Vincenzo is one of the most hyped Korean dramas of 2021.

Many people I follow have been talking about it, and my expectations for the drama were quite high. I expected an action drama with some thriller and romance. I was right, but also very wrong.

Note: This is a negative review and if you can't take that, click away.

what is Vincenzo about?

The drama follows Vincenzo Cassano, an Italian mafia consigliere, who returns to Korea after his boss dies. He returns for a few months with the plan of getting some hidden gold and then going away.

His plan gets sidetracked when he becomes involved in the fight against Babel, a very corrupt group of companies. He ends up representing and helping a ragtag group of people living in Geumga Plaza with the help of Hong Cha-Young, a Korean lawyer.

The drama pits villains against villains in a world where justice does not exist and the law is not enough. There is action, thrill, drama, and comedy with a large cast.

vincenzo and hong cha-young dressed up with sunglasses
source: HanCinema

my thoughts on the drama

I have a TON to say, but I want to quantify how I feel about every aspect, so I'm going to do this review in points.

the overall plot: +2

The main plot of villain-turned-unlikely-hero fighting against a powerful corporation and bonding with people he wouldn't have cared about otherwise was great.

While that storyline was always in focus, there were multiple smaller overlapping threads that made things more interesting. All the characters had their own agenda which was realistic and well done.

The drama is clearly plot-driven, though. While characters have selfish goals which complicate things, the story never felt character-driven. Everything was done for the plot and in order to create chaos. Some things were obviously put in just to further the story.

the sensationalism of mafia: -2

This is a huge pain point for me. The concept of the mafia was so clearly sensationalised, and even romanticized at some parts, that it made me uncomfortable.

They took something from another country and culture and made an entire drama around what they liked, but they did not even use it right.

Anything that Vincenzo did was deemed to be "the way of the mafia" even though native Koreans were doing the same things. Plus, a lot of what he did were PRANKS. LITERAL PRANKS. Others were normal villain-y things. Barely anything was mafia-esque but they threw around the word so much, you'd assume they're being paid for every mention.

The mafia members are reduced to "pranksters" in this drama while also being used to show that Koreans are just as scary. You can't do both!

There was this one scene that made me very icky. They mentioned how the mafia throws pig's blood on the rival family's new boss as an intimidating welcome present, which some characters are disgusted by. Then Vincenzo pours pig's blood on their rival later. First of all, that's not even a real fact. Second, using that image of the mafia clearly shows what they think of the Italian mafia.

Using a made-up fact of something very real (and scary) in order to provide a "punchy scene"* did not sit right with me.

*The scene was not punchy enough, by the way. They couldn't even get that right.

vincenzo pointing a gun

the episode length: -1

Each of the 20 episodes is close to 90 minutes long. One would think that a drama would be given that much airtime because it is really needed but that is not the case.

One of the reasons why I love Kdramas so much is because they manage to fit in a LOT in (generally) 16 or 20 hours. A LOT happens in an hour, and it doesn't feel that long.

With Vincenzo, I felt every single minute. And I felt every minute that I wasted on this drama. It had no business being 80 minutes long. It did not have the content for it. Many scenes were stretched and made slow in order to take up more watch time.

Almost every episode had filler scenes as well. Ones that contributed nothing to the overall plot. They were not even funny enough to be considered as comedic breaks. One of the things that I hate the most is watching utterly useless scenes.

the mockery of law: -1

This is a personal thing. I like courtroom scenes and the manipulation of the law to get an outcome. I love seeing law and its loopholes being used to defeat opponents.

I was expecting some of that because four of the main characters were literally lawyers. But this drama threw the concept of law out of the window. They did not use it at all. It was there as a small annoying and ignorable factor, which could be brought up whenever they wanted a face-off. Everyone was a thug and no law was used.

It was ignored for the most part, but it was mocked in some parts. They made a very prominent court hearing into a joke. I understand that it was the intention in order to show something, but it just showed Vincenzo and team as pranksters instead of smart people.

I was very disappointed.

vincenzo entering the scene while veryone stares at him
source: Kdramastars

the direction: -2

The drama would have benefited so much from better direction. It was bad.

Every action drama has these prominent scenes with perfect music where the main characters walk with purpose or show up out of nowhere, or they suddenly beat the opponent. This drama tried to do those scenes in all the wrong times. Every time it happened, it was NOT prominent, hence making that scene totally useless. There was no punch to them, and hence they were underwhelming.

The direction was also bad in other places but this made me the most disappointed because prominent punchy scenes are the lifeblood of action and villainy dramas. And here they were stale.

the characters: 0

While I liked some of the cast, I HATED the main two characters. Vincenzo and Hong Cha-young were so disappointing. What a waste of airtime and talent. The actors deserve much more than these shoddy one-dimensional characters who play pranks most of the time. (Will talk more in-depth about them in a separate section for characters.)

One reason why I say this show is plot-driven even though every character's agenda makes a difference is that every character was one-dimensional. Every single one of them. None of them had depths or layers. They were not fleshed out enough.

It was like they paired each name with one characteristic(and a few with surprises) and ran with it. Only ONE character showed a little bit of depth (more on this in the spoilers section) but the rest were surface-level.

Due to this, the main cast was disappointing. But the supporting cast was really good. The drama has a big supporting cast and they understood the assignments and played their parts well. Especially characters that had secrets and surprises. Loved them. They had more going on for themselves than the main cast.

cassano geumga family from vincenzo
source: Kdramamasters

the villains: +3

The heroes were dim but the villains shone brightly. Yes, they were also one-dimensional BUT they played their parts really well. They were convincing and riveting to watch.

The casting for the two main villains was top notch. They took the character and became them so well that I did not see the actors behind it all. I have seen one of them in another drama playing a very different role, but it did not cross my mind even once. I only saw the character on screen.

The main villain was so good. The motivation, the greed, the cleverness, the evilness, the mastery—it came together so well. He had minimal backstory but it was used properly which made the character better.

the action: 0

I generally don't like action but considering it's one of the few good things about this show, I appreciated it. The fighting, the ruthlessness etc. on both sides were good (when they were actually used instead of pranks).

BUT for an action show, it does not have enough action. A lot of it was just comedy.

the comedy: 0

For a drama that was trying to be serious a lot, it was not serious at all. If I had to categorize it, Vincenzo would be a comedy. The comedic aspects were given more focus and were present more often. So of course it completely changed the whole vibe of the show.

I'm giving this 0 points because while the comedy was good, it was overdone.

The drama tried to do multiple things instead of properly focusing on one. Very few things came out as intended. It is part action, part comedy, part randomness. I do not want to classify a lot of the pranks under comedy because they were supposed to be "serious" scenes, but did not execute well. And they weren't funny enough to laugh at too. They neither had a punch, nor a punchline.

vincenzo dressed up as a spiritual psychic during a prank
source: HanCinema

tell > show: -2

Vincenzo did more telling than showing and I HATED that. They specifically tell everything that they want us to think instead of showing it well. That showed how the content was not good enough to make the reviewers infer from the scenes alone. Even the creators thought so.

Instead of showing us how great Vincenzo is or how good they were at something, they directly told it. That defeated the purpose. I would have rather inferred something else entirely instead of being told something that I can't believe.

There was this one scene where the supporting cast spent 5 minutes just praising Vincenzo for doing a ton of things and bringing them together etc. And it was the most telling scene because they had to tell that instead of making the audience realize themselves. The actors clearly found it weird too because it was pretty awkward.

the concept of justice: +1

One theme of the overall plot is that sometimes the law is not enough to bring about justice, especially against very powerful people. At those times we need others who also take things into their own hands and don't care about the law.

That was quite nice because I agree with that. There is too much corruption for the law to take care of everything. Especially when the law enforcers are corrupted too.

the soundtrack: -1

Kdramas generally have really good OSTs but Vincenzo had such a bad OST. The songs that were noticeable were Italian opera music and they didn't fit with the scenes or the direction. No Korean song was prominent.

A soundtrack can make or break a drama and the creators of this drama went for a "cool idea" instead of seeing if it actually works. Playing Italian opera music sounds like a good idea but it didn't work a lot of the time. I was very disappointed.

vincenzo and hong cha-young looking at each other
source: HanCinema

the romance: -1

While I am a huge romance fan, I don't mind it when entertainment media don't have a romance. It's better to have no romance than have a bad one. It's especially better to not have a romance if it means other areas would fare better with extra attention.

Vincenzo toed the line of having a romantic prospect but not having a proper romance. It gave us hints here and there but there was nothing definite out of it. I get what they were trying to do but it wasn't done well.

It felt like they were trying to please everybody and failed on all accounts.

If you're planning on watching this drama, don't go in expecting a good romance. I saw someone praising the romance in this drama and I feel betrayed.

the repetitive use of plot devices: -2

This was SO ANNOYING. It's like the writers really liked this one plot device and inserted it everywhere. It worked a couple of times in the beginning but after that, it did not hit at all. I almost expected it towards the end.

The plot device that I'm talking about is one where something bad is happening and there's a time jump where things surprisingly work out. And then we see flashbacks of how that sudden win occurred.

When it is used too much, it simply doesn't hit anymore. It becomes boring. This plot device was there in almost every episode, and I counted it being present THRICE in one of the episodes.

That was just bad writing, honestly.

the characters

I'm keeping this section because I want to talk in-depth about our two main characters. My thoughts on the rest are already mentioned in the previous section.

Vincenzo Cassano

vincenzo in courtroom

Vincenzo was abandoned by his mother at a young age and was adopted by Italians. But they were killed after which he joined the mafia and became a ruthless consigliere.

Since he's the #1 character, he does have more airtime and focus than others. His character was also worked on better. BUT, it wasn't enough. I've seen dramas with supporting characters that are better formed than Vincenzo.

One thing that really irked me was how they had a plot device that could have added depth to his character but it was used only for the plot. It wasn't used to show his character more. What a waste.

His past was brought up but it wasn't delved into at all. His past was almost non-existent except to tell some things like how ruthless he is or how he is a wounded soul. Vincenzo also reacted more than he acted, which is a big reason why this drama is plot-driven. The main character is dragged around by the plot.

The drama is named after him so it's not surprising that some scenes were literally homages to Vincenzo, but it was still pretty tacky. He got so many special entrances for no reason and they weren't even done well. The first episode especially brought it on strong.

Hong Cha-young

hong cha-young holding papers for court

Hong Cha-young is one of the most disappointing main leads I have seen. She had so much potential and all of it was WASTED. She was badass, was confident, had a soft side too—but nothing was done with those characteristics.

The writers made her a good enough character to be paired with Vincenzo but made it clear that Vincenzo is the star. He was always better than her. She was never given a chance to truly shine. Cha-young was always a sidekick. Even when she said she will do things, Vincenzo swooped in and stole the show. It was so damn annoying.

Hong Cha-young was also a very one-dimensional character. Her past was referred to a couple times but never delved into. We saw that she is not on good terms with her father but never saw anything on how that came to be. We were just given facts with a couple extra titbits with zero exploration into anything.


If you don’t want to get spoiled, click here to skip to the “overall” concluding section.

I have many different thoughts so I'll do it in shorts:

  1. The only thing that I LOVED was the villain reveal. Jang Jun-woo turning out to be Jang Han-seok was the only part that I loved in the show. When that happened, I was like "ok this drama is getting interesting!" but unfortunately that was the peak. But yeah, his entrance and the reveal was A+.
  2. My favourite character was Ahn Gi-seok. I loved his character. He was properly comedic, made me laugh multiple times, and was great even during serious scenes. His reveal when he bailed Vincenzo out using his authority was so nice. Better than any of Vincenzo's reveals.
  3. I really hated how Vincenzo's mother was kept on stand-by throughout the series until when they wanted Vincenzo to go unhinged. She was so clearly a plot device. We had so many useless scenes where they simply visited her and included zero progress. So annoying, ugh. I didn't even care when she was killed because it was so obviously a plot device. She was used to make Vincenzo finally step over the edge and properly go after Babel since it is personal now.
  4. There was definitely an out-of-ordinary relationship between Jang Han-seok and Choi Myung-hee. It's not a romantic relationship, but neither is it a business relationship. It's a little like the relationship between a king and his Hand or king and first knight. The loyalty, the trust, the bond formed through ambition and how far they will go to get what they want—all that made for a unique relationship that I have not seen in other dramas. I would love to analyze it further honestly but I won't be able to rewatch the drama for this haha.
  5. The best part of this drama was definitely the villains. While they were also one-dimensional even after having titbits that were NOT explored, they were so good. Much better than the heroes.
  6. There was a chance to flesh out Choi Myung-hee's character as well, especially with how we were introduced to her, but it was neglected. She just became Jang Han-seok's right hand and lost herself in this fight. Until the end her character remained something for Jang Han-seok and was barely anything individually.
  7. Yes, we can argue that her character arc is also a valid one but I have a hard time believing that her character would be reduced to almost nothing if done well. She could have layers while remaining Han-seok's right hand. But she did not.
  8. Another character that got completely sidelined due to a male character was Hong Cha-young. She could have been so much but wasn't given the option. Vincenzo outshone Cha-young all the time and didn't let her shine. She never came up with good ideas or winning strategies. It was always Vincenzo.
  9. Now that I've written it down, seeing how both Choi Myung-hee and Hong Cha-young became supporting characters to male characters and weren't allowed to shine individually, it looks like the show is a little misogynistic.
  10. It is DEFINITELY misogynistic where Vincenzo is concerned. Just a little bit with Jang Han-seok.
  11. Jang Han-seo was a good character. I liked his arc. Even how he died. It was nice. It was sweet, the way he felt comfortable with Vincenzo. He made me appreciate Vincenzo for once but also Vincenzo did nothing so. This was another form of telling > showing because I did not at all see anything big brotherly in Vincenzo until Jang Han-seo told it specifically. And even then I appreciated it only for Han-seo. Could care less about Vincenzo.
  12. I liked every time Vincenzo's name or title was pronounced wrong. Hong Cha-young saying Quassano was funny. Guemga plaza members saying corn salad and celebrating his as a corn salad was very funny.

That's all I can think of now. I'll probably think of more later so will edit and add them here lol. I have tooo many opinions on Vincenzo that I can't keep track.


final score = -6

Clearly, I did NOT enjoy the drama. In my opinion, Vincenzo is overrated and does not deserve the hype.

It has a few good parts. Many people have enjoyed it too so it is not all that bad. But it was very bad for me because it ruined everything I like to see and then some.

I wouldn't recommend watching this drama. If you do, do yourself a favour and watch it at a faster speed if you can. 1.5x would be better.

vincenzo pinterest image

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let's chat!

Have you watched Vincenzo? Did you like it? If yes, please explain what you found good in it. I'm not being sarcastic. I genuinely want to know what I missed.

If you didn't like it, what didn't you like about it? Do we have any points in common?

stay wordy, Sumedha
photo of Sumedha

Sumedha spends her days reading books, bingeing Kdramas, drawing illustrations, and blogging while listening to Lo-Fi music. Read more ➔

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  • Wafaa says:

    Haha interesting view. I didn't take it seriously at all, I watched it like it was a parody of other serious mafia themed dramas. I really enjoyed the exaggerations and slap stick comedy. I'm curious about how long you've been watching Kdramas ^^

    Honestly I just love watching Song Joong Ki and I generally love watching Kdrama for all the yummy eye candy haha. Although I agree with you about them making bad generalisations about the 'mafia' and most Korean dramas aren't really considerate of how they portray other cultures so I'm not surprised on that end.

    But nonetheless I enjoyed it and I guess if you fixate on certain things that disappointed you, you're not just watching it for the entertainment or with the intention to enjoy it either.

    But I respect your opinion no hard feelings. I don't enjoy dramas that are too serious either but you might like them more.

    Reply ➔
  • Heartsparrow says:

    Ah. Finally an honest review. I watched Vincenzo just for Song Joong Ki. Most of the reviews were really good and I had high expectations for it. I had just finished Descendants of the Sun and was hung up on Joon Ki! I would’ve loved to see another romantic drama but I knew Vincenzo wasn’t big on that. But boy, it was so bad! For some reason, mostly out of loyalty to Song Joon Ki, I sat through the show, eventually just skipping over to the scenes with Vincenzo only.

    I liked the idea of the series. You have expressed it very well. It had potential. But wasn’t executed well. I don’t understand why it is called a “dark comedy”. Most of the comedy felt forced and light. Some were bearable, I remember laughing seeing the secretary Nam imitating Vincenzo with a cheap suit and lighter.

    I hated the Villains and that is a testimony for how good they were. The main villain was more charming than Vincenzo at times! Ah it hurts me to say that. Also Vincenzo’s makeup was weird.

    I went through your blog posts on K drama and found that most of your opinions matched with mine. Hoping for more reviews!

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Glad you liked my review! I completely agree about the dark comedy aspect, it did not live up to the idea that it was promoted with. And yep, the villains were more charming and interesting than Vincenzo at times.

      Reply ➔
    • Ray says:

      What was it that you liked about Vincenzo dude wasted every second skipping to the Vincenzo parts ..and uts a fact that the han seok is more charming

      Reply ➔
  • Tharaal says:

    Now you people are hating on everything that is popular just to be different lol. The kdrama was soooo good, characters are awesome just like the unusual plot and theme. And just to remind you this is a TV SHOW. This is not realistic, of course they will make up their own “truth” and “facts” because it’s not real life :). This show was awesome and it’s not overrated or overhyped just because you didn’t like it… I enjoyed every second of it just like MANY others did and that’s why it’s so popular… idk how can you call it “overhyped” tho?? You obviously don’t like this genre or theme. We all enjoyed the different plot of the main character being a villain and the “only evil can punish evil” theme, you didn’t, that’s all, it’s not overhyped.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      "Many people have enjoyed it too so it is not all that bad. But it was very bad for me because it ruined everything I like to see and then some." - clearly mentioned that.

      I did mention the theme "only evil can punish evil" as one of the good points.

      And this is a review on my blog. It's clearly a personal opinion. If you don't like what you see, you're more than welcome to post your review on your blog.

      Reply ➔
  • tasya @ the literary huntress says:

    Funny you mentioned 1.5x speed because while I loved it, I did watch it on 1.5x speed ? I agree it was waaay too long, it could be either a 90 mins 16 eps drama or 60 mins 20 eps drama- which considering how long the first part of the fight dragged it might still even be too long.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      glad you enjoyed it unlike me haha. and yes, it could definitely have been shorter. so many things were just.. not needed or dragged out.

      Reply ➔
  • Nish says:

    Loved Vincenzo, totally opposite views to yours. Would have enjoyed way more Song Joong-Ki, found it really interesting and hope for a Season 2. Loved Sky Castle too but found many sections abit cringey and shrill from overacting. Found Vincenzo more thrilling than Sky Castle but thoroughly enjoyed watching both!

    Reply ➔
  • Vito Corleone says:


    I couldn’t express my cringeness watching these 20 painful episodes. First of all, I’m very into mafia tv shows & movies if you’re familiar with The Sopranos, Godfather & Peaky Blinders.

    Secondly, I’m a bit sketchy & judgemental with korean dramas. You can say that I hate them because my country overhyped them a lot and the romance is too cringe for me to handle. But I do like some korean series & movies like Kingdom & Night in Paradise.

    So, early 2020 Netflix hyped an upcoming korean drama that heavily based on an Italian mafia which for me is extremely cool because I like mafia shows. After disappointed with many previous overhyped korean dramas like CLOY, Goblin, Hi bye mama, The World of Married and Itaewon Class, I was like, okay for the final time, I’m gonna check on Vincenzo and hoping it delivers the ‘mafia’sque.

    Oh boy, I’ve should have known better when I saw how doll & babyface the hero is. *facepalm

    I swear to god, I’ve watched the first 5 episodes without any biased & hate whatsoever but episode 6 was the last straw for me. The court scene was unbearable that I’ve had to pause and watched it the next day. Ending for episode 2 quite tells me how the show is gonna be. A show that super unrealistic that operates in a realistic world where there are police, other korean mafia and feds that absolutely acts like a stupid donkey while the hero is amazingly invincible lol.

    I’m 200% agree your part where the characters annoyingly says ‘is this how mafia works’ and they say it a million times. Wtf, you don’t know nothing about mafia you stupid. A mafia execute a target as stealth as possible but this show turned into a SAW’s torture execution? And don’t argue with how the hero randomly have all the information & villians proof records to bribe them.

    Sorry for my bad english. Will continue ranting if youbbj

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Haha yeah all that you said about mafia and them not getting it right - correct. This drama was just not it.

      Reply ➔
      • Vito Corleone says:

        I'm just wondering about your opinion about them fangirls of this show that said 'that's what make the drama exciting & cool'. Like I'm totally getting hate talking about how unrealistic & stupid some scenes are, but they countered it with 'all of this scenes make it fun, goofy, comedy & serious at the same time' which by some of them considered this a masterpiece *facepalm

        Reply ➔
        • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

          I think to each their own. Sometimes even i’m in the mood for a silly and unrealistic drama which takes my mind off things. definition of masterpiece can be different based on preferences and expectations.

          Reply ➔
      • Junne says:

        I’m here too crying because I finally found someone who said it!! My expectations were really high because some arcs and bits were really good… but overall, what a disappointment.
        Also, people who like the main couple… why, pals, just why?

        Reply ➔
    • Billfin says:

      U ? said my mind did u see how ruthless Tommy was but he'd do anything to protect his family I was expecting real mafia stuff coz I find romance corny but i was just disappointed. It was also the same for squid game I actually saw it in tiktok but when I tried watching it I didn't like it in any way

      Reply ➔
      • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

        agreed. i agree with you on Squid Game as well. there are much better kdramas but the ones that become popular with mainstream audiences are the ones that are quite similar to western shows honestly. i find that the truly good dramas are ones that don’t get mainstream hype.

        Reply ➔
  • Aria says:

    I didn't watch Vicenzo on air because that's not my kind of genre but I later did after it's last episode air date. The hype was just too much to resist.. besides the memes were flooding in too. Anyhow, as much as I'm glad I watched it.. it did not leave up to the hype in reference to the mafia and action themes. The word mafia was used so much that it lost it's meaning. The intro was great, we got a snippet of the mafia concept but after that it was just word play...mafia this mafia that. Heck.. the mafia even haulted fighting for his tribe inorder to be there for his new 'family' classic I must say. The action scenes were nay nay for me, it was a no no. Maybe it's because I expected way too much because of the hype but they could have been better. The villain lady(I've forgotten her name), her character was really another really cringy sight to see, her zumba dance didn't even do her justice. Like you mentioned it could pass for a good comedy. Bees in a courtroom, lol. All in all, kudos to the support cast, they brought their characters to life. I'm sorry this was long. Great review Sumedha.

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      Thank you, Aria! And no worries haha, long comments are the best.

      I totally understand why you were not able to resist the hype. If so many love and praise it—there has to be SOMETHING to it, right? What you said about mafia being used so much that it lost it's meaning, that was one of the worst parts because this drama is supposed to be about that! But it ruined the concept itself. And yes, they tried to do something with her zumba dances in order to create her "personality" but it didn't work out well.

      Reply ➔
  • vcreative says:

    Oh Sumedha the agony of watching those damn long episodes ????? someone finally said it out loud and that heavens for this!!!!
    I think I enjoyed the side characters more too I didn't like the comedy serious balance in the drama ? overall I wish I had a 2X speed option

    Reply ➔
    • sumedha @ the wordy habitat says:

      I thought you enjoyed the drama! ?? There was 1.5x speed on Netflix but it doesn't work on Teleparty so my friend and I watched on 1x ?

      Reply ➔
      • vcreative says:

        Enjoyed it yes to an extent but it was so looooooong ?? not a fan of lengthy episodes

        Reply ➔