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Iris is a 20 episode series that shares the record of being one of the most expensive dramas ever produced. But does the budget make this espionage drama worth watching? Read on to find out.

The story revolves around Kim Hyun Jun (Lee Byung Hun) and Jin Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho) who trained under the South Korean army’s 707th Special Mission Battalion before being scouted by NSS (National Security Service). By coincidence they were both scouted by the same agent Choi Seung Hee (Kim Tae Hee) who used different identities to analyse the two friends separately. After intense, rigorous training routines, they both become official NSS agents and enter the exciting world of espionage. Unfortunately for Hyun Jun he suffers betrayal while on a mission and discovers conspiracies that go beyond NSS and his own life.

The Good

* The various filming locations show the beauty of different countries such as Japan, Korea and Hungary.

* Because of the different locations, Iris provides a multi-cultural environment. Lee Byung Hun showcases his linguistic ability, speaking English and Japanese confidently to the various cast.

* If you are a fan of high adrenaline action with guns, car chases and gritty hand to hand combat you will enjoy the fighting action in Iris. I also think this series is ideal for those who happen to be fans of espionage or fast-paced action dramas. So if you like Alias or 24 for example, then you’re good to go.

* Lee Byung Hun’s drama comeback is worth it. The man knows how to command the screen with his charisma and intense acting. Hyun Jun is ferocious when he is in action but shows a vulnerable nature when he has lost something important to him.

* Kim Tae Hee succeeds as Choi Seung-Hee – the love interest for Hyun Jun and Sa Woo. However Seung Hee does not let herself get into any triangle whatsoever. In fact, there is no blatant triangle at all while the gun fights and fist action take place.

* TOP/Choi Seung Hyun – believe it or not this was where I first came across TOP and when I started to research BIGBANG as a band. It might be difficult to take his character Vick rather seriously because he might be deemed as “too pretty” to be a bad guy in some scenes due to his choice in attire.

However, I think what made Vick work in the few episodes he appears in Iris was how fierce he could be on screen by just looking at people. The do not mess with me look is something that easily intimidates his enemies. As an idol is in the cast, TOP has contributed his rapping talent to the Iris soundtrack with the help of fellow BIGBANG bandmates G-Dragon and Taeyang. Listen out for “Hallelujah,” which was performed at one of BB’s Big Shows.

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**If you want to see TOP act his socks off I would recommend 71 Into The Fire. It isn’t his eyes that do the talking, this guy can really show his other emotions.**

* Hats off to Kim Seung Woo and Kim So Yeon who play the North Korean agents with rather morally grey character traits. Even if they are apparently the opposing side in the series, these two question the decisions of their leader and wonder whether they are doing the right thing or not. Actually come to think of it a lot of the Iris cast have a very morally grey aspect. Espionage dramas always like to be complicated with their characters. It’s simply not black and white.

* Espionage series can never go wrong with the hi-tech goodness i.e. advanced computers and cool gadgets for the spies to have fun playing with.

* I like how Hyun Jun is our eyes as he uncovers the many secrets of his life, NSS and much more. We’re untangling the huge spider web of conspiracies with him.

The Bad

* There’s a villain that has the potential to be very interesting but sadly did not succeed, especially without a meaty backstory to back his character. He was solely seen as a mere nemesis out to stop Hyun Jun from succeeding on his missions.

* A supposed character death was made meaningless when the teaser for the next episode showed that person was still alive. It somehow ruins the suspense and wouldn’t put the viewer in the “did that person die or not?” seat while watching the series.

* The “Who dunnit?” ending will keep the viewers guessing for a long time.

Overall Iris delivers with the fast-paced spy action thriller. It provides suspense with a flicker of romance but plenty of action to keep you at the edge of your seat. Normally it takes me a very long time to finish a drama properly but somehow Iris made me constantly watch episodes back to back to see what happened next, much like what my 24 DVD boxsets did.

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**Jan 2013 - Jan 2015** British Born Chinese who occasionally self-reflects. Has more Aegyo than she should for 'old' age status. LinkedIn / Review Blog