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

Friday, December 18, 2009

Korean Movie Reviews

A Million




2009 Korean thriller that stars Lee Min ki as one of several, unsuspecting 'victims' of a wicked mans plot to exact his own brand of brutal revenge.

I read a few, bad reviews about this, and I was leery about watching it because the critics compared it to the American version of Survivor - which I hate, abhor, and detest as much as all of the other, so-called 'reality' shows that hail from this country.
Truth is, the Korean movie has absolutely nothing to do with the reality series, only that the contestants invited to the show are made to think that's what it's all about.
They are promised the equivalent of a million bucks if they 'survive' the game show.

It's not long into the game that the bodies start to drop as quickly as we see the sheer madness of the man behind the scenes.
It's crazy, brutal sh*t throughout, but there is a winner (last one standing, actually) - or is there?
I couldn't have predicted the ending any more than you can, and even without my hunny, Lee starring, I'd have recommended this to anyone who asked for something interesting to pass a few hours of free time doing.

Highly entertaining and a great storyline.



He Was Cool



2003 Korean movie that starred Song Seung-Heon as a street-wise thug who terrorizes a high school girl and treats her like one of his homies instead of like a girl.
Always pisses me off whenever I see a guy threatening to 'beat up' a girl.
Luzr!
Anyway, she's trying to run away from him when she scales a wall, leaps to the ground, and ends up knocking him down.
Their lips meet, so naturally he has to marry her.
Whatever.
She hates him as much as he hates her, but in the beginning that emotion didn't, quite come off with her as much as it did with him.
I just, can't imagine being threatened by a guy - so this movie was a bit hard for me to swallow.
Still, it was Song Seung heon!
And, an early version of the hunk, too.
Lots of girls raved about this one at the aznv.tv website, so I watched it for that reason as well, but I just, didn't feel it the way that they did.



11th Mother



Before I say anything about the movie, I'm curious to know why the production company, Showbox, is pronounced SHOEbox on film?
Anyway, this was a semi-typical Korean movie from the perspective of the downtrodden poorness of inescapable proportions.
The old man is a loser who gambles & drinks, bringing home hookers and calling them a mother for his son.
He's a charming, little boy trying to save up enough money for a better computer when the 11th 'mother' arrives, upsetting his chaotic world.
All she does is sleep and eat the food he scrapes together with food stamps a thoughtless and heartless teacher throws at him in class.
He has no friends because he's poor, he gets beat up by them and by his ignorant father, so it's no wonder he's a budding artist as his young life is already filled with so much angst.

I get the impression the writers are hell-bent on getting their target audience (housewives and impressionable females) to go through a box of tissues in under two hours - thus rendering it a successful movie.

On the other hand, (Korean stereotypes aside), this was a relatively interesting movie with an equally interesting storyline.
The young boy did a terrific job portraying a down-n-out waif suffering in the midst of alienated adults, and the surprise ending made me laugh, but not because it was anything funny.




너는 내 운명 (Neo-neun Nae Woon-myeong) / You Are My Sunshine



A 2005 Korean movie about a poor, young girl caught in the pitiful web of degradation due solely to her orphan status in life.
Jeon Do-yeon plays the leading lady, Eu-nah, who scooters into a farm town with her friends to set up shop that serves food to the locals and coffee to men at a nearby hotel referred to as "Beast".
Hwang Jeong-min is a silly, older man who works as a rancher on a cow farm and lives with his aging mother.
His dream is to find a beautiful girl to fall in love with and get married, and when he sees Eun-ha ride into town, he is blown away by her beauty and pursues her endlessly while she tries everything she can to chase him away.

They end up getting together, and everything starts out rosy & light until another man walks into town, turning it all upside down.

The beginning of this film made the comment that its based on real-life events, and when it was over, I wanted to know more about the people behind the story, but nothing was mentioned.

I especially liked that it wasn't typical, sappy Korean melodrama mixed with a ton of moral message and tight, family bonds.
Personally, I think the doctor was the one who should have had his life destroyed since he's responsible for destroying a lot more than just her life.



Antique - 서양골동양과자점 앤티크


Released in November of 2008, Antique drew more than 1 million moviegoers within its first two weeks of release, making it one of the most successful Korean movies ever made.

It is the story of KIM Jin-hyuk, a wealthy boy with a mysterious past.

He's stereotypically stuck-up, self-centered, and rude.

He's also handsome and likes to take advantage of the ladies.




I never knew watching this movie that Jin-hyuk is Joo Ji-hoon.
For some reason, I think I'm mixing him up with Jo In-sung, I don't know why.
I guess he's in trouble with the law regarding the smuggling and possession of Ecstasy and Ketamine.
too bad.

THIS guy ...



is Yummy.

And, so is Antique!

Jin-hyuk knows there is something about his past that he needs to face, but he can't remember much, other than being kidnapped as a young boy for a brief time.
He can remember vividly all else that went on in his life except for that one instance.
He has nightmares, and brief but inexplicable flashbacks, nothing more.

He decides to open a pastry shop, knowing that the reason he hates anything sweet is because his kidnapper fed him cake.

This is when Min Seon-woo enters the picture.


KIM Jae-wook


My oh my, is KIM Jae-wook ever gorgeous ...

MIN Seon-woo is a gay pastier e who was once madly in love with Jin-hyuk.
Jin-hyuk rejected him by smashing a cake in his face.

Mild-mannered, bookish Seon-woo enters a gay bar that day, hurt and angry, where he suddenly transforms into this ...


The Demonic Charmer


I felt the highlight of this film was the bartender, but I don't know his name.
If I'm not mistaken, he played the wealthy mob boss in East of Eden.
He's hilarious in Antique.

Anyway, Seon-woo applies for a job at Antique, and the fun begins.
He can't work around women, and men gay or straight find him simply irresistible.

To me, it seemed he did a great job portraying a gay man, and aside from his cool clothes, and the fact that he pulled it off rather well, I'd hate to find out that he is, actually gay.

Shortly after the shop gets underway, a young punk named YANG Ki-beom enters the picture, wanting a job.
He, too, stole the show imho.



YOO Ah-in


Ki-beom is a champion featherweight boxer forced to retire because of retina problems.
Now, he plans to become the next, best pastry chef under Seon-woo's expert guidance.

He's cute, brash, and hyper, but very funny and a damn, fine actor as well!
This kid was a refreshing surprise for me because it was obvious how serious he took his job!

In an odd sense, YOO Ah-in kept making me think about Edison Chen.
(I hope he's not sick of hearing that!)

Ok, so Ki-beom's hyper mentality forces him to confront a man in a black car, which has been parked in front of the bakery since it opened, and because there are reports of a kidnapper circulating, Ki-beom over-reacts, punching the car and demanding that the driver reveal himself.

It's this guy ...


Choi Ji-ho


NAM Soo-yeong is an old friend and bodyguard for Jin-hyuk.
His parents hired Soo-yeong's mother to work at their estate, but it was the woman's son they wanted to be their child's friend and protector since the kidnapping occurred.

He's a big guy, and he plays a buffoon in Antique, which did not help to give me a good first-impression of Choi Ji-ho.

I'll have to watch something else he stars in to get a better idea about his charisma and staying power.


He looks mighty fine to me, though!




Antique is based on a Japanese manga with the same storyline & characters.
The Japanese movie version was released in 2001, and Fujiki Naohito plays the Demonic Charmer, too!

GOTTA see the Japanese version now!

It'd be nice to have more originality in these Asian flicks & dramas, but oh well.

check THIS out ~






Rough Cut / 영화는 영화다 / Yeonghwanun Yeonghwada



This was a 9/11 release from 2008, and So Ji-sub ended up winning a Rising Star award for his efforts, too.



He was in New York and nobody TOLD me??

I just paid tribute to him on my other blog page, and that's how I found out that Rough Cut finally made it to AZNV.tv

It was an incredible, 113 minute movie with the ubiquitous, depressing ending ~ but nonetheless!

Gang Pae (Ji-sub) is second in command of a big gang, and his boss is in jail for whatever reason, so Gang Pae is in charge.
He started out wanting to be an actor, but according to the synopsis, life came at him all wrong.
Soo-ta (Kang Ji-hwan) is a handsome, young actor who stars in gangster-type flicks, and he's a loose cannon with a lot of self-doubt.
Gang Pae and Soo-ta meet in a club, don't get along at all, and then go their separate ways.
Soo-ta realistically kicks a co-stars ass, and since it's the second time he's put an actor in the hospital, no one will work with him anymore.
He decides that it'd be cool to have Gang Pae as his side-kick, and he invites the gang leader to be his co-star.
This is when the movie starts to take off for real.

I'm not at all surprised that it won awards and received so, many rave reviews.
It was a thrill a minute action flick with a morbid ending that came as absolutely no surprise to me, either.
Neither did So's character.

He's great at it, so don't get me wrong, but ENOUGH with the type-casting already!
There has GOT to be more to this incredibly gorgeous man than the low-down, suspicious, brooding HOOD.
He did about the same thing in Mr. Flower, too.
AND in MiSa,
AND in Cain & Abel, AND in Delicious Proposal as well.

A romantic comedy would be nice!
Or maybe a thought-provoking mystery, or a real-life enactment?
HOW ABOUT we get to see So Ji-sub be the WINNER for a change?

Honestly, I'd spend three hours or more watching him eat a sandwich at a brightly lit cafe, or downing soju in a dark, smoke-filled nightclub, I swear.

I simply yearn for something MORE is all, but seeing So Ji-sub anywhere, doing ANYthing is alright with me.
















The Art of Seduction / Jakeob-ui jeongshik / 작업의 정석





This is the very, first movie I watched where Song Il gook portrayed modern-day man.
I was so afraid I wouldn't like him because of his natural, Ken-doll image, and I worried, too, that he wouldn't convince me that he can do modern-day stuff as well as he can pull off the period-piece genre he's so famous for.

WRONG!

TAoS is about a guy who's got it all: looks, bod, brains, and cash - and he uses them all to get his way with whatever female happens to capture his interest.
At the same time, there is a woman with the same qualities who does the very, same thing with the men who spark her interest, and eventually, the two meet up.
It's funny how they can second-guess one another, can read one anothers minds, and don't trust one another as far as they can throw them.
There's a plot twist that didn't sit too well with a majority of the viewers who left a comment at aznv.tv -
to be honest, I'm still on the fence after a few months -
I don't know what to tell you about the ending, so I'll leave it up to you to decide.
I think it was worth the watch.



내 사랑 (Nae Sa-rang) My Love





A December, 2007 Korean movie release about an upcoming total eclipse of the sun that is meant to bring hope to or fulfill the dreams of a few, star players.
They include a young man (Kam Woo seong), who meets a quirky girl (Choi Kang hee) aboard a subway train, falls in love with her, and then he loses her, only to find her again aboard that same train during the eclipse.
Another young man (Jeong Il woo) a college student who disappears for a year after losing the love of his life, and when he returns, he meets a silly, young girl (Lee Yeon hee) he doesn't recognize right away, but who begs him to help her learn how to polish off a bottle of soju without getting drunk.
During the eclipse, he reunites with his ex, but then he realizes who the other girl is.
Another man, (Eom Tae woong), returns to Korea after six years and wants his old cell phone number returned to him so he won't miss a call from his old girlfriend, who promised to call him on the day of the eclipse.
In the meantime, he walks around town holding up a sign that offers 'Free Hugs' to anyone that passes him by.






The promo pictures and the DVD cover are deceiving, however, since the movie is shot in the summertime, but I think it might be because of its wintertime release that it looks like a wintertime film when it's not.
There is another story that unfolds as well, of a woman (Lim Jeong yun) who runs an Ad agency while also carrying a torch for her co-worker, (Ryu Seung yong), a widower with a son who lives in the past, drinks too much, and can't let go of the love he had for his late wife.
It wasn't a long, drawn out affair with sappy sentimentality laced throughout, and it somehow managed to touch the very core of each story without detraction or confusion, or even to skimp on one story in order to concentrate more on another.
My Love was well written, perfectly executed, and worth the watch.









아기와 나 / Ahgiwa Na / Baby & Me



A summertime, 2008, release from Korea that stars Jang Geon suk as Joon soo, a wastrel youth from a wealthy home who keeps getting kicked out of school for fighting, smoking, etc.
His parents decide to leave him, hoping it will make him grow up and take more responsibility, but Joon soo decides to throw a wild party at the empty home instead, and while he's out shopping for snacks and liquor, he turns around to find a baby boy inside his shopping cart with a note that says she (the mother) is unable to look after his son anymore.
This was labeled as a comedy, and despite the seriousness of the storyline, it was, in fact, a very hilarious movie - but with a few, serious and a few tear-jerking moments tossed in for effect.
The opening of the movie showed a young girl in a chicken costume (why, I don't know) standing in front of a school, and this is what the banner overhead read:




Anyway, Joon soo went through a lot of hassle at the start, and it was hilarious when he combed the streets in search of women willing to give up their breast milk for his fussy son.
The baby had a voice, an old man's voice no less, and I don't know where they found this kid, but he had to be the most adorable child anyone has given birth to in a good, long time.
Just look at this face!




Baby and Me was funny, interesting, and it had a good storyline with a great cast to pull it off and allow things to flow seamlessly throughout.









화려한 휴가 (Hwa-ryeo-han Hyoo-ga) May 18






This was a Korean movie released in 2007, and it's supposed to be based on actual events that occurred in a small town there back in May of 1980.
If you're like me and don't know much about history other than what you learned in school, then the storyline will not make any sense to you, and like me, you'll be left to wonder why the HELL something like this even had to occur, much less that it actually DID.
There was a 10-second blurb at the beginning, probably explaining this to the viewer, but I watched the movie at Aznv.tv, and if you know anything about winamp, then you understand why I didn't pause the screen to read the message.
It's a bloody movie and heart-wrenching as well, leaving the viewer to root for the good guys up to the bitter end.
The ending left a lot of unanswered questions, but according to the translation, those questions remain unanswered to this day.









로맨틱 아일랜드 / Romaentik Aillaendeu / Romantic Island



This was a 2008 Christmas Eve release from Korea that stars one of my favorite, Korean actors, LEE Min-ki.
Just like every, other drama I've seen him in prior to this movie, he is adorable, approachable, and a bumbling idiot.
The story centers around the personal lives of three odd-couples who converge on the Philippines at the end of the year, all of them hoping for a change in their current situations: a married couple struggling with a medical condition (Lee Mun-shik and Lee Il-hwa), a pop star anxious to break away from her stifling career (Eugene), a young girl acting as a martyr for her family (Lee Soo-kyeong), our darling, Lee Min-ki as a shiftless dude with ambition but little brains, and a stuffy guy living in the past (Lee Seon-gyun).
Even with the four, separate stories unfolding at once, the movie never got complicated or boring, and from the very start, I rooted for each of them to succeed.
I last saw my honey, Min-ki, in the weird thriller, Four Gold Chaser, and when he did a beach scene in that one, I was more than a little disappointed with his pale, flabby frame.
This time, he didn't strip down to his tighty-whities (more's the pity), but he did lift his sleeveless shirt to get Eugene's autograph, and I must say - he's obviously been spending a little more time at the club and a lot less time at the Pojangmacha!












Blue Swallow. 청연.




It's a 2005 Korean release that stars Jang Jin young as Park Kyung-won, Kim Joo hyuk as Han Ji hyeok, Yu min as Masako Kibe, Han Ji min as Lee Jeong heui, and Toru Nakamura as the instructor.
I watched it because of Toru,



and it's based on a true story about a Korean female pilot (the first) before, during, or shortly after World War II.
Not only is she the first woman to pilot a plane, but she learns how in Japan.
There's a love story involved, with plenty of drama, action, and adventure to keep you interested from beginning to end.
Sad ending, too.
Pathetic, really.





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