Copycat Killer (2023) is a Chinese-language thriller about a serial killer in Taipei in the late 90s and how one prosecutor follows the case right to its conclusion. The series is streaming on Netflix.
A serial killer has been killing young girls in Songyan City and Prosecutor Kuo Hsiao-Chi is the man tasked with finding out who the killer is and putting a stop to his crimes.
In his corner are police officers Lin Shang-Yong, Jhang Da-Chao, reporter Lu Yan-Jhen, and his psychologist Hu Yun-Huei. As the investigation progress, Hsiao-Chi learns that there is not one but a team of people committing these murders.
The authorities are pushed to the brink as the real killer uses the media to create panic amongst the public and grab the attention that he so craves.
Kang Ren Wu plays Hsiao-Chi, the primary protagonist responsible for stopping a terrifying killer. That pressure and the trauma of his past weigh heavily on Hsiao-Chi and Ren Wu does the job brilliantly. He’s mostly reserved and meticulous but in certain moments, he lets his emotions flow.
Chun-Yao Yao is magnificent as the final boss, with the story saving him for last and he does not disappoint. He appears normal in early exchanges but as the story progresses, Yao dials it up as he’s revealed to be the true culprit and an absolute madman.
Tsung-Hua Tou gives a solid performance as Lin Shang-Yong, the veteran officer who wants to do better. Tou is experienced and he makes sure to show it off in his portrayal.
Cammy Chiang is earnest as Lu Yan-Jhen in the series. Chiang nails the warmth and motivation of her character as Yan-Jhen only has noble intentions.
Fandy Fan does quite well as the deranged Shen Jia-Wun. He comes across as cool and calculating for a while but soon devolves into a deeply troubled individual and Fan deserves credit for his efforts.
The story is fascinating and the way it is written takes the audience on an engrossing ride. The series chooses to reveal many things beforehand rather than build to the final episode, but it does so on its own terms, painting a consummate picture.
The narrative has a very clear step-by-step progression as it shifts its focus from one suspect to the next. The directors have chosen to give importance to each character and their motivations rather than build a mystery with a major climax and that works here.
The many cast members perform wonderfully and it is all a well-balanced product thanks to the directors and writers who have given them some scripts with emotional depth.
There’s a truly chilling score supporting the series and it sets the perfect tone. There are some trademark swelling songs littered in to signify intense moments between any two characters as well.
While the direction of the story is great, the pacing is tough to get over. It moves at an agonizing speed with certain shots staying on for a little longer than they needed to. Getting through each episode is certainly a task.
In fact, there are small decisions regarding the story that could have certainly been edited out to save time such as the plot point about Shen Jia-Wun’s father being the speaker of the house which doesn’t really have a major impact.
Copycat Killer (2023) is a brilliant thriller series containing all the right story beats that make the tale of a serial killer interesting. While it does have a narrative worthy of your attention, getting through the entire series in sitting may come across as a challenge and it is better suited for a drawn out experience.
Henri Chang, Jung-chi Chang
Also Read: Copycat Killer (2023) ending explained: Does Hsiao-Chi catch the real killer?
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