Downstream: Vampire Prosecutor

Written by: Chris Perkins

The internet has opened up a whole new world of entertainment possibilities. The rise of online streaming for film and TV has revolutionised the way many of us watch.

But with such oceans of stuff to choose from, how can you decide what you should watch? Welcome to a new feature here on The Void that introduces you to some of the undiscovered country that can be found out there on the wild plains of the interwebs.

Welcome, gentle reader, to Downstream. 

British and American TV is overflowing with crime procedurals. From CSI to Midsomer Murders there are enough deaths onscreen on any given day to depopulate a small country. People are always looking out for a crime show that brings something fresh to the table and that’s probably what led to the success of the original Danish version of The Killing.

Sure we’d all seen a lot of cops, but what about one who wears a big comfortable jumper? To find a really different procedural however, you might try looking further afield. Over to South Korea in fact, where you will find Vampire Prosecutor.

Wait, what?

Vampire Prosecutor TV show logo

It might sound like the kind of spoof trailer you’d find on a sketch show or Funny Or Die, but Vampire Prosecutor is very real. Originally aired on South Korea’s OCN cable network in 2011, it was a ratings success that led to a second season the following year.

Yeon Jung-hoon is a big star in South Korea, and a man of many talents- actor, pop star and the face of Top Gear Korea. He stars as Min Tae-yeon, the most brilliant prosecutor in Seoul. Determined, brooding and stylishly dressed he’s your typical TV crime-fighter. Oh, and for some reason he’s also a vampire.

At this point you may be expecting a supernatural show in the vein (no pun intended) of a Korean Buffy or Angel. But you would be wrong, for Vampire Prosecutor is a different beast entirely. What sets it apart, and makes it so endearingly mental, is how it’s played completely straight. I’ll concede the possibility that it may due to be the language barrier, and it may in fact be intended to be satire. Yet to my uneducated, English-speaking eyes… er… ears… it seems to be taking itself completely seriously, and it’s all the better for it. Yes, there are parts that are obviously meant as comedic beats, but on the whole, the makers of the show realise that this is serious business…

Then there’s the “Prosecutor” half of the title, which means that each episode is also part courtroom drama. With a vampire.

For the most part, Min’s vampirism hardly comes into the plot at all. He seems to have no issues with sunlight and for much of the time it plays out like a standard procedural. Min leads a team of photogenic young upstarts and it feels like any cop show ensemble you could name. Until that is that Min uses his vamp powers to sense where the victim died… by drinking their blood.

When he downs a test-tube of the red stuff his Spidey-sense allows him to see the victim’s last moments. His undead nature also gives him a physical advantage, and he’s quite handy in a scrap. This is (naturally) presented through slow-motion action. It’s all done pretty well and the effects are not too shabby either. The classy cinematography makes Seoul look pretty damn good on-screen too.

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More than anything it resembles a kind of crazy Far Eastern spin on Sherlock. Min definitely has similarities with the famous sleuth, only in this case his abilities have a supernatural explanation. Jung-hoon’s central performance is spot-on- he gives off a compelling air of mystery and effortless cool. And somehow knowing that’s he’s basically the Korean Jeremy Clarkson only makes it all the better. Naturally, he’s also irresistible to women, but he has no time for such nonsense.

Yeon Jung-hoon drinking blood

Yeon Jung-hoon in Vampire Prosecutor

Then there’s the “Prosecutor” half of the title, which means that each episode is also part courtroom drama. With a vampire.

Some episodes have a much higher supernatural element than others. While usually the criminals he seeks are all too human, occasionally he’ll face a fellow bloodsucker. Min, of course, has to try and keep his true nature secret, and track down the vamp responsible for his turning.

If you’ve ever watched a crime show and thought “this is all very well, but it’d be much better if the lead character was a vampire for no reason” then this is for you. And who among us can honestly say they haven’t?

Vampire Prosecutor is available on Netflix (US), and Hulu. Get stuck in!

Author: Chris Perkins

Chris writes about movies, games, TV and other stuff you love, and has written for places including MyM magazine, Rant Gaming, Screen Highway and Anime UK News. He particularly specialises in the field of animation and spends far too much time watching cartoons for a grown up. He regrets nothing. Follow him at @misterchristor

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