2011/12/03 | 1911 views | | Permalink
Some things to know about my review:
- My reviews are subjective and my opinions based on my own general likes and dislikes, unclouded by obsessions.
- They usually don't have major or ending spoilers, but if they do, they will come with a warning.
- If I like a movie enough to write about it, I write a lot about it. My reviews are huge.
- I don't take myself too seriously so my reviews reflect that. It's light reading. A lot of it, but light.
As I mention on my blog version about this, "God's Quiz" is a crime series which spanned two seasons and aired on the cable channel OCN. The one airing "Vampire Prosecutor" at the time this is written.
The series is about a man called Han Jin Woo (played by Ryoo Deok-hwan), who is an all around awesome medical examiner sent to work with a team of his peers to solve crimes or deaths. His supervisor and partner in cri- I mean solving crime is talented and professional detective Kyung Hee (played by Yoon Joo-hee who can recently be seen in "Ojak Brothers"). Each episode consists of a different plot and crime, while there is still a main plot to this.
In my blog version and the first episode review of this, I do a small comparison between this and western series of this genre, as it is more rare to get such series from Korea. That said, this is using some elements that worked well in such series and gives its own character and twist to them. More about that on the links I gave.
I already mentioned a main plot to this series and it consists of mysterious messages Jin Woo keeps getting and also, his sudden headaches and seizures, which he seems to be hiding from others and keeps the viewers in the dark about them too. The origin as well as nature of them is the main mystery of Season 1.
We also have some romance (oh come on, you knew it was coming) between Jin Woo and Kyung Hee, but it's not sappy and angsty. It's cute and fun to watch. A cute might-be-couple who also rocks in solving crimes.
The Stories and Characters
We have all sorts of plots here, from really peculiar and colorful ones to more "everyday" crimes. We have an idol singer/dancer who keels over during her practice, someone who seems to love his knife a bit too much, a kidnapping case with a might-be-victim-unless-they-hurry-the-hell-up and more. So, it's not always focused on the body. Sometimes we have a body and focus on that. Sometimes we have a clear crime and look for the suspect, with the aid of the body. In the kidnapping case, we don't even have a body.
We also have flashbacks and the victims often have an actual part in the story, other than being a stiff on a table. They don't focus only on those left behind, but also on the person that died and what their life and death was like. Not always, but in some of these cases.
I am not sure how this system works in South Korea, but I get the feeling that this is not just a coroner's office. Meaning, one of the characters seems to be an overall computer genius, another is good with analyzing substances and we have the main coroner lady as well. They seem to be multitalented and combine forensic and medical skills.
As far as the cast goes, it is an ensemble one and although we don't get that much insight into the lives of the characters, they do have their personalities and usefulness. There's Mr. Geek #2 (played by Nah Yoon), who is always there to do cute and kind of childish things with Jin Woo, the Master Geek. These are easygoing folk. And we have the more mature professional characters as well, but they are not annoying or too uptight.
Aaah, the cast. Well, if fangirls did not walk away from this because it's longer than 5 sentences or at the very sight of a poster without bright colors and hot men in suits, they will now. Because there is not a tall strapping man in sight. Well, some of the guests cast are good-looking, but hardly enough for people who shun anyone not "perfect".
Ryoo Deok-hwan is a cutie and a charming man (personal opinion here), but he's not over 180cm tall and with the body of a Greek god. You know what he is though? A damn fine actor. You might know him from movies such as "Like A Virgin"",Private Eye" and the recent "Head" as well as the upcoming "The Peach Tree". I personally first saw him in "Our Town" and he was creepy and completely deranged and wonderful. He makes Jin Woo very funny and quite an energetic guy and also nails the more serious scenes. He also looks awesome when he's physically hurting and I have a weakness for guys who "suffer" so realistically. He rocks. Because he's Ryoo Deok-hwan. And if you've seen his works, this is all you really need to say about his skills. He's Ryoo Deok-hwan.
Yoon Joo-hee is also very nice. She acts like a detective without acting too butch. She's still a woman and contrary to what most rom-com female leads do, she does not yell and act like a man (or rather a thug) to seem tough. She also has hair, make-up and clothes like a female cop instead of looking like she left the salon before and after every outing. Hardly any heels in sight too, but I suppose that is because Ryoo Deok-hwan would disappear from the shot when standing next to her. She's already half+ a head taller than him with flat shoes. She is an ok actress for the part, likable and absolutely adorable when her more feminine/romantic traits come into play. She's cute, not cutesy.
The rest of the cast are solid actors, good for the characters they portray. We have a nerdy comic relief of a man who compliments Jin Woo very well and is generally quite an innocent and simple guy. Nah Yoon is a bit too slapstick at parts, but he's good. And we do have our very feminine and perfect looking woman, Go Yoon Jeong (played by Park Da-an), but she has a brain and acts like a professional, not a bimbo. I liked this actress a lot too and was sad to see she did not return for Season 2. The coroner lady of the place (played by Park Joon-myeon) is the Cerberus of the place and she's very nice, but will kick your butt if you don't behave. She's loud sometimes and she means business. And then we have "that guy". You know, one of them you see everywhere as it seems they have a shortage on middle-aged male actors for these things. Say hello (again) to Choi Jeong-woo.
The guest cast is also very talented. There are a few misses among the hits, but we have some nice known guest stars and also some less popular but good ones. However, most of the "this is an important role" guests are very good. And they need to be, in this kind of a series.
What You See
You see a very visually pleasing show. The CG is good. No cheap stuff. The directing is lovely and there are some sequences that are just fantastic. The series has a dark tone, toned down colors and lots of cold filters. When a disease name is thrown, you get a "subtitle" that explains the disease, since it would feel very funny to have a bunch of professionals throwing definitions at each other just for our sake. But they seem to explain the important facts about it so that you don't miss out if you don't bother to read the text. Some of the flashbacks/how it happened scenes place Jin Woo in the action when he is thinking about how things went down. Quite an original approach and it works. Emphasizes how his brain works, what he feels about the events and helps the viewer to see things as he does as well.
The only turn off was that they blur the knives, which I'm guessing has to do with broadcast regulations in South Korea. It breaks immersion something fierce and if a show is running at midnight, you wouldn't think they'd need to hide a blade (even if they show blood, violence, violent and painful deaths). But apparently, they do. Well, South Korean television has many issues of outdated and irrational regulations, but hopefully, they'll proceed to the 21st century eventually and let people do their work. Other than that (and the occasional misspelled terms in foreign languages), I really can't fault this. It's good stuff.
What You Hear
The sound is good, although there are occasionally some issues of scenes being louder than others. Still, it's barely noticeable and doesn't cause any problems for me.
The music is nothing short of amazing and as you can read here, I've gone through some pretty masochistic procedures to find those songs. The official soundtrack parts are nice and some insert songs are wonderful too. The actual score works well. Sound department gets a big thumbs up from me in general.
Some Things to Wrap Up
God's Quiz looks like a good quality crime/medical series. It looks polished and seems to have a nice budget, it's very cinematic, has cute moments, has sad and moving moments, it has characters you can warm up to and stories that pull you in. Do keep in mind, this has not been subbed yet and I do not understand too much korean. So, I am missing out on a lot of things here. But I still get the gist of things and can still judge the show based on everything I do get. This has a good cast, good production value and is a great piece of work for the type of series it is. Hey, we even have some romance there! Can't really complain. I love it.
Who Will Like It
Anyone who appreciates these types of shows and a good piece of work. Lots of death, betrayal, power of greed and money. A lot of emotions, but not melo-silly. Good action, when it's there, witty humor and adorableness, some tears (if you're as sensitive as me), lots of lovely suspense. If you only care about romance, pretty dresses and designer homes/studios, you'll find this too dark and non fake.
5 out of 5: I got what I expected from it. It's entertaining, it makes me laugh, cry, keeps me at the edge of my seat and generally makes me feel happy about spending 45 minutes per episode with these stories and characters. Even without the subs. Nothing is perfect and all, but then nothing would ever get a 5, so what's the point in having a top rating then? This is a very good series, in a genre that seems to be overshadowed in South Korea, by the things masses go for. Rom-coms, melo and sageuk. And it's a shame it's not getting the attention it deserves. Something which is hopefully slowly changing with "Vampire Prosecutor" and "Special Affairs Team TEN" both airing in one year and getting good attention.
On the Fanboy Scale: 4 out of 5. Blood, violence, crime, some action, people with brains that use them. And also?
Yeah... I think you're gonna like this.
On the Fangirl Scale: 1 out of 5. Unless you dig one of the guests or find Ryoo Deok-hwan cute, you're not going to like this. HOWEVER, there is lots of cuteness from him and the cop lady (I should really stop calling her that). There are moments that make me go all girly like a lemon makes me twist and shrink my mouth. It's an extreme reaction. If you have a brain in that noggin' and don't demand a series is non-stop "cuteness", you will appreciate the cuteness in this. This is for sane people who happen to be fangirls. Not fangirl material.
"User Review - God's Quiz Season One"
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