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Seducing Mr. Perfect
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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Oct 21, 2012
  • Overall 6.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 6.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 6.0
I've seen this romantic comedy many times before in western cinema -- the young, handsome, arrogant CEO bosses the sweet office worker around until eventually they fall in love. Meh. This story has been done so many times all the life has been sucked out of it, but it was nice to see it played out in a new, exotic setting (I loved the look of Seoul in the background).

This was read more pure mindless entertainment with little of the substance I've come to associate with Korean films ... which is probably why I enjoyed it. After film after film with deep, heavy themes, gut-wrenching emotion, angst, heartbreak and or eminent death, I was just happy to watch something light and uplifting.

The acting was a bit cringe-worthy, especially, sorry to say, Daniel Henney's. Everyone's performance just seemed a bit forced. Maybe because of the dual use of language, English/Korean, throughout the movie? I don't know. It was definitely a bit weird for me listening to the actors speak two different languages to each other, but I get why it was done. Many times we understand a lot more of a language than we can speak it so it was a clever way for Korean audiences to get the best of both worlds, I suppose. For me, however, as a native English speaker, the speaking of Korean and English at the same time was quite jarring. But really, who cares about acting and language when you have a gorgeous man like Daniel Henney dominating your TV screen for a couple hours? I was just content to stare at him for the duration of the movie. lol

All in all, this was light and fun with a happy ending. It will not leave you with any big impressions (maybe a blessing if you watch a lot of heavy drama). You'll probably forget it a few days after you've seen it, but if you want a break from the usual gloomy fare of Korean/Asian cinema, this is it. I'd re-watch this movie if I need a Daniel Henney fix.
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Sweet Sex and Love
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
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May 2, 2013
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 5.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
Sweet Sex and Love is a far deeper movie than what meets the eye. At first you might be tempted to dismiss it as pure decadence, but allow yourself time to absorb the underlying themes and you'll be surprised to realize there actually is something of substance there. Something that tells you this isn't just a movie about two people who's got the horny. It has a message which is so subtly read more and understatedly delivered, you just might miss the message if you don't pay close attention or if you allow your own preconceived notions (that this is just softcore porn) to bias your viewing.

This is a movie about opposites attracting. Both parties jump into the relationship with gusto and are more than happy with their arrangement initially. As time goes by, though, the true natures and motives of the characters are revealed, and they begin to realize they might have bitten off more than they bargained for in starting this relationship.

Sweet Sex and Love is truly a well executed case study of how disastrous a relationship between a man and a woman can be when there's no communication of expectation on either side. When one, Sweet Sex ... or Love, is given full reign to dominate, to the neglect of the other.

I really enjoyed how the plot unfolded in this story. It's one of the better 'opposites attract' movies that I've seen in a long time. The script, the direction and the editing are all cleverly done. For once the pacing isn't slow and as grating as fingernails on chalkboard. The director deftly controls what you see, feel and experience until just the right moments. Nothing is revealed prematurely. No dialogue or sequence squandered. The narratives is very nuanced, leaving the audience to decipher much of the characters' actions and behaviour. At the same time you're taken on a journey where you're inundated with one truth for almost the entire film, until just like the characters you get the rug pulled out from under you. HARD. (No pun intended)

Certain themes that you never thought to associate with this type of film begin to surface with stark clarity and force; valuable lessons, on sweet sex ... and love, emerge. Sweet Sex represents one character & love the other, can they really coexist beyond the initial intoxicating stage of a new relationship? Everything falls into place. The title begins to make sense, the explicit internal dialogues, what you may have dismissed previously as a repetitive sex manual ... all begin to take on a whole new meaning.

Very nicely done indeed.

Certainly a good movie for audiences who enjoy a more mature exploration of the complex relationship between men and women. If there's any kind of sexy movie I love, this would be it.
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The Relation of Face, Mind and Love
7 of 9 people found this review helpful
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Nov 20, 2012
  • Overall 3.0
  • Story 1.0
  • Acting/Cast 6.0
  • Music 4.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
This movie left neither a lasting nor positive impression on me.

Basically what I disliked the most was its message that a woman's worth is determined only by her beauty.

The story, about a selfish, cocksure playboy architect who falls for an "ugly" woman due to a temporary vision impairment, was pointless and shallow. The hero was a jerk for most of the movie. He did little to endear himself to me, read more and the supposedly "ugly" heroine was anything but. I think if you're gonna make a movie about a playboy falling for an "ugly" woman don't cast a woman who looks like a supermodel, put fake buck teeth in her mouth and pass her off as ugly. That's just weird, disingenuous. Cast someone plain then at least the movie might have acquired a little authenticity, if nothing else.

I was surprised to learn that Kang Ji Hwan who I recently saw and liked in LIE TO ME was the male lead in this movie. His acting was okay, but I didn't like him in this role. There was no growth to his character. He started out being a shallow bastard who takes advantage of women and pretty much remained that way 'til the end.

I've heard a rumour that South Koreans are unusually fixated on looks. If there's any truth to that I guess this film isn't so far fetched. Nevertheless, I couldn't get over the blatant objectification of its female cast members.

I try not to judge East Asian culture through the prism of western ideals, and for the most part I don't mind that they adhere to traditional gender roles, but it's hard to suspend belief or maintain a laissez-faire attitude when certain liberties are taken. I worry about what lessons impressionable South Korean girls (and boys) will draw from this film.

I wouldn't recommend it. Watch My Little Bride instead. It's a lot sweeter, funnier and the hero is a decent guy who appreciates the heroine in all her adorable quirkiness.
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18 vs. 29
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
See all 8 user reviews
Oct 23, 2012
  • Overall 6.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 5.0
  • Rewatch Value 4.0
I was willing to give 18 vs 29 a go because I liked the premise: a marriage in trouble and the couple trying to find their way back to each other.

Good potential for some great drama, I thought, but I almost lost my patience with this show in some of the earlier episodes.

I really did not care for the lead actress when she reverted to her 18 year old self. read more Talk about annoying! She got on my last nerve with all her childish antics, and I felt really sorry for her husband who patiently put up with a lot of crap from her, including losing his very lucrative acting career because of her foolishness.

I kept watching, though, hoping things would get better and it did. In the later episodes, once Hae Chan started acting her age and the action moved away from High School and into the adult world, I started to really enjoy the show. It transitioned from a teen sitcom -- which I did not sign up to watch -- to an adult drama dealing with adult themes, namely two people who love each other, but have difficulty communicating properly, trying to save their marriage.

But even though I liked their chemistry, I wasn't entirely happy with how the story was executed. I think a lot of good opportunities to heighten the tension between Hae Chan and Bong-man were squandered. Too much screen time was given to the High School scenes and the Noon/Hae Chan story arc. As far as I could see those scenes served no real purpose in driving the plot, which was to save Bong-man and Hae Chan's marriage. The story arc with Bong-man's mother was also really good, but far too brief.

I liked the acting ... for the most part. I liked Bong-man/Sang Young, the husband. He was quite handsome with a really great, boyish smile. If he lost about 10kg and got some sleep he'd have been smoking! :)

Anyway, before watching the show I read a review that claimed he was sexist toward Hae Chan, but I couldn't see where he was sexist toward Hae Chan anymore than every man is sexist toward women around the world. Sure, his character adhered to what I suppose is the cultural norm in Korea for the home and its upkeep to be woman's domain, but that hardly makes him a villain. In fact, he was just the opposite. I thought he really tried to care for Hae Chan. You could see that he really loved her. In fact, this was one of the things I loved about the show. Hae Chan was plain, but she had this amazing, famous, handsome guy who would do anything for her. She did whatever she wanted, even when he told her he didn't like certain things.

As for Hae Chan herself, I didn't dislike the actress' efforts, but I didn't like it either. Perhaps by no fault of her own, her character was annoying to an extreme. I'm not even sure 18 year olds act the way she portrayed. She kinda went overboard, in my humble opinion. She was overly bratty, immature and selfish. She gave Bong-man a whole lot of grief, even though he showed her nothing but love, patience and support from start to finish. I was frustrated and angry right along with him when she went off and did something stupid.

The adult supporting cast were the best (the younger supporting cast annoyed me -- maybe because I didn't want to watch a show about teenagers). They all did a great job, esp Hae Chan's feisty younger sister, Hae Won, Bong-man's lovelorn agent Mr. Shu (hilarious guy!), and Bong-man's grandfather the Dictator/Prince of Evil (who, it turned out, had a soft core under his cantankerous exterior).

Another issue I had with this drama is the lack of intimacy between the leads. At first Hae Chan's wariness of her husband's advances made sense under the circumstances, but as the show progressed it just got ridiculous. These people are supposed to be married and not once do they even share a kiss? Come on! Their entire interaction seemed very juvenile, like a playground crush rather than a true romance between adults. Grrr

Perhaps this is due to some sort of censorship on onscreen intimacy in Korea, I don't know, but I've noticed the same thing in other Korean dramas and some movies I've seen, and it's very frustrating. Not because I'm eager to see the actors get naked, but where this sort of activity is naturally required by the story I don't want to see adults acting like pre-teens who don't know what sex or kissing is. It makes absolutely no sense for a married couple or even a boyfriend and girlfriend (in many cases, who have been together for a long time) to just hug and hold hands and act all shy around each other.

Finally, the production value on this show was a bit low. I didn't like the format this show was shot on. Or rather than the format, perhaps it was just shoddy post production work. The picture was too bright and there was basically no colour grading. I was almost blinded by all the brightness, brightness of colours, brightness of the actors' faces and surroundings ... even when I adjusted the contrast on my TV screen.

With all that said, the show was okay. The leads had good chemistry and despite certain flaws in the story their marriage was believable. Moreover, by the end of the show, I believed their marriage would last. And I suppose that's the most important thing considering this was the question at the beginning. I could have loved this show, though, had it been done differently, technically and artistically. I don't think I'll be re-watching anytime soon, if ever.
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Innocent Steps
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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Oct 26, 2012
  • Overall 6.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 6.0
This was a cute little movie. Perfect if you're looking for something that doesn't require too much brain power.

The story was simple, one I've seen a number of times before in western cinema, but interesting for me nonetheless because of the exotic location and culture in which it plays out. Ever since I started watching Asian films on a regular basis a whole new world has been opened up to me. read more I'm discovering a lot about a region of the world I didn't really know or care so much about until recently.

The heroine's wide-eyed innocence took a little getting used to, but overall she had great chemistry with the hero. I did have difficulty suspending belief from time to time when it came to their romance because the age gap was just a tad distracting. Chae-rin didn't look a day pass 14 (even though she's actually 19) whilst Young-sae looked to be in his mid-to-late 30s. Every time I'd see them together I'd cringe a little because the cradle robber factor was coming across pretty strong. Haha. Also the fact that Chae-rin constantly referred to him as "sir" and "mister" served to only compound the issue.

That being said, however, there were a few very comedic and sweet moments between the two, and it was nice to see that under his gruff exterior Young-sae had a good heart. I think every once in a blue moon I might re-watch this.
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Healer
22 of 31 people found this review helpful
See all 104 user reviews
Apr 13, 2015
  • Overall 6.0
  • Story 5.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
I write this review with a heavy heart because I know what this show means to a lot of my friends who I love. But please allow me to explain in detail why Healer didn't quite hit the spot for me. If I could sum up Healer in one word it would be anti-climactic. Here's why:

Three genres are featured prominently in this drama: action, drama, romance. None were explored to their read more full potential. Plus, where the cliches of one genre were challenged, they ran amok in others.

The action scenes were well choreographed and exciting to watch, but were often pulled up short and were too far in between to have full effect. Just when my adrenaline started to flow and I'm about ready to forgive less involving aspects of the show, they were over.

Which brings me to the weakest, but most prominent, link ... the drama. I spent a good portion of this show, from ca ep 6 to at least the 3rd quarter of ep 14, being bored. These episodes were mostly dedicated to the back story of the parents, for which I never developed an interest. I never became invested in any of these characters enough to care about their story. I cared about the characters in the present and wanted more of the focus on their individual & common journeys, independent of what happened to their parents in the past. There's a reason why they urge you to keep flashbacks as a driver of story to a bare minimum in screenwriting 101. Flashbacks are intrusive and passive, and should only be used as a function of character (for eg, recalling a memory), not story. An entire story hinged on flashback yanks us out of the present action and keeps the plot from moving forward, which is exactly what happened in Healer (and many other K-dramas. Why some Korean writers can't seem to grasp this very basic rule of screenwriting, I don't know.).

What's more, characters were inexplicably killed off or shipped off when they no longer suited the writer's purpose. This was glaringly obvious. There was no cohesion in how one plot line flowed into the other. Just '(s)he is getting in the way of where I want to take this story so bang! you're dead!' When the sex scandal case concluded, I was like 'Wait, what just happened? That's it?!!' And have you ever noticed how women in K-dramas are *never* killed off? No matter who they are or what situation they find themselves in. Oh, the men are fair game, but the women always manage to escape with their lives. ::eyeroll:: ... because this is such a cliche of the genre.

Finally the romance, it was nice. I agree with other viewers who commended the absence of the usual unpalatable cliches as well as the relatively good characterisations. I really applaud this evolution the romance genre seems to be having in recent K-dramas. They're finally starting to acknowledge their characters as sexual beings, rather than strip them bare of human desire. My only complaint? People will make bold statements ... about kissing, holding one another, making love and what have you, but words aren't followed up enough with actions. It's all just big talk. There's still that air of fakeness and lack of emotional depth in romantic relations. That lack of natural, comfortable, spontaneous intimacy (one drama which came close to what I'm looking for is It's Okay, That's Love). Oh there were some fine moments, by all means, but they often felt ... stilted. Staged. Contrived. Awkward. And even if this were only a minor complaint (it's not, not for me), the romance itself took off too late, almost in the last quarter of the drama, and stayed around for exactly two episodes and change, before focus was returned to less involving narrative arcs. Romance has always been a 'back-up' genre for me. When all else fails, it tends to keep me going, until hopefully things pick up again in other departments. That didn't happen here. Basically, every aspect of the drama that could've and should've kept my interest, short-circuited. There's no doubt the romance was cute, there's no doubt the characters had chemistry, but it wasn't executed to satisfaction.

A more worthy drama to me is Nine, in which the same combination of genres were better executed. I can't remember being bored watching Nine. I was on full alert, wondering what would happen next, how will the characters react? The plot wasn't without its holes, but the pacing maintained its momentum almost from beginning to end. The romance was evenly spread, so that when it wasn't being featured I didn't miss it, but just when you started to crave it, it appeared. I was able to enjoy Nine in spite of its faults whilst Healer became untenable because of them.

In closing, I would be remiss not to mention the 'villains' (with the exception of Secretary Oh). I've never seen a more pathetic lot. All these imbeciles knew to do was snare. Imagine a whole barrage of goons not able to break down a door being blocked by one man ... and other absurdities. In terms of moronic villains, Healer could be Cruel City's cousin, the drama in which a pair of slight 100 lbs women in 6 inch heels, who couldn't fight, outran & outfought seasoned criminals. To say these bumbling idiots were cartoonish would be an understatement. And as per usual dramas give the South Korean police a very bad name. If I were a police officer watching this show I would be offended. Neither one nor the other presented any real threat or challenge to the good guys, which only served to discredit whatever battles they won against the Farmer and his farmhands. It's really hard to suspend belief when they make it sooo easy for the good guys to win.

By the time Healer drew to a close I didn't even care that the ending was rushed, because the show had already gone downhill for me long before that.

There were things I DID like: the score and the soundtrack. The characters and the acting. Yoo Ji Tæ can do no wrong for me, an incredibly charismatic actor. I didn't think Park Min Young was that bad. Ji Chang Wook is one to watch. And I liked the mild-mannered, unassuming, but creepy Secretary Oh. That little smirk of his, with his hand raised to his mouth. It was a nice flair. I appreciate these little quirks and habits that make a character stand out. And it was rather effective too. I wouldn't want to be trapped alone in a room with that guy. So kudos to the actor.

While I liked these things, if sloppy storytelling keeps pulling me out of the narrative and have me asking too many questions, instead of sucking me in with the action and the drama and the romance, then something is wrong. Healer, in some ways, is quite different from the average K-drama, but in other ways it's all pretty much the same.
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Temptation
28 of 33 people found this review helpful
See all 11 user reviews
Nov 6, 2014
  • Overall 1.0
  • Story 1.0
  • Acting/Cast 6.0
  • Music 5.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
PLEASE NOTE: Certain details related to the overarching theme of this drama are scattered throughout this review. There are no spoilers of important plot developments, however, reader discretion is advised.

THE GOOD

First and foremost it should be noted that this isn't a breezy frolic for romcom lovers looking for kicks and giggles/rainbow and hearts. The drama poses a series of pertinent questions related to love, commitment and marriage. Though certain situations read more are exaggerated for dramatic effect the drama presents ethical dilemmas people in long term relationships face in some form or another everyday:

Is it fair, reasonable or wise to expect blind devotion from your partner?

When does cheating become cheating? When physical contact occurs or when the heart departs and only the empty shell of the body remains? And regardless of which, is cheating grounds for the parting of ways?

Good food for thought. Exactly my type of gig. Up to about episode 4.

Secondly, the dynamic of the lead characters’ relationship. Let me say this right off the bat: I hated the leads in this drama. I wanted them dead. BUT I did like the dynamic of their relationship. It’s not every day you see a powerful, confident, intelligent female coupled with her equal. In a better drama I would have loved this pairing, as they represented a meeting of mind and heart on equal footing, as opposed to the usual pairing of the naive, country bumpkin and big city slicker or the take charge older career woman and her lap dog noona killer lover.

Finally, acting wise there were no standouts, but no irritating or horribly unconvincing performances either. Pretty average all around, but okay enough for me. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by Lee Jung Jin. I’m used to him in more wholesome, boy next door type roles so it was a pleasure to watch him as the debonair playboy who was more naughty than bad. He had just enough good in him to make me not completely hate him. I bought it.

THE BAD

The drama blights its own potential, given the mature, thought provoking subject matter, with cheap, superficial, self-congratulatory, crass plot developments. Poorly written and poorly realized almost from start to finish. A drama or movie doesn't start on the screen, but on the page. If what's on the page is bad from the get-go, no amount of good direction and acting can save it (in the vast majority of cases). This being one of them. The first 4 episodes did their job of getting you interested and engaged, but subsequent developments disappointed with one impulsive, puerile action after another. Not to mention characters who seemed impervious to any logical behaviour expected of normal human beings. Here are a few general examples:

*You hire your rival’s most trusted and loyal servant, tell that person all your secrets and are then surprised and angered when the servant betrays you. #smfh

*You’re under investigation for a crime where you stand to lose EVERYTHING, but instead of hauling ass out of there, you offer up evidence that could ruin your life as prize for a fist fight. WTF?? Nobody with half a brain does that!

*Just keep on throwing people together in parks and cafes for a nice ol’ chat, without thought or plausible motive as to WHY these people should even be talking to each other. Let’s create drama at any cost because my viewers are just dumb morons who won’t notice this sh--. Yay, panda!

And those are *only* the minor ones. It was just one absurdity after another.

Supporting characters were nothing more than vapid, 1-dimensional talking heads, transplanted only to encourage sympathy for the insipid. None had depth. In fact, pretty much everyone displayed some sort of split personality disorder every 5 minutes. To the point where I'm convinced the writer must have been kosher on some serious high grade herb as he penned this sorry drama!

If I had any affinity towards anyone that would be Han Soo, the mumbling, bumbling wannabe paparazzi. An insignificant character with no story arc of his own who should not have garnered my sympathies more than the leads! I also supported the wife. I don’t understand what HJ bashers saw that I didn’t. Even if she did everything people accuse her off, is it so wrong of her to be hurt and angry in the grand scheme of things? People are acting like only the Hong Kong incident is at play here when there’s far more to it than that. Is what she said/did in a moment of great crisis so much more worse than what transpired later on in Korea, after the Hong Kong trip? While I don’t condone all of her behaviour, I certainly understand what motivated her. Besides, she ultimately showed herself to be the only character of true character in this sordid tale of treachery and deceit dressed up as ‘true love’. Lipstick on a pig, as another reviewer puts it. A very apt description indeed. SHE was the only true heroine as far as I could see.

THE UGLY

I am still trying to fathom what exactly is the writer’s proposal here. Is it:

a) a bad joke to get viewers all worked up?

b) a nod to narcissistic weasel pricks and conniving home wreckers? or

c) an attempt at a balanced discourse on a complicated topic?

If the answer is a) then I didn’t get the joke. Sorry.

If the answer is b) this drama is a resounding success! Home wreckers and cheats everywhere should see this NOW! Somebody finally showed how shitty some of you people are … BUT not to worry you still get the ‘prize’! And a ‘good job, good job’ pat on the back to boot. Now ain’t that the shi..zzle!

However, if the answer is c) this would be the most vile, ludicrous piece of chauvinistic drivel I have ever witnessed. Here is a drama which basically dumps on women:

*Your husband is entitled to have you put up with all his sh*t, no matter how stink it gets. Continue to blindly trust him in everything he does even if his actions don’t match his words. Just delude yourself with the lies that come out of his mouth and be quiet, woman!

*Cheating is a man’s privilege. His right, even. Don’t make a big deal out of it, no matter what, as you’ll only end up hurting yourself. Just put up with it, uh, Yeobo? Endure. Taaaaaaaaaa kwænchana! (Everything alright, for those of you who need to brush up on your Korean :-).

*All my single ‘ladies’, it’s ACE to covet another woman’s husband! You go get him, girl! Even if you have to buy his ass. And slap a bitch.

*Brethrens, never give up on an opportunity to trade up, ya dig? Love? Loyalty? Conscience? Screw that. None of that gets you the good life. Or a fast track ticket to the big times. There’s no dishonour in being a kept man.

*But trust, only women pay the price for home wrecking. Us bros get off scott free because … well. It’s a man’s world. Haha. Sorry, ladies.

It’s insidious. If c) is the writer's proposal, then I utterly repudiate it. This is no epic romance about love conquering all. This is very sordid business, set in motion by a conniving serpent and a lying, opportunistic loser pig.

And just so we’re clear: I know it’s possible for people to fall out of love (one of my all time favourite dramas dealt with this very theme with an entirely different effect). I know good people sometimes do bad things. I know life is messy and doesn't always allow for things to be wrapped up nicely and neatly with a big red bow. I didn’t go into this drama expecting sweet, uncomplicated love. I was prepared to keep an open mind and forgive where necessary. Unfortunately the writer led the donkey into a ditch. I couldn’t find it in me to sympathize with characters who acted with such haughty and callous disregard for other people. At least show a little contrition that doesn’t come off woefully lacking, phoney and insincere. Show a little reverence for the years someone dedicated their life to you by being honest with that person at the very least. But, they were pompous, condescending arses to the very end. I seriously wanted to vomit.

I won’t close with a recommendation of whether you should watch this or not. See it for yourself and make your own determination as there are certainly those for whom this drama was a hit. I am just not one of them. Temptation is the worst adaptation of the ‘indecent proposal’ concept I’ve ever seen. It didn’t work. It left the mother of all bad tastes in my mouth. I couldn’t get away from these characters fast enough. I hated them. I wanted them dead. And I’m blacklisting the actors until I purge myself of this truly repulsive experience.
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Mahiru no Tsuki
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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Aug 4, 2014
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 6.0
This drama feels like one big public service announcement. It does, but that’s not a bad thing. It treats a very serious topic with the respect and sensitivity it deserves without coming off as too preachy.

Creatively this isn’t a bad script. I personally would have preferred a different structure to the story because EVERY Japanese drama with a romantic arc kind of follows the same trajectory. I can think of veeerry read more few exceptions. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but let’s just say I would have loved it if Naoki and Mæ were a couple BEFORE the incident occurred. For eg. Anyway, while audiences may be moved to sympathy and anger on behalf of the female lead, the pacing begins to plod around episode 6 or 7 and I found myself growing impatient with the repetitive nature of Mæ’s plight. This is neither the fault of the character nor the actress portraying her. Rather it’s the writer who just doesn’t know when to give sh-- a rest.

As for the acting, Tokiwa Takako does a fair job most of the time (when she isn’t in full ægyo mode), but she always seem to accept these scripts that make her character come across as whiny and irritating at some point or another in the drama. I had a similar reaction to her in Aishiteru to Ikketure, though thankfully that feeling dissipated a lot quicker here than there. Mostly I felt a deep sympathy for her because she really could have been any woman, me or you or someone we know. I also have to say she has an amazingly beautiful and radiant smile though a great beauty she is not.

What this show does well is that it shows that rape doesn’t only have one victim. The tentacles of evil will touch many lives, almost just as cruelly as the victim's. To be honest I didn’t really like Oda Yuji’s acting here. His interpretation is gimmicky and cartoonish, and you could easily tell this is one of his very first roles. Nevertheless, I really liked Naoki. I found him genuine and sincere in his efforts to lend support and understanding, in spite of making a few mistakes along the way. Moreover, he is such an average, ordinary guy with no spectacular talent or pedigree. He really could have just walked right out of your life. And that’s why I love Japanese dramas because they’re so authentic. They tell the stories of REAL people. Awesome. The supporting cast is well placed, never feeling arbitrarily throw in just to take up space (or annoy you). Instead they enhance and help to move the story forward, as supporting casts are meant to do.

Finally I want to take a moment to comment on the music. Now I’m not a very musical person. I’ll leave the squealing over a drama’s OST to people who have a better appreciation for the art. Usually I hate theme songs that play over and over again like a broken record -- at best they give me a headache, at worse they make me feel like I'm losing my mind. But I loved this TV mix of Swing Out Sisters’ Now You’re Not Here. Very fitting. It’s been stuck in my head for days. In a good way.

If you’re not put off by the topic, fans of the genre will like this show. The story is moving, the chemistry is there and their connection is so sweet. It’s very easy to root for these two.
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Lovers In Prague
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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Jan 12, 2014
  • Overall 5.0
  • Story 5.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 5.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
A drama filled with all the cliches & horrible drama tropes we all know and hate, and none of the charm I’ve come to associate with Kim Eun Sook dramas (Lovers, City Hall, A Gentleman's Dignity etc).

I hate intense love triangles; I really wish they weren’t such a major part of so many dramas. Upon starting this drama I knew one was prominently featured, but I figured if anyone could pull read more it off in a sensible way maybe KES could (given that she had done a pretty decent job with the love triangle in Lovers). Well, I was wrong. This was one of the more nonsensical, nerve jarring love triangles I’ve ever had the displeasure to witness. It made absolutely no sense to the plot and only served as a filler where a legitimate advancement of events was lacking.

Moreover, I absolutely hated how the romance played out here. One of the reasons why I like KES is because the romance in her dramas is, for the most, mature & realistically portrayed. So great chemistry, REAL kisses and fairly good physical intimacy between the characters are the norm in her dramas. You don’t usually see frozen face kisses or disengaged female participants in a KES drama, at least none that I’ve seen. But here all the childish awkwardness and inauthentic skinskip you can imagine abound.

The characters were just about the only good thing about this drama. I recognized them as hallmarks of KES’s writing. Older and more worldly than your average drama leads. Acting wise, I was particularly delighted to see Ha Jeong Woo in a supporting role. Even as one of his earliest efforts, he was as magnetic & charismatic as ever. I just love the man. Other performances were decent enough, though nothing to rave about.

Great characters notwithstanding, they alone could not make up for the poor writing. Though I understand this was written early in KES’s career, I couldn’t rate it higher than a 5 even though I really wanted to. Watching it was just too painful. I definitely would not recommend it.
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Dream Affection
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
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Dec 25, 2013
  • Overall 2.0
  • Story 1.0
  • Acting/Cast 3.0
  • Music 3.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
Anyone in the mood for a decent erotic drama film with a good story at its core should look elsewhere.

The film makes a shoddy attempt at storytelling. A young man seeks to escape from his unhappy, monotonous life by taking refuge in a dream like world. Here he meets a nubile young thing who fulfills all his sexual desires. We're given hints of who these people are, but we never get read more to know them or why they come to be in the situation they're in. On the other hand, we're privy to their sexual exploits, ad nauseam.

Hear me when I say Dream Affection is pure porn. With a budget.

Given that there's essentially NO story to speak of, I don't even know why this picture was made except to continue the widespread objectification of women.

The acting is lame. It's clear the female lead is probably an aspiring actress looking for a big break. Or an amateur porn actress. Whatever her story, if she has any talent we don't get to see it considering the lack of a plot and the director's obsession with her breasts.

The male lead is only a little better. Dude spends the entire show dazed & confused. Even when he's getting his rocks off.

What a waste of time. Pisses me off that films like these get made when there are brilliant indie filmmakers out there who will never get a shot.

Needless to say, I won't be watching Part II.
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My Precious You
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
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Dec 23, 2013
  • Overall 7.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 5.0
Your standard family drama. Love the first 20 or so episodes. Hilarious, filled with lots of family warmth, cute romance and a tolerable amount of drama that doesn’t go overboard. Not at first, anyway.

You'll meet one of the wackiest drama husbands/dads ever. Best way to describe the guy is to imagine the bombastic personality of somebody like say … Hugo Chavez, only he's Korean.

He runs his household with an iron read more fist and expects full submission from his wife and daughters, but there's no doubt that he loves his family. In fact, he's close to perfect husband material in many ways, but a dictator nonetheless. He, along with his wife, are the highlight of the show, believe it or not! Fans of the very cute Song Joong Ki will not be disappointed. He and his lady love are an equally humorous duo, esp in later episodes.

As the series progresses it delves into more melodramatic territory which takes away a bit of its charm. The story meanders into a repetitive mess of parental blackmail & coercion, relying heavily on a series of coincidences and contrivances that would make even a 6 yr old scoff.

I did not care for the Kim Bo-Ri story arc, much of which consists of making a mountain out of molehill when her situation is easily resolvable.

Moreover, she's the typical innocent, naive ‘country girl comes to the big city’ type heroine with noble idiocy that you see all over dramaland. I didn't hate her, but I didn't care for her either. Throughout the show I kept wishing she’d go away; sadly she remained to the very end. I much prefered the confident and warm-hearted Jang Inho (though you never did see any tears when she cried! lol).

A few aspects of the show compromised my enjoyment:

The drama details the important role of fathers in Korean society. I found this notion of single fatherhood novel because in a strongly patriarchal society where women are upheld as the sole caregivers, it serves to show that men too are just as capable of nurturing children. Confucian values that permeate Korean daily life, those of strong family bonds and honouring one's parents/elders are also explored.

You’ll fall in love with Kim Sung Soo as the disillusioned, down on his luck single dad struggling to provide for his children. KSS didn’t really convince me with his acting, but his character is nevertheless wonderful here. The only ‘nice guy' hero I’ve seen in a long time that gets my full love and support without reservation.

Now obviously if I was looking for shows which espouse Western values I wouldn't be watching Asian dramas, but the show presented a few cultural and social mores that were a bit hard for me to swallow.

First and foremost, the parents in this drama are appalling! (except Dictator Dad). Manipulative, coercive; blackmailing their children with threats of disownment and suicide if they don't do what they say is their default approach to EVERYthing. I couldn’t fathom how in the world such callous & bizarre ultimatums constitute love, esp when your child is rendered utterly miserable as a result of your unreasonable, draconian demands. It made me dislike the parents … a lot; and these adult children too, to some extent, because they NEVER once tried to take charge of their own lives. Not even a little bit. I’m not saying they should turn against their parents, but certainly some form of protest, defiance, a rebuttal even, would have seemed more credible than complete surrender in the face of being treated like objects rather than human beings?

The extent of the story in this drama is parents constantly denying their grown children the right to manage their own lives. Over and over and over again for at least 30 of the 54 episodes.

Secondly the drama misleads its viewers in 2 major ways:

1) Halfway through the lead characters are switched. So you start out thinking one particular couple is the focus of the story … you root for them and fall in love with them … only to see their screen time gradually reduce to barely 5 mins of the 1+ hr runtime. dafuq? This particularly annoyed me because I could care less for the couple who took over the spotlight.

2) For the vast majority of the show you'll be shipping certain couples only to be blindsided by the end of the drama. I hate, hate, HATE when writers pull these stupid ass stunts. HATE. IT. To avoid disappoint, don't take too much of what you see in this drama at face value.

Last but not least while romance is constant throughout the drama it is exceptionally DRY. Please tell me how many times can you hug someone as a show of affection when you're supposedly passionately in love? I know there are strong censorship laws in Korea, but certainly characters can show affection for someone they claim to be madly in love with without locking lips (or resorting to one lame ass hug after another)? Writer-nim, PD-nim, how about tender kisses on the forehead, kissing the hand of your loved one, nuzzling the face, jump into his arms lean your foreheads together & stare deeply into one another's eyes, walking arm in arm, cuddling on the couch etc? It IS possible to create authentic intimacy without blatant sexualization. I guess I'll never get used to Korean prudishness as shown on their TV...

In closing, I just can’t get on board with the overall moral of this story. First, we’re no longer living in Silla. If you’re an adult in modern society you should have some say in how you live your life. After all your parents aren’t going to keep you warm at night or satisfy your sexual desires. Second, making sacrifices for one's children is inevitable and a natural part of being a parent. Nevertheless, biological parents shouldn’t be together at all costs just for the sake of a child. Even when you’re a parent it’s not healthy to neglect your own wants & needs ... as long as doing so doesn’t compromise the physical and or emotional health of the child. You only have one life to live, and if you’re happy, likely your kid will be too. JMHO.

Despite these complaints, I DO recommend My Precious You to family drama lovers MDL-wide. Is it perfect? No, but it's worth watching at least once, esp if you’re used to or no longer suffer from culture shock regarding the issues expressed herein. You’ll enjoy the family warmth, the comedy and all the secrets are revealed at an even pace so things don't get too drawn out in that regard. If you’re still a drama newbie like me this drama will be enjoyable if you go in knowing what to expect. That way things don’t come across so shocking & bizarre. It is in this capacity that I hope this review has been helpful to you.
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Woman in the Dunes
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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Oct 3, 2013
  • Overall 10
  • Story 10
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
When I look at a picture like Woman in the Dunes I'm reminded of why I always wanted to become a filmmaker.

A magnificent piece filmmaking the picture uses visual metaphors and allegory as a form of social commentary. What exactly is its message? You decide, but there's absolutely no doubt that every piece of cinematic tool is put to the most effective use in an effort to help you decipher what read more you will.

The roles are well cast, the performances alternately heartfelt and disturbing, the story layered with symbolism and pregnant with meaning. The cinematography dazzling in its simplicity. Even more, what particularly struck me was how nature and sound became characters in their own right, enriching the film's atmosphere with a foreboding presence.

I loved the movie because it inspires me as someone who wants to make films and it provides me with entertainment that seduces my brain and leaves a catch in my breath.

This is certainly worth your time if you like your films artful and intelligent, but coincidentally it can also be consumed as mindless entertainment. If you so choose. You can choose to not look for its deeper meaning and just be caught up in the urgent passions of the film's protagonists.

Woman in the Dunes is outstanding, and gets an overall 10 from me for a story filled with impeccable nuance, skillful direction of actors, camera, space and time; and last but least how elementary tools of the craft were used to create something visually appealing and all together intellectually compelling.

Where I'm concerned this goes to show that old school filmmakers remain the true masters of cinema.
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Aishiteiru to Ittekure
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
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Sep 16, 2013
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
Aishiteiru to Ittekure can be summed up like this: before the 8th and after the 8th. I stayed up until 4am watching this drama & in its first 8 episodes Aishiteiru is an absolute gem. Simply superb! Everything I look for in a romance.

First let me start off by saying Etsushi Toyokawa as the handsome, deaf-mute artist Sakaki Kohji will stir your heart. A wonderfully emotive actor, I just love performers read more who can express a million feelings with only their eyes and this guy totally nails it. It’s not possible to look at him and not be moved. I thought the female lead went a little overboard with all the ‘aegyo’, but thankfully she toned it down a bit toward the second act. Once things took a more dramatic turn in the latter part of the drama I could see that she had some good acting chops, but unfortunately the material she had to work with was a disservice to her character. Supporting cast were like pestilence, especially Shiori and Ken, but in some scenarios Hikaru too. I was too annoyed by them to care about how they deliver. I just wanted them to go away.

Acting aside, this love story just completely captures you away. I enjoyed watching the unique challenges the male lead's deafness introduced to his life and relationships. The Japanese, as per usual, are masters in depicting regular everyday life in all its sweet mundanity. No flash of wealth, no chauffeur driven chæbols. Just an ordinary slice of life about two young people trying to figure stuff out.

Kohji and Hiroko’s chemistry is apparent from the start. They steam up the screen with every glance, every touch, every intimate embrace; and there's just something wistful & nostalgic about the exchange of love letters written by your lover's hand. I enjoyed the music - repetitive though it was, but certainly fitting and beautifully sung.

For a while there I couldn’t believe I was watching a Japanese drama, because for sure the Japanese just don’t do romance this good, do they? And an older one at that. When I found out the same writer who wrote Orange Days wrote Aishiteiru that pretty much explained it. The sweet sentimentalism, the pure headiness of falling in love, the slow build up of passion, it’s all there. Though this time around it’s the guy who has the disability, their love evokes those same warm, wonderful feelings Orange Days did. I was on cloud nine.

Sadly by ep 9 this setup starts to unravel. It’s not possible for Asians to give us a simple love story without all the nonsensical drama … can they? One hopes, but the sick feeling that blossoms in the pit of your stomach tells you something’s up, and sure enough the usual tiresome drama cliches start to rear their ugly heads. By ep 10 an otherwise well developed script takes a most illogical and drastic turn. Things go from bad to WTF in a minute, and by the final episode the show is irrevocably ruined. I was stunned.

It made it really difficult for me to decide on a rating because the first 8 eps and the last 4 eps, esp the final 3, felt like 2 entirely different dramas. And to add insult to injury the terribly ambiguous, unsatisfying ending left me feeling let down and bitter. Mostly, I felt really bad for Kohji. The guy got a raw deal. I wanted something better for him. He didn’t deserve all that crap. If I were to rate this drama based on the first 8 episodes it easily nets a 10. Not because it’s a masterpiece of any kind, but because the emotions resonate so well & so deeply. In the end my 9 rating here is also a reflection of this fact. Eps 9 - 12 get a 1 because ‘pathetic’ is truly an appropriate label for ensuing events that were totally unnecessary and foolish.

So here’s what I recommend, chingus. Go ahead and watch this show in its entirety at your own risk. But if you need to have or prefer to have a happy or relatively satisfying conclusion to a drama you’re about to invest 12 hrs of your life in, stop after the 8th episode. Arassoyo? Save yourself the grief and just create your own ending. I sure wish I had. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
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Que Sera, Sera
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
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Sep 15, 2013
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 6.0
A drama that literally takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotional twists and turns, Que Sera Sera revolves around 4 young people, all dealing with their own personal struggles, and how they overcome and grow.

Kang Tæ - Joo is a suave, unrepentant lady's man who goes about his romantic liaisons with cool practicality. He's your regular joe with high ambitions. He sees the beautiful rich women who fall over read more themselves for his manly charms and good looks as his ticket to bigger and better things. He’s a realist, with little patience for idealistic folly.

Some people have described him as a jerk, but to me he isn't. He never misleads the women in his life about his intentions nor does he try to hide the fact that he's essentially a gold digger. He's certainly a lady killer, a breaker of hearts, but not a mean spirited one. Women can't help but fall for him, but to Tæ-Joo that's neither his fault nor his business.

I don't always agree with his methods of achieving his goals, but I respect him. I admire his ambition and drive to make something of his life. It’s far better than the laziness, inertia and complacency that grip today's youth. So what happens when a brutal realist and a starry eyed idealist meet and fall in love? Well, chemical waves short circuit and the whole goddamn house burns down.

The show features an intense love quadruple which serves as the main driver of sending your emotions into a tailspin. Normally I hate these type of romance dramas, but this wasn’t bad at all. It kept me anxious but not angry. And as other reviewers have pointed out QSS isn’t your run of the mill kdrama with chaste kisses and secret glances. It’s wild and it's hot and it’s passionate. Sex is not taboo. The characters are age appropriate in their behaviours, if not always in their deeds. I loved it!

What I enjoyed even more, though, were the extremely valuable life lessons imparted:

- Life is a gamble, you can win a fortune or lose everything.
- Opportunities come only once, don’t pass them up.
- By the same token, know that whatever path you choose in life comes with consequences you have to live with.
- Most of the time money doesn't make you happy.
- Love, though fragile and fleeting, is the most important experience of human existence.
- We want what we can’t have, but don’t appreciate what we do have until it’s gone.

It was just amazing. I felt like by the end of the show I learned and grew right along with the characters. This is why I gave the drama an 8, instead of a 7.

The only downside, and why this drama didn’t net a 9, was that I wanted more ‘happy and in love’ screen time with our leads. There was an overabundance of negative angst. Not the exciting, sexually charged type of angst you’ll experience in say … Lovers. I’m fine with negative angst as long as equal amounts of positive angst balance things out.

Characters, on the other hand, were very three dimensional and human, all having their negative and positive attributes. I have to continuously commend the Koreans for writing such layered characters who I didn't see regularly before my foray into Asian entertainment.

Of the four main ones I felt like the female lead Eun Soo was the weakest link, mainly due to how she was acted by Jung Yu Mi. First of all, the actress looked like an underaged teenager and was much too childlike in her portrayal. As the drama progressed she matured a little and you realize she isn’t completely a pushover, but that she’s written as the stereotypical ‘strong’ Korean female lead afflicted with misplaced pride, noble stupidity; defiant, stubborn, obtuse … for totally idiotic, nonsensical reasons to the very end. Don’t get me wrong she remained a sympathetic figure throughout the show, but there were moments when certain behaviours of hers raised my ire.

Eric Mun as Kang Tæ-Joo was absolutely divine. Eye candy and talent, for a voracious cinephile like me it doesn’t get any better. And you could tell he’s Korean - American too because the guy has mad swag. I was swooning! This is the first time I’m seeing Mun in anything and I can understand why everyone says this is his best role. I can not imagine who else could play this character better than him.

But while Eric swept me off my feet and impressed me, the true stand out was actually Lee Kyu Han who I had recently seen in Smile, You and did not like! I thought his character was useless and a pest, but here wow … he played the ruthless, lonely, misunderstood, vulnerable businessman to a T. I sympathized a great deal with him even when I was supposed to hate him, especially toward the end. Finally, Yoon Ji Hye did great as the desperate, insecure rich girl.

Everyone pretty much threw themselves into their roles to create a truly engaging watch.I wanted a bit more from the ending, but was still satisfied with what we got. This was gooddrama, folks. Romance done right. It’s crazy and a little far-fetched as only Korean dramas can be, but totally worth it. If you don’t already have Que Sera Sera on your list, add it now.
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Le Jun Kai
12 of 15 people found this review helpful
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Sep 12, 2013
  • Overall 7.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 5.0
Story wise my first Chinese drama felt a lot like my first Taiwanese drama, Autumn's Concerto, but with better production values and music.

Whoever lit the set on this show did a wonderful job. There's nothing overly unique about the cinematography, but the pictures looked sexy, very cinematic.

Great direction of the camera too. With very short episodes the story doesn't have much room to develop, but the choice of shots were read more effectively used to enhance the dramatic effect of each scene. In particular the numerous high angle shots made the subjects seem more desperate, vulnerable, passionate or whatever emotion the director tried to evoke.

I haven't seen such high production values on an Asian TV show in a long time.

Acting was average. No standouts, but no irritating performances either. Good chemistry and intimacy between the leads. The little boy was really cute and sweet.

If I had any problem with the show it was with our hero. Arrogant, rude, self - centred male leads don't bother me. Most men in real life are like that anyway, until they meet a woman who inspires them to change. I like watching this transformation so I can forgive a lot of bad behaviour if I know deep down he has a good heart, but there was something about Le Jun Kai that made me uncomfortable. He had a violent streak toward the women in his life that I didn't like. Even though his motivations for being angry were valid I just can not trust a man whose first impulse is to resort to violence, especially against women. It's not a good sign. And I know, I know! It’s just a tv show, but still, I don't like it.

Aside from that the series was good. It works the way it is, but wouldn't have suffered from a slightly longer run time for each episode, say 30 mins instead of the current 15. Just to give the story more oomph & to allow the characters to really capture your heart.

Overall, well worth the watch if you're looking for a quick fix or if you’re in between dramas like I was and can not decide what next to watch.
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