Park Jeong Woo is a prosecutor at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. One day, he wakes up and finds himself a convict on death row. Suffering from temporary amnesia, Jeong Woo has no idea what transpired to land him in prison. He struggles to recover his memory and clear his name before his time is up.
Cast & Credits
Without being particularly original or unique, defendant feels completely one of a kind. Part a legal-crime thriller part melodrama, Defendant is solely a two-man show. On the one hand, it centers on a prosecutor –the hero- who finds himself in prison, is accused of murdering his wife and child and dealing with memory lose on top of everything else. On the other hand, it focuses on a wicked man –the villain- who tries desperately to get away with his crimes. The drama develops partly as a mystery and later as an endless manhunt between the two as the one tries to destroy the other.
First half of the drama takes places in prison. I sincerely appreciated the fact that the drama did not spend time with court and other boring legal procedures but rather looked everything from a different personal-dramatic view of the hero delving deep into his troubled thoughts regarding his indictment. The memory loss plot is just a device to drive the story nothing more, so don’t worry about things dragging out a lot. The amnesia plot was handled in a very refreshing way in my opinion.
Second half of the drama is way more engaging, more dramatic, more lively filled with tension, angst and twists. The acting is luscious and you will never get bored of seeing the turning tables and schemes between the 2 lead characters. The drama is melodramatic without being mawkish, but there are also comic scenes and characters to relieve the tension and they succeeded without ridiculing it. There are quite a few characters implicated in all this making the drama that much more thrilling and mysterious.
While the drama really left a very strong impression that could translate into a perfect 10, specific reasons restrict me from it. Firstly the conveniently written base story. Frankly, there is no drama that is not at least partly convenient, that is how they work, and then the drama is just so good you’ll barely mind the convenience here and there.
Moreover, the main drawback I could address is the slow development of the plot especially in the first half of the drama. I remember me thinking that the drama offered its first real plot development, since the first 2 episodes, in episodes 7 and 8. After that the story really picks up pace. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed every episode. Even in episodes in which nothing much happened, the drama managed to be fascinating, bewitching and easy to watch.
Finally, although more of a nagging stretch from my part, i felt that the drama somehow mistreated its flawless ensemble cast by focusing too much on the 2 leads. It's not that the characters felt unreal, it is exactly that they were so well written that they deserved some kind of story of their own, namely Kwon Yuri's character. All that being said this focus on the main leads just gave Ji Sung more time to be flawless on my screen i shouldn't nag! I hereby reassure you none of these minor shortcomings were enough to reduce, even by little, the awesomeness of this drama!
Despite the great and thrilling plot, best part of the drama for me was the acting. The cast is actually quite large, with almost every character having a significant role to play. I cannot argue that the acting was an overall 10, but as I mentioned already this is a two-man show and these 2 men simply outdid themselves!
I can safely say we all agree that Kill Me Heal Me was Ji Sung’s best work; he demonstrated perfectly his unrealistically good acting skills. Ladies and Gents, I present you, the drama in which Ji Sung managed to outdo himself(!). His acting as a tainted inmate fighting with himself over his charges trying to solve the puzzle was magnificent and astounding. I doubt there is another male actor who can break down crying, act like a lunatic like that and come off as firm but also desperate and emotional as Ji Sung did. He sent chills down my spine, goosebumps. Either acting as a disoriented inmate or a strong and driven prosecutor or an aching father and husband he was immaculate. He knows exactly how much soul and emotion to pour into his performance in every scene. Excquisite! I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again best actor in dramaland.
The duo is formed with Uhm Ki Joon. I’ve seen him before but never like this. He portrays the antagonist but somehow he had such great syngery with Ji Sung, something I’ve never seen before. His portrayal of twin siblings was firstly impeccable; secondly his performance of a despicable criminal was spotless and shivering. A corrupted unstable person who still felt human and somehow mistreated and misunderstood. Undoubtedly, i never saw me having these feelings about such a villain. Heavenly acting by Uhm Ki Joon! A character you’ll love to hate. The two men managed to really make the drama shine 10x brighter than it would have on its own and they complemented each other completely.
The ensemble cast had a few really good actors. Yuri generally gets a lot of shit for her acting, she is considered the female lead, but considering the significance of her character she barely appeared. She served a purpose, and imo she held her own next to acting beasts despite being rather forgettable. I especially liked Uhm Hyeon Kyeong, not a big role, but also a significant and poetic one.
Oh Chang Seok and Kang Sung Min played similar characters that developed in the exactly opposite way, amazing writing here, they were great. All the cellmates were immaculate and adorable too, the drama generally featured some of the best and more likeable side characters I’ve ever seen.
Lastly, my personal favourites, Kim Min Suk who was sentimental and touching, loved him and my endless love and appreciation for Shin Rin Ah, the ridiculously talented young girl who never cease to amaze.
Even if the acting wasn’t perfect overall, it deserves a 10 for the perfect casting and synergy.
Despite your preferred drama genre, defendant is a drama that cannot be easily put to words, it should be watched. Therefore, I recommend it to everyone. It is emotional, exciting, thrilling, mysterious and intriguing. It does not have romance but believe me you won’t even care! I can see myself rewatching it in the future.
Story: It's about a man who is sentenced to death for killing his wife and daughter and his desperate attempt to prove himself innocent. When your life takes an turn from a revered prosecutor with a loving family to a death row inmate who murdered his family - you know something big is in store.
Cast/Characters: Ji Sung as Park Jeong Woo - I can't praise his role and acting in this drama enough. He really outdid himself in this and I'm so very proud of him, I can't imagine any other actor in this role - it was simply perfect for him! In my eyes this was his greatest work yet and it showcased his best acting abilities yet! I loved his character and his determination to prove himself innocent. You could see every single emotion flash across his face. Brilliant acting.
Uhm Ki Joon as Cha Min Ho - you can't really get a better actor to play the villain role in a drama, I've seen him play many villain roles and this one is my favorite. A great actor for sure! He and Ji Sung were perfect acting partners - and they had great acting chemistry (heck, the entire cast had great chemistry). I love villains who are pure villain - they make you love to hate them. (if that sounds right - a pure villain with no heart one can only loathe but a villain who does have some heart - makes you hate them but in a way care more about their character - even though you can't wait to see them pay for their crimes). I would love to see these two in another drama together again.
Shin Rin Ah as Ha Yeon (Jeong Woo's daughter) this child is brilliant in her acting - she will make you cry, she's so good. She's a natural.
Kim Min Suk as Seong Kyu one of my favorite supporting characters in this drama, I loved the time we had with him in this.
Jo Jae Yun as Cheol Shik - the best side-kick one could ever wish for! I love this actor in every drama I see him in (however I do much prefer him to be our good guy so I can adore him fully!) He always makes me laugh in the dramas he's in - he's like your comedy relief from all the suspense lol and his bromance with Ji Sung in this is so nice! I sometimes wish he was in every drama I watched lol
All of Jeong Woo's cell mates deserve to be mentioned: Moong Chi (Oh Dae Hwan), Rockfish (Jo Jae Ryong), Bundle (Woo Hyun), & Bang Jang (Yun Yeong Hyun). Attorney Seo Eun Hye was wonderful in her role, as was Seok (Min Ho's henchman) in his role. So many actors and they are all so good! More mentions: Tae Soo (Kang Sung Min), Jun Hyuk (Oh Chang Seok), Prosecutor Go Dong Yoon (Lee Shin Sung), & Prosecutor Choi Tae Hong (Park Ho San) I really liked him - such a good mentor and head prosecutor ^^
Music: "I Love You Baby" will have a whole new meaning to you after watching this drama and you'll always be reminded of Cheol Shik whenever you hear this song ^_^ I love how they incorporated this classic hit song into this drama ^^
Re-watch value: 10/10 - You know I'll re-watch this one and right away too! I can't get enough of it, so I have to see it all over again from start to finish - not missing a single second (there will be Zero skip-watching folks). ;)
I HIGHLY recommend this to EVERYONE! It's the best drama of the year so far! Heck, it's the best drama I've seen in a long time - sure others have been good or even really great to excellent but none of them top this one in terms of enjoyment and brilliant story writing and acting! This is a true GEM - a Masterpiece if I ever saw one!