A vigilante can be defined as a person who attempts to prevent crime in an unofficial manner or to apprehend and punish someone who has committed a crime. The person usually believes that organizations responsible for upholding justice, such as the police, are inefficient. Such is the theme of the K-drama “Vigilante,” starring Nam Joo-hyuk on Disney+

From webtoon to K-drama

Kim Ji-yong, played by Nam Joo-hyuk, is a police university student on weekdays and a vigilante on weekends. Disney+

The series adapted from a webtoon tells the story of Kim Ji-yong, whose mother was beaten to death when he was a child. The culprit only receives three and a half years in prison for his crime. Years later, Kim Ji-yong learns that his mother’s killer has not changed at all. He now takes matters into his own hands. As a result, Kim Ji-yong begins to live two separate lives. He’s an exemplary student at the police university throughout the week. On the weekends, he becomes a vigilante who exacts revenge on offenders who still commit crimes after receiving minor sentences. 

The vigilante’s appearance draws the attention of a reporter, Choi Mi-ryeo, who subsequently gives bait to Kim Ji-yong and supplies him with information on offenders who have eluded justice. Vigilante also gets assistance from a rich admirer Cho Kang-ok, who shares his idea of justice. Meanwhile, Detective Cho Heon, known as the “Physical Monster” is on the hunt for the guy known as Vigilante. 

Choi Mi-ryeo (Kim So-jin) and Cho Kang-ok (Lee Jun-hyuk) help Vigilante bring justice to victims. Disney+

The K-drama includes eight episodes in total, with each episode lasting roughly 45 minutes. The series is based on the webtoon “Vigilante,” which was created by CRG and drawn by Kim Gyu-sam. This drama falls within the action, thriller, psychological, and crime genre.

‘Vigilante’: An insightful examination of moral complexity

“Vigilante” is a compelling drama with well-developed characters, an intriguing storyline, and an insightful examination of moral complexity. The storyline is quite fast-paced, with Vigilante punishing offenders in a pretty short amount of time. The narrative is somewhat quick, managing to keep the viewers hooked. Initially focusing on average criminals, Kim Ji-yong gets help to pursue high-profile offenders who are involved in more organized crimes.

It’s amazing how they portray a protagonist as an antihero. It managed to make me feel guilty and sympathetic for individuals who have suffered injustice yet disagree with the Vigilante’s means since violence is not the only option to achieve justice.

Cho Heon (Yoo Ji-tae) is tasked to hunt down the vigilante. Disney+

In terms of acting, the cast deserves accolades since each one has shown dedication for their unique roles. Over the years, Nam Joo-hyuk, who played the role of Vigilante, has treated his fans to some very diverse roles, whether he is a swimmer, an entrepreneur, or a former chaebol. It’s a little strange to see him as an antihero but he’s been doing good thus far. Other than that, Yoo Ji-tae, who portrayed Cho Heon, struck me with his portrayal of the character. According to reports, he bulked up in preparation for this role. This shows that all the actors have been working hard to ensure the success of this drama.

Meanwhile, the series makes use of slow or steady camera movements in order to establish a sense of realism and immersion in the action. The subdued lighting, soft shadows, and muted colors give a realistic and gritty impression. This adds more detail and complexity to each fight scene and is capable of creating tension in the audience.

Regarding the audio, I believe there is a deficiency in the variety of background music, which lessens the sensation. Despite having excellent camera movements, the fight scenes seem less realistic due to the overly loud sound effects.           

What strikes me as impressive is the message that this drama portrays. One of the messages is that the end does not justify the means. It is not necessary for the Vigilante to do bad to wicked people, even if he believes that there is no justice on the right side. He even mentioned that to defeat the devil is to become the devil itself first. Cho Heon intended to change his mind and make him believe that there are still people on the side of authority who are honest and true.  Like the Vigilante, in real life, there are too many examples of the society losing faith in authorities. To sum it up, I can say this is a must-watch series and clearly one of the top action K-dramas in 2023 that has a really surprising plot and a strong message.

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