K-Drama Review: “Judge vs. Judge” Asserts Impassioned Courtroom Drama Ruined By Lame End Game
Judge vs. Judge displays graceful composure amidst its emotional courtroom setting, but fails to seal a satisfying closure due to an illogical late minute twist.
Title: Nothing To Lose/Judge vs Judge
Theme: Legal, Drama
Length: 32 Episodes
Airdate: 22 Nov 17 – 12 Jan 18
Main Leads: Yeon Woo Jin, Park Eun Bin, Dong Ha
Plus Factors: Detailed Character Portrayal, Serene Narrative Mood
Oh No Moments: Lame Ending Twist
Related Dramas: Punch, Stranger
I was made to believe that Judge vs. Judge would be a tranquil and rationally executed drama that won’t let me down. It did for the most parts until the crowning chapters kicked in. I got disappointed on how the ending neglected the poignant flow centered on the focal conflict of the narrative. I stay tuned because the placement of the side problems consistently coincided to the thrilling bends of the story. But just when you anticipate the culminating point, the excitement was shut down disappointingly without any apology.
I could relate to how Lee Jung Joo (Park Eun Bin) struggled in processing the motivation of the belatedly revealed secret villain. I was also at lost and dissatisfied on how the drama disregarded the acknowledged universal truth that climax was supposed to incite thrills or make you heave a sigh of relief. I was left staring blankly at the ceiling of my room, weighing down how I could break up with Nothing To Lose without any hard feelings.
Nothing To Lose chronicles two wrong misruling of former respected court judges which affect innocent lives and their children. The neat concentration of the story trajectory is adorned by stunning picture of characters whose lives gets intertwined by an unexpected law manipulation administered, whom the protagonists have least anticipated to betray them.
The subtle bearing of the narrative was the reason why I enjoyed listening to the court judges ruling decisions on the cases covered in the story. I like the poise of the characters and the lack of thoughtless exaggeration even on the heavy scenes. Even the projection of the budding romance for the love couple is depicted in a relaxed way where they rationalize the pretext of their blooming attachment when they could just admit that it is just a normal attraction mutually shared by them. Nothing to Lose‘ biggest charm for me is its calm bearing even on the tear-inducing scenes.
Stellar Character Portrayals
The low key confrontations and placid demeanor of the main leads make the viewers settle comfortably while turning the pages and rooting for justice to be fulfilled in the story. Even the sketching of the faint romance stays true to how realistically how overthinking juries would be dense to acknowledge subtle romance hints thrown at them.
The male leads did not surprise me in drawing dynamic portrayals in support to the heroine who was equally stunning in her dauntless attitude.
Over Ambitious Ending
I was already resigned to pop a champagne with the judges for staying honorable and consistent in the reasonable relaxed movement of the narrative. I thought yay! goodness prevails! Let’s wrap up happily! But then the sudden unnecessary conflict erupted, leaving me lost in space. The last minute power-of-two villain was quite uncalled for. True that it was mentioned in the early proceedings of the chronicle, but that’s where evidence tampering card could be of use. After the whole “let’s break Prosecutor Do”‘s heart moment, the drama did not attempt to appease the viewers. It proceeded with a weak finale episode, depicting what happened two years after with faint romantic air. Achieving the best possible way for the characters to redeem the pain in their hearts would have sufficed the disappointing ending. And no, a dragging pep talk definitely did not serve the purpose.
Judge Lee Jung Joo is known from being emotional and prickly magistrate. Upon losing her mother due to sickness, she disowned her brother who was given a lifetime prison verdict for raping and murdering a young woman.
When a court ruling is overturned, she stumbles the truth about his brother’s innocence and sacrifice so they can get money for their mother’s surgery. But the villain is quick to instigate death on Judge Lee’s brother, who died just when he is about to confess that he is innocent of the crime.
Judge Lee works with Judge Eui Hyun (Yeon Woo Jin), who stands by her side in uncovering the bitter truth about how his brother became a victim of power abuse. They work side by side Prosecutor Do Han Joon (Dong Ha), who is the son of Judge Lee’s mentor, former Judge Yoo Myung Hee. She is the same judge who indicted her brother for his supposed crime.
It turns out that Prosecutor Do’s father is involved to Judge Lee’s brother’s case. As he is running for presidency, he is determined to sweep the scandal under the rugs at all cost. With solid evidence, he faces the court, but a sudden turn of events, equally painful like her brother’s death, pushes Judge Lee to face an agonizing reality.
Nothing To Lose pushed me to a love-hate relationship with its story. The superb cast and laid back attitude are the strongest charms of the drama. It is ironic how the patient story progression lost balance at the last hour, leading the viewers to feel stoic after the conclusion.
This drama requires forbearance and maturity since you would feel like going to courtroom each day, hearing pleas and analyzing verdicts. There are some cutesies here and there, romance teasings from east and west, but the majority of the picture leans on the lead girl’s endurance to all the emotional setbacks thrown at her.
If we can crop the rushed and misaligned ending, this courtroom drama is still worth your watch list – if you like that genre.