Saturday, February 25, 2012

Honourable Mention: Vampire Prosecutor – season 1

This was a Korean TV series from 2011 directed by Kim Byung Soo and the first thing I have to explain is why this is an Honourable Mention and not a review. I purchased the DVD set of the series from ebay, and the set originated from Hong Kong. I suspect it might not be too kosher.

Why? Well despite the professionally printed discs in a box set with an embossed slipcase – all of which screams out professional – it is down to the subtitles. Let me first say that this is a police procedural show (that happens to include a vampire). The first 6 of 12 episodes were excellently subtitled and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. The next 6 were burdened with literal subtitles and were a chore to watch. Now normally, with poor subtitles – especially literal ones – you can suffer through and pick up visual clues as to the direction of narrative. Not so with a police procedure show, where you are trying to follow the narrative as they crack a crime!

bloody mouth
Of course, poor subtitles are an occupational hazard. However it is the radical change in subtitle quality that causes me to think that the set might have been a little less than kosher (that and the Korean TV watermarks still in plain sight!) However I don’t think it fair to review a show when half of it was difficult to watch.

funky veins around the eyes
The show begins 7 years before its primary timeframe, with a car chase. Prosecutor Min Tae Yong (Yun Jung Hoon) is chasing down a suspect in a vampire case (that saw his sister attacked and killed), but the suspect is chasing a petrol tanker driven by a vampire. There is an almighty pile-up and the person that Min was chasing is stabbed by the person he, in turn, pursued. In the confusion and flames Min is bitten. Seven years later and Min is still a prosecutor (think district attorney) and keeping his vampirism secret.

Min and Hwang
The only person, on the job, who knows the truth is Hwang Soon Bum (Lee Won Jong), a cop. He has Min help him with a case as Min can sense, from the blood, what has happened. There is to be a new team set up, a special prosecution team, made up of Min and a cop – he has chosen Hwang. Also assigned to the team is a young prosecutor called Yoo Jung In (Lee Young Ah) and a lab tech called Choi Dong Man(Kim Joo Young).

Kim Ye Jin as Soo Hee
As well as getting a sense of events in the presence of blood, Min can relive a dead person’s last moments by drinking some of their blood – this causes him pain after the vision. The samples of blood being taken are causing suspicion from the pathologist Soo Hee (Kim Ye Jin), but the fact that she has a thing for Min keeps that in check. Of course explaining how he knows certain things is difficult.

possible vampire attack
The first case involves a new vampire killing, like the rash of cases 7 years before. Min knows it isn’t a vampire case as the neck incisions are too deep (deeper than a fang could make) and down to the fact that some blood was left in the body, but he can’t say why he knows that. He also knows the actual killing took place in a room with French dolls, having seen the room when he drank some of the dead girl's blood, but can’t explain how he knows this. Some of his habits do cause a bit of tension with Yoo, but she has her own secrets (her father is an organised crime boss).

Park Jae Hoon is the bartender
The other person that knows Min’s secret is the mysterious bartender (Park Jae Hoon) at Club Blood. He supplies blood to Min – who has not killed anyone so far, though he struggles at times to maintain control – but also knows more about Min and his past than he is letting on. The vampires can go out in daylight, nothing is said about killing them but I would guess (through what we see) that excessive injury will do the trick. They have a vein and glowing blue eye thing and are much stronger than a normal human.

There are two ways to become a vampire. To be transfused with vampire blood or to be the first victim of a vampire – only the first victim is turned.

the vampire prosecutor
As I say, I really enjoyed the first half of the series. It was fascinating looking at another country’s justice system – and I assume it was based roughly around the Korean criminal justice system, with enough wiggle room for dramatic storytelling and do look forward to a time when I can watch the second half of the series with good subtitling.

At the time of this article there was no IMDb page.


Chaucer33 said...

Look up a website called Drama Fever. It has both seasons legitimately (very kosher) because they are the real subtitling company. The only gripe with the subtitles is that every once in a while they are off time, but you can get the gist of what is going on. Hulu has both seasons for free too.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Chaucer33, many thanks for that - I will look for Drama Fever. Last time I tried Hulu it wouldn't allow non-US viewers to access the vids (I think it was Hulu at least) but things may have changed

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Unfortunately hulu is blocked in the UK and Drama Fever does not allow vampire prosecutor to be aired in the UK either...

Useful sites, however, for anyone elsewhere in the world or with a proxy.

A Korean In America said...

Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
Thanks for the great review of Vampire Prosecutor 뱀파이어 검사 (2011) Season 1! I enjoyed it a lot.
I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 80%.
Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
Thanks again for the review. If you want to do something with my blog, please contact me.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

no worries