW’s character that simply makes him instantly likeable. Joo Ji Hoo is a character well disposed to portraying characters like the one in Mawang..he has this cold, aura about him that is at once suggestive of something else, something that goes deeper..…he was perfect for this role! I really loved him in this drama…And I’m not a fan of this type of cold guys or of Ji Hoo for that matter. But the way the characters were all presented, including thanks to very good camerawork and use of light, made them very sympathetic.

This show is not for everyone, that much is sure. This is not a mainstream drama. It’s far more gritty, it’s dark, it’s emotionally draining…it builds the suspense well and the pacing is really good. It offers a sense of chaotic frenzy that is feverish and depserate.

The drama introduces many characters and they all have their place to fall into in this staging of hell. I became so deeply engrossed in their fates that I almost went numb from all the sympathy I was feeling.

It was clever in the way some things were premediated. This is a very sophisticated and intricately planned scheme we are dealing with here. This drama takes the viewer on a journey through all stages of inferno- from outer circles gradually intensifying to the very heart of chaos and darkness. Those final moments are really well defined as Heart of Darkness. But the Devil is not really there. Who or what is the devil….? There is not one answer to this question. The title is brilliant and offers many possible interpretations depending on individual perception of the story, but one thing is for sure: the devil is in the details!

The heroes are not simple and the drama again reminds us how unfair judgments are when we don’t know all the story or when we only know one side of the story. The drama asks question about the nature of evil and good, challenges shallow labels. The psychology is complex. It is a tragic story, the characters are very humane, very identifiable, very flawed. And what I really loved about this drama was precisely how like an onion it was, how those stages of inferno unfolded slowly and gradually and so very deliberately. I felt what the characters were feeling and that’s what made the drama so…heart-wrenching and nerve-wrecking. In many ways, watching this drama was a very catharthic experience.

Pacing was really impressive and kept me in the grip of the drama until the very end…it wouldn’t let go..I felt like I was travelling caught in some bird’s talons and I absolutely couldn’t free myself from this grip. I feared that after episode 6 the drama would lose its impetus. I was so wrong. The drama only increased its effect on me after episode 6 once more emotions came to play a role. I could really feel the anxiety of characters, the restlenessnes, the desire to pin this feeling down somehow. It was tangible and identifiable. I was brutally drained of emotion and I desperately wanted to see what will happen now, as inferno intensified…..and the end…. The end was absolutely beautiful…and I actually considered that a happy ending. I had a sense of relief once I saw that ending…and it was a very satisfying feeling and a vey satisfying and simply beautiful ending.

Camerawork was very nice and showy all throughout. I enjoyed the flashbacks and I also enjoyed the premise of the tarot cards. It added to the pace of the story especially at the start as it built a sense of suspense and guesswork to create a sense of panic an chaos. It was a very good and catchy idea. The OST was fine, but it was not what kept me watching.

I don’t think I would rewatch this drama anytime soon but I will rewatch it if only to see how well it stands the test of time. But it’s a must see at least once, especially if you’re into suspense revenge stories that actually have a heart – though they at once attempt to steal it away from you. This si a suspense drama with proper depth and aside from action offering some very serious moral and philosophical questions to ponder. I still can’t find anything in this genre that would capture me so completely as Mawang did

[Bladey] As for the title… the devil is the feelings. And the devil can take momentary and complete hold of one’s self. Instincts aren’t evil. they are geared for survival, what they do push to do, however, can end up being evil. Evil lies in intention and the feeling that evokes this intention in the first place. there is always some cause and effect. However, what you say about legacy is to me arguable – for some the past will not count, but there will be people who will be forever holding that against you and people do not forget so easily the crimes of the past- perhaps because they wish to satisfy their own vain feeling of superiority, but the sense of redemption or at least an attempt at it is very strong and this is also in part what makes watching this drama so catharthic- the recognition of the fact that we could do it. and we are terrified and or sympathise. The depth is interesting. there is never one version of history, the conquerors and the conquered each tell a different story.  In this sense, it is the laywer who is more interesting, since he was shown in all this depth, being both the conqueror and a victim. UTW is different, since his tale is more of about redemption and regrets and learning more straightforwardly from it. t the end of the day he ends up as a hero, who does not make the same mistake twice. As an adult, given the same situation, he makes a different choice. The past definitely makes you- how else would we progress if not basing on the mistakes we made in the past. What I also really liked was the final recognition on the part of the poor lawyer, it was in his eyes before they both fell into eternal sleep like two brothers they would have been in other circumstances. That’s why I was feeling it so strongly when the past was being recreated and reconstructed with its full force of irony and depth, because the story being recreated was that of a victim from a different vantage point.  The two characters really needed each other, they mutually constructed each other.  The drama also shows what it means to take responsibility for one’s actions. Not by empty gestures but by living.

[Memorable Quotes]:

Live. No matter how life may be a living hell, try your hardest to step out of the dark tunnel.

How bad of a person you were, how shameful you were. Never forget. And in order not to forget, live.

This entry was posted in Korean Dramas, Korean Mysytery-Suspense, underdog dramas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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