A lot of people like a good revenge plot. Others like tales about justice and the heroes who deliver it. Seeing good win against bad is a basic feature of most stories and easy to make exciting as a concept. A series like "Masked Prosecutor" also belongs in a medium which is good with revenge stories, that being Korean drama. Unfortunately, the show manages to waste its opportunity with bad execution and unexplored intriguing topics.
Ha Dae-cheol (Joo Sang-wook) appears like a self-serving prosecutor who just wants to get big. In fact, Dae-cheol's true motivation is gaining power to punish the wicked. By night, he wears a mask and hunts those the law will not. Yoo Min-hee (Kim Sun-ah) is a detective who has a long-standing friendship with Dae-cheol, but clashes with his seemingly selfish character. When both get entangled in a case they are also personally involved with, they meet as cop and vigilante.
It is difficult to call these positive traits, given they are never really developed and used properly, but the drama does have some basic morals and ideals it hopes to convey. There is social commentary for the topics of law and crime, but also about more personal issues. Things like whether blood bonds are what matters most, whether forgiveness should be granted for certain crimes and more are given some time and at least a half-hearted attempt at exploration. The series does not go deep, but some of its concepts are ethically and intellectually interesting.
While the drama suffers from some badly used cliches and messy interpersonal relationships, it also manages to avoid some tropes which most works would use to keep viewer interest going and inject life into their plot. Especially given how poor the execution of this show's plot is, it could have easily gone for certain ideas, which it thankfully did not. There are some surprisingly fresh approaches to some topics, such as friendship, family and the ever-dreaded use of the second female lead, where many series mess up.
One big problem in terms of emotional investment with the show is its approach to the situations of the present. A lot of things have happened between the pivotal characters, but most of them stem from the past. A past we never get to see. Both leads set out to find justice for events which did not involve them directly, for the sake of people viewers barely get to meet and care about. Although the ripples of these events reach affect the characters still, the viewers are never shown the gravity of that impact in a significant way. This means that the series tries to make one care about things and people it never bothers to develop properly.
Subplots and characters are left unexplored, but many illogical things happen in the more practical side of the plot as well. One example is how the supposedly smart heroes can never predict the most obvious moves by the villains. This is intentional dumbing down of characters in order to keep the villains uncaught until the right moment. It is repetitive and tiring. The crime procedures are hard to follow and tedious to watch, due to the lack of a strong emotional basis and exciting conflicts.
"Masked Prosecutor" is a show with good ideas that never flourish. There are some unique characters and arcs, which could offer substantial and good drama. The mask element of the series could have been fun too, as well as the more comedic bits of it. The cast does a good job and the drama does have its moments. Unfortunately, the writing and execution do not treat its strengths with care.
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 Review] "Masked Prosecutor""
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