Just putting it out there that this is spoiler free. I don’t want to go in TOO much detail, because let’s face it, I can ramble on for at least a thousand pages and it wouldn’t be enough. Also, this is my first ever attempt at writing a review, so woohoo!
Let’s get to it now, shall we?
The story and plot
In my own words, I can summarize it as a time travel and crime drama, in which the main character (Park Gwang Ho) travels to the future through a tunnel. It’s as simple as that (without giving too much away). I was actually quite hesitant to watch it, because it seemed a little too similar to another crime and time travel drama I’ve watched the year before and loved with every fiber of my being (Signal). But good thing, a part of my brain knocked some sense into me and told me to get over myself.
The story was written fairly well, with a bit of twists and turns here and there. Some I was able to predict, while with others I was shocked to my very core. There was no in between for the plot twists in Tunnel. As the episodes progressed, you could feel the pieces falling together one by one. As far as I can remember, there were no unnecessary fillers. Each element was essential to the story.
What I didn’t like so much though was the (almost) idiotic logic behind some of the character’s actions. This applies especially during the later episodes. Granted that if the main characters strategized in a smarter way, the drama would’ve had less episodes and conflict; still… there had to be something better the writer could come up with. But this is a minor hiccup that I’m willing to forgive since it doesn’t destroy the entire plot that’s given to you.
There was barely any romance (I wasn’t expecting any either, but hey listen for a minute, alright?). Canon couple would be Park Gwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) and his wife, Shin Yeon Sook (Lee Shi Ah). Then, there was Kim Sun Jae (Yoon Hyun Min) and Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo Young), who I didn’t really expect to get together. Is that a spoiler? Who knows? It isn’t really vital to the story, so I’m gonna say it’s not. But I kid you not when I say that the TENSION between those two was absolutely fucking phenomenal. Whenever they had a romantic sort of scene together, I’d momentarily forget that Tunnel was supposed to be a serious drama about solving crimes and trying to get back to proper timelines. It was that majestic. Light a fucking bonfire in my dead heart, will you.
Overall, I can conclude that the plot for Tunnel was written in such a way that it’s entertaining just as much as it is gripping. I mean, I can think of a whole lot of other dramas that had utterly atrocious writing (*cough* Missing Nine *cough*), but that can be saved for a later example. If I do stumble upon a drama in the future that’s THAT bad.
The characters and their development
I’m not gonna lie. I really disliked Park Gwang Ho at first. I commend his persistent need to do anything in his hands for justice, but he did have a flaw. As any other character should. Since he was from the 80s, he was a bit problematic in terms of his views about gender roles. Thankfully, this actually changed a bit towards the end of the drama. Because of a certain reveal slash plot twist.
Gwang Ho was actually a really good detective. His instincts were topnotch and he was always determined to catch the culprit, though he wasn’t opposed to using a little force or violence along with his interrogations. He was a tad childish too at times, which I didn’t mind in the slightest. It was charming. Then, there’s his wonderfully undying love for his wife. This guy gave zero fucks to other females he encountered. You can clearly see how much he loves his wife and how much he just wants to go back to his time. He was definitely a “man’s man”, if that term is even still used in this day and age. And I’m glad he was able to change bit by bit, because he was brought to a more open-minded society in 2017.
Shin Jae Yi was also not so likeable at first. I found her way too eerie and a bit psychopathic (or so it seems). But as we get to know more of her story in the show, it turns out that she’s just misunderstood. Her timid personality served as her strength. What I liked about that aspect of her character as well is that she had this (implied) mindset that she didn’t need to prove to anything or anyone.
In real life, there are many times when a person gets accused of something they didn’t do and they turn defensive. Jae Yi was the opposite. She doesn’t say anything that doesn’t need to be said. She was also incredibly smart and presented herself with such grace. She proved that being a woman in the police force (or somewhat involved in it) wasn’t something to be taken lightly. She did her job well, even exceeding her male counterparts at times. She wasn’t much of a fighter, but she’s always able to get into any suspect’s mind and predict what move they’d do next. A precious child of gloom that deserves all the good in this world.
And lastly, Kim Sun Jae. Also came off as a jerk at first, but is actually a cinnamon roll deep down (I’m only now realizing the common denominator between these three main characters). He has a bit of history that leads him to become a detective. Naturally, I’m not going to reveal what it is. But if you decide to watch Tunnel, you’ll be able to guess literally after the second or third episode.
What I liked most about Sun Jae was that… despite his history, he was able to maintain a clear line between what was wrong and what was right. Though there were times when his emotions got the best of him, it still doesn’t erase the fact that he’s morally sound given the shit he went through. He gets his job done as much as possible and has a strong sense of justice. Which is probably why he and Jae Yi are so compatible. They both actually have histories that make them complement each other. In summary, I would have to say that Sun Jae is a calmer and more modern version of Gwang Ho. But don’t keep that in mind while watching the drama. I beg of you.
Special mention to Jeon Sung Shik (Jo Hee Bong), because he was lowkey my favorite character in the entire series.
This has got to be my favorite aspect of the drama. The acting was pristine in Tunnel. Flawless. Gripping. Every single actor (and I mean every single one, even minor characters) did their job and they did it phenomenally. I have nothing negative to say about the acting at all. Though out of everyone, I’d have to give the gold medal to Yoon Hyun Min. This was also the first time I’ve ever watched him, so that says a lot.
I used to think I was easily swayed by just any actor. But after watching Chicago Typewriter (which I later dropped because of bland acting), I realized that I still had some sort of keen sense when it comes to skilled actors. So, I’m definitely going to add Hyun Min as one of the actors to watch out for whenever possible; alongside Lee Je Hoon, Lee Kwang Soo, Kim Woo Bin, Park Bo Gum, Seo In Guk, and many (oh so deliciously many) more. Don’t even get me started on actresses, because we’ll be here until the apocalypse.
The shots in the drama weren’t really groundbreaking. Just the standard. As far as my memory serves, there was nothing out of place or abrupt and annoying. But I do remember the first few episodes having pretty scenes and significantly meaningful shots. As it progressed, I do recall thinking that some of them evoked a lot of emotion. Yes, the cinematography wasn’t something out of the ordinary. But there were some things like that slow close-up on a certain whistle and that wide shot of a certain boat in the middle of a river that added a bit of pizzazz to an already emotional event during the drama.
All in all, I have no complaints about this aspect of Tunnel. Dare I say that it might even have better cinematography than Signal (though to be fair, Signal had better writing).
Not a fan of the soundtrack since I barely remember any song that caught my eye, or should I say, ear (harhar). As I write this, my brain’s gone blank. There is literally no song playing in my head right now. Perhaps because there wasn’t much of it. So, I suppose this section of the review can be considered void. I’m not really too critical about soundtracks when it comes to crime dramas, because let’s face it, we’re all too busy focusing on the story and the thrill in front of us rather than the sounds that contribute to it.
Overall rating: 9/10
Would I recommend it or not? I already have and I will continue to do so, especially to people who live for crime/suspense dramas! So, if you’re into this genre, go ahead and watch the crap out of this wonderful show!!