Review: Black (Korean Drama)

Summary

Black is a detective possessed by the Grim Reaper. Ha-Ram can see shadows of death. These two struggle to save the lives of people, breaking the rules of heaven.

Black stars Song Seung-Heon as the infamous Black (aka Reaper 444) alongside Go Ara as the special female Ha-Ram who can see the reapers. It is directed by Kim Hong-Sun and written by Choi Ran.


Teaser

This isn’t the official, but I love how it made full use of one of its OSTs that I’ve come to love, Take Me Out by South Club. Also, it features a lot of scenes from the first few eps, albeit not in proper order of course.

This… is also not the official, but it sums up everything. Everything (the main driving force) boils down to our heroine just wanting to save and keep people away from their death call. Seriously.

Before I move on, be warned: Spoilers ahead.


Thoughts

Black is a supernatural, thriller drama with randomly placed (and might I say, slightly messy) revelations here and there, but grips you nonetheless with the plot and overarching mystery. To that, kudos still to everyone for being able to think about one central conspiracy, device independent cases that then ties it into one whole picture, and act it out. Unfortunately, however, (and I’m sure the viewers agree with me on this) the ending was a complete fat shit.

Black started out hilarious, a bit creepy, but I daresay strong. Even with the messy reveals, the overall mystery was really good. Though I gotta say I did develop a peeve in this drama for suddenly and obviously cutting off info when the climax gets there just to… well, prolong the climax.

To clarify my point, for example: detectives receive important call, you hear voice-overs, but when the juicy info (and you know it is juicy ’cause the detective’s face says it all), convo suddenly gets muted. OR, say, character A heavily confronts character B but when A’s about to tell WHY s/he confronted, bam, scene gets shifted.

I am pretty aware mystery genre uses those techniques to grip the audience, and let them channel their inner detective skills, and read between the lines to try and solve the case before it gets revealed. HOWEVER, the peeve comes with the placement of those cuts and the scenes that replaces them.

For example (again), you give the audience a confrontation, but then you want to cut it before it can reveal too much; rather than switching to (say) a scene of one character being rattled (from the confrontation perhaps), softening the transition to normal, you immediately deliver them something completely different instead — another character going through his/her usual life for example. Once? You can ignore. Thrice? Nuh-uh. IT GETS YOU ’cause it repeatedly breaks momentum and makes the cover-up too obvious.

I really do love the plot. I love the concept. It was really good. The mystery of scarface, or that spider-tattoo, or that mid-fingerless killer. What happened 20 years ago? How did these different victims connect? Ha-Ram? Soo-Wan? The mystery and suspense will have you on-edge, ultimately compelling you to simply stay put and watch. Despite the technical mishmash mentioned earlier

[PS. Actually, thinking about it again, maybe it was intentional? After all, getting the evidence and solving crime is an utter mess after all so… idk, irdk. Moving onn~]

Moreover, the acting was, I daresay, excellent. Song Seung-Heon, Go Ara, and basically everyone in the cast really did well (and well was even putting it mildly). In my opinion, other than the drama’s good concept, the acting also pulled it up. Idk if it’s just me but I think it’s also because of it that you’re somehow diverted away from whatever flaws the drama might’ve had mid-series. It’s the acting that immerses you into the story. At least, it was for me. I even didn’t mind that our protagonists somehow lacked chemistry (they weren’t awkward but just average at best). The mystery and suspense (and how the actors synched well with their characters) were enough to pitch me in. I don’t think the romance was the central piece of this anyway, so it wasn’t a loss.

What really made it ‘lose’? Lemme tell you. IT. IS. THE. ENDING. It was so poorly planned, poorly made that all those loopholes were let lose.

Spoilers

The revelation with Chairman Kim. How Kim Joon equated to all that. The murder orchestrated by Moo-Gang’s mother. They were really good. But when they had to put in that mayor. Or made Ha-Ram Joon’s shooter… they lost me.

For one, okay, maybe the mayor was necessary. They needed a big fish to make the conspiracy bigger. But maan, how they were revealed was really poorly done that loopholes came out.

First, if it was not just Chairman Kim, what’s the point of all his revelation in that set-up Black orchestrated? The three tapes. Leo giving the tape. The earlier flashbacks of Chairman Kim and his tapes in his office. I mean…. You get me right?

Okay, the conspiracy is big. Okay, the revelations were shocking. But maan, if they couldn’t find a way to reveal it with impact AND with no loopholes in, then I suggest they should’ve stick to what they could handle. It really wasn’t convincing.

Plus, they had to put in unnecessary drama by having Ha-Ram be the shooter. I mean… come on?! Then, turns out they couldn’t handle the extra complication. Black becomes the sacrificial pawn instead. Him getting ‘capital punishment’ should’ve miraculously make things right.

Except it didn’t.

It just leaves more questions than answers. Does that mean Joon’s existence was the root cause of all that prostitution? The Mart case? THE OLD 444 BEING IN HA-RAM’s FATHER’s BODY?! It doesn’t make sense. Moreover, was everything right after a restart? An alternate universe? But how come effin’ Reaper-Leo was there?!

Ugh. Even that part where partner turns out to be Leo was an overstretch. Idk. It just didn’t have me convinced and the ‘whoa’ factor escaped me. Where is that black smoke thingy that fecking shows Leo’s soul was properly collected? Even when the actual Reaper that was suppose to take him is there?! Or are we suppose to just leave it to imagination and convince ourselves that “Yeah, all that was solved and happened somehow.” And if Leo was the soul, what was that scene about being Moo-Gang on the orb instead?! WHAT?!

If I have to rate it, sorry but I really have to go with a 3/5. And that’s me being generous. The start was really good. The build up was really good. The conspiracy is there. The suspense is there. The concept… everything was there. The mystery will really have your gears turning, and it was such a rewarding feeling with the Oh Man Ho and Chairman Kim’s case. So your expectation increases then… flop! Everything backfires and it became a big disappointment instead.

Ugh.

Going into the mystery-verse is a very challenging thing. ’cause you have to think of a conspiracy, and then device situations and perfectly timed reveals to slowly… well, reveal that conspiracy. And by the end of it, wrap it up neatly by leaving no lose ends.

Black obviously fall short with that wrapping up. They should’ve stick to the guns they could carry.


Disclaimer: Summary taken from Asianwiki. Video and images are not mine.

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