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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dream High / 드림하이

Kinda sorta looks like a winner to me!

Have to wait for it to be uploaded, though ...


Friday, February 18, 2011

ブラザー☆ビート / Brother Beat

Even with Hayami Mokomichi as Sakurai Riku in this one, I couldn't, quite bring myself to give this 2005 JDorama a fourth flower.

Tamayama Tetsuji as Sakurai Tatsuya became a bigger draw for me, too, and I think he's really fine, but still, no, fourth flower for Brother Beat.

The story was great and believable, about a feisty widow of three, grown boys who happens to be a tad on the shiftless side when it comes to domestic ability.

The eldest boy (Tamayama) is a handsome, upstanding office worker taking fiscal responsibility for the clan, the middle bro, (Hayami) is a bad-ass slacker more interested in looking fly than accomplishing anything, and the baby boy, Nakao Akiyoshi as Sakurai Junpei, who oddly but succinctly takes on the maternal role in the household - cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and making sure that everyone has a healthy lunch before they exit the tiny house they call home.

Tatsuya bumps into his destined love in the first episode, breaking her glasses and feeling obliged to buy her a new pair.

She's not homely, but I think we were supposed to believe that she was, and it took Tatsuya about eight of the ten episodes to realize she was meant to be his for life, too.

She ends up working in management at the same super market as Tatsuya's mother, and the two hit it off right away, with silliness ensuing up to the point where they both realize that she has been talking intimately with her lover's mother about her romance.

Tatsuya and Riku fight a lot, getting into knock-down, drag-outs right there in the tiny livingroom/dining area of the house, upsetting furniture and destroying almost every meal their little brother had lovingly prepared.

Riku eventually decides to open the dry cleaning business their late father once operated inside the house, and for a time, things seem to be going in an upward motion for the Sakurai clan - but, we all know stability isn't something you're likely to witness in a drama from any country.

Little bro ends up being ensnared by a pretty, older girl pregnant with another man's child, and despite the warning signs and stern admonishment of his elders, Junpei chooses to follow his heart (and maybe his crotch, but he was such a sweety in Brother Beat, it's really hard to tell).

Like most Japanese dramas, this one starts off at a fast pace, slows down a bit in the middle, and then picks up again toward the end - and because the topic is rather typical of most humans on the verge of falling in love or getting married, the writers had to devise some interesting filler to add to the mayhem and not let things go stale.

Brother Beat didn't go stale, but it seemed like a played-out story to me, and while the actors managed to pull off their character roles nicely, it still wasn't something I'd rate highly, but would definitely recommend it to you to see and judge for yourself.

My Girl (JP) / マイガール

2009, 10-episode JDorama that stars Arashi's Aiba Masaki as 23 yr old Kazama Masamune, a guy who fell in love with an older woman while still in high school, and then she left the country and he folded.

Six years later, and living in the upstairs room of a charming, European-style house outside Tokyo, but with oddball homeowners for his landlord, Masaki-kun finds out that his old flame is dead, and that she has a five-year-old daughter he is now expected to raise as his own child.

The cute, little girl misses her mother terribly and has a few trinkets in her possession to help remember the good times - while she is also politely accommodating to the strange man she must now live with.

He's worried that the crotchety, old man landlord will kick him out if he finds out about the girl, and then he worries that he'll lose his job if he keeps having to leave work to fetch her from school or leave early on account of her being sick or something implausible but necessary to the storyline like that.

He's worried, too, that his mother will be upset once she finds out that the little girl is her grandchild - for reals - and as the episodes progress, so does his level of maturity, understanding, and acceptance for everything from the past to his inevitable future as a father.

This is based on the Manga My Girl Sahara Mizu, and almost everyone at agreed that the Manga was better, more tearful than the drama, but that Aiba did a terrific job.

I didn't like him, and then I did like him, and then I quirked a curious brow at him, and then I smiled at him.

Aiba is peculiar in a number of ways, and not at all like the stereotypical pop-band boy image in my head, either.

My impression of him and his acting skills aside, this was a nice movie that unfolded seamlessly, telling a story of interest and acted out with ease by all the characters.

Humming / 허밍

2007 Korean movie that starred Lee Chun hee and Han Ji hye; lovers gone complacent in their long relationship, and while she is anticipating a marriage proposal, he is contemplating an extended stay at the South Pole for work research - and, we're meant to believe that he likes the idea because he wants to get away from the relationship.

He's irritable around her, and her quirky ways annoy him until the day she enters his apartment behaving normal when his cell phone rings and her sister is tearfully trying to explain to him about an accident his girlfriend just experienced; landing her in the hospital.

It makes no sense to him, and even after he arrives at the hospital and sees his girl lying comatose in bed, he can't believe what just occurred.

For the duration of this film, we watch as he retraces the last steps of his dying girlfriend - everything from his desperately trying to find the yellow bike he saw her ride up to the complex on to his thinking about every, little nuance of her personality as it unfolds from memory (now pleasant) in the quiet, lonely apartment.

Lee Min ki made a subtle appearance in this, playing the lead man's buddy from work, and once in awhile he's there to offer advice or support to his slowly going mad friend.

We're supposed to take away from this one the idea that 'you never know what you've got til you lose it' ... but, for me, it was more like 'be honest and stop messing with the feelings of others'

It was poignant at best, and highly predictable, but still artsy enough to be enjoyable.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

매리는 외박중 / Maerineun Oebakjoong

Marry Me, Mary!

That's right!
FIVE stars for this one :-)

Beyond awesome, interesting, believable, and entertaining was this 16-episode, Nov through Dec of 2010, Korean drama.

Loved it to BITS!

Especially ...

Jang Geun suk as Kang Moo kyul

An added bonus, and the reason I tuned in to begin with ...

Kim Jae wook as Byun Jung in

But, believe it or not, that isn't even HALF the story this time!

I went into this one with just, one eye open and expected for it to be mildly sappy at the least - horrifically mundane at most.


Oh, so wrong on both counts and THANK THE HEAVENS for that, too.

The second that I saw the leading man beside MY leading man, Jae wook, and that they were both interested in the leading lady (Moon Geun young as Wi Mae ri), I thought to myself, "Aw no! Not another of them stupid, unrealistic Cinderella stories like the ones from Taiwan that they crank out every, other month?"

WRONG again!

Well, let's just say it wasn't EXACTLY like the far-fetched, worn-out, boring and lame 'ugly girl meets prince charming and he falls in love with her' scenario I am fed up with watching.

(I'm seriously going to re-read all my blogs and then make a new blog that lists every, single drama from Japan, China, and Korea that has that theme as a basis for the story - there have GOT to be at least ten I can list, I'm sure, considering I can already think of five right off the top of my head!)

Anyway, MMM is about a poor, unattractive girl with a dead-beat father and no mother who starts off the story by hiding from creditors AND the goons chasing down her old man in order to 'extract' the money he owes them.

It was hard NOT to like Wi Mae ri from the get-go, and her childish antics could not be misconstrued regardless of their ... well, childishness!

Take, for example, the scene where she is trying to get our sex-laden god of a musician, Kang Moo kyul, to sign a release form that assures he won't turn around and sue her for hitting him with her friend's car.

When he said she resembled the cat from Shrek II, he was dead-on!

omg ... I just realized something!

Now I can put a name to this guy's heavenly face!

I saw this dude in a video last year, and I melted in my chair!

Then, and after stealing this image from the video and using it as a profile pic for EVER, I begged my Korean friend to help me find out who he is, and she didn't have a clue.

IT'S HIM! Yay!

Okay, back to the show ...

Mu kyul is a street musician (I think they toss about the Indie label a bit, too freely in Asia, and its gotten to the point where one can't distinguish between that and POP anymore, so I won't do that here) who shuffles around town with his guitar strapped to his back looking oh, so fly in the latest, trendy attire, and our leading lady, Mae ri, drives her two, intoxicated friends to a happening area of Seoul when Mu kyul, headphones attached and bobbing his head to the sound, steps out, in front of traffic, scaring the girls half to death in the process.

When Mu kyul opens his eyes and he sees the wide-eyed girl with thick, fluffy hair staring at him with concern for his health, I KNOW FOR SURE he is instantly taken by her, but that isn't revealed until way, later in the game.

He says he's fine and saunters off, but her goofy friends convince her that he'll return to haunt her with a lawsuit for damages - so the already wary-of-creditors Mae ri scampers around the bustling streets in search of the 'omg' musician with amazingly AMAZING hair, long, limber legs, and a face that could stop a clock, it's that gorgeous.

She ends up inside an underground club filled with bobbing heads and loud music, but she soon recognizes the electrifying presence on stage and sticks around for the show.

By INDIEs, I guess you could say its true this time, since Mu kyul is against pop music of any kind, and he even has the wherewithal to know when his 'agent' is trying to rope him into a 'pop boy band' deal and ends up telling her to hit the road, displaying a wonderful sense of integrity.

After the show, Mae ri is mortified (in an obvious, Asian sense) to see the handsome musician physically hugging his fans - and then she proceeds to follow him to a nearby bar, where he meets up with his band buddies to get drunk.

Mae ri interrupts the party to beg him to sign the release form, and she ends up having to knock back a few instead, which leads to their both getting shloshed, which in turn leads to some funny dialogue and 'drunk' antics.

Mu kyul doesn't sign the paper, but he does end up spending the night at her apartment - which Mae ri can't remember letting happen since she isn't one to handle the spirits all that well.

MEANWHILE, her old man is running from creditors when he ends up at his wife's grave, where he also just happens to bump into his old Sunbae from college, who has been in Japan for years but has returned to Korea on business - with his adult son who is in the drama-producing business and wants to make it big in his native country.

Byun Jung in is the 'typical' tortured soul in search of an identity as well as a purpose in life while also dutifully fulfilling the demanded-of-him obligations of his father - an overbearing, heartless man with just, one thing on his mind - to marry off his only child to the daughter of the woman of his dreams.

Yea ... that'd be our Wi Mae ri-shi.

Her father and Sunbae (Jung in's father) become fast-friends again and almost instantly discuss plans to follow through with their twenty + years' agreement to have their children wed.

When Mae ri gets wind of the news, panic ensues and she decides on something stupid since its spur-of-the-moment stuff - like asking Mu kyul to 'stand in' as a fake husband so her father will back off.

They and their friends go to a photography studio and dress up in wedding attire, take a bunch of pictures, and then Mae ri proceeds to show them to her appahji in the hopes that he will forget about the 'arranged' thing.

It doesn't work - but the relationship between Mae ri and Mu kyul has nowhere else to go but UP since they must continue to pretend they are hitched as her father still insists that she marry money instead of looks - I mean for love.

The two, old men arrange to have Mae ri and Jung in meet, and since this is modern-day Korea with pre-historic notions about love & marriage, the fathers want Mae ri and Jung in to live together.

I had no idea that just 'saying' you are engaged makes you legally married.

It's as if the engagement ceremony is bigger and more important than the actual wedding - and this, obviously, doesn't sit too well with a westerner like me.

Another thing I can't wrap my head around is the fact that the woman takes the man with her to buy her dress, and that they take pictures PRIOR to the big day (BIG no-no jinxy thing from a Western perspective, eh?) - which I guess isn't such a big day after all, if all the pomp & circumstance occurs months BEFORE the big day ... I mean wedding.

OUCH, my head hurts.

Okay, so for the next, ten episodes we watch as Mae ri and Mu kyul play house without the benefit of sex or lovey-dovey stuff, and she also has to divide her time between him and Jung in, whom she just, doesn't like for whatever reason, even though he's the sweetest, most considerate man on the PLANET for crying out loud!

She ends up getting a job at the studio where Jung in works, and the more that they are together, the more jealous and suspicious of Mae ri that Mu kyul becomes until the fireworks erupt.

Ah yes, there is the unrequited love thing in this one - where Mu kyul's old flame returns to agitate and annoy until the bitter end, when she has to relinquish everything for the sake of her love.

She first takes a job as an actress for Jung in's drama, and then Mu kyul is asked to record the music for the OST - so all, four players must converge every now and again - to add spice to the drama.

Right - so, Jung in AND Mu kyul end up falling in love with Mae ri, and Mae ri remains Asian good-girl faithful to her heart: sticking to Mu kyul like glue.

I'll have to end the explanations here so as not to give anything away for the few of you out there who have yet to watch this awesome drama.

Here are the rest of my pictures - but, before I go, I must insist that you WATCH THIS ONE!

Marry Me, Mary - Mary Stayed Out All Night is a definite winner.

LOVE this song to death ... enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

就想賴著妳 / Jiu Xiang Lai Zhe Ni

Down With Love

January to May, 2010 CTV drama (16 episodes) about a pitiful, young girl (Ella Chen as Yang Guo) at a crossroads in her life when she happens upon her Prince Charming in the form of a brash attorney (Jerry Yan as Xiang Yu Ping) with ice for a heart.

She also bumps into his best buddy: a dashing designer (Michael Zhang as Qi Ke Zhong) with a big heart but who has spent the past, seven years pining away for the attorney's estranged girlfriend (Chen Zi Han as Ding Hui Fan) - a famous movie star in Taiwan.

To keep these guys well-connected throughout the show, the writers placed Yang Guo's sister (Kelly Huang as Yang Duo) in the attorney's office as his secretary.

Michael Zhang isn't bad looking, and whenever he wasn't wearing specs, his eyes were rather sexy - but ...

I had a REALLY hard time with the scab underneath his chin.

Seriously, when I was a little girl, there was a boy who came to school one day with this dastardly-looking scab under his chin, and he tried really hard not to cry as he explained to us curious onlookers about the fact that he fell off his bike, sliding his face across a tree trunk - and when I first saw Michael in this drama, that was exactly what it looked like to me.

NOT a big fan of facial hair any more than I can appreciate super-short hairstyles on hot guys - they just, don't go together imho.

Anyway ...

Yang Guo isn't meant to be sexy, attractive, or even appealing to the opposite sex, and her stupid hairstyle (a prominent cowlick growing from the side of her head) makes matters worse (for me at least).

She tends to make stupid faces that don't seem to embarrass her, along with some weird noises at inappropriate times that were downright annoying (to me at least), and the best she can think to do in the wardrobe department are t-shirts and baggy overalls.


She managed to grab the attention of the two, male leads, both of whom are far, more desirable, sexy, and appealing than ten Ella's (I mean Guo's) combined.

Yes, Ella is pretty, funny, and a good actress - just not in this drama.

I'm not the only 'fan' of these things who has commented about the fact that when it comes to Taiwanese dramas/movies, the stars tend to over-do it in every aspect of their profession, and Down With Love proved that point time & again.

ie: The distorted facial expressions, the rapid speech in a loud tone, and the so-called comedic instances that are neither believable nor laughable a majority of the time.

ALTHOUGH I must admit, they did manage to tame (or at least tone down) the sickeningly sappy, pre-teen crapola this time.

I don't know what it is about their crew (behind the scenes), either, but I've yet to watch a Chinese drama where the sound isn't messed up in almost every scene - like, one minute the actors voices are drowned out by cicadas, pouring rain, or heavy traffic, and then suddenly it disappears and we hear clearly the dialogue - or they are inside, yet it is obvious the outside or background noise isn't being suppressed for some, unknown reason.

A great example of this comes in episode 15, when they are entering the restaurant to meet with Qi Ke Zhong's mother - it sounds like a herd of stampeding buffalo heading toward her when the actors are only walking across a wooden floor.

That aside, this wasn't as bad or obnoxious a Taiwanese drama as I'm used to seeing.

The storyline was interesting, but the Cinderella theme is getting really old, and I'd like to see something more mature, more captivating, and a bit, more believable from these guys now.

Maybe they hire all the hot actors for these stories, and since that's all I'm really in it for, it is all I ever see?

Speaking of HOT ...

then, there's just his royal hottness:

Honestly, if he wasn't starring in this one, I doubt I'd have given it a go.

EVERY time the dude entered the picture, I got that thrilling stir in the pit of my stomach, and every time they zoomed in on his crotch, it sent me over the edge.

Guy is smokin' from head to toe, and though he most-often appeared in black pants and a white button-down, it never became monotonous or stale.

Tight bod, amazing bone structure, and gawd, how I want to run my fingers through his hair!!!!

He cuts it off the way Choi Minho did, and I'll probably cry.

Hey, is Aiyo a new, Mandarin word meant as a play on the Korean eye goo (aiygu)?

If I rated this strictly for the eye-candy content, it'd have received the coveted 5-hearts, but since I'm trying harder not to be so shallow, I am sticking more to the content of the story, which forced me to rate this a 3 out of 5.