Beloved actor Kim Woo-bin (“The Heirs”) stars in this action-packed sci-fi series as a legendary vigilante in a dystopian Korea.
This short Netflix original series was released as a full season and is based on the popular Webtoon of the same title created by Lee Yun-kyun. Featuring a total of six action-packed episodes, this is a Korean action-drama that absolutely delivers in terms of special effects, action, cast and content.
I was hooked on this show from the opening act, and as the plot developed, I quickly became fully immersed in this easily binge watchable tale. Themes of capitalism, segregation, and societal unrest are at the forefront of this intense and often shocking thriller. And like many South Korean sci-fi programs, Black Knight uses its platform to make clear statements regarding these issues.
Although set 40 years in the future, this show features lots of practical effects and fight coordination. I found the scenes to be visually pleasing and interesting. A lot of thought was put into this production and the care taken on the set design are well done and deserving of praise.
An international production, Black Knight is offered in six audio and seven subtitle language options. I viewed the majority of this series with the original Korean audio and regular English subtitles. But, for the purposes of this review, I also watched a portion with English CC subtitles as well as with the English audio version. I must say, while Netflix does a good job with subtitles, the content featuring written Korean was not always translated. Detailed viewers may want to use a translation app for these moments. My app of choice is Google Translate, using the camera functionality.
In the aftermath of a comet’s collision with Earth, survivors find ways to live in a wasteland filled with polluted air. 5-8 is introduced and the nature of his job is described. A family, led by a stern military official, navigates life in the dystopian future. Meanwhile, the heads of a major corporation look to develop their technology and a deadly secret is revealed.
The first episode of this dynamic season pulls no punches as it sets up the general storyline and introduces the major cast members. I was particularly impressed by the clear and concise way this was executed. The first cliff hanger of the show left me screaming in shock at my television.
A tragedy affects the lives of the entire cast. Yoon Sa-Wol’s feeling of guilt and regret causes him to behave in an uncharacteristic manner, while both 5-8 and Jung Seol-Ah are prompted to start investigations based on the horrific event. The Cheonmyeong Group continues their endeavors.
Again, I have nothing but praise for this show. This content heavy episode adds an additional layer of worldbuilding by bringing clarity to many of the before hinted plot points in the most masterful way. I found it to be a mix of sorrow, comedy, and superhero style sequences. Even though a large amount of ground, story-wise, was covered, there were no slow moments in the tale’s overall execution.
Warning: This chapter features disturbing violent imagery.
The episode begins nine years in the past and details an important segment in 5-8’s history that is also recalled in later flashbacks. In the present, 5-8 is confronted by Yoon Sa-Wol, who asks for his help in achieving a lifelong dream. Then, with the aide of his fellow couriers, 5-8 makes plans to thwart the activities of child abductors. Later, Sa-Wol enters a deadly competition, while Seol-Ah meets with the CEO of Cheonmyeong Group.
This chapter is all about the action and it solidifies Kim Woo-bin’s new status as a certified action hero. There a several moments that felt like scenes from a videogame. And while some of the action is obviously not a real life recreation, there was a never a moment where the graphics took me out of the story.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that beneath all the high-stake fighting and high-octane thrills, there is a deeper message to be seen. The allusions to human testing and the government’s treatment of prisoners and refugees is a treatise on the unfair and discriminatory practices placed on groups of certain social and political standings.
Yoon Sa-Wol’s advances to the final phase of an event that will be broadcasted throughout the country. 5-8 and his companions seek out information regarding Cheonmyeong Group’s recent activities. Meanwhile, Ryu Seok unleashes a nefarious plan on unsuspecting citizens and Jung Seol-Ah finds herself caught between two powerful forces.
Gunfire and hand to hand combat are intertwined with corporate intrigue in this enlightening installment. With each new chapter the story reaches new depths and the call out of corporate overreach is both bold and profound. I am also impressed with the father-son dynamic and how the conflict is told in a manner that is both innate to Korean drama, yet fresh in its personal take. Once again, there is a cliff hanger ending that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
Unable to stop a terrible mass incident, 5-8 remembers a similar moment from his past. He later uses his resources and connections to plan the takedown of a deadly enemy. Yoon Sa-Wol receives a new name as the world discovers his secret. A father and soon choose sides, and the refugees are given a new opportunity.
The penultimate episode of this series is filled with revelations and crafted plan fulfillment. This well-paced chapter both entertains and forwards the plot in a cohesive matter. Although the themes of human experimentation presented here is extremely alarming it is presented in a way that feels very realistic. I also found this episode to be a turning point for Yoon Sa-Wol as he fully embraces who has become.
After a betrayal causes a coordinated scheme goes awry, the deliverymen must readjust their plans. 5-7 faces a stunning loss as the refugees once again pay the price for belonging to a certain social class. Finally, 5-8 and the team face-off against the Cheonmyeong Group.
The final episode of this magnificent season absolutely delivers. I found the wrap up of this limited series sublime. The music, the camerawork, special effects, and action sequences all came together in a way that perfectly complimented the carefully crafted storyline. All that’s left is thank you to the entire creative team involved in the series.