Netflix’s hit Korean drama ‘Vincenzo’ concludes this weekend, but why is this series one of the best K-dramas on the platform?
When it comes to Korean dramas on Netflix, everyone has their favourite series and a personal criterion for what makes a K-drama great.
From Kingdom’s action and Itaewon Class’ characters to the humour of Was it Love? and love story in Crash Landing on You, every fan has their reasons for loving any particular series.
However, Netflix’s latest hit Korean drama ‘Vincenzo’ is ticking all the boxes for quite a lot of viewers.
With the season finale releasing this weekend, we look at what makes Vincenzo one of the best Korean dramas on Netflix in 2021!
The cast and characters…
When talking about Vincenzo, there is no other place to start then with the cast. In particular, Song Joong-Ki as the title character and Jeon Yeo-Bin as Hong Cha-Young are nothing short of exceptional in Vincenzo.
For Song Joong-Ki, it feels like the character was purposefully written for him; the baby-faced assassin, suave and stylish, ruthless and confident beyond belief.
That opening sequence of Vincenzo in Italy shows the viewer that this guy isn’t to be messed with. One who is able to destroy an entire vineyard (cool guys don’t look at explosions), deal with three hitmen and send a very expensive threat to his step-brother Paulo.
Yet as he and the story move to Korea, we see an entirely new side of the character; one that is naïve about life in his home country and who struggles to adapt to this new environment.
This collision between the characters Mafia background, his grounded new life in Geumga Plaza and Soong Joong-Ki’s personal swagger makes Vincenzo one of the most memorable characters in recent K-drama memory.
Whilst Vincenzo is indeed the title character and the star of the show, Joong-Ki is not the only cast member making this series enjoyable.
From Hong Cha-Young and all the characters at the law firm to Hong Yu-Chan and the variety of personalities at the Plaza, every cast member is pulling their weight.
Yes, there may be some forced-stereotypes and we are only a few episodes in, but most of the characters are memorable, offer something to the story and (importantly) provide an opportunity for entertaining interactions with the main cast.
Forgive me if this is incorrect, but I can’t remember any other series or movie with a similar storyline to Vincenzo.
There are countless consigliere and ‘bad-guy-turned-good-guy’ stories out there, but the manner in which Vincenzo is weaving this plot is truly unique.
It’s a matter of extremes, the juxtaposition of Vincenzo’s brutal world with the mafia in Italy to the downright ridiculous variety of people he now represents in Korea.
However, there are also lots of different plates spinning in Vincenzo’s storyline and lots of perspectives to each decision that the characters make.
One of my personal criticisms of countless recent K-dramas has been that they are often too predictable, where viewers know exactly how the story will progress from one episode to the next.
With Vincenzo, there appears to be an element of unpredictability. We have several stakeholders at the Plaza; the residents, the Babel group, the Jipuragi Law Firm and the Wusang Law Firm, with Vincenzo stuck in the middle of all of them.
Then we also have the threat from the mafia in Italy as well as the International Crime Response Agency who becomes obsessed with Vincenzo’s visit to Korea.
We have watched Vincenzo go from such emotional heights to such devastating depths season. Then with so many threads connecting so many characters, it’s safe to say that Vincenzo could weave a storytelling masterpiece.
This should technically fall under the ‘Cast and characters’ point, but I think it is important to emphasise just how good the villains in Vincenzo are. TaecYeon as Jang Joon-Woo and Kim Yeo-Jin as Choi Myung-Hee are both absolutely brilliant in this series, especially TaecYeon.
Typically in movies, video games or series, the reveal of the big villain is something that is framed as the ‘last battle’, i.e. you only face the final boss after defeating the smaller ones first.
However, the revelation that Jang Joon-Woo was the real chairman of Babel didn’t feel rushed and was cleverly built into the storyline from the opening episodes.
This slow build-up of tension as the main villain was revealed to be a character that (most fans) already adored, is probably the reason why the stakes feel so high in Vincenzo.
These are villains that are brutal and ruthless but are equally enjoyable to watch. The interactions between the Babel-Wusang brass feel important and viewers never know whether a conversation will end in a fight, laughter or threat our protagonists.
At the end of the day, the villains in a series are ranked by how memorable and dangerous they are; with Jang Joon-Woo and Choi Myung-Hee being some of the most brutal ‘bad guys’ on Netflix.
Whilst there are countless reasons why Vincenzo could be one of the best K-dramas on Netflix in 2021, I would like to pay special attention to the music and sound effects.
There are numerous Korean series on Netflix that use music in somewhat of a ‘cheesy’ way, i.e., using an acoustic guitar to emphasise a love story or orchestral climax for a fight scene.
Whilst this can also apply to Vincenzo, this particular series is using music in a more subtle manner; often being played at lower volumes.
The mixture of classical Italian music and modern K-pop works brilliantly to again contrast between Vincenzo’s past life with the Mafia and his new life in Korea.
On the other hand, we have those eccentric sound effects that have recently become quite common in Korean dramas. Whilst they can often distract viewers from a serious topic or scene, Vincenzo uses sound effects to emphasise individual characters and their emotions.
Hong Cha-Young’s wolf howl for example; over-the-top? Yes. Necessary? Maybe. Entertaining? Most-definitely.
Vincenzo has massive potential…
Personally, I believe that Vincenzo has become one of the more memorable and popular K-dramas on Netflix because it ticks so many boxes from a viewer’s perspective.
A great cast, fantastic characters, action scenes, a complex story, humour, a love interest: Vincenzo is delivering on numerous fronts.
We will have to wait and see how the final two episodes plays out, but the stars are aligning for Vincenzo to become a fan-favourite Korean drama in 2021.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]