Actor Min-jong Kim was originally supposed to reprise his role as Kim Ki-soo (from Athena: Goddess of War (2010-2011) for the second season of Iris (2009). However, his popularity for his most recent show, A Gentleman's Dignity (2012), was still too fresh and fans were not ready to see him return as the North Korean escapee. Ki-soo's part in the script was changed to a new character, named Yoo Joong-won. The part went to Beom-su Lee. See more »
Performed by Beast
Courtesy of Taewon Entertainment and CJ E&M See more »
Although Entertaining, Iris II is not a Perfect Sequel, but it sure does have its Moments
Iris was a serious South Korean spy thriller, with interesting plot twists, engaging performances, and several brutal betrayals, culminating in a finish that resulted in more than a few questions remaining unanswered. Promising to answer some of questions raised, Iris 2 is a show that had enormous shoes to fill, and unfortunately, its feet do not match the ambitious size of the original. Though one might imagine the sheer number of story-lines would make for a wealth of material, several aspects of the plot are tirelessly dragged out, obviously in the show's desperate attempt to reach 20 hour long episodes. Often predictable, with minimal character back-story, and a plot held together at the seams with sticky tape, the conflicting and often contradictory story-lines risk the production falling apart at a moment's notice.
However, if you look past the flaws, there are a number of notable reasons why this show deserves a look, not least of all, the poignancy that is efficaciously delivered by the writers, alongside the talented (and VERY attractive) actors. This is heightened by the amazing musical score, including the gorgeous song from Davichi. Several of the fight sequences are sure to impress, though at the same time, those familiar with the aforementioned original, or even Athena, will see a great number of similarities, alongside the addendum that their frenetic orchestration can make them hard to follow.
Furthermore, though some of the dialogue could be accused of immaturity, the chemistry and interactions between the characters prove to be engaging in themselves, the romantic and familial relationships being conceived with much emotion, while some of the witticisms are especially enjoyable. Though the show is often unrealistic, with characters severely injured in one episode, and running around during the next, alongside contradictions in the story-lines, and ideas that fail to be fleshed out, Iris 2 gradually finds its footing towards the end, resulting in an emotionally powerful and worth-while finale.
Jung Yoo-Gun (Jang Hyuk) and paramour Ji Soo-Yeon (Lee Da-Hae) work together for the NSS, under the authority of deputy-director Choi Min (Oh Yeon-Su), who is determined to rid the world of Iris. Her goals however, are continuously been undermined by the ambitious Kang Cheol-Hwan (Kam Il-Woo), who seeks control of the agency, though his allegiances are unclear. When an Iris cell, led by Rey (David McInnis), storms the NSS prison housing the agency's former director Baek San (Kim Young-Chul), and extricates him in an attempt to garner much needed information, it becomes clear that Baek San has an important role to play in the war against the terrorist group. When North Korean traitor Yoo Joong-Woo (Lee Beom-Soo), a man desperate to clear his name, is recruited by Iris agent Kim Yeon-Hwa (Lim Soo-Hyang) to assist with her mission, tensions between the North and the South begin to escalate, and threaten the inevitable commencement of a unification war.
With the sheer number of cast members, it is no surprise that some are provided significantly less screen time than others, with fellow NSS agents See Hyun-Woo (Yoon Doo-Joon) and Yoon-Shi Hyuk (Lee Joon), alongside Iris operative Park Tae-Hee (Yoon So-Yi), being difficult to associate with due to the significantly lacking characterization. Set over the course of more than a year, Iris 2 includes not only locations throughout South Korea, but internationally as well, which involve a car chase through the streets of Hungary, and a chase sequence on the ski slopes of Japan. When in its home nation, the shoot-outs often occur in warehouses, amongst other abandoned and condemned locations, which offer little in the way of uniqueness.
Moving on, it's a fact, in every production, the antagonist is defeated. However, what's most important is not only how, but what horrors they have in store for the heroes. In short, how impressive a villain are they? The monotonous repetition of failure that consumes the enemy organization with every turn they take however, only makes their defeat all the more inevitable. To add insult to injury, the enemy group, Iris, have no motive or agenda, and without a cause, the audience is unable to connect with them on any level. If ever a cause was mentioned, it must have been whispered, for this viewer certainly never heard it.
The lacking interest in the terrorist cell is heightened by the show's inability to continuously hold us in suspense. Even the threat of a third world war, despite the emotional performances by the actors, flat-lines in its ability to make us legitimately believe this may in fact come to fruition. However, where the show excels, is its ability to captivate the audience with its character relationships. Unlike American shows, that often drag out romances to the point of utter boredom, Iris 2 gives its viewers enough tension, poignancy, grief and hope, to keep us entrenched for the entirety of the season. Moreover, though antagonists are loathed by the audience at times, on other occasions, they are equally sympathetic. Although the acting could occasionally be accused of being a little too melodramatic, one cannot ever deny the potency, with more than a few moments having the capacity to bring a tear, or more.
In conclusion, Iris 2 is best watched in moderation, and despite the occasional complexity of the stories, the show is very easy to follow. Despite been an enjoyable experience, Iris 2 is not a show that will cause you to continuously reminisce over the story-lines or characters. The show's conclusion leaves the Iris franchise open for a sequel, with a number of plots left unresolved, and several character stories requiring a more definitive close, though whether a third installment will occur, remains to be seen.
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