A solid ride built to a largely satisfying climax, backed up by the acting performances on display.
This review for Netflix K-Drama Cafe Minamdang season 1 is free of spoilers.
Read the recap of the first episode of Cafe Minamdang Season 1.
Amid a rather stacked lineup of K-Dramas airing, Minamdang Cafe stood out for its dedication to a unique twist on the thriller theme. Fixing on a mastermind, Gopuri, who teases a much-loved detective and former profiler posing as a shaman with murders that still seem somewhat untraceable, this crime-comedy-mystery series brought plenty of entertainment.
In his heart, Minamdang Cafe was a show about closure, often told through the lens of revenge and/or heartbreak. Han-joon, a man once wrongfully imprisoned for fabricating evidence, wanted closure on the murder of his best friend, dedicating his life to fighting for justice (which included become a shaman). Jae-hui, who lost his brother just because he was on the verge of uncovering the truth behind a series of murders, wanted to end a chapter of his troubled life, hoping for revenge upon seeing the culprit locked up. . And Do-won, the psychotic Gopuri, favored a different type of closure, one that saw him with the self-proclaimed agency to end people’s lives based on his warped belief that it was a necessary evil. .
With this type of storytelling, the high mileage given to the show has been firmly put to use, which means that all 18 The series of episodes maintained a purposeful freshness, constantly keeping viewers on their toes with clever curveballs and well-timed reveal moments. Rather than feeling dragged on, as some longer offerings can, the lingering question of who Gopuri could be guaranteed to engage in whatever is happening on screen, allowing the excitement to build. In a time of empowerment, even encourages people to binge on content, a series like this that felt rewarding to follow week after week was a welcome change of pace.
In large part, this was due to the commitment of the actors involved, especially Seo In-guk. Performing his role as the charismatic and ethically somewhat troubled Nam Han-joon with supremely devoted vigor, the experienced actor stood out every time on screen. Whether in scenes of almost childish humor or emotional resonance, Seo has exercised the full range of his acting skills to deliver arguably one of the best character interpretations on the stacked roster of K-Dramas this season. year. Two others in the Minamdang portion of the cast should also be mentioned here, as Kwak Si-yang (Su-cheol) and Kang Mi-na (Hye-jun) both proved to be flawless on-screen partners l for each other, and their leader.
Continuing, where Seo In-guk succeeded in cartoonish maximalism, his on-screen nemesis, played by Kwon Soo-hyun, thrived in his intricacies. First portraying a friendly-faced prosecutor who seems slightly naive, but dedicated to his job, Kwon’s evolution into the steadfast villain Gopuri was chilling. A sadistic and intelligent film for Han-joon and Jae-hui (played in style by Oh Yeon-seo), Do-won’s character was complex and undeniably skillfully portrayed.
Technically, director Ko Jae-hyun also did a great job. With a diverse color palette that often brought home Minamdang’s colorful decor and the clothes the locals wore, in addition to the gloom of the crime-filled underworld, there was an understandable story told with cinematography alone, a story that has kept to a constant consistency.
So while the overall story of Minamdang Cafe methodically built to an intense and engrossing climax that yielded thrilling results, the consistencies in writing, general direction and acting ensured it was a worthwhile endeavour. Will this be everyone’s cup of tea? Maybe not, as it lands a bit on the quirky side, but for a refreshing twist on some of the typical crime drama plot points, this 18-episode release gave its willing audience plenty to take in.
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You can stream Cafe Minamdang exclusively on Netflix.