It’s no secret that Netflix is capitalizing on its original KDrama movies for the past few years. There were a few misses like Money Heist Korea, and there are very influential ones like Squid Game which was well-loved by everyone globally. For one of its 2022 lineups, Netflix cooked up a retro-inspired theme that involves a lot of car racing with Seoul Vibe.
Having a similar look and feel to Squid Game, Seoul Vibe takes a thriller movie with a different approach through a plot that exposes the corruption happening within the South Korean government in the eyes of a group of young and rebellious misfits who are willing to do everything to make it big in the US.
Seoul Vibe had a strong campaign here in the Philippines that include transforming a gasoline station into something that mimics the aesthetic of the movie—but with gas prices sold at an insane Php 7/liter. Combine with its spicy campaign and interesting movie plot, is Seoul Vibe 2022’s biggest KDrama movie hit for Netflix? We find out how Seoul Vibe fares in our review.
To keep everyone from being spoiled about what actually happens in Seoul Vibe, we will limit our discussion with the key protagonists and antagonists, and will not go into full detail about the plot involving Park Dong-Wook (Yoo Ah-in) and the gang.
Plot aside, there will be a number of 80s pop culture references that will be mentioned throughout the article–and we assure you that these will not spoil key parts of the movie.
Retro done right
Seoul Vibe is set in the late 80s—specifically during South Korea’s preparation for the Olympics—and the movie did a great job in utilizing elements that define the 80s–both in the Western space and in South Korea itself. Key 80s Western elements that were highlighted include the Daytona 500, JVC video cameras, Knight Rider, and the ever-iconic Air Jordan 3s in the classic White Cement colorway. In comparison, key 80s South Korean elements highlighted the cars it had during that time—with the majority of them being from Hyundai (more on that later).
Speaking of the 80s, the movie also represented things that the world did not know while South Korea was preparing for the Olympics. Even the outfits worn by Dong-wook, Oh Woo-sam, Moon Bok-nam (Lee Kyoo-hyung), Park Yoon-hee (Park Ju-hyun), and Park Joon-ki (Ong Seong-wu) are perfect representations of the said era. Even the use of clothing brands like Stussy and adidas (with the vintage Trefoil logo) speaks volumes on how the production crew of Seoul Vibe made an effort to make the movie as close to the 80s as possible.
Near-Impossible scenes aplenty
While it’s no secret that a chunk of the story draws inspiration from the Fast and Furious franchise with the high-stakes heists, I felt that some scenes were exaggerated–to the extent that they are practically unbelievable in real life.
Some examples of these scenes include the Hyundai Pony pickup being made over several times in a span of a day or two–where in reality, building a car can take weeks and sometimes months and how boatloads of cash were hidden behind the walls of their apartment (was it there in the first place?). While the movie is meant to be fiction, I do think that they could have made those scenes a bit more believable–especially since Dong-Wook and the gang do not possess any form of superpower that can match the Avengers. Not to mention, some might find the ending of the movie a bit underwhelming–you’ll have to see it for yourself and be the judge.
Despite some parts of the movie being exaggerated, Seoul Vibe has its good share of realistic and fun scenes. One of the great examples of this is with Dong-Wook showcasing his drifting skills that can rival Initial D‘s Takumi Fujiwara’s talent.
Low-key ad placement for Hyundai?
Korean films and TV shows have a knack for promoting their own local brands, and while Samsung has been consistent across the majority of Kdrama shows with their Galaxy phones, it is Hyundai who took the spotlight with Seoul Vibe.
Among the many old Hyundai cars that were present in the movie, the highlight is still the customized Pony pickup that packed a motor that came from a first-generation Grandeur. The whole movie is a treat for gearheads thanks to a healthy highlight of several cars that include a Porsche 911 (930) Turbo, an E34 BMW M5, a Mercedes Benz W124, and many more.
While the spotlight was definitely on Hyundai’s older cars, Seoul Vibe tried to be as unbiased as possible by having cameo car appearances from other Korean brands like Daewoo and Kia.
Seoul Vibe Review Verdict
Our review of Seoul Vibe reveals that despite feeling like a Korean version of Fast and Furious that’s set in the 80s, it has its own unique charm in introducing the audience to South Korea in the 80s. While we have mixed opinions on the exaggerated scenes across the movie, we love how it properly encapsulated all of the pop culture elements–both Western and Eastern–that encapsulate living in the 80s.
That being said, we give Seoul Vibe a 7/10 on our Hypemeter.