Vagabond Korean Drama Review

Vagabond tells the story of a stunt man (Lee Seung Gi) who ends up in the midst of political intrigue as he tries to expose national corruption during a plane crash investigation with the help of a NIS agent (Suzy).

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever to watch Vagabond, but the time has finally come! It was also the much anticipated reunion of Lee Seung Gi and Suzy who previously starred together in the fantasy historical Gu Family Book. So let’s see how their new drama fared!

Lee Seung Gi plays the stunt man Cha Dal Gun. He is devastated after losing his nephew in a plane crash, and he becomes determined to find out who is responsible. He’s a bit of a hot head and tends to rush into things without thinking, but he’s just the guy needed to stir things up and expose this crime.

I’ve long wanted to see Lee Seung Gi in a role like this, and his performance was every bit as enjoyable as I anticipated. He was fantastic by delivering so much intense emotion combined with some seriously awesome action. He was just impressive in every way.

Suzy is Go Hae Ri. She’s a NIS agent who unwittingly gets involved with Dal Gun and the plane crash investigation. She’s not the most skilled agent, but she she’s smart, has a big heart, and wants to help get to the bottom of things.

We also have Shin Sung Rok as Ki Tae Woong. He’s another NIS agent who is a strict by the books type guy who is very dedicated to his country. Getting in the middle of the investigation puts him in some very conflicting situations.

Vagabond initially received a lot of publicity for its big budget and excellent cast. Then it was evident early on that this was going to be a drama that was jam-packed with action, intrigue, and life and death stakes. So did it live up to the hype? It most certainly did!

We immediately connect with Dal Gun and the pain he is going through after losing his nephew in a plane crash. His love for his nephew is clear, so when he learns the crash may not have been accident, he will stop at nothing to catch who is responsible.

Hae Ri is quickly a likable character, and she soon begins to help Dal Gun. They bicker a lot at first as she just doesn’t know what to make of him, but as it becomes clear there is corruption happening on a large scale, she doesn’t hold back in working with Dal Gun.

It doesn’t take long for the action to kick into high gear in Vagabond with car chases, bullets flying, and killers running around everywhere. The suspense is high, and the thrills just keep on coming.

Now before going into this drama, you should know it does require some suspension of disbelief. There are some things that happen that aren’t very realistic and are quite extraordinary, but it’s so worth it to just accept it, go with the flow, and enjoy the wild ride.

The large scale corruption story was all done really well. It’s complex but easy enough to follow. There are a whole lot of people working to cover up this plane crash, so it’s quite the challenge to expose everything, even for the NIS. There are plenty of secrets and twists that keep things exciting. The cliffhangers at the end of each episode were also excellent as you just want to keep watching!

I love it when dramas film in locations outside of South Korea, and Vagabond featured several episodes set in Morocco. The location was utilized well with some really fantastic city and scenic shots.

So how about the reunion of Lee Seung Gi and Suzy? Overall, I was very happy with it. This is an action drama with Dal Gun and Hae Ri constantly in the middle of life and death situations, so romance really takes a backseat to everything, but they are working closely together for most of the drama, so we get lots of opportunities to see them interact. They are a fun duo to watch.

Not to say there isn’t any romance though. A few hints at their interest are speckled throughout the drama. Then towards the end, we do actually see the beginnings of a romance and some very nice moments between the pair. It wasn’t a lot, but it sure was great to see this couple back together!

I did think that Shin Sung Rok was very underutilized in this drama, particularly in the first half. He gets more screen time as the drama progresses, but he definitely doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to shine and really show off his skills. His character is interesting though, and he does have a few scenes that showcase him.

Overall, the action in Vagabond was highly entertaining with lots of thrills in every episode. But my biggest complaint about the show involves how some of this action was portrayed by the camera work.

Aside from the car chases, almost every action scene including running, fighting, guns drawn, and even just pinning someone to the ground used a shaky camera technique. Basically, it just looked like they shook the camera like crazy during these scenes. It was like they were in the middle of an earthquake every single episode.

And I hated it! It’s one thing to do that every so often in appropriate places, but doing it in almost every action scene was just awful. It didn’t make the scene better and only served to take me out of it and distract me.

I’ve seen my fair share of action dramas, and this was by far the worst use of this shaky camera technique I have ever seen. It didn’t take long before I could tell exactly when the camera was about to start shaking before they even did it. Every single time.

A lot of people won’t notice things like this though, so for most it probably won’t be a big issue. But when the action scenes themselves are so good, it’s just disappointing that they used such a lazy technique to try to add more intensity to the scenes when they didn’t need it. It was the main black mark on an otherwise fantastic production.

Without getting into spoiler territory, let me just briefly mention the ending. It introduces some interesting plot developments, but it leaves things completely open. As in, we really need a season 2, but as is usual with most dramas, there has been no confirmation of one.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by the ending since I liked the direction it was going, but it does definitely leave me wanting more. So keep that in mind if you’re deciding whether or not to watch this one.

Vagabond was a fun drama on so many levels. The thrills just keep coming thanks to a great pace, intriguing corruption mystery, and consistent plot developments. The characters are interesting and sympathetic as well as being very entertaining.

Lee Seung Gi and Suzy’s long-awaited reunion was also wonderful to watch. Action dramas of this quality and scale don’t come around very often, and it was definitely a treat to see.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Kay

Greetings! I’m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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28 Responses to Vagabond Korean Drama Review

  1. Fred says:

    I HATE NETFLIX. That’s all I can say, Kay. They shouldn’t be in the business of making Kdramas. Obviously from that ending they are trying to leave open the possibility of a second season (to milk more money). There’s Shin Min-ah’s drama (I don’t remember the title because I hate Netflix) then there’s this. THE REASON I WATCH KDRAMAS IS BECAUSE UNLIKE AMERICAN TV SHOWS, THEY HAVE AN ENDING. I’ll borrow the words of Jessica: Burn in hell, Netflix!

    I would have given it a higher rating. But I’ll give it a 0/10.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Aww, and you thought my Chicago Typewriter rating was harsh, lol πŸ˜‰

      It was definitely a bummer to leave everything completely unresolved, but it sure was fun getting there! hehe. I think this drama would have ended that way even if it wasn’t on Netflix. Lots of kdramas have had open endings before Netflix was in the game. I think Netflix more so likes to split one season dramas into two like Chief of Staff, My First First Love, and Love Alarm. So in those cases, “Season 1” ends on a cliffhanger (when it’s really just the middle of one drama), but things go on to be resolved in “Season 2”. I just don’t want to see more of that.

      I really hope we do get a season 2 of Vagabond though since it would be fun to see where the story goes. Would have been preferred for them to wrap it up in season 1, but it looks like that’s all we’re left with now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Snow Flower says:

        We can interpret the open ending as a happy one. Our hero and heroine are about to cross paths again. I guess the idea is that this time their efforts to catch the bad guy will be successful. At least now they know who they are dealing with. I was also happy to see some interaction between Cha Dal Geon and Assassin Lily. I always thought they will make an unbeatable team.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Fred says:

          I actually also liked the Cha Dal Geon and Lily interaction. But I hate Netflix, so I won’t talk about it. HAHAHA. But Lily was an amazing character.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          That’s pretty much how I saw it too. Don’t get me wrong, I always prefer a nice wrap up, but I can usually see the implications in open endings, and this one had our duo ready reunite and in a much stronger position to finally expose the bad guy and the corruption. I’m super forgiving with endings in general though, hehe. I liked the interaction with Dal Gun and Lily too πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

      • Fred says:

        If this was an average drama, I would have simply said, “Whatever, Netflix”. But I loved it. That is the worst part. I was planning to give it a 9. But no. Still a 0/10 HAHAHA.

        I never knew about those other dramas you mentioned also having cliffhangers. Now I have even fewer options to watch. Netflix even gets actresses I like: Shin Min-ah, Kim Ji-won, Bae Suzy, Lee Ji-eun (I did not bother watching Persona). If a kdrama is a ‘Netflix Original’ then I won’t bother watching. The only ‘Netflix Original’ I will bother watching is Vagabond 2 (because, sadly, I already invested my time on it and I want to see how it ends) and Scarlet Heart 2 (Thank you in advance, Netflix HAHAHAHAHAHA).

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          You’re brutal Fred, hehe. I’m just going to pretend you gave it a 9 anyways πŸ˜‰

          Well, My First First Love completely wraps up in “2” seasons with a proper ending. It’s just 16 eps total, so I still say it’s one season split into 2. I would hope Love Alarm and Chief of Staff follow in the same way, but I haven’t seen them yet to confirm.

          Haha, yes, Netflix needs to get with it and bring us Vagabond 2 as well Scarlet Heart 2. Then all will be right, hehe πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fred says:

            Oh and before I forget. There were a few things on my mind that I wanted to mention here. I failed to because of the ending. I’ll just mention the most important: Bae Suzy has improved a lot. I now love her even more. From having bad acting in Gu Family Book and Uncontrollably Fond (I know you feel differently about this) to having just minor “acting flaws” in While You Were Sleeping, she now has amazing acting. Unless you are an Oscar judge, you will find her acting convincing. I like it!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kay says:

              Oh yes, Suzy was just wonderful here! Haha, yeah, we know I’ve always thought she was good, even way back in Dream High, but she has definitely improved since then (though I would argue that she was just as good in Uncontrollably Fond…I know, I know, hehe). But I was so glad to see her in a role like this and back with Lee Seung Gi. It was just a treat πŸ™‚

              Like

  2. Snow Flower says:

    Yes, burn in hell, Netflix. Other than that, I agree with your review. Let us hope for another season to wrap things up!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ann says:

    Agree with both of the above responses with Netflix. Should have been more episodes to finish the Drama. Did not like the way it ended. I also see that Netflix is getting some of Dramafever’s Dramas which I have already seen
    Glad that I will be able to see the ending of 100 days my Prince which is coming soon on Viki.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Yep, it would have been nice if they had just went with 20 eps and wrapped things up.

      It looks like Netflix and Viki are both getting DramaFever’s old dramas right now. I too have seen most of them, but I’m glad they are rescuing some of those dramas. Neither has picked up Scarlet Heart yet though, which is surprising. Hopefully, one of them can get the license for that at some point since it was such a popular drama and loved by many. Hope you enjoy the rest of 100 Days My Prince πŸ™‚

      Like

      • Ann says:

        I think that I already saw Scarlet Heart, I believe it was a historian. I have seen most of the historical except 2-3 of them. After 2-3 episodes I wasn’t interested. Latest was Kingdom. Another drama which I can’t wait is Arthdal Chronicles starting with episode 19. I thought that I read somewhere that it will start up in the beginning of Dec. 2019. That was also on Netflix.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Yes, it was a historical. I’m a lover of historicals, so I’ve seen a whole lot of them too πŸ™‚ Hmm, I don’t recall seeing anything confirming a season 2 for Arthdal. I read about the PD saying he wanted to continue it, but nothing concrete. I certainly hope they do because I found that open ending far worse than Vagabond. So much left to do! lol

          Like

    • Snow Flower says:

      I never finished 100 Days My Prince because of Dramafever’s demise. Happy to hear that Viki will have it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. D says:

    I definitely enjoyed this drama. I gave it an 8 because of the ending. I am not too bothered by the ending though. Maybe my mind is already waiting for that second season which may never come. I can definitely watch more of this. Lee Seung Gi was so good and Suzy was great too. And she is so pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Oooh, we’re pretty close on this one πŸ™‚ Haha, yeah, my mind is already running through all of these potential scenarios that would happen in a season 2. Don’t know if it will actually happen, but I could definitely watch more of it too! Lee Seung Gi and Suzy were both great here. I agree, she’s gorgeous and he’s handsome…put them together and it’s just beautiful, hehe πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Kate says:

    Ugh! I hated the open ending! I would have been fine with it if second season wasn’t in doubt but as far as I know it’s not in the works. I enjoyed Vagabond from first minute to last and didn’t expect it to be so fast paced throughout so they definitely left me wanting more but like someone else said, the reason I prefer Kdramas to US TV is that there’s an ENDING! Grrrr!!! From now on I WILL NOT WATCH another kdrama on Netflix unless I’m sure the whole thing is there. I hate the shows broken up. To me that suggests Neflix has no clue about the kdrama audience. Hire someone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Yep, the dreaded open ending! It really is too bad that a second season isn’t likely. It was a great drama though, and I too was surprised it was able to maintain such an awesome pace the whole way through πŸ™‚

      I’m the same way in that I like kdramas for there one season format, so I don’t love the split season trend. That’s why I waited for both seasons of My First First Love to come out before I started. Still waiting on Love Alarm. I would anticipate some of their upcoming ones will use that format too. The open endings can happen on any drama though, even those not streaming on Netflix. It’s the ones that don’t air on networks and are exclusive to Netflix that will always be a problem.

      I agree though, I don’t think they understand their audience. This is an established niche that likes content the way it is and not trying to drag things out with split seasons. I’m doubting it will change though 😦

      Like

  6. Just finished this one last night, and it had me shocked. I was like, “this has to have a season 2”. πŸ€―πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh and I was kinda bothered with the shaky camera technique too! Plus the rotating to left and right angle when they were talking… πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kay says:

        It definitely left us all hanging! And yes, that shaky camera was just terrible! I know everyone’s talking about the ending, but that’s the main thing I can’t get over about the series, lol

        Like

        • Ahahahaha. And I don’t know why they did it like that, I mean everything totally looks great on screen so why add a shaky camera stuff and those tilting angles that will make the viewers nauseous. πŸ˜‚ Oh well… let’s all hope for a second season…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kay says:

            I know! I was so confused about that production decision. The action in this drama was top notch and was plenty intense on its own. The shaking effect is supposed to be disorienting, but when used in excess it just makes it harder to fully see and appreciate what’s on the screen. I’m definitely hoping for a season 2…just without the shaky cam, hehe πŸ™‚

            Like

  7. Pingback: Korean Drama Update for November 2019 | Kdrama Kisses

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