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Vincenzo

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What it’s about:

Mafia consigliere Vincenzo returns to his motherland Korea to cash in on an old fortune. He is met with an unforeseen battle against a powerful conglomerate. With help from unpredictable lawyer Hong Cha-young, Vincenzo uses the law, mafia tactics, and an unlikely group of new friends to get justice.

Names you might know:

This Netflix series created by Kim Hee-won and Park Jae-beom, marks the long-awaited television return of former Korean Actor of the Year (2012, 2017) Song Joong-ki (Descendants of the Sun). 2018 Korean Actress of the Year Jeon Yeo-been (After My Death, Night In Paradise), and k-pop idol Ok Taecyeon (2pm).

Why it’s worth your time:

Looking for an action-adventure, mafia epic, kooky comedy, or romantic thriller? Vincenzo checks all the boxes! Although billed as a dark comedy, this Netflix series really is one of a kind. With 20 episodes averaging around 80 minutes each, there’s a lot of story to digest. Yet the production moves things along, and by the end of Vincenzo you’ll feel like you’ve watched an entertaining series filled with style, surprises, and memorable characters.

The main character is Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki). Adopted from Korea as a young boy, he grew up in Italy to eventually become a powerful mafia consigliere. In the first episode, a bloody mafia betrayal prompts Vinzenzo to leave Italy for his motherland, Korea. He quickly tries to cash in on a fortune made of gold hidden in the basement of Geugma Plaza, a rundown shopping mall. There he is met with many obstacles including Babel Group, a pharmaceutical conglomerate keen on demolishing the area for new real estate development.

A tragedy brings him closer to sassy lawyer Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been). The two form a bond battling corruption and injustice with moments of ridiculous comedy, exciting action, and tear-jerking drama. Vincenzo and Hong Cha-young are the core of this series. The actors’ on-screen chemistry is fantastic, inspiring viewers to root for them at every turn. Jeon Yeo-been is known for dramatic work, most recently in the gritty drama Night in Paradise. While her comedic moments as Hong Cha-young may not always land, the actress swings for the fences and her commitment usually pays off.

Viewers come to love the colorful residents of Geumga Plaza as the story progresses. This collection of seemingly average people turns out to be anything but. Although sometimes unrealistic, their characteristics make them important allies to Vincenzo Cassano. This series is wildly different from other K-dramas but some familiar tropes still exist. Luckily, an orphaned child, budding romance, and political corruption add to the story instead of becoming cliches.

Perhaps the most interesting character in Vincenzo is the main villain whose true identity is revealed during episode six. It’s safe to share that he is perhaps the most frightening bad guy in television history. The actor brings to life a true psychopath with electricity that translates through the screen.

Vincenzo is a story about an anti-hero taking on true villains. He makes it clear he’s a bad person, but that doesn’t stop those around him from falling head over heels. By the time the series ended its run (in early May of 2021), viewers did too. Vincenzo’s finale was the sixth highest rated television program in tvN history and the biggest K-drama so far of 2021. The series has consistently trended internationally on Netflix, hitting number 8 in the United States the day after its finale.

The takeaway:

This isn’t an American mafia tale, it’s a Korean one. Suspend your traditional mafia story expectations and enjoy the unconventional ride! Vincenzo gets better as it goes along, with an ending that pays off in dramatic fashion but leaves the door ajar for a second season. What could be better?

Watch it with:

The series has mass appeal going heavy on comedy and drama with moments of action and romance sprinkled in, so share it with your adult friends. Due to scenes of graphic violence, Vincenzo is a risky choice for younger viewers.

Worth noting:

Song Joong-ki cuts a dashing figure in custom Italian suits and performs his action scenes so well that many fans are calling for him to be the next James Bond! The actor learned Italian for the role, even going so far as to pick up the accent of the region his character is supposed to be from. His magnetic yet understated acting left viewers hooked for twenty episodes. For international audiences who may not have been familiar with Song Joong-ki previously, this is a star making role.

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