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Song Joong-ki in Vincenzo.
Song Joong-ki in Vincenzo.
Photo: Netflix








During a visit to his motherland, a Korean-Italian mafia lawyer gives an unrivaled conglomerate a taste of their own medicine with a side of justice.


Is it too soon for me to say that Vincenzo is my favourite drama of the year? I enjoyed this series so much that it took me nearly two weeks to move on to a new one.

See, Vincenzo isn't just one thing; it completely breaks the K-Drama mould as it incorporates a mixture of genres: legal thriller, mafia, comedy, revenge, action, an underdog story and romance. I know what you're thinking; all these elements sound like a lot; how do they work together? Well, by not sticking to just one genre, the drama subverts tropes, and it's a glorious, zany, at-the-edge-of-your seat watch.

The story centres on Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-Ki), a Korean-Italian mafia lawyer who returns to Korea after an attempt on his life in Italy. His mission in Seoul is to retrieve some gold secretly stashed in the basement of Geumga Plaza, which in turn has been illegally sold to a conglomerate Babel Group. While there, he gets involved with a lawyer, Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been) and the tenants of Geumga Plaza as they take on the big corporate giant.

When it comes to the story's plot, the writers deserve a gold star. Each twist was fresh and well-executed. While the pacing was a bit of a drag initially, it goes full steam ahead when it picks up. I particularly liked the delivery of the twists and then a kind of 'explanation scene'. The show had impeccable comedic timing, which balances out the heavier themes well. The big bad here is corporate, and government corruption; a quote by Cha-young stuck with me: "It's okay to be corrupt when you're competent."

At its core, it's a David versus Goliath story, and nothing is more satisfying than seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance, and Vincenzo delivers on this throughout the series. For me, its strength lies in the fact that Vincenzo doesn't see himself as a hero or a good guy; he sees himself as a villain and at one point even says: "Only a villain can take on another villain." I usually get irritated by the good guys always getting beat by the bad guys, so this was nice to watch; they were always one step ahead of the big bad.

When it comes to the acting Song Joong-Ki is the perfect lead for the ensemble cast. Where he shines the most is the scenes when he is in full mafia mode - the set of his jaw, the vacant look in his eyes as he meets out justice is truly something to behold. He shows off his duality when he wrestles with his actions and builds a relationship with Cha-young and the tenants of Geumga Plaza.

Jeon Yeo-been has become my favourite actor with this role. The role of Cha-young has got to be one of the most progressive women leads that I have seen since I started watching K-Dramas. She is Vincenzo's partner in every sense of the word; she is intelligent, quick-witted and not afraid to get her hands dirty. In terms of character growth, Cha-young has the most significant arc from amoral lawyer to fighter for justice. For her first major leading role, Yeo-been held her own against seasoned actor Joong-Ki.

As for the villains, Ok Taec-yeon gives a memorable performance as the unhinged Jang Han-seok. The nuance that he brought to delving into Han-Seok's psychotic psyche was thrilling to watch. Another must mention is Kim Yeo-jin, who plays the equally villainous Choi Myung-Hee, a cold, ruthless prosecutor turned lawyer who easily uses murder to eliminate anyone who gets in her way.

When it comes to the supporting cast, I can only sum it up with another quote by Cha-young: "Why is everyone here so talented?" If this was a group project, the characters from Geumga Plaza would get an A+. I particularly liked that each character got a moment to shine.

Vincenzo ticks all the right boxes: great acting, a well-developed storyline with plot twists that will keep you guessing. It's a wild ride, and if you like your viewing with a mix of everything, I can't recommend this drama enough.


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