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Netflix’s Black Knight Is Like Mad Max Meets Death Stranding

While it may sound like a superhero, it’s not. Black Knight has nothing to do with the Dark Knight, but it’s a new Korean series by Netflix. It’s always interesting to see Asian perspectives on science fiction concepts in movies and TV series, so Netflix’s Black Knight is one of those with high production value to boot.

Mad Max

Black Knight / Netflix © 2023

The premise of Black Knight is this; In 2071, extreme air pollution has turned the majority of the Korean peninsula into a wasteland and wiped out all but 1% of its original population. The survivors are required to wear respirators and rely on the Knights, specialized delivery drivers, to provide them with the supplies (especially fresh oxygen) they need to stay alive. One day, a legendary knight called ‘5-8′ meets a boy named Sa-Wol, who wishes to become a Knight just like him, and decides to train him so that he can accomplish his dream in the dark and dangerous world that they live in.

Netflix’s Black Knight is set in a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland. Instead of water, the most valuable resource is clean oxygen because of pollution. Therefore, the most elite job is that of a deliveryman or “Black Knight”. The Black Knight deliverymen remind me of Sam Porter Bridges from Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding video game, but instead of packages, they transport clean oxygen, food and other things via huge trucks.

Black Knight Kim Woo-bin as 5-8 in Black Knight Cr. Kim Jin-young/Netflix © 2023

However, unlike Mad Max or Death Stranding, the themes explored in Black Knight has more to do with social disparity and social inequality between different classes in society. The way that Black Knight covers this subject matter reminds me a lot of another post-apocalyptic series, Snowpiercer. It’s both hilarious and scary that in the world of Black Knight, people are segregated into different classes and each person is identified via a unique QR code on their skin.

There are quite a lot of action sequences in Black Knight, but they’re not that remarkable or impressive compared to other similar post-apocalyptic series or movies. One highlight is a massive car chase with lots of vehicles in one of the episodes, which is clearly another inspiration from Mad Max. As previously mentioned, Black Knight is more concerned with focusing on social issues and what it would be like in a society like this. There’s probably a good reason why many Korean shows and movies like Black Knight or the award-winning Parasite would cover social inequality, since it mirrors the real world where the problem is becoming more and more prevalent as society continues developing.

Black Knight (L to R) Esom as Seol-ah, Kim Woo-bin as 5-8 in Black Knight Cr. Kim Jin-young/Netflix © 2023

Death Stranding

Black Knight Kang You-seok as Sa-wol in Black Knight Cr. Kim Jin-young/Netflix © 2023

What’s great about Black Knight is that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The first season is only 6 episodes long, and unlike other Korean dramas, each episode averages around 45 minutes, which makes this series perfect for a binge session. It feels more like watching a long sci-fi movie and that’s great. More Korean shows should follow Black Knight’s example, as it would welcome more casual viewers who don’t usually watch Korean shows because they’re too long.

If you like post-apocalyptic settings and concepts similar to Mad Max meets Death Stranding through a Korean lens, you should definitely give Black Knight a chance.

FINAL SCORE: 70/100

We received early screeners of Black Knight courtesy of Netflix Malaysia. Black Knight is slated to premiere exclusively on Netflix on 12 May 2023.

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