SignalJuly 19, 2016
If you had the power to turn back time and prevent tragedies from happening, would you risk doing it even if it could change everything in the present? Signal is a very well-done Korean mystery-thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat and takes you on a wild ride that doesn’t let up until the end. Gone are the supermodel girls and pretty rich boys; this is a dark, gritty, no-frills drama that’s definitely worth your time.
Park Hae-Young, a criminal profiler in 2015, discovers a mysterious walkie-talkie that allows him to communicate with Lee Jae-Han, a detective from 1989. Together, they solve cold cases and prevent them from ever happening. Meanwhile, Hae-Young’s new co-worker detective, Cha Soo-Hyun, seems to know Jae-Han and had been looking for him ever since he had gone missing many years ago.
- Interesting storyline that will keep you on your toes
- Great acting
- Good characterization
Signal quickly laid the groundwork for the story in episode one by rounding up all the main characters and their back stories. Park Hae-Young is a lieutenant who always felt guilty about a certain incident that happened when he was young. It all began when he saw his elementary school classmate (and/or crush) shortly before she was kidnapped and murdered. He also caught a glimpse of the supposed kidnapper. He mustered his courage to tell the police but he was brushed off and nothing came of it. Sadly, the suspect could not be found and it became a cold case. All this fueled him to become a cop himself so such negligence wouldn’t happen again. Lee Je-Hoon was convincing as the hot-tempered young cop. I immediately sympathized with his character thanks to his back story. While he always had the answers because of his special connection to the past, he was still smart thanks to his profiling skills. Although it became a bit annoying when it was always him who solved the cases or figured out who the suspects were.
The female lead, Cha Soo-Hyun, was also introduced. She is a tough detective who is in search of her senior detective, Lee Jae-Han, who had mysteriously gone missing many years ago. Kim Hye-Soo as Soo-Hyun was fantastic in her portrayal of this lonely detective. I don’t think I’ve seen her smile much in this series and it really added to her character’s tough demeanor.
The drama wasted no time with its exposition and quickly put the characters in their very first cold case: Hae-Young’s classmate’s murder case. At the same time, Hae-Young discovered the walkie-talkie and began conversing with Lee Jae-Han of the past. Add some shady corruption to the mix and that about sums up the exciting episode one of Signal.
Episode one was amazing in that it was intense and engaging; it felt like a mini-movie to me and was perfectly paced. While you had this exposition, you also saw how the characters interacted with each other to work out their first case and finally, you witnessed the closing of the case. It included suspense, action, and mystery — all the right elements and intensity to get the audience hooked from the get go.
The lighting and cinematography was also well done in setting the mood; it made me feel like I was watching a movie. The flashback scenes were also handled really well. This being a sort-of time travel drama, there were many flashback scenes. They applied a very subtle sepia touch to them which made understanding the story very easy. There was never any confusion as to what scene belonged to which era. I also noticed the flashbacks had the wrong aspect ratio which made characters look elongated but it seems to be a stylistic choice.
And this wouldn’t be such a good drama without the actors and their great acting, of course. Cho Jin-Woong as Jae-Han was also a very good choice as the goofy but hard-working detective.
I really enjoyed the serious tone of Signal because this is not a happy story. If you’re looking for a lighthearted story, this is not for you. If you’re new to Korean dramas and are skeptical of watching “Korean soap operas”, this is a good drama to start. This drama is full of heart-racing suspense and mysteries, you won’t be able to stop watching! Thankfully, it’s only 16 episodes. Still not convinced? I’ve read people comparing this to Sherlock, a British-American crime drama, but I’m not sure how true that is.
More Information: AsianWiki