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Chunhyang
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
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Dec 30, 2012
  • Overall 10
  • Story 10
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 10
The Story of Chunhyang is one of Korea's best known folk tales. It tells the love story of a beautiful Courtesan's daughter & the nobleman who falls in love with her.

The story has been dramatized many times on film. Besides this version, released in 2000 by director Im Kwon-taek, there was also a retelling of the story in the 2008 film, The Servant. Another version from 1968 exists. It stars one read more of South Korea's most well-known veteran actors, Shin Seong-il.

In the Story of Chunhyang as depicted by this film, the young nobleman, a scholar, takes an interest in the beautiful daughter of a courtesan at first sight. As custom dictates that a courtesan's daughter is also a courtesan the young master orders his servant to fetch the girl, thinking she'll be an easy lay. To his amazement she rebuffs his advances & reveals she’s no light skirt, but a scholar herself, gifted in art and poetry. This makes him fall for her even more and so begins their story.

And a beautiful, simple, upbeat story of love it was. I enjoyed every minute of it. The characters featured in this film are younger than those featured in The Servant (2008) & Chunhyang (1968). And ahh, the wonders of young love, new love. I never get tired of it. Never.

The film turned out to be so unlike what I expected. I had no prior knowledge of the folk tale so I thought this was going to be tragic & indeed there is this Romeo & Juliet feel to it, but that’s about where the comparison ends.

The acting was reasonably well done considering this was the acting debut of both leads, and the chemistry between these two love birds was sizzling. They made a very cute couple. I could watch them frolic & dilly-dally around all day. Female viewers can look forward to serious eye candy in the form of Cho Seung Woo. Though he's really young in this movie (around 19 I think) the guy is a distraction, perhaps THE most photogenic South Korean actor I've ever come across. You know who's gonna be stalking him from now on... LOL

Strong themes of duty, everlasting love and loyalty make up The Story of Chunhyang, as well as class differences and the role of women in pre-modern Korean society. It was all quite fascinating to watch. I felt like I gained a deeper insight of Korean culture & history.

But more than anything else I'm giving this movie high scores of 10 because this is what I consider a filmmaker's film – where a good balance of both creative & technical excellence was achieved to create something artistic & unique. I don't know if I'd go as far as to say it's arthouse, but there's a strong sense of the director's voice here. And I liked that voice. It was captivating. It pulled me in, made me smile, made me wonder what would happen next. The story is told with traditional linear narrative, but with an unconventional twist. I suspect audiences who are not appreciative of movies as an art might find this a bit off-putting simply because it is different & not what they might be used to.

Personally, I think director Im Kwon-taek deserves props for this unexpected, but refreshingly original unveiling of the story. I won't reveal exactly how or what was done, except to say you've probably never seen a movie narrated quite like this in a long time, if ever at all.

The OST is a wonderful mash-up of old Korea sounds that were always beautifully matched with interesting, pleasing to the eye pictures.

I thought it was pretty well done.
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Petty Romance
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
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May 23, 2013
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
Romantic, wickedly cute and laugh out loud hilarious! Whatever you can ask for in a bona fide romantic comedy this movie totally delivered! I was NOT expecting to enjoy it so much. I started this just before going to bed last night, convinced that like most other stupid romcoms this one would bore me right to sleep. Boy was I wrong!

The laughs kept piling up 'til 2am. I had to force read more myself away from my Mac screen, and that was only because I had a super important work meeting later that morning. Otherwise I totally would have stayed up and finished it.

I usually approach romcoms with reserved disdain because a lot of times the movies in this genre are neither romantic nor funny OR they're one but not the other. What made Petty Romance great was that it's funny and romantic AT THE SAME TIME, for the entire show.

Furthermore the superb acting & cracking chemistry between the leads was awesome! They both had wonderful comedic timing and played extremely well off each other. Their interaction never felt forced or awkward, but very fluid and natural, which is not an easy feat when doing comedy.

I was never that impressed with Lee Sun Gyun in Coffee Prince, but here he brings a cavalier charm to his character that neither you nor our female lead can resist. Moreover you gotta give nuff respect to a man who has the balls (pun intended) to expose his crotch for a close up. Now don't get all bent outta shape ... he was covered (barely). Still, this is NOT a pose most male actors would jump to do, but one which Lee Sun Gyun delivered with great aplomb!

Choi Kang Hee was sweet and innocent in her role without being Moon Geun Young annoying. They both did a great job!

If I had to complain about anything, it would be what Jung Bæ did when he first met Da Rim. I mean, really? Who does that? You'll know what I mean when you see it. I could not believe him! Jeez. It made me look at him with slightly less adoration...

Anyway, Petty Romance still deserves a solid 9. Fun, fresh story (because it's not a storyline you see often) & great, great chemistry between the leads. My favourite Korean romcom yet! :-)
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Sweet Room
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
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Dec 22, 2012
  • Overall 6.0
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 4.0
Sweet Room is pure man candy, and for that reason I loved it! LOL
Narimiya Hiroki and Kaname Jun without their shirts on, getting their love mojo on ... a vision!

Anyway, getting to the actual review, this is an anthology film consisting of 4 shorts which explore the theme of romantic love. Each film looks at different types of love: unrequited love, first love, forbidden love, love at first sight, framed read more by different circumstances.

I'll comment individually on each:

LAST LOVE:
Narimiya Hiroki was pretty gorgeous here, and boy can the man kiss. His love story was interesting. It left me wanting to know more about his relationship with his woman leading up to the Sweet Room. (7/10)

BIRTHDAY:
My favourite of the four. Romantic, sweet, it depicts, in my opinion, love in its purest form. (8/10)

TRIANGLE:
Perhaps my least favourite of the four. The dramaturgy was a bit off. The story felt too big for a short format, and so it lost some of its impact as a result. I was left with a feeling of ... huh? at the end. That's never a good thing. (5/10)

ROOM SERVICE:
Started off a bit slow and for well over half of it I was pretty sure I didn't like it, but turned out that I did. The ending was great. I loved the cinematography too, especially those shots of our male lead in the hallway. (6/10)

Overall, this did not leave as big an impression on me as it's Korean equivalent Five Senses of Eros, but I still liked it. If you're in the mood for romance, and not the watered down kind you see in your average drama, I think you'll enjoy this. Plus you get to see some pretty fine looking Japanese men in compromising situations. What's not to like? Throw in the Korean version while you're at it too. Eros explores the erotic whilst Sweet Room is more romantic, the perfect balance. Enjoy!
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Rich Man, Poor Woman in New York
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
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Apr 6, 2013
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
The special picks up where we left off in the Season 1 finale. Toru is reinstated as President & CEO of Next Innovation; Asahina is paroled and living a simple life as a software engineer; and Makoto is a world away in Brazil, pursuing her dream of becoming a research scientist.

For one week she returns to Japan to be with Toru, who can't seem to make up his mind about what read more exactly she is to him.

I thought these two were already officially dating, albeit long distance, but turns out this is not the case. In the special they're given a chance to develop their relationship from a question mark to a period. Their journey is, of course, fraught with professional obstacles, miscommunications & Toru's eccentricities. Like with every new relationship having another person share your life, your personal space is an adjustment for both parties. But Makoto learns to ask for what she needs & Toru learns to compromise.

Sometimes I watch TV couples and think if they were real they'd never make it beyond TV land. But I feel good about this couple. I love their bicker and banter. They already seem like an old married duo.

Along the way there were moments when I wanted to blow Toru away with a shotgun. I mean how obtuse, stubborn & cantankerous can one man get? Everything worked out for the best though.

The ending was nice. Left a huge grin on my face. I even started to hate Asahina a little less. I didn't take notice of the OST before, but here it was very fitting. The theme song is actually quite beautiful.

Overall, this was a nice addition to the series. I enjoyed it more than the drama because there was more focus on the development of Toru & Makoto's relationship. Hence the 9 scoring. Not everything was as I had hoped for, but I still really, really liked it. Now I just hope they produce a season 2 because even though we got some closure on the couple's relationship their story still feels incomplete.

I'd love to see them again, juggling life, career and love, and preferably living under the same roof. But this is a Japanese series we're talking about. I won't hold my breath on that happening even if they do make a S2.

Anyway, give this a go. You can watch it without having seen S1. You'll still be able to follow. Would I re-watch? Yes. I don't know exactly when it happened, but these characters have really grown on me. I'll never get tired of seeing them together.
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The Servant
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
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Jan 1, 2013
  • Overall 10
  • Story 10
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
The Servant is a retelling of popular South Korean folk tale The Story of Chunhyang, and can either be viewed as a prequel or a sequel to the 2000 film, Chunhyang.

Where the original Story of Chunhyang (and earlier film adaptations of the folk tale) tells the story of the beautiful courtesan's daughter and the handsome nobleman who falls for her, in this retelling this classic love story takes on a new read more dimension.

Bang-ja has worked in servitude to Mongryong for many years. He's satisfied with his existence until one day he encounters a woman who changes his life forever. Both master and servant fall for the beautiful Chunhyang at first sight. However, due to his lack of status, Bang-ja is convinced he doesn't stand a chance against the aristocrat, Mongryong.

I have to say this retelling of the original folk tale was quite moving to watch.

Where Chunhyang (2000) is an upbeat, pure love story with likable characters all around, The Servant is a poignant story of long-suffering and sacrifice. It puts a more mature spin on the original story, and solicits a deeper emotional investment from the viewer.

Both films are great for different reasons. In Chunhyang I loved the feel good story of young lovers discovering each other for the first time as well as the skillful direction of the film by Im Kwon-Taek. In The Servant the hero's strait journey to be with the love of his life is what touched my heart.

He was a very sympathetic, worthy, if tragic, hero, portrayed superbly by actor Kim Ju Hyuk. Though powerless & trapped by his low class Bang-ja revealed himself to be the true noble, a man of honour, wisdom & sound character who, for the sake of love, suffered through much humiliation and hardship. A number of the supporting cast put in notable performances as well, in particular Oh Dal Su's In No, Bang-ja's compatriot & mentor. The Servant was also surprisingly modern in tone and mood. It took on a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach towards its handling of sexuality. It may seem a bit contradictory to the period in which the film is set, but it worked somehow with the overall arc of the story.

In closing, I'd say both films are well worth a watch, though it's not mandatory to see one in order to understand the other. I'm giving The Servant a 10 (as I did Chunhyang) for its story & Kim Ju Hyuk's performance. The ending was beautiful and bittersweet. Just an overall enjoyable watch that I'd recommend to everyone.
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Dream Affection
8 of 8 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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Season Of Good Rain
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
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Nov 22, 2012
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 10
Jung Woo-sung brought me to this movie and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. The man is a vision. But his pretty face isn't the movie's only merit. Though not the most original of scripts, it served its purpose of entertaining me for a couple of hours. It's a cute, light-hearted story about rekindling a friendship that eventually leads to love.

I enjoyed the cross cultural elements of the film. There read more was a time, in my ignorance, when I thought all East Asian cultures were more or less the same. I have since broadened my horizons, but it was still quite interesting to see that China was just as much a cultural novelty for Dong-ha, a Korean, as it would've been for me, a Westerner.

What's more interesting is that a great portion of this film is in English because Dong-ha doesn't speak Chinese and May doesn't speak Korean. I must admit it was a bit weird for me to hear them speak English so I muted the sound and simply read the subtitles. It's not that their English was poor. Actually, they were as good as anyone can speak a foreign language, but their accents were really heavy. I found that it distracted me from the emotion of the story and the performances.

I'm thankful this movie wasn’t too emotionally draining. The few times it reverted to more somber themes, those were quickly overruled by one comedic scene or another.

Dong-ha and May had mad on-screen chemistry. There were some very steamy kisses in this movie, and May was a full participant in all the action! No shocked, open-eyed reaction here. For once I can't complain about the intimacy between the characters being fake. My only wish was that those kisses were more frequent and longer! haha :)

Overall, I have very few complaints. This was a simple, but satisfying story with good, subtle performances from a pair of very attractive leads. I doubt I've ever seen Jung Woo-sung look so handsome on screen, not even in A Moment to Remember (and let’s face it, the man was pretty darn hot in that movie!). The ending was unnecessary. I would have preferred a different outcome, one that was a bit more straightforward and less open, but it didn't spoil the movie for me. It's clear that the director just wanted to be a jerk and yank our chain.

I highly recommend Season of Good Rain as the perfect date movie. It’s a light romantic drama that’ll make you reminisce about when you first met your love, give you many reasons to make out and offer you something light-hearted to debate about after it’s done. Enjoy!
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Rules of Dating
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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Apr 29, 2013
  • Overall 3.0
  • Story 3.0
  • Acting/Cast 5.0
  • Music 3.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
It took me from start to finish about 3 months to complete this film. It is a mystery to me why it's called 'Rules of Dating' when in fact it has very little to do with dating.

It tells the story of two teachers: a rather selfish and unscrupulous man who is also a liar and a cheat; and an emotionally unstable woman with such low self-esteem & clear mental issues it's read more a wonder she didn't off herself during the course of the show.

With a pair of damaged, rather unlikable protagonists it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict the train wreck of a relationship that is about to culminate between them. Unlike the Japanese movie, Happily Ever After, where you meet equally tragic individuals trying to figure out the meaning of life & love in a poignant, slightly hopeless, but always heartwarming journey, you'll struggle to understand why the heck Choi Hung & Lee Yoo Rim in Rules of Dating are together because they clearly shouldn't be. It's a very co-dependent, unhealthy, immature relationship between two people who literally have NO redeeming qualities. The acting inspired very little empathy or faith that these characters will grow into better people.

Overall the plot and overarching story seemed very ill-conceived, as if the film's only purpose is to say the world is filled with some pretty strange effers. If like me you weren't born yesterday, and thus already knew this, this movie offers nothing in the way of an engaging plot, likable leads or a memorable ending. In fact when it ends you'll just be glad it did, if only so you'll never have to see these weird ass people again.

Music - what music?

Rewatch value: 0
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Woman in the Dunes
6 of 6 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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Always
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
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Oct 24, 2012
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 8.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
After watching one depressing K-movie after another, it was such a joy to stumble across Only You. It wasn't a very spectacular film by any stretch of the imagination, but I loved it for the mere fact that it wasn't some over the top, melancholic tearjerker. It turned out to be just the type of romantic drama I love to watch.

The leads were quite easy on the eyes and they had read more great chemistry. I loved that the heroine didn't live her life at the mercy of her condition. She was very self-sufficient, sweet and a very good balance to our broody hero.

Speaking of him, I don't think he did much acting here. Haha. He was like a big log that grunted. :) But who cares, he was hot and the way he opened up to the heroine's sweet coaxing was awesome to watch. I wish there were more scenes with the two after they decided to go steady, but I'm not gonna complain one way or the other.

This was a very sweet love story. I loved how it played out. The characters didn't have it easy, but in the end they got their happy ending. I also loved how relatable they were. The hero was just your average joe working two jobs to get by. The heroine worked at a call centre, not a luxury job by any means. They really reflected ordinary people living and loving very well. It's something you don't see often enough on screen -- as if society is overrun with corporate CEOs.

My new found addiction to Asian cinema is here to stay. There's no escaping it so I imagine there's gonna be a lot of sad dramas and movies in my future. That's why I'm glad I found this film. When I can't take the melancholia anymore at least I'll have this to turn to. I've already re-watched it twice since I first saw it. It's like balm for the wounded soul.
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Five Senses of Eros
12 of 14 people found this review helpful
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Dec 18, 2012
  • Overall 7.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 6.0
It's difficult to rate this "movie" because it's not really a movie in the traditional sense of the word. Rather it's a compilation of short films which explore the theme of erotic love. Two of the stories are very loosely related whilst the other 3 are independent of each other.

Some stories were better than others in both content and acting ability. The first two were quite enjoyable and philosophical. They asked read more deep, thought-provoking questions that I pondered appreciatively.

My favourite of all 5 was the 2nd story. Very poignant, but also a very sweet manifestation of (erotic) love.

The 3rd and 4th stories were a bit bizarre. Think murderous wives, blood sucking vampires and lesbian loving. I liked the 3rd story the least. Though darkly comedic in parts, I found it boring and uninspired in others. The theme of Eros was not very well conveyed, in my opinion, and the acting was off.

The 5th and final story about partner swapping could have been interesting, but the narrative was somewhat nonlinear, making it difficult to keep track of who was really boyfriend/girlfriend with who.

If I had to rate each story individually:

Story 1: 9
Story 2: 10
Story 3: 3
Story 4: 5
Story 5: 6

The average comes out to about 7 so that's my overall score for this anthology. I enjoyed it while it lasted. This movie is suitable for mature audiences, but nothing about it felt gratuitous. In fact a lot of the sexual encounters were pretty PG. I'd say it's a good date movie to watch with your long term partner, if you have one.
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Aishiteiru to Ittekure
9 of 10 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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Pride
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
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Nov 27, 2012
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 10
I had to take a few days to process what exactly I liked about Pride, besides the amazingly scrumptious Mr. Kimura Takuya. I'm going to take a different approach to my usual way of reviewing to explain. I'm a working independent filmmaker. I’ve made a couple shorts and am working toward a feature film debut. However, when I watch tv or film & write reviews I tend to focus on entertainment value read more rather production value (unless the latter is so glaringly bad it warrants a comment) because most people outside the industry couldn’t care less about the technicalities of film production ... so why bother with that stuff.

Every once in a while, though, I come across a show or movie that makes the creative in me sit up and take notice. You start to wonder how your colleagues behind the production got the results they got & how can you do something similar but with your own spin?

My first viewing of Pride consisted mostly of me fangirling over Kimura Takuya like an idiot. For a guy who generally isn't the type of man I’d go crazy for I was just consumed by the sheer beauty, sexiness and utter magnetism of the man. I really couldn’t pay attention to anything else. But on my second viewing, Pride offered up the type of creative epiphany I mentioned above.

The show isn't based on the most stellar of scripts, but where it had its moments of mediocrity (or your standard drama fare, if you will), there were also moments of pure genius that really gave the actors great material to work with. Forget about plot. What this drama got right was exceptionally well crafted characters, brought to life by performances so natural and understated you'll get that feeling of being a fly on the wall eavesdropping on the lives of REAL people. The chemistry between Halu-san and Aki was ridiculous. Sparks flew every time they were on-screen together.

Aki surprised me a lot throughout the drama. At first glance she's your typical Asian female lead -- sweet, dutiful, uncomplaining & from all indication emotionally stable enough to be the perfect helpmate. But Aki, unlike Halu-san, is not really all that meets the eye. Where Halu often speaks of his vulnerabilities Aki keeps so much of her true emotions under wraps that your initial impression of her -- that she's this pillar of strength Halu can lean on -- is severely challenged. There were times when her actions baffled me. I was pretty convinced the writers just wanted to drag things out and frustrate the audience. However, as the show progressed her character unfolds with remarkable depth. She slowly reveals the true Aki, the woman she's kept hidden away from everyone, including us, the audience. Her unfortunate experience in love has shaped her behaviour for the worse, but no one knew to what depth her insecurities ran. When I understood, I got her.

Kimura Takuya's performance was sensational. He's a great actor who took your standard tortured hero and made him quite layered and human. Halu-san is a man of deep passions. He's among those type of people who live by a strict moral code. He's prideful, fiercely loyal, protective of those he cares about, but with an undercurrent of ruthlessness to his character that both excite and scare you. But still Aki was the stand-out character for me. How she's presented at the beginning of the show to what she becomes is just remarkably well written and actress Yuko Takeuchi did a brilliant job of portraying her.

This definitely turned out to be a great character portrait of two people dealing with issues of abandonment and a potent fear of rejection. Pride was a strong theme throughout. Having pride in the pursuit of a dream and having too much pride to pursue what REALLY matters, love. What fascinates me the most about this drama, not just as a viewer who wants to be entertained, but as a creative who wants to write good scripts and attract great talent to my work … is the question of how can I write characters of equal depth and layers? Even if this script wasn’t 100% perfect if I can achieve such moments of pure genius in my own work I’d be well on my way to becoming the filmmaker I want to be.

I can say without much hesitation that Pride is absolutely one of my favourite dramas. I gave it an overall score of 9, instead of 10, because it wasn’t a masterpiece. After 9 episodes I felt like an otherwise appropriately paced story was made to drag a little. I’m satisfied with how things turned out, but not how we got there. The last two episodes toyed with the audience unnecessarily, leading us on a wild goose chase that stressed me out a little because I thought everything was going to fall apart for characters I had invested so much in. I would have preferred being spared the hassle, especially since the story did not benefit from the added drama. They could've wrapped up the whole thing at 10 episodes or choose a different path to the end. But I guess Asian dramas ain't Asian without all the angst.

I also did not care for the theme song, Queen's ‘I was born to love you’. The lyrics are very appropriate to the story, but for a relatively “young” drama it seemed an outdated choice. Pride was released in the early 2000s, but there's nothing remotely 80s about it in style or content so I didn’t like the song in the context of the show.

Overall, I loved this drama. Pride will always have a special place in my heart and I’ll re-watch this for years to come. I’m also never gonna get tired of looking at Takuya-san. Sooo excited that I have all his other dramas to look forward to! Big shout out to Elisabetta and NinaJade82 who “introduced” this beautiful, talented man to me. Now if only I could get a hold of him in real life…! :)
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Rich Man, Poor Woman
13 of 16 people found this review helpful
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Dec 10, 2012
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.0
  • Music 6.0
  • Rewatch Value 4.0
For me Rich Man, Poor Woman, before the 6th or 7th episode, threaded a very thin line between ‘drop or keep’. The drama was so slow to build it almost lost me, the hero was not human (as the Koreans like to say) and the heroine, though cute and well-meaning, got on my nerves with her over-the-top deferential behaviour toward a guy who was an obnoxious brute for most of the show. read more Yeah, I get that he's the big man on campus, and everyone's expected to kiss his (very fine) behind, but still ... I wanted to punch him every time he went off the rails at his innocent employees.

With corporate espionage, insider trading and other back stabbings, the story picked up tremendously in the second act. By episode 8 I was finally invested. Valuable life lessons were learnt (by both us and our leads). Our prodigious but arrogant hero grew as a person and as a businessman, and it was hard not to like him then. You come to realize that under that gruff exterior he wasn't such a bastard after all.

The acting was convincing, perhaps a tad overdone by our heroine, but she had some mad on-screen chemistry with the hero. They reminded you of an old married couple who loves to bicker and swear at each other, but feels lost when their beloved isn't around. Very cute. And although a bit juvenile and silly at times the actress did a good job of portraying the adorable klutz next to the hero's gruff, cantankerous persona. She may also come across as somewhat of a pushover, but it was, for the most part, a very effective front she used to manage Hyuga. After all, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar, don't you? I wished more time was dedicated to developing their love story, but unfortunately this was sidelined to accommodate other characters and purposes of the plot.

I felt the role of the second female lead, Yoko, was redundant. A perfectly decent character she was, but she served no true purpose whatsoever. I’m pretty convinced the drama could have gone on just as easily, and more effectively, without her. Why are Asians so obsessed with these blasted love triangles I don't know. It gets really old really fast and has no real dramatic effect if all second leads do is confirm the attractiveness of our lead male/female. Give them a more substantial purpose or leave them out entirely.

I did not care for Asahina. I wanted the resolution of his story arc to be completely different. Without giving anything away, here's why: I understood his feelings very well & even sympathized with him to a point, but his actions toward someone who was essentially like a brother to him were despicable, vicious and totally unforgivable. Therefore, to my way of thinking you don't give people like that a second chance to wedge the knife deeper into your back.

Anyway, if you’re into technology and the machinations of the business world (with a smattering of romance), you’ll likely enjoy this series. This was like The Social Network adapted for the small screen. I wanted more from it, but in the end what we got was okay, I guess.
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My Precious You
5 of 5 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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