When an investigation goes pear-shaped, private eye Yoon San (Lee Joon)’s body starts going through puzzling changes. From case to case, he and his friend Goo-Hyun (Oh Jung-Se) unveil the secret of the betrayal that almost killed Yoon San three years ago, and discover his true nature: Yoon San has become a vampire.
I confess after the whole Twilight shebang, I think vampires are overused and overdone, so I had no intentions whatsoever of watching this show, but that was before I found the video below. It made me a little hopeful, enough that I decided to give its chance to Vampire Detective.
Ten minutes into the first episode, I could hardly tear my eyes away from the screen. Vampire Detective is fun, captivating, and interesting. I followed the show with religious fervor, waiting every week for the new episode (the despair when I found out it was only one episode a week!). It never disappointed, dropping clues here and there and with every case Yoon San, Goo Hyun and Gyeo Wool investigate.
Bromance of the Century
Yoon San is an interesting character, played by former MBLAQ singer Lee Joon (IRIS 2, Heard It Through the Grapevine), a young actor I’d never before come across but who needs to be cast more. He’s convincing, poignant, and never overdoes it (maybe a little in the pilot, but it’s the pilot, it doesn’t count) as a young man so completely shattered by his past that he fears nothing and no one and welcomes death with open arms. He’s also extremely smart, with sharp observation skills, and his bromance with his partner and friend Goo Hyun will make you smile more than once.
Speaking of Goo Hyun, the man is an unreedemable skirt-chaser and carries most of the show’s comic relief on his shoulders. This charming character’s obvious affection and unwavering loyalty towards Yoon San are truly moving, and actor Oh Jung-Se (Beautiful Mind, Entertainer) does a truly spectacular job in his role.
A Spunky Heroine
Last but not least, Gyeo Wool, played by Lee Se-Young, completes the trinity with an interesting and out-of-the-norm character. Rude, violent and ill-mannered, Gyeo Wool’s abrasive personality, instead of making her antipathic, makes her original and easy to care about. Her life hasn’t been sunshine and daisies, but she’s always stood back up, stronger and determined to keep going. Gyeo Wool doesn’t need anyone, least of all a man, and makes it known: I found her total lack of interest for a potential romance refreshing.
Well, she could have been developed a little more in the plot, but I’ll let it go this once, seeing as the show was only allotted twelve episodes, and showed a very clear tendency towards dropping clues in a very stingy fashion instead of going for the big reveals.
Who’s the Monster?
This subtlety constitues another one of Vampire Detective‘s strengths: where any other vampire show would have focused on fangs and blood and powers, this one would rather deal with its characters’ humanity, their platonic relationships, and their investigations. Another plus is the noticeable lack of an immediate jump to the V word when Yoon San’s body starts to change. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever articulated. Which, if you think about it, is completely logical. Who would jump to that kind of conclusion?
Of course, we can’t forget Lee Chung-Ah as mysterious Yo Na, so twisted she’s absolutely fascinating.
All in All…
Finally, the black and white scenes, artfully interspersed along the episodes and with a beautiful, piano and organ-based music in the background, add to a dark, suitably supernatural atmosphere, and make what could have been an average, boring vampire show into an interesting and original one. Of course, there are a few problems with it, namely a few questions left unanswered and a somewhat slow pacing at times, but Vampire Detective is a good surprise.
Title: Vampire Detective
Country: South Korea
Starring: Lee Joon, Oh Jung-Se, Lee Se-Young
Aired: 03/27/2016 au 06/12/2016
Number of Episodes: 12
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural, Action.
My grade: ★★★★★