Foreign Language Series · TV Reviews

Stranger/Forest of Secrets Review

I knew after watching the trailer for Stanger/Forest of Secrets that I would definitely be watching the entire series as soon as it became available for me to do so. The premise of the show was right up my alley, touching on topics such as crime, corruption, power, money etc. Therefore, I was hoping for extreme amounts of shock, intrigue, scandal and tension and the show did not let me down! Here is my review:

Plot Summary

A seemingly apathetic Public Prosecutor and a Police Detective team up to solve a murder which ends up uncovering various levels of corruption within the organisations that they work for.

Good Points

Firstly, the show had me on edge every episode as nothing was ever as it seemed. The writers skillfully dropped hints and red herrings at every corner to the point where nothing was certain. Each episode revealed something new to the audience that completely changed the direction of the program. As a result, I spent 95% of my viewing experience with my mouth wide open in shock. The suspense was real !!

In addition, the high level of suspense was further maintained by the cast and characters themselves, who were all brilliant by the way. All of the characters were so multi-faceted that they seemed like real people with real desires and by extension, a motive for the crime. In fact, with the exception of  Hwang Si-mok (Jo Seung-Woo) and Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona), every character could have been the culprit and that was truly exciting to watch.

Furthermore, the show also looked at the psychology of the people involved in the case, suspects and investigators alike. It looked at questions like:

  1. Why do people witness bad things and say nothing?
  2. Why do people do bad things in the first place?
  3. Can you do bad things for good reasons?
  4. Are people inherently bad or inherently good?

I found this angle to be intriguing because it highlighted the grey area that many people live their lives within. Also, it makes the case more interesting and multi-dimensional in the sense that it was not necessarily good guys vs bad guys.

Bad Points

Honestly, the show was so good that what I have to add is extremely nitpicky but it has to be done.

The one and only negative I could say about the show would be its tendency to lengthen certain dramatic scenes with long and drawn out staring competitions between the characters. I found that sometimes these moments took some of the tension out of the scene rather than actually augment it.

Overall Comments & Rating

As a whole Forest of Secrets/Stranger was an amazing series that definitely brought the drama and intrigue. It had a solid acting from a solid cast who had amazing script to work with. Rating wise it was definitely 4/5 stars

So what did you think of the show? Are you a fan of kdrama? Leave a Comment below!

Also, I’ve changed the format of my review in attempt to make it more direct and less ‘rambly’. I’m not sure whether I’ll keep doing it like this but we’ll see 🙂

Featured Image taken from Wikipedia 

Foreign Language Series · TV Reviews

Merciless (2014) Review

Realising that I hadn’t watched a foreign language drama for quite some time, I headed over to the Walter presents category on All4 and scrolled until I came across the Brazilian crime thriller series, Merciless. From the description, it had all the things I look for in a good TV series: crime, murder, puzzles, policemen (and women) etc. So I began watching the series with high expectations and they were met!

The series follows Edu, an aspiring politician and psychopathic serial killer as he tries to carry out his political ambitions whilst evading capture. Those in charge of catching him are Dias, the police commissioner and Vera, an FBI trained forensic psychologist obsessed with trying to figure him out. The series becomes an intriguing game of cat and mouse between Edu and the police as they desperately try to the find the killer, only to realise that he is a lot closer than they thought.

I have to begin this review by saying that Bruno Gagliasso absolutely killed it (excuse the pun) as Edu. He expertly manages to switch from this charming, charismatic and kind man who everybody likes to the brutal, cruel and downright creepy killer that committed those savage murders of young women. It is absolutely fascinating to watch how his personality changed depending on who he was speaking to, each shift contributing to the mask that hid his true self. Furthermore, watching the character narrowly avoid detection had me on edge the entire series.

Additionally, it was fun to see Dias and Vera clash on how best to catch the killer who, unbeknownst to them, was right under their noses the whole time. Dias’, ‘by the book’ approach was frustrating at times, especially since it seemed to be motivated by his desire for a promotion. Similarly, Vera’s impulsive decisions, though understandable, often put her in danger as well as jeopardise the case against him. Nonetheless, the different methods of investigating allowed for an interesting dynamic to develop between the two characters.

On the flip side, I have to say that I was not a fan of the romantic aspect of Dias and Vera’s relationship for it seemed quite counter-productive in their search for this barbaric murderer. I’m all for romance and that, but when you’re trying to catch a savage serial killer, I don’t think it’s the time for you to be working out your relationship issues.

Furthermore, at times, I felt like there was a disconnect between the choice of music and the scene it featured in. On several occasions, in very tense moments, a rock-style song would play. As a consequence, the scene would loose some of the tension, brilliantly built up for that moment. Often, I felt like a softer, more sinister choice of song would have better suited the scene than the song that was chosen.

Overall, Merciless was an excellent export to the UK with fabulous acting from all characters involved and a captivating plot that had me on the edge of my seat for the entire duration of the series.

If you liked the series, or have anything to add, feel feel to leave a comment 🙂