Good Ol’ Review: Shin Ha Kyun, Kim Young Kwang and Shin Jae Ha Shine in “Evilive”

Evilive Korean Drama Review

Very minor spoilers.

Evilive (악인전기) is a dark exploration of morality wrapped up in suspenseful and gritty package. Shin Ha Kyun, Kim Young Kwang and Shin Jae Ha deliver captivating performances in this slowburn of a story. You may not know exactly what you’re getting into when you first begin the series. But as our main characters’ stories become more intertwined, the dark path they eventually embark upon reveals some interesting and thought provoking ideas.

Evilive centers around Han Dong Soo, a wrongfully disgraced attorney who must now settle for defending petty criminals in order to provide for his wife and niece. Dong Soo connects with potential clients through his younger brother Beom Jae (Shin Jae Ha) who serves as a broker with tips from a friend involved in the local web of organized crime.

But the brothers’ lives will change forever when Dong Soo meets and then accepts a job from Seo Do Young (Kim Young Kwang). Do Young had been the #2 in one of the local gangs. And the more Dong Soo becomes intertwined with the violent and unpredictable Do Young, the more he begins to question how he has lived his life so far. Which then leads him down a path of no return.

Evilive tackles many familiar themes. Dong Soo and his family are initially shown to suffer from the injustice perpetrated by those in power. The world revolves around money. And unfortunately for Dong Soo, his family does not have much. The more he and his family continue to get stepped on by the rich and powerful, the more Dong Soo is pushed toward Do Young. And for this attorney, he begins to tow the very thin line of morality.

Evilive Korean Drama Review

At its core, the series is a fascinating portrait of Dong Soo peeling back the layers of his own personality, revealing a hidden dark side that at times parallels and other times contrasts with Do Young’s remorseless cruelty. The psychological effect and the emotional manipulation of the many outside forces really goes a long way in moving the narrative forward. And helping to fill out these characters into becoming fully realized people as well.

Evilive explores the complex dynamic that emerges between Dong Soo and Do Young. All with Beom Jae serving as an outside observer increasingly horrified by his brothers’ precipitous descent. The series has the characters, particularly Dong Soo and Beom Jae, struggling to navigate the murky waters of morality and their own values.

As the characters find themselves in increasing chaos, the series does a great job of fully exploring their evolving relationships. All while set with the backdrop of familiar corruption and conspiracy that is so prevalent in Korean drama’s depiction of everyday life in the country.

Leading a strong cast, Shin Ha Kyun, Kim Young Kwang and Shin Jae Ha really deliver such excellent performances.

Evilive Korean Drama Review

Shin Jae Ha again is able to show off his great versatility. With his recent roles including much darker characters, he is able to take Beom Jae and make him the de facto voice of reason. Which is quite a light in the darkness that engulfs Dong Soo and Do Young. Providing that contrast to Shin Ha Kyun and Kim Young Kwang allows Shin Jae Ha to really take the spotlight at many points during the series.

Shin Ha Kyun and Kim Young Kwang, meanwhile, excel at their back and forth as Dong Soo and Do Young. The chemistry they share really powers the engaging dynamic the characters have. With that relationship being the center of the series, they have a lot of heavy lifting to do. And they do it effortlessly. As both their characters are the most morally ambiguous gray characters you’ll ever see on a Korean drama, it is easy to be in awe of their masterful performances here.

Evilive Korean Drama Review

Evilive features some pulpy action sequences, relying more on blood than choreography. But the series’ strength is in its compelling narrative, engaging plot, well-developed characters and captivating performances. For anyone that’s a fan of crime thrillers, complex stories and deep character studies, Evilive is just the series for you.

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