Monday, March 31, 2014

IRIS - South Korean TV Drama Review

        This is a South Korean drama that started in 2009 with 20 episodes.  It’s a drama about a dissident group called IRIS, a large terrorist group that wants to destroy the governments of both North and South Korea so they can take over the country.  The group is very powerful and has a people in the government as well as the NSS and the police.  

          The star of the drama is Byung hun Lee, who has appeared in several movies now that include the GI Joe movies as well as Reds 2.   In the first episode, he is told to assassinate the leader of North Korea from his director, Baek San.  Since this is a direct order from his supervisor, he goes through with the assassination.  

           After the assassination and a huge chase by the police, which includes a helicopter launching a rocket in order to take Kim Hun Jun down, the scene switches to when Kim is back in the 119 division of the army where he is being trained with his good friend, Jin San Woo.  The story would then move to a day in school where he first meets Choi Seung-Hee during classes where they discuss conspiracy theories in the United States such as the Kennedy assassination.  

            The three of them would build a friendship and love triangle that would bring them together to the NSS, the South Korean version of the CIA.  It is there that that the three of them would go on missions and Kim Hun Jun would learn more about his background since his parents death when he was eight years old.  

             The first five episodes were more or less a replay of the assassination with more details added.  It seemed out of place for me but I went with it, hoping that it would get better and it did.  The action was intense with a car chase, gunfights, and several martial arts scenes where Kim was fighting for his life while trying to find out why the NSS and Baek San abandoned him.  

             Once Kim started to learn the answers, he went to fight for the North Koreans with the intention of revenge for being cast aside by the NSS.  The action would continue with more battles since the governments of North and South Korea were planning to have a unification and IRIS was standing in the way, even with the threat of setting off a nuclear bomb.   If anything, Kim didn’t know who to trust since IRIS had people in North Korea as well.  

             There were times that I would watch at least two episodes at a time, being hooked, wondering how Kim was going to get out of the trouble he was in.  There are a lot of surprises along the way, along with action and romance which is a nice blend of suspense which kept the drama moving for me. 

              Fans of the series 24 would probably draw comparisons between the series and like me feel that there is no comparison between Kiefer Sutherland and Byung hun Lee since you would find that the characters in IRIS are more sensitive than in the series 24.  It may not be a fair comparison since Sutherland has been around a lot longer than Lee but Lee does excel in his performance and has plenty of great scenes where he shows that he should have a great future in more movies. 

              If there were flaws in the drama, I would point to a hitman who was on IRIS early on in the show who would battle Lee named Vick.  After a major showdown where Lee needed to save a 10 year old girl named Yuki, Vick doesn’t appear again until the last few episodes of the series.   I kind of felt that the whole scene of Vick going after Yuki’s family was done out of shock value and while we never saw anything, it seemed that this could have gone another way. 

           The finale of the series was surprising but again, filled with flaws, the biggest one being how the terrorists managed to get the hostages to impersonate them.   I don’t think this is a spoiler to the ultimate end of the series but the whole scene with that and the way in which the hostages were saved didn’t seem believable to me.  

           IRIS is still a good drama filled with a lot of suspense, action and romance.  If you’re longing for the days of watching another series like 24, this would come close.  I still enjoyed the series enough to give IRIS 4 stars.  

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