Synonyms for duel include: fight, battle, combat, and contend.
The definition for dual is: having two like parts.
Although OCN’s new sci fi thriller is about the fight (duel) between good and evil, three of its main characters do, indeed, have like parts – the drama is Duel.
While Officer Jang Deuk-Cheon is with his ill daughter, Jang Soo-Yeon, in the back of an ambulance, a man dressed like a doctor attempts to kidnap her. Deuk-Cheon is rendered unconscious during the fight to save Soo-Yeon and when he wakes up, she’s gone. With nothing to go on but the fact that he saw the abductor’s face, he begins the search for Soo-Yeon. However, when he finally locates the kidnapper, he’s stunned to see another man, with exactly the same face, watching through a window. Since he’s only able to catch one of the strangers, his colleagues find it hard to believe there’s someone still on the loose who looks just like the person they arrested. While being questioned, the man insists he has no knowledge of the abduction and Officer Jang realizes he’ll have to locate the other suspect if he wants to rescue his daughter. So his hunt for the look-alike begins.
I began to write about the characters and then stopped, realizing if I started to explain who each person is I’d be giving away too much of the show. A lot of this drama’s appeal is in its mystery and knowing about these particular people ahead of time will ruin the element of surprise. So although there are several people in the story that I’d enjoy writing about, this is as much of a character synopsis as you’re going to get…
Veteran police officer Jang Deuk-Cheon is a loving father who singlehandedly raised his 12 year old daughter, Jang Soo-Yeon, from the day she was born. He is well liked by his colleagues but clashes with an arrogant prosecutor by the name of Choi Jo-Hye. When his daughter is kidnapped, Deuk-Cheon is determined to bring her safely back home, even if he has to break the law and run from his cop buddies to do it.
The main role of Officer Jang Deuk-Cheon is played by Jung Jae-Young. He has been in film and on the stage but Duel is only his second TV series. Among his many awards, 11 are for Best Actor!
After watching school plays with his friends while still in high school, Yang Se-Jong who plays the parts of Lee Sung-Joon, Lee Sung-Hoon, and Lee Yong-Sup, decided he wanted to be an actor. In 2012 he began majoring in Theater and Film at Korea National University of Arts. His acting debut came earlier this year in the medical drama Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim. I was very impressed with Se-Jong’s acting. He played three very different characters in this drama, performing each one flawlessly. His characters’ facial expressions and voices were very different from one another. He gets an A+ from me.
Duel‘s writing is excellent. Its screenwriter, Kim Yoon-Joo, has written two other dramas, both of which are on my top 20 favorite Kdramas list – Nine: Nine Times Time Travel and Queen In-Hyun’s Man. Unlike the other two shows, this one has a dark, gritty feel to it.
Although Duel is mainly a crime/thriller drama, it also brings with it some medical aspects and a fair amount of science fiction. Like so many other OCN Network dramas I’ve seen, this one deals with the worst side of humanity. There are two kidnappings, several murders, people sworn to uphold the law who break it for selfish reasons, illegal organ trafficking and, worst of all, medical experiments performed on children. If you don’t handle those kinds of things well this is a show I would suggest you skip. On the other hand, if you can overlook those things as theatrical elements that make the show more interesting, this is one Kdrama I suggest you put on your “watch” list. There’s not one time the show drags, it keeps you guessing the full 16 hours.
Quick question – do you know anything about induced pluripotent stem cell research? A little knowledge on the subject just may come in handy before you start the show, although I had no idea what it was and that didn’t stop me from enjoying this intriguing drama.
There are some “oops” moments but they’re very minor. The thing I had a difficult time being sold on was the fact that Jang Soo-Yeon, Jang Deuk-Cheon’s daughter, was 12 years old. Everyone around her, especially her father, spoke to her, and treated her, like she was only five or six. Personally, I think they needed her to be older (because of when a certain event that happened in the past occurred) but wanted her to be little so we would feel bad for a small child going through a life threatening illness and horrible abduction. So, how did they achieve both those objectives?… say she’s 12 and treat her like she’s six. It’s irritating but, oh well.
The opening of the first couple episodes were confusing until I realized I was watching something that was going to happen in the future. I began an episode thinking, “Oh, I must have skipped an episode because this is not where the last one ended,” but after a few times of that happening I got used to it, realizing I was being given a sneak peek of what was to come in the near future. The later episodes (starting around number 11), however, don’t do that. I’m okay with either way but I wish they would have been consistent. I wonder why screenwriter Kim Yoon-Joo chose to show a preview for the beginning and middle episodes but not the last few. Maybe so the ending was more of a surprise?
Like most other suspenseful dramas, Duel is filled with tense-sounding instrumental music, so I was surprised when they slipped in a ballad entitled Nightmare. Its music is okay but I wasn’t thrilled with the artist, Mad Soul Child. The female singer’s voice is whiny, scratchy, and just plain obnoxious.
There is an absence of bright, vibrant colors in this show with a lot of it being shot in very low light. Dark nighttime scenes help add to the tension and suspense of an already mysterious thriller. Most of the background is the not-so-great side of life – dirty, rundown places boost the anxiety we feel for the characters.
Although Duel lacked stars I was familiar with, I really enjoyed it, zipping through the whole thing in only a few days. If you like crime and/or science fiction shows this one will definitely hold your interest, start to finish.
Medical experiments on children
Soo-Yeon acts, and is treated, like she is younger than what they say she is