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The Weekend Binge: "BloodFree"

For a show named "BloodFree," it certainly isn't. In a feat not usually seen in K-sci-fi, Disney+'s BloodFree successfully combines thought-provoking themes, immersive world-building, and the insane chemistry between the lead actors and packs them into a 10-episode extravaganza that will intrigue you from beginning to its very bloody (and very divisive) end.

han hyo joo ju ji hoon bloodfree disney

The Plot:

BloodFree is the leading cultured meat conglomerate in the world. Its success, while a win for animal lovers everywhere, is also the death knell for traditional farmers and agriculturists. With their livelihoods threatened and their way of life upended, the company’s inscrutable CEO Yoon Ja-yu (Han Hyo-joo, Moving) has quickly become the target of disgruntled extremists and mercenaries seeking to undermine her success. 

Following a traumatic accident, Yoon is forced to hire a personal bodyguard. After careful consideration, she chooses Woo Chae-woon (Ju Ji-hoon), a former Navy captain with a questionable past. Although initially wary, Yoon gradually learns to trust Woo as he skillfully tracks down traitors and spies both within and outside of her company, proving himself to be a reliable and trustworthy ally.

It does not take long for Woo to realize that the cultured-meat war is only the beginning. There's something bigger at play, something that could change the course of humanity itself. Soon, the two find themselves caught in the middle of a dangerous game of politics, technology, and ethics. As he and Yoon work together to protect BloodFree and all its secrets, they find themselves drawn to each other in ways they never expected. But with danger lurking around every corner, giving into their burgeoning chemistry may be the last thing on their minds.

Our Review

BloodFree is a unique sci-fi drama that explores several fascinating ethical dilemmas such as the debate on immortality and the propriety of a human organ market, and wraps them up into an intriguing 10-episode binge. While the show wins on the strength of its ideas and its awesome technology, it is primarily fuelled by the performance of its human cast. The chemistry between the lead actors, Han Hyo-joo and Ju Ji-Hoon, is ridiculously palpable, and the performances of the supporting cast, especially Lee Hee-joon as the antagonistic Prime Minister and Park Ji-yeon as the seedy company lawyer, are quite compelling. BloodFree’s remarkable world-building also flexes top-notch CG from K-dramaland, making it feel strangely contemporary and relevant. Overall, the show is undeniably stunning, from its virtual car races to its mind-reading tech, all beautifully fleshed out for our entertainment.

But while the show has an intriguing premise, it may also have been too ambitious for its own good. The storytelling takes one too many liberties and swerves into too many territories that it doesn't pursue. It also goes a bit off-kilter midway, especially when it tries to wade into a plotline involving superhuman abilities, only to abandon this later. Additionally, there are issues with a haphazard finale that seems to have been rushed. The divisive and oftentimes confusing finale has left viewers desperate for news of a second season. Barring that, two more episodes would have been ideal to wrap up all the loose ends.

Should we be lucky enough the get a second season, then the finale would have been a fantastic setup, and fans will no doubt be waiting with bated breath to find out what happens to the leads and their cat. However, if there won't be a second season, then the ending could be interpreted as a strangely grotesque non-romantic romance that Black Mirror fans could come to love. It's a conclusion that may be unsatisfying for most, but weirdly innovative for some. Either way, we need to know if Man-sik the "couple's" cat is okay because we certainly are NOT. 

Despite these shortcomings, the show remains intriguing from start to end, largely propelled by the insane chemistry Yoon and Woo share. BloodFree also stands as an exciting contribution to the desolate K-sci-fi genre, and fans of ethical dilemmas will undoubtedly appreciate the show's thought-provoking themes. However, a fair warning: the Austenian level of chaste attraction and unrequited romance between the main leads may be too frustrating for some.

Overall, the show is a visually stunning mixed bag, with its strengths being its immersive world-building and fascinating ideas, while its weaknesses lie in its storytelling direction and divisive finale. Still, one should check out BloodFree for the sci-fi ideas and stay for the insane slow-burn chemistry Yoon and Woo share. Until then, we hope Man-sik the cat is warm and well-fed.

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