Vincenzo – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Twisted Firestarter

Episode 1 of Vincenzo begins with Vincenzo Cassano watching as a building collapses to the ground. A thin smiles crosses his face as smoke and fire curl into the air.

We then cut back 72 hours as we skip west to the beautiful province of Italy. Church bells awaken this legal advisor as we learn that he’s a consigliere, someone who works for the Italian Mafia’s boss.

After getting dressed he’s driven straight to Emilio’s; a lush estate back-dropped by endless vineyards and fields. Security is tight, as he’s escorted up to a gorgeous balcony overlooking the rolling hills.

Vincenzo threatens Emilio, telling him to sign to prevent there being any problems going forward. Instead, Emilio swallows his pasta and tells him to head home. With the Lucino family by his side, Emilio is certain that if they go to war then he’ll be victorious. After shockingly calling Vincenzo an uncivilized yellow, our protagonist vows to get his revenge.

When he leaves, it turns out the crop duster overhead isn’t actually spraying pesticides, nor was it ordered by Emilio. It happens to be carrying gasoline. Vincenzo immediately throws a lighter on the ground and drives off as the entire estate burns to the ground.

With the mob boss dead, Vincenzo is targeted by his eldest son, Paolo, who tries to assassinate him that night when mobsters break into Vincenzo’s house. Vincenzo outsmarts the trio and shoots them dead without a moment’s hesitation. As retaliation to Paolo’s betrayal, he blows his car up and leaves Italy, telling him not to come looking. If he does, then Vincenzo will blow his car up with him inside.

Meanwhile, Cha-Young heads up to court where she’s kept waiting by her subordinate. Cha-Young eventually heads inside, where we start with day 1 of the hearing for the law-suit against Babel Pharmaceutical. Cha-Young is working on the defence’s side, managing to buy herself a week with an extra piece of evidence; buying off a key witness to try and get the win. For now, she manages to postpone and gain another hearing.

It turns out that his Father is her opposite number in court and promises to help him if he stops. Yoo-Chan sees straight through her façade of crocodile tears and tells his daughter to ditch her career and try out as an actor.

While it fails to work with him, it does work with her boss, Seung-Hyeok, who hastily transfers funds for her.

Vincenzo returns to Korea where he’s forced to hand over his ID to show he’s a Korean-Italian. Apparently they’re after a wanted man that matches his description and after a dud joke about his name, Vincenzo gets a ride into town.

On the way, he vows to get everything done within a month and then leave for Malta. Unfortunately the taxi driver happens to be a fraud and after drugging him, take all of his money and belongings, leaving Vincenzo a mess on the ground.

Word of Vincenzo heading back to Korea reaches the police too, as Mr An runs this by his boss and believes that they’ve become a target for the mafia, especially if the consigliere is here. Ki-Seok wants to launch an investigation, or at least tail him, but his boss is having absolutely none of it.

Vincenzo is not happy when he awakens, alone and with 50,000 won to his name. He does make it to Geumga Plaza, deciding to take out this building to prove a point. This is all tied to the past, an incident from 5 years back in Milan to be precise. This building happens to be a front for the Mafia’s gold, which is hidden underground with an elaborate security system, including biometrics.

For now, Vincenzo stays in one of the rooms but it’s incredibly basic compared to what he’s been used to in Italy. As he settles in, Lee Cheol-Wook happens to be watching from afar and feeds back to the other residents what’s going on. There’s only a few of them left, and it’ easy to see why. The roof is leaky and the lights flicker ominously.

When Vincenzo passes each room, the residents do their best to try and unsettle him. Nothing seems to stir him…until he realizes that the tenants downstairs have been changed to monks in a temple. The monk that’s inside the basement has no idea he happens to be sitting on gold.

Anyway, aside from all the hostile greetings, Vincenzo introduces himself to all the different residents, who believe that his surname is actually Cassanova. The chef claims to be Italian too, but he fakes his way through a conversation with Vincenzo who promises to drop by later in the day. Vincenzo’s homecoming is less than ideal though, as he’s distracted by a bird on the ledge outside and the shower playing up.

Vincenzo instead hopes that his meal is better. With Chef Toto watching, he’s dismayed to find the Italian food in bad taste. He calls Toto out for being a con artist and leaves.

Vincenzo’s visit to Korea brings with it bad memories too, away from the con artists and thieves. He meets with Jang Han-Seo, the representative for Babel E&C, but Vincenzo rejects his offer. The man scoffs, threatening Vincenzo. Only, given his history Vincenzo warns the businessman against doing that.

Vincenzo heads back to Geumga Plaza and rallies the residents together, asking them all to trust him and sign. While some of the residents believe this to be a ruse, all of them raise their hands and decide to put their faith in him.

Yoo-Chan is wise to his games though and admits that he never trusts people like him. Despite them both being lawyers, Yoo-Chan claims he represents people while Vincenzo is driven by money. He warns Vincenzo over what’s coming and implores him to take the offer. As we know from that opening shot of the building collapsing, he does no such thing.

Unfortunately things take a turn for the worse that evening when thugs show up and force Ki-Seok to stamp and sign the Geumga plaza contract of sales.

Speaking of signing, Yoo-Chan relinquishes his parental rights to Cha-Young. She struggles to get through to him, eventually bursting into his office asking for an explanation.

She’s not the only one after an explanation though, as Vincenzo has his dry-cleaning order ruined. To make matters worse, Hong-Sik rings Vincenzo and apologizes, telling him he had no choice but to sign given his wife and daughter were taken hostage. As he talks, a truck slams into the side of his car in one of the most shocking moments from this opening episode.

On the back of these shocking occurrences, a notice is put up on the front of the building lot. Babel have bought the property. The chairman of Babel Tower, Seok-Do, shows up and lets them all know that the compensation team will visit each of the residents and settle things. If they receive any grief, though they’ll hit back – and hit hard.

Just before things look set to take a turn for the worst, Vincenzo rocks up in a brand new suit and confronts the shady Babel group. He tells them he wants to talk and reveals that he represents the owner of Geumga Plaza.

The thugs have absolutely no chance trying to take him out, as Seok-Do agrees to talk. That talking comes from a swift fist to the face and a pretty brutal demonstration of power with a tape measure.

Vincenzo promises not to forgive the illegal way the building was bought and vows to make the team pay for what they’ve done. In Italian, he tells them all that the building belongs to him.

The Episode Review

The first 10 minutes or so of Vincenzo is nothing short of epic. The entire scene in Italy, with the sweeping establishing shots, cinematic verbal dual between Emilio and Vincenzo, right through to the ensuing fire, set the scene for a formidable action-packed series to follow; a Korean version of Gangs of London or Narcos.

Tonally though, Vincenzo is a bit of a mess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a suitably fun and lively affair but the slapstick comedy tone and light bites of horror that follow feel completely jarring to that opening.

The problem with this style is that it undermines Vincenzo Cassano’s ruthless streak. Seeing him struggle with a bird on a window ledge or the hot water may seem like funny gags – and they most certainly are – but it also brings with it a host of problems for this show, as it flits between comedy and more serious thrills a little haphazardly.

It also seems like we’ve got parts of a law drama bleeding through too, mixed in with an underdog fight to save the residents, along with a shady past for Vincenzo. That’s before mentioning the possible threat of a cross-country war spilling out with the Mafia. Right now it’s not initially clear how this all fits together but the tone really needs to settle down soon.

The moment involving the Geumga Plaza resident getting hit by a truck for example was an incredibly unnerving and shocking segments. It comes completely out of left-field too…and then is followed up by a heavy dose of slapstick. It just doesn’t quite click here, which is a real shame because that opening 10 minute flurry is up there with one of the best openings of a Korean drama in recent memory.

There’s certainly a lot to like with this though – and an awful lot of promise too. The humour is genuinely quite good but Vincenzo really needs to settle into some consistency if it’s going to stand out as one of the best dramas at the end of the year. Still, it’s early days so we shall see how this plays out going forward.

Next Episode

Click here to read our full season review for Vincenzo!


  • Episode Rating

17 thoughts on “Vincenzo – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review”

  1. I personally love the first episode, its packed with that cold blooded Italian mafia ness in vincenzo, even after he lands in Korea he is alright cussing in Italian, having that mafia vibe to his character , specially loved that fight scene with park seo when he started spewing Italian and hung him on the building. But into the case with Cha young , he becomes this Korean sweetheart guy. Who does group hugs ,shows a thumbs up to everything, wear turtle necks and coats, says bye and waves when he leaves a room, cuss in Korean. he even changed his hair style (:|) . I came to see vincenzo be this cool mafia but I’m getting it only from Jung heo seok ( the villain) I mean he is brutal than the mafia lawyer. So totally bummed that he lost all his cool and is just a lawyer with super witty brain walking around with Cha young. Only sticking until the end because of the plot. Totally dissapointed in the writers for slowly taking the vincenzo name worth out of him. And the only reminder that he is in the mafia is that they mention every once in a while

  2. No killing policy? I love everything about the drama except this common trend that this stupid direction implements in the movie. His a Italian mafia his a cold blooded killer and adding no killing policy is plainly just stupid. I hate when K drama does this. The acting of Joong Ki was amazing and love the story line but adding no killing policy simply feels like your making drama for a child. Overall, I love the drama but just wanted to let you know how I feel .

  3. I agree! The first ten minutes were so epic! I don’t mind the slapstick comedy, but once SJK gets to Korea he totally loses the cool mafia lawyer vibe. He gets conned by two petty criminals, doesn’t seem to handle the poverty life well… It’s honestly really astounding. He was this big shot that everyone feared in Italy and then he comes to Korea and loses all his cool. Also, surprised he’s broke because didn’t he have a good paying job?

  4. All these people commenting like theyve watched the whole series already. Im in ep 6 now and damn! So far this is the sickest series i’ve watched this year! It’s a korean drama and as expected the characters are a mix of multiple sides. Even plots are a roller coaster ride of emotions. That is a korean trademark. They still add quirk in the character even if they are generally planned to be serious. And it’s working well for me. I couldn’t stop watching it. K-drama in itself is a GENRE

  5. That the funny part, everyone want to judge the movie base on 1st episode. Come on, this a drama not movie in 2 hours. I presume judge it after 3-4 episode o

  6. I watched Vincenzo today. I love SJKs acting abilities in DOTS and Space Sweepers so I was really looking forward to this. (I’m not a Kdrama fan but I was willing to give it a chance because of him).

    Unfortunately, even though I love the first 10mins of the show…I was utterly disappointed. 🙁

    I expected it to have a serious tone. To follow that dark, gorgeous, scary, exciting image that they build up during the first 10mins. Hot flushes.

    But then as soon as he arrives back in Korea, it seems they hired a different writer! The cliche, slapstick Korean comedy killed the good vibe that got audience excited when the episode started. And to make it worse, they added that horror-style scene when he was wandering around the building! That was just so awful. Even SJKs shower scene didn’t save the show for me. I lasted another 10mins and then switched off. I don’t think I will be watching again. Booohoo

  7. Agree that tonally it’s a mess at the moment – excellent first ten minutes then it falls apart – cool savvy mafia don fooled by a fake taxi driver even the most gormless of guys would have spotted a mile off, especially when there’s a radio report warning of the scam? Might as well have been carrying a sign saying “Conman”! Undermines belief in him as the cool strong hero (established in the first ten minutes) instantly.

  8. Just sayin’; the only thing sexier than Song Joong Ki is Song Joong Ki speaking Italian… in a fine cut Italian suit no less.

    Love the action, the “evil vs good vs the evil-do-gooder” twist that SJK provides; and the weird, funny, yet normal people he gets entangled with. I am loving the beautiful SJK in a dark role… he just makes me happy in every character he takes on.

    Folks, this is television. Television should be our escape from the normal, boring, predictably of life, so I’m always a bit flustered when some complain that a program lacks “reality”. It’s supposed to. We’re supposed to drop our jaw when the bad guy gets away or the building explodes or the doomed lovers reunite… just enjoy it instead of picking nits; that’s worse than posting spoilers.

  9. I completely loved the episode. Yes, the episode doesn’t go the way we think in begining that it wouldd but for me that is the fun part as that makes me think more and more about the character and stops me from getting to a conclusion. Yes it is more of a comedy drama rahter than a thriller but I would say that this character got my attention not because the lead actor is famous but because the character I think is amazing. I am just waiting for more episodes. The 2nd episode was amazing tooand there was also a small development in the plot in it which is worth noting.

  10. I kind of agree with you that “tonally, Vincenzo is a mess”. There’s just too many genre elements going on in just the pilot episode. It’s like the writer doesn’t know what to go for. I mean there were scenes that are really funny but some of the slapstick comedy part is out of timing. Though Song Joong Ki works so well as a mafia. He fits so well into his role like a glove. There’s so much potential for this series. That opening sequence alone was superb. It reminds me of Tom in The Godfather when he was trying to convince a Hollywood producer to give the movie lead role to Don Corleone’s singer godson. My issues are just mainly about the timing of the slapstick comedy. It is a bit jarring at times. The acting of the female lawyer is also a bit over the top at times. Regarding Vincenzo being hoodwinked by 2 cons, I could pass that. For me there’s a realistic bite to it. I hate protagonists who are invincible, their immunity to the consequences of their actions seem absurd and out of logic, at least, within that universe. Vincenzo’s struggles with his new environment Korea could be jarring if not properly addressed by the writer. One moment in Italy, Vincenzo screams ruthlessness, cunning ability, and wit. Then, when he reaches Korea, all of that characteristics are seemingly forgotten. I don’t mind the comedic and horror elements so long as it’s thrown in at the right timing of the pacing of the story. I have yet to watch episode 2 though. I hope these jarring elements get fixed in the succeeding episodes because this series has so much potential. Joong Ki plays the part of Vincenzo so well.

  11. I think it was an excellent episode …portraying dark as well as humerous sides of the drama ….im sure the water and bird scenes we added to gv it a humerous touch….excited fr next eps ..4.5/5 fr the drama

  12. I totally agree with Judith. That was the first thing that strikes me is that everything was so cool until … he got mugged by two con artists! The minute he opened the water bottle, I thought what the hell! Real Mafia would never have drink from any bottle especially from a taxi that he just picked up. I was really praying that he would kicked those two con artists’s ass when one of them touched his watch! Like the review I wrote on another site, he anticipated his brother’s move but then, got brought down by two amateurs??? You can be t, his brother will be gunning for him, how’s going to deal with that?? Seriously, the writer need to do better than this. Take a look at Mr Queen, the writing is flawless. This drama is so hyped up, I hope it is not going to be another Ar …. Chronicle. Capitalising on SJK good looks.

  13. Vincenzo is a unique and different genre.. its nice to know that sjk is brave enough to try and potray different character in different genre.. in times of pandemic its nice to watch a series with light story and yet intetesting .. congrats and goodluck sjk

  14. I totally agree with you. I was about 30 mins into the episode when I texted my daughter this:

    “I am not sure what to think (about Vincerzo, the drama). He (referring to Song Joong-ki our fav) is a mafia’s lawyer. He kills assassins without batting an eyelid. Yet when he came to Korea, he was like a fish out of the pond and was hoodwinked into taking fake taxi, drugged, robbed and left by a deserted place??? Also the beginning of the show was all Godfather like, and then there were numerous scenes of slapstick. Hummm???
    I think I shall just finish the whole episode and then wait till all the episodes are aired before deciding to watch or not.”

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