Friday, June 5, 2015

TV Review: God's Gift - 14 Days (2014)

God's Gift – 14 Days
Lee Dong-hoon/Lee Bo-young, Jo Seung-woo/2014
Where To Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...a great blend of fantasy, thrills, suspense, mystery, and drama."

This is my first Korean show review, so please bear with me. As usual, I'll go over the plot while trying to avoid significant spoilers. Thanks for reading!

God's Gift – 14 Days primarily follows Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Bo-young), a television writer, Han Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-bin), Soo-hyun's overly-trusting daughter, and Ki Dong-chan (Jo Seung-woo), a masterful-police-officer-turned-private-investigator. One day, during a live broadcast of her show, Soo-hyun's daughter is kidnapped. Soo-hyun tries her hardest to rescue Saet-byul, but to no avail – she sadly is found murdered. So, Soo-hyun decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in a lake. Meanwhile, upon learning of his mentally-challenged brother's imminent execution, Ki Dong-chan is thrown into the very same lake by angry gangsters.

The pair miraculously find themselves 14 days before Saet-byul's murder. With the new opportunity, Soo-hyun races against the clock to save her daughter, trying her hardest to avoid recreating the devastating events leading to her murder. Ki Dong-chan reluctantly agrees to help – partly due to his affinity for Saet-byul and in order to stop his brother's execution. Despite no one believing they are from the future, the pair begin investigating the case. What they find are more suspects than they could have ever imagined and a conspiracy of monumental proportions. The series leads to a bittersweet finale. (Warning: Don't read the Netflix reviews, they are riddled with spoilers!) The ending is a little abrupt and leaves some unanswered questions for the many, many characters involved, but it ultimately works in sealing the fate of the main cast.

The plot is obviously much more intricate than I explained. I doubt you'd be dumbfounded or lost by the complex mystery, but it's certainly a lot to ingest. Fortunately, this makes for a very engaging, well-paced, and balanced plot. This story is filled to the brim with unnerving suspense, edge-of-your-seat thrills, vicious action scenes, and sincere drama and emotion. Thanks to the great and likable characters, you really feel an emotional connection; in turn, this amplifies the elements in the series tenfold. There is also a much-appreciated pinch of humor, like the K-pop fanboy scenes and the scenes with side characters such as Ki-tae, Jenny, and Na Ho-gook. If you love bulk watching a series, the cliffhangers in these episodes will leave you itching for more – if the countless twists-and-turns haven't done it for you already!

God's Gift – 14 Days isn't absolutely perfect, despite my praise. This is a series with many plot devices – it is very contrived. However, many of these plot contrivances are acceptable. You see, one of the main themes in this series is fighting the past – or the difficulty that comes with it. So, despite Soo-hyun's attempts at changing something, they usually end up the same – particularly due to a convenient plot device. Considering the theme, I'm okay with this. On the other hand, the series still uses many unnecessary plot devices. These are the scenes where Soo-hyun stumbles upon evidence accidentally – like conveniently tripping over herself. These can occasionally take you out of the experience. Also, early on in the series, I felt there were far too many flashbacks. Again, they work with the theme, but they felt intrusive to the natural flow.

The acting is great. Lee Bo-young commands the screen with a powerful performance. Bo-young may be melodramatic at times, but it ultimately works in conveying powerful emotions. Jo Seung-woo, who also starred in Marathon, delivers an equally impressive performance filled with charisma. Young Kim Yoo-bin is absolutely wonderful – an adorable actress with talent. The leads are holstered up by the splendid supporting cast. The entire series is shot very well, I liked the cinematography. The music is perfect in matching the tone – I'd listen to the soundtrack without the show. Writer Choi Ran pens an engaging and powerful mystery filled with unexpected twists and genuine emotion. Director Lee Dong-hoon crafts a balanced and well-paced series with wonderful performances and meticulous care.

Overall, God's Gift – 14 Days is a great Korean show. I was engaged from beginning to end by this twisted mystery. It's a great blend of fantasy, thrills, suspense, mystery, and drama. The meticulous balance of these elements create a series with seldom a dull moment. There are some unnecessary plot devices and other minor issues, but I ultimately had a great time. If you have the time or if you're just starting your venture into Korean shows (like myself), I strongly recommend God's Gift – 14 Days.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood. (Some weapons, such as knives and screwdrivers, are censored.)

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