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REVIEW: The first two eps of ‘Blood Free’ is off to a cool and suspenseful (yet cold) start

Explore the futuristic world of 'Blood Free,' a Korean science fiction series streaming on Disney+.

There is a cinematic quality to the way the narrative of ‘Blood Free,’ the new Korean science fiction/mystery Kdrama at Disney+ unfolds, and this is not necessarily a good thing. Director Park Cheol-Hwan can get a little indulgent with his use of big scenes and CGI and special effects. The new show is futuristic, set in a cosmopolitan 2025 with a slightly dreary edge as a biotech company markets its latest product of “blood free” food. Han Hyo Joo, of ‘Moving’ and ‘Happiness,’ plays Yun Jayu, the head of BF, which is the leader in cultured meat products that promises to end hunger in an ecologically friendly way.

But not everyone is happy with BF and their biotech. Yoon Ja-Yoo is constantly attacked at all sides as farmers and other groups seem hell-bent in taking her and her company down. Right after BF’s latest product launch, which branches the BF product line from beef and pork to seafood, another attempt at Yun Jayu’s life is made and hackers have put ransomware into their computer system.

Enter Woo Chae-won (Ju Ji Hoon of ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Jirisan’). Woo Chae-won is a former military man turned bodyguard who is given a mission to become Yun Jayu’s bodyguard and find out if she’s actually a terrorist hiding as a biotech corporation. 

There’s a lot of plots moving in all directions in the first two episodes of ‘Blood Free.’ Coupled with director Park Cheol Hwan’s penchant for big dramatic scenes, it is a visual treat with a great emphasis on the show’s mystery/suspense tone but it leaves the audience quite cold because it fails to really take its time to get to know the characters on an intimate level.

Han Hyo Joo and Ju Ji Hoon are both incredible actors who have shown great range and dynamism in their previous roles. But in the first episode of ‘Blood Free,’ the show is more set towards its world building, Yun Jayu is stoic, betraying no emotions when another attack on her person is carried out or when a hack promises to ruin her company. By the time the show has started, she’s already used to it. She’s unperturbed and while it promises a strong, cool character to follow – it leaves us cold with how to feel about her. We don’t know what she’s passionate about or what drives her other than the need to make the world better.

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Maybe we could get that from Ju Ji Hoon’s military man, but Woo Chae-Won seems more caught up in the trauma of past missions and is too much of a good soldier to do anything other than follow orders. He’s just as stoic, keeping his emotions really close to his chest that also makes him guarded and reserved.

Luckily, there are members of the supporting cast who are much livelier and energetic such as the lawyer and head of planning, Jeong Hae-deun (played by a mesmerizing Park Ji Yeon). She is a great counterpoint for Yun Jayu’s stillness. As of now, she’s the one I’m watching.

Outside of the fact that the show seems more interested in the conspiracies – who is hacking the BF group? Is there a traitor in their midst? Will Yun Jayu realise Woo Chae-Won has his own agenda? Is Yun Jayu a terrorist? – than building its characters and creating dynamic personalities for the actors to inhabit, there is also an interesting push the show is doing in presenting us a world where technology may solve one of the world’s biggest problems: hunger. But the whole idea of cultured meat, synthetic meat grown in a lab, is a truly profound concept to play with. The economic and ecological ramifications of such technology, if the show explores this and its effects on the people, then the show will definitely be a lot more profound than the first two episodes hint at.

By and far, the first two episodes of ‘Blood Free’ is all set up and while it promises big things, it doesn’t give us enough hooks yet to know if we want to go all-in or not, unlike a show like ‘Moving’ where the first episode is so strong already that you are onboard from the very start. If the themes presented are explored while enriching the characterizations of its two leads happen, then the show can be great. But until then, I’ll give it until episode 4, as one should do any show, before I go all in.

My Rating:



Blood Free is now streaming on Disney+. Watch it here.

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