Huge shout-out to Beez, who was the one who let us know, over on Patreon, that Viki would start carrying Seobok, from 1 Feb! Thanks, Beez! 😘
I have a great deal of fondness for both Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum, which is why this movie’s been on my radar, ever since it was announced. Now that I’ve finally had the chance to see it, I’ll say that while this movie didn’t ultimately rock my world, I am glad to have checked it out.
Psst: Link to watch is at the end of the review! ❤️
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Seobok (Park Bo Gum) is the first successful human clone, and is part of a top secret government experiment. When his safety is deemed to be at risk because of a terrorist attack, ex-intelligence agent Ki Hun (Gong Yoo) is tasked with escorting him to a new safe location.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, in order to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. There’s a rather strong Hollywood blockbuster flavor about this, with a good chunk of action-packed scenes in Show’s latter half. I think it’s useful to expect it.
2. The story itself can sometimes feel a touch scattered, and it can feel challenging to keep track of the people who are after Seobok, and why. I found that it didn’t work out to be super important, in the end, whether I knew these details or not, during my watch. Just rolling with it should work fine.
STUFF I LIKED
The key things that I enjoyed in this show are:
1. Having both Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum on my screen.
I have admiration and respect for both Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum as actors, so it was a treat to have them share the screen. Even when the provided context worked out to be thinner than I would have liked, both of their deliveries helped to bring the emotional heft and oomph, to the moment.
2. The growing connection between Ki Hun and Seobok.
This isn’t unexpected, for sure, and some people might even consider this predicable, but the growing bond between Ki Hun and Seobok was still one of my personal highlights of my watch.
The way they affect each other, in the course of their interactions, even though they are so different, was something that I liked a lot. And, again, even though some might consider it clichéd, I did appreciate their philosophical conversations about life, death and humanity.
WHAT WOULD’VE MADE THIS BETTER
I honestly think that this would have been a more satisfying watch, it this story had been made into a mini-series, rather than a movie.
That would have allowed Show to tease out more of our main characters’ contexts, which would have in turn helped the more emotional moments to land with more weight. After all, context is everything.
[SPOILER ALERT] For example, it would have been great if Show had managed to explore Seobok’s relationship with his mother, Dr. Lim (Jang Young Nam), so that her attempt to protect Seobok, and Seobok’s eventual reaction to her death, could have landed with more oomph.
I also think it would’ve been helpful to have explored Ki Hun’s past a little more, to give us more context for his guilt. I feel that would have allowed me to empathize better with his character. [END SPOILER]
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
I have to admit to not feeling completely convinced that the reason Chief Ahn (Jo Woo Jin) is persuaded that Seobok needs to die, is because he believes the reasoning given to him, that the human race would pretty much collapse, if people weren’t motivated by their fear of death. I mean, that sounds kinda out there, to me.
However, as the our story progressed, it did become clear to me that there was basically no way that Seobok would survive this.
Not only is everyone either out to kill him or use him, there’s no way for him to survive away from the lab, because he requires those painful inhibitor shots on a daily basis.
I did feel sorry for Seobok, because it’s a horrible position to be in, to be hunted. And whether he’s hunted by those who are out to kill him, or by those who wish to use his bone marrow for their own gain, he ends up being destroyed, either way.
With Park Bo Gum’s soulful doe-eyed delivery of Seobok, it’s hard not to feel sorry for him. Although, like I said earlier in this review, more context would have definitely amped up my feels for him.
While some viewers might argue that if Seobok’s ultimate intention was to die, and therefore he didn’t actually need to take down the legion of soldiers against him, I think he was written to do so, for two reasons.
1, It’s partly because Show’s makers wanted some Drama with a Capital D. The way Seobok takes down everyone checks all the boxes, in order to give Show a big, explosive finale.
2, I also think that it gives Seobok some dignity, to be able to choose how to end his life, rather than allow himself to be shot at willy-nilly by Chief Ahn and his men.
That said, I do feel like I would have liked the ending better, if Ki Hun could have escaped with Seobok, so that Seobok would have been able to get a longer glimpse at the world, of which he was so curious. Wouldn’t it have been so poignant yet beautiful, for Ki Hun to take Seobok to the beach, and watch the waves, as he waited to breathe his last?
However, I do appreciate that final scene, where we see Ki Hun return to the stone stack that Seobok had created for him on the beach, and lay down one additional stone. This strongly echoes how people stack stones as a form of personal prayer or wish, and it feels to me, that Ki Hun lays down that stone in honor of Seobok.
What a poignant way to acknowledge Seobok’s humanity, by treating him in death, as any other human. 💔
THE FINAL VERDICT:
The story could have been stronger, but the excellent performances by Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum make this one worthwhile.
FINAL GRADE: B
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can watch Seobok on Viki on their TVOD service for US$2.99.
Viki has exclusive rights for Seobok in the US and Canada, from 1 Feb to 15 Feb. 2022. However, the movie will be available for a full 60 days on their TVOD service.
GETTING AROUND GEO-RESTRICTIONS
If you’re geo-restricted, a VPN service would help you get around that. Not only does it provide online safety, it also gives you access to lots of great geo-restricted content.
I personally use NordVPN. You can find my review of NordVPN here.
You can use my affiliate link (here!) to enjoy up to 60% * off, with prices starting as low as US$3.29 per month.
* This used to say 73%, but because NordVPN’s changed the way it calculates the discount, it now says 60%. BUT, it’s the same great price, starting from US$3.29 a month!
An article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.