Black Knight Season 1 Review – Exciting but ungainly science-fiction

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 12, 2023 (Last updated: July 25, 2023)
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Black Knight Season 1 Review - Exciting but ungainly science-fiction


Black Knight is sometimes a little ungainly in the way it delivers exposition, but it’s impressively graceful in its relentless action and delivers the quintessential high-quality K-drama experience in a much more digestible package than usual.

This review of the 2023 Netflix K-Drama series Black Knight Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

The ceaseless efforts of Netflix and other streaming platforms to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle mainstream success of Squid Game continue apace. Black Knight, a dystopian action thriller adapted from the webtoon of the same name by Lee Yun-kyun, might be the next mega-hit K-Drama for the platform.

Or, it might not. It’s always difficult to tell. But the ingredients are certainly there.

Those ingredients include big, malleable genre sandboxes to play in, a distinct aesthetic, and — praise be! — an actual binge-able season order. With six episodes, each under an hour, Black Knight has a distinct advantage over something like Queenmaker, which was good but seemed to go on forever, or even The Glory, which had to be split into two parts.

Black Knight Season 1 review and plot summary

Black Knight really benefits from getting straight down to business, which also ends up being its most pernicious problem down the line, but we’ll get to that shortly. First, here’s the idea.

It’s the future again. A comet has battered the Earth’s surface, sent continents plunging beneath the sea, and left the Korean Peninsula a polluted desert wasteland. People can only survive by wearing respirators, and essential resources such as oxygen are at a premium.

As is always the case, capitalistic self-interest has risen to the top. The surviving 1% of the population are controlled — whether they know it or not — by the Cheonmyeong Group, whose technological advances and resource-hoarding have kept people alive but strictly regimented in a system controlled by QR codes.

Those who aren’t lucky enough to have a code, though, are forced to become refugees, living a hardscrabble life of oppression and desperation, with the only hope of salvation to become a Deliveryman, elite fighters and drivers whose job is to deliver essential resources across the wasteland.

Is Black Knight good or bad?

The essential hook of Black Night is in its two main characters. One is 5-8, a legendary Deliveryman who personifies cool in such a way that it takes a couple of episodes for the show to even bother giving him an actual personality. To offset that, Sa-wol, a young refugee who longs to be a Deliveryman above all else, has personality to spare.

These two are destined for a mentor/mentee relationship that defines the back half of a season that rockets along at an impressive clip. Black Knight delivers action aplenty in one set piece after another, content to let the worldbuilding and plot details be filled in by ungainly mouthfuls of exposition whenever we stop to take a break.

This approach probably won’t be for everyone, but the simple storytelling framework — being rich and hoarding air is bad, let’s punch and kick capitalism — mostly functions as an excuse to justify a bunch of exciting shootouts, hand-to-hand brawls, and car chases, all expensive-looking and engaging. Sometimes, those facile pleasures are what people want.

Is Black Knight worth watching?

The essential kineticism of Black Knight is the primary reason to watch it. It takes all the hallmarks of good Korean drama but presents them in an unusually digestible package.

As things go, the standard dystopian setting is complicated just a tad by the emergence of a very science-fiction subplot that ties the chosen-one trope into the show’s thematic underpinnings. This provides a little more world-building meat, which I was thankful for, but the essential appeal remains the same. If you’re in the market for an exciting all-action adventure that you can feasibly watch in one sitting, then Black Knight is absolutely that.


What did you think of the 2023 Netflix K-Drama Black Knight Season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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