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  • Last Online: Jan 26, 2017
  • Gender: Male
  • Location: Te Ika a Maui
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  • Birthday: November 22
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  • Join Date: September 1, 2013

stuartnz

Te Ika a Maui

stuartnz

Te Ika a Maui
Completed
Miss Korea
34 people found this review helpful
Feb 27, 2014
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
It's against my principles to give anything 10/10 but on mydramalist, I had to for Miss Korea, because a mere 9 would have been a criminal libel. I'm almost pleased that they had LSK looking ridiculous as a "teenager" in a few shots because it gave me the wafer-thin excuse I needed to justify calling this "not 100% perfect" I can't give a list of pros and cons, because there really weren't any cons, so here are the top pros I found most remarkable:


1. ZERO, let me say again ZERO, nada, nil, bupkiss, makjang. Twenty episodes with plenty of grim but no nonsense. The absence of time skips, noble idiocy, zombie spouses etc was so bizarre for a K Drama that its very sanity almost seemed makjang. It was the primary example of

2. The revolutionary idea that viewers might be intelligent adults, and treating them accordingly. Characters who behaved credibly, and stayed in character. When noble idiocy loomed, it was called out as BS, which it always is. Shite happens and the bad guys DO get away with it, but life can go on and happiness can still be found.

3. The music. Really intelligent and well thought out choices, from the best ever use of Mickey and Barbie Girl to the song that ALWAYS makes me think of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi behind chicken wire - Stand By Your Man The music was note perfect and the use of so many English language songs really helped this old man feel the nostalgia feels.

4. The acting. Unlike many, I HATE Pasta to the the core of my soul with a loathing that will burn forever. It was the very first K Drama I ever dropped and I still resent it bitterly for wasting 9 hours of my life that felt like 9 weeks. I could rant about everything I dislike about that Drama for nearly as long as I could laud this one to the skies, which is what makes it relevant here. LSK's performance in this Drama showed that he's an actor, and becomes his character. From partway through Episode 2 I did not even think of him as the loathsome tyrant of Pasta once. A great performance as a real human being. I know that it was the same creative team too, which makes the credibility and humanity of the characters all the more remarkable to me. Oh Jung Se was as reliably awesome as ever, adding one more big black mark to the record of those criminals who wasted his talents in MHIYD

This is also the third Drama in a row where I watched an actress for the first time whose previous works had been panned but who delivered in style.Go Ara, Yoona and now Lee Yeon Hee had all been lambasted as pretty faces who can't act, but all three for me delivered solid performances worthy of commendation. I absolutely loved LYH's delivery of the "You're Mine, and I'm mine" lines, perfectly encapsulating the character she so ably brought to life. And of course, very much unlike Yoona, LYH got a good ...

5. Ending. Perhaps the most remarkable feat of this Drama was its conclusion. It took real courage to end the pageant when they did, but then to give a masterclass in how to wind down a Drama was equally remarkable. In her recap of Episode 18, koala talked about the K Drama fixation with the drama lasting until the last couple of minutes then a quick happy ending as the credits roll. Or a handshake and a smile, which in some parallel Universe apparently counts as a "happy ever after" ending. The alternative to this "cry, hurt, pain, anguish, separation - kiss,smile, fade-out" style is normally a soggy, pointless pile of sap that looks and feels like the fan service it almost invariably is. But here, even when the BIG drama was done and dusted, there were enough smaller dramas to make it feel like a real, ongoing story, even while it wound down toward a truly satisfying happy ending.

At times I reveal a tendency to be a bit hyperbolic in my reactions to negative characters. It's a tribute to the brilliance of the 3-4 episode wind down of this Drama that by the end, all that bile was gone, and I was OK with the two villains getting away with it, actually getting off scot free. Because the Drama eased off gradually and showed the OTP being so perfectly perfect for each other while still being believable human beings, I wasn't left ranting "you call THAT a happy ending, why aren't those two snakes being skinned alive and boiled in oil?" Instead I was (quite literally) smiling and clapping with delight at the ways the Drama surprised me.


I am so indebted to the soompi friend for never missing an opportunity to sing this Drama's praises, and completely understand why he referred to it as the new Gold Standard of K Drama writings. It quite unarguably is, and that is itself a real problem. Even though my tally of 60-something Dramas watched means I'm still a beginner, I'd already got used to lowering expectations and looking only for good characterisation and believable OTP chemistry in the Dramas I choose to watch. Now I feel like I've seen a glimpse of K Drama's own Asgard, where the Drama Gods sup on ambrosial shows we never get to see. The end of Episode twenty meant the beanstalk was hacked out from under me, and my brief ascension to the dizzying heights of this medium's potential was terminated, leaving only very happy memories and the sad conviction that "we will not see its like again" . Except, of course, when I watch all over again from the beginning, this time with my wife.

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Completed
Date - Koi to wa Donna Mono Kashira
6 people found this review helpful
Mar 28, 2015
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I'm giving this 10/10 because it's so very close to perfect that it would be petty to quibble. This Drama was a perfect romcom for me. Quirky leads who were still very human, and who both grew over the course of the Drama. More genuinely funny, literally laugh out loud moments than I could remember on just one watch, and a very believable love story, told with a particularly credible detour thrown in for good measure. There's effectively nothing to fault about this Drama, so if you like romcoms which are genuinely comedic, with a low-key romance, make a date to watch this superb series.

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Completed
My Queen
5 people found this review helpful
Mar 22, 2014
21 of 21 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
Wow! I started watching this because of the Witch's Love a K Drama that I heard was going to be a remake. I wanted to see the original before the remake, and I'm so glad I did. This was just excellent! There was nothing original about the storyline, but it demonstrated that even familiar tropes can have a powerful impact when well executed.

If I were to list the top 10 things I liked about this Drama, the first eight would read 1. Ethan/Cheryl 2.Ethan/Cheryl 3.Ethan/Cheryl 4.Ethan/Cheryl 5.Ethan/Cheryl 6.Ethan/Cheryl 7.Ethan/Cheryl 8.Ethan/Cheryl

Their chemistry was superb and totally sold the very familiar storyline. I feel that the Drama was one episode too long, and would have been even closer to getting a ten if it had only been 20 episodes, but the way the final episode moved me was testament to how well the leads made me REALLY care about their characters. In that first 20 minutes of the final episode I was crying so much and so loudly I woke my wife sleeping in the next room, EVEN THOUGH I was certain it was not going to end badly for them. That twenty minutes was a cliché but it was executed with such conviction by actors who'd made sure their characters were so real that I quite literally couldn't help myself from being devastated at what I was watching.

The other two points in my top ten would go to the music. I am totally unmusical and have zero Chinese - I couldn't tell MSM from Hokkien if there were flashing neon signs labelling each one, but I simply loved the music in this Drama. Every song seemed to fit the mood, and I actively looked forward to hearing the familiar songs as the Drama progressed.

My original goal in watching this was to be able to compare Witch's Love when it came out. As I write this, Witch's Love hasn't started, but already I doubt that it can come close to the near-perfection of the sweet, touching gem. Sweet and bittersweet, happy and sad, joy and despair, all were so well balanced that even though the destination may have been predictable, the ride was exhilarating and touching. I will DEFINITELY be watching this again, probably more than once.

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Completed
Jewel in the Palace
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 13, 2015
54 of 54 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 5.5
Rewatch Value 1.5
It should have been 40 episodes not 54, but despite the tediously repetitive plot recycling, Dae Jang Geum was still totally worth it.

I like the way it was built around the female lead in a way that few Dramas set in more recent times are. And I especially liked the fact that Jang Geum was shown as learning her skills, through study, practice, observation, trial and error. Obviously, dramatic licence inflated her skills and achievements, but not to the point of being “magick”, merely hyperbolic and perhaps anachronistic. In the current era of “geeenius” everything (ALWAYS male), it was refreshing to see a Drama built around a character who came across as real, and who earned her accomplishments on merit.

The contrast between this medieval medicine woman and a shrieky female psychiatrist in a currently airing Drama could hardly be greater. So, while I won’t be watching it again, and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others, I am very glad I watched it all. A modern day remake would be a must watch, I think 16-20 episodes following a woman’s rise to medical pre-eminence with an (at most) secondary loveline. A man can dream, right?

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Completed
Sweet Alibis
3 people found this review helpful
Jun 24, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 5.5
Rewatch Value 6.5
I bought this for Ariel Lin and she didn't disappoint. My wife and I both enjoyed it, laughing a lot throughout, especially at the unique way the story resolved itself in respect to the main characters. I don't think it's giving anything away if I say that neither of us can ever remember seeing a cop film where the cops ended up having so little to do!

It's light and undemanding fun, and there are definitely worse ways to pass an afternoon. It may even make you a lot more careful about eating chocolate. :)
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Completed
It Started with a Kiss
3 people found this review helpful
Jun 12, 2014
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 5.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
I watched this one only for Ariel Lin, having been greatly underwhelmed by Playful Kiss, which I gave only 3/10 here at mydramalist. But I ended up giving this one 7/10 and it deserved the score!

Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng were so great together, I'm really looking forward to They Kissed Again and Love or Bread, to see more of them. I still have trouble with the passivity of the lead female character, but this version was slightly less passive and weakly self-pitying than the Korean version while the male lead character was slightly nicer and a bit less of a bully. Those small differences combined to make watching it much easier than in the Korean version which I saw first.

The other thing I really liked was Ariel Lin's performance. Before this, I'd only seen her in In Time With You and Love Contract, and in both of those she played similarly feisty, independent, in-charge kind of characters. That she could so convincingly portray the exact opposite here showed she's a real actor. And, of course, the climactic scene was priceless - that alone would have guaranteed this a better score than Playful Kiss.

I see from other reviews that I'm definitely not the first or only person who saw the Korean version first but still ended up preferring this one. Since I didn't like Playful Kiss but really liked this one, I think if you DID like Playful Kiss, you'll absolutely LOVE this one!

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Completed
They Kiss Again
2 people found this review helpful
Jun 22, 2014
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 7.5
When I watched the Korean version, Playful Kiss, by far my favourite parts were the web sequels, so I was interested to see how this full length sequel of the (imo) much superior Taiwanese version played out. I was not disappointed.

I do think it was an episode or 2 too long, but that's a common flaw with T Dramas, a little reluctance to edit. But this sequel proved that Ariel Lin + Joe Cheng = magic. Their chemistry over 40 episodes or so was simply astonishing and I can see why Ariel Lin won an award for her performance in this Drama. Her range really impressed me, making me laugh when she laughed and cry when she cried - ESPECIALLY in the final episode. Twenty minutes of being punched repeatedly right in the feels had this 46-year old man bawling so much he thought he might wake his wife. After a few slightly draggy episodes, it was a delgiht to see they saved the best for last

Even though I was frustrated at how slowly Xiang Qin grew, I absolutely loved how Zi Shu got the time and space to really develop in a way that first leads normally don't in a single series Drama. Overall, I think I enjoyed this sequel even more than season 1, and I know there will be several scenes I'll be watching repeatedly. And of course, the answer to the question, "what's the best thing about 'They Kiss Again"? is "They Kiss Again. And Again. And Again. And Again" :)

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Completed
Castaway on the Moon
2 people found this review helpful
Jan 6, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
Astonishing! Touching, thoughtful, and honest, this movie left me speechless. The leads were superb, and the story always stayed true to itself. It really drew me in to the point where at one point I was shouting "don't do it" to the female lead and then shouted "Yes!" when she didn't. A romance with a difference, this is a real gem of characterisation, and a heartwarming story of personal growth.
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Completed
In a Good Way
9 people found this review helpful
Jan 6, 2014
26 of 26 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
Eight episodes into my first T-Drama and I'm totally hooked! It is superb, and a refreshing example of nostalgia done right, avoiding all the mistakes made in Answer Me 1994. The characters in this are all believable and likeable,with the chemistry between the leads very, very real. The way it makes me care about secondary characters like Xiao Wei is a testament to the quality of the writing, and I hope it stays this good right to the end.
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Completed
Lovesick
2 people found this review helpful
Oct 21, 2014
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
I have to agree with those who've basically described this movie as nothing special, but I still liked it all the same. It may have been a fairly calculated attempt to cash in on the success of In Time With You, but it worked, at least for me. Of course, I'm a hopelessly biased Ariel fan, so not remotely objective, but my wife and I both found this a light, undemanding and fun way to unwind after dinner, and Ariel and Bolin easily repeated their chemistry from ITWY.

The first half was my favourite, Ariel was genuinely funny in all the more comic scenes. The movie really could have benefited from a more credible development of their mutual attraction, but then I doubt anyone watched this looking for a cinematic masterpiece. The NGs at the end, and ESPECIALLY the scene AFTER them made it all worthwhile.

In summary, not their best work, but the two of them together made overlooking the film's flaws easy, and of course, to quote my wife in summing up the main attraction of the film, speaking of Ariel, "she's a very beautiful lady" . :)

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Completed
Detective K: Secret of the Lost Island
1 people found this review helpful
Aug 8, 2015
Completed 0
Overall 3.0
Story 3.0
Acting/Cast 3.0
Music 3.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
Awful! This was billed as a comedy, but was not remotely funny. Opennig with one man being run through with a sword and another being decapitated by two swords, this was very different to the first one. The first one had a serious edge, but managed to include some lgiht farce and genuine laugh out loud moments. This was all dark,.all the tmie. The few moments intended as comic relief were just pale rehashes of scenes from the first. VERY disappointing.
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