IRIS

July 27, 2015

Country: South Korea

Format: TV Drama

Episodes: 20

Broadcast Year: 2009

Production Company: TAEWON Entertainment

Starring: Lee Byung-Hun, Kim Tae-Hee, Jeong Jun-Ho, Kim Seung-Woo, Kim So-Yeon, T.O.P.

My Rating:

Synopsis

Kim Hyun-Joon and Jin Sa-Woo are best friends who both fall in love with Choi Seung-Hee through different circumstances. But it turns out Seung-Hee was doing profiling and Hyun-Joon and Sa-Woo are her new recruits into a top secret organization known as the National Security Service (NSS) which protects the country from foreign threats. While on a solo mission in Hungary, Hyun-Joon assassinates a North Korean official and is betrayed by the NSS while also on the run from North Korean agents. While on the run, he learns of a mysterious organization, IRIS, that could be connected to what happened to him. What is IRIS and who set him up in this predicament?

The Good

  • Exciting and entertaining plot
  • Suspenseful — expect the urge to marathon
  • Characterization
  • Good chemistry between the main leads
  • Cinema-quality action scenes

The Bad

  • Illogical situations and plot holes exist here and there
  • Over-the-top plot line — it’s good but sometimes it’s too much

Review

If I had to recommend a Korean drama that any guy must watch, it is IRIS. It has tons of action, suspense, espionage, gun fights, betrayal, politics, and romance — perfect for the average joe. What more could you ask for? The first few episodes was a bit flat but once it delved deeper into the plot, it just kept going and didn’t lose momentum until the final episode. The plot is so complex that the synopsis doesn’t even begin to describe what the story is about. Expect tons of plot twists and scenes that will make your jaw drop. Unfortunately, sometimes it did get out of hand with too much craziness happening.

The main cast of IRIS. Photo © TAEWON Entertainment

The main cast of IRIS. Photo © TAEWON Entertainment

This drama has a big budget and it certainly shows in the action scenes; the quality is pretty much on par with blockbuster movies. They are very well done with the actors themselves doing a lot of the stunts. The stellar cast also adds to the popularity of this drama with their superb acting skills allowing their characters to come to life. Many of the characters are very interesting; it’s hard to say that anyone is purely evil or purely good just like in real life how everybody has different sides of themselves. It was hard for me to only root for the “good” guys. Actually, just what is considered “good”? You will constantly question who is really the good guy and who is the bad guy in this drama.

What made me not give a full five-star rating you ask? There were several instances that had me pulling my hair out because the plot was so illogical. It is a common trait of Korean dramas. I’m not sure if it’s due to bad writing or if it’s just there to make the story more interesting…

Spoiler alert! Click and read at your own risk.

One such logical mishap is when Seung-Hee tries to rescue Hyun-Joon at one point (or maybe multiple points) and she goes to the enemies’ lair by herself armed with only one handgun. She is the Team Leader in NSS so you’d think she’d have a plan ready or at least have some back-up with her. This seems like a common trait with girl characters in Korean dramas. I really hope it’s just to make the story more interesting…

Kim Seon-Hwa, a North Korean agent and one of the more interesting characters in IRIS. Photo © TAEWON Entertainment

Kim Seon-Hwa, a North Korean agent and one of the more interesting characters in IRIS. Photo © TAEWON Entertainment

But don’t let that deter you from watching. This drama is an experience and I’d highly recommend it especially if you are just beginning your foray into the world of Korean dramas. Please note that there is a heavily condensed movie version of the TV series with the same name because the series was so popular. I wouldn’t recommend the movie unless you’re short on time and really don’t want to sit through 20 episodes. By condensing 20 one-hour episodes into a two-hour-long movie, it loses pretty much all of the characterization, back story and intricate storylines.

Fun fact: For movie buffs, you might have seen the main actor Lee Byung-Hun in Hollywood blockbuster films such as G.I. Joe, RED 2 and most recently, Terminator Genisys.

Useful Note: There is a spin-off series after this one called Athena: Goddess of War with all new characters. It’s pretty much a stand-alone story so you’re safe whether you watch IRIS or not. I thought it was okay and is worth a watch; review to come soon! The sequel, IRIS 2, on the other hand, I recommend you stay away from. Even though it is a sequel, all but only a few characters return and they’re not the main characters from IRIS, either. It was also not as entertaining as the first season and just felt very bland.

More Information: AsianWiki

This is my drama review and is entirely opinionated. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.

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