REVIEW: ‘Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area’

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is a thrilling heist drama that still succeeds despite its faults.

Money Heist proved to be a huge hit for Netflix upon its release in 2017, so it’s not entirely surprising then that the streaming service has continued to grow the franchise. The latest installment, Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is a bit of a slow burn. There’s a lot of story to cram within six episodes, and despite such a vast story, it often feels like the story drags. That isn’t to say it’s not enjoyable. It is. It just fails to ever feel like something exciting.

Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area starts off with Jeon Jong-seo‘s Tokyo as she seeks a better future for herself after North Korea and South Korea are unified. Unfortunately, she soon finds herself desperate and willing to do anything to get by, even going as far as to join a group as they seek to perform a bank heist for the ages. She’s been in the army, and she’s dreamt of a bright future in South Korea. Sadly, though, upon the unification, the future she’s promised is nothing more than a lie that results in her working as an escort and a waitress, before she’s driven to fight back.

The first episode is incredibly slow and frustrating to get through. It’s all the more frustrating because the beginning just feels entirely uneven in both the way it is shot and filmed. Thankfully, though, the show begins to find its footing with the second episode as the heist team begins to come together. The series truly benefits from its ensemble cast. Each role is perfectly cast, and Yoo Ji-Tae absolutely shines as the Professor. His on-screen presence helps to carry some of the weaker scenes; he oozes confidence and charm. The same, however, cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Some performances fall flat. The actors seem to give their all, but not all are quite able to reach the heights of Ji-Tae’s Professor.

As the series moves away from Toyko’s point-of-view, we begin to learn about each heist member at the start of each episode. It’s a nice touch that helps to further develop these characters that would’ve otherwise been merely background characters. They had their own arcs, a tough act to accomplish in just six episodes. Yet, while the series succeeded in crafting its characters, it failed with its handling of the overall story. Money Heist: Korea could’ve easily benefited from an additional two episodes. Sure, it’s a remake of the original series, but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay within the same episode limitations as the original series.

As for the cinematography, Money Heist: Korea is a visually appealing series. Between the lighting, the angles and the color scale, Money Heist: Korea is wonderfully shot. It’s one of the highlights of the series, honestly. The shots with the group performing the heist as they stand among the masked hostages is stunning. Every scene is framed perfectly. Sadly, while the visuals are great, the music can be lacking at times. There are some excellent music beats, sure, but for the most part the music adds nothing to the scenes.

Overall, Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area is a great effort. Yes, the early episodes are slow, but if viewers stick with it, they’ll be greatly rewarded with an exciting heist drama. It’s a stressful watching experience in the best type of way.

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