Show is warm and well-intentioned at its core, and does deliver a good amount of poignance and feels, when it leans into this aspect of its personality.
At the same time, Show also has a melodramatic side, and while it is relevant to the story, and therefore necessary for Show to give it time in the spotlight, I do feel like Show goes a bit ham with it, especially in its late stretch.
That said, Show manages to end on a poignant, feel-good, thought-provoking note, despite some treacly tendencies, which is a solid accomplishment on its own.
Your mileage is likely to vary, given Show’s mixed reputation. (Hopefully, this review will help you figure out whether this one’s for you.)
There are a number of ways to approach this show: as a modern adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott; as a mystery-thriller; as a dark commentary on socio-economic inequality.
However, I find it most effective to approach this one as a stylish makjang, because I feel that that’s the lens that gives me the most enjoyment, of this show.
Show is darkly atmospheric and consistently intriguing and twisty – and it’s all pretty engaging and satisfying, when viewed with a makjang lens.
Our cast is strong across the board, with our primary cast putting in great performances, but I have to confess to being most fascinated by the deliveries of Uhm Ki Joon and Uhm Ji Won, and to being most dazzled by Wi Ha Joon’s very handsome face. 🤩😁
Overall, adjustment of expectations is a must – and very worthwhile.
As dark as it is, and as flawed as it is, The Devil Judge is quite the rollercoaster of a watch.
I will say that Ji Sung and Kim Min Jung are both magnetic enough in their deliveries, to command your attention all on their own.
That said, there is a lot that one might find problematic in this show’s writing and execution, not least Show’s propensity to try to shock its audience, as often and as deeply as possible.
Some folks love this one, and others hate it. It’s hard to say where you’d land, until you give this one a try. That said, I do think that certain lens adjustment would help yield a more enjoyable watch experience, which I’ll talk about shortly.