KBS2’s Bad Prosecutor (진검승부/True Sword Battle) is surprisingly quite bland despite having a solid cast. An overly familiar story of revenge and corruption that doesn’t really offer any new twists or approaches results in a series that is just there. It is not offensively bad. But there’s nothing memorable about it either. And that’s disappointing.
Do Kyung Soo is Jin Jung, the titular “bad prosecutor” who can be referred to as such because of his atypical approach to law. With his deep sense of justice, Jin Jung resorts to playful trickery and expedient action to pin down the powerful and corrupt and ultimately make them pay for their crimes. His unorthodox style annoys his colleagues. But when his target for justice has one too many connections to his direct superiors, he gets demoted to a lower office division.
Despite the perceived demotion, Jin Jung continues to dig into a murder case that higher-ups want to quickly sweep under the rug. But in fact it is just one piece of a larger web of murder, crime and corruption.
Initially reluctant because of Jin Jung’s sometimes outrageous antics, senior prosecutor Shin A Ra (Lee Se Hee) joins in his quest to uncover the truth. And with the help of Jin Jung’s friends, investigator Lee Chul Ki (Yeon Jun Suk), hacker Go Joong Do (Lee Si Un), skilled fighter Baek Eun Ji (Joo Bo Young) and other surprising individuals, they are eventually able to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Bad Prosecutor‘s premise is certainly familiar. And there is nothing wrong with that. But when dealing with something that audiences have seen before, it’s good for a series to add refreshing twists or approach the story in new, creative ways. Bad Prosecutor seems to have decided that a more riotous approach was the way to go.
But Bad Prosecutor is a bit too cartoonish. Sometimes even outrageous. High-flying action sequences almost come across as spoof-like slapstick. In random bites, some of those scenes can be fun. But when haphazardly blended together with some of the series’ darker turns or when some scenes get too unbelievable even for what it is attempting, it results in something that feels undeveloped. And the tonal whiplash is almost too much to endure.
The overarching case (which spans the, thankfully just, 12 episodes of the series) holds no surprises. And the smaller cases that feed into that overarching case are all too familiar to leave any sort of memorable impression.
It’s hard not to compare this series to the also-recently concluded One Dollar Lawyer. Both are law dramas that are much more loose and lighthearted than most series in the genre. But save for One Dollar Lawyer‘s two-episode mid-series exposition revealing the title character’s backstory, it had a much better handle on what it wanted to be. And for the most part, executed that vision more seamlessly. Even if it had its own flaws.
Bad Prosecutor, meanwhile, never fully follows through on what it wants to be. Everything seems either undeveloped or done half-heartedly. There are times when the series feels rather slow and even sluggish, even with the bursts of slapstick action sequences.
The series’ saving grace is the solid cast who actually do a lot of heavy lifting to make Bad Prosecutor at least worthy enough to see all the way through. Because the writing and even certain parts of the direction leave much to be desired.
Do Kyung Soo is a talented actor. But Jin Jung as a character requires little effort from him. There is no question that this series is a star vehicle for Kyung Soo. But Jin Jung seems more like someone meant to mug the camera and be competently goofy most of the time rather than be a fully developed, charismatic, corruption-fighting hero.
Lee Se Hee actually gets the best opportunity as Shin A Ra who has to be the exasperated sidekick to Jin Jung. Kind of like the serious straight man to Jin Jung’s crazier antics. But even then, none of the cast gets much to work with in terms of legitimate story.
Again, nothing about Bad Prosecutor is offensively bad. No egregious missteps. But there’s not much of anything that warrants an overwhelming endorsement of the series either. The 12 episodes are surprisingly bland despite having many pieces needed to be something much more fun and enjoyable. And that’s a disappointment having some nice potential be left on the table.