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  • Join Date: November 21, 2013

PickyMcpickleton

PickyMcpickleton

Completed
Nirvana in Fire
23 people found this review helpful
Dec 23, 2015
54 of 54 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I’ll start by saying, to some extent I almost wish I’d never found this drama. I’m at the end and it’s genuinely a painful experience. As if I will be parting with a friend and there may not be an experience like this again.

This drama was found randomly. Bored on a Saturday, haven’t touched a drama in a year, I decided to go back to my masochistic ways of torturing myself with plots I never finish. My dropped list speaks volumes. Signed on to viki, laughed at the corny name and thought this would be a parody but boy was I wrong!

This drama has wrecked everything. I have never watched a drama like this. I am the fickle and picky type who even if there’s a drama I like, interest wanes at around the ten episode mark as dramas recede to known formulas as they run out of ideas. This drama I reached episode 30 in feverish captivation, 5 AM, episode 15, forcing myself awake and splashing water on my face. At work it was blood shot eyes, yawns and excuses of not sleeping well. Not of course that a Chinese drama has taken over my life that I don’t answer phone calls.

Now that I’ve rambled, here’s the review.

This is just so expletively interesting and catered to my tastes that this drama is at this point is probably the best drama I’ve ever watched. The story at the surface is a battle for the throne but it is layered with well complemented sub plots and revelations that shook me.

The story is of a political nature and so well-crafted it’s almost disgusting. I tell you, two guys talking politics has never been so interesting. The central character of this storyline is Mei Chang Su. A brilliant and ailing strategist with a hidden agenda that unfolds throughout the story. He is the most realistic hero we’re possibly ever going to get. He’s caring but also a realist. Ready and willing to recognize that sacrifices have to be made in order to fulfill his goal. He’s adorable, arrogant, and brilliant yet also such a devastating character. He’s main goal is to make one of the prince’s the emperor, his reasons, you’ll have to watch to know.

The antagonists in this story truly elevate this plot. There will be different antagonists as this is a fight for the throne. However, each antagonist is different and just as well done as the main hero. The villains in this tale also have their own stories, their own agendas and ambitions which at times captivates you. They’re not in this story solely to antagonize the hero for some mundane reasons. There are also these emotional moments where we are forced into sympathy for some of these villains, forced to understand them and it’s frighteningly delightful.

Other than the antagonists, the supporting characters definitely brighten and add to this drama. In a lot of dramas, a lot of the supporting characters are fodder, but in this, they induce humor or simple bitter sweet moments that make you remember them. Female characters are also a bonus that is done well.

I swear if all political dramas were this well crafted, I would be a happy gal. It's the perfect blend of well thought out strategies and my gosh, when was the last time you watched a drama with a well thought out strategy? I'll start by saying none even match up to this.

To end this, I confess, I know nothing of the actors and don't really ever venture into Chinese dramas (I've held the opinion they are pretty terrible...) yet weirdly, two of my favorite historical dramas (This and Scarlet heart) have come from China.

As my name suggests, here is a picky musing that doesn't really change anything about this drama.

Passage of time – I swear winter lasted about thirty episodes even though about only half a year had passed. It’s not particularly jarring but at times, I do wonder how much time has passed as it’s somewhat ambiguous but the drama cleverly lets you know when characters interact. It’s actually brilliantly done. Simple lines like “It’s been half a year since you came to the capital.” Nonetheless, I feel like this whole drama passed in the winter, with a splice of summer but my strongest memories are the puffs of air from the characters.

I'm definitely giving this a masterpiece rating because this marks the first time I have ever watched this many episodes of any drama period. Plus, I can't think of anything significant that stopped me from enjoying this plot.

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Completed
Goblin
84 people found this review helpful
Jan 23, 2017
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 6.5
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
It must be said that Goblin is very much a somewhat cliché rom-com disguising itself as something else, but ultimately, what appears to be an interesting premise is cast aside for a romantic plot that I'm going to be honest is a little creepy and at times feels very fatherly to me. This makes it very hard to love the romance especially when the female lead is a bubble of cutesy energy and also she borderline looks twelve. There were moments I wanted to run into the scene and tell Gong Yoo, you get the hell away from her and date someone your own age. Yes, that, 782 age gap was at times hard to swallow.

What makes Goblin good is it's featuring. It stars longing looks, teary-eyed longing looks, bromance, ignoring that he is 800 years old, trying to pretend you are not watching this because of the bromance and good looking leads and KES's obligatory three good episodes towards the end that makes you think this is so good. It also stars a very good performance by Lee Dong Wook. I'd like to say the rest of the cast were just as good, but I'd be lying. Gong Yoo is someone, I watch because he is in good movies (The Crucible/Silenced, etc) but not because he gives an actual good performance. He's like a Brad Pitt type in that regard. I was quite surprised by LDW as I find him heavily attractive and have for a long time but I've admitted he's a terrible actor. Suddenly he is Matthew McConaughaying me. The female lead is literally a copy paste of all rom-coms. Especially from this writer.

The intro of this drama is unique and creates what has the potential to be a very good plot, but ultimately this is a meandering slow stream of a journey that I heavily recommend you skip some episodes. Yes, skip from ep 5 to 13 and you'll miss very little. The juicy parts of the plot are thrown aside for a slew of teary-eyed longing looks and cliché romantic scenes that at ep 4, I started to wonder when they were actually going to focus on the juicy premise.

Character wise, the bromance sells this stale plot as personally, the romance between the male and female lead just looks awkward. I should be gushing at romantic scenes but they look as uncomfortable as I do and when Gong Yoo pats her head, he at times feels like her father. The drama has a lot of potential but the writer didn't seem to know what to do with it and I feel like a traitor who deserves to be hanged for saying this, but as a huge lover of bromance, dare I say it, I actually got bored of the bromance. I started tuning in to cast longing looks at Lee Dong Wook. My obsession made me run out into the street and jump in front of a car, but I heavily recommend you don't do that as the Grim Reaper never appeared and now I'm writing this in the afterlife.

The writer here also inserts her I suckered you into thinking this was good by having her obligatory three good episodes that make me think, Oh this has potential. It's always towards the end too. Melancholic episodes with good editing that make me wonder where was this for the previous ten episodes? I feel the drama is a seven at best as in, I would be very generous to give it a 7. It has its good melancholic and humorous scenes but it ultimately never quite gets its pacing right and never seems to know what to focus on making this really not as good as it could be.

PS. I also urge you to cast aside any logical questions you might have especially towards the end. They will not be answered.

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Completed
Man on High Heels
19 people found this review helpful
Nov 17, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
It's been a long time since I struggled to rate a movie and even now I'm not sure how I feel about it. For one, emotions came first in this. There was very little room for me to ponder on things because of the way this movie delivered. However, in the end, I found myself a touch disappointed because while the movie approached this topic very intellectually, it still felt a touch hesitant, a touch too cautious and a little muddled.

The biggest reason being that this movie at times felt a touch too muddled in what it was trying to convey. It deeply explores an issue very well but yet not deeply enough. Deep issues are at times downplayed due to very stereotypical assumptions, and the end for me felt like a cop out. I admit, that viewpoint can be countered but I felt in the grand scheme of things, it allowed the audience to still retain their view of "normalcy". However, this isn't what made me dock points largely.

This movie deals with a topic that I rarely see and as a review mentioned, where a man trying to become a woman isn't the butt of a joke. Here, there is no laughter, little room for it. This movie cleverly approaches the topic as it takes this Herculean and manly guy who isn't happy with himself. He wants to become a woman. It creates an interesting and refreshing dichotomy as here is a guy who can easily fight any man and easily conquer a horde of attacking gangs yet he wants to be a woman.

The strong point is definitely Cha Seung Won's character (Ji Wook) and he carries this movie for me. The rest of the plot for me is kind of fodder as are a bunch of the characters. There were certain characters in here that for me had no legitimate reason to be here or to be included in the story as they were. Mainly because they muddle vs aid the story. There are other characters though I recognize their importance because they add to Cha Seung Won's character. For example, the antagonist here the sub-leader of a gang and while I find his character to add very little in terms of plot, he brings out Ji Wook's character. What I mean is that most of the action sequences come from the interaction between the two which allows for the story to cement the manly image that Ji Wook has. However, while a good portion of the action scenes are relevant, I have to pick a bone with a good number of them. I feel this way about a lot of movies and dramas that bring to the table an unsettling topic or a very intelligent topic. There are always dramatic actions sequences involved. Yes, it's a way for the director to sell the plot but it would be nice to just directly approach the topic. In this case, the topic is interesting enough to be the sole focus. I just feel that the action sequences at times distract from the main topic.

On a personal note, there were quite a few things in this movie I wish I could alter. I also wish I could make this movie go hard in terms of really exploring this theme. I feel like this movie should have shocked the viewer more than it did. It makes it feel a little regrettable in that regard. Nonetheless, definitely one to watch.

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Completed
Hanzawa Naoki
20 people found this review helpful
Apr 12, 2014
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
Hanzawa Naoki marks my somewhat introduction into Japanese dramas. To be honest, I rarely ever watch Japanese dramas. As I mentioned to a dramalist friend, even though they are better written than K-dramas and feature genres that I like, I still can't quite watch J-dramas consistently. The retro pacing makes it hard to instantly fall in love with a J-drama and if I'm not in the mood to invest myself in a plot, it means I gloss over master pieces like olive oil.

Now, Hanzawa Naoki though is the best written thing (closely tied with Legal High) that I have watched in a while. I think it's my irritation with K-dramas that led me slap bang into this masterpiece and boy was this a thrilling journey.

This is the tale of Hanzawa. A banker embroiled in banking politics (really). The story is told in two parts with Hanzawa constantly in difficult situations. He must outsmart, outplay and outlast. Indeed, I do hate to steal the survivor logo but that is what his life entails.

It is a well written tale full of engaging characters and it's been a long time since I have liked both the protagonist and antagonist (Normally, I like the antagonist). I really liked the antagonist (Owada) in the second part. He happens to be smart, flawed yet quite charming. Kagawa Teruyuki who played his role also did a phenomenal job. The climax of this story gave me chills. CHILLS I tell you. It was powerful, raw, well acted brilliantness that actually stunned me to silence.

However, despite the well written moments, there are feel good moments that are not for the cynic. I happen to be one of those cynics and the feel good moments induced some mega cringing. The declarations of friendship and super hero-esque moments weren't for me. Although, for the most part, the drama manages to create an anti-hero vibe especially in regards to Hanzawa's character. He is merciless in exacting revenge which is exactly my cup of tea. I like them devilish and certain.

I'm all over the place with this review but I get tongue tied sometimes trying to describe stories like this. There's so much to tell yet it's difficult to focus on one thing. Overall, a strong recommendation with minimal flaws.

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Completed
Legal High
12 people found this review helpful
Apr 10, 2014
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 6.0
It's difficult determining how to go about reviewing this but from my score, it easily goes down as the best comedy I've watched in a very long time. Heck, I can't even think of a comedy that has not only been consistent but made me laugh so hard from the first episode. However, amidst the outrageous comedy is actually a very well written script. How the writers manage to play with both serious and light hearted topics, mystified me through this whole journey. I kept marvelling at how well crafted it was. For one, the law is far better done than some of the higher rated and serious dramas. *Cough* Won't VOICE out any names *cough* It creatively tackles topics with two very different characters as they both utilize their own philosophy to explore issues.

Legal High focuses on Komikado Keisuke who is a genius of a lawyer who has yet to lose a case. He picks cases driven solely boy one thing,money. He is over the top, hilarious and an absolutely captivating character. He's a blend of immaturity, charisma and at times raw and powerful emotions. His partner is the naive and innocent Mayuzumi Machiko who is surprisingly not irritating. Normally, this is the type of character that I absolutely despise. The self-righteous preachy type who wants the world to be butterflies and rainbows- however, she is very charming in her own way. She for one sticks to her philosophy but also acknowledges its flaws. This partnership makes for some of the most "laugh out loud" moments I have ever had in a drama.

Overall, this is a hilarious yet very well done script. The writers did a phenomenal job not only developing the characters but giving them distinct and memorable personalities. The humor does not get in the way of plot progression or even distract from the issue. It serves as a good compliment to the overall plot and by the end of this season, I was more than thrilled to hear there was a second which I have also finished. I rarely ever seek out second seasons in dramas. Heck, it's an incredibly difficult challenge for me to ever finish a drama much less get passed the fourth episode. I jot this down as an over the top yet highly recommended comedy. Do not pass this up.

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Completed
Legal High 2
9 people found this review helpful
Apr 10, 2014
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
I was evidently charmed by the first season otherwise I would not have made it to the second. In honesty, I liked both equally and while the drama retains its initial characteristics, it still suffers from a few flaws not as evident in the first season.

The cast is slightly altered and as opposed to the arch nemesis Miki in the first season, we gain the pretty boy Hanyu who will challenge Komikado in court.

The drama is still very charming and hilarious. Komikado is his over the top satirical self that still captivates you through the whole season. The writing is decent and is still comedically very strong, however, let's get down to the flaws. Some events felt ill planned and made the script feel just a tad loose. I'm a fan of plot twists when done right but this left me a little underwhelmed and felt quite forced. It felt like a "hey, let's connect shit and make it look like we planned it all along." Yeah, it just wasn't riveting.

Furthermore, I felt the legal and philosophical aspects in this drama were not as crisp as the first season. Especially, in regards to Hanyu's character. His goal is to make everyone happy through law but I expected the drama to tackle that issue more creatively. I mean really what the hell does that even mean? It may sound like a dumb question but I have to hold myself back on going on a rant of what exactly happiness is if not bursts of temporary feelings induced by different things. Should we use a utilitarian perspective to determine happiness? I digress, but really, most of the time, Hanyu's happiness philosophy made me want to throw my hands up. It eventually just made me accept his philosophy as nothing more than a word. After all, to create a utopia, you must first understand and define what exactly a utopia is. Nonetheless, let's let that slide.

I really liked the growth of both Komikado and Mayuzumi but it wasn't enough. I still lust after Komikado's personal history and should there be another season, I really hope we get more than crumbs about his history. In fact, it was one of the things, I really wish was touched upon in the first season more. I want that history! However, in terms of Mayuzumi, I felt her character developed the most. She becomes clearer about what her goals are and is much stronger in court.

Nonetheless, this drama still makes me anticipate another season because the characters still remain very well done. While the plot is not as solid as the first season, it is still very decent. I still marvel at the ability of the writers to consistently be humorous yet very strong. I look forward to another season.

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Completed
The Heirs
15 people found this review helpful
Dec 15, 2013
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 5.5
Story 5.5
Acting/Cast 5.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 2.0
I'm honestly surprised I made it to the end because I thought when I started I wouldn't be hear till the end. I honestly heard about heirs when it was 14 episodes in. I was told it was bloody awful and I would seriously hate it, but surprise surprise, it is an addictive mess that I might recommend. I think it's my lack of expectations but I enjoyed it. There's a lot of bashing and trolling which I think is based on the fact that a lot of people think this is similar to Boys Over Flowers which was pretty damn awful, but it's not quite.

Indeed, a heck of a lot of first world problems but the story is still interesting. I would love to say the characters are interesting but Kim Tan played by Lee Min Ho, is dull uninteresting and a character we have to take at face value. He lacks any real power or motivation that I am an emotional rock to his pain and even when he's taking action, it just feels very face value. He never in the end has to work hard to make things happen. Eunsang is equally dull and boring and so devoid of power, it's frightening. She almost makes no decision herself. She is dragged around and toyed with everywhere. She is also either bipolar or strange. There are moments she seems genuinely frightened at Young Do to the point of shaking then the next moment she is lecturing him, making us confused. No worries though, should she be in any real trouble there are countless men willing to save her.

The saving grace is Young Do and it's not because I like Kim Woo Bin because I genuinely liked Young Do's character. He's a self aware mess. He's very aware of his flaws but he still makes no attempt to fix them because he's not ready to acknowledge his pain. It makes for a compelling character who's flawed yet to some extent understandable.

The best part of the series are the last three episodes, not because the series ends but the directing is stellar, the acting picks up a notch and the script really delivers. There are very simple and poignant moments that transcend this drama from being a guilty pleasure to genuinely enjoyable.

However, overall, points were docked for my indifference to the two main characters and a lot of this cast. Some nonsensical plot devices and character changes. There was just a lot honestly, that didn't necessarily need to be there. I must also admit, at the end the conflicts were kind of unnecessary and also nonsensical.

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Completed
The Face Reader
10 people found this review helpful
Jan 30, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
To be honest, an eight seems too generous yet a seven seems too low but I settled on an eight because I really enjoyed this movie more than some of the raved about ones. I went into this with high yet also low expectations. For one, it's been parodied and referenced a lot. Furthermore, the rave reviews made me lower my expectations because I have gone into a lot of raved about movies and dramas only to come out beyond disappointed.

In The Face Reader, Song Kang Ho starred as a famed physiognomist. His ability is so good that he attracts the attention of even the king and he is soon thrust into politics. The political era is one of strife as Prince Sungyang played by Lee Jung Jae lusts after the throne.

The story in movie fashion is a bit dramatised. There were moments it wasn't even Face reading, it was borderline fortune telling. As in, there were moments when Kang Ho's character just pretty much predicted the future as opposed to physiognomy. Strictly speaking, he looked at one of the character's face and told him he would be beheaded. Frankly, that was a touch ridiculous because that really isn't even physiognomy. The only reason this works is because we are in the present and the script is about the past so anything he predicts of course happens because history has happened.

However, the story is well written. It has touches of humor that are not ill placed amidst a serious and well done plot. There are some good emotional scenes that are well acted and overall it leads to a satisfactory performance; enough to even make me tolerate Lee Jong Suk. Now, I have nothing against the boy, but I felt his lack of experience and acting just made some scenes fall slightly short. In fact, most of his emotional scenes are with the veteran actors and he is heavily saved by them.

Unfortunately, I have one gripe and that is with the ending because I thought it ended, oh but there's another scene and this is surely the end, but oh no, here's another scene and surely this is the end... Oh no, not yet, then finally the end. I was honestly going, my goodness just end already. There were multiple concluding scenes and I almost thought I was in a Park Chan Wook movie because he really likes dragging the end. I mean they even do that concluding comments of "so and so became a monk five years later and died in 1456..." but it doesn't even end after those comments! Other than that, I recommend this.

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Completed
Hwayi: A Monster Boy
7 people found this review helpful
Jun 2, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 5.5
Story 3.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 2.0
With more deaths than a Shakespearean novel, I bring to you Hwayi. A movie that has a promising premise but ultimately turns out to be a disappointment as it throws away the concepts it struggles to build.

It tells the tale of a kidnapped boy(Hwayi) who is raised by five murderers. Hwayi’s journey though is one of self-discovery as he attempts to discover who he is in more ways than one. First is the topic of his identity as circumstances lead to him discovering that he was kidnapped as a boy. Hence begins his quest to figure out who he is. Amidst this he is also on a journey of self-discovery as he floats in between normalcy and the violent environment that he’s in. Then is also family love as he discovers his new family but is also rooted to his old one. Then you have a story that is looser than a prostitute’s V****. (Too inappropriate?)

Unfortunately, while Hwayi seems deep, it is just very lack luster that it leaves the whole movie feeling tedious and lost. Most of the supporting characters in this movie such as the cops lend absolutely nothing to the plot at all. Another unnecessary addition is the stereotypical action scenes that don't need to be there. The chase scenes are ridiculous and look so low budget you have a hard time believing it. Ultimately they lend nothing to the movie other than the dragged out time. A lot of concepts are thrown in here, but they are never well done making the movie have very few compelling moments. The only decent action sequences come from a few fights but a majority of the movie is gun usage which is terribly done. At some of the action scenes, bullets kind of seem to materialize out of no where and it’s not evident who is shooting who.

The movie, transcends mediocrity (just a little) due to two people. Hwayi played by Yeo Jin Gu and one of his fathers played by Kim Yoon Suk. They both blend in to the gray tinged tones of the movie very well and as characters, really lift this lackluster plot. However, despite the magnificent acting displayed by both, ultimately, there’s almost nothing that is truly focused on and sharpened. It deals with the concept of monsters but completely throws that concept under the rag with what is somewhat of a plot twist. I'm apprehensive about calling it that because it’s neither compelling nor triggers my interest much. It deals with self-discovery but that concept also suffers a bigger death than most of the characters in the movie. It deals with family life but that is also just not developed enough and ultimately, there is nothing that really sticks. When you think it is going somewhere, it takes a completely different direction.

At the end of this journey, I found myself beyond disappointed. The script is just mediocre and I really wish the writer would have made it tighter. The more you watch, the less stellar it is and frankly, it did not need the length that it had. The only pros to this are the good acting which lend a hand to the few compelling moments. The compelling moments come from the moments of self-conflict such as when Hwayi hesitates to shoot but there are moments when he hesitates but mere seconds later does and you're just there going… For a move that seems heavy in philosophy, it really should have explored its themes better. Furthermore, the conclusion for me was just terrible. Another unnecessary addition to leave us with an ill placed "feel good" moment. Furthermore, because the relationship between the two characters involved was barely developed, it was just another scratch in the head.

Overall, underwhelming due to a scattered plot.

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Completed
Silenced
8 people found this review helpful
Nov 22, 2013
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This is based on a true story but with some left out details but not enough to detract from the plot but I admit some of those details changed a little how I feel about the main character but not enough to not be inspired and love this movie. I consider myself a stoic person but I start with admitting, I cried hideously during this movie. I was a mess. I actually had to pause this to kind of gather myself a little. It was very hard for me to watch because I tend to be a mess about movies with these types of themes especially when it involves children. However, this particularly hit me hard because of how utterly messed up the system was and the fact that no one was willing to fight this injustice because of how risky it was. Yet, a part of me also examined myself and wondered, if I were in the situation as the teacher would I do the same? Ugh, it was a very good movie because it had a point to make and it also is a criticism of the Korean system. Something, I don't see in a lot of Korean movies. Furthermore, the knowledge that these are real people who were affected did a number on me not to mention the fact that these were deaf children. A little nick here is that I prefer the title Silenced to The Crucible mainly because I'm an Arthur Miller fan (not really I just somewhat respect him) and I see the similarities but not enough for me to care for it. I felt like the title "Silenced" had the double entendre about it that made this more poignant.

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Dropped 28/28
The Bridal Mask
18 people found this review helpful
Nov 21, 2013
28 of 28 episodes seen
Dropped 1
Overall 5.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 1.0
This has almost nothing to do with Korean history or politics at all. It is honestly a melodrama set in an important historical background to sucker anyone looking for something intellectual to watch. However, the plot ultimately revolves around the female lead for no reason other than the two male leads stereotypically loving her. Does she possess any amazing qualities? None whatsoever, she has a faux strength about her in the beginning but spends most of the drama being captured and rescued. She then unsurprisingly falls for Joo Won's character because he is the male lead and such is the way of the Korean drama. There are numerous stupid plot holes like the mindless gun usage. Bullets never hit anyone unless it's convenient. Furthermore, people actually engage in hand to hand command despite having guns. However, ultimately this plot dies at about episode 8 for me when it becomes a matter of gritting my teeth through the repetitive plot and fast forwarding. Japanese imperialism is so down played it is shocking. It starts out political to some extent but then politics simply becomes wall paper. This is most definitely not the drama to learn anything about Japanese Imperialism which is what suckered me to watch this melodrama disguised as a political drama.

Seriously, this is a melodrama. Let's not sugarcoat it. It's a melodrama.

What makes me rage is IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. I had these same feelings when I watched Warrior Baek Dong Soo where as I participated through discussions every week after episodes, it became rants about how to fix the drama verses me actually watching. To the point people started joking I should do a remake because it would be better.

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Old Boy
9 people found this review helpful
Nov 22, 2013
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers
To be honest, this movie is a masterpiece but I still can't find it in me to give it a ten because it's not perfect. It's more a 9.5 in that it is very close to perfection. For one, you have to sit through a lot to get to the meat of the plot and once you do, it will blow your socks off! It's a riveting tale of vengeance unlike any other. Hideously original and captivating and I don't say that loosely. At the end, I was screaming like a little girl telling everyone, you have to watch this. However, the ending is very typical of Park Chan Wook who for some odd reason feels a necessity to over reach. A lot of his movies should end at a certain point but he always unnecessarily drags the ending by adding scenes that have no importance. However, the movie delivered in a way that I hadn't expected.

This movie is hideously raved about and every time, something is raved about like this, I go in with cynicism and even as I tried to resist this, I was sucked in and it has become one of my favorite movies. The great Choi Min Sik starres in this as an "ajeossi" who is randomly imprisoned for fifteen years. He is then freed with a burning curiosity. The need to find out why he was imprisoned for fifteen years. That truly is the plot and of course there's so much more and if I say anymore it becomes a spoiler as this requires you to take on a camera lense view in also trying to find out why. Why did his captor do this? It's what kept me till the end even though some moments dragged and I thought some moments were pointless until the ending. There is a huge twist that is guaranteed to blow your mind.

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Dec 15, 2013
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
After the sixth episode this was easily on my favorites list not because the plot is relatively original or mind blowing, but it is very well done and something rarely seen in K-dramas. However, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and the japanese manga and anime Monster have done a great job with this concept.

The reason this does not quite get a ten from me is that I'm a tough grader and while it does not have many flaws, it still has some. For one, thrilling moments in this plot are triggered by coincidences or fate. I feel like for such a well done and thrilling drama that seems a little ridiculous. Seven students of the top private school in Korea receive a letter that compels them to stay in school for the holidays. First of all, this school is known for its rigorous and strict rules and you're telling me seven students are going to stay in a school they consider a jail just because they received a letter... Yeah, okay. As a person who went to boarding school can I just attest that no threatening letter would have stopped me from going home.

In the midst of the mysterious letter, an injured stranger appears around the school area seeking help. A person ends up dead and hence starts the mystery. Who has sent the letter and are the deaths connected to the letter? Dun Dun Dun *mysterious music*

Nonetheless, the story is amazing though yes, a point was docked as towards the end, yet another mysterious person appears which honestly was slightly overdone. Furthermore, the fundamental question of this is never quite answered. It somewhat takes a cop out. The question being a nature and nurture type of question. Are monsters born that way or are they made? Well, that is ultimately left to your interpretation. There are moments where this drama feels tangled in it's own philosophy and doesn't quite know where to go. However, despite what seems like a negative review, the characters are absolutely great, the plot very well done and the directing is stellar. The acting is also fantastic and this drama engaged me to no end. I watched episode after episode with little pause. A strong recommendation.

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Completed
The Disguiser
6 people found this review helpful
Jan 1, 2016
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
I must go off topic and ask why the creeper photo for the poster? Anyway...

I genuinely didn't think I'd finish this but here we are, at the end. I finished yet another Chinese drama with over 40 episodes, my gosh, I think I need a drama doctor.

I don't think I've ever struggled to figure out a rating as with this drama, It could very well be an 7 and also a mere 6, so I settled for an in-between that I am only moderately content with

The drama thrusts you into what I presume is 1940s China under Japanese imperialism. This isn't your typical flowy dress historical as at this point, from the setting and clothing in the drama, there seems to be a huge western influence in China. We're talking guns, suits, music and that iffy shade of green army wear. The story focuses on the Ming family and the role they come to play in liberating China.

Let's start by making this clear in that I really gave the writers the benefit of the doubt as intricate plots are interwoven with nauseatingly cliché scenes that as I cringed and wondered what in the world was happening, I came to the conclusions the writers were to some extent really playing with this genre.

As with every action, suspense, shooter type of film, bullets will never hit the leads. The leads here in fact, rarely ever run for cover and when they do, it's rather comical because they've evaded hoards of bullets being shot at them out of sheer protagonistness (no, that's not a word). They of course can shoot bullets to nowhere and I swear those bullets will manage to hit someone. The gun usage is indeed your stereotypical action shooter gun usage.

We are also for a modest part of this, given a frustrating female character who constantly needs rescue and made the initial eight episodes of this a very painful experience but for once, I listened to the voices in drama land urging me to stick it out as she becomes quite the character. Nicely done, drama land.

Amidst this, romance is thrown in and my toes curled as an actor hurled sweet nonsense lines along the cringe worthiness level of “you are my sugar plum” and I questioned reality as these lines were so excruciatingly cheesy, I just can't imagine the writers not being aware of this. It seemed cliché scenes were thrown in here to help nurse the uber macho and high paced scene and also honestly, I just can't get over this *writer's f**king with us* feeling.

The main reason for a good rating is when this drama picks up, it genuinely picks up and becomes an enjoyable ride. Take the genre as it is and this drama is quite addictive. It has it's moments of suspense and brilliance although albeit sometimes the plot was far too convoluted. Amidst this is well fitted splashes of humor and heart warming scenes that just made even the most cynical side of me annoyingly melt. The Ming family have some of the best interactions and I was screaming, “adopt me with my mother's permission please.”

There is just quite the solid plot in here that really grounds this drama and it makes the genre really feel like the writers wanted to absolutely play with it yet also create a strong plot.

I do think the drama could have ended four episodes earlier than it did. The last four episodes milked the this plot like a saharan camel. I don't know if there was some broadcasting requirement in regards to that but it really pulled the screw out of this machine and made the drama feel quite loose.

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Completed
Karamazov no Kyodai
5 people found this review helpful
Oct 28, 2014
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
It begins with a detective and three brothers. The father has died and they are the three main suspects.
Just the introduction prepares you for a drama steeped in mystery. I've made up a term for this genre which is banana peelers. Clues unravel with each episode and leave you guessing until the end. Dark themes intermingle with the question of human existence. Despite the mystery here, the story seems to hone in on the brother Isao the most. With good reason, a Steppen wolf like character with no clear disposition. Considering this is Dostoevsky, there's bound to be a lot of philosophic themes that make this mystery breathtaking.

However, in certain dramas, there are characters that are simply show stealers and this is undeniably the father. I would normally fault this type of character for being a villain with no back story but frankly, he doesn't quite need one. There are simple and subtle moments about his character that prevent him from being that. For one, the moment where his youngest son is massaging his shoulders and he broods over whether or not anyone would cry when he dies. Nonetheless, he remains a character that you love to hate. A vile, despicable being that gets your blood boiling but really shapes this story. Ugh, but wow, the type of character where you applaud the actor simply because you really believe his performance. Boy, did I curse that dad. Never has a character been so loathsome.

Frankly, I am not very familiar with Dostoevsky's works other than reading a portion of Notes from the Underground from my existentialist philosophy book, hence I can't say how faithful this is to the novel as I haven't read The Brothers Karamazov (sat on my booklist for three years) . What this is for me is a well executed and chilling story that keeps me guessing.

On to why this is not a perfect ten, there are times when the music intrudes on the dialogue and doesn't really lend itself to the atmosphere. Furthermore, there are some moments that are not showcased but implied leaving me to at times question events and character emotions. For instance, some characters didn't really interact for long yet it seemed like there was a really deep connection there making me wonder when that formed.

Overall, a very stellar message that thoughtfully solves the philosophic question it creates. Themes are interwoven well to present a very good drama that I recommend.

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