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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

상두야,학교가자! / Sang Doo Ya, Hak Kyo Ka Ja!

Let's Go to School, Sang-doo!


This puppy goes ALL the way back to 2003, but who cares, and it stars Rain bi as Sang Doo, too.

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but my nick-name is Rain (Lorain), and my last name starts with a B - but since I'm older than the above-mentioned mega-star from Korea, it means I got there first, so I have no qualms about nor shame in using Rain B on profile pages and even at school - so THERE, Mr. Pop Idol, tight-bod name stealer.

Anyhow ~ we're supposed to be discussing Sang Doo Ya, Hak Kyo Ka Ja!, and so we shall.

At the website, not, too many folks viewed this, but an overwhelming majority of them gave it a 5 out of 5 rating despite the fact most everyone whined about the ending.

With regards to the ending ... I still can't figure out what the trouble was when it came to understanding just, what really happened ~ I mean, everyone argued that the couple simply walked away from their old lives to start anew somewhere else in Korea, and that is just, plain silly.

I'm never one to give away the plot or include spoilers in my blog, though, so let's just start from the beginning and see where it leads, shall we?

The story revolves around a young pair of misfits whose parents are the stereotypical assholes determined to corrupt or destroy their offspring by whatever means possible.

Despite that, boy and girl grow up to be respectable adults - and because Sang Doo is so, freakin' gorgeous, he's always surrounded by fan-girly sqeaky chicks all vying for his attention when he is truly in love with his childhood sweetheart, Chae Eun hwan (Gong Hyo jin).

Like most, every other Korean drama of this type, the misunderstandings, the innuendo that always goes over heads, and a general LACK of viable communication leads the two down separate paths that ominously predicts an inevitable, future meeting.

This occurs ten years later, with Sang Doo making a living as a gigilo and our mousy Eun hwan as a high school teacher.

Sang Doo first sits beside Eun hwan and starts talking about old times, and later on, she confesses to her new love about having suddenly met her old, first love again.

The new love, Kang Min-suk (Lee Dong gun), is a doctor who is treating a little girl with cancer, and she happens to be Sang Doo's child (or is she?) - so again, it's inevitable that the old sweethearts bump into each other again ... and again ... and yet, again throughout the sixteen episodes.

This is also another drama where two, relatively hunky dudes are vying for the attention of the same, frumpy woman who dresses like a 30-something old maid with zero sense of style or taste, and I never, quite understood that - but, at least I'm starting to get used to it at any rate.

And yeah, the little girl was on the kawaii side, but not completely - or, at least not enough for me to gush and coo every time I saw her.

Okay, so the jist of this one includes a lot of hedging, running in circles, and avoiding conflict by keeping quiet when reality dictates otherwise, but I guess that's why it's drama and not reality, eh?

Sang doo doesn't want Eun hwan to find out about his career, but he doesn't seem to mind elbowing his way back into her life, either.

He gets a job as a security guard at the school where she works, and he likes the idea of being that close to her again, but he tends to do everything wrong, and with gusto to boot, landing him in some hot water until he is eventually let go.

Not to be shaken off so easily, Sang Doo decides he'll just become a high school student in order to keep an eye on his gal.

See, back in the day, he never got the chance to graduate - but I can't tell you why, or what the circumstances were that prevented him from obtaining that goal.


So, along with studying trig, economics, languages, and so-forth, Sang Doo maintains the gigilo lifestyle so he has the $ needed to cover his 'daughter's' medical expenses, and the wack chick who is the little girl's mother ALSO happens to be ...


Okay-looking Doc, Min suk, is in love with our mousy Eun hwan, but that doesn't stop him from trying to get Sang Doo to change his mind about the way he lives so as not to disappoint, shock, or scare away the girl, NOR does he make much attempt to stop Eun hwan from reluctantly creeping back in Sang doo's direction, either.

Noble dude.

There is also the mid-point scenario where childhood sweethearts finally embrace, smile once more, and experience that blissful 'memory pleaser' kind of day ~ which ALWAYS signals that moment when we hear the needle scrape across the record and suddenly everything comes to a grinding halt ~ when our star-crossed duo are thrust into that inevitable yet unlikely twist of fate that tears them apart and keeps them that way until the very, last episode.

And, alas, in that last part of the show, when your muscles are now aching after having spent the past, fifteen episodes gripping the arms of your chair each time you THINK someone is going to 'get busy' so-to-speak, or at least KISS for crying out loud, only to have it NOT happen - so you can pretty much GUESS what is going to occur during the ' an intersection' moment in the drama.


Regardless of the outcome, and I must say, the writers did something quite unexpected this time around, but still, in a far-fetched and 'excuse me?' kind of way - I didn't think that the ending was all, that horrible, and, I'm sorry, but I don't see how it is possible to misconstrue what occurred AFTER the ' that intersection' moment.

You go, RAIN BI ~ it's a far cry from Full House, and a lot, less mellow dramatic than A Love to Kill ~ so here's hoping to see you on the big screen again soon ................................


That actually is released today, isn't it?

Not that it matters, since it'll be awhile before 'I' get to see it - so I'm looking forward to it - especially since it ALSO stars Daniel Henney!

야수와 미녀 / Ya-soo-wa Mi-nyeo

Beast and the Beauty

2006 Korean movie about a guy not so gorgeous who semi-stalks and then ends up befriending a blind girl who just happens to be really pretty.

It's a funny movie as Korean standards dictate, but it also had a few moments that lagged, which in no way detracted from this film.

While she's still unable to see, Shin Mi na's character falls in love with the homely but doting man who first pretended to be a taxi driver until she figured it out, but by then she liked him and expected that he continue with the charade.

Ryu Seung beom plays the doting man with less-than-average (by Korean cinema standards) looks who first freaks out and then becomes manic once he realizes the girl is about to gain back her sight through a cornea transplant.

He contemplates plastic surgery, and the visit to the doc is hilariously memorable.

He begs for help from a friend and co-worker, who doles out optimistic advice that falls on deaf ears.

Then, our newly sighted heroine sees (blurrily) a man standing across the street in front of a car, and he's waving frantically, so she runs toward him, thinking it is her boyfriend whom she hasn't seen yet but is anxious to finally come face-to-face with now that she has new eyes.

The man she 'thinks' is her love is actually Kim Kang woo starring as a police detective waving down his comrades so that they can pursue a gang of thugs.

Seated on the passenger side, Shin Mi na is taken on a fast-pace ride through the city streets while the cop and his backseat comrades are trying to figure out what she is doing there.

Turns out Kang woo's character was 'Mr. Popular' back in high school, and that Seung beom tried but failed to compete with the charismatic charmer who always stole his thunder.

Being who he is, Seung beom's character almost immediately concedes defeat, but not quite - and a member of the gang the cops rounded up who managed to escape is always behind our unlikely hero offering useless advice, too.

Korean's have a terrific sense of humor, and this movie proved that point on a number of occasions, but I can't say it was the most hilarious thing I've seen from them - and I won't say it was the worst, either.

Give it a go if you have the time, and I think you'll see what I mean.

아빠가 여자를 좋아해 / Abbaga Yeojareul Jongahhae

Lady Daddy

January, 2010, Korean movie about a young boy searching for his real father, who turns out to be a woman (now).

Lee Pil mo stars in this one as an uppity reconstructive surgeon who once mentally and physically tortured the lead actress, (Lee Na yong as Ji hyeon) when he was a guy studying to become a physician but who ends up changing professions as well as his gender.

Pil mo's Min kyu eventually marries the woman Ji hyeon had a one-night stand with, and he treats the little boy like his own child.

No one from the past (save Ji hyeon's best friend) knows about the sex-change operation, and for at least ten years, Ji hyeon makes it on 'her' own as a photographer - but then the little boy sneaks away from a school camping trip and sets out to find his real father and all that begins to unravel.

This wasn't a particularly funny, outrageous, controversial, or even predictable movie, but it was worth watching imho - especially since Lee Pil mo was involved.

I thought that the story had meaning, and that the touchy topic was handled with enough finesse to keep those snooty enough to 'tsk' in disdain from even doing that much.

Only drawback for me was that Lee Na young didn't pass off the 'man' aspect of her role as well as expected, but she did a nice job trying at any rate.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Love of My Life

Honestly, I don't understand why this 2006, 10-episode Japanese drama didn't do better with viewers than it did with me.

I absolutely loved this !

It was one of the most pure, unconvoluted, and simple-yet-charming stories I've come across in a long time, if ever, and I, for one, had a terrific time watching start to finish.

Tatta is about a young boy and girl from opposing sides of life who meet, fall in love, and then battle the obvious social morays up until the very end of the show, but despite all that, they still manage to create something wonderful together, and I think this was why I had such a good time watching.

Yokohama is the setting - Kamenashi Kazuya is the boy - Kanzaki Hiroto - and Ayase Haruka is the girl - Tsukioka Nao.

Now, these two had actual on-screen chemistry imho, and the likelihood of their 'forbidden' romance taking shape occurred as a result of Nao's inability to LIE her way through life - as is the case with a majority of the characters portrayed on-screen and from Asia in general.

Hiroto is from the wrong side of the tracks, having to forego college and a promising baseball career after his father committed suicide to pay off creditors and save an already floundering machine repair factory Hiroto is now responsible for keeping afloat.

He and his poor buddies still manage to have fun while becoming working stiffs after high school, and one thing they enjoy doing is to sneak into a restricted area to fish and then sell their catch to local restaurants for pocket change.

The boys are on their way to a restaurant when the kids from an elite college are making their way to school, and an accident with the fish forces Hiroto and his friends to confront Nao and her overly pleasant friend, Motomiya Yuko (Toda Erika).

The boys end up shelling out a lot of money to attend a ritzy social put on by the snobby college students, and it is at this party that Hiroto and Nao begin to develop feelings for one another.

Yuko encourages Nao to continue to pursue Hiroto, reminding her of their last Christmas together, when they ended up handing out gifts to customers at Nao's family jewelry store instead of spending a romantic evening with a hunky fella.

It is just for kicks, something different to do, and not meant to last beyond the holiday - but while Nao and Hiroto's relationship starts to heat up despite the pressures from society, parents, and so-on, Yuko is struggling to maintain her dignity while falling more and more for the wrong guy in the trio.

Yuka wants this guy,

Hiraoka Yuta as Ozawa Ayuta

but instead, she ends up falling for

Tanaka Koki on the far right

Even in the above shot, it looked, to me, like Nao wore maternity clothes

but, that might, just have been the style at the time this drama was made, who knows.

It looked like everything was hanging off her body and way, too big for her size.

She's really pretty, which was another reason why I liked the drama and could connect with the two leads.

Funny thing was, Yuko kept saying she was the pretty one and her gushing friends agreed, but I didn't, and the same, too, with the fellas, when Ayuta kept complaining that he was the dude with the looks & charm in their group, yet he ended up without a girl - and again, I had to disagree.

Kazuya is and probably always will be a hotty

Kamenashi Kazuya as Kanzaki Hiroto

but, for me the star of this show was Nao's older, hotter brother,

Kaname Jun as Tsukioka Tatsuya

He portrayed the sweetheart, older bro who is actually bookish and a nerd, but he helped to save Nao's life when she was stricken with leukemia in middle school by donating his bone marrow.

I know - as soon as I heard that, I groaned and thought, "Dear Lord, don't tell me I'm watching another 'gonna die, someone!' drama I can't stand!!!"

Y'know, now that I think about it, maybe THAT was what caused people to tune out, eh?

If you're one of them, then shame on you, because that aspect of the story had NOTHING to do with the drama or even the outcome.

It was NOT as predictable as you might expect, and I, for one, am thankful that I stuck with this to the very end, because it was absolutely wonderful start to finish, and I highly recommend you give this a go (or, another, as the case may be).

So, as it turns out, Nao living on the 45th floor of her fancy condo complex ended up being a major part of the romance between her and Hiroto, whose dilapidated warehouse home just happens to face the tower.

Early in their romance, the gang attends a summer fair together, and Nao pouts about Hiroto's inability to win for her a silly-looking, rubber thingy with a bunch of rubber strings hanging off its face.


Hiroto leaves them to do Nao's bidding, and eventually, he succeeds in winning the light-up keychain.

When he tells her the apartment faces his house, she gets all excited and runs up to her room, turns off the lights, and stands on the balcony shaking the Orenji.

In turn, Hiroto flashes back at her with a 'torch', and his little, asmatic brother tells him that they are like the whales he is so fond of - which can communicate from as far away as 200km.

Nao's birthday present from Ren and Hiroto

Nao's father is adament about their not seeing each other again, and then Hiroto's mother does something unspeakable to help destroy the relationship even more.

Nao's older, nerdy brother, Tatsuya, doesn't help matters any, either, when he argues against the idea of her seeing anyone beneath her, and then he breaks a promise by telling their father about an incident that implicates Hiroto when he's actually quite innocent.

Eventually, Hiroto realizes that what he is doing isn't right, and that he can't continue playing the game when he knows he'll never be good enough for saintly Nao, so aboard a pretty cruise liner that tours the harbor, he tells Nao that they are through.

For the last, fifteen minutes of the cruise, she asks that they hold hands, and then he proposes that for the next, three years, until her five-year stint with the transplant hold-out is up, if she will flash him on her birthday (Christmas Eve), that it will prove they were meant to be together.

The first, two years, she shakes the Orenji and he replies with the flashlight, but on the third year, no Orenji - and Hiroto is devastated.

Then, he sells the warehouse and moves away with mother & brother.

In an unlikely twist, they meet again after Ko's wedding, and Nao has an engagement ring on her finger.

Hiroto is devastated beyond belief, gets drunk, and stumbles home in tears.

I won't spoil the ending, but i will reiterate that Tatta Hitotsu no Koi was one of the best JDorama's I've seen in awhile, and I recommend you give this a chance.

Yokohama at sunset

typical of just about every JDorama I've ever seen

pretty sunset

cool idea for lighting at a bar

Yuko's groovy apartment

Miracle of Giving Fool / 바보 / Ba:Bo

BA:BO was released in South Korea on February 28, 2008, and was ranked third at the box office on its opening weekend, grossing $2,302,058. By April 6 the film had grossed a total of $6,377,089, and as of March 23 the total number of tickets sold was 951,573.

2008 Korean movie based on a comic book about a young boy from a poor family who suffers brain damage after a gas leak that kills his father leaves the boy mentally suspended at six years of age.

Cha Tae hyun did another, exceptional performance as the retarded boy growing up as a six-year old with a younger sister to support after their mother dies, leaving them on their own in a hovel they call home.

Seung ryong may not act his age, but one thing about his past that refuses to leave his addle-pated mind is the love he has always had for the young, budding pianist, Ji ho (Ha Ji won).

His snotty, little sister, Ji in (Park Ha seon) is really horrible because she is ashamed of Seung ryong, so she treats him like sh*t while he does everything for her because his late mother insisted that he take good care of the girl after she was gone.

His only talent is making what the synopsis describes as 'toast', when to me, it looked more like delicious French-style toast instead.

Seung ryong has a rickety, old stand parked outside the high school, where he pours egg batter into metal molds, sets the bread on top, and repeats the words,

"Vaseline for hurts, toast for the stomach, and a dollar for the pot."

Seung ryong repeats everything because he's written down all the rules he's heard people shout at him, demand of him, and so-forth: like how to take care of his little sister.

Those rules, he's taped to the ceiling above his mat, and every morning, when he opens his eyes, he reads them so as not to forget anything.

Cha Tae hyun said he cried like a fool after reading the comic, and it was obvious from the start that he put his heart and soul into the role of village idiot, too.

The title of this movie had me fooled, and the ending really upset me, but I think I realize where the title makes sense now - in an odd, Asian idea of the word and not the way I think of miracle.

His friends, Ji ho and Sang soo (Park Hee soon) weren't doing so well in their adult lives, and snotty, lil' sis wasn't a shining example of grace or fidelity, either, but at the end, they found themselves headed in the opposite direction thanks to our unlikely hero, Seong ryung.

Of the nearly 300 people who voted at, over 90% agreed this was a 5-star rated movie, and 9 out of 10 comments posted (-.-); as a response, too.

I didn't, exactly, cry my eyes out watching this, but I did tear up at times - but maybe that was because it was a slightly predictable story while it also managed to surprise me near the end.

It didn't shock nor disturb me that Ji ho took an instant liking to Seong ryung when she returned to the village after ten years, and I had no problem with Sang soo being his good buddy, either.

This wasn't intended to convey or even portray a romance, but instead a human aspect of life that is seldom mentioned, much-less portrayed on the silver screen, and it made me wonder about the possibility of there being such a thing as true friendship between what is deemed 'normal' and 'abnormal' in this world.

I didn't grow up in a tiny village tucked away somewhere peaceful, and I never knew anyone with mental incapacities, either - I just hope, if I had, that I would have possessed the courage to treat them kindly at any rate.