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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hotelier





Yes, I finally did it ~

I watched a Bae Yong jun drama from Korea that goes waaay back to 2001!

For those of you not in the know, it's about a guy who works at a hotel in Seoul when he scandalizes everyone by ending up inside a female guest's room in his bath robe.

He gets fired and ends up working in Las Vegas for a few years when the Seoul Hotel owner dies of a heart attack and his wife begs the guy to come back and help save the floundering hotel.

Meanwhile, business tycoon Shin Dong Hyuk (Bae Yong jun) is working with the man who wants to buy out the Seoul Hotel just so he can see it run into the ground or cease to operate anymore.

A chick working in upper management is sent to Las Vegas to find Han Tae jun (Kim Seung woo), but he dumps her in the desert and then Dong hyuk picks her up.

The girl and Tae jun used to be lovers, but now she just wants to be his friend.

It's hard to tell if he lingers or not, but by the end of this 20-episode show, it's even harder to decide whether or not to care.

At least now I know why Bae Yong jun never did much for me - at least not in the looks department.

I went to school with a boy who looks almost identical, but I never made the connection until now, when I just returned from a reunion of sorts, and then I watched Hotelier - and I was like, holy smoke! That's Jim!


Yong jun or Jim Mc?


I can't put Jim's pic here without permission, but trust me, they are like twins, and NOT that I didn't like Jim, cause he always was and still is a really sweet guy.

Maybe I just never looked at him from a sexual standpoint, so to see Bae in that light wasn't, ever a possibility?

Whatever - aside from his slammin' bod, I'm not that crazy about the guy - well, let's just say I'm not one of his gazillion, ga-ga fans who want to bed him at any rate.

As for this oldie but goodie, I really liked it!

Ok, I didn't think it was the greatest drama from Korea, and it had it's moments of slowness, repetition, and boring pauses to contend with, but otherwise, the story was interesting and the characters where rather charming as well.

The other thing I found kind of interesting in a weird sort of way was the lead actor who portrayed GM Han Tae Jun (Kim Seung woo) - dude looks a lot like Jackie Chan to me ...




I'll bet a lot of you are thinking I'm crazy, but oh well - it's the way I see it.

The subtitles were practically flawless, but the interpretations were obviously British, and done by an Asian from that part of the world - but there was one word that kept popping up to make me giggle ...


as if to explode, when I really mean pressureD



Funny stuff.

Then there was this guy, with the strangest hair style I've ever seen on an Asian dude before - honestly, I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone else, aside from maybe Jerry Yan in Meteor Garden, but that was staged, and I don't think this was meant to fool anyone ...


Park Jung chul as Choi Young jae



What's even more amazing, though, is how manly he's become of late ~


Park Jung chul today


I liked this clock in madam president's office ~





and, in two, separate scenes, the BOOM was evident - this time -



tippy-top, left side


and another time, when they tried to disguise it with leaves, but it didn't work since the leaf cluster moved from above her head to his while they stood on a balcony to bitch at one another.

funny stuff.

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Crush and Blush / Misseu Hongdangmu




2008 Korean movie that stars Kong Hyo jin, Bang Eun jin, Hwangwoo Seul hye, Lee Jong hyeok, and Seo woo.

Winning Best Actress at the 7th Korean Film Awards and the 11th Director's Cut Awards, Kong Hyo Jin (Dachimawa Lee, M) transforms into a homely teacher in the quirky dramedy Crush and Blush (a.k.a. Miss Carrot). Lighting up the screen with her spunky, idiosyncratic charm, Kong turned her comically tragic black-sheep character into an unlikely audience-favorite heroine. Lee Jong Hyuk (Radio Dayz, A Day for an Affair) co-stars as her romantic interest, or rather obsession, and newcomer Seo Woo (My Son) makes a delightful turn as Kong's partner-in-mayhem. The first film produced by renowned director Park Chan Wook, Crush and Blush marks the impressive directorial debut of Lee Kyung Mi who won Best New Director and Best Screenplay at the 29th Blue Dragon Awards.

Personally, I'm not sure what all the hype is about, but this wasn't as bad a movie as it first presumed to be based on the title and cover image.

It was just, plain weird imho - but, in that creepy, waiting to see the gruesome gore of a train wreck kind of way.

I kept checking everywhere to find out if bRush was a type-o, but it's not and that has me confused as well - thinking it should read bLush since that is what the story is all about - a girl with frizzy hair, a weight problem of sorts, and rosacea (capillary issues on the cheeks).

The blockquote above uses L, and aznv.tv and wiki use R - so I guess it's up to us to decide which is right and which is wrong.

I'll stick with the L since it makes grammatic sense to me.

Yang Mi sook (Jin Kong hyo) is a girl who teaches Russian and has had a ten-year, one-way romance with a fellow educator Seo (Lee Jong hyuk), when one day the principal enters her classroom (filled with uninterested students) to announce that Russian isn't a hot topic anymore and will be replaced with English, along with her position, which will be replaced by a new teacher, Yuri (Hwangwoo Seul hye).

Seo is married to a wealthy woman connected with the academy, and she is a lot older than Seo as well, contemplating divorce against the pleading wishes of their daughter - a girl as misfit and disshevled as Mi sook.

The two form this awkward alliance, and from there, the movie takes off on the odd, modern twists, turns, and '...wait, are we still in reality mode here?' moments that gave the impression the writer/director was aiming for something other than mainstream all around.

Maybe because it's so out of the box, not predictable, and quirky that it was such a hit back home, but for me ... I still don't know what to think or even say about this movie, other than you need to give it a chance if you're looking for something so far from ordinary that it isn't funny.

Here are side-by-sides of the main actress:


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사막의 샘 / Sa mak ui Saem


Oasis / Desert Spring


This is a 2003 Korean extended movie that stars SONG IL GOOK as Ki Hyun, a motherless boy who witnesses his saxaphone-playing father being gunned down in cold blood by a ruthless mercinary on the side of the Japanese in post-war Korea.

NOT nice.

Anyway Ki Hyun grows up to be a gorgeous, young man (big surprise) who is now a terrific musician and (bigger surprise) loved by all the ladies. ;-)

Later, and on his way to Seoul to attend college, a chick in a white wedding gown runs past him, thus losing her veil, which ends up smacking Ki Hyun in the face.

He catches up to her a bit later, and when he sees her treading out to sea in the gown, he freaks out - shouting as he chases after her in an attempt to stop her from committing what he presumes is suicide.

She's actually trying to get back a note with an address on it as she has run from the arranged marriage to pursue her own way of life by attending college with the help of a family friend.

For whatever reason (I'm not that hip to the Korean culture) when she sees that Ki Hyun is a saxaphone player, she wrinkles her nose at him, raises her chin haughtily, and totally disses him the way any, upstanding Korean girl might do ... I don't know.

Anyway, at the train station, her furious fiance is hunting her down to kick her ass for leaving him at the altar, and she grabs Ki Hyun's saxaphone case to hide from the guy and his goons.

She ducks inside a touring sedan owned by the town rich dude and Rich guy is immediately taken by runaway bride, but then so was Ki Hyun.

The saxaphone is Ki Hyun's prized possession (his late father's instrument).

Boy and girl eventually meet up at college, where she admits without much shame to having pawned said instrument in order to pay for her tuition, but she does promise to reimburse him for the huge favor some day.

So, a few years go by and she is doing really well thanks to her luck at bumping into the rich dude, who fell madly in love at first sight.

She lives with his wealthy family taking care of his little sister and ends up getting a cherry position at the local radio station.

Along comes older, hotter Ki Hyun to play live music with a band, and suddenly, things start to turn around for everyone.

Ki Hyun is still crazy about the girl, and the girl is suddenly very interested in the hot guy playing the sax.

But!
What about the rich dude??

You won't believe who his old man really is.

Personally, this was a terrific movie that I highly recommend, and NOT just because it stars god-like Song, either.

It's cute how he's, like, way taller than everyone else, and not ONCE did I get a Yeom Jang or Jumong vibe while watching this movie, which is great since I hate to see him being type-cast that way.


Hell, I don't even care that the dude is married now and totally off-limits even from a fantasy standpoint!

He's frickin' amazing in anything he acts in, and I wish there was more to see of him, too.

I hope he still has a contract with a studio somewhere in Korea, and that he'll be making more than just babies in the future.




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Oishii Proposal / おいしいプロポーズ


2006, ten-episode Japanese drama that stars Hasegawa Kyoko as Shiraishi Suzuko and Koide Keisuke as Katsuragi Haruki, opposites that do not attract right away.

Suzuko is an Italian cuisine chef working at a tiny bistro somewhere in the city, and Haruki is a spoiled, rich kid wavering between living large or growing up.

Haruki works for his father, who is a philanderer but also a shrewd business man unhappy with his bastard son's flippant attitude about life.

To prove his worth, Haruki decides to aquire and then renovate a restaurant with the best cuisine in town, and that happens to be the tiny bistro where Suzuko works.

He has grand plans for the joint while she cringes at the notion of changing anything about the popular, little haunt tucked neatly away from the hustle & bustle of the big city.

Naturally, Haruki doesn't get it, and while Suzuko acts coy a majority of the time, thinking that her life's work is to cook for others and nothing more, she is slowly becoming attracted to the boy a few years younger than she is (which, therefore, means he is off limits).

It seemed, to me, that right from the very start, our Haruki had the hots for Suzuko, but at the beginning of this drama, they did the 'stuck-up nod' at one another a majority of the time.

The storyline seemed played out as well, but that was probably because it was, like, the third or fourth 'pasta' movie/drama I watched almost consecutively, so my opinion may seem a tad jaded, I don't know.

I didn't NOT like this one, and the ending came as a bit of a surprise as much as it sort of disappointed me, but it wasn't anything memorable, either.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

Once A Gangster

飞沙风中转 (Fei Sha Feng Zhong Zhuan)




May, 2010, Hong Kong release that stars Jordan Chan and Ekin Cheng as warring ex-gang members who are supposedly vying for the head-dragon spot left open by Chan's gang boss who is so heavily in debt that he can't think of any, other way out but to have someone else appointed to take his place.

Roast Pork (Chan) was once a gang member who wanted to save his family's small food stall from ruthless extortionists who are actually under the head dragon he now works to protect.

Sparrow (Cheng) knows his way around a sword, and he ends up spending twenty years in the slammer as a result, but his drug-addicted mother is as brash and powerful as ever, vowing to make her 'baby' the head dragon at all costs.

Turns out Roast Pork is only interested in keeping his thriving restaurants afloat while Sparrow has turned over a new leaf inside prison, coming out a learned man whose soul has also been saved.

This is obviously meant as a comedic endeavor that brought back a few of the bad-ass hoods from the Y & D series, and the director made sure to throw in a few, other movie references as well ... especially some hilarious scenes robbed from the Infernal Affairs saga.

I've just been so STARVED for stuff like this from Hong Kong, that even if it turned out to be a total disaster, I'd probably have still enjoyed the watch - but wait!

This was funny, it was interesting, and SO close to what Hong Kong film once represented that I had to give it five hearts.

I'm not looking forward to it, but I still await the day when Cheng and Chan start to show their age - and after watching Once a Gangster, it looks like I'll still have to wait, because neither, handsome gentleman appeared any older or worse-for-wear imho.


Ekin Cheng and Jordan Chan in Once a Gangster




The first time I ever heard about the unlikelihood of there being such a product on any market as this ...



was when I watched Anna Magdalena, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Aaron Kwok Fu Sing.

It puzzled me then as it still does now how something like this is even plausible, much less functional or even desirable to anyone in the whole world.

I don't get it, but if I am ever blessed with the opportunity to travel Asia, you can bet it will be one of the FIRST items I search for AND buy when shopping over there.

Ok - I know my first crush is married now and totally off-limits more so than ever before, but since he IS my first crush, it isn't likely I'll ever get over him.



... so that means I'm still able to and likely always will continue to dream about a guy as amazing as Jordan Chan.

Here's the trailer if you're interested, and I've linked the blog title to the video at youtube, but I don't know how long it'll be before they shut it down ~ so quick! watch this one, cause I know you'll enjoy it!


Once A Gangster (trailer)


Sweet Lie / 달콤한 거짓말





2008 Korean movie about a girl who always gets drunk, ends up losing her PD job (I guess that's the to-die-for position over there, eh?), and as she's leaving the station, her purse gets ripped off her shoulder by a thief.

As she is chasing after the guy while shouting profanities in broad daylight, she runs into a fancy car, and the minute she sees who it is that is driving, she feigns amnesia.

See, about ten years earlier, during high school, she was madly in love with this cute guy who never gave her the time of day, but that never stopped her from dreaming, which is why she turns into a lush with a broken heart and no, real reason to live.

Yea ~ he's the hotty behind the wheel who ends up having to take her in and care for her until she gains back her memory.

I thought PD's were ultra-hip, totally rad, and highly paid workers over there, but Ji ho seems to come from poverty and stayed there, unable to pay her bills, so I'm a bit confused.

Her ditzy friend from way back is still there, too, and still as ditzy as ever, always pointing out to Ji ho that 'any guy will do, actually', when Ji ho is still stuck in the past.

Her next-door neighbor, and a guy who has been in love with Ji ho since way back, is searching frantically for her until he at last finds her, and at once, he realizes that she is faking it, and he doesn't spoil the secret, but Ji ho ends up having no choice but to return to her humble abode now.

Aside from the interestingly played storyline, this movie was filled with hilarious moments I won't soon forget ... especially a scene early on where they show a newspaper delivery guy on a bike who chucks the papers a bit, too hard and ends up wiping out.

It's been awhile since I've laughed that hard, or even for that long, and while Ji ho muddles her way through a majority of this film until finally realizing how stupid she's been behaving, it was still a laugh-riot start to finish, so I'm sure you'll enjoy it, too, if you give it a chance.

WAY loved this one!


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