My thoughts on Vincenzo. Warning for spoilers (although all K-dramas generally have a happy ending so you already know how this one ends).
K-dramas are not usually at the top of my list when I’m looking for entertainment. I’ve caught a few over the years and while I found the first few engaging enough, it got tiring very fast. I felt that the episodes were always too long and the story always too predictable. Also, all the beautiful actors with their shiny skin and sparkly eyes couldn’t save me from the boredom of repetitive melodrama and overdone romance.
There are far too many K-dramas that I have started and then dropped so when I started on Vincenzo, I didn’t really expect to finish it. But I did finish it and I loved every second of it. It was a considerably different experience from the previous K-dramas that I’ve seen, with a plot that focussed less on romance and more on revenge and justice. I love a story, where the villains get exactly what they deserve and they get it in really exciting ways.
Vincenzo was a story that did not pull its punches. It was not a story of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’, but rather a match against diabolical forces that are both fully capable of destruction. On one side, we have the corporation, a well-funded, well-connected and well-organised form of evil, rooted in the country and expanding like a malicious tumour. On the other side, we have the dark horse – Vincenzo, an unfettered force whose very career is crime. The contrast between these players was actually very entertaining. The (mostly) calm and collected Vincenzo did not seem as threatening as the loud and abrasive antagonists. In particular, the evil chairman (whose identity is revealed a few episodes into the story) turned out to be chaos incarnate, and I expected that defeating this opponent would be an uphill battle for Vincenzo, given that his resources are far more limited. However, as the game of cat and mouse progresses, the distinction between predator and prey becomes quite clear.
Vincenzo’s characterisation is the key here. He is the necessary evil, a ruthless anti-hero both creative and cunning. He nudges the other players into place, steering from the shadows if necessary, before delivering his blows. He’s experienced, resourceful and prepared. It’s refreshing to watch a protagonist who is confident in his superiority and it’s even better because he knows who he is. We don’t have to sit through a melodrama about the ex-Mafia who has to mend his ways to find acceptance or repentance. He’s not crying his eyes out over his criminal history or changing himself to chase the woman of his dreams.
Another thing that I found refreshing was that romance was not the primary objective of the plot. Both Vincenzo and Hong Cha-young, the tenacious lawyer that he teams up with, have more pressing concerns than falling head over heels in love. That’s not to say that there’s no romance at all. There is plenty of attraction between the two of them and they certainly have their fair share of tender moments but their relationship takes time to develop, making it more impactful when they transition from untrusting adversaries to partners who cherish each other. On a side note, I really grew to like Hong Cha-young in this show. She’s sharp, smart and little crazy, complementing Vincenzo’s character very aptly.
While the plot was relatively serious, dealing with dark themes such as corruption and vengeance there was also a good measure of lighter moments in the episodes, creating an effective balance using comedy. Many of the supporting characters tended to be tropey and clichéd but they helped create some truly hilarious situations, adding to the entertainment. These characters also enabled the audience to see Vincenzo’s positive attributes, making him more endearing. One of my favourite supporting characters would have to be the pigeon – Inzhagi. As Vincenzo’s relationship with the pigeon develops, so does our understanding of his character.
An exciting protagonist usually comes hand in hand with an exciting story, and true enough, there wasn’t a dull moment in Vincenzo. However, while there were moments that were completely unexpected, there were also elements of the story that were quite predictable. For example, any veteran of K-dramas would have easily guessed how the subplot revolving around the evil chairman’s younger brother would unfold. We see the bullied brother gather his courage and fight back in his own way and while this was entirely expected, it turned out to be a very rewarding and meaningful development that added to the emotions in the story. Other predictable subplots were also well-executed and did not detract from the overall value of the plot.
Overall, the show was entertaining from start to end, keeping the audience interested with its abundant use of action, suspense and humour, and constantly finishing off with cliff-hangers. The unusual storyline, where evil meets its match, was a breath of fresh air for K-dramas. Vincenzo is undoubtedly the best K-drama I have seen and Vincenzo is easily the most compelling K-drama protagonist I have come across. I may not remember some of the K-dramas I’ve watched but I don’t think I’ll ever forget Vincenzo.
You can find more of my reviews at: ennadune.wordpress.com