I'm very picky with my ratings and I rarely give a drama ten points. But because I'm unconditionally in love with this story (even though there might be one or two flaws. I know that many people didn't like the ending which I myself was satisfied with, even though it might just have had a too vaguely drawn explanation), it would be a shame to not give Black the highest score. It's entertaining and addictive as that and it will take some time until I can let go.
It often happens that when you start a drama, it begins with a strong introduction, makes you curious enough to continue watching and then loses all its strengths halfway through while leaving you with the most frustrating feeling ever. Well, Black is no exception when it comes to thrilling starts (and by all means pay attention and don't forget about this one), but it parts from the heaps of unsatisfying story proceedings as it constantly holds its high level of suspense.
To give a summary other than the one above would be risky as it might contain possible unintended spoilers or hints to the plot. And no one wants that, I don't want that - and I don't want you guys to throw me into the fiery pit. Seriously, I'm not that kind of party pooper.
So, what exactly is the magic potion of Black that drives everyone crazy?
The story progress
Let me praise the bigger picture that is definitely existent, even though you can't see it right away. It's hidden quite well, and pieces of the puzzle only appear one at a time which is helping the plot to constantly grow stronger. Receiving clues, getting confused over them, creating the wildest theories until your head is spinning, was so much fun that I can hardly contain my excitement whenever I talk about it. The neat and flawless weaving of secrets and the repeated drop of shocking bombs after almost every episode were some of the main forces why the drama worked so well. Whenever you think you've figured it out, BAM!, twists and turns shatter your carefully formed construct of thoughts. Those new revelations are not just added at the writer's whim but well thought-out right since the beginning. There are hints that are quite obvious from the start while other ones stay hidden until the story wants them to be revealed. Be sure to keep your eyes open while watching this show, or you might miss one or two important things and won't be able to follow the story anymore.
Mixing genres is quite popular these days and Black doesn't stay out of it either. The difference between Black and other dramas though: This one does a stunning job at smoothly merging them. Black is a pretty dark drama, although it might not seem that way at first. It might even look chaotic and/or messy. I don't know about others, but I enjoyed every single scene bar none. The shift from dark to funny was always sleek, making me forget the length of the episode and leaving me startled when it was suddenly over again. The further the story proceeds, the darker the plot grows while thickening the mystery. At this point I do have to warn you though. If you have a sensitive stomach and can't cope well with harsh violence, be careful. Even though certain scenes were not always shown in full scope, sounds and imagination were enough to make me feel the cruelty of the scene. Other ones were clearly visible and thus added to the brutal reality. I do think that the given age limit might be a little light on this one.
The leading stars
First and foremost, Black himself. Grim reaper number 444, the most cold-hearted one among them all. It doesn't matter whether you already know Song Seung Heon from previous dramas or movies, because you can be sure that when you watch him here, it will feel like you're meeting him for the first time all over again. The whole concept of his role is simply dashing. Although I don't want to exaggerate, it's hard to keep it to myself, and I do want to brag about it, about all his captivating treats. The color "black" never suited someone better, his looks are literally breathtaking, his whole demeanor is seductive in every possible way.
May it be the stone-cold grim reaper who doesn't like humans or the inexperienced "newbie" without common sense and blunt responses, finding himself slowly getting attached to the world he doesn't want to be part of, and unwillingly trying to solve the big mystery he gets thrown into.
There is this thing he's doing with his eyes... I don't even know if he is doing something with them, but they are as dark as the deep blue sea and… one fillip and you’ve lost. His whole acting is spellbinding. If there's a list with actors who own their roles, he would be somewhere at the top. Song Seung Heon breathed life into Black, simply put he WAS Black. He and no one else. Pure perfection, as one might say. Compared to the rest of the cast, his role might not be the only one with a big character development ahead, but he was definitely the one that delivered spot on, week by week by week.
I’m rattling on about him, I know… mian!
Go Ah Ra, who is playing the girl that is afraid of people because she can foresee near death, is a rather difficult part to approach (maybe even the only thing I can't brag about). I don’t fancy her but I don't hate her either. And I have to admit that it must be quite challenging and difficult to go on stage alongside Song Seung Heon, especially if he's doing such a phenomenal job. Her impersonation of Kang Ha Ram was... how shall I put it... average and sometimes monotone. Go Ah Ra's facial expressions are quite limited which makes it hard to forget all the prejudice she is receiving. She is just not as good as others, no matter how you look at it. Her acting didn't reach me the same way the rest of the cast did, and it is poles apart from Song Seung Heon’s. However, she was not a complete failure either. She was okay, her scenes were okay. Her acting was good enough to not get frustrated or disappointed over it. She did have chemistry with her co-star. Even though it was not overwhelming, it conveyed the necessary atmosphere to keep the tension on.
The supporting cast
There are so many people that have to be mentioned that it's hard to keep it short. First of all the second male lead and love interest of our heroine. Although Oh Man Soo was never my favorite person in the drama because he was naive and just too good-natured, Kim Dong Jun did a pretty fine job portraying the rich kid that wants to get a chance and be recognized for his work. I did not always like his actions, nor did I like his innocent look at the world. The inevitable twist though that is forcing him to mature and almost impossible for him to comprehend, is something I wouldn't wish for anybody, no matter how much I dislike them. So, he did get my sympathies when the time came.
Song Seung Heon's love interest Yoon Soo Wan (portrayed by Lee El - who we all know from Goblin) is a pretty foggy character and the drama is only slowly revealing her secrets. I found her character extremely interesting and reasonable. Her love for the male lead was real, and whilst her secrets were unknown, her intentions were always transparent for me.
Black's fellow grim reapers, 007 and 416 look like they only exist for pure entertainment or informative purposes. But the more they got introduced to me, the clearer it became that there was more to them than the unaided eye could see. But oh well, what am I talking about... One of them is played by Jo Jae Yun, so of course I can't do anything else but fancy over him. No matter what he's doing, he is one of the most versatile actors I've seen and it's no surprise that he is owning the role of an ancient grim reaper as well - even though he's relatively reserved in this.
So many crime dramas, so many police squads, so many failures. And again, Black is shining with a unique team that seems to be the loser squad at first but learns to use opportunities and circumstances to rise from the shadows. The team dynamics are just right and a pleasure to watch. After Black himself, they are the comedy perpetrators per se and they are great at it. Each member has a unique and sweet nature what makes them grow on you in no time. Special credits to Kim Won Hae as well. I've already seen him in other dramas but his role in Black is by far my most favorite one.
Kim Jae Young plays the Hallyu star Leo who is after Black the second eye candy of the show (at least for me - I know there will be some people who disagree with me :P). His character doesn't seem to get more depth as the story progresses and you might think he's only there for the looks. Well, as far as I can tell without revealing too much, he does have another purpose as well. I always liked his character, despite the image he had to portray in this. The fact that they didn't disclose so much about him, made me even more curious about his story.
If you look closely, you can see that every single character has a reason to be in this drama. Everyone is connected in some mysterious way. To follow the leads and to try and find out about those threads is one thing that makes the concept of the plot so promising. Another one is the character development that everyone in this drama will go through. Closely followed by visually stunning cinematography and well used supportive background music.
The story is as shocking as it is heartbreaking. Black comes along with so many convincing treats that it will be hard to keep away from it. It's entertaining and funny and mysterious and dark and dramatic and definitely catching you off-guard. You won't be able to leave your couch once you hit the play button. And please, be careful of your nails and your hair.
On that note: Happy watching!
(I wrote too much, mian~)
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I gave this show an 8 because it did not fail to entertain me and keep me hanging on to watch the mysteries unravel. I just can't bring myself to lower the score any further even with some of the uneven writing.
This was my first time watching Song Seung Heon, and although I've heard some negative things about his acting, I thought he did a great job in this. Having watched Go Ara a couple of times, though, her acting I would say hasn't improved that much - or the character was just not written as well as they could have. I think the writers could have made her a stronger character. Overall the acting was done pretty well for most of the actors.
I enjoyed the music in this and will probably search out the main song that played.
The rewatch value could go either way. I probably won't rewatch anytime soon just due to the sheer length of this show and for the fact that now I know the plot. However, for some, maybe a rewatch would make seeing the pieces fall into place more enjoyable from the vantage point of knowing the final outcomes.
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This review may contain spoilersOk wow. Black is a conundrum with equal parts things to love and equal parts things to hate. It is excellent at times but tragically bad at others and after you’re done with it, you’ll find yourself fully understanding where both the highly positive and negative views are coming from. Your final rating will simply depend on the aspect you choose to focus on. So here’s the spoiler-free break down of the good and bad that comes with the show:
Bad Acting and Annoying ASF Characters:
1) Our Female Lead:Kang Ha Ram was your everyday damsel in distress/dumb but kind/self-sacrificing/self-blaming/bumbling-fumbling idiotic heroine who should’ve been as unmemorable as they come. And she really was that way as long as Go Ah Ra didn’t attempt to “act” but then somebody gave her the awful idea that she should “try and make an effort” and that’s when things went sour for me. Her acting was so monotonous and try-hard that at times I too wanted to stab my eyes with a metallic chopstick. Just at the slightest inclination of danger, she started this weird hyperventilating/gasping/whimpering regime and trust me, nobody wants to hear that kind of constant panting in the ear in, what is supposed to be, an emotionally intense scene. Simply put, it made me feel violence.
2) Kim Won Hae:Ladies and Gents, let me introduce you to the supporting ahjussi version of Lee Jong Suk (minus the looks ofc) He has the classic “same character, different drama” thing going on and that’s why what was supposed to be the role of a quirky and passionate police officer soon turned into the “same ol’ bs” for me. It didn’t help that I had watched two of his dramas (WYWS/CHIEF KIM) back to back (in which I really liked him) before Black and his acting chops (or lack thereof) were quite apparent to me .
3)The Second Male/Female Lead:The second female lead was a slightly updated version of Kang Ha Ram. Atleast, she had some reason for her constant hyperventilation. The poor woman was literally used as a plot device for the show (with zero character development) and spent the entirety of the drama getting abused/hit/humiliated/kidnapped and you know the routine…The second male lead was the male equivalent of the female and second female lead combined so you know there’ wasn’t much hope to begin with. There was equally bad acting done by all three of them to wrap their disastrously written characters with a sparkly bow on top.
4) Side Characters:There are a lot of side characters with straight up cringey acting which made me question my own existence. Like why? Their roles weren’t even hard. It was like watching a bad rehearsal instead of the actual thing.
-Pacing and Plot Development:
Black’s pacing is admittedly very messy. The drama starts being all over the place, it’s draggy and confusing and you almost want to drop it but then episode 5 kicks in. And somehow it turns from “meh” to “holy shit that’s awesome”. And then just when you’re ready to give it a 10, the drama reaches the 12th episode mark and things start to go downhill. The last couple of episodes were probably some of the most badly executed/poorly written/sappy and disappointing episodes I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing in a drama. The ending was also done in poor taste. Some of the reveals could’ve been brilliant but the show failed to pull it off, so much so, that when everything finally hit the fan, I was almost yawning like “So this what was all the hype was about?” Not impressed.
-Bullshit-O-Meter on Level 100:
Honestly, if you’re watching the show objectively you’ll find a lot of loopholes and things that don’t add up. Some scenes were flat-out ridiculous and laughably unbelievable. There’s a level of “illogical” I can put up with under the label of fantasy but when you just start bullshitting your way through things, just to wrap it all up, I’m sorry but I’m not buying. The amount of convenient plot devices in the last coupla episodes were tragic and the poor props used by the production team just made things more tacky.
Well Done Anti-Hero/Male Lead:
I simply adored Grim Reaper 444/Black. He was the life of the show and could often be seen carrying it on his sexy back. I actually think Song Seung Hoon pulled it all off quite brilliantly. I loved the way he went from this cold/blunt/almost selfish jerk to this kind hearted man. I loved everything about him- his hilarious antics, his cute attempts to adjust to the human world, the way the actor delivered his dialogues and his poignant expressions that actually made you “feel” so much for him. He pulled both his roles as the “clumsy police officer” and “the stoic Grim Reaper” perfectly. Even though his character took some hits because of the bad writing towards the end, they weren’t nearly big enough to downplay all his awesomeness. Plus those black suits were mighty good to him. I couldn’t get enough.
Even though the ending reveals and the wrap-up could’ve been much much better, the journey towards the revelations was excellent. There were some genuine thrilling moments and the show executed the suspense marvellously. I was dying to know what was going to happen at times and was clueless about how it was all going to end (except one of the big reveals that I had figured out quite early in the show). The way some things connected to each other in some of the individual cases had me gripping the edge of my old rusty futon. As a hardcore fan of the mystery genre, I really appreciated some of the twists and turns the story took. After a very long time, I had myself a show where I was genuinely interested in knowing the results. I was badly anticipating the “wow-wow-superwow moments” and even though the results disappointed me, I’d never for a moment take back the beautiful process.
For me the middle of the show (ep 5-11) was definitely the best of it. There were some legit interesting cases that our main guys took over. The show pulled off the darkness and violence of every crime quite nicely and ended up being fairly impactful. In this phase of the show I was sure I was going to give it a solid 10; for the execution of these episodic stories was far better than the over-arching plot.
-Black’s two “Reaper Best Friends”:
Jo Jae Yun is my favorite supporting actor and I’ve loved him in all his roles. Joseon along with our adorable Rapper brought some much needed comedic relief and warmth to the show. Their interactions with Black made my day.
A few of the killers/criminals in the show were just the right flavor of creeptastic.*Scarface, I’m looking at you.” This did wonders for the psychological aspect of the drama. You get a glimpse of how horrible some humans can be and it is ugly. I loved it.
The OST was very appropriate and the soft vocals gave a very melancholic feel that was just right for the show. The instrumentals helped too.
Lmao ok so he was actually quite irrelevant and one-dimensional but still oh so cute. I’m a girl. I have two eyes and two ovaries. I liked what I saw.
So anyway, that’s about it folks. That’s all you need to know about Black. Do I recommend it? Actually, yes.
If you can look over some things/don’t mind one and a half hour episodes/ are a fan of mystery and crime, then definitely give it a go. Chances are you will really enjoy, if not most, then at least some of it. Do I think it deserves to be one of the very top rated shows? Personally, no. Not by a long shot.
Best of luck!
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Right out of the gate, this drama was pretty ambitious as a gritty fantasy crime drama. The lead protagonist ends up being the reluctant grim reaper 444. This drama pummels its audience with questions that will go completely unanswered and/or forgotten until the eleventh hour.
Revealing secrets and twists is an art form in timing and pacing. Black does not do this well. Rather than strategically presenting big reveals throughout, this writing team chose to keep all of these abreast until the last fourth of the drama. By then, most of my interest in finishing had greatly dwindled to nothingness. Some may appreciate this approach, I personally need more of a bone to keep me interested.
The delivery of this drama is extremely uneven. I faintly recall there being some moments that made my heart race, but most of this drama is watching 444 run around aimlessly trying to figure out his feelings and his past. Again and again, he gets diverted and waylaid. His experience is much like Black’s viewers. It gets quite tiring. Even the episodes that ended with an amazing cliffhanger would resolve in a disappointing opening in the next.
The biggest disappointment of this drama was its characters. Both 444 and Ha Ram were so flat. Ideally this drama is supposed to detail 444’s internal battle with his empathy for mankind. Yet portrayal was ineffective at keeping my interest. I was taken aback by how little screen-time 444 and Ha Ram shared. For the majority of the show, they are on their own separate journeys. This may have impacted the implausibly of their budding relationship and the lack of chemistry I felt for this duo. This drama was lost when I no longer cared about the characters.
All of the above doesn’t even touch on the gaping plot holes, the completely untapped supplementary characters and the problematic ending that negated everything that this drama was attempting to accomplish. This drama is being praised for its mystery, but for me that can’t make up for all the other drawbacks. If mystery is upmost in your book and you can overlook everything else, then maybe give it a try ... Otherwise, I would recommend giving this one a hard pass.
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ACTING/CASTING: I have read a lot of comments stating that they don’t like Go Ah Ra and her acting. Saying that she portrays the character to be a whiny brat. Her acting was mundane but it was satisfying enough to display the character. As for the other actors/actress’ I believe that the acting was wonderfully done, showing true emotions. I couldn’t stop crying during episode 17 and 18 because of the Song Seung Heon’s acting. Also, Woo Hyun’s portrayal of his character was accurate and remarkable.
MUSIC: The music was standard but I really liked the original sound track. My favourite from the OST would be Another Me sung by Min Chae. But I also loved the others. If you haven't checked out the original sound track for this show, you definitely should!
REWATCH VALUE: The re-watch value is kinda high. I have already seen some episodes twice.
CONCLUSION: Black is a good K-Drama. I recommend this drama and I hope you give it a chance. I am sad that it’s over. It had its good and bad parts. Beautifully shot as well. Massive credit to writers, the director, actors/actress’ and other staff for making this drama. And I know I might be biased but this drama does hold a special place in my heart. No matter how boring some parts were.
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This review may contain spoilersIf you're planning to watch Black, give it atleast 3 episodes. It takes about that much time for things, that at first might appear as random or scattered events, to form a vague connected picture of how things are supposed to be. Ofcourse, you could always love the drama right from the start, like me. But if the first two episode confuse/ frustrate you, please don't give up on it before atleast 3 ep, because it could just turn out to be a drama that you'll love.
That being said, now on to the review:
- This is my first time seeing both Song & Go Ara.There's a lot of negative stigma attached with Go Ara, so I was a bit hesitatnt to watch this at first. However, her character here is alright. Ha ram, is by no means, the best FL out there. But she is not really among the worst ones either. At the very least, Go Ara's acting isn't cringeworthy or bad enough to drop this drama.Song Seung Heon is amazing! And I am, by no means, exaggerating. You'll see what I mean when you watch the drama. As Detective Han, he's kind and understanding. And as Black, he's ruthless and hostile.The only thing he cares about is getting his job done. Watching him become more human is one of the most enoyable things about this drama. I'll even go as far as saying that he's one of the best tsundere male leads out there. Although, putting him in that box seems too restrictive, since he was much more than that. Oh, and he's really, really sexy!
- The writing, to me, was one of the best things about this drama. Although to some, it might seem overbearing or even messy at times. And I do understand where they are coming from. The writing here is really intricate, detailed and connected. It's a drama where you have to pay attenton a lot. But instead of finding that annoying, I appreciated that. I specially loved the fact that how the things, that at first seemed irrelevant, became part of something bigger later on. Honestly, if I could, I'd rate the writing 11/10.
- When I first went into this drama, one thing that I didn't expect, and that one thing that really surprised me in a good way, was the comedy! Black is savage, yet so, so funny! Like a lot of supernatural beings out there, he thinks himself to be above the 'mere human beings. You can just imagine how his interactions with humans would result. Hilariously, ofcourse! The series has the deadpan humor, that I really enjoyed watching.
- The romance is a subdued part of the drama. Although, it's not the main focus, it's balanced in a good way. The romance between the leads is slow burn, but shippable. I personally think that the chemistry between the leads was good.
- I think this is one of those dramas that is worth marathon-ing. Each episode is so much filled with information, there's never a dull moment! And you'll NEVER see the twists coming, aside from the ones that the drama do let on.
- There are actually a lot of things I loved about this drama, as obvious from my rating. However, delving into them might lead into me (accidentally) giving out a spoiler, so I'd rather not say them.
I am not going to say that it's the best drama out there, in either thriller, fantasy or (subdued) romance genre. It even has a few (minor) loopholes, or facts that don't add up with the story. Despite that, it managed to keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The minute I started the episode to the minute it ended, I was thoroughly engaged and captivated. And for me, sometimes, that's the only thing that counts.
So, I'll just say that this is a really good, entertaining and a really well-done drama. And I'd definitely recommend this! So, I hope you give this a chance!
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I'll start with the cast , and there are a lot of important characters to consider. Song Seung Hun is the most noteworthy, especially with such a complicated role. He's a hilarious anti-hero/butt-kicking action hero/hot leading man, and handled all that his character demanded well. Of course saying too much about him will lead to spoilers, but I thought his awkwardness was part of his appeal, and he certainly wears all black well. He is partnered with Go Ara in super emo mode as Ha Ram. At first I liked Ha Ram, her impetuous nature, her dark personality, and her fierce attitude. The issue I had with her performance is that the more complicated the plot became the more one-note she seemed. I thought Seung Hun rose to the occasion, but Ara fell flat. Ha Ram doesn't evolve much through the show. She basically has 3 modes - bitter and isolated, in stubborn pursuit of justice, and feeling sorry for herself. It wasn't bad enough to make me dislike her performance completely, but it certainly made her too predictable. As a team of leads they weren't in the same league, and that honestly killed any real chemistry, so the small amount of romance (which becomes a significant plot point) felt forced and was the least interesting part of the story to me. Part of that may be the writers fault, but I've seen good actors make chemistry work with much worse.
Other actors worth noting are Kim Dong Jun, who was too cute to be so underutilized, Lee El, who was at times much more interesting than the female lead, Lee Kwan Hoon who was the best character with the least amount of screen time (I heart villains), and Kim Won Hae, who is a scene stealer in every drama I've seen him in. Of course that's only a few of the important characters in this drama. I couldn't possibly mention every suspect, victim, assassin, reaper, prostitute, politician, officer, parent, child version... and yes they all are important to the story. Most of the performances are great, and make the world seem real. Some of the roles however are forgettable (like that creepy dr), which makes it much harder to follow so many complicated character connections. That's why I gave the acting an 8 instead of a 10.
Another "character" in this drama would be the town of Mujin itself. The town should be infamous, and clearly the worst place to live ever... especially if you are a kid. It deserves a Twin Peaks level of notariety in KDramaland.
Now I will get to the plot... have I mentioned that its complicated? It was much easier when I binge watched the first half, but waiting a week for the next episodes made it hard not to lose track. Just know that the show is very dark, and the subject matter is rough. If you are sensitive to certain topics, especially involving sex and violence, assume they will come up and skip this drama. If you appreciate the term "trigger warning", consider this whole drama one big trigger warning. However, nothing is gratuitous. Every harsh moment adds to the bigger picture.
Every episode is also filled with revelations, and plot twists, so even the parts that you may have seen coming, have their own sub-plots that you likely would never suspect. There are moments when the episodes may seem to drag, but there is probably something happening that you should be paying close attention to. Sometimes the plot twists seem excessive, but they always (or mostly) make complete sense. The story is highly entertaining as a thriller, and impressive because of how ambitious the plot is overall, but there is one unforgivable flaw that almost made me give this drama an even worse rating... that's the ending.
The final minutes of this drama are insulting and should not exist. It's the equivalent of watching someone create intricate sand art only to blow it away as soon as it is completed and replace it with some child's crayon doodles on the floor. This ending teaches the lesson of why sometimes it's better to have a heartbreaking ending than some BS you think will make the audience happy. It turned the few plot holes into plot craters, and made me want to laugh and rage for all of the wrong reasons. In fact, the only parts that made me tear up at all involved side characters, not the main leads. Still, all of the important questions are answered, and with a story this ambitious, that is definitely impressive. I can only imagine how furious the writer must have been, because it's obvious this was a last minute change. I hope everyone involved learned a lesson. I would have been much happier with an open ending, so if you stop watching before it ends, your opinion of the show will probably be much better.
So why is my rewatch score 10? I would love to binge watch this again (skipping the final minutes of course), to catch everything I missed the first time. I'm convinced that knowing what really happened and watching it unfold would be just as entertaining as being surprised by it all. I am very likely to binge watch this again at some point, without watching other dramas with similar plots in between (certain controversial topics were very popular this season), which also made things more confusing than they would have been otherwise.
Overall, this is an intense drama, that's good for people who are tired of shallow stories and predictable plots. If you enjoy roller coaster thrillers this is a must see, just be forewarned about the unnecessary tagged on ending. The reaper world is also awesome for fans of realistic supernatural stories, and was really interesting. If you think Korean dramas are often too tame, this one includes a lot of taboo subjects that add to the story, instead of just being thrown in for shock value. You can't be a lazy viewer with this one, because the story only gets more complicated over time. Be patient with the story and your questions will probably all be answered. I also loved the cinematic feel of the episodes, which are very long (1hr 20), but captivating enough to be worth the time. All this to say that I was unexpectedly impressed yet disappointed by this drama, which is why my review is all over the place. Consider this my strong recommendation to watch this, but with a viewer advisory warning attached. I also recommend watching it with the lights off, for a greater effect.
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Story: The synopsis of this drama pretty much summed up what it is - a story about a grim reaper who eventually disappeared from everyone's memories. This drama is more investigative thriller than paranormal romance. Therefore, do not watch this drama with an expectation of paranormal romance. The grim reaper part is the only paranormal part of this drama. It is not used for action or cool effects. The drama is primarily focused on revealing the many twists and plots that led to the deaths of key characters who coincidentally were linked to each other. The reason why I said this is a 'controversial' drama is because you'll either love it or hate it. Unfortunately, I belong to the later group. Hence, in this review, you will read about the other side of opinion as opposed to the many praises others have given to this drama. Hopefully, after reading this review alongside all the positive reviews of this drama, you will get a more balanced view.
The drama started out well with a scene from the final episode - laying the foundation for the mysteries it plan to address. Then, we are introduced to a series of murders which were inevitably linked to mysteries from the past. One by one, skeletons in the closets (literal and figurative) were exposed. And just when you think you've figured out who's the big baddie, the drama deals you another twist. I love twists and plots and sub-plots. But I dislike HOW they were presented in this drama. Sure, they got the 'lay the foundation' part right with many twists being explained with earlier scenes. However, how it was presented lacked the finesse of a true master! The pace of the drama requires re-thinking. You get a good start, then a sluggish middle and a sudden and fast-forwarded end. The last 2 episodes felt like a dump. You get every character in the drama running around trying to solve mysteries, getting killed and missing chances and clues for the better part of the drama and suddenly in the last 2 episodes, they have a sudden IQ increase and knew exactly what to do! Better yet - as soon as they knew what to do, everything fell into place just right for them to do it when the bulk of the drama showed how they kept on missing clues and chances! For example, Moo Gang can be thinking about a certain person and lo and behold!...the tv reports about that person just as he was wondering about him....and lo and behold!....he found that person in the next scene and knew he's the brains behind it all! Same case with the lady doctor... she's been going around trying to locate a certain person, even almost died because of that.....and suddenly in the final episode, she only need to pick up the phone to call him and he answered! Not only did he answered after evading capture for so long.... he even invited her to his place instead of meeting up at some random public but hidden place as any intelligent person evading capture would do! *face palm!* You can see now what I meant by re-thinking the pace. If clues were solved bit by bit and revealed randomly in the course of the drama while leading towards the eventual and logical capture of the big baddie at the end, this drama would have been a much better drama. As it is, the drama was a huge dump fest with all revelations revealed in the last 2 episodes in a whirlwind of past scenes meshed with current scenes in an attempt to give the storyline creditability.
The second main reason why this drama was a disappointment for me is the lack of chemistry between the female lead and the male lead. Let me start by saying that Kang Ha Ram is not a love-able character. She is meddlesome, bumbling, loud, prone to misconception and always stepping into situation without fully assessing it which led to the many mistakes she made leading to loss of lives. To make matters worst, she was supposed to form a love relationship with Moo Gang/Black. At best, the chemistry that came through was that of a comrade or older brother-younger sister. Hence, my earlier warning that this drama is NOT a paranormal romance. Romance was just an afterthought and the development of chemistry was lacking. In fact, it boggled my mind how Moo Gang/Black who was tauted to be the coldest and most unfeeling reaper could fall for Kang Ha Ram. It defied logic. It even defied logic how he could love her so much that he was willing to undertake the worst punishment ever! If the ending was about this great sacrifice the reaper did for his love, then the story should focus on developing a strong love line so the viewers could empathize on the reaper's decision. Instead, the bulk of the story was about the many twists and turns signature of an investigative thriller.
Acting/Cast: Despite my critique of the story, the acting in this drama is good. Although I dislike Kang Ha Ram's character, the actress portraying her did a good job as she had successfully made me dislike Kang Ha Ram! However, she failed to manufacture the necessary chemistry with her male lead that would convince me that they were indeed very much in love with each other. It takes two to tango - hence the lack of chemistry was also a fault of the male lead. Other than that, acting was spot on.
Music: Not worth mentioning and not the focus of the drama.
Rewatch value: I do not possess a sadistic bone in my body. Hence, I will not torture myself by re-watching this drama. What's done is done! And I am relieved that it's over!
Overall: Considering the sentiments of many who seemed to love this drama, this is my most lenient rating of this drama: 7.5/10. Truthfully, I would rate it closer to 7/10.
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Overall, this is one of the best show of 2017 for me. I hope this helps and happy drama watching!! :)
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I know a drama can't be perfect, but this, this one, the writing is so brilliant that I can't even express it enough how I'm amazed with their plot & writing, just genius!
So first, where do I start..
I still remember clearly the day when I heard they casted Song Seung Heun & Go Ahra for a drama called Black & my reaction was: Meh! not gonna watch it (since Go Ahra previous work left me a bitter taste & I never been a fan of SSH).
But, then my own words just bite me in the ass, never did I ever thought I'd come to watch & love this this much..
Black clearly is not a drama that you'd be able to watch without paying attention too much, or just to pass your time while doing something else, it requires your attention 100% or you'll be missing out their clues/answered & you'd think it's a plot hole when it's not.
This is the most complex written drama I've ever watched, layered with so much mystery.
But the way their telling stories & directing is so good & engaging. Every given answer raised another question. The plot is also unpredictable & full of suspense from beginning till end with a mix of comedy in between that will keep you even more entertain instead of getting distract since they made it really well & smooth.
I had to warn though that they might answered our question implicitly so we might missed that if we're not paying attention enough.
As for the ending, I'm surprised that I'm really satisfied with it after watching it with subs, they answered every question I had (although again, I had to say some of them were being answered implicitly. ) & if there's something missing it's very minimal that I might not even able to think of it right now. Given the situation, I think it's the best ending they could give to us.
Black is def one of the best drama aired in 2017, one of the few drama that I'm really looking forward to watch & impatiently waiting for it every week & they even made it on my top list, my all time fav crime/suspense/mystery/romance kdrama along with Cruel City. Even Black as a character also made it on my fav hero/anti hero along with Doctor's Son.
So yes, I give Black a 10/10, they really deserved every point of it.
Song Seung Heun & writer-nim, you just gained a new fan, I know you've put your mind & effort 100% in this. I'm impressed & will look forward to your upcoming work for sure!
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It's not draggy also with 18 episode which some might think that way. They showed an awesome story packed with so many suspence and myster within those episodes.
Now i'm gonna analyse it and tell you guys if it's worth your time.
It's a story about a Grim Reaper and a Girl with supernatural power to able to foresee someone's death. You might have think of it like Goblin but it isn't. There's also a son of businessman and a female doctor.
It started like a normal story like every KDrama. Then it started growing. You can't even think about what's gonna happen next. If you try to predict i'm sure you're gonna fail. This story has so many twists and you're gonna love that. And mystery mixed with thriller it became something else on a whole another level. There's also the detective part you are thinking about. Yes THE CRIME DEPARTMENT is also one of the major point on this drama. They became the main part eventually.
With girl's supernatural power they are able to solve a big case in this drama also some minor cases as well. That grim reaper worked extra hard on this to reveal and bring justice. And you never gonna realise what's going on and what will be the end of it. Cause it will be a big kaboom in the end. wait for it. Not gonna spoil it here.
It's a pretty decent story and also realistic type though it's fantasy.
Main Cast involved Song Seung Heon and Go Ah Ra. Their acting on this drama was mindblowing. They showed a great story of romance as the story progress. As a team they worked so damn good which can't be describe here in words I suppose.
Lee El and Kim Dong Jun, their characters hold key positions to this drama, specially 'Kim Sun Young' character was so damn good. Which make this drama into a great thriller-suspense. Dong Jun with his role of 'Oh Man Soo' portrayed a character who is neglected by his brother but actually a good person by heart. But then something happen. You need to watch it understand.
And the Crime Division team was so damn good with our favorite ahjussi Kim Won Hae and the Whole team acting was so good which make this drama even more awesome.
Overall acting was perfect on this drama, even backup artists did a good job on this.
Writer of this drama wrote Iljimae and God's Gift - 14 Days which was also good stories.
And behind camera stuffs did a pretty good job on shooting those scenes perfectly and also an applause for Editing Team.
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