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Completed
Crash Landing on You
351 people found this review helpful
Feb 16, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

Crash Landing on My Heart.

“If you give up on waiting, the pain of loss will kill you. That’s why I wait.” —Captain Ri.

Most people who have watched the entire series love CLOY, which is one of KDrama’s finest, especially for its fascinating strong woman lead and the equally strong, gentle man who loves and protects her. But also for some of the following points:

1. The writer, Park Ji-eun, who also gave us “You Who Came from the Stars,” is one of the best, knowing how to balance drama, comedy, themes, and closure while keeping her audience intrigued and in love with her characters. The director, Lee Jeong-hyo, who has worked on many series and movies, kept everything focused and carefully paced so that the series steadily evolved each week.

2. The cast is one of the best I’ve seen with immensely beautiful and talented leads, warm, hilarious village ajummas, and Capt. Ri’s delightful squad, dubbed “the ducklings”—all of whom became a family for one another and for the viewers.

3. Themes varying from the pain of losing family, being abandoned and becoming a street orphan, all the way to the belief in a Zen appreciation for patience and waiting; also kindness, protection, sacrifice, and unconditional love. The themes drive the plot, and the cast brings everything to life, making us impatient for each weekend to finally roll around so we can see what happens next to our beloved characters—whether love, laughter, danger, and heartbreak, we got on that train with them.

4. A great story that keeps the reader interested, a love story whose premise was there from the beginning and revealed brilliantly in the steady epilogues. But also the comedy of the sidekicks—and the horror of the bad guy consumed with envy and jealousy that destroys innocence and beauty, making this the classical struggle between good and evil embraced by every generation since time.

5. The touching, beautiful OST, which many fans have downloaded. The piano piece “Song for My Brother” leaves me in tears every time.

6. A wealthy, beautiful but hurt SK woman who learns to love herself as well as others, who can be hilarious and sassy, yet who finds strength in loving and protecting the most amazing man—Capt. Ri.

7. A beautiful man, a pianist who becomes a NK army officer, a quiet philosopher and tomato plant caretaker with a “low voice”—the kindest man I believe I’ve ever seen in any narrative—who adores the hurt woman, knows who she is, finds her, protects her, and loves her no matter what evil, what danger threatens them. Yes, he sounds too good to be true. . . . .but he’s not. The whole world is in love with Capt. Ri because Hyun Bin developed him and made us believe that such a man can exist.

8. Talented Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin, who wanted to work together again after “The Negotiation” and gave us “the gift” of “Crash Landing on You.” Thank you from our hearts. And congratulations on the many awards the CLOY team have won and for the love you found in one another. You blessed those of us who love you and this series.

—A J McAninch

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Completed
My Dearest Part 2
14 people found this review helpful
Nov 19, 2023
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

That Rare Gem in Drama

The series is superb and heading for greatness in the KDrama lists of its classics. First, there are wonderful aspects of "My Dearest"--great acting from the entire cast, superb writing, excellent, careful direction, deeply moving sound track, and more. Yet along with the carefully evolving FL, who is superb, it is the master class in acting that Namkoong Min is developing for us that makes me gasp. I am so deeply touched by what he has given both to AEJ as her Co-Star to work with and to us for our enjoyment. It is an unforgettable work of dramatic art in both his delicacy and strength. Plus those deeply expressive eyes and his quiet, beautiful voice. He has worked so hard for years and become one of the finest actors of his era.

This series began by teasing us with flirtations and long looks: a beautiful man with a fan loving a charming woman more than himself. It then advanced to the man dropping the fan that was only a distraction anyway to the real man, the experienced warrior behind those eyes who risks his life repeatedly, and the "girl on a swing" revealing herself as a brave warrior who assumes the leadership role to protect other women and children.

The series has steadily moved us through numerous scenes of increasing danger and heartbreak, that were leading us to where we are now. It is a love story, yes, but it is also about invasion, war, escape, resistance, horror, and the violent treatment of the poor, elderly, women and children in a horrific reverse of their community into a war zone with them as the sacrifice.

It is terrifying, heartbreaking. And no love story can change that. But it can give us hope. The woman in the love story is brave and resolute in protecting others. GC has become the woman LJH saw and fell in love with the first day as he watched her floating high on the swing. And he is not just the man who loves and protects her but is also revealed as the resistance fighter who saw her and knew who she was. As he tells Ryang, "you do not know what she means to me." But we do. They are both wonderful as is this constantly evolving story.

Update

"My Dearest" Eps 18 & 19
I was able to sit down with my morning coffee and enjoy both episodes this weekend.

And it was very interesting to see how the entire series was moving this way all along—just as the writer and direction teams intended. For this is not just the romance most of us here share an abiding hope will be fulfilled, but also a historical study of the Qing invasion and its effects on Joseon, its people at all levels, and its future. These are all seen in the madness of the king taken out on his own people and family, the grief of the people-symbolized in the death of the baby, that the mother must bury with her own hands—and the shared anguish of the citizens just trying to return home but slaughtered by the misuse of power.

Additionally, there is more than one love story, and they are on multiple levels. But of course the central love story is that of JH and GC, who at the beginning seem to be a man with a waving fan but who is so much more, and a woman with a rising swing who finds out who she really is through his love for her. If the writer closes next weekend the way she seems to be moving, the outcome will be complex, as is the historical reality. And it should also become one of Drama's greatest achievements. But even if it falls short, the writer, production team, cast, and composers have given us a series that many of us love. That is an achievement in itself. So onward to next weekend and closure with hope and maybe a few tears.

Final Episodes 20-21 Closure

There are tragedies, of course: this is a violent invasion; we will lose characters we care about and be disappointed in some others. But there are also blessings: GC’s growth into the strong, protective, loving woman she becomes is one of the finest in film. And JH always knew who she was. Ahn Eun Jin's transition in her performance is magnificent. And even the princess who wants JH so much does the right thing in the end: because she in fact does love him in her way. The cast on all levels is one of the most talented in KDrama—and they made us care. The production team taught us about the Qing invasion of Korea along with the monstrous political behavior of Koreans in power, and kept those effects, especially on the people, firmly in front of us.

Min Nam Koong as Jang Hyun created one of the most heroic characters in film, and he does it with his deceptive fan, steady calm, interrupted when needed by explosive defenses of his people and the woman he loves. But he is also funny, ironic, and adorable, created through his warm, beautiful voice, and the delicate expressions from his eyes and mouth. The man is simply beautiful and so gifted we fall in love with his characters. All of the cast and production team are outstanding—but it is Min Nam Koong who commands every scene he fills—and we cannot look away.

So though I didn't like JH getting beaten up all the time and being forced to use the amnesia trope not once but twice—I love "My Dearest" and its cast and production team and especially the character Jang Hyun that Min NamKoong created and so many of us fell in love with. He is one of the finest actors in the world today, and new fans are discovering him every day.

What a wonderful experience is this fine drama.
—AJ McAninch

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Ongoing 16/16
What's Wrong with Secretary Kim
11 people found this review helpful
Jul 23, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Ongoing 0
Overall 6.5
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 6.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 6.0

Erratic writing is costly.

I love both the leads, the supporting cast not so much. But I think it’s the writing that bogs this drama down; it drags with side plots that I found boring and some ridiculous overacting that is so awful I skipped their scenes. The plot drags aimlessly at ep. 14, and almost at the end, I’ve lost interest and will only check in to see how they wrap it up, but without much investment. And I get so tired of the relentless fake chaste scenes in romcoms: these characters are healthy young people in their 30s. Of course they have sex, and without grown women behaving like little girls until they do. The brother subplot is so badly handled, it dissolves in unbelievable sloppiness. Yeah, this is not the best effort in KDrama, and PSJ is wasted because even his character is just not very interesting, despite the background we discover. I’m disappointed because it should have been so much better.

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Completed
Steel Rain
6 people found this review helpful
Feb 18, 2021
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

Excellent Thriller

“Steel Rain” is one of South Korea's finest action films, also starring two brilliant actors. The Cast, Writer, and Director are all excellent. Though some of the plot may be a little confusing or overly complex, and some photo-shopping not very realistic, along with the pace in the last 25 minutes being almost breathless, the rest of the film is excellent and quite thrilling. But in addition to the action is the friendship between the leads, which is mature and becomes deeply moving. Both actors are terrific, especially Jung Woo-sung, who can play any role, and has been one of the great actors in the world for over 20 years. He does it again here—completely believable as the North Korean officer trying to stop a tragedy, and the gentle husband, father, and friend who says more with his eyes than most actors can. But his co-star, Kwak Do-won is also very skilled, and holds his own beautifully with a sensitive portrayal of a South Korean who believes in his new friend and keeps a promise. Strongly Recommended.

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Completed
My Dearest
7 people found this review helpful
Sep 2, 2023
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

The Lady in the Swing and the Man in Love

I rarely give a 10; the last one was "Crash Landing on You," almost 3 years ago. This series is over half completed with the 2nd half now well underway. It began by teasing us with flirtations and long looks: a beautiful man with a fan loving a charming woman more than himself. It then advanced to the man dropping the fan that was only a distraction anyway to the real man, the experienced warrior behind those eyes who risks his life repeatedly, and the “girl on a swing” revealing herself as a brave warrior who assumes the leadership role to protect other women and children.

The series has steadily moved us through numerous scenes of increasing danger and heartbreak, that were leading us to where we are now. It is a love story, yes, but it is also about invasion, war, escape, resistance, horror, and the violent treatment of the poor, elderly, women and children in a horrific reverse of their community into a war zone with them as the sacrifice.

It is terrifying, heartbreaking. And no love story can change that. But it can give us hope. The woman in the love story is brave and resolute in protecting others. GC has become the woman LJH saw and fell in love with the first day as he watched her floating high on the swing. And he is not just the man who loves and protects her but is also revealed as the resistance fighter who saw her from the beginning and knew who she was. As he tells Ryang, “you do not know what she means to me.” But we do, and they would both do anything to save the other in this constantly evolving love story moving steadily into the finest of Korean Dramas.

"My Dearest" Eps 18 & 19
I was able to sit down with my morning coffee and enjoy both episodes this weekend.
And it was very interesting to see how the entire series was moving this way all along-just as the writer and direction teams intended. For this is not just the romance most of us here share an abiding hope will be fulfilled, but also a historical study of the Qing invasion and its effects on Joseon, its people at all levels, and its future. These are all seen in the madness of the king taken out on his own people and family, the grief of the people-symbolized in the death of the baby, that the mother must bury with her own hands-and the shared anguish of the citizens just trying to return home but slaughtered by the misuse of power.
Additionally, there is more than one love story, and they are on multiple levels. But of course the central love story is that of JH and C: who at the beginning seem to be a man with a waving fan but who is so much more, and a woman with a rising swing who finds out who she really is through his love for her. If the writer closes next weekend the way she seems to be moving, the outcome may be as complex, as is the historical reality. And it may also be one of Drama's greatest achievements. But even if it falls short, the writer, production team, cast, and composers have given us a series that many of us love. That is an achievement in itself. So onward to next weekend with hope and maybe a few tears. Either way, it's been a grand ride.

—AJ McAninch.

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Completed
King the Land
11 people found this review helpful
Jul 14, 2023
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0

Uneven Script and Direction

This series is being review bombed on Google and IMDB. I was one of the viewers who thought the early episodes were slow, but I hung in and glad I did. Regarding the controversy: I love the leads and will watch them every time. They and the rest of the cast worked hard, and they did have some good moments during the series. There were sweet love scenes and a wonderful scene between mother and son that brought tears. Junho nailed that emotional moment as he is an actor who knows how to be still and let his eyes speak for him. He can rise to the moment even with a weak script. But this drama was uneven from the beginning, even without the episode that offended many viewers and with a clumsy, dull ending. Those issues lie right at the feet of the writer and director. What a shame because the cast and audience deserved so much better.

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Completed
Our Blooming Youth
4 people found this review helpful
Jul 13, 2023
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.5

Superb cast; sketchy plot sequences

The cast is superb: I love the characters and story lines. And I adore both leads: he is subtle and calm with a wry sense of humor; much of his acting is through his eyes alone. She is adorable and spunky, more than a match for his highness. Their scenes together are funny and touching; the growing affection and mutual protectiveness come through poignantly. Support cast is excellent, and I cared about their characters, especially the 2nd male lead who nearly steals the drama he’s so good. My only complaint is the writing could have been tighter, and the plot strengthened. 16 eps might be better than 20 because the longer series too often flounder in repetitive plot re-enactments and filler scenes. Still, I recommend the series: though for me the series just misses being great, it’s very good, and I’m glad I watched it.

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Completed
Tell Me What You Saw
4 people found this review helpful
Mar 30, 2020
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
Jang Hyuk is a brilliant actor and one of my favorites. The rest of the cast was also good, writing was until last episodes, and the series worked well for me until the last few episodes when there was so much violence it felt way over the top. Then there were repeated scenes like they were running out of steam. And, seriously, a cop who holds a gun on a really bad guy repeatedly yet never pulls the trigger. At any rate, mostly a good series with the too-frequent series issues of not being able to remain great until the end.
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Completed
Navillera
5 people found this review helpful
May 1, 2021
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

Butterflies and Ballet

Much like the image of the butterfly and the soul in poetry and art, this series is superb, sweet, and compassionate with the grace and elegance of ballet as the frame for the deeply touching real story. The cast, direction, cinematography, and writing are outstanding: not a misstep anywhere as all involved work to tell the story of discovery, friendship, love, support, forgiveness, and healing. Filmed with such love and gentleness, this is one of Korea's finest series in its relatively short but brilliant history. I cried a lot, especially in the second half, but the tears were because I was so moved by the script, actors, and story they told so well. Strongly recommended.

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Completed
Good Manager
3 people found this review helpful
Nov 3, 2023
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 5.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 3.5

The Cast is Better than the Storyline

I think the scores are so high because of the MLs’ enormous popularity as well as a really fine cast. On this level, I did enjoy myself watching the actors have a great time with their parts. The problem for me is the writing is uneven, with too much repetition, some frankly boring scenes esp at the beginning that stretched, and way too many episodes. This series would have been stronger if much shorter and better focused. I had an okay time watching it, but—though I love both the leads—I would never watch it again, and that’s my personal test case for a great film or series.

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Completed
SORI: Voice From the Heart
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 20, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.5
Korean film loves robots and AIs, seeming to find them often more empathetic than too many humans, as is clear again in this film. The story is based on an actual historical event that is both horrifying and heartbreaking. This film tries to capture the grief of a parent who lost his daughter in this tragedy but does not accept that loss. The passage rite journey with the AI toward acceptance and peace is unexpected, sometimes jarring, yet tender and quite beautiful. The film works in the focus on the father’s love for his daughter and also his eventual compassion for and protection of the AI, thus finding himself again as well as the peace that had eluded him for ten years. Seen as a fantasy with a heart, though the tragedy itself is unbearable, the film is finally quite touching.

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Completed
Alchemy of Souls
3 people found this review helpful
Oct 31, 2022
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.5

Superb But Could Have Been Tighter

This series has moments of magical charm along with lead actors to love who know how to create characters the audience will enjoy and care deeply about, and also has a fine director. I like the series very much, and it's on my favorites list. The Hong Sisters are among the best writers, it's a great story line, and the cast is outstanding—often heartbreaking and often hilarious. I will definitely be front and center for the sequel. But I do think it is overly long: 20 eps that are really more like 24 since they are extended. I found that tiring and thought many of the secondary plots and scenes could have been cut. But it's a great series and worth the time spent. That ending is amazing, and I didn't see it coming.

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Completed
My Name
3 people found this review helpful
Oct 17, 2021
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 5.5
This review may contain spoilers

Heavy-Handed Cynicism

Wonderful cast, direction, and writing—even though I'm not a fan of gang fight scenes and hate the ending. The cast are all so good they kept my attention throughout, and I cared about all the leads, esp. HSH’s Ji Woo—a ferociously tragic heroine so tough and strong she commands respect; I hope the actress rakes in the awards. Both male leads are compelling in their roles as well, and I admired them, too.

However. There are plot holes such as no depiction of her police training and how she became a Detective. But most of all, the ending is cynical and cruel. Absolutely pointless within that plot and for that character, and I was left angry and broken-hearted. The relentless horror this protagonist endured doesn’t ever let up even at the end—-for no reason but freaking ironic tragedy, which for me made an excellent series soulless at the end. It deserved better: they all did.

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Completed
The Battleship Island
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 19, 2018
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
The three lead actors are among South Korea's most talented and loved, and the story of what Japan did to Korea is true (enslavement, rape, and mass murder, just as they inflicted on Nanking, China), a story that many Americans don't know about our ally. Though there are some plot gaps and sequencing gaffes creating a cut and paste effect in a few scenes, the film is well worth watching because of its themes, both historic and dramatic, and because of the twists, intrigues, betrayals, and heroism of this Korean story set in the face of the horrors of war and occupation. The film opens and closes in black and white, except at the end a spectral bit of horrifying color followed by the anguished face of the child. It follows a thrilling yet heartbreaking action sequence and closes with an elegiac triumph soaked in grief. This is, after all, a war story. There is a reason why Asians, especially the Koreans, have captured the world's attention while Hollywood continues to slide. They have tremendous talent, imagination, brilliance, and expertise along with a thousand-year history of culture, ideas, and experience. And because they are that good.

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Completed
The Sword with No Name
2 people found this review helpful
Jul 16, 2023
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.5

The Lady and The Swordsman

I first saw this film over a decade ago and loved it. I re-watch every few years or so. Yes it has flaws, but the relationship between the leads is warm and touching. I watched it for them and still love it to this day because they also are among the most talented Korean stars and made me love their characters. The film introduced me to Korean movies 13 years ago, and I've loved them since.

For me the beauty of the film, based on history but with a romantic overlay, is its story of the young queen's devotion to duty, as well as the swordsman's devotion to honor—and protecting her. He will not leave her side, and she is equally brave and stalwart. It is the story of a woman's love of country and a swordsman's love of her. And it's achingly exquisite.

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