‘Black Knight’ Review: Kim Woo-bin Goes Mad Max in This Post-Apocalyptic Drama

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The end of the world has always been looming as a concept in fiction. Entire religions have made the concept one of their pillars, and for hundreds and hundreds of years, believers, readers, and viewers have been fascinated with the chance that we might not be here tomorrow. The end of the world seems like the highest possible stake for human beings, so many writers go that way when telling their stories. Post-apocalyptic fiction has managed to deliver amazing stories, and Netflix is about to try to add one more with their new series, Black Knight.

Black Knight is an action-drama set in a post-apocalyptic world. Netflix developed the series, and it is written and directed by Cho Ui-seok. The series stars Kim Woo-bin, Song Seung-heon, Kang Yoo-seok, Esom, and Roh Yoon-seo. The series tells the story of a near future where a meteorite strikes planet Earth, destroying human civilization as we know it. Only 1% of the world’s population survived, and now these survivors are divided by classes and those with nothing. The series depicts the characters’ struggle to survive in this hostile world.

Black Knight is based on the webtoon of the same name by Lee Yun-kyun. The series’ source material leaks into the TV adaptations in multiple ways. You will first notice that Black Knight feels like a very solid production. Its production design might not be catchy, but it doesn’t have to be. We are entering a world where beauty is not necessary, only practicality. If it works, leave it like that. This is a cruel and efficient world, and the visual design of the series works well to depict that principle.

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This could mean that the show isn’t precisely pretty to look at, but Cho Ui-seok certainly makes an effort to create as wide visual varieties as possible with the tools at hand. Some shots are truly impressive when it comes to visual effects work, but there is definitely a lack of budget when it comes to delivering when it counts in this regard. It is strange, but it is logical. This is still a TV production, and it won’t have the required budget to create this kind of world properly. However, it is still a very cool-looking show.

The meat of the show is actually the story and the characters. We are thrown into a world where survival is the ultimate goal, and to achieve that goal means that most, if not all, the characters have thrown away part of their humanity. Of course, our heroes are those who still manage to retain that level of humanity, even if it is just a little. Enter Kim Woo-bin, a young actor who has managed to create quite a nice presence outside of his screen work, and here he is, our main hero, a rough delivery man named 5-8.


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The name tells you a lot about the character; this man has decided to leave his humanity behind, but little by little, we will see him recovering parts of it. Here, 5-8, and basically the entire show, feels like a South Korean version of Mad Max. Black Knight brings tons of visual cues from the famous Australian hero and aspects of the character to 5-8. In most of his movies, Max’s character begins in a feral state, and it is only little by little that he can regain his humanity back by helping others.

Kim Woo-bin looks like someone who could have been much more gentle and warm, which works great for the character. It tells us a story that couldn’t happen because the world around him didn’t allow it. Kim Woo-bin also does very well when it comes to delivering action moments. His performance has great intensity, and he works very well as another Mad Max archetype. The rest of the cast also does an amazing job, and the characters shine in one way or another. The tone, especially, feels very much like something from a comic.

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Which it is the webtoon aesthetic that also leaks into the show when the episodes end up using this flashy animation style to do some of the transitions between the scenes. It is a nice touch that pays homage to the story’s beginnings and brings something extra. It is a small detail, but those are the details that, more often than not, bring something special to each story. The show isn’t perfect, though. Some world-building elements feel a bit over the top, and others don’t make a lot of sense.

However, the biggest issue is the tone. At first, the show presents itself as a very serious story, but as the show introduces new characters, we are presented with a tone that sometimes feels too cartoony. There is always a place for levity and comedy in every story, even the darkest ones. However, it is often that the tone of one scene clashes with the tone of the next one, and it creates this powerful whiplash effect that feels very uncomfortable and makes the show feel like a joke.

Some people will have absolutely no issues with this shift in tone, but it is proven that people prefer tone to be consistent. If they feel that the show is becoming something they didn’t ask for, then disappointment has an open door to set in. Stories reflect real life, but they are not real life per se. Thus, they are better when they are consistent in their structure and tone. Black Knight tries to do what the Yakuza games have been doing for a while. It is possible, but it is also very hard to do.


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Black Knight is an entertaining post-apocalyptic story with tons of action, comedy, and cool characters to follow through this very hostile setting. If you love post-apocalyptic stories or are a fan of the Mad Max franchise, Black Knight might have something for you. The cast is amazing, and Kim Woo-bin proves he is one of the best-rising Korean entertainment stars. The series also doesn’t overstay its welcome, with only six episodes this season. It is an easy binge-watch for this weekend.

SCORE: 7/10