“Black Knight” is a South Korean drama adapted from a webtoon written by Lee Yun-jeong. Directed and written by Cao Yi-xi, the story is set in the year 2071, where a comet collides with Earth, causing severe damage to future Korea. Along with the implementation of a strict social class system and severe air pollution, humans are forced to rely on breathing masks to survive, and access to vital resources is limited. In this harsh society, the “knights,” a group of deliverymen, play an essential role in delivering oxygen and other necessary goods, sustaining people’s lives. Among them, “5-8,” a former refugee, shoulders the heavy responsibility and rallies the lowest class of society to overthrow the class system.
The Westworld team employed approximately 180 VFX artists and spent over 10 months creating the post-apocalyptic setting. The team paid close attention to detail, immersing the audience in a world where survival outside requires an oxygen mask. They gathered data on Mongolian and Chinese sandstorms to accurately portray them visually, and even traveled to the Gobi Desert to shoot footage of the Bayanzag cliffs and Hongguo sand dunes as reference materials for the desert landscape. “Black Knight” will be available on Netflix on May 12, 2023.
《Black Knight》Official Trailer
40 years ago, a comet collided with the Earth, causing most of the land to be submerged in seawater. The Korean Peninsula became a desert, and only 1% of the population survived. In order to support these survivors, the world needed new products and order. The severely polluted air led to the invention of huge air filters that could purify negative ions into oxygen. The extreme lack of resources led to the division of people into different categories using barcodes: regular, special, and core. Those who were not selected could only live as refugees, enduring hunger and malnutrition.
Tired of discrimination, some refugees have turned to hunting and looting. The Black Knights exist as a profession to deliver life-sustaining oxygen and supplies, traveling through contaminated air and dust-covered deserts. They must overcome the savage attacks of hunters and be prepared to deliver their goods. The Black Knights must be strong, as they risk their lives defending their transport vehicles from attacks. Thus, many people consider becoming a Black Knight as a dream, especially for refugees without a barcode, for whom becoming a Black Knight may be their only hope.
Is “Black Knight” good?
Overall, the production quality is decent, but the plot is a bit padded and dragged out, lacking any particularly impressive content. It would be better to condense the story and make it into a movie, perhaps in the style of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” There are many meaningless plot devices, such as the purpose of the mutant April. A significant amount of time is devoted to her character, from being a refugee to becoming a delivery driver, and her screen time even surpasses that of the male lead, Kim Yoo-bin. However, in the end, she simply lies still during the most exciting attack and even dies without waking up.
The death of the chairman of the Chongmyeong Group was also too cliché, with a spineless son like him, it was easy to predict from the first episode how he would die. The powerless president was also treated in a similar fashion, being arrested due to the betrayal of the defense minister, and they both sat waiting to see who would have the last laugh. It makes one wonder why the defense minister didn’t just shoot the president on the spot. The portrayal of the entire military of the Republic of Korea was also lacking, to the point of being pitiful, as if there were only the defense minister and the team of Seol-ah in this drama, without even a single appearance of the police.
The initial premise is flawed. Assuming that the Cheonmyeong controls all oxygen supply and that humans in the general, special, and core zones need to order oxygen, how do these people earn and pay for money? It is difficult to harbor refugees in the general zone, and the amount of oxygen consumption for each human can be estimated. If a household of two people orders oxygen for three people, they would be immediately discovered and suspected.
Continuing with discussing each character, let’s start with Sa-wol. He is really just a troublemaker who spends his days fighting. After their home was invaded and his sister was shot and killed, Sa-wol was saved by 5-8 and ran away. When he returned home and saw Xue Er again, she gave him his sister’s ashes and encouraged him to live on, but the next scene shows him trying to provoke the hunters to kill him. This character development seems a bit inconsistent and unexpected.
After the announcement of the delivery driver recruitment competition, he decided to participate in the interview process. The competition included challenges such as physical altercations, high-speed driving, and one-on-one battles, and he managed to overcome them all with great difficulty, eventually winning the championship. Upon commencing his delivery duties, he was invited to join the 5-8 team, but before accomplishing anything, he rashly charged towards the medical station and was subsequently taken in for a blood transfusion for Ryu Seok.
It is not explicitly explained what illness Ryu Seok is suffering from or why he needs to study children or why transfusing the blood of a mutant can restore his health. These details were not covered in the six episodes. In the final scene before the explosion in the core area, Liusi’s finger moves, which raises the possibility that he may not have died and there might be a second season. However, it is unclear whether his survival means that blood transfusions could turn into a “Terminator”-like situation. The ambiguity leaves room for speculation and uncertainty.
The Seol-ah is a smart and rational military officer. Even after her sister’s death, she remained calm and did not lose control. Even when she discovered 5-8’s plan, she did not immediately arrest them, but instead worked with them to achieve cooperation. In the end, it was through her help that the delivery driver was transported into the core area, and then engaged in a battle with Qianming’s bodyguards after descending from the sky. However, the action scenes in this show were not well designed. In all honesty, descending from the sky in front of a group of armed people would only result in being shot to pieces.
From beginning to end, 5-8 exuded an air of superiority. Although it was revealed that he was once a refugee and had survived through the riots before joining the delivery driver to overthrow the control of the Qianming Group, no other background information was given. However, it was known that he was extremely capable, single-handedly taking on an entire squad.
Throughout the six episodes, he remained the calmest amidst the chaos, even when his life was threatened multiple times at gunpoint, always managing to come out unscathed. He was undeniably handsome, but the only drawback was that the hunters in this show were quite incompetent. Their battles with 5-8 were easily resolved and did not truly showcase his legendary status, from the foolish man at the beginning who was too afraid to shoot, to the hunter who climbed onto the car and was electrocuted to death.”
The role of the old man was also quite enigmatic. It was evident that he had removed the QR code on his hand, indicating that he had his own story to tell. However, his story was not revealed and only at the end, when the Qianming Group boss came to find him, did he briefly mention that they had designed something together. It was unclear why he had left the Qianming Group to become a refugee, and his only contribution to the story was to provide the design blueprint for 5-8 and his team to use in their final assault. It was initially thought that he would be one of the key players, a skilled mechanic who could create impressive vehicles and weapons, but in the end, he didn’t do much at all.”
Overall, Black Knight was supposed to be an action-packed film but fell short of delivering that excitement. The film spent too much time focusing on the character of April, a mutant character who ultimately had little impact on the story. Despite his desire to become a delivery driver, his character was only given a minor role in the final scene, which was disappointing given how much screen time was dedicated to him throughout the film. It would have been better if the writers had focused on the growth of 5-8 from a refugee to a legendary delivery driver, rather than spending so much time on Sa-wol’s development. I was really looking forward to ‘Black Knight’, but in the end, it was a letdown.”