The Victims’ Game Review:  Taiwanese Mystery-Drama Tackles An Uncomfortable Debate On Suicide

The Victims’ Game Review:  Taiwanese Mystery-Drama Tackles An Uncomfortable Debate On Suicide

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Format: Web Series
Platform: Netflix
Movie Rated: 18+ (Language, Violence)
Genre: Crime, Drama

What’s The Story About?
Fang Yi-jen (Joseph Chang), a forensic detective, has always been the odd one out in the police department. While his extraordinary ability to find evidence at crime spots makes him an important member of the unit, he also suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, which makes everyone keep a distance from him. He’s a loner and never mingles with anyone, not even his own colleagues. One day, when he tries to unravel the mystery behind a gruesome murder, he suspects that his estranged daughter might be involved in the murder. And he finds an unlikely ally in a journalist Hsu Hai-yin (Tiffany Hsu), whose investigative skills come in quite handy. The story revolves around Fang and Hsu’s partnership to find out who’s behind a string of murders in Pinglin, Taiwan. 

Performances :
One of the first things that strike you is Joseph Chang’s body language as the forensic detective, Fang. His commitment to his work is almost devotional and right from the way he walks while keeping his head down and how he never moves his hands freely, it all adds up to the character that Joseph Chang portrays. One of Fang’s traits is that he always gets in the backseat of Hsu’s car, whenever he meets her, which shows how uncomfortable he is with social interactions, and he gets really frustrated when things are out of his control, which Chang channelizes into his performance quite well. And on the other hand, there’s Tiffany Hsu as a manipulative journalist Hsu, who slowly understands the complexity of the case that she and Fang try to unravel. While her cut-throat approach to work earns her a distinction at work, Hsu also struggles to make peace with her past, and it always hangs over her like a dagger. Both the actors make the viewers want to root for them, despite the shortcomings in their characters, and by the end of the series, they convince you that their friendship is genuine and heartfelt. 

Analysis :
For a series that deals with a lot of forensic science and murders, The Victims’ Game takes a dramatic turn when it delves into why the deaths are happening and how they are happening. It’s a far cry from all the serial-killer shows that are aplenty on the internet, and the more it reveals, the more emotional the series gets. When Fang and Hsu make a breakthrough in the case that the murders might have something to do with the last wish of a person, it doesn’t take them too long to discover that they are dealing with people who have died of suicide. And the more they try to understand the motive behind it, the more interesting The Victims’ Game gets. After a point, the forensic science takes a backseat, and you are instead forced to come to terms with the suffering and desires of the people who have died, so far, in the story. This approach to the story and the debate over suicide makes the show a tad too uncomfortable to watch, and it might even trigger negative feelings for some viewers; however, it’s also a story that hasn’t been explored so often. The Victims’ Game is a series that’s more to do with coming to terms with the past and finding the strength to live, despite several ups and downs in life, and most importantly, finding a closure. 

Music & other departments :
Like most other mystery dramas, The Victims’ Game too is quite grim in its visual tone, and a lot of drama unfolds in dark, congested spaces, which infuses a lot of realism into the storytelling. The foreboding music is used effectively, and despite its long run-time for a story that tries to build its narrative slowly, it’s never boring.

Highlights:
Apart from the performances of the lead actors Joseph Chang and Tiffany Hsu, it’s the writing that’s a major revelation of the series. After a slow beginning, it takes a while to understand the layers that the story tries to explore, right from how it treats the guilt that some of the characters absorb to giving an emotional backstory to each of the characters.

 

Drawbacks:
Each episode of the series is almost an hour long and at times, it feels too slow and repetitive. A major drawback in the series is how Fang’s character is treated with respect to the rest of the team. Although everyone acknowledges that he’s really good at his work, no one wants him to be part of their team. But beyond that, this cold treatment to Fang feels like creative liberty that the writing team took to let the character, Fang, move freely beyond his workplace. At one point of time, it almost feels like Fang is an outsider, who somehow got access to the forensic lab, and it would have certainly helped if there was a little more confrontation between Fang and other police detectives. 

 

Do I recommend it?
The Victims’ Game is slow and, at times, feels repetitive; however, it also deals with an uncomfortable subject about people abandoning those who are close to them for numerous reasons and how it affects them. Its commentary about the need for empathy is a lot more interesting than the murder mystery that it tries to tackle. 

 


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