I went into this, not knowing what to expect. There are many sageuks that sound promising but disappoint you utterly. And then there are those who start slow but grow to be one of your dearest gems. Rebel definitely belongs to the latter. (At this point I also have to admit that I still haven't watched Six Flying Dragons. But I will definitely catch up with that one soon.)
Many people know of the story about Hong Gil Dong and there's already another drama addressing this character. But I had no idea. That's why it's even more funny that while I was watching this, it constantly reminded me of Robin Hood. Thanks to my comparison someone told me that it's indeed based on that legend - or rather it's basically the Korean version.
So, why did I like this drama so much?
1. First of all the story combined with its characters.
I always have to mention that together because one part doesn't work without the other. I do think the story is pure gold. Well, nothing new, of course, but the way it's written and the way its characters are acting and growing, left me speechless so many times while following every new turn of events. What I also really loved was that you will never be left in too much agony. Of course, this drama has its sad, its heartbreaking moments, too. But despite their misery, I never felt uncomfortable or frustrated about it. Why? Because every event had its reasoning. It was such a well thought-out net of actions and inevitable consequences that made me unable to be angry at somebody or something. I did hate a bunch of people, but the writing managed to make even those bastards palpable and well-founded. The best part though was the close follow-up of injustice and justice. You might feel angry at some point but right the next minute you feel relieved and satisfied. It's rewarding (for you and its characters equally).
2. Camera. The way it was shot. Cinematography.
There are so many beautiful scenes, not only of the people but also of landscapes and important scenes that just underline the impression of each and every moment.
3. Love for details.
That's one point I cherish deeply because many dramas don't care about those things. If I find a show that does, it immediately rises alot in my favor. Rebel does those beautiful details. And what I'm talking about are not those things that are pointed out by the camera to be sure the viewers get the meaning. No, I'm talking about those things that are not pointed out and that you only notice if you pay enough attention to the story.
Magnificent through and through. From leads to supports to guest appearances. The first one to mention here is Kim Sang Joong. His portrayal of Ah Mo Gae is perfection. You see him loyal, you see him weak, you see him angry, you see him desperate and you see him loving. And! You see him strong and determined, rising from the bottom. He's smart, he knows how to talk to the people and be a leader. KSJ's Ah Mo Gae paves a large path for this drama and is the first step to be sucked into this story and not being able to leave again.
After him, of course, Yoon Gyun Sang who plays Hong Gil Dong. As I said before I haven't watched SFD yet, so I didn't know what his acting is like. But man, this guy can act! It is such a pleasure to see a well written character and an actor who can pull off such a role. Showing the character's different stages, his struggles and growing of mind. What amazed me the most was how he was able to make me believe that Hong Gil Dong is indeed Ah Mo Gae's son. There's this special thing he does with his voice (again one of those details)... The way he starts talking after awhile - like father like son.
Kim Ji Suk. Maybe his best role so far. Playing such a complex character as the king and doing such a stunning job with that task, is definitely something not everybody can manage.
Shim Hee Seop aka Gil Dong's hyung. The hidden treasure and such a surprise. Haven't seen him before but he nailed this performance. Never loved a side character more.
Chae Soo Bin, Lee Ha Nui... Two great actresses playing two completely different yet marvelous women. I don't want to let out any actor/actress, but it would be too boring to list them all. I still have to mention how visible their efforts were and how they added to a more perfect overall picture.
5. The romance.
Slowly, slowly................................. and then deeply satisfying and vigorous.
Isn't it rewarding to watch something interesting and then the music starts and within seconds captures you and never lets you go again? Rebel has such a haunting score and soundtrack. It fits in every scene, strengthens or lessens every respective moment and mood.
If you want to enjoy a well written drama with outstanding actors and characters, you should definitely go for this one. Highly recommended.
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And in the end when you reach its final piece, you start to really appreciate every single item. Although each of them has their own shape and characteristics, you notice that special bond that connects every part, smoothly like a cogwheel. And when you put it back together afterwards, it matches perfectly again.
That's how I experienced Chicago Typewriter. I was sold from the first minute. The start was slow and the show takes its time to tell its story. But I never even once complained about the pace. I enjoyed every second of it. Why? Because I simply savored every interaction with the characters. It felt like they took me along on their journey.
The people in this drama - and yes, I call them people because they felt real to me, no matter how estranged they appeared sometimes - will grow on you, especially the female lead. She's one wonderful fangirl many of us can relate to. Being obsessed with her crush in a totally unharmful and charming way, you can't help yourself but root for her. And who wouldn't take the chance and meet his/her crush when an opportunity arises out of the blue? Even if that means to maybe get disappointed by that one person you dedicated your life to. Even if that means you maybe should decide about ending that long-lasting one-sided relationship. So, hands down for the first honorable mention in this cast: Im Soo Jung. An endearing actress who not only impersonates our everyday fangirl but also a devoted freedom fighter per se.
And who is the counterpart to every fan? Of course, the star. That ray of light we see whenever we feel down. Those people who have all the rumors floating around them. Charming on the outside and... either exactly the way we imagine them to be or shockingly different. Being a nationwide renowned bestseller author in the present (and a seemingly resigned writer in his past life), Han Se Ju is certainly one interesting figure. Reserved towards strangers, with a proud and confident demeanor, he might appear paranoid, rude and self-centered. But he learns to change his ways and views, and certainly grows with time. Yoo Ah In is one brilliant actor whose magnificent performance impressed me deeply.
Finally, the third to be in league and a must to be mentioned here. Go Gyeong Pyo. He plays the handsome and classy Yoo Jin Oh who stirs up the daily lives of our other two leads. His appearance triggers a chain of unforeseen events that will certainly change everyone's path. Without telling too much, Go Gyeong Pyo clearly nailed this role.
These three are telling a story about fateful friendship and love in desperate times, that will eventually engrave its signature into your heart. Their tale has "passion" written all over its face. Passionate love, passionate friendship and the passionate desire for your people's freedom. It's captivating in every point, once you let your guard down and allow yourself to be swallowed by its mysteries. Emotions are raw and daring, and an important pillar for its partakers. It's like fire, burning hot and dangerous. And the leads are doing a phenomenal job on conveying that driving emotion.
The mystery surrounding this drama may not be completely new, but still be a rare kind in its execution through neat hints that will be revealed step by step. Starting with visually beautiful scenes, the drama takes a constant pace with a fluent transition between the past and present story. This helps building up the layer-by-layer suspense which ultimately vents into a poignant finale. On a side note, you have of course your usual suspects as well, your lovely sidekicks who add some fun and comedy to the story. And you have that villain that you will hate with utter disgust.
And before I will conclude my review, let me tell you that once you got to listen to Chicago Typewriter's haunting soundtrack, you won't be able to turn back. It's like the icing on the cake and you'll be lost for good.
Don't hesitate to watch this mesmerizing gem. Let yourself be swayed, and take on this incredible journey with an exceptional love for details in every aspect. Even though you might not end up with a 10 like me, because you perhaps find some things only normal or average along the road, it's worth the watch nonetheless. In the end, I might sound a little biased but this one just hit all the right spots for me. It never let me or down or disappointed me.
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When I started this drama I wasn't even sure if I'll like it or not. I haven't seen anything with the leads except for Jo Yoon Hee (The King's Face) and therefore had to get used to the male ones. First impressions were good but not overwhelming, though interesting enough to keep watching.
And man, was I glad I continued this one!
What about the story... It's basically about a small negotiation team that doesn't have much recognition from the public and has to kinda prove its existence every single time something happens. But it wouldn't be a kdrama if there wasn't a bigger story behind it - the story of Pied Piper. And here is where the impressive part starts. It's not necessarily the story itself but the way it was delivered that makes it so worth-watching. Step by step revelations and each of them just makes you more curious. Add a very captivating and skillful cinematography and incredibly top-notch actors to it, then your dessert may be served.
Shin Ah Kyun and Yoo Joon Sang were at their best (their interacting was purely epic) and I'm not exaggerating here. Their characters were wholly shaped by the writers as well as their development and growth during the drama. Jo Yoon Hee tried her best, too, but in the end couldn't keep up with them completely. But she wasn't bad either, just sliding out of the light sometimes which was kinda sad, imo.
As for the cinematography. I don't even know how to describe it the right way. It's just the way how single scenes are put together, underlined with precisely accurate music. The beauty of it just leaves you speechless and shocked at the end of an episode.
My rating's not a whole ten but don't be bothered by it. I for myself did find some tiny flaws and couldn't overlook them - as well as for some cases the team had to take on. Sometimes, they just seemed to be a bit overdone.
I still think this drama is underrated. There's even a message delivered that you can pick up - or not.
So, let me give you an advice: If you have some free time and are in need of a really good crime drama, start this one. It's worth its 16 hours.
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I'm very picky with my ratings and I rarely give a drama ten points. But because I'm unconditionally in love with this story (even though there might be one or two flaws. I know that many people didn't like the ending which I myself was satisfied with, even though it might just have had a too vaguely drawn explanation), it would be a shame to not give Black the highest score. It's entertaining and addictive as that and it will take some time until I can let go.
It often happens that when you start a drama, it begins with a strong introduction, makes you curious enough to continue watching and then loses all its strengths halfway through while leaving you with the most frustrating feeling ever. Well, Black is no exception when it comes to thrilling starts (and by all means pay attention and don't forget about this one), but it parts from the heaps of unsatisfying story proceedings as it constantly holds its high level of suspense.
To give a summary other than the one above would be risky as it might contain possible unintended spoilers or hints to the plot. And no one wants that, I don't want that - and I don't want you guys to throw me into the fiery pit. Seriously, I'm not that kind of party pooper.
So, what exactly is the magic potion of Black that drives everyone crazy?
The story progress
Let me praise the bigger picture that is definitely existent, even though you can't see it right away. It's hidden quite well, and pieces of the puzzle only appear one at a time which is helping the plot to constantly grow stronger. Receiving clues, getting confused over them, creating the wildest theories until your head is spinning, was so much fun that I can hardly contain my excitement whenever I talk about it. The neat and flawless weaving of secrets and the repeated drop of shocking bombs after almost every episode were some of the main forces why the drama worked so well. Whenever you think you've figured it out, BAM!, twists and turns shatter your carefully formed construct of thoughts. Those new revelations are not just added at the writer's whim but well thought-out right since the beginning. There are hints that are quite obvious from the start while other ones stay hidden until the story wants them to be revealed. Be sure to keep your eyes open while watching this show, or you might miss one or two important things and won't be able to follow the story anymore.
Mixing genres is quite popular these days and Black doesn't stay out of it either. The difference between Black and other dramas though: This one does a stunning job at smoothly merging them. Black is a pretty dark drama, although it might not seem that way at first. It might even look chaotic and/or messy. I don't know about others, but I enjoyed every single scene bar none. The shift from dark to funny was always sleek, making me forget the length of the episode and leaving me startled when it was suddenly over again. The further the story proceeds, the darker the plot grows while thickening the mystery. At this point I do have to warn you though. If you have a sensitive stomach and can't cope well with harsh violence, be careful. Even though certain scenes were not always shown in full scope, sounds and imagination were enough to make me feel the cruelty of the scene. Other ones were clearly visible and thus added to the brutal reality. I do think that the given age limit might be a little light on this one.
The leading stars
First and foremost, Black himself. Grim reaper number 444, the most cold-hearted one among them all. It doesn't matter whether you already know Song Seung Heon from previous dramas or movies, because you can be sure that when you watch him here, it will feel like you're meeting him for the first time all over again. The whole concept of his role is simply dashing. Although I don't want to exaggerate, it's hard to keep it to myself, and I do want to brag about it, about all his captivating treats. The color "black" never suited someone better, his looks are literally breathtaking, his whole demeanor is seductive in every possible way.
May it be the stone-cold grim reaper who doesn't like humans or the inexperienced "newbie" without common sense and blunt responses, finding himself slowly getting attached to the world he doesn't want to be part of, and unwillingly trying to solve the big mystery he gets thrown into.
There is this thing he's doing with his eyes... I don't even know if he is doing something with them, but they are as dark as the deep blue sea and… one fillip and you’ve lost. His whole acting is spellbinding. If there's a list with actors who own their roles, he would be somewhere at the top. Song Seung Heon breathed life into Black, simply put he WAS Black. He and no one else. Pure perfection, as one might say. Compared to the rest of the cast, his role might not be the only one with a big character development ahead, but he was definitely the one that delivered spot on, week by week by week.
I’m rattling on about him, I know… mian!
Go Ah Ra, who is playing the girl that is afraid of people because she can foresee near death, is a rather difficult part to approach (maybe even the only thing I can't brag about). I don’t fancy her but I don't hate her either. And I have to admit that it must be quite challenging and difficult to go on stage alongside Song Seung Heon, especially if he's doing such a phenomenal job. Her impersonation of Kang Ha Ram was... how shall I put it... average and sometimes monotone. Go Ah Ra's facial expressions are quite limited which makes it hard to forget all the prejudice she is receiving. She is just not as good as others, no matter how you look at it. Her acting didn't reach me the same way the rest of the cast did, and it is poles apart from Song Seung Heon’s. However, she was not a complete failure either. She was okay, her scenes were okay. Her acting was good enough to not get frustrated or disappointed over it. She did have chemistry with her co-star. Even though it was not overwhelming, it conveyed the necessary atmosphere to keep the tension on.
The supporting cast
There are so many people that have to be mentioned that it's hard to keep it short. First of all the second male lead and love interest of our heroine. Although Oh Man Soo was never my favorite person in the drama because he was naive and just too good-natured, Kim Dong Jun did a pretty fine job portraying the rich kid that wants to get a chance and be recognized for his work. I did not always like his actions, nor did I like his innocent look at the world. The inevitable twist though that is forcing him to mature and almost impossible for him to comprehend, is something I wouldn't wish for anybody, no matter how much I dislike them. So, he did get my sympathies when the time came.
Song Seung Heon's love interest Yoon Soo Wan (portrayed by Lee El - who we all know from Goblin) is a pretty foggy character and the drama is only slowly revealing her secrets. I found her character extremely interesting and reasonable. Her love for the male lead was real, and whilst her secrets were unknown, her intentions were always transparent for me.
Black's fellow grim reapers, 007 and 416 look like they only exist for pure entertainment or informative purposes. But the more they got introduced to me, the clearer it became that there was more to them than the unaided eye could see. But oh well, what am I talking about... One of them is played by Jo Jae Yun, so of course I can't do anything else but fancy over him. No matter what he's doing, he is one of the most versatile actors I've seen and it's no surprise that he is owning the role of an ancient grim reaper as well - even though he's relatively reserved in this.
So many crime dramas, so many police squads, so many failures. And again, Black is shining with a unique team that seems to be the loser squad at first but learns to use opportunities and circumstances to rise from the shadows. The team dynamics are just right and a pleasure to watch. After Black himself, they are the comedy perpetrators per se and they are great at it. Each member has a unique and sweet nature what makes them grow on you in no time. Special credits to Kim Won Hae as well. I've already seen him in other dramas but his role in Black is by far my most favorite one.
Kim Jae Young plays the Hallyu star Leo who is after Black the second eye candy of the show (at least for me - I know there will be some people who disagree with me :P). His character doesn't seem to get more depth as the story progresses and you might think he's only there for the looks. Well, as far as I can tell without revealing too much, he does have another purpose as well. I always liked his character, despite the image he had to portray in this. The fact that they didn't disclose so much about him, made me even more curious about his story.
If you look closely, you can see that every single character has a reason to be in this drama. Everyone is connected in some mysterious way. To follow the leads and to try and find out about those threads is one thing that makes the concept of the plot so promising. Another one is the character development that everyone in this drama will go through. Closely followed by visually stunning cinematography and well used supportive background music.
The story is as shocking as it is heartbreaking. Black comes along with so many convincing treats that it will be hard to keep away from it. It's entertaining and funny and mysterious and dark and dramatic and definitely catching you off-guard. You won't be able to leave your couch once you hit the play button. And please, be careful of your nails and your hair.
On that note: Happy watching!
(I wrote too much, mian~)
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If you ever felt like degrading almost every drama you have watched so far only because of this one new show you just started, then welcome to Money Flower. Is it captivating? Yes. Does it have an amazing cast? Yes. Will the script blow your mind away? A definite YES.
Although I know that there will always be this one or two per cent who don’t enjoy a show and that there are also those dramas whose hype is just overrated, I’m sure that most of the people who watched this one, enjoyed it as much as I did – and probably felt the same (painful…) torture every week.
I haven't watched many dramas with Jang Hyuk yet, but the character he took on in this drama is by far and without doubt one of his best - if not THE best. I can't compare much but I also can't imagine how Jang Hyuk would top what he delivered here. He plays a typical anti-hero who wants to take revenge for something that happened a long time ago and therefore concocts a plan that takes action over a long period of time while needing a lot of patience. 'Strength lies in calmness' one would say, well damn, Kang Pil Joo (Jang Hyuk) created this line all anew. A first glance of him and his whole demeanor tells you to not approach him. He seems like a fox that transforms into a tiger later on. He's cold and manipulative, calculating and ambitious. It's incredible how scarce his facial expressions were and at the same time told so much about his inner thoughts and conflicts. It was also thrilling to watch him pursue his goals and root for him but also see whether he would be able to go all the way, cross boundaries or stay focused till the bitter end.
Jang Hyuk's acting is leading this drama effortlessly, even though he is not the only force and has some equal counterparts who delivered their stories just as well.
For example Jang Seung Jo who is portraying Jang Boo Cheon. He seems to be a clueless guy who doesn't have a serious plan for his future and therefore gets lead like a puppet by his mother. Deep down he is a good boy. He has many flaws, makes mistakes and even though he tries to do the right things or correct his mistakes, he ends up worsening them. Yes, he's not perfect and definitely no saint but his bromance with Kang Pil Joo was beautiful and painful to watch at the same time. Twists and turns will test him in every possible way - and while Kang Pil Joo's path seems rather clear, Jang Boo Cheon's character will be thrown into some fatal situations. You won't always agree with his behavior or his decisions, you might even get furious about them. But there are also some moments when you want to give him some slack, too. Out of them all he was the one who was the hardest to predict, especially in the second half.
His mother on the other hand is one despicable woman. Lee Mi Sook. Whenever I watch a drama with her, she makes me want to strangle her character - sometimes jokingly, sometimes with all my might. Jung Mal Ran, the woman she is impersonating, definitely belongs to my latter choice. Just the sight of her makes me furious. Yes, she had some hardships in her life and always had to fight for everything while constantly living with the fear of losing it all in the end. But the lengths she is willing to go to secure those things and totally ignoring what's really important, put her on a way that would be very hard to escape from. I wouldn't say that she's one of the best villains I've seen so far, but Lee Mi Sook put on an enjoyable show and her performance is worth the effort.
These three actors just received the MBC rewards for excellence performances in Money Flower. It's the first time that I actually agree on the winners because their acting was far above everyone else.
Park Se Young plays Na Mo Hyun, the innocent equivalent in this drama and someone who brings a little balance into this heavy revenge game. She gets caught in Kang Pil Joo's net of lies without realizing it. Even though she seemed to be the naive good girl, she never appeared weak in my eyes. She had to deal with some cruel situations but after falling down, she put herself together and fought back which was so important because otherwise she would have become insane. I appreciate her character very much. She did what was in her power while staying true to herself, getting stronger and raising her confidence. I like Park Se Young a lot, her acting might not have been as outstanding as the others, but she still did a wonderful job and on top of that had sizzling chemistry with Jang Hyuk. Yes, they kept me on tenterhooks like I have never been before... But beware, this drama focuses on Pil Joo's revenge and doesn't care for its viewers desires.
There are so many other characters and actors who nourish the story and should be mentioned. But I don't want to take away all the enjoyment. It's hard to praise and do justice to this drama without getting lost in the details and reveal too much. Everyone should experience this road for themselves.
The story is smooth like water, it doesn't have rugged edges, and the colors and the music feel like a well balanced frame, that carries a calm but sweeping tone - and you realize that something big is coming down. It's like one of those paintings you discover in old art museums. The more you look at it, the more you get sucked in - Money Flower is just like that. It makes you curious and excited. It leaves a hole in your heart whenever you have to pause it. Sometimes I wanted to hide my face but the drama wouldn't let me do that. I was too paralyzed to avoid my gaze. And of course, I didn't want to miss even one second. I started to anticipate the heat in my veins while getting furious or anxious or flustered.
Other times I found myself crying without realizing it, because the tears suddenly exploded in my eyes. I didn't cry much during this show and I didn't realize how deep my emotions got entangled until a certain moment. Then it suddenly hit me and one scene, one tear of Jang Hyuk and my rivers broke. Believe me when I say that it's that good - in every aspect possible.
I was worried and in doubt until the last minute whether they would be able to conclude the drama with a satisfying ending. But they certainly did. I might have some personal issues with one tiny thing (that is so not worth mentioning) but overall a deserving finale.
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There are so many things that I love about this story. First of all is the idea in itself. They did a pretty good job with explaining the visions, making them convincing without making it look too much out of space. With the same pace Do Kyung was getting an idea of what was actually happening to him, it made me understand it step by step, too.
The way the romance was emerging. From the original setup to the new one. Well explained and real. I got a pretty good feel of how deep their emotions were growing and I liked the idea of "fate" here. I loved how that whole relationship was developing, even though they sometimes seemed a little foolish. But that's what love actually is, right? Acting against all logic and not getting bothered about other people's opinions. What makes you really happy and how do you want to spend that one life you got?
I was dying with pleasure seeing all that skinship. It felt comfortable and real and made me very, very happy. When it seemed like their pent up emotions were finally exploding, I felt the same. I'm a sucker for hugs and here are so many tight embraces that I wish I had someone near me who would hug me just at the same time, lol. And their kisses... Don't get me started with those. All these things are one big part of what made this romance so intense and beautiful.
The acting was very impressive. Eric blew me away. His character drew me in to a point where I couldn't stop but root for him all the way, no matter what he did. I saw his remorse, I felt his misery and I enjoyed his approach to slowly change himself and become happy, no matter the outcome. Same goes for Seo Hyun Jin. Her despair, her hunger for love and her feeling of betrayal of life itself were crushingly unfeigned.
There is some really strong writing in this drama. Some dialogues had a big impact on me and made my heart flutter all of a sudden so many times. The story did a pretty good job at riling up my emotions in every way possible.
I also loved the side stories. Interesting characters even though some of them were a little exaggerated. I enjoyed them nevertheless. Do Kyung's sister was one hell of a person. Her on/ff modes were hilarious but what I loved the most was that no matter what, she stuck to her family, supporting them in her own way whether blood-related or not and was always like a guardian. I also loved Hae Young's parents. Although her mother was really, REALLY stubborn towards the end, I enjoyed the time when she was silently giving in, showing that she truly loved her daughter and wanted her to be happy.
About the two second leads here...
Well, I didn't really care for their stories while watching the drama. Now, at the end... Well, of course they had their reasons for behaving the way they did. The other Oh Hay Young... as the story went on, her character became more palpable and explained some things, but it didn't change the fact that I couldn't care less. She had her chance, she blew it. End of story. Han Tae Jin... same goes for him and on top of that he was a petty loser. He couldn't accept the facts, acting all childish, throwing one tantrum after another. Do Kyung and him both did wrong. But at the point where Do Kyung realized his mistake, Tae Jin blamed others and continued his raving, staying blinded by his anger.
The ones I disliked till the end were Do Kyung's mom and Chairman Jang. No further explaining. Just stating that fact.
If there's one thing to complain about, it would be the dragging in the middle and until ep 16. I know that every scene and every moment were important for the story and can't be considered fillers. But I still think that they could have made some things a little shorter and not putting me in such agony >.< (although it makes you wonder if I would have gotten riled up about it with the same intensity, if they HAD made it shorter, right? Haha...)
In the end a very, very enjoyable roller-coaster with many memorial moments. Lots of emotions, lots of ups and downs and very satisfying in the end.
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The story evolves around this guy that can see ghosts and even touch them - therefore also fight them as they continue to bother him through his daily life. There then he meets this female student ghost who gets on bad terms with him, but in the end ends up fighting other ghosts together with him.
Most times the story is held lighthearted, although the ghosts appear to be really scary sometimes - remember the movie "The Grudge"? You'll certainly encounter some of those while watching the drama. But in the end every one of their unique stories seem rather pitiable or just sad than frightening and sometimes have a deeper meaning to it.
The acting was solid, convincing and also charming at some points. The fights were really good, enjoyable and even funny. They did a pretty good job on those. Also, CGI effects thumbs up. Quite the sight here. So, when it came to those dramatic scenes, they pulled those off really well.
When it comes to the final, be prepared. Suspense, intensity, thrill... you'll get everything. The whole story isn't stalling one bit but has a smooth flow and the way the mystery surrounding the leads is unraveling only bit by bit, keeps the tension.
So, like I said in the beginning: Recommended if you look for something like "The Master's Sun" or "Oh My Ghost". Have fun watching it if you haven't done it already ;)
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The story surrounds a guy who is part of a secret government organization that employs so called ghost agents. Professional fighters/warriors (or whatever you may call it - agents) who get on secret missions around the world and are not allowed to have any deep feelings or connections with other people since that would compromise their work. These ghost agents here are the very cliché of every spy agent you can possibly think of.
The story starts to evolve in that direction. Agent K (Park Hae Jin) takes on a mission and unexpectedly starts to develop real feelings for a woman he has to con along the way.
I can stick with all kinds of dramas, even with the bad ones if they make me curious enough to want to watch the next episode, because that is one grave reason for me to either enjoy or be disappointed with a show. Even if a story makes me pull out my hair because the protagonists are acting all nonsensical. Yeah, I'm that kind of a shallow person. I can handle trashy dramas as well as cheesy ones - if they don't take it too far but entertain me.
So, the worst thing that can actually happen to a drama and that makes me lose interest throughout the whole way, is when it becomes plain boring. Sadly, Man to Man was exactly that for me. There's nothing special about it. It feels like one of the biggest cliché-heavy mainstream action spy dramas I've ever seen, and it gives off the feel that the producers wanted to reach as many viewers as possible, what is eventually the main reason why it failed to impress me at all. The (seemingly hidden) spark didn't reach me.
I didn't expect much when I began watching it, but I would have never expected it to be like that. I'm sincerely sorry to say this and I feel bad for the high-level cast but I was extremely disappointed with many things - not everything. There was also something that kept me going and therefore made me complete it, so don't be too frustrated with my opinion.
One thing that wasn't able to... touch me was the romance. Don't hit me. It was just suddenly there somewhere along the line. I never understood why K fell in love with this particular woman and not all the other ones he used for his previous missions. They had their cute moments, I admit that and I enjoyed them to a certain point. But it never made me excited.
Many people were annoyed by the female lead in the beginning but started to like her later on. For me it was the other way around. I liked her in the first episodes but as the story went further, she became a bothersome side character whose behavior annoyed me at times. Kim Min Jung had a strange way of portraying her role, especially the way she spoke. Though I admit that there were also some few scenes where I could empathize with her, for example during the more serious moments and/or when she got hurt. But the overall view of her character was plain and without any depth, and there was no character development whatsoever. And that was actually the problem with most of the characters. Superficial stereotypes who never stood out or made their appearance memorable.
The other thing and probably the biggest flaw in my eyes was the spy story, and partly at fault are eventually its characters who never made me invested enough in their circumstances to even be thrilled by their next move. The execution of the overall story, the hidden wheel in the background, the step by step revelations... everything had a choppy feel to it. It failed to build up the right amount of suspense to make me excited enough about its secretive picture.
I rarely drop dramas, seriously. I want to watch the whole thing when I start something. So, if there is even ONE thing that got my attention, I'll see it through. Man to Man does have some good parts to it, too.
First of all would be the villain. Yeon Jung Hoon. I was so happy to finally see him again after such a long time and he didn't disappoint me. His performance was great in every aspect and to the smallest details. Whenever he appeared, my attention level rose to new heights. He was calm, smart and cocky. He played one greedy bastard but he also felt human in some ways. He was playing his role with such passion that he made me root for him all the way. And his story even had a satisfying wrap up.
The other thing that I enjoyed alot was the bromance. They managed to pull off that part quite well, although I wasn't always completely pleased with it because it lacked screen-time. I would have loved to see more interactions between all those guys and the bonds they had developed over time. Of course all their hilarious moments together were priceless and filled me up with joy. So, when it comes to this I definitely need to mention Park Sung Woong. I was looking forward to his appearance in this show and he never let me down. He was the epitome of bromance and needs special appreciation next to Yeon Jung Hoon.
I was also quite attached to Jung Man Shik's and Tae In Ho's characters here, and I think I need to include this to show that I did like some things.
Park Hae Jin is a special case in this drama. I'm not saying he was bad. He definitely wasn't. His acting was good most times and I enjoyed it. His character-display was just a bit average. Honestly, I've seen way better performances of him in Cheese in the Trap and Bad Guys.
See? Not everything was bad. And I admit that they had some short-while thrilling scenes during the last episodes. I give them that.
Don't take my personal opinion to heart. I know that many people enjoyed this, so it's a controversial issue in the end. But maybe there are some others who agree with me ;) Would I recommend it? Honestly, I have no idea. I would probably prefer other dramas over this.
Btw, my rating for the music... Well, it's not very high, I know. The drama had some nice songs but those themes that were played during the spy and action scenes were getting on my nerves at some point.
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So, to summon it up, this drama is flashy, cheesy, overly dramatic and sometimes seriously ridiculous. The synopsis for this show is quite scarce, so I'll try to describe some additional facts first.
The king rules over his country. That's how it should be. But in fact, he is only a puppet who is led by Pyunsoo Group, a large hidden organization that has its own trick to control the royal family quite well. The Crown Prince meanwhile has to wear a mask in order to hide his face because of an illness he got when he was born - at least that's what the people and the ministers believe. And because of Pyunsoo Group he is also forced to live outside the palace someday. There he meets Ga Eun who he will fall in love with.
The basic plot is actually quite interesting. That's why it's so sad that it doesn't live up to its potential in the end. It had a steady atmosphere what I liked about this drama, but every now and then it managed to drop one or two ridiculous bombs that were either created by some nonsensical decisions or resulted in some foolish actions.
There were alot of characters who had the potential to something big, but they never rose from their grounds. Same applies for the acting. Though I can't blame half of them because they got some crappy scripts for their roles, the other half of the cast was only average or worse.
As interesting as the beginning was, I never saw an actual improvement of the Crown Prince. He might have become a little smarter, that's all. Same goes for the female lead. At a certain point in the drama, she started to annoy me because so many bad things happened only because of her. It irritated me so much, that almost every decision centered around her. She was either bait or needed protection or whatever. I don't know where it went wrong but her role felt more like a burden than a blessing/support. I admit that I enjoyed some of her scenes with the Crown Prince though. But that's as far as it goes.
At some point I started to favor the second female lead more than the actual one. There was definitely growth in her character while she was one of the most conflicted persons in the story. And although I was skeptical regarding the actress at first, I'm glad that she pulled off her character so well that I even felt sad about her efforts being in vain - though on the other hand she did accomplish some of her wishes in the end.
There are only a few performances I truly enjoyed. The Queen Dowager, the second female lead's father, the female lead's father, Woo Bo (Lee Sun's teacher) and Dae Mok, the head of Pyunsoo Group. Their acting was shining compared to the rest. Yoo Seung Ho had his moments, too, and I enjoyed most of his scenes, but damn, he's one teary guy. His hair is beautiful though...
There is indeed an unhealthy amount of crying. Alot of it. And everyone seems to be a real crybaby, it spreads like a disease. Shedding tears during almost every serious moment.
Did I like something? The clothes, the cinematography, the MUSIC (that score was good~), impressive entrances (esp from Yoo Seung Ho, his royal demeanor was intriguing) and some really good fighting scenes.
Recommendation is debatable and this is definitely not a sageuk for everyone. It's quite predictable, with alot of stereotype characters and some questionable turn of events. Despite that I still felt entertained to a certain degree. There were many moments that kept my interest throughout the whole drama and I wanted to see the finale, even though I already knew how it would probably end~
And Yoo Seung Ho's hair was so beautiful... Did I already mentioned that? Damn, that dude is gorgeous.
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So, what's this drama basically about... Love, revenge, adventure, action, drama. Park Yoon Kang, son of the head of the palace guard becomes a criminal after his dead father was falsely accused of high treason. Common plot in sageuks. He swears to take revenge on everybody who was involved in those conspiratorial accusations. And how is he doing that? He's taking on the new identity of a Japanese merchant.
Although the main story is nothing new, the way it was developing was quite interesting and kept me glued to the screen. One misfortune chasing another, and every time something good happened, at the same time a subtle ominous feeling was coming along. I was never able to relax because it seemed like the bad guys were always one step ahead which drove me crazy to a point that I wasn't even able to concentrate at my work.
What I liked about this drama were those well-defined, multi-faceted characters. Watching their development - for better or worse - was really interesting and sometimes shocking at the same time. You grew to like someone, understood him or her... and suddenly everything changes and you just get disappointed in that person. Or you discover a new side of somebody you didn't like at the beginning but can now relate to him/her a little more. If I remember correctly, the only character that stayed true to himself till the end was the main lead. And as we have Lee Joon Ki here, he delivered his role perfectly and didn't disappoint one bit. He just got even better during the drama.
I also and especially liked a particular bond between one bad guy and his daughter. Although I don't pardon everything they did, I'm still able to acknowledge the suffering that drove them. The only thing I really missed was the daughter's inner conflict caused by her lost love and the decision she made afterwards. I would have liked it more if they had made her look more torn by her actions in the second half of the drama.
But the romance part was sometimes lacking anyway. I was not always convinced by it as there were just too few scenes that got me emotionally. Most times it was solid but it didn't get me completely.
What also bothered me were those obvious moments where you just think "Wtf?! Keep a straight face if you're going to spy!" or "Stay at your hideout if you're one against hundred!". Minor issues but they kept popping up towards the end. Maybe I'm too stubborn on this as it is a general issue in k-dramas. So, don't mind me ;)
Nevertheless, something I enjoyed wholeheartedly were those awesome fighting scenes. Seriously, just perfect. I wish they had added more of those because it was highly entertaining to see Park Yoon Kang (Lee Joon Ki) fight off the bad guys. That alone should be a reason to watch the drama.
So, despite my small criticism on some points, Joseon Gunman is still a highly recommended drama in my eyes. If you wanna watch an adventurous historical drama, this one will quite satisfy you.
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Overall this one is a lightweight sageuk residing in the comedy genre with a slice of sketchy corruption. That pretty much describes it all.
Tastes usually differ, especially with rom-coms and it always depends on what the viewers expect of it. Since this one also belongs to that genre, the drama delivered that part well enough if you want to enjoy something lighthearted (even though I myself didn't feel that much emotion between the leads because it felt rushed to me).
My complains about the story are that the corruption plot staggered alot in the middle and the story didn't seem to move forward at all - while the finale seemed very rushed again. The villains were shallow and only loosely defined. And I really wish that they had given the (current) queen more depth - I don't mean some excursion into the past that justifies her actions but more sides to her character in the present. She was so lopsided. I would have liked to see if she indeed genuinely cared for the prince, for example.
Other than that I enjoyed the side characters quite alot. They were essential for the comedy part and did a really good job. I also loved the costumes, the colors and the music in this. And they even had some really pretty and artistic scenes, especially in the beginning.
Despite my own divided impression on this, I would still recommend it to people who look for a lighthearted romance with a side plot that doesn't put them into much agony. If you still can't decide whether to watch it or not then try to imagine putting historical costumes on modern day people and throw them onto a sageuk stage. You have fancy cafés, a manicure salon and all the values people nowadays cherish.
(btw, I can't compare this to its original since I haven't seen that one)
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Every case started with a ghostly incident and I admit that those were kind of creepy. Especially when you watch them at night, alone. Unfortunately each one of them couldn't hold the tension. Of course, they had their interesting parts. But I got bored many times during one episode and just wished for them to be solved already. The suspense falls by the wayside. Sadly, that pattern doesn't get better until most of the drama is already over. Only one third of it got me hooked, honestly.
It's a shame that the ghosts become something like bystanders who almost disappear after their introduction at the beginning of every episode. They should have gotten bigger parts, it's a drama about a ghost-seeing detective after all. That one student ghost who accompanies the police is just not enough. Though I like the actress and the character she's playing... She couldn't save the day either.
The main story is evolving almost too late, considering that the drama has only 10 episodes. The saddest thing though is that is has almost nothing to do with ghosts. Solely speaking of the basic concept of that certain case, it WAS interesting. But it still missed the point and had so many flaws in its execution. Again, it should involve ghosts... There was so much potential and so many wasted opportunities in the last episode where they could have integrated those things.
I had also a hard time with scene editing, story telling, sudden conclusions that appeared out of nowhere, confusing plot twists and the way they portrayed Korean police. Like there's only this one police squad of five people that doesn't call for back-up while storming a secret gathering? Or experienced officers who mess up a crime scene? Yeah, whatever... I know that it's somewhat like a drama cliché. But there are dramas where it doesn't look so bad.
Acting was solid most times. Not too bad, nothing special either. But I had a hard time with that new female member they introduced in this season. She had her good parts, too, but still couldn't win me over in the end.
I don't regret watching this since there were also some very funny parts, but all those flaws mentioned earlier didn't allow me to rate it any higher.
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There is this thing with a 10 point rating. Some give it very easily, some almost never give 10 points. As for me, it's like this: If a drama is successfully absorbing me into its universe and everything just seems to be perfect to me, then it reached a point where it's worth receiving my whole dedication. It doesn't matter if others say, there are flaws in it, whether it's true or not. I just don't see them anymore as I am part of that new world where there are no 'story-faults' and such things.
Signal was successful in every matter.
First episode and it just pushes you right in the middle of the event. You get immediately drawn to the characters, the suspense and the story. You don't have time to take a deep breath, instead you completely hold it. And when you think it's over and you can take some minutes to rest, the next incident is already starting and you just get sucked in again. If you're lucky, you get some minutes to reminisce about and take in what just happened. But as the story continues, the suspense intensifies and breaks loose in a shocking finale.
They like to play with your emotions. Ups and downs, but most of all excitement and anxiousness. Plenty of. The acting was on point, it captivates you. There is this female cop you're dealing with. And there's the present version and a past version of her. They are completely different as the older version has matured and became stronger. You just see the growth. And there's this guy. You see him and you want to help him. You see his conviction and his struggle. You just want to be by his side, so he won't be the lonely hunter in a forest full of wolves. And then there's this boy. He's so full of himself and full of hate for others and the world. But he gets a chance and a view from another angle. And he takes it. And don't forget this villian. You don't know about him right away but you soon grow to hate him like no other. Extremely. Wholeheartedly.
Every minute, every scene, every moment. It just fits. It just gives you this special feeling about the story and its meaning. And then there's this nostalgic feeling to it. You can't even discribe it. It just takes you back in time and like you're reminiscing about your own past, it carries this wistful desire to actually go back, live again and maybe change something.
To get to know that many cases are real-time cases makes the drama even heavier and impacting. Sometimes you think writers create scary non-realistic monsters. But truth be told, our world, our reality creates the most fearsome monsters you just wouldn't believe them to exist among us.
Whether there is one or not. Everyone has to decide that for themselves. But the drama depicts some really interesting and worth thinking about questions. Most of all: What would you do if you could change the past?
Deserved 10 points.
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If the only thing that keeps you from watching this drama is the title, just ignore it. Give it a chance and you may be surprised by it. It's a story that tells about doctors who try to protect their ~romantic ideals and about doctors who yet have to come to their own ones as they grow with their difficult tasks day by day (and sometimes have to be pushed into the right direction). It's a story that shows what doctors can be like if society and power-ruling wouldn't interfere and darken single souls. Though this doesn't mean the drama is free from money-driven betrayals that go along with the main plot. It's still a k-drama thing.
Some of you may already know Han Seok Kyu and some of his works. If so, you might already belong to his fans. If not, this drama would be an excellent first try to get to know this wonderful, brilliant actor. His acting alone is worth a 10 and I have no doubt that he will also cast a spell over you - like he did with me some time ago.
His co-actors and co-actresses shouldn't be disregarded either. Though they might not yet reach the level of this acting senior, they did a very good job themselves in supporting the story. I liked many of the face to face dialogues as they gave special light to the respective characters and left quite the impact sometimes. But what I really loved and appreciated in this drama were all those small cases that happened all the time (and that helped keeping the pace and suspense of the story). Most times the guest actors were great with their short appearances and their stories really touched my heart. And I was pleased to see doctors deeply care for their patients in a way I imagine a doctor to be.
But although the drama itself was pretty good, I just had to take off a point. I got irritated every time an emergency occurred and they just stood there, arguing with themselves, arguing with others, having the whole staff watching them while nobody is actually working. I do get that doctors are humans, too, and they can have a bad day or feel bad or whatever. But the whole thing doesn't work when everyone plays along and nobody sees the actual emergency right in front of their eyes. A problem many medical dramas face and sadly, Romantic Doctor couldn't escape that cliché either. Although it's not as bad as I've already seen it in other dramas - this one is still bearable.
So, overall a great show worth watching - either you get bothered by the flaws mentioned above or you just ignore them. Your choice on missing out this wonderful drama or not ;)
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The summary sounds like every other crime drama out there and I won't say it's different from others either. But in the end it depends on the script writing and the execution - and the acting, of course.
So Jang Hyuk's and Lee Ha Na's characters team up to catch a killer that murdered their family members. Both of them work at the emergency call center. That doesn't sound quite thrilling now, but let me tell you that the producers did a great job to get you excited about it immediately. Because the Golden Time (the first hours after a crime occurred and is reported to the emergency center) is one of the most crucial parts in hopefully solving a crime or prevent worse ones (i.e. kidnapping cases). And what is special here, is Lee Ha Na's character's ability to hear more than others. Due to an accident she developed some kind of supernatural hearing that allows her to hear more than others - even through headphones.
Right from the beginning the drama holds the suspense on a level that definitely makes your heart race. Fast camera movements and a good timing of scene editing ensure that.
I can't say that this drama doesn't have any problems. It's still a k-drama and there are some flaws and again sometimes the police just looked stupid. You also have those characters who you want to punch because their behavior is so wrong when it comes to being professionals. But! There are also characters that I didn't like but who grew on me during the story, no matter that their behavior went into opposite directions.
I also must admit that the story had some problems in the middle and lost some of its speed. I also think that the killer's identity was revealed too early in the drama which caused a big slow down as the story went a bit into some shady business themes. Although this doesn't mean that the killer's charisma wasn't engaging. He was a great psycho who gives you goosebumps.
The whole acting of the cast was fantastic. From the leads to supporting characters to guest roles. Especially the latter. They captivated me during their short appearances in the drama and made every single case into something special. I never found them boring. They were thrilling and emotionally moving. At some point they were even more interesting than the main plot.
The finale completely made up for the the middle part though. It picked up the speed and suspense again and let the drama end in an enthralling way.
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