Disney+’s Vigilante | What is it about, who is in it and is the action thriller based on a webtoon?

Disney+ continue the trend of importing South Korean television series with the release of ‘Vigilante’ this week.
The poster for the Disney+ series 'Vigilante'The poster for the Disney+ series 'Vigilante'
The poster for the Disney+ series 'Vigilante'

After seeing three episodes debut at the 28th Busan International Film Festival in October, the latest South Korean thriller, ‘Vigilante,’ is finally set to arrive on Disney+ this week. A Disney+ original, the K-thriller continues an ongoing trend of South Korean productions being picked up by streaming platforms in the West - or in the case of ‘Vigilante’, commissioned by a streaming platform altogether. 

The series centres around a police student who upholds the law during the day. However, at night he takes on the role of a vigilante, judging criminals who have evaded the law. Various people in his life, each with their own goals, fiercely clash with one another.

It was a gruelling shoot for one of the actors in the series: Yoo Ji-tae played Jo Heon, the detective who is chasing after the vigilante. According to a report by South Korean media outlet Naver, he gained 20kg of weight to realistically portray the role. Jo Heon is set to be the most dominant character in the series so the actor had to bulk up to gain his "monstrous" physique for this role. Fortunately, his years of combat training, including boxing, jiu-jitsu, and judo, helped make the action scenes in the series even more realistic.

“I had confidence and expectations that a Korean-style hero story could be made, and I thought it was a character that could show a stronger side than the characters I have played so far,” Yoo said about his role. It was a process director Choi Jeon-yeol seemed to almost insist upon: “‘Jo Heon is the most dominant character in the Vigilante universe. So, physicality is very important, and I needed an image that the other person would just acknowledge by feeling the aura even if I didn't say much.“

What is ‘Vigilnate’ about?

“Jo Heon is the head of the metropolitan investigation team chasing 'Vigilante' who is shaking up the judicial system. He believes that even if there are contradictions in the law, he ultimately follows the right path and works with a unique sense of mission to maintain the social system. As society becomes confused by the Vigilante incident, he is appointed as the head of the investigation team and pursues Vigilante in earnest to protect law and order. He is expected to overwhelm viewers as Jo Heon, a man with destructive charisma who shows himself resolutely punishing evil without any respect for the human rights of criminals.”

Who stars in Vigilante?

Nam Joo-hyuk as Kim Ji-yong (Credit: Disney+)Nam Joo-hyuk as Kim Ji-yong (Credit: Disney+)
Nam Joo-hyuk as Kim Ji-yong (Credit: Disney+)

According to IMDB, the main cast list for ‘Vigilante’ is as follows:

  • Nam Joo-hyuk as Kim Ji-yong
  • Yoo Ji-tae as Jo Heon,
  • Lee Joon-hyuk as Cho Kang-ok,
  • Kim So-jin as Choi Mi-ryeo

Has ‘Vigilante’ been adapted from another media source?

A panel from the first issue of Naver webtoon series 'Vigilante' by Kim Gyu-sam (Credit: Naver)A panel from the first issue of Naver webtoon series 'Vigilante' by Kim Gyu-sam (Credit: Naver)
A panel from the first issue of Naver webtoon series 'Vigilante' by Kim Gyu-sam (Credit: Naver)

Much like another South Korean festival feature this year, ‘Concrete Utopia,’ the series has been adapted from the Naver webtoon of the same name by Kim Gyu-sam. Series director Choi Jeong-yeol expressed the difficulties in formatting the 14-part webtoon into 8 episodes in an interview with The Korea Herald, remarking “I worked hard to capture the most intriguing elements of the original work: how the characters’ relationships evolve and the events that unfold as the characters get entangled with each other.”

“As the webcomics covered such a vast story, which was too much to cover in eight episodes, I tried to only keep impactful scenes to maintain tension. I wanted this series to develop at a fast pace so I put effort into emphasizing impactful and compact incidents to make the series intense.”

When does ‘Vigilante’ stream on Disney+?

‘Vigilante’ begins streaming on November 8 2023.

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