Meet the two fearless men willing to go to extreme lengths in their pursuit of a serial killer that has shaken up their quiet city: Lee Dong Sik, a once capable detective, is now demoted to perform menial tasks at the Manyang Police Substation. Just as he is beginning to settle into a peaceful life, his new superior, Detective Han Joo Won, is transferred in. Joo Won is an elite detective whose father is the star candidate for the National Police Agency’s next chief. Despite his admirable qualities and high social standing, Joo Won harbors a long-held secret. When a string of gruesome killings occurs, a pattern takes shape that is oddly reminiscent of some cold serial-murder cases from 20 years prior. Dong Sik and Joo Won team up, vowing to stop this vicious culprit in his tracks. As their investigation proceeds, they are forced to look far deeper than what the evidence suggests, questioning the culpability of all those surrounding the case, including their own. (Source: Kdramapal) Edit Translation
Where to Watch Beyond Evil
Cast & Credits
The Daesang for the 57th Baeksang goes to…Shin Ha Kyun, of course! I can’t think of any other more worthy recipient of this prestigious accolade. He truly is the driving force behind Beyond Evil because without him, this drama would have ended up being Not Quite Evil. In fact this drama isn’t as much about evil as it is about filial piety (or lack thereof) and shady business ethics, with a dose of mental health issues included. In any case, I hope he gets a nomination at the very least because he is definitely deserving of the recognition for all the good work he has done here, and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself watching his performance in this extremely well made production.
This drama is set in the small town of Manyang, which has a sinister history of mysterious killings and gruesome mutilation of young women that remain unsolved until the present day. Part of this local community is a close-knit group of childhood friends, most of whom grew up to become members of the police force, while the others comprise the local butcher and convenience store operator, respectively. One day, a young hotshot police detective gets transferred to the Manyang police substation and all hell breaks loose in this sleepy town.
The plot is exquisitely written, despite not being groundbreaking, and we’ve seen this premise in many psychological crime thrillers. A small town with a hideous past and its suspicious inhabitants harbouring many unknown secrets, the perfect recipe for a can of worms that would’ve been better off left unopened. Except, in this case, it gets much more convoluted than that - a decades’ long conspiracy that culminates in a scandal of the highest order. This is very much a character driven drama and represents an in-depth case study of the complicated dynamics among the central characters. This is a complex and slowburn psychological whodunnit with dark humour and suspense along with themes of friendship, familial bond, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption.
Helmed by the young director Shim Na Yeon, a relative newcomer to the industry whose recent works cover mostly youth-themed melodramas and romance, and written by the experienced Kim Soo Jin whose previous crime dramas include Mad Dog and Life Special Investigation Team. Being part of the spring drama lineup of JTBC Studios, this drama features commendable production values. The cinematography showcases excellent shots of the Manyang town landscape, including the beautifully tall grass fields where multiple crime scenes have purportedly occurred, and the scenic port city of Busan for a story arc that lasts a couple of episodes. Other than that, the majority of the drama is set in the bright interrogation rooms and gloomy holding cells of the Manyang police substation, Munju police station and the Seoul police HQ. There are countless scenes of barbequing meat and drinking at the Manyang diner-cum-butcher shop as well.
The drama’s true strength lies in its cast and their superb acting, as well as the overall quality of the dialogue. Ever the consummate pro, Shin Ha Kyun does what Shin Ha Kyun does best. For the uninitiated (and for the purpose of managing excessive shock or awe), expect visceral intensity and raw emotions conveyed via truly immersive wholehearted portrayals. For regular viewers and admirers, his execution here is even more elevated from his usual performances in Less Than Evil and Pied Piper. His characterization of Lee Dong Shik is a delicate balancing act between nuanced and downright insane, and will probably represent the standard of acting for this genre in years to come (a close comparison would be Lee Hee Joon’s characterization in Mouse, so there’s potential in this area). Depicting a flawed anti-hero complex and emotionally traumatized character shouldering the burden of a profoundly tragic past is certainly no mean feat and Shin Ha Kyun does it magnificently indeed.
Of the 2 MLs featured in this drama, the other lead is the character of Han Joo Won who is decently portrayed by Yeo Jin Goo. Those familiar with his works would no doubt witness the same signature aspects of his acting. Since Hotel Del Luna (and even earlier, The Royal Gambler) he has perfected the art of the “intense gaze”. Not many actors can pull off this trademark look. An added bonus in this show, he does a near-complete character change that lasts a few episodes at the midway point. Despite not being a fan of the character - he comes across as aloof, sanctimonious, petulant, selfish and entitled, who possesses an unhealthy and somewhat irrational obsession for solving crimes while incessantly defying his own father at every turn - I do appreciate the characterization. The chemistry between the two men, Lee Dong Shik and Han Joo Won, is on point and works very well.
They are ably supported by the rest of the cast comprising the experienced veterans Chun Ho Jin, Choi Jin Ho, Kil Hae Yeon, Heo Sung Tae, Kim Shin Rok and Lee Kyu Hoe. Their versatility truly shows in playing a mix of understated, layered, OTT and mentally unstable characters. I’m also quite impressed with Choi Sung Eun in particular, whose portrayal of Yoo Jae Yi is very powerful and convincing and she stands out as the strongest female character in the show.
Aside from the acting, one aspect that probably doesn't get enough appreciation and recognition is the music for the drama. Kudos to the music director, the hugely experienced and prolific Ha Geun Young, who has done a fantastic job of arranging the original score with an infusion of contemplative jazz performed by a big band ensemble. There's more than a hint of cabaret and the vibe of classic film noir that somehow perfectly captures the essence of the drama. In addition to the music score, the accompanying original songs are terrific as well:
1. Choi Baek Ho - The Night
2. BIBI - Timeless
3. Car The Garden - Empty
4. SunWoo JungA - The Road
All things considered, Beyond Evil has been a hugely satisfying watch and certainly went beyond my initial expectations. I sincerely hope this drama and Shin Ha Kyun will be part of the nominations to be announced next week for the 57th Baeksang Awards this year. They absolutely deserve it!
The Most Formidable Bromance of 2021 that will bring you to your kneesWhere do I even begin? This is the best detective thriller drama I have ever watched. There, I said it.
How many of you have grown tired of watching crime shows that just don't feel exciting anymore?
So many times, crime dramas get lost in the 'next big moment' and finding the thrill factor that they stop connecting with the watcher.
Beyond Evil is a beautiful mix of emotion and supense. It's a blend of heartbreakingly slow, full of feeling moments and bone chilling darkness. It's not a super fast show. It takes its time as it unravels, develops and comes to fruition gorgeously- like a well simmered pot of stew.
The drama's biggest strength is its unforgettable characters and the mindblowing acting by the cast.
In the beginning it induces your trust issues in a gut punching manner by introducing its two seemingly morally grey and unreliable protagonists and then slowly but surely brings to light one of the best friendships the Korean cinema has ever seen.
Both the main leads are phenomenal, each holding their own and being a massive force to be reckoned with.
Shin Ha Kyun put out acting worthy of a Daesang. His reckless, passionate, wildly fearless and courageous detective with the biggest smile and eyes full of pain doesn't take long to cement his place in your heart.
Yeo Jin Goo, on the other hand, while young, owned his role phenomenally. His character Han Joo Won, a prickly, seemingly cold catlike man with heart of platinum and a strong sense of justice is extremely easy to fawn over.
Together, these two are a storm- infinitely badass with balls of steel; a dynamic team that you can't help but fall in love in with.
Aside from the two, all the supporting characters bring their own flavour to the screen. While their little self-proclaimed 'Avengers' police team brings instant warmth to your heart, the antagonists are blood boiling-ly good in equal measure.
The music is fantastic- sombre and dark at times; sometimes cheeky and playful and other times enough to wreck you. There are a lot of stunning shots and the drama is both extremely well written and directed.
The character development is amazing and the bonds these characters form among each other is a powerful thing to witness. There's so much nuance in these relationships and it's hard not to catch feelings and let go of your heart when it comes to a show like this.
Honestly, for me a good psychological thriller is hard to come by and this was by far one of the best. I was so invested in it that some of the scenes made me bawl my eyes out, while others made me laugh, giggle, swoon and shout HOLY FUCK at the top of my lungs.
They nailed both the emotion and the 'whodunnit' aspect in a way that's very unique to the genre.
It was a wild, crazy, full of thrill and heart ride that I almost don't want to get off of.
Surely, a must-watch. Highly reccomended for fans of psychological thrillers who like their dramas with a little extra oomph!