Time travel is by now a Korean drama staple which has been combined with many genres. Sadly for fans of this aspect, it mostly functions as a gimmick to spice up familiar stories. “Tunnel – Drama” does not break the mold in that regard, but the time bending crime series has a lot of good to offer.
Park Gwang-ho (Choi Jin-hyuk) is a no nonsense detective from 1986. Gwang-ho chases a local serial killer through a tunnel, only to find himself in the present day. The premise of the series is very simple and for the most part the element of time plays an important role in the plot. However, as I will elaborate on further down, viewers looking for a satisfying time-related mystery will once again be disappointed.
Before getting to the things which do not work in “Tunnel – Drama”, I want to talk a bit about its good points, which are thankfully many. I feel that the show’s biggest strength lies with its endearing and engaging characters. Gwang-ho is an everyday man who is very relatable and a solid center for the story. The series really focuses on the nuanced personalities of its main players and the actors’ chemistry is wonderful.
While I cannot reveal a lot about the villain element of the series without spoiling the plot, I will say that it is a refreshing change from “stock pretty boy in suit No. 234566” and the glamorization they come with. Korean dramas love their bad boys, but unfortunately the focus is often more on the actor’s appeal than on the character’s development. “Tunnel – Drama” goes a little bit deeper into the topic of motive than the simplistic approach of most dramas.
At the same time, I do mean it when I say a “little bit” deeper. The casting is good and the effort commendable, but the writing kind of sets itself up for failure by focusing more on the crime element and keeping certain twists hidden for so long that there is little time left to really go deep into juicier concepts. It feels like a villain origin story which never really flourishes.
By far the biggest complaint I have, however, is the time travel element. It is truly regrettable that the writing completely drops the ball by the end, because unlike many dramas with similar elements, it really does play around with cause and effect. The implications of switching timelines are both personal and universal and while the former is portrayed well, the latter is not.
Regardless, this is not the first or last time when a drama bites on more than it can chew when it comes to larger than life concepts and aside from a deflating conclusion, it does not spoil the series at all. When all is said and done “Tunnel – Drama” is a fun crime drama with a charismatic cast and good entertainment value.
“Tunnel – Drama” is directed by Sin Yong-hwi and Kim Seong-min-I, written by Lee Eun-mi-III and features Choi Jin-hyuk, Yoon Hyun-min and Lee Yoo-young.
Written by: Orion from ‘Orion’s Ramblings‘
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