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[Herald Review] 'Blood Free': gripping mystery elevated by veteran actors' performances

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : April 12, 2024 - 14:57

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A scene from A scene from "Blood Free," starring Han Hyo-joo (Disney+)

"Blood Free," a new Disney+ original mystery drama series, is compelling and full of suspense, supported by meticulously controlled performances from some of Korea's veteran actors.

Set in the near future, "Blood Free" is a 10-part thriller series that follows the story of Yoon Ja-yoo, (Han Hyo-joo), the chief executive officer of a biological engineering titan called BF. Yoon constantly faces attacks launched by a range of individuals, including agricultural workers -- due to her development of lab-grown meat, seafood and synthetic fur.

After a failed attack in which a farmer commits suicide and lands on her car, Yoon hires a personal bodyguard named Woo Chae-woon (Ju Ji-hoon) for her protection.

The series follows the ominous events that occur as Yoon's company suddenly falls victim to a ransomware hacker organization called "Citizen X," which demands 80 billion won ($58 million) from BF in return for decrypting the company's files.

The drama series is the first work in Korea to discuss the topic of lab-grown meat.

However, instead of exploring the controversial topic in depth, "Blood Free" focuses more on unraveling human stories and the process of solving the mystery surrounding the identity of the perpetrator responsible for hacking the company.

For those anticipating a series that delves into the philosophical dilemma of humanity's approach to future food production, "Blood Free" might fail to meet those expectations.

However, penned by an award-winning screenplay writer Lee Soo-yeon -- who previously scripted the tvN's popular thriller drama series "Stranger," for which she won the best screenplay award in the television category at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards -- "Blood Free," in itself, is a gripping mystery series which keeps the audience consistently wondering about the identity of the series' primary antagonist.

The audience becomes further engrossed by the series thanks to the controlled performance of Han, who, despite being the main protagonist and constantly victimized throughout the series, manages to appear as an enigmatic CEO who remains difficult to label as trustworthy, or even good. If you were expecting a similar performance to Han's role in the thriller flick "Believer 2," in which she was widely criticized for poorly portraying a crazed villain, you might be pleasantly surprised by her composed performance in "Blood Free."

Ju's action sequences are also eye-catching -- his bodyguard interview test at BF, where he utilizes VR sets to spar with a virtual opponent, is particularly enthralling. The VR test, comprising different rounds such as driving and sparring, leaves the audience wondering whether this technology will actually be commercialized for use in the near future.

"Blood Free" spared no expense in its graphics and depiction of the near future -- Han's presentation in the first episode, where she utilizes holograms to illustrate the killing of animals for consumption, is also visually stunning.

The first two episodes of "Blood Free" are currently available on Disney+. Two more episodes will be released on Wednesday.