The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Because This Is My First Life #review

Yibun Saengeun Cheoeumira / 이번 생은 처음이라


Today, I will be reviewing the Korean Drama, This Life is Our First, starring Lee Min ki and Jung So min.

Literal Title -  This Life Is Our First
Writer -  Yoon Nan joong
Network -  tvN
Episodes -  16
Released -  2017, Oct - Nov
Genre -  RomCom





CAST










A love story with three couples, their families, and their co-workers involved, focuses on what it's like to live as a 30-something in modern Seoul, and offers different viewpoints on careers, relationships, and marriage.
Nam Se hee owns his home, but he is heavily in debt. Yoon Ji ho has given up on dating due to financial struggles.
House-poor Nam Se hee and homeless Yoon Ji ho, both unmarried and in their thirties, begin living together as house mates.







Although he did make a brief appearance in the 2012 KDo, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band, this is being touted as Lee Min ki's actual return to the small screen since 2007, when he starred in Dal ja's Spring.

I watched this at Viki.com (shout-outs, and a BTW: it's Scrimp & SAVE)

After a lengthy Kakao session with my friend in Seoul, she suggested I watch this.

I had seen ads but wasn't aware that it starred Lee Min ki until I clicked on the link, and then it became a must-watch moment.

What started out as a slow and somewhat awkward beginning quickly became an all-day/all-night affair.

And, by awkward, I mean... after going into this one with such high expectations (waiting so long for Lee Min ki to make a return), I am suddenly forced to have to wrap my head around the fact that he is an Autistic Robot in this 16-Episode Rom-Com!


Selfie Time


Let's face it, his character is well within the Autistic spectrum of things throughout this show.

If the writer(s) don't want me to believe it, they did a poor job of convincing me otherwise.

And because I work with affected children as a teacher, this isn't something I want to then turn around and view as a 'romantic' thing, because it isn't.

And, while it was eventually explained why Se hee bought such an expensive 'home' (which is actually a condo in a high-rise) (and a main plot device), I was never satisfied with his reason for staying or calculating the rest of his life in mortgage payments.

However, I did say this became a binge-watch affair, so for an entire day, I plowed through 15 of the 16 episodes when sleep forced me to wait until the next day to watch the final episode.


What I Enjoyed


Couples Therapy


I liked and enjoyed watching all three couples in this drama.

The lead couple in particular, and with my least-favorite being Ho rang and Won seok.

Having three, separate couples involved is nothing new to the KDo, we all know that.

They are never about just one couple working their way toward their HEA, because there are always outside factors such as friends/family/co-workers who get involved.

For a brief while, the viewer is forced to learn about someone else's problems before being returned to front-and-center main couple story line.

I understand that it is a plot device used to add spice, break monotony, give the viewer a chance to come up for air for a few, or, as in this case, to tell the same story but from a different or opposing perspective.


BTMFL Couples


It was embarrassing to see myself in Ho rang as much as it was delightful to see my fictional characters coming to life in an uneven mix of Soo ji and Ji ho (mainly Soo ji).

After watching Because... my grasp of character development increases.

These aside stories, including the family-oriented episodes, did not detract from the main story, nor did they work to confuse or confound me, which is always a good thing when investing time in a lengthy KDo.

I thought that Se hee and Ji ho had chemistry, looked good together, and complimented one another in as natural a way as possible on-screen.

It was easy to root for them, to hope that they work things out and stay together, and that they have a fantastic HEA, which isn't alway the case with some Asian Dramas.

Ho rang's neediness and Won seok's misguided values irked me for much of the show, making them my least-favorite couple.

But, when they faded toward the end, I found myself wondering about them and if they would be able to rectify the situation.

Also appreciate dramas that use friendship past/present as a backdrop and for levity/breather moments.

We refer to this as back story, and while a lot of readers seem to think they don't appreciate it in a novel, it usually ends up being what they most enjoyed about said novel, so go figure.

Dumping is one thing, but to break up the present with brief glimpses into the past works, making for some interesting and issue-resolving moments for both a viewer and a reader.

My only cautious inclination is that the writers are sticking to a formula for these instances (which is ironic considering they included a writer who always uses formulaic and boring writing of dramas within this drama!)


The Love Story



Although there were three, I was very anxious to see our main couple resolve their differences and come together for the sake of true love.

This was a more romantic drama than I am used to seeing, and I am noticing a change in this regard, which is great.


First Kiss


More touchy/feely, more kissing and hand-holding, and more discussing feelings than being confused by misleading and cryptic messages that take the lovers (and us, the viewers) on a 14 of 16 episodes cat & mouse chase that always grows tiresome real fast.


Comfort Zone


Se hee and Ji ho were an ideal couple even if Se hee is autistic and incapable of expressing (much less showing) emotion.

Ji ho's logic left me shaking my head a lot of times, but the writers did a good job of helping me to understand the why's and the how's of her thinking and actions.

They also kept me guessing (nail biting) a lot of the time, and I'm still not sure if I appreciated it or resented it.

But, I watched this because it was labeled as a Romance, which was what I wanted to see, and BTMFL delivered.


True Love


What I Didn't Like


S Korean Lifestyle


The Synopsis for this drama claims this is a story about young adults reaching their prime who are stuck between the old and the new.

It claims this is a drama that explores some of the issues these people face and a few of the different ways they choose to tackle those issues.

I doubt I'll ever really understand it or how it works to make life continue to exist over there, but it was still interesting and enlightening to hear and see how values, morals, and standards are beginning to evolve.

I continue to go into these dramas with my beliefs completely suspended, because it is, after all, their Hollywood and nowhere near the realm of Realistic.

Yes, the issues are likely realistic and the writer's thought processes on how they intend to portray them are realistic, but as for the story itself being life-like and the decisions made being believable... no.

While progress is no-doubt being made in some regards, I'd like to think that most S Koreans don't really mind their history, their upbringing, or their core values.

Getting rid of them (as the drama suggests) is always counterintuitive to real progress, because, believe it or not, if we don't learn from our past we are doomed to repeat it.

In all the years I've been watching these types of shows, and after a lot of discussions with my S Korean friend, I've come to realize that (from an American perspective) the real issue over there is Communication and their Age-Restrictive form of address that prevents it from occurring.

If you are taught to give respect based solely on age and nothing else, it stands to reason you are never going to be able to argue or discuss what is wrong with the relationship between parent/child.

If the holidays have become such a huge time of anxiety based solely on the passed-down-through-generations practice of the daughter-in-law doing a majority of the housework, then it should be more productive to have a family sit-down and not a boycott.

If you are going to change something, let it be the way in which you communicate with your loved ones and not an outright refusal to play a game (which, by the way, is what these 30's claim the old way is... a manipulative game based on out-dated notions regarding the age thing).

It just seems more wise and less stressful to decide as a family unit that a more festive occasion can be had by all if the work is divided, and that it would be a lot more fun to decide at whose house each of these important holidays will be celebrated.

Positive Changes seem more logical and productive than outright ban or refusal to participate.

Sexual Discrimination, Hegemony, and Disabilities are three issues I mistakenly assumed (based on other dramas/movies I've watched) are already being overhauled in that part of the world, so to see it still occurs (according to this drama) was a little shocking.

But, for the writer to address those issues by having Soo ji work in a Corporate setting, surrounded by men, yet remove her bra at random was way out of line.

I doubt that it would even become a thing over here, so... that Feminist-minded ideal didn't work, and her character could have been handled much more maturely and with a lot more finesse than that.

(And BTW, there is a thing called Pasties, you can order them online anywhere in the world, and they work just fine to hide what shouldn't be seen in public. ~~~Problem Solved).


Pasties


However, the way that her boyfriend, Sang goo, handled the issue DOES need to make a comeback.

I don't care about Feminism and their warped sense of what is right and what is wrong, and I see nothing wrong with a man thinking and feeling the way Sang goo did throughout this drama.

If any of these characters learned, grew, and matured in a positive manner, it was Sang goo.

If any of the characters in Because... understood true love, commitment, and possessed a moral compass, it was Sang goo.

Finally, for a nation that isn't entirely Christian, they seem to place a high moral value on chastity, so if a S Korean woman wants to shack up and forgo a wedding, that's fine as long as she never intends to give birth.

However, for the same nation, which isn't entirely Christian, to place such a high moral value on chastity, to make such a big deal out of shacking up or giving birth out of wedlock makes no sense, either.


Age-Old Question

us Viewers Want Answered


If it isn't the Wrath of God that will come down upon them for such things, and only an unwanted invitation to shame from their neighbors that is the problem, then there really isn't a problem, is there?

An unnatural fear of being ostracized is a bigger issue than not being married and, again, one that needs to be addressed properly, and as a family sit-down thing to be ironed out maturely... nothing more, nothing less.


The Soundtrack


Kind of iffy with me.

I wasn't overly thrilled with any of the tunes being played throughout this drama, and the theme song grew tiresome real quick as well.

Yet, when a few episodes in, Se jee and Ji ho are wandering around a street fair and happen upon a street musician singing said theme song, I felt a little bad about not liking it because the actual singer is so cute!

Guilt.

Still, it just wasn't all that great or anything I want stuck in my head for the next few days.

Sorry, cutie!


SO


To wrap it up, I highly recommend this drama if you are interested in true romance, can look past the leading male's mental issue, and are open to debate... and having sporadic bouts of inner monologue occur throughout the sixteen episodes.


My Captures




Turning Point

Are My Eyes Deceiving Me?
 
Sparkly Backdrop

Autistic Robot and Woori

Robot at Work

Rooftop Romance

Missing You

Seoul BG

Soccer Time

that Snail Pillow and Kitty



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Areugon (Korean Drama) #review

아르곤

Drama -  Argon
Romanization -  Areugon
Writers -  Jeon Young shin, Joo Won kyu, Shin Ha eun
Network -  tvN
Genre -  Drama, Broadcast News
Episodes -  8
Released -  2017, Sept




CAST







Kim Baek jin (Kim Ju hyeok) is a News Anchor, reporter and leader of investigative reporting team Argon. He does not tolerate mistakes and relies only on facts.
6 months before her contract is to end, Lee Yeon hwa (Chun Woo hee) is assigned to work at Argon. She struggles to get a permanent job there as a reporter. Working with Kim Baek jin, she receives strict training and grows as a reporter. ~~AsianWiki (w/edits)






**With all due respect to the late actor, Kim Ju hyeuk, I had no idea he was dead until after I watched this mini-drama and began my research for this review.

If this is supposed to depict the 'day-in-the-life' aspects of a Broadcast News reporter, I am not impressed.

If this is supposed to somehow make me think differently about how News Anchors, Broadcast stations, and the people involved at the top are somehow making things worse for the honest Beat Reporter, it didn't work.

Also, why only 8 episodes and not 10?

It is painfully obvious to the seasoned viewer that the show began with promise, included a ton of background info and build-up to a more intense plot, and then bad news struck the set, so everyone just gave up and ran with it as best they could.

Chun Woo hee stole the show.

Believable start to finish, a natural on-screen and in character, and someone you just want to root for regardless of the script she's been handed.

She's a beautiful woman with loads of talent and should be making a ton more appearances on screen than she seems interested in accepting.

I'd love to see her in more dramas, film, and perhaps a Romantic Comedy, if that is her thing.

Anyway, the gist of Areugon is that young Lee Yeon hwa has struggled to break into the reporting business for a while and has worked at HBC for a few years when she is suddenly reassigned to the Argon team.

As far as the leader of this team is concerned, it just means Miss Lee has been demoted for the last time and has no talent so he isn't interested in wasting his time on her.

Kim Ju hyeok has a delicious voice, so it was a pleasure to get to listen to him speak, even when he was shouting at someone or about something, which he did a lot in this short.

I'm not sure if Kim Baek jin's personal background story was the original plot's intent or if the director decided to go with that once the ratings starting coming in as too low to go, but it was millisecond touched upon at the start and then dropped like a hot potato for a majority of the mere 8 episodes before returning with a vengeance at the very end.

Meanwhile, pretty and intimidated Yeon hwa continues to plod her way along by listening closely to everything going on around her (while no one seems interested in anything she has to say) and just as slowly begins to use her wits and guts to piece together a puzzling issue of corporate greed, betrayal, and even false imprisonment.

These seem to be standard plot devises anymore in a Korean action/thriller piece.

It is always the same story told in a slightly different tone or atmosphere, but the outcome is always the same.

With Argon, it just went really fast and ended too soon to be a really enjoyable show for me.

It is also always disappointing to be tossed a Red Herring in the Romance department.

Dumb me had high hopes that Miss Lee and Kim timjang nim would get together at some point but no, it didn't happen and wasn't going to happen even if Timjang nim Kim said she was pretty and gave her lots of encouragement, opportunities, and special favoritism over the rest of his crew.

Dang it. 😒

I won't say this was awful or not worth watching because it isn't true.

I will, however, say that it was a big disappointment and, as always, I'm confused as to why this didn't do better in the ratings over there... so as to give it a bit more of a chance to take off and fly like it could have done.

As always, I'll let you be the judge.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Strongest Deliveryman #review Korean Drama



Literal Title -  Strongest Deliveryman 
Romanization -  Choigang Baedalkkun
Hangul -  최강 배달꾼
Genre -  Romance, Family, Food
Writer -  Lee Jung woo
Network -  KBS2
Episodes -  16
Released -  Aug to Sept, 2017





CAST









Story depicts love and success of a deliveryman who eventually becomes the CEO of a delivery app company.





For a reason that escapes me, this did not do well in the ratings on the home front, nor with fans of Korean drama.

I read a few reviews that said they didn't like it and gave up after the first few episodes, and then I read a few more that said they had given up but then came back and were glad that they had.

I watched it clean through and enjoyed every episode.

And while there was a throw-back vibe to this one: gangpae references, old-world streets hidden somewhere in Seoul, and an overriding theme of poverty vs. wealth, ALL of which screamed 1990s (to me), this was still entertaining and worth the watch.

Maybe because they stopped making these types of story line dramas it suddenly had appeal?

Kind of a 'good ol' days' watch that sparked a bit of nostalgia while also keeping up with the times for the most part.

It's the story of a young man who roams throughout the perimeter of Seoul as a delivery driver, making friends, helping people, and staying to himself while also getting involved in the business of others if they are in trouble.

His underlying goal, which a rare few are privy to know, is to find his runaway mother, so he never stays in one place for too long and continues to find work driving a moped delivering food.

Until one day he arrives on a street filled with restaurants and hires in at Lucky's, which is famous for its jjajangmyeon.


Black Bean Noodles


Inside, he meets the owner, a hardened former gangpae boss, a sexy but snooty receptionist, and a pretty young woman with balls who proceeds to kick his ass at every turn.

Gang soo is impressed with the way Dong soo makes his noodles (again, the old fashioned way... by hand and with a lot of pounding noise) so begs the man to let him deliver, and after a bitchy beat-down from Dan ae, he's hired and the two are now responsible for deliveries and cleaning.

Dan ae is a miserable young woman with a chip on her shoulder because of debts, her parents favoring their son, and the loss of her chance to attend college in America.

She hates Joseon Hell (as the interpreter/subber kept putting it) and for a majority of the 16 episodes, she's still just as anxious to go to America, where she seems to think life is oh, so much better and oh, so much easier and oh, so much more profitable... even for a foreigner with little in the way of references or collateral.

LOL

Meanwhile, Gang soo is making more friends, helping more people, and still searching for his eomeoni while also getting slightly closer to the hardened Dan ae.

False imprisonment, bribery, blackmail, and ham fisting commence (which is why it gave off a throw-back vibe and maybe why I liked this one) with Gang soo taking the brunt of most evil while the wealthy continue to walk over him and his friends on their way to the top.

IN the Romance Novel world, we call this formulaic writing, in which a contracted author is expected to churn out X number of novels per year using the Publisher's fill-in-the-blanks method of writing each novel.

So, the story tends to begin with the H/h at odds, followed by some rapid-fire dialogue, insta-love, sex within the first 48, and in-between, either a suspense (he's former SEAL and she's running from the mob), or land grabbing (he owns something she wants or she owns something he wants), which causes the needed rift to occur, and then between all of the yelling and sex, a compromise occurs, thus establishing the expected HEA.

With Korean dramas, it's about the same only the Producers insist on things like Rise/Fall at least every other episode.

Sweet/Sour in a relationship in which the H/h are sour for about 10 of 16 episodes before the light bulb moment occurs and then it is Sweet for the duration, although most Producers will insist on at least two more Rise/Fall instances to occur before anyone gets to kiss.

And, speaking of Kissing, Strongest Deliveryman surprised me in that once the relationship was established, these two made out on a regular basis, and even in front of others a few times!


mrshowtime-d3evoyi


As for the myriad aside characters and at least three sub-plots, there isn't much to report because if you are a hard-core fan like me, you know the drill.

Boy meets Girl, Girl hates Boy, Girl Two arrives on scene and falls for Boy, Boy snubs Girl Two but ends up in a few compromising positions to lead Girl One to think Boy is a playa.

Boy fights for Girl One's affections while also struggling to nicely let down Girl Two.

Boy Two arrives on the scene and starts out interest in Girl One, causing Boy One to get jealous, Girl One snubs Boy Two, thus nudging him in the direction of Girl Two.

Girl Two clings to her one-sided love while Boy Two slowly grows fond of Girl Two, and then near the end of the 16th episode, Boy is with Girl and Boy Two is with Girl Two.

Blah, blah, blah.

There were funny moments, tearful moments, rooting-for-them moments, far-fetched moments, WTF moments, and Aw, shucks moments.

A well-rounded amount of a little bit of everything to whet your KDo palate, I think.

To be fair and honest, this wasn't the greatest KDo I've ever seen, and it isn't likely it even deserves the 4 star rating I gave it, but for the old-timey factor alone, but also the root-for-em story line, I have to say a lot of you need to go back and give this one another chance.

I'll never understand Korean politics, business acumen, or the way things work over there as far as what is actually legal, realistic, and businesslike, but I did detect quite a few WTF moments even with my general lack of overall knowledge about such things.

Still, it just wasn't enough to dissuade me from watching clean through, enjoying what I saw, and rooting for the underdog start to finish.

I wanted to see them succeed, I wanted to witness the HEA, and I liked both leads enough to want to see them get through it all to arrive at their much-deserved (according to la-la land standards) reaped rewards.


Strongest Deliveryman



Friday, November 17, 2017

Sado (사도, The Throne) #review




English Title -  The Throne
Romanization -  Sado
Writers -   Jo Chul hyun, Oh Seung hyun, Lee Song won
Genre -  Period Piece (Historical based on real events)
Released -  September 16, 2015


CAST





PLOT


King Yeongjo (Song Kang ho) aspires to become a perfect king due to his tarnished background. His mother is from a lower class and a rumor exists that he killed his older brother to become the king. King Yeongjo then has a son at a late age. He appoints the little prince as the Crown Prince (Yoo Ah in). King Yeongjo has high expectations for the Crown Prince, but the Crown Prince cares more for martial arts and paintings rather than focusing on his studies. Meanwhile, the Crown Prince longs for a benevolent father rather than a strict King. The relationship between the King and Crown Prince becomes shattered. ~AsianWiki



REVIEW


Let me start by saying this received quite a few awards, and with good reason.

Then, I'd like to share a bit of back-story prior to an honest review of the movie.

I found, on YouTube, a Korean variety show series titled Battle Trip and only watched the first episode, thinking it was okay but not inspiring.

Until about mid-way through the show, when the History Professor and (some handsome Korean actor?) walked along a thin riverbank in downtown Seoul, which is like a culvert of sorts with boulder walls, stone walkways, and even places to sit.

As the history professor started talking about that particular part of Seoul, I became amazed by its history and the sheer fact that so many modern Koreans walk up and down this culvert without even realizing the amount of fascinating history involved in that one, simple stone bridge.

There is a lovely, engraved sarcophagus (of sorts) hanging upside down and with most of its inscription missing, underneath that lovely bridge, but as the History Professor told the tale of a forgotten time in Korea's past, I was blown away.

THEN they mentioned a 2015 movie in which my boy, So Ji sub, made a non-paid-for appearance, I just had to watch and so did an immediate search for a movie titled Sado.

FOUND IT!

Sadly, the subs were below par and made it a bit difficult to follow, but luckily I was wise enough to research the history of the story prior to watching, so I felt slightly confident about what I was trying to read and follow.

Also, I was extra anxious to see So appear on screen, which probably made things a bit more angst-y for me, but not enough to distract me from what ended up being an enjoyable, rewarding, and I'll admit without embarrassment, tearful watch!

That ending...

But, before I get too far ahead of myself, let me just say that this wasn't the BEST historical depiction of Korea's past that I've seen, but it was, by far, the most action-packed as far as true 'drama' goes.

Also, I had to wonder if the story wasn't a 'rendition' of the true history, or if the writer's chose to stick as closely to the facts as was possible.

Either way, it still was worth the watch.

To some, it might be a bit confusing the way the director chose to jump about with the time-line of events, but again, having researched the story prior to watching helped in that regard.

It was also a bit difficult to side with the doomed prince one minute, only to be completely sucked into his cause the next, so kudos to the director for keeping me guessing.

I was also sorry to learn that, while this was a total success in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, it didn't get very far in any Western-type award shows, more's the pity.

Now, back to So Ji sub's unpaid appearance near the end.


So Ji sub


Jeez, was that a tough one to sit through and not just break down crying like a wronged 5-year old!

Stellar cast, no one was necessarily over-the-top or attempted to outshine someone else, which is always appreciated.

It was also great to see Moon Geun young in a serious, era role and, no surprise, she did a wonderful job of convincing me she belonged there and knew her place in history.


Moon Geun young in Sado


She played Prince Sado's wife and King Jeongjo's mother.

Also, it was just as refreshing to see baby-faced Yoo Ah in work to portray the doomed Prince and do it in a way that seemed to break all conventional barriers as far as his being type-cast go.

As mentioned, this was a stellar cast of performers all working seamlessly to create a memorable movie that I highly recommend you watch if you haven't already.

If the ending doesn't move you to tears, I will have to question your human side!

Do it first, and then listen to this exceptional orchestra piece that weaved its way through most of the story...

...see if you don't shed at least one tear before the movement ends.






Such a moving ending to a sad, sad story!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sweet Stranger and Me (The Man Living in Our House) #review

Woorijibe Saneun Namja / 우리집에 사는 남자
Released -  Oct - Dec, 2016
Episodes -  16
Network - KBS2
Writer -  Kim Eun jung, Yoo Hyun sook (webtune),
Genre -  Family, Comedy, Romance
Original -  Based on 2015 webtoon (same name)


CAST



SYNOPSIS


Hong Na ri, a flight attendant, returns to her hometown to visit her mother's grave. There, she sees a young man. Go Nan gil introduces himself as her father. He now lives in Na ri's house and runs her mother's small dumpling restaurant.

REVIEW


This did NOT start out great and I was tempted to drop it after the first two episodes.

Jo Bo ah's Do Yeo joo and Kim Ji hoon's Jo Dong jin made me angry and had me thinking this would be another melodrama about infidelity and how simple it is for vacuous bitches to steal someone's lacking-character man.

It was also really eerie to keep seeing little Lee Eun sul all grown up as Soo Ae!

Lee Eun sul                                                                                    Soo Ae                               

Also, the annoying recaps seemed to go on and on and on . . . at the start of almost every episode, and then in the middle when one of the characters 'remembers' something...

Annoying and pointless.

Imagine trying to read a novel written this way (and yes, I've read a few, actually) where the author rewrites a scene you've just read, or that you've read a few chapters back again and again until you want to throw the book at a wall or stop reading the story or delete it from your Kindle.

The director also chose to chop up the story, which makes no sense and throws off the viewer who is trying to understand what is going on.

Wouldn't it be better to give the viewer a REASON for jumping around instead of just skipping 2 or 4 incidentals and then going back to cover them 3/4 of the way through an episode?

A lot of why are we here when we were there just a minute ago? type directing that I'm not fond of and will never grow to like or understand.

THEN they threw the creepy stepfather/daughter thing into the mix and I was like no, just... no.

And, AGAIN, this is another KDo that stars super-sexy, sexy, syrupy-voiced Lee Soo hyuk NOT as the leading man but as another second.

Another second who didn't manage to give me a moment of 2nd Lead Syndrome.

Lee Soo hyuk as Kwon Duk bong

However!

The reason I rated this as high as I did is for one reason only.

Despite all of these issues, as the story of a jilted lover who returns home to find peace and answers but instead discovers her ultimate fate, the plot became more interesting.

I stopped constantly comparing Soo Ae to little Eun sul, and the infrequent clashes between Soo Ae's Hong Na ri and her unfaithful Jo Dong jin weren't as in-your-face as I had anticipated.

The stepfather/daughter thing, though? That took some time to get over and try to ignore.

It became interesting to watch Na ri and Go Nan gil get to know one another better and slowly become drawn to one another.

I especially liked how the writer handled the infidelity issue.

Little Miss Special wasn't rewarded for her bad behavior, and Mr. Thinks-He's-Hot-Stuff ended up in a pile of remorse and regret instead of being able to strut his stuff in the hurtful aftermath.

But, that wasn't the gist of this story and it ended up being dropped entirely after only a few episodes in.

What really mattered was the little Dumpling Shop currently being run by Nan gil, a boy who grew up in an orphanage who befriended Na ri's mother and was always secretly in love with Na ri.

This is the second KDo I've watched where single men are permitted (somehow) to 'adopt' children, which is highly disturbing for an American to try and grapple.

This guy adopts tons of young boys and raises them to be gangpae for his debt collection company fronting as a lender while dipping into all kinds of illegal activities.

After Nan gil ends up behind bars, he's a changed man upon release and runs back to his 'mom', Na ri's mother, to help at the Dumpling Shack.

I can't really say anymore without giving away too much, but there is a ton of intrigue, plot development, and a very slow but strangely fulfilling romance between Nan gil and Na ri.

And like most every KDo I've ever watched, there are a ton of aside characters with their own stories and problems, and extended family members who aren't all worth bragging about and who manage to ruin things for their children.

Let's just call it 'typical' and leave it at that.

The romance was believable, but Na ri tended to behave manipulative and a little too bossy for someone her age, which was a minor let-down.

However, she did manage to possess just enough redeeming quality in her character to make me want to root for her and Nan gil.

Nan gil's badass performances were sexy, thrilling, and poetically sad, which helped to draw me to him and make me want to see him end up happy.

Lee Soo hyuk did a marvelous job portraying a high-fashion attorney against his family's fortune and bad habits who starts out wanting one thing from Na ri and then another before ending up in an altogether different place at the end.

The ending was about 30 minutes worth of recap and pregnant pauses but still managed to work itself out -- as did all of the minor characters and their issues.

I watched this in two days, which says something about the dynamic content of the story, so I think you'll find it just as interesting if you give it a chance to prove itself.


Friday, February 03, 2017

Goblin: The Lonely and Great God #review

쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비

Writer  -  Kim Eun sook
Network -   tvN
Episodes -   16
Released -   Dec, 2016 - Jan, 2017
Genre -  Fantasy, Romance, Drama



CAST




SYNOPSIS


Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is an immortal goblin and protector of souls. He lives with an amnesiac grim reaper (Lee Dong wook) who is in charge of taking deceased souls. Together, they see the dead off into the afterlife. One day Kim Shin meets a girl, Ji Eun tak (Kim Go eun), who has the ability to see ghosts. She is destined to be Kim Shin's bride and return him to ashes.

REVIEW


I liked it and didn't, it was good and it wasn't.

The story itself was marvelous.

The acting by all was superb, but I could have done without the unnecessary rehash at the beginning of just about every episode, and the usual drawn-out until it becomes stale romance that takes its agonizingly sweet time getting to the point.

The bromance was cool.


Lee Dong wook and Gong Yoo

I especially enjoyed every scene at the old mansion, when these two would argue telepathically, or when they were together with Yook Sung jae's Yoo Duk hwa.

Also enjoyed the sexiness of their dark-side tandem walks, but they were too few and too early on in the show to be thoroughly enjoyed.

As a matter of fact, the writer seemed to point it out by making fun of it a little more than 3/4 into the 16 episodes.

The romance was a bit awkward.


Kim Go eun and Gong Yoo

I really like her and think she's very pretty and a good actress.

In fact, she stole the show, especially as her younger self.

Very natural, cute/funny, and an interesting young woman start to finish.

Polished, mature, unafraid of the unknown, and determined.

Still, it was painfully obvious how much younger she is than Gong Yoo and that made it a little difficult to root for them, but not entirely.

It was entirely too clean, childish, and boring (asking a 900 year old Warrior to behave like a modern-day 19 yr old Korean (= immature girly-man) is asking a bit much).

The Second Romance was much more interesting.



Lee Dong wook and Yoo In na

Talk about a handsome couple!

These two were made for each other, on and off screen.

Get married, make babies, and thrill us on The Return of Superman, please!

The pacing needed work.

So much went into the first few episodes; enough to draw me in and keep me interested, but then it just lost steam and rehashed -- sometimes all of the previous episodes, taking up about 20 to 30 minutes of a single episode -- to make the thrill of the chase die out.

No surprises, either.

It was too predictable, and I knew who the Grim Reaper was after only a few episodes.

The writer kept harping on the fact that he had no name and no memories, which only leads the viewer to just one conclusion.

Crime and Punishment

It's always interesting to hear various viewpoints about death and the afterlife.

What I learned after watching Goblin is that Koreans seem to believe in a hell, but that only the severely abusive souls go there and with no chance for reincarnation.

One of the ghosts who followed Ji Eun tak around never had her back story told, leaving me to wonder why she was dead since all of her friends had their stories told before being sent to the other side.

I am still confused as to why it was Kim Shin's character was being 'punished' when he had suffered enough in his own lifetime to last the purported 3 to come -- even if he technically lived just one before dying -- and having never received his other 3 since he became immortal.

Becoming immortal after all that suffering makes sense, but not his having to wander aimlessly for 900 years in search of his Bride to remove the invisible sword so that he can finally rest in peace.

And, the real culprit behind the pain, suffering, loss, and eventual 'punishment' of those involved ended up becoming an immortal of sorts as well, which makes even less sense.

I understand it was meant as a tie-in to the other ghosts wandering earth because their deaths were murder or some unsolved crime, but his crimes weren't unsolved yet went unpunished for 900 years.

I don't get that.

It implies that God picks and chooses His hell victims (and everyone else goes to Heaven, apparently) which I don't buy at all.

The Hat


Lee Dong wook as the Grim Reaper

LOVED the hat!

A little on the cappello romano side, but still cool.

The Soundtrack


I didn't mind it and liked two in particular, but it wasn't spectacular yet did fit nicely with the theme of the story.

Bottom Line


Overall, I'd recommend this as a good-time watch but with a few reservations about things like consistency, a plot that lost its way, and too much build-up with zero reasoning or results.