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Completed
When I Was the Most Beautiful
11 people found this review helpful
Dec 7, 2020
32 of 32 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0

Powerful Cast and Emotional Depth

When I Was the Most Beautiful is a quintessential romantic melodrama that is powered by an excellent cast, a tightly-written intricate story and an emotional depth rarely seen on television dramas. It has unexpectedly become one of my favorite dramas of the year. And Lim Soo Hyang, Ji Soo and Ha Seok Jin deliver exceptional, must-watch/must-experience performances.

The developing love triangle may be the initial hook in the series' first few episodes. But When I Was the Most Beautiful quickly delves into the lives and relationships of our three leads and the broad cast of characters that fill their world. Dealing with themes such as (but not limited to) family, tragedy, forgiveness, healing and loneliness, the series does an almost masterful job juggling them all while never taking the focus away from the characters.

The series is able to build what is actually a very intricate web of characters that fill the world the story is able to draw upon. Every character that is introduced in the series has a role to play in the grander narrative. And in pretty substantial ways too.

It's important to point out that our characters are all flawed. Just like real life, no one is perfect. No one makes the right decisions 100% of the time. That realistic depiction of everyday life helps the series be as relatable and affecting as it can be. There are consequences, there are joys. It is not always a fairy tale ending. Nor is it all doom and gloom either.

The series' stunning cinematography and careful, purposeful directing also help to truly make the entire experience one to enjoy.

But the biggest part (and strongest aspect) of the series' overall success is its excellent cast. I think this may be a career performance for Ji Soo especially.

When I Was the Most Beautiful takes on heavy, realistic human emotions. The well-written, fast-paced plot engages a large cast of fully developed characters. Things move at a brisk pace, but you are never left lost or behind. The emotional roller coaster is one you don't mind finding yourself on. You will laugh, you will cry (a lot). You will get frustrated and you will cheer. But you will definitely feel the emotional connection.

With an excellent cast to top it all off, When I Was the Most Beautiful is indeed a beautiful, bittersweet, but meaningful journey well worth your time.

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Completed
Dark Blue Kiss
5 people found this review helpful
Apr 28, 2020
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
This review may contain spoilers
My jumping into Thai entertainment has been a fun ride so far with many satisfying discoveries. I was first introduced to the couple affectionately known as #PeteKao when YouTube recommended a three-part compilation of scenes from the series Kiss Me Again which featured the characters Pete and Kao.

How YouTube recommended it to me may have to do with me looking up Love of Siam after I watched it for the first time in late 2018, I think it was.

But I ended up waching the #PeteKao compilation. I then went on to watch Kiss: The Series (which I learned actually aired first, but its events take place after Kiss Me Again). And then I ended up officially becoming a fan.

So count me as one of the many people who looked forward to their story continuing with Dark Blue Kiss (รักไม่ระบุสถานะ). The series aired from October to December last year and I watched every episode the day after they first aired in Thailand. (Had to wait for the English subtitles of course, but all episodes were quickly uploaded to GMMTV’s official YouTube channel. Thanks GMM!)

Dark Blue Kiss was a fun, turbulent, but fully satisfying ride. A very soapy ride, to be sure. But a very satisfying series.

Dark Blue Kiss focused on Pete and Kao’s relationship hitting a bumpy patch with the arrival of troublemaker Non. Setting his sights on Kao, Non was the scheming villain wanting to steal the leading man away from the, well, other leading man.

It undoubtedly frustrated many fans watching the series. I can understand, but not agree with fans only wanting to see all happy scenes. Romantic scenes with kisses and perhaps more… action. Dark Blue Kiss was a drama series that showed how Pete and Kao’s relationship was tested and how they overcame it.

It had the type of story where the frustrations, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and difficult moments all piled up to help set up and culminate with a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. A conclusion that resulted in our main couple being stronger than they were at the start. But understandably, reaching that point requires an investment from the viewer. A commitment to see the entire series through in order to reach that fulfillment instead of just giving up on the series halfway through because there haven’t been enough kiss or bed scenes.

Now that’s certainly not the case for all fans. But it was a very loud faction of the audience and it was unfortunate that they were missing out on a well-developed story and thoroughly fun ride.

The second couple of Sun and Mork were also a highlight and perhaps got even more growth and development in the series than Pete and Kao. Of course, Sun and Mork were only peripheral characters in the previous Kiss series, so this was their opportunity to shine and have the spotlight on them.

Both couples’ stories though were equally engaging and in different ways. An established couple hitting an unexpected speed bump. And another couple just coming to terms with their new feelings for each other.

Dark Blue Kiss also had some very poignant and emotional moments, especially when it came to Kao struggling to keep his sexuality from his mother. Perhaps the best scene of the entire series was the moment Kao is able to honestly speak with his mother who comfortably reassured him that he never had any reason to worry about her possible reaction in the first place. A wonderful moment of unconditional love between a mother and son.

The series also certainly had plenty of lighthearted moments and balanced the heavier moments well.

The cast delivered good, solid performances. No question about the chemistry between Pete and Kao themselves, Tay Tawan Vihokratana and New Thitipoom Techaapaikhun. They have an undeniable chemistry that pops off the screen and are talented actors that can deliver any type of scene required of them, whether dramatic, romantic or something lighter.

Podd Suphakorn Sriphothong and Fluke Gawin Caskey as Sun and Mork also shared a great chemistry. Their complicated relationship was believable thanks to their performances.

AJ Chayapol Jutamat as Non, however, was a revelation. Having to walk the tightrope between a villain you love to hate and a broken character you can empathize with takes some skill. And AJ was able to show he could handle it.

Pluem Pongpisal as Sun’s brother Rain and the Gang of Sandee, Thada and June (Mild Lapassalan Jiravechsoontornkul, Mek Jirakit Thawornwong, Nicky Nachat Juntapun) helped provide much needed relief from the drama. And Ploy Patchatorn Thanawat as Manow rounds out the cast.

Oh and can we also appreciate these epic opening credits?

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Completed
The Light in Your Eyes
5 people found this review helpful
Apr 14, 2020
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
The 2019 JTBC drama The Light in Your Eyes (Eyes Are Dazzling/눈이 부시게 ) is a stunning viewing experience. In the span of its 12 episodes, you will laugh, you will cry, you will fall in love, you will be on the edge of the seat. But even more importantly, the series leaves us with a profound reminder of a few things.

The first is a common reminder that we should live our lives to the fullest and to live every day like it is our last. The other is perhaps the more important reminder. That is the dignity of human life and how far too often, senior citizens are robbed of that dignity in their twilight years.

The Light in Your Eyes begins with a supernatural bent. As a child, Kim Hye Ja finds a watch that allows her to rewind time. She uses this power for little things like learning to avoid her brother’s teasing or maneuvering a better score on school exams. The catch, however, is she ages faster with every turn back of time.

Now as 25-year-old woman (played by Han Ji Min), she uses the watch to repeatedly go back in time in order to prevent a tragedy. But after she is finally successful, she wakes up as a 70-year-old woman (now played by veteran and acclaimed actress Kim Hye Ja).

Hye Ja must now navigate this peculiar situation. She is now older than her parents. She can pass as grandmother to her older brother and two best friends.

There are many fun and amusing moments as Hye Ja struggles to adjust. But there are also many sad and poignant moments that reveal truths about our everyday lives and today’s harsh world.

The still-25-year-old Hye Ja meets and falls for the handsome Lee Joon Ha (Nam Joo Hyuk) who aspires to be a reporter. In addition to the extraordinary circumstance that befalls Hye Ja and Joon Ha’s relationship, Joon Ha’s relationship with his grandmother in the first third of the series gives a taste of the kind of emotional and heartbreaking stories we will see over the course of the series.

Things are not as they seem, however. And saying much more will ruin the experience.

But things take a breathtaking turn in Episode 10.

Everything leads up to this incredible episode that is equal parts fun, thrilling, action-packed, shocking, emotional and heartbreaking. It is arguably one of the most stunning episodes of television I’ve ever seen.

Everything converges in this episode and The Light in Your Eyes finishes up its last two episodes with several immense emotional punches that have everything coming together and falling into place.

The Light in Your Eyes focuses on many issues that the elderly face in today’s world. It also touches upon the effect those issues have on the elderly themselves as well as their loved ones. But the series also discusses life in general in interesting and unexpected ways.

The story is absolutely engaging and it rewards you with some stunning twists and performances as it reaches its climax.

The amazing ensemble cast brings this multi-layered and emotional story to vivid life

Han Ji Min is able to balance the young Hye Ja with moments when she must be the older Hye Ja appearing as the younger version from time to time. Nam Joo Hyuk shows off his versatility as Joon Ha. There are heavy moments where he truly shines in the series. Ahn Nae Sang as Hye Ja’s father shares a nuanced portrayal of the character that pays off in the end.

Son Ho Joon as Hye Ja’s brother Yong Soo is absolutely hilarious, especially as he is often tasked with the most absurd and funny situations. But he too proves his versatility when he must shift to quieter, more dramatic moments. Still, his riotous performance helps lighten the mood when other parts of the series get much heavier.

Lee Jung Eun delivers an excellent, award winning performance as Hye Ja’s mother. Another nuanced portrayal has her navigating the conflicting emotions of her daughter now being older than her, but also the struggles of her own life and family.

But most certainly, the star of the series is veteran and acclaimed actress Kim Hye Ja as the older Hye Ja. Her fun and cute display at first turns into an absolutely commanding and tour de force performance later on, especially in the final arc. She leads the series and is the heart and soul of the story. An unforgettable performance by one of the best. And her 2019 Daesang for this role proves it.

The Light in Your Eyes is almost an essential viewing experience. The series presents some profound and thought-provoking reminders in a fun, but breathtaking and incredibly emotional way. The series’ depth and sincerity have you easily caring about these characters while keeping you guessing and fully engrossed in the twists and turns of the story.

A truly unforgettable and enlightening experience, The Light in Your Eyes is a must-see.

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Completed
Late Blossom
2 people found this review helpful
Apr 17, 2020
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
There are those rare films that can easily and effectively touch your heart. Films that really resonate long after the 60 or 120 minutes are up.

Even more rare are films that can make a grown man cry.

The 2011 Korean indie Late Blossom (I Love You/그대를 사랑합니다) is one of those films.

Late Blossom eloquently tells the stories of four people as the sun sets on their respective lives; milk delivery man and widow Kim Man-seok (Lee Soon-Jae, Flames of Desire), Ms. Song (Yoon So-jung, Reversal of Fate) who has lived alone most of her life, and married couple Goon-bong and Soon (Song Jae-ho, I Believe in Love and Kim Soo-Mi, Unstoppable Marriage).

Man-seok runs into Ms. Song (whose first name we will learn later in the movie) one fateful morning as he heads out for his milk deliveries and she pulls her cart of paper and cardboard she collected to sell to pay for her everyday expenses. Though his cursing and grumpy exterior may be a turn off to many, Ms. Song finds he is soft and warm on the inside.

Meanwhile, Goon-bong, the manager of the neighborhood parking lot, alone takes care of his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer’s after their three children have left them to start their own families.

Together, the four learn and teach each other about life and love.

The film presents an honest look and subtle look at the lives of grandpas and grandmas and those who haven’t been blessed with children and grandchildren of their own. Stories that transcend culture.

Late Blossom is a love story at its core; examples of the power of love (and that is not a cliché). How love can be strength and weakness at the same time, but always meaningful. How love knows no age nor time.

The film is emotional and touching, but is just as fun and witty. A mellow, yet engaging story that definitely leaves a mark.

Its cast of veteran actors effortlessly and beautifully makes these characters come alive, warmly inviting the audience into the lives of these four characters in this small Seoul neighborhood.

In just under two hours, the film takes the viewers on an emotional and powerful journey, from the first scene and the sweetest of first meetings to the bittersweet final act that truly exemplifies the power of love in everyone’s lives.

Late Blossom is an incredibly moving film, warm with a huge heart and brimming with sincerity that will resound in audiences in any stage of life.

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Hellbound
0 people found this review helpful
Oct 1, 2022
6 of 6 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 8.0

A Pensive Thriller

Hellbound is a pensive thriller that blends fantasy, supernatural and horror with thought-provoking discussion and even a touch of biblical epic. Yeon Sang Ho, the mind behind the excellent Train to Busan, directs this series based on his own webtoon of the same name. And Hellbound shares many of the same qualities that made the blockbuster film so successful, including the ability to examine real world ills while engaging in action-packed spectacle.

You’re in it for the philosophical discussions? Very nice! You’re sticking with it for the exciting (and yes, violent) action? That’s cool too.

Hellbound successfully offers up a bit of both. It may not be easy blending together deeper and very real ideas with fantastical spectacle, but I believe Yeon Sang Ho has done that here. In merely hopping along for the ride, you can be treated to a thriller that legitimately offers up surprising twists and turns. Most especially in the series’ many (keyword: many!) climaxes. But if you’re inclined and willing to dig deeper, there’s a lot of things for you to grab hold of as well.

Though certainly not perfect, Hellbound is an unflinching and bold series that commands attention. Whether or not it can hold your attention will be up to your level of commitment and faith in it. And as the series will so vividly illustrate, each person will be coming from a different place and position in life to influence that effort.

With a season 2 confirmed, it definitely has rewatch value. And that definitely helps you get into the story a bit more knowing that the story continues after the very last exciting scenes of this first season.

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Baker King
1 people found this review helpful
Feb 25, 2021
85 of 85 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 8.0

TV5’s Baker King Proves the Philippines Can Produce Worthy Adaptations

It’s always a huge challenge for a remake or adaptation to match or top the original. While overall, the original easily tops this Filipino adaptation, that doesn’t take away the fact that Baker King was still successful.

Baker King is certainly a worthy adaptation that was able to stay faithful to the original while injecting plenty of Filipino flavor into an already almost-perfect recipe. It told the universal stories of love, family and friendships. And like the original, Filipino Takgu showed audiences that instead of putting a heavy and vengeful burden on one’s heart, you should never lose hope, remain determined and live life to the fullest.

Assembling a great, solid cast and pairing that with smart direction and tight writing, I believe Baker King is the strongest local Filipino adaptation of a foreign series yet.

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Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
1 people found this review helpful
Apr 9, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo may give off a specific first impression when you first start it. But as the series progresses, it develops into a surprisingly heartfelt, emotional and wholly romantic story that will definitely leave you with a smile on your face.

Lee Sung Kyung immediately endears you to the title character who navigates college life while juggling her weightlifting career, her family, friendships and her falling in love for the first time.

Weightlifting Fairy is very much a coming of age story, not just for the titular Kim Bok Joo, but for a talented ensemble and cast of characters.

Nam Joo Hyuk delivers a charming and nuanced performance as ace swimmer Jung Joon Hyung who has his own issues to juggle himself.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo takes a few episodes to settle down, but when it does, the result is really like a fairy tale.

The spotlight definitely shines on the excellent chemistry shared by Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk. Whether it’s the louder, riotous moments or the quieter and more emotional moments, both actors shine on their own and especially when they’re together. They deliver the cute moments and they deliver in the heavier and more dramatic moments.

Even more interesting is that the series also tackles some timely issues that many young people face such as mental health, societal and familial pressure, and eating disorders.

For a show so lighthearted, it is able to touch on these topics in a sincere way. This is very much a coming-of-age story. And for characters of many ages. That that adds a great extra layer to the series.

Partly a slice of life story, the series is very much character-driven. Both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung get the most powerful moments in the series. But the large ensemble supporting cast also get their moments and development as well.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is a romantic, emotional, heartfelt and sincere look at life, family and friendships. Led by excellent performances by Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk, the series definitely carries itself with a well-deserved “swag” like its characters regularly do as well.

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