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A Man's Story
24 people found this review helpful
Feb 14, 2014
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
Without a doubt one of the best Kdramas I have ever watched (I'm at over 300 now). The story was edge of the seat, heart pounding and addictive. Kim Kang Woo gave the performance of a lifetime in this. By anyone's standards he was stunningly good (or evil). Some Kdramas you get so sick of the over dramatization of the bad guy you want to fast forward through their scenes, but he was riveting. It was a painful agony to watch him. And, while he was the star of the show for me, the sight of Park Young Ha, every moment he was on the screen, was an utter heartbreak for me. Knowing that this dear sweet man would commit suicide barely 6 months later had me in tears throughout most of the show. Such a brilliant and well loved person, how could he not know how much he was loved and how much he is still missed to this day. His memory, his dramas, but most of all his beautiful voice and songs will forever be a testament to the tremendous talent of this young man who was lost too soon.

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Elegant Lies
10 people found this review helpful
Feb 23, 2015
Completed 4
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers
Almost all of the following is in the synopsis of this movie. I just added a lot more detail.

If you have not seen this movie or have been hesitating over seeing it because of the subject matter and the fear of being overwhelmed by it, I encourage you to watch. I was, surprisingly and shockingly to me, not emotionally as devastated by this movie as I feared I would be. Bullying is a tormenting subject for me and I normally cannot abide movies about it, especially knowing that, in this case, the result is the suicide of this young girl.

This movie is so different from 99% of the bullying movies. All the others seem to deal with the physical aspect of bullying and the devastating psychological damage caused by it. And most of the movies deal more with boys. This movie presents bullying done in a more insidious, psychological way, as I think girls are more likely to engage in. It's sneaky, done with smiles and rumors and pretend friendliness with intimidation and,in this movie, the victim is fully aware of what is being done, but unable to escape as these are her only 'friends'. She is dragged into it repeatedly as it comes in waves between bouts of being ignored, getting benign attention, and then, when the mood strikes them, they attack her again. There seems to be one ring leader, as always. But no one is exempt as the followers themselves attack her in their own snide ways.

The Thread of LIes analogy is beautifully done as her older sister and mother, in their need to know 'WHY?', follow the thread of lies and omissions and half-truths her school mates tell them. At the same time, these children also lie to themselves and each other in their own fear and full knowledge of their own guilt and responsibility for what happened. The movie gradually exposes the cracks and fears in the perpetrators own lives that drove them to torment her and the guilty repercussions that begin to eat away at them. The thread analogy is also beautifully and heartbreakingly used as the older sister and the mother finally discover the notes Cheon-gi left for them in the balls of yarn she was constantly using in her knitting. She tells her sister there are 5 notes and it is this that sets her sister on her mission to expose the lies but, as she discovers 2 more notes, it is also revealed to her how mentally disturbed the main culprit is, and how devastated the second culprit is due to a simple misunderstanding and subsequent attack and betrayal of Cheon-gi. Even the mother and the daughter's notes reflect this sweet child's realization that they will be not only grieving but battling their own fear of what they missed or where they did not see what should have been seen.

The final ball of yarn and note is a bit of a cypher to me. (see below in spoilers-I would appreciate others' views on the meaning behind this final note and it's location)

A beautiful movie, superbly acted and directed and written. A must watch. I wish it could be shown in many many schools.

I wouldn't rewatch, just because I got all I want to out of it the first time around.

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A Reason To Live
10 people found this review helpful
Feb 14, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
The most brilliant line in there...today is the day the ones who died yesterday so desperately want. How true! For such a simple quiet movie I am left with so many conflicting thoughts on the rightness or wrongness of the death penalty, the futileness of rehabilitation or forgiveness for the sociopaths out there who will never have any concept of, remorse for, or understanding of, the damage they have caused, the blind ideology of forgiving those who have sinned against someone in the most brutal of ways, the cruelty to children that in many cases is the root cause for the mayhem and self-destruction these people create, the lifetime of quiet desperation, grief, unbearable anger, and the eternal lack of resolution that is left to the loved ones of the victims. A very thought provoking movie.
This movie, in some ways, was even more conflicting than Maundy Tuesday because it was hard to have any sense of understanding or empathy for the young man since he was such a sociopath. The inability to have any feelings of right or wrong or anything past their own idea of what they want is so un-understandable! Prison nor rehabilitation will not help because there is some (I believe) mental/physical defect in them that prevents normal feelings of empathy, love, compassion...the basic feelings a human should have. It is most certainly a disability as true as manic depression or schizophrenia, but nearly impossible to treat. How can you teach someone to have something they are genetically predisposed not to possess? This movie will raise emotions in you, I guarantee it. It is beautifully written and acted. I highly recommend it.

I would not watch it again myself because it is too painful. Don't remember the music at all.

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High School King of Savvy
11 people found this review helpful
Aug 12, 2014
17 of 17 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers
FOR ME! This is probably the best written, best acted, best thought out romantic comedy I have ever seen anywhere, anytime. I cannot think of enough words to describe the intensity of FEELING this show left me with. The building of every single relationship in this show was not just thoughtfully developed, but of such a high degree of intimacy that there was not one extraneous person in the entire show. I wanted to watch and know more about each and every person and the degree that I will miss this show is so high just because of that. I want very very badly to see more of these people, to share more of their stories and am so sad that we will never be given that opportunity.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, but the visual verification of the remarkable relationships between all these people made this show an absolute gem, a must watch, and one that will forever be worth watching again and again. Out of any show I have ever watched, this one proves what romantic comedy can do to warm the heart and heal the soul. Despite the sadnesses that life can bring, these people and this show prove that the unselfish love of one person for another, be it lover, family, or friend, can give you the strength to go against the odds and fight for what is important in life. Because it is the loving support in those relationships that will get you through loss, adversity, prejudice, and all the other hardships life throws at you. This show was so much more than entertainment. It was a lifting of the spirit, an absolute joy, and a testament to the writers and actors who so brilliantly brought this story and these characters to such real life.

As to those who were mostly looking at the negatives. Yes the lead female is a typical Kdrama cliche as far as her behaviors and I know that her younger sister really irritated a lot of people in the first several episodes. If you are going to watch and love Kdrama, there are things that sometimes you just have to understand and accept about Kdrama and the mindset of the main audience for them. As cliche characters go though, these, imo, were utilized in as subtle a way comedically as the writers could make them. There were reasons for the behaviors that, if you pay attention, were used not just for comedic relief, but to present a different outlook on a situation....to make the audience open their minds and think about what was happening in a different way.

But where this show really impressed was in its depiction of the love of family and the close bonds built between an adoptive father and grandfather and the sons they loved so well. And the love of two sisters that was so strong one could give up on infatuation in the recognition of true love despite how painful and yet still retain the bonds of sisterly love. And the love of 3 young men who, despite youthful exuberance and goofiness, understand perfectly the intensity of need, love, pain, and loss of their friend and stood over him and grieved with him in his loss and rejoiced with him in his happiness. The lack of petty, made up misunderstanding, miscommunication, over the top scenarios so prevalent in most kdramas today was mind boggling. In kdrama as a whole, the lack of those things in this show in themselves are such a departure from standard kdrama tropes as to be remarkable on their own.

SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH...PLEASE SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH UNTIL AFTER YOU WATCH THE SHOW...PLEASE!
And the tender love, acceptance, support, endurance and found joy was depicted so wonderfully by a family dealing with the heartbreak of dementia (SPOILER DO NOT READ THE NEXT 2 LINES UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE WATCHED THE SHOW:............................................... and with the death of a greatly loved grandfather. The loss of this person was so beautifully written and acted that the grief in and emptiness of that home could actually be felt)....................................................................................

I realize there may be many who will not nor cannot feel this way about this show. Age and life and just the mood you happen to be in at this point in time really affects a person's reactions to a lot of the dramas I watch. So perhaps my exuberance over this show is out of proportion and there will be few who agree with me. But, for me, at this moment in my time, and with this show, I am so perfectly happy that it really doesn't matter. And it is all any of us can ask of any of the shows we watch. If it lifts your spirit as it did mine, I am so happy to have a kindred soul out there to share my happiness. If you are disappointed, I am so sorry I led you towards something you felt you wasted your time on and hope we will be in better communion on another show on another day! Peace! :)

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Goodbye, Solo
6 people found this review helpful
Jan 2, 2016
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This is a very different kind of Kdrama. It's written by Noh Hee Kyung who also wrote It's Okay It's Love as well as Padam Padam, That Winter the Wind Blows, Worlds Within, and others. It was directed by Ki Min Soo (Good Doctor, Ojakyo Brothers) and Hwang In Hyuk (Assembly, Sungkyunkwan Scandal).

Solo is very much a character driven drama. The story itself takes second seat to the characters we get to know as the drama progresses. Bit by bit, episode by episode, layer by layer, each person's lives and secret selves are exposed. No one is who you think they are, or they become more than you think they are in the beginning. These people are friends, relatives, neighbors, all the everyday people that surround the central cast of characters. However, who is central changes constantly and that is part of the joy of this drama.

There are favorites in the cast that you will grow attached to. But there isn't a wasted one and who you like best will change too. Everyone has a purpose for being there and the story wouldn't be what it is without them. My favorite is absolutely Bae Chong-Ok. I've seen her in so many things, (most recently the mom in Bubblegum, the mom in Spy, the mom in Wonderful Mama, etc) but here she is remarkable. Kim Min Hee as Mi Ri and Lee Jae-Ryong as her gangster boyfriend Ho-Chul almost steal the show. Na Moon Hee barely speaks a word but conveys her unconditional love with ease using just her face and body movements. There is also Lee Han (who later changed his name to Kim Nam Gil) For the first half of the show you would think he's just there to be the third point on the triangle, but much of the story is actually centered around him.

I loved this drama. A Lot! By the time the 9th or 10th episode came around I was clicking on the next episode as fast as I could get to it. If I'd had to stay up all night to finish I would have! The drama is not well known nor did it get good ratings. But it is as cliche free as a drama can be and that probably accounts for a lot of that. This is not a drama for everyone. It proceeds much like an indie film, but with enough passion and angst that it should satisfy that appetite too. For me, the weakest part of this drama was the romance. I could not get invested in it. It was an interference in the lives of these people, a painful experience that created angst and separation for people I had grown to care about and whom I did not want to have hurt any more than they were already. The resolution was forgone, but not satisfying...FOR ME. You may totally disagree!

I give it an 8.5 for brilliant writing, terrific acting, wonderful chemistry and, most of all, innovative and unique presentation. What a cast! I hope you love it too. ( I would have given it a 9...but that romance thing.....)

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Juvenile Offender
6 people found this review helpful
Apr 4, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 3.0
The movie starts off slowly and progresses in much the same manner. Patience will be rewarded. The heartbreaking realization that life is repeating itself from mother (who is no more than a child herself) to son (who is forced to be more of an adult than he should be too soon) in an unbreakable cycle, is all too evident and all too depressing, particularly to those of us who see it in our daily lives in our own family, friends,or workplace. It's a theme pretty universal without much differentiation from country to country. It can make watching a movie like this even more difficult, but the performances, especially by Seo Young Joo, are their own reward.

There are many reviews online that are better than anything I could write. There are scenes which touched me...One: at night in the reformatory a boy asks to be told a funny story and another boy relates a short anecdote about fish cakes which sends them into fits of giggles. Young men who, in all likelihood, never had a parent or grandparent to read them bedtime stories. My heart clenched as I remember the joy of sharing those moments with my own son and the wonderful memories both he and I carry of those times. At all times while watching this movie I could not stop thinking how different could some of their lives have been if they had just one person who loved them unconditionally and completely. It's true there are those who are true sociopaths without empathy or any ability to understand right and wrong. But this movie shows the sad reality of societal and family breakdowns and the repercussions on the children as a result. It's a theme the director and writer portray beautifully.

There is also the scene by the river where the mom promises her son she will not abandon him again, and the heart wrenching look on his face as he listens. What is he thinking? That nothing she says can be believed because she is a chronic liar and user whose own life is completely out of control? The sad understanding that, no matter how much he is wishing for it, she will never, despite her fantasies, be a real mother to him and he will spend his entire life being either another caregiver to her or being betrayed? It's a look full of pain and disillusionment and hopelessness.

The ending pretty much matched the tone of the entire movie and is very fitting with the message the director and writer are trying to tell. No easy answers. Nothing tied up in a pretty pink bow. Is there any hope on the horizon for either of them or that poor little girlfriend of his? What happened to them? I think there are thousands and thousands of children out there you can ask that question about and it absolutely breaks my heart that, while there are lots of answers, there is never any real solution.

I paid no attention to the music. I would not rewatch it purely because my heart can only take so much angst. I HIGHLY recommend it. As a person who gets way too emotionally involved in her movies and dramas, you can tell I'm not very objective. If you can watch this from the perspective that it is a beautiful piece of work that succeeds mightily in telling its story, you will be glad you shared in the experience.

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The Tiger
5 people found this review helpful
Nov 15, 2016
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.5
This review may contain spoilers
For me, it's important to understand going in to this movie that what you are watching is a fairy tale. Not a fairy tale like today's, where they all end up with "And They Lived Happily Ever After", but like the fairy tales of my youth which were, in actuality, quite violent and bloody and full of allegory and mysticism. So you need to suspend reality going into this movie. You might parallel it with movies like Crouching Tiger, etc since the atmosphere, the cinematography, the actions scenes are all combined to transport us into a world that is more mystical than realistic...though the actions scenes are quite realistic and far too intense for a younger audience.

It's a beautiful movie to look at. Not just the cinematography (the camera work is stunningly beautiful), but the period setting, the costumes, the characters, and, most of all, the locations (particularly Mt Jirisan) are just breathtakingly beautiful. The film truly transports you to another time and another place.

The story is allegorical in more than just a man against beast, beast against man way. The time period of the film is set during the Japanese occupation and during this time period the Japanese army was charged with searching out and destroying pockets of resistance groups hiding out on Mt. Jirisan. Also, the tiger is a symbolic animal for the Korean people reflecting their courage and resilience against their many years of adversity. A tiger that has overcome trials and tribulations and understands the world is known to turn white, becoming a white tiger. A symbol that becomes apparent at the end of the movie. So the Japanese soldiers who are hunting the tiger in this movie and the tiger's fight against them have this underlying symbolism to them.

I've read several reviews and commentaries on this movie. A lot of people felt like it was too long or got boring. I totally do not relate to that. But, I am a huge fan of these types of movies and love the mystical quality of them. The movie flew by for me. It may not be so for you. But I hope it will be!

Small SPOILER: The subs on Netflix are good, but not perfect. I don't know Korean, but I can tell if sentences are left out or when some phrases are changed or not translated. Of particular note, what Man Deok says has he leaves his burning house ca ji ca jah (spelling???) which is "Let's go together", I believe, not I'm going.

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26 Years
6 people found this review helpful
Sep 4, 2014
Completed 1
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 10
Great movie. For a fictional event, this had all the heart pounding agony of seemingly real events. Extremely well written and directed. Terrific acting by all involved. Bae Soo Bin has always delivered as has Jin Goo. Both are actors I really admire. Im Seul Ong's first performance was truly a foreshadowing of his potential. Given who the cast was originally selected to be, I can't but be happy for the delay in filming. These actors were perfect in their roles. There isn't an unnecessary character in this movie. I was spellbound to the very end. I HIGHLY recommend this movie for the historical value, but if you are an action film buff you will love it. It's an edge of your seat ride all through it. The brilliant and remarkable use of animation at the beginning of this film to depict the brutal and horrific events of the massacre were actually, to me, more graphic and effective at realizing just how monstrous this event was. Even sadder is the fact that this happened in 1980, only 34 years ago. So this event is a living and painful memory for every adult citizen of Korea.

Also remarkable, but unsurprising, is the opposition this film received that almost kept it from being filmed. From wiki: In 2008, the film was originally set to be directed by Lee Hae-young based on his own adapted screenplay titled 29 Years, with Ryoo Seung-bum, Kim Ah-joong, Jin Goo, Chun Ho-jin, and Byun Hee-bong cast in the lead roles. But the production came to a halt once investors pulled out from funding the film ten days before filming began because of its controversial politically sensitive content, and rumors were rife that the pressure had originated from the conservative government.

After nearly four years of languishing in pre-production limbo due to financial difficulties, online donations poured in from 15,000 individuals amounting to ?700 million (US$646,000), with singer Lee Seung-hwan contributing another ?1 billion won (US$923,000), toward the film's ?4.6 billion (US$4,246,000) production cost. Another investor was television personality Kim Je-dong. The crowdfunding enabled the production to finally begin filming Lee's script with a new cast and director on July 19, 2012. Filming wrapped on October 10, 2012. The film's ending credits roll for more than 10 minutes, as they include all 15,000 donors' names.

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Scent
4 people found this review helpful
Dec 5, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 9.5
I'm going to echo my friend Jay Jay's review. On the spot. Movie is bad... badly written and badly acted by about everyone. Very juvenile script and dialogue. There isn't a one of us who has watched Romance dramas who couldn't have written this just as well if not a whole lot better.

However, it is beautiful to look at cinematically. The visuals were stunning and whomever the cinematographer was, they did a terrific job. Loved the scenes of Shanghai and the neighborhood this was filmed in was so picturesque I wanted to move there! It appears to be dubbed, to it's detriment...also adding in sounds like footsteps, breathing, gasps, grunts, etc.that are too loud and very distracting. The entire soundtrack for the movie was just uncomfortable to listen to.

PSH is gorgeous and so healthy looking in this, thankfully, and speaks a lot of English and quite well! Surprising. His time spent here in the US was well used I think. He was the best in this by far as far as the acting, but with a script as simple as this there was very little 'acting' needed by anyone. Which was good since the rest of the cast were pretty awful. They all appear to be very new or very inexperienced. The best of them being the young man who served as an interpreter. Still I was just so happy to see Park Si Hoo looking so good and doing so well. It was worth watching for the relief from worry. 6/10 for the terrible script, acting, and directing. 8/10 for the joy of seeing PSH get his feet wet and putting forth the effort it must have cost him to move on with his acting life. He did a good job with some pretty bad material. I understand the movie did very well in China where he is immensely popular.

I hope his next project, with a leading lady who has more strength, will be better for him, but I really wish he would find another project similar to Confessions. It would be good to see him take on darker parts, more action oriented to fit in with his martial arts and sporting background.

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Mr. Socrates
3 people found this review helpful
Jun 28, 2015
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
Really terrific movie. Filled with dark humor and even darker life lessons, it melds the unquestionable illegality of the criminal with the questionable legality of the cop. Beautifully acted by Kim Rae-won who has the ability to 'become' the character in whatever role he assumes with an ease and smoothness unmatched by most actors out there, imo. He is why I watched the movie, but the plot was more than just entertaining and is what kept me watching. It moves quite rapidly and I found the story of Dong-hyuk to be engrossing not because of the violence and action that usually draws me to these types of movies, but because, as is so typical with especially Korean film, the story had its deeper lessons to teach. In the small parameter of what could be expected from a deeply flawed character such as Dong-hyuk we get to see growth and development from a deeply flawed and lost hoodlum, to a still flawed but purposeful cop. No perfect fairytale ending, but it is its own 'success' story despite that.

Don't remember the music (I watched this a year ago).
I definitely want to watch it again one day, given TIME! This is the kind of movie that tells you more about the characters and the story as you pay more attention. And, I love KRW.

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Beastie Boys
3 people found this review helpful
Apr 27, 2015
Completed 1
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
Not an easy view, but it's considered by many to be a classic. It had a semi-documentary feel to it and the story is definitely engrossing, showing much of the desperation and hopelessness of the lives being led by these men (and women). Not AS depressing as the actual Japanese documentary The Great Happiness Space (since the fact that what you are watching in that nightmarishly depressing production is actually real), this movie still mostly succeeded in giving a snapshot of a part of Korean culture that is rarely mentioned. It did feel a bit disjointed in places and after some reading, I found that they had to cut some 30 minutes of the film (at 2 hours,already a lengthy movie-but I'm sorry for the loss). I think some of the story suffered as a result. Still, at the end, you know most of the how and the why these people got there, but (and there would never be any chance of this anyway) there were no answers and no reasoning and no hope left at the end. Just a never ending cycle of dependence on a life of utter desperation and complete lack of any morality and the sad reality of lives wholly lost and with no hope of escape from the death spiral they exist in.

Why would you watch it? It's a good story about a segment of Korean life that is an open secret. Prostitution in Korea is illegal, but, anyone who has spent any time there knows it's out in the open, it's everywhere, and easily available with little to no chance of any legal repercussions. The parts of this movie that deal with that segment of these men's lives is not made up. But the movie doesn't dwell so much on their 'work'. It deals mostly with their ever disintegrating private lives. Still, it's all part and parcel of what kind of moral degeneration their lives turn into as they sink further into that pit. Both sides are feeding on each other as they become further and further desensitized to any sort of moral center.

Didn't notice the music, which is a good thing, since the story is what you are there for. I'd never re-watch it...but I would never re-watch anything that was sad, including dramas! Once is always enough.

7.5 or 8...the acting would tip it towards the higher mark. The story could have used a bit 'more'.

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Punch
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 19, 2015
19 of 19 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I want to use all the adjectives in the dictionary for this drama, but I don't think I could find enough words to really say how I feel right now. My hands and my heart have been shaking with the emotions of these last 2 hours. I don't know when that will stop. What a glorious, remarkable ride this drama has been. And, if nothing else gets taken away from this, I pray that more of the viewing world becomes aware of how brilliant and beautiful and talented our Kim Rae Won is. The effort he gave to prepare for this role and the superb performance he gave were beyond even my expectations. And since I regard him as one of the finest actors in the world, I guess that expresses enough! Really, every single part was played perfectly, cast perfectly. Cho Jae-Hyun as usual his exceptional self. But every one of the other roles were so well done that no character in this was ever lost in the crowd. Every one of them elicited strong feelings. Just a remarkable job of casting, writing, acting, and directing.

Thank you too to Park Kyung Soo...what a brilliant writer. You outdid yourself on this one. If there is justice in this world, you and this drama should win many awards and you and this entire cast and crew should be extremely proud and reap many rewards in your long careers in dramaland. Thank you! Kamsahamnida!

There were certainly times in this drama where I felt I had not only reached a breaking point, but gone long past it. The constant push pull/success failure were exhausting, wearing, frustrating, angering. The battle seemed to go on forever and ever, until I just prayed for the ending...even knowing what I would be facing at the end. The brilliance of this show is it took every single idea that I have ever seen in a legal Kdrama, used it, and twisted and turned it and changed it so that at the end of every single episode, without exception, you were left a wringing, shaking, exhausted mess and begging for it to be over. But on it went. It took everything I had to click on those last 2 episodes. I knew already what I would be facing, what was going to happen. I could see how he would get the chip to him, how he would ultimately save his wife. Yet, just like I could almost see every single failure and success coming in each and every episode, never for a second did my stress or anxiety abate...not for a moment throughout this entire show! Such was the greatness of the acting and writing in this.

It was also beautifully filmed. The cinematographer for this is also to be highly commended. The visual images of so many scenes were so striking and really set the tone for what was happening. I have so many of those images printed in my brain now.

I highly recommend this show. I guess that's pretty much a given! I can't imagine anyone watching this not being impressed by this drama!

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Camellia
2 people found this review helpful
Jan 2, 2016
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 8.5
Finally. I have been looking for this film forever. Just got a subscription to Amazon Prime and it's a freebie! As are many other K films! It's fully subbed and beautiful quality. You should know going in that it's an omnibus film with 3 distinct shorts, each about 45 minutes long, so none of them feel abridged.

The first, Iron Pussy, is a sort of 007 parody, Austin Powers style. Not my cup of tea. Just Very Weird. Didn't like it at all, so I am not going to include it in my rating nor my review for the film. Others I'm sure will like it...just not me.

The second short, Kamome, is lovely. An ethereal tale of 'what if' love, the story moves slowly and easily in the moments allowed for it, never feeling rushed nor given short shrift. The feelings and emotions of the two protagonists are unmistakable. It's a story of two lonely people connecting in spite of language barriers and falling in love. It is bittersweet and I could watch it again and again.

The final short is Love for Sale. I adore SciFi so my review isn't as objective as some others might be who would be concentrating on the story only and how well it is told and how well its 'message' gets across. However, I'm also not automatically prejudiced against just because it is SciFi either! Love for Sale is a tale of stolen love in a literal sense. Set in the future where people sell their memories of lost true love either for profit or because they cannot bear to live with them, and people buy them and live vicariously through those stolen memories...because they have none of their own I guess. The allegory is obvious and the ending is too, since SciFI is always allegorical and nothing is ever as it seems. I enjoyed it immensely as a SciFi story and could see it as a full fledged movie. There is a a lot of violence in it, so plot development is shortened by fight scenes replete with guns and fists. I also love that, so I won't downgrade it for that either. The story gets its point across loud and clear. The leads are beautiful to look at and, though Song Hye Kyo's appearance seems to be just for audience draw, Kang Dong Won, as usual, throws himself body and soul into the part.

Individually the stories rate a 6, 9 or 9.5, and an 8.5 or 9... for me. I gave the movie an 8.5 as an average. It is impossible to find this with decent subs and a quality picture, anywhere. We have been looking for it for a long time now. If you are desperate to watch, sign up for a free month of Amazon Prime, break your leg and stay home for a month and binge watch all the movies you can't find anywhere else. Luckily for me, I'm retired!!

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Completed
Gangster High
2 people found this review helpful
Jul 26, 2015
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
I'll quote James Mudge from Beyond Hollywood. All things deep and meaningful aside, the film is packed with brutality, most of which takes the form of fist fights and baseball bat beatings. The final scenes are exceptionally bloody, and the film degenerates into savagery in what amounts to one of the most successful and disturbing cinematic condemnations of violence in recent years. The promise of mayhem is constantly lurking throughout the running time, and since Park never shies away from showing its consequences, the film has an increasingly tense air as things threaten to fly out of control.&

I don't know if I would go that far, but with as many bloody gory movies as I watch it's fair to say I'm pretty immune. That said, it's still a really well done movie, with an exceptional cast, excellent acting, a strong chemistry between the actors, and a lot of familiar faces looking much younger. The fight scenes are very realistic, meticulously choreographed, and certainly brutal and bloody. The flow of the story is slow for more than half the movie, as so many Korean films are in the beginning, and then builds quickly in the final quarter to a devastating and bleak ending. No surprises as the first scene tells us exactly what that ending is going to be. I am never sure why directors use that methodology, especially in a film like this. The entire tenor of the film leads the audience to expect the inevitable worst at the end. So, for me, a huge chunk of what would build even more suspense and worry about how each of these young men are going to end up is completely over when that ending is told to me in the first 5 minutes of the film! It's not a method I appreciate, especially in a movie that spends it's entire length telegraphing it's message of wrong choices and machismo gone wild. I would have been even more devastated and upset at the end not knowing that information from the beginning. Consequently, I spent the entire movie just waiting on the inevitable and thanking God my son never had friends nor enemies like these nor will end up with a wasted and lost life like them.

As usual, after movies like this I have many questions about why these young men were this way, what forces shaped them that lead them to the kind of escalating violence of their lives, who actually survived, what became of them. I wish that the film had spent a bit more of its beginning giving some of that background which would have personally tied us to them more intimately. Even so, by the time the climax comes, there is still a subtle attachment to them, and in particular to Sang Ho and Jae Gu, that has been built, almost unawares, so I can't say the film loses a lot in not developing that information. It's just something that I personally like. I always wish, in movies like this, when the characters are so young, that there were a sequel, or an extra half hour, to see what happened to them 10, 20, 30 years down the road. If there is anything that will keep me thinking about this film, or a singular thing about this film that I will most remember, it's that.

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Completed
Crying Fist
2 people found this review helpful
Feb 16, 2015
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 5.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
I was a huge fan of the Rocky films when they came out years and years ago! And my husband and I followed boxing for years. I came from that era where that magic figure of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali appeared and was enthralled even though I was too young to really understand, but he was so exciting and thrilling to watch and I was glued to the radio or tv to listen to or watch his fights.

This movie started out very slow for me...though I have learned to be patient as that is so typical of so many Korean films....and in particular ones that are preparing you for something that will shake you and leave you gasping. Like this one did.

We are shown the hopeless and ruined life of an old boxer who, though they say he is only 40, looks 10 years older. He has a son and a wife, but is unable to support them, and a lifetime of living by his fists has taken a toll physically and mentally. He is strong, but the damage done after a lifetime of hits is affecting him.

And we see a young man, powerful and angry, out of control, a bully who uses his strength to intimidate and cover up the fear of knowing his life is going nowhere. He has a father and grandmother who love him, but he doesn't 'see' them and has no patience to waste his time with them. His greed and anger result in him accidentally killing someone as he is robbing them and he ends up in jail. There he is taken in hand by one of the guards and starts training to become a boxer.

A contest happens that gives both these men a chance to change their lives. The boxing scenes are fantastic. Anyone who has watched boxing or been a boxer would appreciate the amount of effort that these 2 actors and this film put into those scenes. The final match was riveting. I was glued to my screen and heart pounding through it all. Perfect ending...hard, painful, but perfect.

If you don't like boxing films, I'm guessing this will be a hard one for you. Boxing films spend a LOT of time on the boxing scenes and this one was no exception, and if you don't like boxing or don't find it thrilling to watch, it's going to take a lot of the enjoyment of this film away from you. But it is a beautiful story of 2 lives finding a purpose...one man with an ending and, perhaps, a new beginning, and another man with a new beginning and a new realization of what his life might be and what good he has in it.

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