Review – (Suffering Through) The Bride of the Water God

Review – (Suffering Through) The Bride of the Water God

I am a sucker for supernatural stories, so of course I signed up for this show the minute it started.  Even though the first episode was lame.  Even though the second episode was lame.  Even though it never got better… it just… middled around towards the bottom.  But I kept watching it.  Every Tuesday.  Two new eps at a time.  Like an idiot.  Because I kept expecting something to happen… which is ridiculous, because after a certain point, you just know nothing is going to happen because if the writers knew how to make a good story, they would have been giving you one the entire time.

So, idiot me, watched this entire dumb show.  About the most boring, lifeless, and dreadfully uninspired divinities EVER.  Have there ever been more boring gods?  NO.  They have zero personality.  They don’t really do anything, apparently – they were as boring in the Realm of the Gods as they were in the Human World.  Just… dreadful.

As was our lead female.  What a low key bitch, right?  And her annoying habit of rambling out her self autobiography showed a sad lack of insight for a therapist.  I mean… didn’t she have a degree in psychology?  No wonder she didn’t have any clients.

Did the actors not read the script first?  I honestly can’t believe this show got the green light.  It’s so bad!  Plot holes, pointless characters, storylines that go no where, seemingly important things that turn out to be utterly meaningless, and bad fashion.  The romance was stupid, too.  Childish, annoying, insipid, awkward.  Eck.  I hated it.

Overall Rating – 2/10.  Drowning In A Plate of Water.

Review – Chicago Typewriter

Review – Chicago Typewriter

Stop the press!  This show gets the award for best use of books as decor.  Bookshelves galore – and all of them packed.  I’m talking… books, books, books!  Anyways, this was a fun and strange little drama about reincarnation and writers.  A group of independence fighters from the 1930’s end up reunited again in 2016… trying to solve the mystery of their past lives and their current situations.  Though I really liked this show, I thought it could have been better – so it’s not a perfect story.  But it’s such an unusual tale… with ghosts and shamans and snipers and book thieves and stalkers and quirky side characters… that it definitely stands out.

It’s no spoiler that all our characters had to die at some point to be reincarnated, and I’m not gonna lie… it was sentimental and gloriously patriotic and heartbreaking and awesome when it’s finally revealed at the end and I wept openly.  Before the tears, thankfully, there’s quite a bit of comedy and romance and screwball situations to amuse the viewing audience.  And did I mention mansions full of bookshelves?  It’s like the Beast’s castle, I swear.

For a drama about writers, I think they got a lot of things right.  Including the literary jokes (Stephen King references anyone?)!  Writing is tough.  My mother is a published author and it’s work, people… it’s not glamorous most of the time, it’s a lot of sitting in front of a computer typing until you’re fingers are numb.  And then doing the same thing the next day.  It’s deadlines and rewrites and editors and then, at some point, a finished product… followed by publicity tours which are also less glamorous than they seem.  Cause work is work.  And if writing is your profession, then it’s what you put 8 to 10 hours of you day into.  Just like other professions, 99% of the people in it aren’t amazingly successful and living in mansions filled with 40 foot bookshelves.

The three principal actors carried the show – drawing you into their past and present story lines with ease.  They all had a natural camaraderie that was believable.  Yoo Ah-In was perfectly cast as the neurotic, obsessive, serious author – he’s really quite a talent.  Ko Gyung-Pyo continues to shine by finding roles that are well suited for him – in other words, roles that don’t require too much besides a sensitive face and a calm demeanor.  Lim Soo-Jung, our wide eyed lady, was charming and a perfect balance between the two.  None of the side characters were interesting enough for me to bother writing about but all of them were fun enough that I was entertained by their presence.

Overall Rating – 8/10.  Ghostwriters and Ghosts.

P.S.  It should be mentioned there is a few quality smooches in this drama… one with the same preamble used in Grease 2 “Let’s do it for our country!” and the other, my favorite, off a crowded street… meow!

 

Review- The Best Hit

Review – The Best Hit

Where to even begin with this odd, nonsensical, messy yet… strangely… kinda fun show?  Here’s the premise:  In 1994, a pop duo J2 ruled the charts until its front man went missing, mysteriously… leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend.  In 1993, that same front man actually traveled through time, 20 plus years into the future, via a typhoon/staircase incident (don’t ask)… and apparently this split him into two people – the one who will stay behind and continue on route to disappearing in 1994… and the one who now roams around in the future.  Time traveling rock star hangs out with his own son (who is struggling to become a pop idol via some training program), and his two best friends – who all share a rooftop room together.  Meanwhile time traveler’s best friend and baby-mamma live downstairs, now middle aged.  From there it is a bizarre mix of flashbacks and strange relationships and strained relationships, as everyone deals with this time warp business.

It was honestly a disaster, but Yoon Si-Yoon is so good at playing these cheesy, over the top, lovable goofball rolls that he makes even the most preposterous convoluted story lines enjoyable.  I wasn’t overly impressed with anyone else – or their stories – but I stuck around.  I admit I did fast forward quite a bit.  This was another one of those annoying “short” episode shows where they’d literally just cut a normal episode in two for no conceivable reason – so the pacing always felt off.  It wasn’t quite about family.  It wasn’t quite about the entertainment industry.  It wasn’t quite a time travel mystery.  It wasn’t quite a romance or a bromance.  It was a little of everything and thus not quite much of anything.

The love triangle was more interesting than most, though, as it mirrored the infamous Pretty In Pink storyline… where you have two best friends who mean everything to each other, but one of them is secretly in love.  The key to this is making the person with the one sided love very charming and sympathetic… thus leading to “Duckie Syndrome,” where the majority of the audience likes that guy more than the lead guy and seem annoyed the girl doesn’t return his affections.  In this show, the son of the time traveling pop star has been in love with his best friend for years – and finally decides to confess once he notices her falling for his time traveling father.

So… there were pros and cons.  Probably more cons… and yet… and yet… it so freakin’ weird and unexpected that I did enjoy watching it.  The first 10 eps were incredibly hammy and nonsensical, but once it found it’s place, the story did improve drastically.

Overall Rating – 7/10.   Yoon Si-Yoon Is Fun In Every Decade.

Review – White Christmas (A Tribute to 90’s Angst)

Review – White Christmas (A Tribute to 90’s Angst)

In 2011, they gathered together all the young stars who could tear down a house with their acting abilities and threw them in a short, creepy drama together called White Christmas.  They set the entire thing to late 20th century indie music…  Primal Scream, Massive Attack, The Pixies, Alice in Chains, Velvet Underground… like a stolen mixed tape from my formative years.  The plot is simple – seven students receive a threatening, confusing anonymous letter saying they’re all cursed and someone will die over the Christmas break.  So they all stay behind, as the rest of their peers leave for the holidays.  These stragglers linger in a huge empty school building isolated on top of a snowy mountain… desperate to discover what role they have to play in this mystery.

And at its heart, the show is a mystery.  But it’s also an examination into a high pressure school system.  It’s social commentary.  It’s a therapy session.  It’s an exploration of natural violence.  It’s a story about people… and how they hurt and heal each other.  And it is DARK, people.

I’ve had it in my que for months… saving it.  Now that summer is coming to an end, I finally treated myself to dessert.  And it was exceptionally tasty.  Only eight episodes long but jam packed with mesmerizing performances, plot twists, and a startlingly original story.  It’s on Viki – go watch it now! (and please when you’re watching it take note of all the bizarre conceptual 90’s-style photoshop artwork all over the walls in every room… cause… wow… so eerie… remember the doll heads?)

Overall Rating – 10/10.  REDRUM!  REDRUM!!!

Discussion of characters and SPOILERS follow….

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Review – Thank You (…No Thank You)

Review – Thank You (…No Thank You)

This drama is all about understatement (the picture above is very misleading… basically the little girl and grandpa are the only happy souls in the show).  It’s almost entirely set on a small island, the slow pace of life mirrored in the slow pace of the story unfolding.

Plot:  A young girl is desperately in love with her childhood sweetheart, who thwarts her to go off in pursuit of bigger ambitions.  But not before knocking her up, unbeknownst to him.  She raises the child the best she can, along with her elderly grandfather who suffers from dementia.  When her daughter is about eight years old, she’s in a car accident – and due to a mix up at the hospital, given contaminated blood and ends up with HIV.  The doctor responsible dies, but not before sending her doctor boyfriend off on a mission to apologize to the child and mother for her.  A series of events bring the doctor and the long-lost father of the child back to the island at the same time – and basically… it’s a slow, atmospheric WWIII of the Heart, with the adorable little girl at the center.

It’s a decent story about responsibilities and insecurities and families and communities.  You’ll come to know the small town and all the people in it as if you moved in, too.  I didn’t love it.  I’m not sure I even liked it.  The whole thing was a dreary mess, honestly… sort of washed out and pitiful instead of intense and heartbreaking.  I prefer my melodramas to be the latter.

Overall Rating – 7/10.  Small Town Life is Highly Contagious, Take Precautions.

Just a little bit more… but not much…. light spoilers follow…

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Review – Queen for Seven Days

Review – Queen for Seven Days

Did you order some tears with your romantic salad?  This was a good show… that I’ve been watching unfold over the summer.  Not quite great, but definitely on par with most quality sageuks.  As you can tell from the name, it will not have a happy ending.  But until then, it does manage to be shockingly romantic – more so than any other sageuk I can think of.  Or least, more overtly romantic, in a modern contemporary way, as opposed to the subtle, slow burn romances we generally get in these historical shows.  Our lead couple was charming – in particular, her overt nature compared to his reserve.  Especially when they were older, her understanding of his introverted tendencies showed a level of maturity rarely seen in dramas – with her always knowing when she needed to go back to him first after an argument, or infer all the things he left unsaid.  And like Romeo & Juliet, their romance was all the more delicious as everyone was actively trying to tear it apart or come between them.  Nothing like opposition to make things exciting, eh?

I’ve seen a real shift lately in understanding the power of a strong psychotic character to make any drama more interesting.  The crazed king motif never gets old, frankly, and Lee Dong Gun’s performance as the seriously unstable, yet strangely sympathetic/pathetic ruler was outstanding.  Plus he had the best wardrobe of any royalty I have seen in a saguek to date – the man encouraged color and variety in his kingly robes, thank you.  Scheming adults, lovable sidekicks, secret identities, and a variety of palace drama and violence kept the pace in each episode.  This is a good drama to watch when you’re in the mood for a flagrantly emotional rollercoaster, as the emotional aspect of show is definitely its strength.  The plot is not overly complicated, nor are the characters, really.  At it’s heart, it’s an uber-romantic-romance (it’s not all tears, either, there are some very fluffy care-free episodes and cheeky romance moments before the melodrama sinks in).

There’s also a surprisingly modern soundtrack, yet it worked well with the show, which was sort of a hybrid anyway (there was definitely a lot of modern elements covertly woven in).

Overall Rating – 8.5/10 – If There Is A Prophesy Dooming Your Relationship… You Might Wanna Reconsider Your Choices.

Review – I Remember You / Hello Monster

Review – I Remember You / Hello Monster

I will remember this show… until I’m dead.  I am a sucker for sympathetic villains and this drama featured not one but TWO.

Plot:  Basically, two young brothers are separated in childhood after one is kidnapped by a teenage serial killer.  The story is what happens when they are reunited in adulthood… including the reunion with the serial killer.

To say that I loved this show is an understatement.  I love a lot of dramas.  If I didn’t love K-dramas, I wouldn’t bother with this blog.  There are tons of great K-dramas.  And for every K-drama, there is one that seems made… if you can find it… just for you.  As if K-World read your diary, said, “Oh, you like this, eh?” and created a drama just for you.  This drama HAUNTED ME.  The romance and the cop shenanigans and the mystery plot lines were all awesome, but the center of this story is about nature vs nurture.  Do we create monsters or are they born?  Can they change?  Can they learn?  Can a monster evolve into a human being?

I’m not even using poetic license when I say I had dreams about this show.  I literally had dreams about this show.  

Overall Rating – 12/10.  Monsters Make Their Own Families.

Much Much Much Rambling, Character Explorations, Themes, And Massive SPOILERS follow… so, you know, you have been warned.

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Review – My Beautiful Bride

Review – My Beautiful Bride

Basic Plot – a banker proposes to his pretty young girlfriend and a few days later, she disappears.  As he tries to find her, everyone is dragged into the secret vortex of these people’s lives and the criminal underworld – including you, dear viewer.

I loved this show from the first episode.  It had a strange vibe.  A uniqueness.  It reminded me, in a way, of Heartless City… which also lives by itself in a universe of its own genre.  Not quite this, not quite that.  Violent, bloody, scary, romantic, sentimental, intimate, intense… with action galore and these nice old school thriller shots (you know, the kind were you just follow someone down a dark alley and the tension just grows and grows until you’ve chewed your nails to bits and are jumping at every shadow wondering when something is going to happen).  It jumps back and forth in time.  It reveals the plot slowly, in layers.  You think you know the show in episode two?  Nope.  Episode four?  Nope.  It just keeps changing, morphing, becoming more brilliant.

And then… mysteriously… horribly… I lost interest in it entirely around episode 9 and no longer cared what happened to anyone.  I had to force myself to finish it – but I’m glad I did.  Part 2 had an entirely different tone, but it was still interesting… just not in the same awesome way as Part 1.  It’s like going on a date with someone who got up suddenly in the middle of dinner, went to the bathroom, put on a wig, changed clothes, and sat back down sporting a foreign accent.  What?  What’s happening?!  This was not the show I asked out to dinner… but I still wanted to know what would happen.  I can’t help but think this would have been a 10/10 drama if it were 10  episodes long instead of 16.

Overall Rating – 10/10 First Half, 6/10 Second Half…. so 8/10 Average.  What Happens When Your Fiance Falls Into A Dark Rabbit Hole And You Go Chasing After.

Light spoilers follow…

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Review – Six Flying Dragons

Review – Six Flying Dragons

This drama was outstanding.  It’s about the end of the Goryeo period and the beginning of the Joseon period – in particular, the revolution leading from one to another.  And it’s the best historical Korean Drama I have ever seen.  Ever.  After the second episode, I was pretty sure it was surpassing my favorites.  And after the epic 3-Prong Rescue Sequence from the Biguk Temple in Episode 6… I was hooked.  By the end of the loop to the opening scene in Ep 1 closing in Ep 10, I thought… wow… holy crap… that’s extremely good writing.  It’s by the same writing team that brought us Queen Seonduk and Tree with Deep Roots… this male/female team, Kim Young-Hyun and Park Sang-Yeon, know their stuff.  And they have been perfecting their craft.  Tightly woven plots in each episode, building on each other throughout yet changing enough to keep you enthralled, extremely complicated but fulfilling character development, action, historical significance, and even some romance.

Seriously.  BEST HISTORICAL DRAMA I HAVE EVER SEEN.  Just… mesmerizing.

Overall Rating – 10/10.  The View Is Only Better From the Moral High Ground If You Don’t Look Down.

More about characters – spoilers spoilers spoilers – thoughts and more…. please watch the show before treading into these waters, you don’t need to muddy up your experience by reading details first.

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Review – Which Star Are You From?

Review – Which Star Are You From?

I stumbled across this romantic comedy from 2006 by chance… and what a charmer!  It had everything you want from a romantic comedy – or at least, everything I want – nonstop focus on the main couple.

The plot is simple:  A successful filmmaker falls in love with an elegant, rich beauty – but doesn’t measure up to her family’s standards.  In a tragic accident, she dies – leaving him heartbroken.  Several years later, he stumbles across this backwoods hillbilly girl who looks just like his departed lost love – and follows her to her mountain home.  She’s crass, rude, wild, honest, and basically the exact opposite of everything his first love was… yet they find themselves having a blast together, fighting and bickering and playing and falling in love.  Can he open his heart his again to this unexpected girl?

Though it was a simple show, it had enough twists in the road to keep me highly entertained all sixteen episodes.  It was also incredibly romantic.  The two leads had great chemistry – Kim Rae-Won and Jung Ryeo-Won have no trouble convincing us they are star crossed – and the female lead, in particular, was fantastic at playing dual roles – of the mysterious, lovely first love and the plucky, gregarious hillbilly with her childish braids and hair barrettes.  Classic romantic K-Drama.  I loved it!

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Lolita of the Back Woods.