[Review] Voice – 보이스


Detective Moo Jin Hyuk’s (Jang Hyuk) life is changed forever on the night his wife is brutally murdered by a vicious serial killer. Kang Kwon Joo (Lee Ha Na) is a call center policewoman with the innate ability to hear sounds that no one else can pick up on.

She takes the call on that fateful night and in the process of investigating the scene, the killer also takes the life of Kwon Joo’s father, a cop on the beat.  Later, she testifies that the man who is put on trial is not the killer due to the strange noise she heard on the line that night, which angers Jin Hyuk.  Much later, she returns to the same precinct to create the Golden Time team, bringing together the call center and detectives in order solve crimes within a certain timeframe in order to save victims’ lives.  Despite initially rebuffing Kwon Joo’s offer, Jin Hyuk begins to accept the reality of her ability.  Together, they work to find the serial killer that has taken the lives of their loved ones.

Despite the incredibly violent nature of the plot, it’s easy to see why this cable drama was such a ratings hit.  The most important factor is that the characters were so well-written and compelling while the stories were present with equally thrilling twists.  It’s a fairly simple concept and part of the reason why people come back again and again to formulaic shows like Law & Order.

Predictably, I can’t imagine anyone else, besides Jang Hyuk, playing the lead detective in this drama.  He embodies that boorish persona that is needed in this noir story while still managing to tug at our heartstrings.  I’ll admit that there are time when I find his acting a bit over-the-top and repetitive.  However, he’s so good at playing characters that walk the fine line between deranged and humane that I didn’t mind it here.  When his character is responsible for nabbing the scum of the earth, it almost seems acceptable that he needs to tow that line between good and evil.

If it’s Jang Hyuk’s responsibility to be on the brink of losing his marbles, then Lee Ha Na is the one who tries to keep things on even keel.  It’s not that she’s incapable of becoming emotional but as a call center operation, it’s her calmness that keeps victims calm despite the duress they’re enduring.  In some ways, her monotone speech and level-headedness angered Jin Hyuk and other times, I think it brought a sense of rationale.  Although their relationship was initially fractured, it is this balance and partnership that had us rooting for the team as a whole.

As much as the grittiness and the violence might be much for some viewers, I couldn’t help but be engrossed in the stories.  Personally, I’m not for or against violence in dramas but rather the violence has to serve a much bigger purpose in the story beyond sensationalism.  Yes, the stories were shocking, especially cases like the Child Abuse and Murder Case and Townhouse Murder Case but rather I was drawn to those stories because of the characters.  The evil antagonist is not always black and white in these stories and the twists kept us on the edge of our seats.

As far as evil characters, I have to give a hand to Kim Jae Wook for his chilling portrayal of Mo Tae Goo.  When you think of elite, narcissistic psychopaths, my mind immediately goes to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman.  However, Christian Bale’s performance in that film was a satire and a commentary about the materialistic era of the 80’s.  In a different way, Mo Tae Goo is a commentary about what was going on in Korea at the time.  We’ve heard this story before, especially in Korean dramas and movies; the chaebols always get away with it.  The most evil thing a person could do is commit murder and the fact that Mo Tae Goo does it with such glee is horrifying.  Kim Jae Wook portrays a more realistic depiction of what goes on in the twisted mind of these kinds of people and how they manage to slip through the fingers of justice.

If you’re able to stomach the violence, Voice is a gripping drama in terms of episodic storytelling.  The characters, including the episodic ones, are multi-dimensional.  The cases are intriguing because they mainly portray stories about people who are forgotten or neglected by society.  The drama does an excellent job in magnifying this underworld and it’s this type of character-driven storytelling that leaves an unforgettable impression on viewers.




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