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The Land of Smiles

yannie_alienates

The Land of Smiles
Completed
A Christmas Carol
26 people found this review helpful
Jan 5, 2023
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 5.0

“You’ll lose the one in your hand, trying to catch the one on the run.”

I actually…the more I think on it…genuinely liked this movie. Jinyoung acted his socks off, and for this, I think his future in acting will be rewarding and he’ll develop quite the repertoire. He isn’t just a pretty face.

While I liked this movie, it is dark for a Korean movie (if you’re used to watching their romance comedies and typical melodramas). But if you’ve seen your fair share of revenge flicks, and a good mix of British/American independent movies, you’re strong enough to watch “A Christmas Carol”.

The ending is satisfying enough to leave you pondering about your own life. What do you take for granted? How important is the goal you’re so dead set on completing? Do you want to become those who’ve hurt you?

Although you provide support to those you love by putting a roof over their head, actually showing them affection and support matters. Also, you must think about society, and who it’s left behind. Sometimes it’s even simply best to leave the bad guys getting their just deserts by fate and bad karma alone. No need to carry it out on your own and with force. There’s a favorite quote of mine that says something about choosing to forgive because it’s best for one’s peace of mind. And I consider this sentiment along with the idea that sometimes it’s best not knowing. It’ll drive you crazy.

Having said that, I must mention that I’m an identical twin, and this movie did hit home for me. There was one scene in particular that actually made me cry because I’d hate to see my twin sister in a pretty terrible situation due to the fact that she couldn’t share with me what was hurting her. Sometimes I hurt my sister’s feelings, and lash out at her due to stress. I’m so goal driven, but I hardly stop to take care of myself. So, how he pushed away his brother made me look at myself. Never take your loved ones for granted.

If you’re simply a fan of Park Jinyoung, or like a revenge flick…you’re in a for a big surprise. At first you may feel tricked, but in the end you will realize it was worth it. This movie will stay with me for quite sometime. And maybe my sister will one day stop asking me, “Why are you still going on about the movie? I thought you said it was too dark? I don’t want to see it.”

Therefore, I believe it’s a great watch if you’re a fan of movies that are different and make you think. Rewatch value depends on the individual. But the older I get I believe I just might re-watch this in the following years. Whether to see how far Park Jinyoung has come in his acting, or to remember why this movie has stayed with me for all these years.

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Completed
The Giver
2 people found this review helpful
Nov 22, 2022
13 of 13 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

“It’s a good thing to give someone a chance. It gives people something to hope for.”

I really did enjoy this drama. Lah was a great protagonist I truly rooted for.

The first scene in the first episode is great! You don’t know what’s going on but you want to find out. And his character introduction was awesome. He’s a real no-nonsense fighter. But he’s a dreamer too.

Akat was a nice female lead. She really complemented Lah. I enjoyed how their relationship was built on trust. They believed in each other wholeheartedly. And they shared more than one kiss (I was happy about that). Their little love motifs were so adorable. White sneakers and Chinese. I like how Akat was so steadfast in her love for Lah. She never looked at him as a criminal. And I loved the way Akat just adored her. No questions about it. Lah and Akat were both smart when hiding their relationship. They didn’t slip up. The actor and actress did have chemistry. I genuinely think so. The way Tor looked at Plengkwan…and the way Plengkwan smiled and laughed when with Tor. It was definitely convincing.

Fah, Lah’s sister, was irritating at first. I didn’t understand her ways. I even thought she was a little selfish. But I didn’t understand her. Fah was just built different. Even though her brother was right, I do understand why she still did what she did. And you see her kind nature as the story goes on. She’s really cool and I like how she considered Akat a friend. I liked Fah’s fashion. Especially in the last two episodes. Jumpsuits and feminine pantsuits fit Ben’s figure nicely. I liked her with straighter hair too. And I like how Fah didn’t let anyone talk down to her without saying a few words back with the same energy.

Hirun was ugh. I don’t know. I was so divided throughout the drama. But I must admit…I kinda had a soft spot for him because he reminded me of Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars. Their characters were so alike. Self destructive rich boys with abusive fathers. So, I understood his actions even though they were stupid. But I do think we could’ve gotten an episode centered on his redemption alone. But I was satisfied with what I got in the end. It was so funny seeing him talk about prison with the other guys. I feel as though he can really get into the friend group/bromance. Maybe he’d start calling Yang “Dad”. And I believe Hirun was right when he told his father that Yang seemed to like him. I think so too. Maybe he could see the good in Hirun. Hirun just needed to own up to his sins and crimes first. When Hirun finally gets that redemption arc you can see how his whole aura and demeanor changes. When he admitted to his wrong doings he looked at Lah, Fah, and Akat as though he were saying he was sorry. Bright portrays it all well. Bright and Ben’s chemistry was lovely too.

I loved Yang and the comedian friend. They were great friends to Lah. I liked the store workers too. That scene at the funeral was well choreographed and executed. I think Thai dramas are great at their action/fight scenes.

Special mention, Santi was so timid at the beginning. But he started to really win me over. After Lah and Hirun, he was the third character to show a lot of character growth. He was so cool in the last episode. No more feeble Santi. He actually became a favorite character.

So, please give this drama a try! It’s unique and a lot more positive than most Lakorns. It has enough darkness and light.

The drama’s themes is all about poetic justice, redemption, and owning your faults. It makes me think of two quotes:

“Own your truth and no one can use it against you.”

and

“We’re not punished for our sins. We’re punished by them.”

10/10. Might rewatch it one day. It gives me hope that no matter how bad it seems at one point if your life, it gets better.

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Completed
Love in a Loop
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 23, 2022
24 of 24 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

HamsterGoose fighting!

Okay. What I would like to say first is that this drama is a actually a good reference for what to expect when you’re working in the “professional” workspace for the first time. It be corporate, an internship, a 9 to 5 in manufacturing, or what have you. Because sometimes one may experience the downsides, such as “politicking”, gaslighting, a hostile workplace environment, a lot of swept-under-the-rug conspiracies, and straight up mean and manipulative bosses and managers. No, that is not something one should always expect, but based on my experience as a young professional, “Love in a Loop” felt so real in that regard.

Therefore, I’ll say that this drama was actually a lot deeper than it paints itself to be. Despite Mr. Bai’s isms at the beginning; coming off as dislikable, mean, and ruthless you start to realize as the show goes on that his ways had a reason behind them. Were some of the reasons the absolute best reasons, NO. Yet, there was one quote by him that really stuck with me: “A director’s job isn’t about telling others what to do. It’s all about motivating your workers to get the job done.” So, maybe a director is like being a coach for a sports team.

Mr. Bai isn’t likable in the beginning. His voice is obnoxious, and you want to keep checking back on here to see if he really is the male lead…but that’s what makes Bai Ke’s performance noteworthy. He gives you what the summary describes the boss as: rude and narcissistic. Then the drama starts to unfold and you start to see that there is more to him, and that he’s actually attractive. You might even get sucked into believing that HuoHuo might even have better qualities than him, but when Mr. Bai was up against HuoHuo, you start to realize that a person isn’t simply defined by “best”, “ideal”, or “better”. They’re defined by who they are within and how they make those you define as “good” feel. So, when Luduo (who I refer to as Duo) started to see the good in him and root for him, you started to see why. The more she fell for him, I started to like him even more.

Of course there were parts in the drama that made me roll my eyes and question the writers in terms of characters’ actions…But I don’t rate dramas based off of things like inconsistencies, a bad hairdo, or even a lack of skinship and kissing. I rate based off of how it made me feel and if the main leads end up together in a satisfying way. And “Love in the Loop” made me feel happy, I watched all of it in three days. Some said the show made them laugh, cry, and all that jazz. For me, it made me smile, sigh in annoyance, laugh, and realize that even though you can’t change time, you can always grow as a person and look for change to make those around you’s lives better. Even now, I’m at a point in my life where I wish a time loop could occur for me. But “Love in a Loop” made me see that even if I had a time loop to help me, I’d still go through all the emotions and feelings of turmoil that come with life regardless. Sure, I could declare my love for the one that got away, but maybe it still wasn’t meant to be.

In the end, I found myself rooting for Duo and Mr. Bai to end up together. Throughout the drama Duo is steadfast in her love for Mr. Bai. Mr. Bai returns her feelings, but he isn’t able to communicate them as effectively, until…well, you’ll see. It’s a nice twist actually.

At one point, subordinate becomes superior and superior becomes subordinate, but the leads realize that through that switch they start to understand each other. Duo starts to see that Mr. Bai was a true professional, although severely rough around the edges, hehe. Mr Bai starts to see that Duo was a true gem despite the obstacles that came with having a domineering superior/boss. I liked how Duo and Mr. Bai lifted each other up. Even though Duo and HuoHuo came off as the “better match” there was never that drastic growth that Duo and Mr. Bai encouraged from each other. Duo sought Mr. Bai’s guidance and Mr. Bai looked to Duo to help him become a better person. As their relationship blossomed I started to notice how much Duo loved talking to him and responding to his words and critiques. She allowed herself to fall for him. Then I started to take notice of how much Mr. Bai subconsciously gravitated towards her warm and caring aura; willing to let her help him and team up with him. All in all, they helped and encouraged each other through and through. HamsterGoose is the ship name I think Jr. Bai would’ve coined for the pair, since he mentioned he shipped them. I also appreciated Mr. Bai’s silent support he gave Duo, and his ability to take a step back when needed.

I now even understand that Time Loops can be used as a soulmate trope.

The side characters were interesting too. Jr. Bai was a cutie, and Steve was hilarious.

I recommend solely for the leads, other characters, romance, and 1st and 3rd act.

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Completed
Hidden Love
2 people found this review helpful
Sep 4, 2023
25 of 25 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10

Hidden Love, Hidden Gem, Hidden Talent

What I really liked about this drama was not only the romance, but the couple’s journey itself. Sang Zhi’s coming of age was a lovely and relatable tale. Including Jiaxu’s and Sang Yan’s transition to working adult-hood. I felt like I wasn’t alone. They were worried about college and graduating, and then there was the having to find a job and stick with it. Those aspects made me really enjoy the show. Adulting is hard but it’s not unbearable. Especially when you have a friend or family beside you.

And in episode 23, Sang Zhi’s love confession was everything. I think this scene was acted so well. Zhi looked so pretty. And Jiaxu looked so handsome. The actors really stunned me here. Second to “The Day of Becoming You”, I’d say this is one of the best love confessions in all of CDRAMA history. I really felt that scene. I’ll always go back to it.

I liked how steadfast Zhi was when it came to her love for Jiaxu. She was bold, and her personality really came alive. I like how when people came at Jiaxu wrong, she’d defend him. Wholeheartedly. With no effs to give. I’m really, Duan Jiaxu held on to her love as well.

Jiaxu was a good character too. He always said what he meant, and was extremely genuine as a best friend and boyfriend. He was never out of line. Zhi was great at reading people. And wasn’t cringe.

And I really adored Zhi’s older brother. His fashion style fit the actor and made him even more attractive. Yan’s personality really gave the show some relief. He was understandable and he never alienated Jiaxu or his sister when it came to their relationship. I was so annoyed with him at one point, but his personality and smile made me feel all fuzzy inside too. I was so sad when he was off-screen sometimes. He was a good older brother, who never hesitated when it came to defending his sister from the bullies.

Overall, this drama will always hold a special place in my heart. The characters did and said what you wanted them to say (which was pleasantly surprising). And none of the characters that mattered were harmed in any serious way. I wish I had a friend like WeiWei and the others. Alas, I can only write about friends I wish I had.

Will watch again one day. I recommend! 10/10!

P.S.

There’s no grooming or weird-isms in this drama. So, don’t let some weird words from others cause you to overlook this drama.

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Completed
The Love Proposal
1 people found this review helpful
Nov 26, 2022
15 of 15 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Time management is key!

“If you’re drunk from alcohol, it will disappear soon. If you’re drunk with love, it’s never ending.”

As confirmed by Time’s pals, the poet Soontornphu might’ve never said that. But Time’s friend Oak has a point. I must mention that I really appreciated Oak’s comic relief, along with Time’s support from his group of pals: one was a cop (always willing to investigate with Time), one was a doctor (who was always there at the office prepared to treat Time’s loved ones), and one was a scriptwriter for dramas (who always offered emotional insight).

Moving on, I enjoyed this drama. It will always hold a special place in my heart. All the characters are memorable, and no actor nor actress lacked in talent and did as the role demanded.

But most of all, I liked Time. He was a true protagonist who definitely won me over. He always had his brother’s back, and always questioned those who questioned his brother. He never wavered in his loyalty, and was always quick to react with a closed fist and honest words. Tre really gives a solid performance here. I liked his facial expressions. He knows how to act with his eyes. Fern (as Treenut) and Toy (as Touch) play their parts superbly as well. Fern was an awesome female character who was a great cook and artist. Carried herself confidently but good natured and subtle. I liked her fashion style as well. Toy was able to exude the friendly nature that Touch’s character was. I like the first scene in the drama because it gives the audience a good idea of the both brothers’ personalities and good traits.

The brothers’ mother, Yada, was a great character as well. On the surface one may be quick to judge her. But I rooted for her as well. I understood her determination and desperation. Her eldest son’s sexuality wasn’t something she necessarily abhorred, nor was it something she judged him for alone. She just didn’t want her rival sister in law’s son to destroy the company her husband and father in law worked so hard to establish (and died doing so). But so determined to see her sons be their best selves, she failed to see their sadness. But she still comes out winning and supportive.

The two villains, both Chun and Risa were, ugh, so grating. But Ice and Part definitely brought it. Even though Risa was evil, she never tried to paint herself as dainty or innocent. Everything she did was in true diva and villainess fashion. And at least her father provided her those “pet the dog” moments. At least he was her rock. But both Risa and Chun have harsh demises; which they deserved. But I must note: Every time Chun would reveal a secret that hindered Touch’s role, why would he do it at the expense of humiliating his grandmother? Why couldn’t he at least do the big dirty reveals one-on-one with his grandmother, who decided the heir apparent? Yet, in the last episode I understood why the grandmother allowed that. And in result, when Chun’s evil ways come to light, everyone issues out their revenge to him in the same fashion he did them. Out in the open at the most inappropriate time. I almost fail to mention Chane. He was great at seduction. He was Touch’s weakness, and that broke my heart. I’m glad he gets his comeuppance too. His most powerful and evil trait blew up in his face.

Salut and Wadee are the second pairing. And their relationship carried out well. And I rooted for them too. Yet, I wished we could’ve seen them more in the aftermath at the end. But I know they were happy in their new and happy life together. I was waiting for the pair to cross paths with Time. And I’m glad when they did.

Time and Treenut were an amazing couple. And I’m glad they got their happy ending. The moments when they’d eat together is when I’d see the chemistry the most. Fern and Tre weren’t acting, the audience was simply intruding on their date.

Lastly, I enjoyed the OSTs. Some complain about the OSTs. But I enjoyed them. I like how the main OST was included heavily in the score, along with its various instrumentals. It deserves an official remix. I enjoyed the part in episode 4 where Pop makes a cameo. But then in episode 14 (or was it 15?) where he makes another cameo. I like it when the singer cameos to perform the song live.

Will rewatch this drama again in the future. 10/10. Recommend.

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Completed
Lock Me Up, Tie Him Down
1 people found this review helpful
Sep 15, 2022
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

“It’s easy to find someone you love. But it’s hard to find someone who loves you.”

I truly enjoyed this movie. At first I thought it was going to be outright nonsense. A laugh here, a laugh there. Male lead is goofy with no real substance, and the FL with no backstory and just there to look pretty and dumb. But that’s what they want to fool you into thinking.

Also, there’s nothing forbidden or illicit (in terms of a relationship) between the ML and FL that makes them dislikable to the audience. They actually fit each other well, and the actors He Jiong and Vivian Hsu make a good team as they seem comfortable and at ease with each other. Vivian Hsu plays off of He Jiong’s humor perfectly.

Now back to the premise.

Tiffany and Huo Ke meet when he breaks into her house and tells her he’s kidnapped her husband. If she doesn’t give into Huo Ke’s demands, her husband is dead meat.

But the arrangement is still innocent enough, and Huo Ke doesn’t take this opportunity to take advantage of Tiffany. Rather it's to just be a husband to a decent woman who cooks and cleans for him. Meanwhile, Tiffany is thinking about the danger her husband may be in, and gets out her Sherlock Holmes’ cap, and goes sleuthing when she has the chance to escape unnoticed. Eventually she figures out that her husband isn’t locked up in Huo Ke’s bathroom, getting ready to be fried in the bathtub… Tiffany is confused.

Regardless, she still plays wife to Huo Ke, and later finds out that their meeting wasn’t as strangers…rather, she and Huo Ke are old friends…

I could spoil more. But I don’t want to. Just know that the movie is heartwarming, and maybe you’ll have to rewatch in order to see what you didn’t notice the first time. Take for example, when they’re sitting on the couch and she’s telling him about “Amour Island”, they’re sitting so casually on the couch together, his head resting on her shoulder (mimicking the movie poster). It’s only when they notice this that they scoot away from each other. Or when Tiffany walks out to greet Huo Ke’s friends (while the song “Yumeji’s Theme” plays) to serve them drinks, and how Huo Ke smiles at her with admiration and a knowing glint in his eye (as though he knows a secret he’s only told himself). Another thing to pay attention to is at the beginning, right when the narration begins.

The supporting cast is good too. The nosy neighbor and son are hilarious, and the annoying police officer who just wants that promotion is pretty great. Wang Xumo Bing plays a great conniving, evil, manipulative, and some-what charming husband to Tiffany/Vivian Hsu (and he gets what he deserves in the end). Also, a young KUN is so sweet to see here. He was so young in this movie.

In the end, with enough patience and curiosity, you’ll realize that the watch was worth it. When looking at other reviews online about “Lock Me Up…” a reviewer on WordPress mentioned that one of the lessons in the movie is about “knowing when it’s right to lie”. And Huo Ke had that right. Tiffany’s husband didn’t.

Recommend 10/10.

It’s stayed on my movie shelf forever ever sense. I watch it a couple times a year when I’m feeling sad.

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Completed
The Other Side Of A Gentleman
1 people found this review helpful
Sep 14, 2022
Completed 0
Overall 6.0
Story 3.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 10
Rewatch Value 4.0
This review may contain spoilers

The Other Side Of A Rom Com

I went into watching the movie knowing what to expect…Or at least I thought so. I’m a huge fan of Hong Kong movies, and I’m used to their humor and zaniness. But there was actually none of that…really; it only ended like one. Which was okay, I’m glad when the plot is taken seriously, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of Cantonese humor and it’s tendency to be made from contrived plots and unsophisticated humorous flair. Yet, in the “The Other Side of Gentlemen” I wished things had been fleshed out more. It was all very robotic and a huge let down.

The only character who truly showcased growth was Alan Ng. Therefore, I believe that’s why his character came off the most pathetic but you felt empathy for him; he actually deserved better, even someone better than JoJo. So, I expected Alan Ng to have the chance to shine at one point in the story. He could have unexpectedly left everyone speechless in the party scene, and showed off his knack for language, soft skills, and salesmanship; he could’ve painted himself as a true businessman. He could’ve made all those engineers, accountants, scientists, doctors, and professors lose face while impressing JoJo. But that didn’t happen. He could have even had the opportunity to showcase his Japanese speaking abilities more, or get promoted at his job. But that didn’t happen. He could have went on a date with another woman to make JoJo jealous and make her question whether or not she chose the wrong man. But that didn’t happen. JoJo could have met Alan’s sister and seen his more sweet side when she saw him interacting with his sister. That didn’t happen.

There were so many missed opportunities the director didn’t pursue. So, the story fell flat.

None of the college students, scholars, and others were really likable except for Alan’s friends and his little sister. The priest was even decent. But other than that, I think Alan’s behavior towards the end was justifiable. The experimenters needed to realize what they created, and it be used against them. But that brings up another point, JoJo should have broken up with her fiancé. Not because I thought she was better fit for Alan Ng (because I don’t believe she deserved him), but because her fiancé was willing to put her in a situation that was dangerous. She became his puppet like Alan, but he was able to still get the girl. It was all about power and manipulation on his end. For psychologist, they were truly fickle people. All the college students and educated folks were negative.

So, the story missed its mark. It had so much potential to be better than it was. I wish the audience could have gotten a better glimpse of JoJo’s home life (and maybe even some backstory), same with Alan but in terms of his past (why did he drop out of college? Maybe his past heartbreak made him the person he was before he met JoJo…who knows…Maybe it’s up to the audience’s interpretation). We only got a couple cute moments between the leads, so, there could’ve been more romance. We could have gotten a better answer to why and how the leads fell for each other. I can only assume Alan brought out the easy going and happy sides of JoJo, gave her a zest for life and what youth is all about. And JoJo gave Alan the reason to grow and pursue a lot of the potential he had; to become a better person. But the audience didn’t get any of that because the director didn’t touch upon that part like he should have. JoJo and Alan’s relationship could have been showcased as something more deep than it was. JoJo should have had more girlfriends to seek advice from. She was always surrounded by bland individuals and men. I wished Alan and JoJo could’ve met each other’s parents too. I think that she went through with the wedding because she felt like she didn’t deserve Alan’s love, and maybe so…but they were both insane, so they deserved each other. He was an obsessed stalker, and she was a beautiful manipulator with the tenacity to build up and breakdown a man while looking him in the face.

The best part that made up for it- just a little bit-was the ending. Alan’s speech and proclamation of love when interrupting the wedding( Alan Tam actually looked pretty good in the suit with the purple flower), and JoJo’s goofiness (playing dead, and hopping on his motorcycle). I believe Brigette and Alan had chemistry, but it was overlooked by the material they were given.

Give the movie a watch if you’re a fan of Alan Tam and his songs, or want to see a young Brigette Lin in a role that was a far cry from the ones she would become famous for playing. In a way, this was one of the brighter and refreshing (happy and rom com-ish) movies on her filmography.

6/10. But I’m being generous. The ending kept me from rating it a tentative 5. Also, despite what others think, I actually liked the characters’ outfits. PVC jackets, and knock-off vans are quite fitting. The fashion was modern, camp, and colorful. Kind of reminded me of late 2000s and early 2010s (2007 - 2012).

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Completed
Arsenal Military Academy
0 people found this review helpful
Aug 19, 2022
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Happy birthday Yan Zhen! You know what I mean.

USAFarmgirl wrote this on a Soompi forum, and I think she sums up my feelings about this drama well:

“Can't get this song [Enter a Dream] off my mind or this story...It's not just the amazing OTP or their chemistry which I love. There is something even greater here. 

Proving it's not about rich or poor what you have or don't have. 

It's about the person you are inside. 

That each person has their own story and a gift within them. Strengths and weaknesses, courage and fears. That no matter the differences when brought together for a greater cause all those differences disappear. 

It's a love and bond not of the romantic kind but it's beauty warms the heart through laughter and tears and for those who have experienced it. 

It's no wonder those memories last for years…”

I truly loved this drama.

When I was finished with Arsenal Military Academy, I was left with a feeling of melancholy, as though I had to walk off into my own sunset, hoping to cross paths with Xiang/Liang Chen and Yan Zhen. But as expected, my journey with them had to come to an end.

I read countless reviews and comments all over the web in regard to AMA. Therefore, when starting the drama, I was a bit scared. I was anticipating my self to get frustrated and disappointed. But I wasn’t. I finished this drama in less than 5 days.

Most people complain about the love triangles and lack of screen time and skinship between the main pair…but, I was never truly dissatisfied. The main pair was who I rooted for from beginning to end. The first 20 episodes (basic training episodes) have a good amount of screen time between the pair. They aren’t kissing or proclaiming their love for each other…but they don’t and didn’t need to. How Xiang/Liang Chen and Yan Zhen looked at each other was enough for me. When Xiang/Liang Chen interacted with Yan Zhen I felt as though the outer world ceased to exist for her. From the beginning of the show Yan Zhen was drawn to Xiang/Liang Chen (the camisole scene in episode 1 is a scene I go back to a lot).


As for Jun Shan and Xiang/Liang Chen, when they were stuck in the hole together, he comforted Xiang/Liang Chen like an older brother. I feel as though this scene would’ve looked a lot different with Yan Zhen. I feel as though there would’ve been a lot more tension, plus it would have been more sweet and endearing. But ML and FL weren’t meant for this scene. The scene Xiang/Liang Chen and Yan Zhen were meant for happened previous episodes (e.g. When Yan Zhen surprises Xiang/Liang Chen by visiting her family home on break and meets the ‘Rents. Or when they end up in the jail cell with those students).

Some argue that Jun Shan was a better match because he loved “Liang Chen” before he loved Xiang, which painted a more of unconditional love. Yet, that isn’t a fair argument. Who knows if Yan Zhen would have fallen for “Liang Chen” if he had never known Liang Chen was a girl until a lot later. What matters is that Yan Zhen fell for Xiang/Liang Chen first.

Another staple scene I must note is around the first couple episodes. When Jun Shan prevents Xiang/Liang Chen from falling into the hole during their first test assignment and he carries her to safety—that scene is juxtaposed with a scene involving Xiang/Liang Chen and her late brother. What that simply shows to me is that Xiang/Liang Chen did in fact see Jun Shan as a brother from the get go. Disregard later episodes between Jun Shan and Xiang/Liang Chen because Xiang/Liang Chen was always running away from him or thinking of Yan Zhen who continued to have her back. I didn’t like it when Jun Shan realized his feelings and that Liang Chen was Xiang, and as a result started to become a lot more domineering towards Xiang/Liang Chen in later episodes (especially when he told her, seemingly out of nowhere, to button up her shirt). Sometimes Xiang/Liang Chen seemed a little annoyed by his behavior.

As someone else noted, after episode 38, when Xiang/Liang Chen realizes her feelings for Yan Zhen, she started to treat him more like a boyfriend. I wonder if Yan Zhen started to realize that…regardless, they started holding hands a lot more with subtle touches and throwing their arms around each other.

But outside of the romance, I loved all the characters. Especially those in the squad (Xiang/Liang Chen, Yan Zhen, Jun Shan, Song, Jin, and Yanlin). When it came to completing missions, the squad reminded me of episodes and dynamics you’d see in/from USA shows like Burn Notice and Leverage. I wish they’d have more “spy mission” episodes. Even when Wen Zhong was part of the squad everyone had an important role; nothing ever seemed amiss.

But my favorite episode arc is starting from episode 31 and ending around episode 38 when both Sergeants are MIA. Which meant all the students had a bit more freedom, and Jun Shan was out of the picture temporarily due to injuries obtained from a previous episode. But what this arc also consisted of was Yan Zhen unashamedly proclaiming his love for Xiang two times (“Happy birthday Xie Liang Chen! You know what I mean!”) as his classmates silently accept the bizarreness of it all. And a lot more funny and baddie episodes. The squad (minus Jun Shan) continued to dominate as well.

Yet, what I wished for was that Song could have had a love interest (I was low key shipping him and Xiao Jun), or that he could have found out that Liang Chen was the girl he’d in fact fallen for. I also wished that those deleted scenes could have been put back in the show along with those alleged 90 minutes of omitted footage too. But I’m okay with what I’ve got. Wait, one more wish is that Jun Shan could have found someone in the end, and that we could have gotten more of Xiang and Yan Zhen after they walked into the sunset. Yet, what would’ve made another interesting story arc would have been maybe that Jun Shan had truly fallen for Ms. Oda.

Yet, I’ll miss:

- Yanlin’s need to always act first when in the face of injustice. He really brought it home in the last episode.
- Ji Jin’s funny face expressions and subtleties.
- Song’s goofiness and innocence. Also his “bromance” with Yan Zhen and Xiang.
- Jin’s loyalty to Jun Shan.
- Sergeant Guo’s drinking and coolness. He was the cool and laidback Sergeant when compared to Lu. And I found it funny when Wen Zhong told him Liang Chen was actually a girl and Guo didn’t bat an eye.
- Song’s love for eggs.
- The fight scenes. I loved the revenge episode (ep 44), and the fight scene between Xiang and Ms. Oda. Sword vs. Bamboo stick.
- Tingbao’s love for Manting (and Manting’s subtle loyalty to Tingbai).
- Wen Zhong’s bullying ways…Only because that’s when Yan Zhen was able to showcase that he had Xiang’s back a lot more (staple episode: When Wen Zhong wants to be petty and have Xiang/Liang Chen fail the “tag test”, but Yan Zhen prevents that).
- An Wen’s beautiful face and notebook of names and pictures.
- Xiao Yu’s and Sergeant Guo’s love story.
- Xiao Yu’s “sons” who she took off the street and loved dearly.
- Yan Zhen’s hairdo, comic relief, outfits, and “smizing”.
- Manting’s rebellious but dignified ways. She was really cool when it came to snark and one-uppery
- Xiang/Liang Chen’s pretty face.
- Mrs. Xie being Team Yan Zhen, and telling Xiang (“I like to call him Yan Zhen. It sounds friendlier”).
- Tingbai’s ghost of a smile and mischievousness.

And the funny thing is, I started comparing AMA (Yan Zhen and Xiang/Liang Chen) to my favorite OTPs. Heck, I might even get around to writing some AMA FanFiction.

All in all, AMA is a great coming of age story. If only to cross paths with Yan Zhen and Xiang again…I’ll definitely rewatch in the future.

Happy birthday Arsenal Military Academy! I’ll celebrate it again.

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Completed
Let's Fight Ghost
0 people found this review helpful
Aug 3, 2022
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

Let’s Watch it Again

The moral of the story: Everyone has a dark side, or a darkness that surrounds them. But what one must realize is to never give into that darkness, because one must have the strength to see the good in what they have rather than to let the darkness consume them due to their situation. No matter if one believes in ghosts, or a particular religion. At the end of the day, we must find it within ourselves to do good and be good, or we will never know what holding ourselves accountable is all about. No matter how one must look on the outside, what matters is within. You can be perfect on the outside, but watch out, someone may see what you really are inside. What good has being evil ever done? Maybe a lot. But not in a good way. So, don’t carry all that bad around. Let the good come through and show you the way. Therefore, fight your demons! Don’t let them consume you!

Anywho, I have to agree with the others. The Thai version is better. Don’t get me wrong, the Korean version is the OG, but…This version was more edgy, no filter, and hilarious! The romance was well-played and so sweet (Off X Jeen forever). I smiled at how open they were about their feelings, and how they truly acted like a couple. The scene where she washed his hair was so heartwarming, and Off’s loyalty to Jeen was endearing.

I was also a fan of the guy friends (the duo) in the Korean version. But I’m an even bigger fan of the duo in the Thai version. Leng and Junior made me laugh so much. The more I saw of them, the more I recognized their strengths. But not only that, they made me realize that when you connect with individuals and it starts to become this routine; you start to shine based on the chemistry and camaraderie. The more the club started to take off, I started to see that Leng and Junior weren’t all talk, but they actually served a purpose and could contribute their strengths and talents to the group. Off started taking the duo seriously, and without saying it, considered them good friends. The scene where the duo and Off are drunk in the bar and singing is so funny. The song they sang was really nice too.

I don’t think anything was rushed at the end. It all ended nicely, although, I was slightly frustrated with Jeen’s mother, but I did understand where she was coming from. And it turned out alright in the end. Nothing that had me wishing it was executed differently (a lot better approach than in the kdrama).

I’ll come back and definitely rewatch the drama again.

But there are things I must note:

- I wish Leng’s lover from his past life would have turned up at the end as a student at the school, or in the very least, bumped into him somehow. But I don’t know much about reincarnation, so maybe it wasn’t possible.
- I think the reason why Hyunji (the lead of Kdrama version) didn’t necessarily remember her experience as a ghost was because perhaps her memories started to become blurred with her reality. Everything started to become blurred, which is a good thing. Everything started to group together naturally (falling back in love with Bongpul and joining Soondae Soup)
- I like how the duo (Junior and Leng) had their little weapons and contraptions at the end; they weren’t just the consultants they became fighters too. Their fear of ghosts no longer paralyzed them as much either.
- Professor Jade was really scary. Like, why did the 2nd FL get with him even after she knew he was crazy and evil? I think it was really dumb on her part. I bet she was wishing she’d been attracted to Off.
- I kept on referring to Professor Jade as “Professor BamBam” (cuz I thought the Kpop star shared a “slight” resemblance to the actor). 555555.
- I liked the character designs a lot more in this drama. People gripe about the red dress, but I think it fit the overall vibe of Jeen’s character (Feisty but girly). I also like the Uncle’s character design (his hairstyle really added to his kookiness). Off sported a low-key goth garb. And Leng and Junior’s character designs were so retro; colorful patterned shirts, cool graphic tees, and stylish sneakers.
- I’m sad that the Uncle’s girlfriend/bestie (Orn) had to die. But I think she saw how much the Uncle loved Off, and her death was the catalyst in helping him realize that he couldn’t fight alone.
- I like how Off and Jeen fought together. They made a nice team.
- The soundtrack/OST was superb. I ended up Shazam-ing a lot of the songs featured in the show.
- The overall premise of the story reminds me of a 90s Hong Kong movie titled “Pretty Ghost”.
- I feel as though the story premise (original webtoon) was meant for a Thai adaptation. The story was executed so fearlessly and naturally. I think the story went well with Thai culture.
- Again, the romance was so cute and feel-good.

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Completed
Heading to the Ground
0 people found this review helpful
Aug 2, 2022
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers

No Limit in quality to Vintage Kdramas

“He’s broken and bruised but still has time to be in a relationship; That’s what youth is.”

- Ajumma Ae Ja

I truly enjoyed this drama. It made me nostalgic because it came out in 2009 and I was a kid. Regardless, I will keep this drama close to my heart because it reminds me of why I don’t watch the Kdramas that come out now (2015- present).

Everyone has their preferences, and I do too. And I prefer 2000s Kdramas. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or maybe the the vast differences between Kdramas then and now.

Moving on, I’ve read many reviews of this drama, and some say U-Know couldn’t act, Ara and Uknow didn’t have chemistry, it was boring, blah blah blah. But I think the chemistry was great, because both leads genuinely acted as though they wanted the best for each other; as though they were the characters and not just acting. U-Know’s acting improved the more the show went on, and I particularly liked his look when he cut his hair and his style became a lot more refined. Another thing, some would probably say the first actor that was slated to portray Bong Kun was the better match. But I beg to differ. U-Know’s youthfulness and experience being on a “team” is what really brought the character Bong Kun to life. From immature and temperamental to carefree and responsible is something I’m not necessarily sure the other actor (Kim Rae Won) could have accomplished. I can only picture U-Know.

But my most favorite part in the drama is when both leads enter a singing contest and Hae-Bin’s performance wins over Bong-Kun’s suspiciously good/well-timed choreography and flawless showmanship.

But there are things I must note:

- Maxim is from UK (but he sounds like an American)?
- Second Male Lead is evil, and I’m glad he got what he deserved last episode (yet I sorta had a bleeding heart towards him because the actor who portrays him is so good at acting with his eyes) But all the manipulation and evilness all 16-episodes is something I couldn’t excuse. He also reaffirms to me why Lawyers can’t be trusted.
- Dong ho was so arrogant and insecure but he won me over in the last couple episodes
- I’m sad that the show got cancelled, and it couldn’t continue on for two more episodes. Because I loved the characters too much, and somehow I feel cheated. But the ending was good. I’m happy with it. I just wished to see a lot more in the last episode than I got. But what I got was absolutely okay and satisfying.
- I’m glad that the FL didn’t start off hating the ML. I think that’s what made me root for the couple. Very nice romance. Not forced, but real and natural like something in real life.
- AND I knew Ajumma Ae Ja looked familiar. Subconsciously I thought “She’s the grandma from that one critically acclaimed movie (Minari) who won an Academy Award.” Maybe it was her distinct voice or familiar face expressions.
- Yeon Yi was a cool female friend. Despite my hang ups about her when it came to her hostility towards Hae Bin, and when she’d let Dong Ho act so hostile towards Bong Kun, she had a really friendly nature.
- Someone else noted that the fashion was on par. It really was! I’m not sure whose outfits I liked more! But all the characters wore ‘em well. Kudos to the stylist(s).

Yet, most importantly, please give this drama a chance. If not for the plot, then be it for U-Know’s smile, or Ara’s hilarious off-key singing, Byeol-yi’s illustrations, Maxim’s attempt to communicate with others (a language barrier), Yeon yi’s food, actor Sang yoon’s expressive eyes, Hong Sang-min’s tough love (but silently rooting for the underdog), or maybe to be reminded that life is hard but you can’t give in to those around you who tell you you’re something you’re absolutely not. Also, never give up on what you love. If you must break from it temporarily, never get too comfortable. No Limit!

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Completed
Kids
0 people found this review helpful
Feb 23, 2022
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.5
This review may contain spoilers

Friendship matters and there’s beautiful pain

I really enjoyed this movie. Both of the actors are handsome, and the lead girl was a great add in. I think what I enjoyed most about the movie is that in the end it taught me that no matter how hopeless things seem, you can find beauty in anything, especially friendship.

But I do wonder, did the girl get her scar back in the end? Did she decide to keep it? I’m just curious, because the video wasn’t of the best quality. So, I couldn’t tell.

Anywho, give this movie a watch. For nostalgia sake. And because it has a good message. Very wholesome.
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Completed
The K2
0 people found this review helpful
Aug 8, 2023
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers

The Huntsman, Snow White, the Evil Queen, and the Dwarfs

I really did enjoy this drama. For a revenge show filled with abhorrent villains and such, I think it had a fairly simple plot line. If anything, I really enjoyed the soundtrack/score/OSTs and how each episode was divided up. I like how the romance was dealt with; it wasn’t bad at all; it was very sweet and sure. Tbh, it made me smile, and I don’t know what it is, but I really liked episode 8. The way both leads smiled at each other and comforted each other was refreshing. I’ve become a JCW fan, and I’ll also check out the other cast mates’ filmography as well. I won’t be able to move on from this drama.

Although, despite what I enjoyed and how much it kept my attention. I can see why people feel the way they do about Choi Yoo Jin. But the relationship between her and K2 would’ve been doomed from the start. They wouldn’t be able to ever fully trust each other, and there were the politics, her past actions, and she had a hard time saying what she meant when it came to her good deeds in contrast to her not-so-evil deeds. Everything was a mind game for her. Yet, I thought she at least deserved a happy ending. Heck, she could’ve turned to the good side and become a nun (like they do in the Thai dramas)…or simply keep what little power she had left and become good; try to establish footing elsewhere, like she urged Anna to do. But in a way, I think the ending for her fit. But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. And she was a bad person but she never tried to convince Anna and K2 otherwise, unlike Anna’s father who always wanted to act innocent and nonchalant even when he was just a lying and disgusting politician. The ending made him somewhat redeemable. They both kept their dignity. It was kinda sweet for both him and Ms. Choi. Almost romantic, like they’d forgiven each other.

Also, she never slapped Anna (unless I have to go back to the 1st and 2nd episode, but I’m sure she did not slap her), and I think that was fair and said a lot about how she didn’t necessarily say what she meant sometimes. And she didn’t use K2’s weakness against him so much when she could have (episode 10 and 11). Therefore, suffice to say my heart really went out to her in episode 11. It made me think that if she hadn’t been so evil she could’ve been a part of what she wished she had (friends to laugh with and love). I felt empathy towards her because when she glanced out the car window that was something I could resonate with. It made me tear up. But of course everyone has to take accountability for their actions (she participated in what all the conspiracy theorists talk about when it comes to the political parties and such), but I do believe she was simply a product of her environment (plus a woman) and I understood why she was holding on to the things she had left. Low-key, I wanted her to put the celebrity reporter back in her place. Who makes a living humiliating celebs? And I think people (at least 50 percent of the people) do like to comment about Yu Jin the most because she’s really the most pitiful and sad. At least Anna got a happy ending.

In the end, I enjoyed the show and fight scenes. I think everyone played their part well, and nothing seemed too out of place. The ending was great, but I wished there could’ve been 1 more episode just to fully establish where everyone was at in their happy ending. Alas, it’s 16 episodes, and that’s the most that can be done. I also like how this had parallels to Snow White. I can definitely see the connection. The bodyguards were the dwarfs, K2 is The Huntsman, and the Evil Queen is Ms. Choi. Then there’s the mirror device Ms. Choi owns.

Overall, I liked all the characters, and the actors did well. I’ll miss Yoo Jin’s haughty and powerful smirk/grimace, K2’s fighting skills, the bodyguard’s’ camaraderie, and Anna’s soft yet stubborn demeanor.

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