ON AIR – and on point!

There are two shows currently airing that are, in my opinion, good enough to keep up with on a weekly basis.

My favorite is While You Were Sleeping – an adorable mysterious supernatural rom-com that finally matched up Lee Jong-Suk with someone he looks cute with… Suzy!  These two are, in my opinion, a match made in heaven.  The plot is still unfolding – but basically she’s always had dreams about the future that are unchangeable… until she meets our leading man.  And suddenly he starts having dreams about the future… and together, they are able to rewrite what’s coming.  It’s spellbinding and exceedingly romantic.

The other show is called Temperature of Love, about a TV writer (Seo Hyun-Jin) and a Chef (Yang Se-Jong) who fall in love… but due to age differences (the dreaded noona romance, sigh, but whatever… I’m going with it) and circumstances, their relationship fell apart before it really got started.  Now they are meeting again five years later – more secure in their careers but more insecure in their feelings.

The story line is solid and interesting, but I’ll be honest and confess one of the biggest reasons I am sticking around (for a show that will apparently run for 40 freakin’ episodes) is because Kim Jae-Wook is playing this mysterious, cool badass CEO who is interested in our lead female.  Of course, that will go no where, cause… duh.  But I’m just fascinated by his odd, reserved and loner character.  Plus… whoa.  He is looking mighty fine… just… better looking each year, in my opinion.

The Temperature of Love is hot.  Fan me!

Full reviews once they both finish… in a month or two or three or four… whenever.

American Remakes of Korean Dramas

So, this weekend I sat down and watched some experimental television… aka, some American attempts to remake Korean Dramas.  There were pros and cons.

First up was The Good Doctor.  The ABC remake stars that cute, odd kid who played Norman Bates (to perfection) on the Bates Hotel.  I figured he could pull off the role and I was correct.  He’s a believable savant.  The first episode has promise, though personally I didn’t feel the emotional connection to his tragic backstory quite as much as I did in the original.  The drunk father, the trauma of loosing the pet rabbit, the horror of finding himself without his only lifeline – his brother – at such a young age… we got the same backstory, more or less, with a few new embellishments that seemed unnecessary.  The doctors seem great, so far, and they’re the most important thing.  I really liked the casting of the female doctor – she’s gorgeous and has the wide eyed innocent face required for the part.  Her boyfriend, the current top dog, is also excellent with his confidence and capabilities currently unchallenged.  And I’m willing to watch more to see how it plays out.

Will we get those same super-sweet, painfully sincere moments that the original gave us?  Will there be piggyback rides and drunken confessions?  There better be my favorite character -the lovable male nurse who always had the new doc’s back and took care of all the kids in the hospital… I can’t wait until he’s introduced.

Honestly… there’s a lot to look forward to.  The dude who remade this was also responsible for HOUSE, the only other medical show I actually liked in the history of medical shows… so I have all my fingers and toes crossed.  I’m hoping he won’t be too jaded to see how important the sincere and kind moments were in the original and try to crop them out of this remake.

 

Next, and also by ABC, was the remake of God’s Gift: 14 Days.  Retitled Somewhere Between.  It started out pretty strong – with the first two episodes moving along well… but then started dragging its feet and I admit I didn’t finish it.  They stuck to the story line, however, almost exactly, which was a pro.  Unfortunately, the intensity required for the roles was somewhat lost on our American actors.  Especially in certain scenes… when our male cop-turned-investigator was supposed to show us real sorrow, regret, or pain… eh, didn’t pull it off.  He seemed really uncomfortable.  When our lead female, the wide-shouldered mom with the awkward bangs is supposed to be frantically searching for her daughter, near desperation to save her, and running wild… she came across as wild, but I didn’t buy the fear.  The daughter was delightful, the political husband great as the conflicted man with secrets.  Supporting cast was all decent.  But without the fire under their asses, it’s hard to keep running through the plot with these actors when you feel like you could just slow down and walk.  The editing was somewhat awkward with the crime/action scenes as well, making them feel unthreatening and unsuspenseful… murders are happening!  I should be biting my nails off, not somewhat confused.

For me, the most noticeably enjoyable thing was the diversity of the cast members.  We’re talking a rainbow of colors, and I loved it.  But not enough to actually watch the whole show, mind you… it just wasn’t good enough to devote hours to.

Still – here’s hoping they keep trying.  Why?  Cause there are more unique plotlines happening in Korean dramas than American dramas, for one.  Cause American’s need to practice their acting skills and start stepping up their game with giving us believable emotional range.  And cause, if nothing else, it may cause people to seek out the Korean versions… and become K-Drama fans.  We could always use more, honestly.

P.S.  Super NOT excited to learn that there are several American shows getting K-Drama makeovers… though who knows.  I will reserve my judgement until I watch the K-Drama version of The Good Wife and tell ya then.

 

Trip to J-World

Trip to J-World

So, I took a small vacation to J-World, merely out of curiosity.  The series Million Yen Women intrigued me, so I thought… sure… and started it up.  I have to say, I did enjoy it.  My K-World viewing habits totally skewed my expectations – and the whole time I thought I knew what was going on (and if it had been a K-Drama, I would have been right, most likely)… but I was dead wrong.  About everything, really.   The show is basically about a struggling writer who finds himself living with several beautiful girls who show up mysteriously at his large home.  They say they’ve been invited, give him enormous amounts of rent, and keep their secrets while attempting normalcy in this strange household.  A few of them were very interesting, though most were just stereotypes.  It was a weird, dark little show with no real character development other than the male lead… and honestly, I am not sure he developed at all, he just finally got his small publication books to sell through a series of scandals that skyrocketed him to public fascination and fame.  And yet, despite the lack of reality and strange plot holes, I really liked it.  The whole thing was very short, with 20 minute episodes that flew by at a fast pace… the surreal story unfolding in layers.

I especially liked that ridiculously cute cat… which our author named Cat.  Cause that writer is a creative genius, I tell ya!

So I thought… maybe I should give J-World some love and try out some J-Dramas.  I mean, I’ve been a fan of plenty of anime series.  And there have been some great Japanese movies over the years.  Let’s try their television!

Mistake.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I tried to watch Last Cinderella.  I gave it my best.  Six episodes was all I could take.   I tried Mischievous Kiss:  Love in Tokyo.  Sigh.  Of course, I didn’t even like the Korean remake of this, so I’m not sure what I was thinking going in.  I tried to watch Switch Girl.  Groan.  I did manage to sit through most of Liar Game, just because it was fascinatingly horrible… and yet kinda interesting.  I absolutely ADORE the Korean remake.  In my opinion, they did that show a huge favor.

Maybe there are great J-Dramas and I just chose to sample some crappy rom-coms.  Perhaps their historical dramas are awesome.  Or their action/thriller dramas.  Who knows?  But geesh… the ones I tried just left a very unfavorable opinion of them.

I did have to rewatch the entire Rurouni Kenshin trilogy again because apparently I can’t make a trip to J-World without visiting Takeru Satoh.  Those movies are so fun.

If you have suggestions… let me know.  I would be curious to see what J-Dramas you have enjoyed.  Of course, if you liked the ones I turned off, then we may disagree on quality.  Million Yen Women seems to be a rare exception – and honestly, I’m not sure that it was that amazing, it was just… interesting.

K-Drama Awards

It’s time for a little K-Drama Awards Show!

I’m currently watching Save Me as it airs and rewatching Goblin inbetween… so in my down time, decided to make a few lists to amuse myself.  And possibly you.

Funniest Drama – Winner:  GREATEST LOVE.  Other nominees:  Master’s Sun, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon, Beautiful Gong Shim, & The Sound of Your Heart.

Scariest Psycho – Winner:  Namgung Min in REMEMBER.  Other nominees:  Song Yoon-A in The K2, Park Ki-Woong in Bridal Mask, Yeon Jeong-Hun in Mask, Shin Sung-Rok in Liar Game

  

Psychopaths You Love – Winner:  Kim Nam Gil in QUEEN SEON DUK.  Other nominees:  Choi Won-Young & Park Bo-Gum in I Remember You/Hello Monster, Park Hae-Jin in Bad Guys, Park Hae-Jin in Cheese in the Trap, & Sung Joon in White Christmas

Characters Who Need Meds – Winner:  Eric Moon in ANOTHER MISS OH.  Other nominees:  Kim Jae-Wook in Bad Guy, Lee Jong-Hyeok in Dr. Khang, Yoona in The K2, Yoon Eun-Hye in I Miss You, Everyone in Que Sera Sera.

Weirdest Lovable Character – Winner:  Jang Hyuk in FATED TO LOVE YOU.  Other nominees:  Kim Beom in Padam Padam, Yoon Si-Yoon in Flower Boy Next Door, Chun Jung-Myung in Heart to Heart, Hyun Bin in Secret Garden, Choi Si-Won in She Was Pretty, Kong Hyo-Jin in Master’s Sun

Best Cinematography – Winner:  SHARK.  Other nominees:  Lucifer,  Resurrection,  Goblin, Six Flying Dragons, & Mask

Characters That I Thought Were Hot Together & Should Have Hooked Up (even if it was a deleted scene where they got drunk and made out and neither remembered it the next day) – Winner:   Ji Chang-Wook & Yoon So-Yi in WARRIOR BAEK DONG SOO (to this day I still think they got it wrong by not putting these two together).  Other nominees: Moon Geun-Young &  Moon Chae-Won in Painter in the Wind (totally),  Lee Soo-Hyuk & Lee Joon-Gi in Scholar Who Walks the Night (some bloodsucking/hickies would have rocked), Hwang Jung-Eum & Choi Si-Won in She Was Pretty (at least once!), & Song Joong-Ki & Yoo Ah-In in Sungkyunkwan Scandal (gah, that would have been awesome!)

 

 

Movie Review – Alice: Boy From Wonderland

Movie Review – Alice: Boy From Wonderland

What a surreal, moody, broody, twisted little movie.  I adored it, as I have always been a fan of ghost stories and haunted houses.  Especially with tragic tales (but aren’t they always?) as back stories.  This was a strange piece of work… definitely not a mainstream film.  It reminded me of Werewolf Boy (which is far, far superior in every way), in that it’s so odd, so touching, so horrible, that I know it will stick with me for a long time.  It’s basically about a young woman whose nightmares have become so thick they’re blurring into reality – and threaten to take her, and her family, to the grave.  With the help of her aunts, she goes to an inbetween-world, Wonderland, an estate that burnt to the ground but is, mystically, available to our Alice for a few precious days while she sorts out her past and the souls lost that are still pulling at her life.

Jung So-Min plays our lead female – and she was perfect as the surreal, beautiful, dreamy girl caught between worlds.  Hong Jong-Hyun was lovely as the tragic soul who clings to her side, helping her navigate the strange world she now inhabits.

Eerie.  Romantic.  Bloody.  Confusing.  A dream within a dream in a dream world.  Not a bad way to spend an evening.  If you liked movies such as… The Others, The Girl In A Swing, or Skeleton Key or even something like Virgin Suicides or The Dreamers, you’ll probably like this one.

Movie Reviews – Pure Love & My Annoying Brother

Movie Reviews – Pure Love & My Annoying Brother

I was on a Do Kyung-Soo kick… or maybe just a crying kick, I’m not sure… but I ended up watching two Do Kyung-Soo tearjerkers back to back yesterday.  They were both lovely films – full of outstanding performances from all the actors involved.  Pure Love was a story about a group of teenage friends who are home for the summer in 1991, enjoying their beautiful coastal village and the pains and joys of growing up.  One of the girl’s has a genetic problem with her legs and struggles to walk – while secretly hoping for an operation that will cure her.  The boys in the group all love her, in their own ways, but in particular one sensitive young man who follows her around like a lost puppy.  It’s a gorgeous film… a thoughtful, nostalgic piece about youth and also about the betrayal of coming of age.  I ain’t gonna lie… I cried.  A lot.  They really did not intend for anyone to leave this movie with dry eyes and I’m sure succeeded…. cause a lot of it tore my heart out.

My Annoying Brother was, in my opinion, even better.  I’m a total sucker for redemption stories.  The youngest brother is a Judo champion who looses his sight during an accident.  The eldest brother is a petty criminal who uses his brother’s misfortune to get out of prison on parole early.  The two have been estranged for years – ever since the older brother ran away from home as a teenager.  And yet, slowly, wonderfully, these two are able to come back together… and restore hope and meaning to one another’s lives.  Cho Jung-Seok was genuine and hysterical as the unruly brother (seriously, I laughed a lot over this guy and his ridiculous behavior… I have an older brother, and let’s face it… they’re kind of jerks most of the time but also your heroes)… and Do Kyung-Soo was outstanding as the young man struggling to find the will to live with his new disability.  This is also a melodrama… and it’s pretty freakin’ sad, too.  But I also felt good at the end, hopeful even… my faith in humanity restored a little bit.

Anyways, check ’em out if you’re in the mood.  Quality stuff.

 

Why Visit K-World? – A Beginners Guide to Korean Dramas

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KOREAN DRAMAS

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Korean Dramas from my friends, students and coworkers.  “What’s the deal?”  They ask.  “Korea?”  Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember there are people who have never watched a K-drama before.  I know, right?  (at this point I’ve convinced almost everyone I know to at least try at least one) So in order to help the newbies… here’s what you need to know.

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When K-World Loves You & Takes Requests

I’m on summer vacation – which means unlimited time to binge tons and tons of dramas.  I had just finished a rewatch of W – Two Worlds, and was thinking to myself… what next?  What next?

I texted my best friend.

Me:  “You know, I may watch some American stuff for a bit.  I’m in the mood for sci fi.”

Bestie:  “There’s no sci fi Korean Dramas?”

Me:  “Not really.  I mean… sorta kinda some fringe dramas, but nothing like Fringe, you dig?”

Bestie:  “Uh, no.  I don’t watch K-Dramas.”

Me:  “I’m in the mood for aliens.  Space ships and robots and futuristic worlds and such.”

Bestie:  “Ah.  There’s some shows on Hulu, I think.”

So I went to go dig around.  I poked about Hulu.  I looked around Amazon Prime.  I stuck my toes in the murky waters of Netflix.  But kept returning, like a faithful dog, to Dramafever.  I looked at my que of shows and sighed.  I rummaged around a few minutes then noticed…. like a beam of light from the very heavens of K-World…

SCI FI!  And aliens, no less.  And the show was almost complete, too… only two episodes haven’t been uploaded.

It was a sign!  K-World graciously smiled upon me and said, “You wanted what, super fan?  Oh… here you go, my little pet…”

Needless to say, I started it immediately.  Three episodes in and I am loving it thus far.  Full review to come.

But I just wanted to let you know that if you sacrifice your time to the K-World Gods…. sometimes they smile upon you and take requests.  So… just keep it in mind.

Movie Musings – Haunters

Movie Musings – Haunters

So, finished HAUNTERS – a movie about a man who can control people en masse with his mind, and the one dude who is immune and thus fated to stop him. It kinda reminded me of Unbreakable, in a strange way. And of Kilgrave from Jessica Jones… except even he didn’t throw a baby at a speeding subway train. Anyways, it was visually stunning and creepy but there really wasn’t much more to it than a showdown between two dudes. With some character development, this could have been stellar… cause if we knew anything about these guys, we might care a bit more who won in the end.

More…

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That’s Gay! – K-Dramas, Putting the Q in LGBTQ

Let’s face it – there are a lot of gay-questioning dramas out there.  Okay, sure, they’re not implicitly gay;  Only recently have dramas crossed the purebred gay border, though their feature films have definitely made some expeditions to gay town in the past few years.  But it doesn’t matter if they’re gay or just questioning.  We love it!  Whether it’s one sided or misdirected, for comedy or for drama, for love or for money… K-Dramas are sprinkled with the gay rainbow.  And no one can deny it.

gay

Korean dramas often depict variations in sexuality, sex roles, sexual attraction, and sexual fluidity.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition to their seemingly strict gender assignments and homophobia… and/or perhaps a direct result of them.  Because the rules are there, it’s more fun to break them.

crossdressing

Gender Bending is popular in Taiwan too.

Off the top of my head – there are three excellent examples of LGB with a large emphasis on Q in K-World.  Cross-dressing is the biggest culprit in these same sex shenanigans – and, if we’re honest, the reason these dramas are so frequently made. It’s not all LGB with Q, of course.  There are plenty of examples of the T within various shows as well but as of yet not as the lead romance.

Let’s run through the questioning dramas together…

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