Flash Review: Seobok [Movie]

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

TRAILER:

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.

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An article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.

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lotusgirl
lotusgirl
7 months ago

I definitely enjoyed the movie. Having Gong Yoo and Park Bogum on the same screen was awesome! I love them both, and as you said they truly did their part with what they had to work with. There were some scenes that were so stunning (like the one @ede talked about where Seobok creates the memorial on the beach) that they left me amazed and moved. Others that could have been so much more felt empty. I’m happy with this being film length, but it could have had a few more scenes to tease out the relationships more and give it more depth. It could honestly be an issue of editing. I wonder if there were scenes left on the cutting room floor (so to speak) that would have solved some of our disappointments with this film. My high hopes were halfway met. Maybe 3/4 of the way really. I did enjoy all the hoopla at the end. Except I agree I’d love to have had a final scene with Seobok and Ki Hun. Honestly, I would have liked lots more scenes with them interacting. The film would have been better for it.

eda harris
eda harris
7 months ago
Reply to  lotusgirl

lotusgirl, sorry you were sort of disappointed. but… I’d love to have had a final scene with Seobok and Ki Hun. Honestly, I would have liked lots more scenes with them interacting. The film would have been better for it. wasn’t most of this movie exactly interactions between 2 main characters? what else do you envision? a longer version, a 16 episode drama, or get rid of some of the supporting scenes (that were all very important in my opinion) in exchange for just seobok and ki hun? if so , which scenes would you eliminate?
and what about the final scene? wasn’t it precisely a major scene with seabok and ki hun? how could it have been more than that?

Leslie
Leslie
7 months ago

I’ve been waiting for Seobok to become available in my geo-area, but had some trepidation about watching the movie.I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see Gong Yoo and Park Bo Gum on the same screen, but I gathered from ratings and mini reviews, that the movie was not a critical hit. I was afraid the two actors had not delivered, or had, at least, hitched themselves to the wrong vehicle. I was afraid of being disappointed.

So, it was a pleasant surprise that I fully enjoyed the performance of both actors! They made the most of a story and script, which, I agree with KFG, was somewhat underdeveloped, yet nonetheless engaging. Both actors showed range and depth, and created some chemistry. It felt like Park Bo Gum, especially, delivered a different kind of character than I’ve seen before. It made me hopeful about his return to the screen post-military.

Overall, a very watchable film.

eda harris
eda harris
7 months ago

HAS SPOILERS.
seabok. i am not a science fiction fan, but this movie was something else. it touched every string of my emotions, without leaving out a single one. (now that does not often happen to me with science fiction).
i want to start with the most heavenly , most alluring, most mind boggling, , most moving, most magical… scene, episode, picture or whatever you want to call it. it’s exactly at 1:13 hour of the movie.
after ki-heon brings up his miserable memory of how his partner/friend is killed by their bosses, (that he might have been the target, or may be should have been in her place), and is exploding with guilt, regrets, and tears – seabok responds with the most humane reaction imaginable, being a subhuman, as everybody considers him. he uses his telekinetic powers to attract to him little stones from the beach, and piles them up in a kind of burial mound, to commemorate ki-heon’s friend, as a response to his grief. it is all done without touching a stone, merely by brain power. they both look at this, on the background of the serene peacefully purring ocean and the sunrise on the horizon. the picture is breathtakingly beautiful, but what follows is even more stunning. a huge flock of birds come into the sun tainting the sky with bluish-lavender, amber, shining silver and muted orange. as they enter the center of the sky above our main characters, but far away above the horizon, seabok with his amazing brain powers starts moving the thousands of birds in circular movements along the sky, as if trying to create an infinity symbol and ending it with a complete circle surrounding the full golden lit ball of the sun. ki- heon watches it spell bound, and so am i. sea bok’s creation in memoriam of this woman’s life is for ki-heon, and is beyond anything i ever seen. the background music is totally organic and the cinematography is exquisite. i kept going back to this scene, again and again, i could not have enough of it. the images are still swimming in my head, stuck to my retina and sends an army of imaginary ants all along my spine. i am not a cryer, but i cry, touched by this heavenly indescribable in words beauty and what it all means.

unlike kfangurl i did enjoy this movie quite a lot – impressive acting, powerful special effects, interesting and engaging ideas, thought provoking story, artful photography, lighting, supportive of the whole scenes of high tech labs to urban environments to drop dead gorgeous scenery and all that immersed in issues of various agendas in politics, governments, corporations, colliding powers, mega-conflicts in science and healthcare, and most important – century old quest of understanding of LIFE AND DEATH itself and their interrelatedness. and all of the above mentioned agencies/organizations/powers have their own unique pursues of greed and self-serving needs.
questions of personal code of conduct, morality, ethics, eternal life, cloning, meaning of being a human are all brought up to the surface, but not answered. and how could they, this is for us to ponder and i am in total agreement with that as it is of great interest to me.
i found this movie to be complete, although condensed. could it be a multi episode drama? i personally do not need it, as i suspect it would be filled with unnecessary fluff. i also did not feel the need to know more about ki-heon’s past, guilt’s and so on. the movie makes it clear that he was an ex-secret-agent (former assassin) and standing at the border of his life to transition to death, he starts reflecting on the validity of his own life as he terminated so many other lives. it is not difficult to imagine the guilt feelings arising from his past, and on top of it he has to decide whether buying some more years of his life is worth it, as it will cause another being, the so called subhuman (with human ability to intelligently process thoughts and feel physical pain not less than a so called human)to go through intense cruelty and tortures . in my opinion this is a fundamental question for modern humanity, and the question of who between them is subhuman and who is human is open for interpretation, although to me it is seabok who is more human that his highly educated, highly positioned that call themselves “humans”. so what does it mean to BE human?
parallel to all this runs the aspect of seabok’s complex individual fate, what it means for him and what it means for ki-heon, as it slowly and methodically develops into deep connection and emotions, where they both protect and care about each other. watching it blossoming was rewarding and warming my heart, as seabok new only ONE emotional connection in his life – his mother who created him. for him to find a friend, or brother figure, or father figure is a true gift, and feels my heart with happiness, even that it is just for a short period.
the last scenes, although violent (i do not exactly like such events) bring me some sort of satisfaction, as in my opinion JUSTISE IS SERVED.

HAS SPOILERS

eda harris
eda harris
7 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

should be fills instead of feels  and feels my heart with happiness,

beez
7 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@eda – 👏 👏👏 Your comment is very moving. I really liked Seobok but I can’t express it the way that you have. Thank you!

eda harris
eda harris
7 months ago
Reply to  beez

thank you beez.

Jaco_4950
Jaco_4950
7 months ago

Thanks KFG, I agree with the rating of B. It could have been better and having the two of them in the same film was such a great opportunity. I think I had unbelievably high expectations which then led to a bit of disappointment.

Su San
Su San
8 months ago

I watched this film as soon as it was available and was really exicited to see that you reviewed it–THANK YOU, KFG!!! It was one of our last on-screen looks at Park Bo-Gum before he entered the Navy!

I agree with your analysis and rating, especially your comments about the need to build a more intimate rapport with the main characters. I felt the need to better get to know the main characters dept this from being an excellent film. Perhaps this will really become a mini-series someday.

The most interesting part of the movie was when Seobok escaped from the lab. He just wanted to look around, and that was well-portrayed. It was also engaging when the film allowed us to see his reactions to the real world and get a glimpse of what Seobok knew about ordinary human life.

The arc about their visit to Seobok’s requested destination could have been better developed; I would have preferred more time developing on that arc rather than the focus on big pyro-technics near the end of the film. I do think there were a lot of parallels to the 11 character in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” including the haircut.

Thanks again, KFG!

Kay
Kay
8 months ago

I have this movie on my watch list. Your review sounds about like I expected it to be, and the right viewing lens and not expecting too much is key 🙂

ally
8 months ago

I just had the opportunity to watch this a couple nights ago as well. They acted the heck out of a very thin script, I thought. It wasn’t as heart-tugging as I wanted. And not enough sci fi intrigue to keep my husband engaged either. It would have been better with your ending too! But I did enjoy this.