Voice Review

Voice Review

Voice is a 16 episode revenge kdrama (2017) about two police officers who work together to bring to justice the serial killer who killed their loved ones. This is done under the upstart and unwanted Golden Time Team, which strives to get police support to victims in real-time not after the fact. The need for real-time response was exemplified in the first case based on the true case of a young woman who was kidnapped and killed who managed to call the police with sufficient location detail. But the police arrived too late (13 hours late!) finding the victim’s lifeless body (see article with details). The Golden Time team deals with a series of cases featuring criminals committing heinous crimes (murder, abuse, rape, human trafficking, etc.). Several of the crimes are connected by a thread that leads back to the serial killer. Can our leads connect the dots? Will the serial killer be caught? Will justice be served?

Pros:


Crimes cried out for the victims to be heard.
The crimes were shocking. Dating site victims, abused foster children, rape videos, human used like rats in drug trials, etc. The underlying theme was the victims are not heard or served and this needs to change. Voice portrayed an unflattering image of the police, the politics, and the processes that inhibit putting victims’ needs first. I applaud the show for putting the spotlight on this issue.


Marginalization and victimization of women, children, and the poor was front and center. 
Our female lead was dismissed, bullied, etc. She remained undaunted in her mission to fight for the victims through an immediate response team. Her boss, her co-workers, the criminals, sought to demean and break her. It didn’t happen. I loved her for that. The majority of victims were poor and ignored. Voice relentlessly demanded equal justice for those in the lower rung of society. I applaud the show for this.


Compelling chapters spanned multiple episodes and wove together gritty crimes along with the search for the serial killer.
I enjoyed the chapter format which focused on a crime/criminal that the team would deal with. Many of these crimes related back to the serial killer though initially this wasn’t apparent. I was caught up in the life or death situations that each victim faced. Would the child be saved before the abuser killed him? Would the woman be saved before the rape video was shot? There were tense and gripping moments throughout this series.

Cons:


Gratuitous violence in each crime.
This show earned a 19+ rating for certain episodes from the Korean Communications Standards Commission with good reason. Each crime, each murder, showed more violence that was needed. It was difficult to watch. Because Voice also focused on the sound of actions, I become sensitive hearing the crimes. The sound of the murder implement striking, the victims crying for help in moments of life threatening danger, affected me. The violence could have been toned down, the crimes did not need to be actualized as fully as they were, without lessening the impact. It was the crimes themselves that shocked me, a toned down portrayal would not reduce the impact of the crimes.


Minimal character development.
One of the enjoyable aspects of a story is the evolution of characters through the storyline. Voice gave little to no character development. For the majority of the series our male lead was a police detective and nothing beyond that job. He was stuck in anger that his wife’s murder had never been solved. Initially he blamed the female lead for helping his wife’s killer go free. He learned he was wrong about that and learned to trust her. But there was nothing on a personal level except flashes of connections with his male co-workers and little seen son. Our female lead was a police officer that fought for victims and determined that her father’s murder would be solved. The female lead didn’t evolve beyond that. There was nothing on a personal level except her compassion for the victims. I was starved for any emotional content or individual evolution, and was never satisfied.


Gaping holes in logic and continuity.
The devil is in the details and this writer was not detail oriented. If I had a dollar for every time I had to turn a blind eye to the writer’s inability to weave cohesive plot details, I’d be rich. The series answered some of the questions but left others dangling. If attention to detail is important to you, Voice will drive you crazy.

Characters that worked for me:


Female lead Kwon Joo played by Le Ha Na.
Her inner fortitude did not waver. Her beliefs were unshakeable. Her ability to stand strong no matter what a higher status male yelled at her impressed me. Every man wanted to stifle Kwon Joo to accept subjugation. But she dismissed the endless strangulation of her rights. That’s hard to do (in real life too). I loved her for that. Unfortunately, all this was established in the first third of the series and from that point forward the character’s strengths and contributions stayed static. This was a waste of a strong female character.


Male lead Jin Hyuk played by Jang Hyuk.
Full disclosure, I watched this series for Jang Hyuk who I consider to be one of the top actors in Korea. He has played an eclectic mix of characters during his career. He wanted to play a police detective. Voice gave him that role but little else for the majority of the series. Jin Hyuk got more interesting once his tag line persona “crazy dog” surfaced. There were a couple of decent fight scenes. Jang Hyuk’s lighting fast hands – impressive. The fact that Jang Hyuk still does all his own stunt work – amazing. In the latter quarter of the series the writer finally unshackled Jin Hyuk and provided moments to shine. Jang Hyuk took advantage of these opportunities and delivered several stellar scenes. But it was too little for me. I didn’t want to diet on Jang Hyuk’s brilliance, I wanted to feast on it.


Jin Hyuk’s blood lust was justified. Do I think that the serial killer was irredeemable and merited death? Yes, I do. What surprised me was how blood lust gripped me. Jin Hyuk was my conduit to work through this at the end of the series. As he worked through his blood lust, I did too. I found that fascinating.

Thoughts about the Writer:


Writer Ma (Ma Jin Won) has no other kdrama credits (per Asianwiki and Wikipedia). If this was Writer Ma’s first drama, then there was mix of success and failure. There were many compelling, gripping, difficult to forget moments. That being said, Writer Ma is the prime driver for failures of this drama. One-note characters that stifled capable actors were in Writer Ma’s control. The inability to logically plot the details of a crime scene to scene, have a consistent methodology the series killer used, answer the back-story questions fully, so viewers aren’t distracted by logic gaps were in Writer Ma’s control. What I’d like stay to Writer Ma in 4 short sentences. Viewers want a journey with your characters. Static characters are boring. Details matter. Weave a tight series story that over arches with your compelling chapters. I hope someone points out the pluses and minuses to Writer Ma. If not, I’m available.

Would I recommend this series?

That depends. 
If you are a Jang Hyuk fan, can handle gratuitous violence, stymied characters, and logic gaps that must be ignored, then Voice offers an often gripping ride to find a serial killer unlike any I’ve experienced.

OST:


Voice had a 3 song OST. Two songs stood out for me. My favorite song was the compelling ballad titled “Voice” by Kim Yoon Ah (who appeared in episode 9). This song provided the emotional frame for this show. Producer Director Kim utilized it effectively. Here are the lyrics. The other winner song is the third song titled “I’ll All Ears” by Chang Mo. It is a catchy tune with a rap flavor that felt like a representation of the relentless pursuit of justice. Check out the lyrics.

The playlist is embedded below or check it out via the link.

Recaps/Reviews:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Series

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Posted in Kdrama, Reviews, Voice
49 comments on “Voice Review
  1. Drama Fan says:

    I have nothing to add dear @KJT. You’ve said it all 👏

    • kjtamuser says:

      That is a terrific compliment DF. You know I respect your expertise and insights that always make me see things more fully. Pleasure bonding with you during this series.

      • Lady G. says:

        I second what Drama Fan said. We have all dissected this drama up and down. This review was just the final icing on the cake. I appreciate and agree with most of your opinions on the show about the characters and build up, and what was lacking. I went ahead and splurged on the soundtrack too.

        • kjtamuser says:

          Lady G, glad you could share this series with all of us. The community of viewers amps all of us, so that we enjoy the series much more than a solo view. The soundtrack is short but sweet. Till our next drama together…

  2. prettysup says:

    Yes I love Jang Hyuk, I love blood and crime dramas! So this definitely worked for me hehe…

    • kjtamuser says:

      I cannot deny this series shocked and gripped me from start to finish. Jang Hyuk had more to do and emote in the latter third of the series which amped the emotional connection for me.

    • kjtamuser says:

      There was quite a bit to enjoy in this series. I think I’ll remember what I loved longer than what I didn’t.

  3. Beez says:

    @kjtamuser. Wow. Just…Wow. I haven’t finished reading your series review yet because I clicked on the link you provided to the news story. Just. Wow.

    Thanks for providing the link. T_T

  4. Beez says:

    @kjtamuser – your review actually makes the series sound better than the actual writing for the show! Reading the first part of this review it sounds like a compelling show. But you’re spot on about the things the show was lacking.

    During the “live” participation on your site while the show was airing, despite a few KjtamuserCrew mentioning that the crimes were based on true stories, I took it in stride – yes, I cringed and was caught up in the suspense, but it didn’t hit me hard until I read the news article you linked to. I know there is evil in the world like this so what hit me harder than the gruesome crimes themselves is to discover the Korean police (in a city as developed as Seoul) could be this ambivalent to its citizens in desperate need. I would’ve said “incompetent” except they weren’t even trying. To be incompetent would imply they had some procedures in place in the first place but then dropped the ball BY MISTAKE.

    I often watch Kdramas that show poor police work. I always thought it was lazy writing in order to allow something the writer wanted to happen in the plot. Now I’m just so sad to think those portrayals are based on fact. 😦 But thank God the crime rate in Korea is nothing like where I’m originally from. I’ve heard from friends that in S. Korea, you can walk away (a short distance) from your purse with the assumption it will still be there. Not that I would advise doing that, but in large cities in the U.S., you KNOW it will be gone if you take your eye and hand off it for a second! (Your car, too, if it’s not locked. Even locked it’s iffy.)

    I do admire the things in S. Korea that are reminiscent of the 1950’s and ’60’s as far as moral standards that keeps the crime rate low, but it’s too bad that this incident will probably keep S.K in the attitude toward racism that we had in the ’50’s and 60’s as well.

    Well, this is one Jang Hyuk series I will not be revisiting as I’m sure I’d be in horrified tears the next time around. I’ll just look for YouTube clips of those amazing fight scenes so I can see those hands in action over and over.

    • kjtamuser says:

      I loved the rational behind this series to shine the light on real issues. If it helps create conversation, awareness and even change, then it was all to the good.

      I agree this series will be a one and done view for me. Jang Hyuk – lighting hands, expressive eyes, flat stomach…he’s still got it!

      Thanks for sharing this series journey with all of us. You always make me smile and think!

    • Drama Fan says:

      @Beez Yeah, early on Gumi told me that, koreans did not find the portrayal of the police unrealistic at all. I mean they were spotting plotholes left and right too but the portrayal of the police and slow response of 112, unfortunately rang true to them (at least at the beginning)

  5. Kay says:

    Great review with an excellent list of pros and cons to the series 🙂

  6. Kay says:

    Haha, yeah, you’re going to have some openings with Voice and Tomorrow With You ending. Yes, just head on over to the drama guide, lol. There’s definitely some interesting ones coming up 🙂

    • Beez says:

      You guuuuyyyyyys, where and what is this drama guide if which you speak?

      Anybody got a link?

    • kjtamuser says:

      I’m leaning towards Tunnel because it’s Choi Jin Hyuk and this role look meatier for him. The second drama is TBD.

      • Kay says:

        That should definitely be a good one to replace Voice. I’m really liking Choi Jin Hyuk from what I’m seeing in the trailers. It should definitely be a meatier role for him. Do you think you’ll choose another drama to recap or just kick back and enjoy it?

        • kjtamuser says:

          I checked out the first two episodes of Radiant Office. I loved Ko Ah Sung in Heard It Through the Grapevine and that’s what drew me to the show. While I liked many production aspects, the story didn’t grab me enough to recap. I think I’ll watch purely as a viewer. I don’t do that often enough.

          • Beez says:

            Good for you, kjtamuser. I also loved Heard it Through the Grapevine but I found it had so many cultural things that needed explaining but no one with that type of knowledge was recapping it.

            Ko Ah Sung became one of my favorites because of it. I watched her recently in Snowpiercer, a Korean-American collaboration starring Chris Evans. It’s weirder than Jang Hyuk’s Searching for the Elephant. I love sci-fi but I paused the movie (dvd) several times and almost didn’t finish it. It was weird, strange, disgusting, and it was certainly different. To quote StuckonHyuk “What did I just watch?”

            • kjtamuser says:

              Ko Ah Sung became one of my favorites…I watched her recently in Snowpiercer, a Korean-American collaboration starring Chris Evans.
              I went to IMDB and read a couple of reviews. One reviewer articulated his issues with the film in a logical manner. I’d be curious if you agree.
              http://www.imdb.com/user/ur45136891/

              • Beez says:

                @kjtamuser – regarding the Snowpiercer review – I think he’s way off base. There were no plot holes because after the first 10 minutes you realize you can’t expect a straight forward logical plot. It’s crazy surrealism that somehow does point to Nietzscheism (if I’m using that term correctly). I may not know what I watched exactly (and you know I tend to pick apart logic gaps with a nitpickets’s fine toothed comb, but this is so far out there, I wouldn’t even attempt to use an Afro pick on it. If you ask me if it was good, I’d say “I don’t know. I’m still ruminating on it. Much the way I felt my first time watching “Searching for the Elephant only it’s much, much weirder.” And I doubt I’ll ever watch this again whereas I rewarched Elephant a few times and it began to make perfect sense to me. But about Snowpiercer, I would say “Despite everything, I’m glad I saw it just because…and I have no good reason other than the geek inside me”. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

                • Beez says:

                  @kjtamuser – I just remembered a thought I had while watching the movie Snowpiercer and maybe it will give you a better idea of what it is like – each train car is like advancing to the next level of a video game. You never know what type of crazy the next car will have.

                  I DON’T THINK IT IS, BUT SOME MIGHT CONSIDER WHAT I’M ABOUT TO TYPE A SPOILER:

                  You defeat the challenge and finally get to the top to then have to decide if you want to destroy the entire “world” or to replace the ruler and become the very thing you hated.

                • kjtamuser says:

                  I appreciate the feedback Beez. In fact, the description that every time you advance to the next car is like advancing in a video game is appealing.

                • Beez says:

                  @kjtamuser You’ve been forewarned. And it is violent so watch at your own risk. Just from what I know of your taste, I don’t think it will be your cup of tea.

                • kjtamuser says:

                  I appreciate your warning Beez. I doubt I’ll watch it (too many items on the to-watch list in front of it) but the concept has an appeal.

            • Drama Fan says:

              @Beez OMG! I loved Snowpiercer! I love weird obviously 😁

              • Beez says:

                @DramaFan Yup. The weirdo/sci-fi geek in me liked it (in a way)…(nah,I still can’t say I liked it, but I didn’t dislike it either. #too surreal?) but I know it isn’t for everyone. My inner nitpicker was still there with the first car they infiltrated (ski masks with no eye cutouts that they can see through? And what’s the reason for them?) but once I saw the bizarre pregnant teacher and classroom I put all expectations of logic away and just accepted it for [whatever] it was.

      • Kay says:

        I’m planning to check out Radiant Office too. It looks more fun and heartwarming. I know a lot of work goes into recapping, so it’s definitely good to just relax and enjoy a drama sometimes. Hope it’s a good one for you 🙂

  7. Prettysup says:

    Just watched special part1 with English subs but somehow they don’t allow me to post the link here

  8. Drama Fan says:

    It looks like Jang Hyuk got injured with s steel pipe while filming one scene. Obviously he is fine (cause apparently he is made of steel himself) but his pained expression was real 😢 https://instagram.com/p/BR3gd9eDqx-/

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