Good Ol’ Review: Namgoong Min Powers MBC’s Gritty, Intricate Thriller “The Veil”

The Veil Korean Drama Review

No spoilers.

MBC’s The Veil (검은 태양/Black Sun) is a blood-soaked psychological thriller coupled with a character-driven cat and mouse game that keeps everyone guessing up to the very last minute of the series. Namgoong Min delivers a tour de force performance as he leads an ensemble cast through an intricate and tangled web of mystery, conspiracy and complicated relationships.

Elite National Intelligence Service agent Han Ji Hyuk (Namgoong Min) went missing after pursuing an organized drug syndicate. A year later, he is found, but with no memories of that mission or his time since other than the fact that it resulted in the death of his two teammates. Ji Hyuk is determined to uncover the truth behind their deaths and the possibility of there being a traitor among their ranks at the agency. But it isn’t easy when everyone around him is a suspect and mysterious clues he’s left behind for himself lead to unexpected findings.

Ji Hyuk must not only go up against former teammates, colleagues and friends, but also battle his inner demons that are clouding both his memories and potentially his judgement. With the help of new partner Yoo Je Yi (Kim Ji Eun) who appears to have secrets of her own, Ji Hyuk tries to piece together the often-convoluted puzzle of his past and the continuous lurking threats in the shadows.

Though The Veil treads across familiar territory, it does so with an uncommon approach. Especially for a broadcast network television series. Corruption and conspiracy from the highest reaches of the government all the way down to the corner crime syndicate are certainly not new themes for a Korean drama. But The Veil is able to craft an engaging cat and mouse game wherein you aren’t too sure which characters fit on which side of the chase. The complex and complicated relationships between these characters are as much a mystery as the questions Ji Hyuk is fighting to answer.

It is an understatement to say The Veil will keep you guessing. Surprise twists and unexpected developments are plenty across the series’ 12 episodes. And you’ll be left guessing and questioning every character’s movement and action all the way until the final moments. When paired with the psychological ordeal Ji Hyuk (and others) go through, the story can get a bit heavy and tangled.

Because of that, it’s probably best not to attempt binging the series in one or two sittings. The Veil is a very fast-paced series and it will almost seem like you are bombarded with a load of information and jarring, striking visuals.

Instead, take it slow and absorb every bit of information that is presented, of which there is a lot to process. Doing so will keep your head clear enough to truly appreciate the carefully placed story beats and brisk pacing that make every physical and emotional punch feel that much more impactful.

Indeed, the often-violent action sequences are breathtaking on their own. There’s also a sort of dark grittiness to the visuals of the series that add to an almost atmospheric presentation. Whether it’s the physically demanding, knock down, drag out fights or the literally explosive confrontations, The Veil holds nothing back from depicting the dangerous and often brutal experiences in the world of national intelligence, law enforcement and the criminal underworld. The series is all-business. And compared to many series in a similar vein to The Veil, that is a refreshing quality to have.

One of the most interesting discussions the series dives into is the idea of how organizations and people meant to protect and aid the everyday people can become so twisted and corrupt. It is this moral dilemma that plagues Ji Hyuk and pretty much every character of the series. And that central idea is what ends up driving the characters and the series toward its climactic finale.

Being able to juggle a large cast of characters and still giving each of those supporting characters the necessary amount of depth and foundation is a major accomplishment for a series like The Veil. And its ensemble cast is more than up to task in bringing this fully realized world to life.

The Veil Korean Drama Review

Namgoong Min is incredible as Han Ji Hyuk. One of the most versatile actors in the business, Namgoong Min effortlessly embodying the character of Han Ji Hyuk should come as no surprise. Especially for anyone who has followed his career or watched his dramas over the years. A tortured soul, hellbent on revenge while struggling to keep whatever humanity he has left in check; it is definitely not an easy task to bring Ji Hyuk to life. But Namgoong Min does so in powerful and charismatic fashion. His dedication to the character and the story is evident in every scene. And it is Namgoong Min’s performance that really elevates the series to be a real television event.

It is by no means a perfect series. And part of it is just not being able to explore even more areas of the world the series has established very well. But with unflinching and edge of your seat action, an intricate character-driven story and ultimately satisfying resolutions, The Veil is truly an experience worth having.

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