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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Noble, My Love


Title: Gogyulhan Geudae / 고결한 그대
Aka: The Noble You
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 20
Network: Naver TVCast (SNS)
Broadcast: 2015, Aug-Sept


Starring


                         Sung Hoon as Lee Kang hoon                and                    Kim Jae kyung as Cha Yoon seo

Synopsis


It's about a wealthy CEO and a struggling Veterinarian who bump into one another a few times and don't hit it off right away, but the seemingly cold-hearted CEO finds the pretty, stubborn Veterinarian an interesting challenge, and so he begins to pursue her, but in a clumsy, forceful way that doesn't help him to win her affections. She is reluctant to fall in love, and he is determined to have his way.

My Take


This is a live-action version of a very popular web novel with the same name.

With 30 million online views, it is Naver's number-one web novel.




It isn't a feature-length drama but a movie cut into 20 fifteen- to twenty-minute segments.

 I watched the entire show in one sitting and didn't regret it for a second.

 Yes, it is another Cinderella story, but not a bad one.

The leading man is overly Korean alpha, too, but I didn't really mind that so much, either.

 The overuse of the word Trope is about as annoying as the over-abundance of (tropes) used in a Korean drama of this nature, but there you have it, folks.

 There is no use in my pointing them out or discussing them here.

If they annoy you, you won't like this show, but they annoy me, too, and I still found this to be a charming diversion from the norm.

 She is very pretty and he is extremely handsome.

They looked really good together, too, and the acting wasn't horrible, which just adds up to total immersion for the viewer.


Sung Hoon
Kim Jae kyung


At the start, he is a cool-headed, stuffy Chaebol type minding his own business when a dog they are using for another ad campaign runs off and Kang hoon has to chase it down since he paid good money for the animal to be in one of his commercials.

 The dog has stopped for Cha Yoon seo, the pretty veterinarian who is in Seoul for a 'friend' reunion of sorts. 2 of her 3 close friends are snobby and talk down to Yoon seo because of the jealousy/insecurity factor while the third woman comes to her defense all the time.

 Yoon seo spent her 20's building up her veterinarian business in a rural area outside the big city and runs around taking care of not only house pets but livestock as well.

She's finally paid off her student loans and looks forward to the day when she pays off her clinic lease and can finally begin to make money for herself.

 Now she is 29 going on 30 and wonders if that day will ever arrive, or if she will ever find the time to date, fall in love, settle down with a man, and raise a family.

 Kang hoon grabs the dog by its collar and starts tugging, and Yoon seo yells at him for being heartless.

 He ignores her and drags the dog back to the studio.

 Not long afterward, he is kidnapped and held for ransom.

He manages to break free but is stabbed in the process.

 It is a stormy night and Yoon seo is on her way home from work, singing aloud in an attempt to keep calm because thunder scares the crap out of her.

 She stumbles upon Kang hoon as he sits at the side of the road in the pouring rain, nearly unconscious from his wound.

 She takes him back to her clinic and patches him up, but when she tries to walk away, he grabs her by the hand and won't let go, so she is forced to fall asleep at his side.

 He leaves his business card on the counter for her to contact him about the bill, but her beautiful cat swishes its tail and the card lands in the garbage can.




He waits for her call, and when it never arrives, he goes back to the clinic and demands to know how much she intends to charge him for her services.

 She is honest to a fault, but that honesty insults him since he is a) expecting to be blackmailed and b) can't believe she doesn't see him for his overall street value.

 When she doesn't bite, he becomes angry and starts playing foolish, manipulative games with her and her life -- like threatening to buy her building and have it demolished if she doesn't abide by his whims.

 Eventually, though, she ends up relocating to Seoul, to work in the clinic he has chosen for her, and then, in order to get out from under his mother's demand that he go on blind dates with the intention of getting engaged by the end of the year, he again coerces Yoon seo into a contractual dating scheme that is supposed to last three months.

 After she's signed that contract, he begins working on getting her to move in with him, and when that finally happens, his little brother arrives from Migu, and then his mother returns, blows a Korean mother gasket, and the floundering relationship turns to dust.

 It sounds bad, I know, and as I mentioned at the start, it is another typical-stereotypical Cinderella story with a lot of the expected and predictable scenarios played out, but these two were great together.

The chemistry was undeniable, and that, I think, is what sold it for me.

 I'm not sorry I watched this one, and I don't think you will be, either, so give it a chance and see for yourself if I'm not right.



Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Twenty Again


Aka: Second 20s, Second Time Twenty Years Old
Title: 두번째 스무살 / Doobunjjae Seumoosal
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 16
Network: tvN
Broadcast: 2015 - Aug to Oct



Cast


Synopsis

The story revolves around a 38 years old housewife (Choi Ji Woo), who decides to go back to school and experience the college life for the first time. She spent the last two decades as a housewife after she got married and became a mother at the age of 19 years old. Her 20 year old son's (Kim Min Jae) and his girlfriend (Son Na Eun) are is her classmate, while her husband (Choi Won Young) and her first love (Lee Sang Yoon) are the professors in at that college. (Dramawiki)

Review

Pretty much what the synopsis says, and with some Korean-esque to-be-expected thrown in as well, but none of that stopped me from wanting more.

 I watched each as-it-was-uploaded episode at a little over an hour-long each, and I wanted more.

I couldn't wait for the next episodes to arrive so that I could keep watching.

 No, it wasn't the greatest thing since Master's Sun,  but it was close enough to being feel-good without any of the big-name stars or the expected hot dudes and ditzy chicks tossed in for appeal.

 Lee Sang yoon stole the show.

He had a bit part in Air City, and that was the only other drama I watched with him in it.

Life is Beautiful  is on my tbw list.

 He plays Cha Hyun suk, the drama professor with a 20+ crush on the leading lady.

 She's cute for a 40 yr old in real life, but again, it always bugs me when the producers ask a grown woman to behave like she is 16 again and experiencing 'love' for the very first time.

 Although it is true in her case with this drama (experiencing love for the first time), she is still 40 portraying 38 and a grown woman with a 20 yr old son. Coquettish virgin waved bye-bye to her a long time ago.

 They even did the eye-pop kiss, and I laughed as always, but then I made this face . . .

alpha-assassin.deviantart.com

*Sigh

 Moving on, this was still a worth-the-watch in my book because it flowed rather smooth, didn't deviate from the original context of the story line, and the story line itself proved rather interesting in that I experienced much of what she did but with a different outcome, of course.

 I went back to college with my son, too, although he knew it and wasn't ashamed or angry the way that Ha No ra's son ended up being once he discovered the truth.

 Her son, though, was being manipulated by his father the same way that No ra had been manipulated by him in their marriage.

 She ended up pointing out to her ex that he has narcissistic personality disorder -- something my ex suffers with as well.

 She finds out he is being an overly excessive dick not only because he's selfish but also because he's having an affair with one of her professors -- which was how my marriage ended when the ex fooled around with a staff member at the college where he was teaching part-time.

 I shed tears during the first few episodes, and I was relieved as heck to know the terminal illness thing was a fluke.

 It bothered me the way she was treated by the kids, her ex, and even the professor with the 20+ crush on her.

 Eventually, though, things began to work themselves out and then I started to worry that the following episodes would veer off into another subject, couple-interest, or family values issues, but they didn't -- for the most part.

 However, this did end up being a 'message' drama for women like me and for girls in high school and college, and that was a bit of a turn-off, but not enough to make me stop watching or not like this one.

 It was funny when it needed to be and serious about all of the right issues.

I didn't even feel that the bit players were getting in the way of the story, and the fact that it kept volleying between the past and the present wasn't jarring, distracting, or confusing.

 There were no real life questions answered here, but then I'm not the sort who relies on fantasy -- be it books or movies -- to guide me through life, so . . .

 I think that today we are so afraid of Political Incorrectness and Anti-Feminism that we are losing sight of things as simple yet complex as true love, real emotions, and relying on others for anything, including sympathy, which is sad.

 Instead of aching for her predicament, I ended up aching for his -- the unrequited love thing.

 Did I mention he was good?

I'll have to go into his resume and watch something else he's starred in, because he had a positive effect on me and made me like him despite his not being overly hot.

 Good chemistry.

 There are no asides or strange-ness that I should mention, and I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a  feels good  or who wants to hop off the mainstream bandwagon for a breather.




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Friday, January 29, 2016

Grandpas Over Flowers Investigation Team




Romanization: Kkothalbae Soosadae
Hangul: 꽃할배 수사대
Genre: Cops, Comedy
Network: tvN
Episodes: 12
Release Date: May - July, 2014


Cast


Park Min woo - Han Won bin (20s), Byun Hee bong as Han Won bin, Choi Jin hyuk - Lee Joon hyeok (20s), Lee Soon jae as Lee Joon hyeok, Park Doo sik - Jeon Gang seok (20s), Jang Gwang as Jeon Gang seok, Kim Hee cheol as Park Jung woo, Lee Cho hee as Jung Eun ji, Kim Eung soo as Kim Young chul, and Lee Ki woo as Park Tae min

Synopsis

Young detectives, who suddenly change to 70-year-old men, struggle to regain their young bodies. ~AsianWiki

Review

Not quite, but it is a part of the plot.

This is about five young detectives who join a special task force after they discover a nefarious plot underway that involves young, wealthy men of Korean descent from around the globe. They're either turning up dead or missing, and the team needs to figure out what's going on.

Right away, they arrive at a warehouse and after beating the guards down, they discover two elderly men unconscious and tied up inside a huge tank filled with smelly water.

Doing the young, impetuous and dumb thing, they dive into the tank to unchain these two old men, and when they reemerge, three of the four young men are not young anymore.

Smarty-pants TALL grouch Lee Joon hyeok is now curmudgeonly SHORT silver fox (Lee Soon jae), vain, PRETTY womanizer Han Won bin is now vain, UGLY womanizer (Byun Hee bong), and dunce, MUSCLES Jeon Gang seok is now dunce, FLATULENT bald guy (Jang Gwang).




This was really cute and am pleased to discover that a second and third season are out: Grandpas Over Flowers in Spain (a variety show), and Grandpas Over Flowers in Greece (variety show) -- and PD Na is involved!

I'll be watching, of course.

NO CINDERELLA PLOT HERE, FOLKS!

Each episode takes us a bit closer to the real culprit in this aging people for profit scheme, and as far-fetched as the plot sounds to most of us, it still managed to capture my interest and appear intense, funny, and thoughtful when needed.

I adore these old guys, and they made a terrific team of mismatched, polar opposite personality types forced to band together to solve crime.

Hee bong as Won bin did the best job of an aged dandy who remains in love with himself and continues to flirt with the ladies at every opportunity.

Soon jae nailed the stuffy Joon hyeok as well and remained the leading man despite loud opposition from his team mates.

Jang gwang's Gang seok was hilarious start to finish. Gassy, effeminate, tough as nails, and sweet enough to garner the affections of women half his age, he had me laughing so hard that my stomach started to ache.

The only three issues I had with this were minor ones and why it received 3.5 stars:

First, it took too long to get to the bottom of an issue that really should have raised the entire nation's eyebrows and become a national security issue, but it wasn't and it didn't ever get past the local police department handling the case.

Second, it disappointed me when the Super Junior guy, Hee Cheol's Jung woo changed his hair style mid-way. He went from looking hip and mature to high school mushroom head Ken doll.




Hee cheol did a good job. Only mildly stiff but relaxed enough to let a bit of his own personality shine through.

and Third: Choi Jin hyuk had very little air time, and after awhile, especially in the last episode, I had to wonder if he was pressed for time schedule-wise and chose another engagement over this one.

Lot's of rapid-fire dialogue but with great subs courtesy Dramafever, plenty of laughs, and not a ton of recap or thought-dwelling instances, either.

Hurray!

Park Min woo has come a long way, hasn't he? The guy is growing on me with ease, and it makes me smile any time I find him in a movie or drama.

If you're looking for something comedic with a great cast and a wacky plot, this is the drama for you.


Jang Se hyun as the Fortune Teller (ep.6)


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Answer Me 1988




Romanization: Eungdabhara 1988
Hangul: 응답하라 1988
Genre: Nostalgia, Romance, Human Interest
Network: tvN
Episodes: 20
Release Date: Nov 2015 - Jan 2016



Cast


Plot


In 1988, Duk sun (Hyeri), Jung hwan (Ryoo Joon yeol), Sun woo (Ko Gyung pyo) and Dong ryong (Lee Dong hwi) are high school students and Taek (Park Bo gum) plays Go. These five have been friends since they were little and grew up together in the same neighborhood. Their families are also very close. They hang out inside Taek's room and spend time together. ~~DramaWiki

Review


Just finished watching the last as-it-was-uploaded episode today (1-22) and have to say I'm disappointed with the outcome . . . again.

For those of you who might be new to the Answer Me series, this is the 3rd installment, and the plot description above doesn't do this series much justice.

The Answer Me (or Reply) series take us back in time and show us what life was like in South Korea at that time (1997, July of 2012, 1994 in 2013, and 1988 in 2015).

It introduces us to the main characters -- youths who are close friends -- and we then watch episode after episode as they grow, learn, experience life and first loves, and with the whole thing culminating in a surprise ending of sorts when we at last learn who it is the girl has chosen from among those boys to be her husband.

This occurs with infrequent 'interviews' with the cast as modern-day adults being asked about their past and how they came to be united.

So far, I have to say that 1997 was the best of the three, and with 1988 coming in a super-close second, followed by 1994, which was just as great a watch with terrific story line and characters, but with a very disappointing outcome.

I'm sure a majority of the fans of this series will disagree with me about 1988's final decision from Duk sun, but I didn't care for Taek as much as I did Jung hwan.




Plus, that Jung hwan's character just kind of fell off the side of the earth towards the end bugs me, too.

He just did more to show her he cared even when he wasn't able to be as vocal as he was hands-on.




I suppose that was meant to throw us off and keep us guessing for a majority of the show, but it still doesn't change the fact that he would have made a far better husband/lover than the Go dude.

Taek as an adult in 2016 was far more attractive and interesting than he was as a comatose young one surrounded by four very spastic, emotionally charged kids at or near his age.

The best part about this series is the nostalgia factor, and according to sources at Wiki, the writers and set designers are pretty darn accurate in their recreation of popular events, things, styles, slang, and music.

Scene stealers included Duk son's older sister, Sung Bo ra (Ryoo Hye young) as a terrifying college attendee who participates in rallies and protests, and naturally bullies the younger kids on the block as well as her two younger siblings.




The appah, who also starred as the appah in 1994




and the three omanee's who were just as close friends as their children turned out to be while living in close proximity to one another in this old neighborhood.




Jung hwa's appah was ridiculous most of the time and yet he managed to capture my interest in no time and make me laugh.

A real dork with zero fashion sense or class, but who remained true to himself, his domineering wife, and to his two sons as well as to his friends and their children.

I grew to like Kim Sung kyun despite his weirdness.




1988 was also probably the funniest of the three so far, too.

All three shows employ the intermittent sheep baa  whenever someone says, does, or looks stupid, and for me, it'll never get old. 




I end up giggling every time.

The one who tended to put the most effort into his roll as the abused misfit of the troupe was also the most fun to watch and even root for on occasion.

Lee Dong hwi as Dong ryong




There wasn't too much in the way of current events going on in 1988 Seoul to make this one a tear jerker the way that 1994 turned out to be, but 1988 managed to work in some at-the-time stuff that proved interesting as well as confusing.

Koreans who share the same last name weren't permitted to obtain a marriage license.

Wouldn't a simple blood test have worked to erase any doubt?

Taek never went to school. He remained a champion Go player, Dan-6 to Dan-9, and never attended school. 

Not sure if the laws have changed in that regard, but that one floored me.

Jung hwan's older brother had a heart condition that required a pacemaker, and yet he spent a majority of the show wolfing down sugar and vegging inside his bedroom.

The only real issue I ever have with the Answer Me series is the annoying fact that they always blur the television highlights.

I'm sure there is something legal in that decision, but it is still frustrating since I'm not knowledgeable about the original shows, their stars, or what all of the hype was about at the time and would really like to be able to see for myself but can't.

Good one, recommended, and if you're new, start at the beginning and work your way up to this one before the next Answer Me airs.



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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bubblegum




Romanization: Poongsungeom
Hangul: 풍선껌
Genre: Romance, Melodrama
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: 2015, Oct to Dec


Cast


plus a whole lot more

Plot

This is about two people who grow up together, go through a lot of issues together, and end up back together later in life.
He's never forgotten his feelings for her, and she's changed dramatically over time and due to the course of events that affected her and those around her.
Ri hwan's mother was secretly in love with Haeng ah's father (both widowed) but were never able to consummate that relationship when he dies, leaving her empty and broken.
The mother (Bae Jong ok as Park Sun young) takes her loss out on Haeng ah, which causes a strain in their relationship and the friendship between her and Ri hwan.
As adults, Ri hwan is an Eastern Philosophy doctor with his own practice, and Haeng ah works at a local radio station.
Ri hwan is determined to get what he's always wanted, and Haeng ah is just as determined to live her own life separate from the one she left in the past. ~~me

Review

I'll begin by giving a shout-out to Dramafever for the timely uploads and flawless subs

DramaFever

I know some of you aren't all that crazy about Lee Dong wook, but I'm not one of you.

Since Hotel King and Room Mates, I've grown more fond of the man and his work.

Lee Dong wook

I'm not saying he's hot or even all that; just mellow to the eyes, easy to get hooked on, and talented with his wide range of character portrayals that tend to nab me every time.

He's a like-able fellow and I'm glad I got to get to know him better through the brief but interesting series, Room Mates.

Anyone got their own theory as to why that show ended so abruptly? It started out good and had potential, but . . . low ratings did it in.

Popular with us foreigners but not so much with the locals, I presume.

Okay, so this is one of those back & forth dramas that vacillates between the past and the present, but it was never done in a completely confusing or distracting way.

That being said, this was also a drama that tended to rehash those past incidences in order for us, the viewers, to stay on track, and I find that to be a little annoying as well as insulting.

And yet, a majority of it was actually necessary so that we eventually figured out just what it was that made Haeng ah behave, think, and do as she did.

She (Jung Ryeo won) is so pretty!

The chemistry between her and Dong wook was fabulous, too.

At the start of this one, she's been dating a top DJ at the radio station, Kang Suk joon (Lee Jong hyuk) but dumps him when she's finally had enough of his distant, cold attitude towards her and just about everything else in life.

Secretly, she's always been attached to Ri hwan but because of what his mother said and did in the past, she's determined not to let herself get involved and risk losing what little sense of self she has left.

Haeng ah's got a good job and good friends who take good care of her, so it isn't as if she needs a man in her life, but we all know how impossible that can be sometimes -- especially when the heart tends to control the mind on occasion.

We all need to at least feel loved at some point in our lives, and I think this drama touched base with that issue and in more ways than just one, too.

There were plenty of aside characters with their own love troubles, but none of it overshadowed the real story or took up too much air time to make it seem distracting.

Lee Dong hyuk


Haeng ah & Suk joon break up

Her best friend at the radio station is pursuing an older man at the station, who is trying hard to keep that from happening because he's still in love with his ex-wife who lives in Migu with their two children.

Ri hwan works with a good buddy of his at the Eastern Medicine hospital, and that guy is filled with regret after tossing aside the love he'd once had with Haeng ah's best friend.

Then we have the two adults we learn more about both in the past and in the present.

All of it was good, some of it was funny, and most of it was engrossing until about 3/4 of the way through, when Ri hwan's mother ends up with a terminal illness and the whole plot/story line shifted to that central issue.

Things got bogged down, depressing, and then irritating when it seemed as if nothing was going to be accomplished after all those episodes of watching, hoping, and anticipating one thing when another started to unfold.


While the chemistry between these two was palpable, the action in the romance aspect of things remained something to be desired.

His parts always call for chivalry and the gentleman's way, and he nails it every time, adding to his natural charm, but there was something lacking here that I can't quite put my finger on other than to say there wasn't enough of anything to get me excited for their relationship.

I wanted more and didn't get enough kiss, touch, feel, play, swoon.

This actually does have a happy ending if you're willing to stick it out for the duration and plod your way through a lot of angst, misery, and melodrama.

A third romance occurred with the female antagonist: the chubby (or homely) daughter of a chaebol who works as a dentist, and she meets Ri hwan on a blind date arranged by their mothers.

She's instantly crazy about him but he only has eyes for Haeng ah.

It took up a majority of the episodes to get her out of the way, and she did end up meeting another guy whom I hope she ended up with, because he was good for her and her flagging self esteem.



The OST fit the title: Bubblegum pop.

Screen Shots












Pea green p-coat


pink p-coat

love her smile


happy ending


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

5-ji Kara 9-ji Made


5→9 From Five to Nine


Title: 5時から9時まで
Title (romaji): 5-ji Kara 9-ji Made
Tagline: Watashi ni Koi Shita Ikemen Sugiru Obousan
Format: Renzoku
Genre: Love, Comedy
Episodes: 10
Ratings: 11.71%
Broadcast network: Fuji TV
Broadcast period: 2015, Oct to Dec



Cast


Yamashita Tomohisa as Hoshikawa Takane and Ishihara Satomi as Sakuraba Junko

Plot

Junko is a part-time English conversation school teacher whose dream is to work in New York.
She hasn't had much luck with romance, either. But things change when Junko sees a handsome Tokyo University graduate monk, Hoshikawa Takane, at a funeral service.
Junko accidentally knocks over the bowl of ashes, which land on Takane's head — probably the worst first impression anyone could make.
Junko figures she will never see him again, but the two end up in a matchmaking session set up by her mother. -- Fuji TV (with edits)


Review

Yamapi tells it like it Is

because this is what can be expected if you do . . .

Yamapi in bed

And that just about sums it up, folks!

Just kidding.

This was a delightful bit of fluff from Japan that starred Yamapi and a very pretty lady as his co-star.

Chemistry: awesome
Laughs: plenty
Drama: yes, but with levity
Intrigue: Yep, when his crafty Otōto shows up about half-way through the 10 episodes
Decent Plot: Yes, and original, too -- though based on a manga
Love Story: oh, yeah -- Junko has more than just one guy after her, which makes Tanaka's job difficult, and I like that.

This is about an attractive Buddhist priest who is performing a funeral ceremony that Junko attends, and when it is her turn to pay her respects, her legs are numb from having had to kneel for so long.

She stumbles and falls, hitting the table and knocking the urn into the air.

The ashes land on the head of the priest, and when he turns around, we see his gorgeous face and a full head of hair.

Junko is used to being clumsy and that folks tend to tease her becomes an afterthought with her.

She teaches English at a night school filled with lots of cool, hip people at or near her age, and everyone loves her, including her students.


Her dream is to move to New York and teach there, but part of that reason is because of a long-standing crush she's had on a fellow teacher who happens to live there.

Her mother has arranged omiai and Junko dutifully attends.

The candidate for marriage is none other than the Buddhist priest, Takane.

And, again, Junko fumbles and messes up on that arranged date.

Junko thinks she's ruined it for her mother and herself, but she's not really that interested in getting together with a priest even if he is super-wealthy and super-handsome.  She's still pining away for the elder sensei of her dreams.

Takane has other plans.

He's instantly smitten and begins to pursue her with the full intention of becoming Mr. and Mrs.


He enrolls in her English class and each episode shows a new and clever way for him to gain not only her trust but her heart.

Junko discovers that the guy she's been in love with all this time is married, and so she begins to lean toward Takane. But the uphill battle begins with his mother, who has no intention of allowing Takane to marry just anyone.

His mother has chosen the right girl for the job, and while Takane continues to pursue Junko, his mother continues to train this other girl to be her son's wife and the mistress of their shrine.

Then along comes the evil little brother to mess things up even more for the doomed couple.


This was funny, poignant, and interesting all rolled up into one beautifully crafted J-Do that I waited anxiously each week for another episode to be uploaded.

In fact, I was so drawn to this one that I failed to capture any screen shots!

It's available at aznv.tv and dramanice if you're interested or haven't yet watched.

Yamashita Tomohisa

I highly recommend that you do.