Kim Soo-hyun has done it again.
If you've been riveted while watching One Ordinary Day, you're not alone. The drama premiered to a stellar reception both in South Korea and internationally, and is gathering steam as it reaches its climactic conclusion.
Everything that South Korea's highest-paid male actor (a whopping US$423,000 per episode) touches quite effectively turns to gold. In his remarkably storied acting career, Kim Soo-hyun has refused to be typecast in either movies or series, unlike his contemporaries, preferring to star in diverse roles which showcase his dynamic acting skills.
Of course, that and the actor wasn't shy at all about displaying his perfectly chiselled body at every chance he gets throughout the course of the series.
Investigative thriller One Ordinary Day is the next feather in Kim's hat, after the rousing success that was his last series as a mental health caregiver, It's Okay Not To Be Okay.
In the new drama, Kim Hyun-soo (Kim Soo-hyun) is an ordinary university student whose life gets turned upside down after stealing his father's taxi to join a group of friends, presumably to enjoy a night of debauchery.
Instead, he picks up an unwanted and beautiful passenger Hong Guk-hwa (Hwang Se-on) at a red light, and ends up at her house where she lives alone.
After a whirlwind night of drugs, sex and dangerous drinking games involving a knife, he awakens after a potent cocktail of alcohol and narcotics to find her bloodied corpse on the bed covered in stab wounds, and is unable to recall any memory of the murder.
If this premise seems similar to something you've watched before, it's because the show is adapted from the 2008 British legal drama Criminal Justice written by Peter Moffat.
Also, if there's anything that's constant in drama serials involving Kim Soo-hyun, it's a superb supporting cast.
Previously, it was Oh Jung-se who played Kim's autistic older brother in It's Okay Not To Be Okay. This time, it's veteran Cha Seong-won (A Korean Odyssey), whose lanky frame and dermatitis-ridden feet accompany Hyun-soo as Shin Joong-han, a grizzled, irreverent, struggling lawyer.
Yet, his outlook belies Shin's razor-sharp mind and lawyerly expertise as he expertly guides Hyun-soo to navigate through the harsh, accusing eyes of the public and the law, all who stridently believe that Hyun-soo is the killer, as a mountain of evidence against him indicates.
Although the series moves at a breathlessly breakneck and methodical pace, it lingers indulgently on scenes that humanise our protagonists. Despite his sharp, probing wit and desperation for clients, Shin struggles with atopical dermatitis and a divorce that all his legal prowess cannot solve.
Kim Soo-hyun is also the perfect image of an ordinary college student (albeit a too-handsome one) who finds himself in extraordinary and incriminatory circumstances. The actor brings to bear his protesting innocence and woebegone helplessness, which can be seen in his previous drama Producers (2015).
To be frank, One Ordinary Day is a rather stark and brooding drama compared to Kim's previous works, which usually revolve around romance, comedy and a deeper morality.
If I have one complaint, it is that Kim's magnetism is dampened as he plays a victimised student, completely hapless and at the mercy of external forces, be it the police, the court of law or the dank halls of prison.
It would've been to director Lee Myung-woo's credit – and no one would blame him – if he allowed our megastar to show some teeth (and some spine) and take some control over his character's narrative (which is only displayed in the last two episodes); perhaps even show us some of that comedic wit that he is perfectly capable of in his acting repertoire.
Nevertheless, the series has exceeded expectations in every aspect - its arresting visuals and filters, and the compelling storytelling, sharp cinematography and bona fide chemistry between our leads made for a superbly thrilling and adrenaline-pumping ride.
One Ordinary Day is available for streaming exclusively on Viu outside South Korea.