As leader of a crime investigation team, Han Tae Joo has propelled his career and risen through the ranks by trusting data over all else. One day, while investigating a serial murder case, he has an accident. When he wakes up, he suddenly finds himself in the winter of 1988. He doesn't know why, but he's now a detective appointed to work at a police station in a small city. To get back to the present day, Han Tae Joo tries to solve the case.
Cast & Credits
This is the first time I'm writing a review, I'm not good at wording my thoughts out but I wanted to give this a try because I just really want to praise this drama, if I could give it a 100/10 score I certainly would. It raises the bar too high for all k-dramas and TV shows in general for me. GO WATCH IT NOW! You surely won't regret it.
Plot: it's a remake of the U.K. TV show going by the same name, I haven't watched it myself so I had no prior idea of how the plot would go. I have to say it's outstanding. I personally love crime and suspense dramas so this was definitely my cup of tea and it exceeded my expectations by a lot. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of humour in the drama, despite the heavy cases they had to work on the writers managed to incorporate light-hearted moments and it made the experience even more amazing, nothing seemed out of place. I have noticed that in a lot of k-dramas the plot starts dragging out gradually and they tend to get a little boring in the middle especially but this one had impressive build-ups, there was not one dull moment and each episode keeps you on your toes. The surprises keep coming all the time and you can't seem to predict what will happen next. The cases were well-thought out and there weren't any plot holes. The ending was so emotional and a little open for interpretation, it was bittersweet, but I loved it for the way it was.
Cast/Characters: I was blown away by Jung Kyung Ho's acting, he gave life to his character and this impressive screenplay. The female lead I have to say is one of the most impressive and well-done female characters I've ever seen, this is female empowerment done right, she can kick ass, is not depicted stereotypically, is thoughtful, smart af and level-headed. The chemistry between the five main characters was out of this world, they gave off this warm feeling even if some of them didn't particularly start off on good terms, the fact that the friendship that flourished between them was gradual and not rushed off made it seem more believable. I really couldn't have picked better actors for this show.
OST: I loved the old songs they incorporated in the drama, it made me feel the 80s even more, the songs were chosen really well and put exactly where they're needed without them being too much in your face.
Cinematography: It was AMAZING, it's obvious that a lot of effort and probably budget went into the shooting of the drama and it's well worth it, the scenes and perspectives were really well thought out. This is the kind of cinematography a drama with such good plot and cast deserves.
Overall: it's a masterpiece, 100/10, it was a whole journey I'm glad I took and I can even watch it again which means a lot because I usually don't re-watch things I've already seen. If you wonder what to watch next give this drama a chance.
I love that the story gives you bits and pieces of the puzzle as it goes along, but keeps you guessing in a way that's fun rather than frustrating. The puzzle itself is such an interesting concept, managing to incorporate sci fi elements without getting too gimmicky.
But the very best thing about Life On Mars is the changing relationships between the characters. It's so enjoyable to watch Han Tae Joo unraveling the trauma and isolation of his past, and learning how to connect with these people from whom he's supposed to be literally worlds apart. And the characters themselves are so infused with heart and humor, the perfect antithesis to the coldly rational mindset that he started with. It's so easy to fall in love with this little found family.
Jung Kyung Ho is amazing. He has been amazing, and he will continue to be amazing, and I don't think I could possibly love him more. I saw someone mention in another review that Life On Mars gave him the opportunity to showcase the more subtle sides of his acting skills, and I couldn't agree more. Han Tae Joo's quiet desperation is so palpable and relatable, despite the muted nature of the character. And rooting for him to finally come out of that shell is so fulfilling!
The dynamic between Han Tae Joo and Kang Dong Cheol is definitely a highlight of the show. Park Sung Woong is such a strong actor, and seems just so genuinely FUN. He is able to traverse between the character's comic antics and the more serious moments with such effortlessness. The growing relationship between the two characters is so pure.
Special mention of course for Go Ah Sung as Yoon Na Yeong. I think I might have fallen in love with her a little bit. The character is so different from the roles she's played before, but this soft-spoken tether that anchors Han Tae Joo to his reality (and just kicks ass all around, honestly) is even alone worth the price of admission on this drama, if you ask me.
The score was appropriate and for the most part managed to support the story without drawing too much attention to itself. I loved the 80s songs that were sprinkled in, especially when the characters were rocking out or dancing along to them!
Thoughtfully done! I don't want to give anything away, but the cinematography clearly reflects what's happening in the story, sometimes in ways that are subtle. And I love that. (Watch for differences in the cinematography, and you can figure out what is signified in the plot.) It shows how much care has gone into even the smallest details that most viewers won't even consciously notice.
I typically don't rewatch dramas, but this could very likely be an exception. Now that I've seen the end, I want to go back and see which pieces of the puzzle I may have missed the first time around. Not to mention, I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to these characters...
Highly, highly recommend that anyone give this drama a shot. It's not a perfect fit in any single genre, so I would be cautious of letting any genre bias discourage you from watching this. This kind of thoughtful writing and creative storytelling feels so rare!