Review – Shark / Don’t Look Back: The Legend of Orpheus

Review – Shark

Shark is the third (and final) installment in the Revenge Trilogy by director Park Chan-hong and writer Kim Ji-woo.  This drama varies greatly from its predecessors,  Resurrection and The Devil.  Shark is a moody, elegant revenge drama that indulges in gorgeous scenery and slow plot progression.  It’s like watching a Sofia Coppola film.  Everything is filtered down – the action, the romance, the mystery and the suspense – and yet its easy to bask comfortably in this dark emotional pool and allow yourself to sink to the bottom.

Kim Gam Nil is well suited to the careful, calculating man robbed of his father and young adulthood who returns for revenge.  Son Ye Jin does an excellent job portraying a woman who lost her first love – and in order to find him again must face the terrible secrets of her own trusted family.  Though it’s not as sexy and brooding as Bad Guy or as twisted and compelling as The Devil – Shark is an excellent series for a rainy weekend when you’d rather get lost in beautiful visuals, a slow simmer romance and a interesting mystery.

It’s a beautifully crafted drama.  Meticulously crafted, in fact.  Every shot, every detail, every lingering camera angle and detail hint at extra meaning.  Like a Hitchcock film.   Though a lot longer.  It’s long.  It’s 20 episodes.  And there’s a great deal of “sins of the father” theme going on in this show… and more than once you will find yourself thinking, “Wait… doesn’t he/she already know this/that?” and you probably won’t be able to answer your own question and it probably won’t matter cause everyone has secrets and secret identities and everyone is lying to everyone and they can’t keep their stories straight so why should we, as viewers, have to?  I absolutely LOVED this drama – and have rewatched it several times over the years (okay, okay, maybe not all of it… but probably 70%)- loving it more each time.  But of course, long convoluted crazy  romantic revenge melodramas are generally my favorites.

It also has one of the best love theme songs I’ve ever heard in drama.  Lovely, haunting and passionate – I never got tired of hearing this song. This drama also made it to my Best Kisses of All Time list.

Overall Rating:  10/10


I don’t want to talk about the plot too much – as a solved mystery isn’t any fun.  Trust me when I say that even though you knew the answers to a few of the questions  – the overall mystery was surprising and enjoyable to unravel.  Instead, let’s talk about basics.

Let’s start with how strikingly well matched the YOUNG and OLD characters were.  The transitions between past and present were flawlessly executed in this drama.


The romance was beautiful… and complicated.  Our lead female has just gotten married – yet soon discovers her first love is still alive.  The years have not diminished their chemistry or their love for one another – and it’s near impossible to fault this woman as she is drawn back into the arms of her childhood sweetie.

The situation is handled well and all aspects of this illicit and complicated affair were addressed to my satisfaction.  Including the heart-racing moments between our reunited lovers – she tracking down the bread crumbs he’s been leaving to discover the secrets of the past – he torn between vengeance and love… very provocative angle to romance indeed.

The cinematography was in a class alone.  Just look at some of these stills…

The lighting, the sets, the outdoor locations… all beautifully captured – offering us a visual feast in every episode.  It was a bleached out spring, a world of bright whites and vibrant greens, of blue toned evenings and rainy Seoul.  The characters were all gorgeously pale through softened lenses (and impeccably dressed, I might add.)

And yeah… that’s the Vampire Gwi (Lee Soo-Hyuk) above, from Scholar Who Walks the Night… looking super young but don’t worry, he still has that gorgeous deep voice and that strange slinky swagger.  I am fascinated by this actor and can’t wait until he really finds that ONE DRAMA that catapults him to infamy and A-List status… I don’t think he’s quite found it yet, but he’s getting closer and closer.

All of the characters were fully developed and unique.  If you’ve watched enough k-dramas, you will respect that sentence alone.  Fully developed characters are a happy marriage of an excellent script, good direction, and great acting.  I enjoyed the cops, the businessmen, the friends, the coworkers and the lovers (all of them).  There were stories of friendship, betrayal, repentance, hatred and more interlaced in the story.

Though I won’t go into detail about the characters – as to not spoil the mystery – I do feel like saying that the young sister was a stand-out performance.

There were really only two cheerful characters – the sister and the best friend/chauffeur.  The sister, however, gave us an additional emotional anchor for our vendetta-prone male lead.  The way these two were reunited – at first as friends and later as revealed siblings – was priceless.

The faithful husband (handsome, adoring, successful, kind… geesh, what a catch, eh?) is hard not to love and pity.  It’s the worst possible scenario for this poor guy.  His wife’s first love, long thought dead, resurfaces…. literally… on their wedding night.  From there it’s just like watching the tide slowly take her further and further out to sea.   And yet – he never gives up on her.  And she never gives up on him either.  It’s so beautifully complicated and wonderful.  Love!  It’s so mysterious.

Though our married couple does give us some remarkably romantic moments, its the reunited lovers that really bring the kettle to a boil in this show – there is an extremely passionate kiss scene.  Extremely.  Well, several – but there’s one near the middle involving a knife wound to the gut and a giant fish tank… apparently a little mood lighting and some fresh blood is an aphrodisiac.  Hey, it worked for me.  There’s also an “almost-kiss” scene that left me with chills… it involved a stairwell.  I shall say no more.  Watch the drama and prepare to have your blood boil from time to time.

This is one of those dramas I like to rewatch when I need to remind myself what ONSCREEN CHEMISTRY looks like.  Every time you hear me complaining in my reviews about the two lead actors not having great chemistry… well, this is one of the shows I am comparing it to.  The two leads in this show simply BURN.  Not only are they amazing… but even the young actors playing them are incredible together.

This drama has recently resurfaced on Viki and is now living under the name “Don’t Look Back.” Do yourself a favor and watch it… linger around with it… let it submerge you in its dark, romantic waters.

One thought on “Review – Shark / Don’t Look Back: The Legend of Orpheus

  1. Pingback: Review – Lucifer | subtitledreams

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