When the teasers for "Masked Prosecutor" first came out, they raised quite a few eyebrows. There is really no way for a man in a Mexican wrestling mask to be seen as part of any kind of normalcy, even for the often unrealistic standards of Korean drama. The show teased with cool action and a little comedy, as well as hope for something fun and new. Unfortunately, it does not capitalize on its strengths or deliver on its created expectations.
A few short humorous and lighter scenes aside, the first four episodes reveal a darker series than what one would expect from its promotion and the comedic element of a sparkly mask. This is essentially a revenge story with stereotypical heroes and villains and sadly not even a good one. There are some fresh elements about these characters, but their function and trajectory seem to be the same all such stories feature. This might be good for those who like the genre, but it also makes the drama's unique elements unnecessary.
First things first, the cast really accounts for a large part of what is keeping this series from being tedious and hard to connect with. The characters themselves have their good and bad sides as well as their interesting points, but a lot of what they manage to do in terms of sympathy comes from the performances. Joo Sang-wook covers his character's darker side and innocent nature well and Kim Sun-ah is in control and charismatic as always. The same goes for everyone else here.
Since the story is mainly about punishing villains, things like romance would need to be well integrated so as to not be given more gravity than clearly more dire matters. So far, "Masked Prosecutor" keeps its romance where it should be. It is advancing and it is light, but it does not overshadow the more important parts. This also makes it more enjoyable, as it helps pace the show and also develop the characters. The series has potential as a crime and revenge one, even if it will not be the comedic, light action show it originally looked like.
If it hopes to be exciting though, it needs to pick a side and do it better. At the moment, the comedy is not really central enough for it to be a considerable selling point and at the same time the darker parts have been badly set up by lacking backstory and poor execution. The crime proceedings are not only convoluted and hard to follow, they are also tiring to watch, because the desire to see them solved has not been planted well enough into the story for them to really matter.
Perhaps this is a cultural issue, but when the hero originally decides to embark upon his vengeful journey not due to his own pain, but that of a long lost relative and stranger, there is a lack of urgency. The villains and their evil deeds feel too detached from him, even after he gains a more personal reason to plan their downfall. It is as if the really important events happened away from him and the audience, which makes caring about them difficult. Good revenge stories create a need for catharsis through the character seeking revenge, not through secondary ones.
"Masked Prosecutor" still has time to make its villains and the hero's chase for them more appealing, but as the basis for any revenge story is important, a lot will depend on character development and drama. Those need to be done well enough for the weak introduction to gain more momentum and make the conflicts engaging. For now, the two main characters and curiosity over their fate are what drives this.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Masked Prosecutor""
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