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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beethoven Virus


베토벤 바이러스

Romanization -  Betoben Bayireoseu
Writer -  Hong Jin ah, Hong Ja ram
Network -  MBC
Episodes -  18
Released -  Sept - Nov, 2008
Genre -  Music, Romance, Melodrama
Cinderella Plot -  Nope


CAST





SYNOPSIS


Kang Gun woo is a world-renowned orchestra maestro who is also a perfectionist, making him difficult to work with and feared by all musicians. By chance, he comes across Du Ru mi, a violinist, and Kang Geon woo, a young cop who has the same name. Maestro soon discovers that even without formal training, young Kang is a music genius. They end up in a love triangle. ~DramaWiki (w/edits)

REVIEW


The reason it's taken me this long to review is two-fold.

1)  This is actually my 3rd viewing, but not when it released back in the autumn of 2008

2)  I simply adored Nodame Cantabile too much to want to make a comparison

Now, when I finally decided to give this one a chance, it blew me away about as easily and with about as much gusto as it had the Korean audience back in 2008.



courtesy AsiaWiki

I get the sneaking suspicion that Descendants of the Sun will look similar in a few months, huh?

In all honesty, there is no comparison between Nodame and Beethoven since the premise remains relatively the same while the story itself is completely different from the original Japanese version.

I still prefer the Japanese' Nodame Cantabile to Beethoven Virus, because for whatever reason, the music took center stage and that is a huge reason for my love and interest in this adaptation.

The love triangle is involved, and like most every Korean drama with an uppity theme, the point falls flat along with the 'romance' so the writers can concentrate on the guts of the struggling artists plot instead.

I don't get it; I don't see why a romance is needed if the writers aren't going to follow through, but it's water under the bridge at this point.

Beethoven Virus is about a young violinist working for the city on plans to create a Culture District that consists of performing arts, with the ultimate goal being to create a city symphony.

Of course, this being Korea, one of the women involved embezzles the 3m Won and the plans fall through -- later, the violinist will be responsible for that money and the reason for the symphony's downfall.

She meets a young cop on a subway train, and when they disembark, she chases him down and asks him to play his trumpet for her.

Not long afterwards, the two meet again when a rag-tag bunch of wonna-be musicians audition for the city symphony.

Meanwhile, Maestro Kang is invited to conduct this fledgling symphony, and he immediately leaves a bad impression with his sociopathic personality.

The violinist and trumpeter are forming a bit of a romance when the violinist starts to turn in Maestro's direction.

Jang Geun suk did a lot of weeping.

Jang Geun suk

A lot.

He's playing the part of a soft-hearted fella who happens to be musically gifted; able to play by ear and differentiate note/tone by ear as well.

Not long into this unlikely formation of the symphony, he discovers his real talent lies in conducting and wants desperately to become Maestro's student.

Maestro remains aloof, cold, and distances himself at every turn, but eventually, the folks in this town get to him and he ends up 'liking' people.

Then the Korean plot twist involving government officials crops up, ruining another chance for these musician hopefuls.

Then the violinist loses her hearing and the oboist lapses into dementia.

Surprisingly, there is a happy ending (which needed 18 instead of 16 to arrive at -- but I'll bet that had more to do with ratings than the writers inability to figure out how to end it).


WHY FOUR AND NOT FIVE


As with Nodame Cantabile, Beethoven Virus had as many annoying instances and unnecessary recaps, making them both undeserving of a solid five even if both proved well worth the time it takes to watch.

The violinist being struck with a tumor that will eventually leave her deaf was bad enough, but when she pulled the Korean attitude of NOT opting for surgery that would correct the problem -- sorry, it'll never make sense to me -- I lost complete interest in and positive vibes for her and her plight.

So what if she goes deaf and can't play her violin anymore.

Her beloved violin which she's played all her life and had aspirations of being in a symphony orchestra, yet when push comes to shove she decides to go against all those issues for the sake of . . . um . . . I don't know . . . being an ass?

Tough sh*t, chicky.

The floutist.

Annoying little sh*t start to finish, and I am overly pleased to note that this character has made a swift exit, stage left in recent years.

You know who I'm talking about, right?

That hard-ass b*tch with a mouth, bad attitude, and zero manners who bull-in-a-china-shop's her way through every scene.

She had no right nor deserved to be with this symphony even if they were shunned, not paid, and basically outcast start to finish.

Then she ruined their last opportunity to perform by being selfish.

Couldn't stand her character and hope to never see the likes of which ever again, thank you very much.

The lack of real music moments -- or the inability to listen to at least one piece clean through.

I can recall jumping out of my seat to conduct when watching Nodame Cantabile, but that wasn't possible with Beethoven Virus, because no matter what the circumstance, cue music -- the piece plays approx :30 sec-1 min -- cut music! Scene change.

Bummer.

Still, it wasn't enough to make me turn away, and it is highly likely I'll be watching this one again, and again, and when the mood strikes, yet again.








Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Little Baby


마이 리틀 베이비

Romanization -  Mai Liteul Beibi
Genre -  Drama, Comedy, Family
Writer -  Kim Yoon hee
Network -  MBC
Episodes -  16
Release Date -  March 5 - April 23, 2016



CAST





PLOT


Cha Jung han (Oh Ji ho) is a detective for a special investigation team, busy investigating violent cases including drugs and gangs, but then he is forced to take in his niece, Eun ae, and struggles to raise her.
Han Ye seul (Lee Soo kyung) is a single mother raising her five-year-old son and is also Cha Jung han’s first love.  ~AsiaWiki (w/edits)

REVIEW


What this is really about is a single guy with a tough persona working hardened criminal cases for the police when his older sister and her husband die, leaving behind their infant daughter, Eun ae.

Jung han (Oh Ji ho) is suddenly responsible for the baby and has to rearrange more than just his work schedule in order to fulfill his new duty as a father.

He lives in an apartment tower filled with stay-at-home's and their young broods, so slowly and with reluctance, Jung han is forced to mold himself into someone he isn't in order to better take care of his niece.

He also bumps into an old flame, Ye seul, who just happens to live below him in the apartment tower, so their run-ins are frequent and awkward at times.



Ye seul is a single mother raising an older son with major personality and behavior issues, and her methods prove funny as well as interesting, but they work to discipline her son (for the most part).

The stay-at-home's shun Ye seul and gossip/spread rumors as a way to satisfy their own sense of self and nagging lack of worth, but once Jung han arrives on the scene, these women are forced to have to reexamine a lot of things, including their petty ways.



One of the stay-at-home's (Jung Soo young as Jo Ji young) used to work alongside Jung han on the police force, and at the start, she's overly embarrassed about his being there, so she tries a lot of different things to oust him from their group -- but to no avail.

So, we have ex co-workers fighting one another, a young man in his prime fighting against his fate, and two adults who used to be college sweethearts fighting against their re-blossoming emotions.

And, surprisingly, not nearly as much cat fighting as one would expect from a drama of this caliber.

Baby Eun ae looked suspiciously white to me, but when she gets older, she's very much a Korean.

Yoon min's Kim Min jae is the prerequisite Flower Boy and another ex member of the police force who now runs a coffee shop near the apartment tower and lives with Jung han in order to help with Eun ae.

And Go Soo hee as Kang Yoon sook added the needed levity in just about every scene she appeared in, with her witty come-backs and Eonnie mentality to help keep the peace whenever necessary.

However, if you decide on the Drinking Game with this one, and choose to down a shot each time this sentence appears . . .




. . . you'd be sloshed by the end of just one 35-min episode!

I kept wondering what it really meant.

Did the translator misinterpret ...My Ass Off?

Is it, maybe, the Korean version of ...My Ass Off?

Regardless, it became monotonous early on and irritating thereafter, but not enough to spoil the short, quirky fun of this silly story.

These 35-min per sixteen build up to a startling tear-jerker at the end of episode 15,

Eun ae

and with episode 16 wrapping it all up nicely, though they did volley between the present and 2020 at regular intervals.

With Oh Ji ho's recent marriage and fatherhood, I had secretly hoped to see him appear on The Return of Superman in the near future -- and that dream will soon be a reality.

In addition to the previously reported In Gyo jin and So Yi hyun, it has been confirmed that actors Oh Ji ho and Yang Dong geun are joining . . . TRoS . . . with their families. The first shoot is today (April 22).

But, this drama helped to cement that notion, and I look forward to upcoming TRoS episodes!

My Little Baby is a sweet story with an HEA that stars Oh Ji ho (who still has it going on in my eyes) and is worth the time it takes to sit through each short sixteen.


SCREEN SHOTS














Monday, May 16, 2016

Salut d'Amour (2015)


Jang-Soo Store / 장수상회

Movie
Genre -  Drama, Ensemble, Elderly, Family
Runtime -  112 min.
Writers -  Lee Sang hyun, Pang Eun jin, Kang Je gyu
Release Date -  April 9, 2015




CAST




SYNOPSIS


Follows the romantic relationship between an elderly couple, Sung chil (Park Geun hyung) and Geum nim (Youn Yuh jung), and the stories of their family and neighbors.  ~AsiaWiki (w/edits)


REVIEW


Cute, funny, thoughtful, and slightly realistic view of one family's struggle with the aging process as seen through the eyes of an entire neighborhood on the verge of cosmetic change.

The elderly couple are only in their late sixties with two grown children and two granddaughters.

The movie begins by introducing us to the elderly couple as youths meeting for the first time.

We're then swept away to the present, and the elderly gentleman is a curmudgeonly old coot terrorizing this transitioning neighborhood by yelling, arguing, and grousing his way through life.

The neighborhood is anxious to allow developers to modernize the area, but without the old man's signature, they're unable to make that a reality, so a majority of the movie is spent watching the old man's 'boss' (grocery store owner) try and convince the old man to hand over his seal.

Then the old man bumps into an elderly woman working in a  flower shop across the street, and slowly but surely his memory starts to fade in and out of the past while his cantankerous attitude begins to mellow.

I saw one plot twist coming but was taken by surprise by the second.

A feel-good movie and worth the time spent staring at the screen reading well-written subs.






Sunday, May 15, 2016

My P.S. Partner


Whatcha Wearin'?  /  나의 P.S. 파트너

Movie
Runtime -  114 min
Romanization -  Naui P.S. Pateuneo
Writer -  Byun Sung hyun, Kim Min soo, Kim Soo a
Genre -  Romantic Comedy, Drama
Release Date -  Dec 6, 2012






CAST




SYNOPSIS


Yoon jung (Kim A joong) accidentally calls a stranger instead of her boyfriend and has phone sex with the unknown man. When Yoon jung's relationship with her boyfriend turns sour, she meets Hyun seung (Ji Sung), the stranger she had phone sex with. A love story unfolds.  ~ AsianWiki (w/edits)

REVIEW


 A surprise and a half!

Dramafever has been touting this one on Facebook for about a month now and expects me to pay to watch it, but being overly curious, I searched for and found it for free elsewhere.

And, if you're like me, you're probably thinking that to watch a movie based on phone sex is a waste of about 3 hours of your life and is asking a bit too much as well.

Fear not!

This is another bait & switch that turned out to be one helluva great watch.

Great acting, great story line, and a smashing success of an ending, too.

Great soundtrack as well.

The two leads worked well together, made a believable pair caught in their respective rebound relationship, and look good, too.

Ji Sung is a pretty man, and I'm really enjoying him in Entertainer.

As most pretty men go, he's on the short side, but it failed to disinterest me in him or his acting skills.

Or his huge part in this sexy movie.

Which is about two people at varying stages of break-up in their respective relationships -- hers is five years old and waning while his has ended horribly, making it difficult for him to move on.

He's awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call, and she thinks she's dialed her boyfriend.

She asks him not to speak and proceeds to offer him a seductive slice of phone sex, which he accepts with verve and consummates via hand job.

When she realizes her mistake, she's appalled and blames him.

Later, though, he phones her when he's drunk and proceeds to chastise her for being a tease, to which she argues his being a pervert for allowing her to carry on without letting her know the mistake.

Eventually, they console one another over the phone, working their way through their respective relationship issues until she suggests they meet in person.



The two hit it off in an awkward sort of way, end up at a hotel, and at the height of the fireworks display, she fizzles out and begs him not to go through with their initial plan.

Being the gentleman, he does so and then gallantly suggests she phone him to work through her current issue.

They become real friends and continue to phone and see one another, talking about their love lives, their ambivalence, and anything BUT the budding feelings they're starting to have for one another.

The supporting cast did a great job and served their purpose -- especially his two buddies -- who happened to bring needed levity when it was necessary.

The subs were legible but poorly written in a very lazy, phone text style that grates on the nerves after awhile.

POOR SUBS







I'll leave you with the rest of my screen captures and a hearty thumbs up if you're interested in giving this movie a chance.

SCREEN CAPTURES





















Ji Sung hotty




Kim Sung oh was funny


love this guy













Thursday, May 12, 2016

Marriage Contract


Gyeolheun Gyeya / 결혼계약

Writer -  Jung Yoo-Gyung
Network -   MBC
Episodes -   16
Release Date -  Mar - Apr, 2016
Genre -  Melodrama, Romance
Cinderella Plot -  Yes
Ken dolls -  inconsequential



CAST




PLOT

Ji Hoon is the illegitimate son of a rich family. His mother needs a liver transplant, so he needs a family member for the surgery and  as a last resort decides to get one through a contract marriage. Hye Soo is buried under debt left by her dead husband and lives life on the run with her daughter. When she finds out she has a brain tumor, she throws away her reservations and enters the contract with Ji Hoon. ~~DramaWiki (w/edits)


REVIEW


If the synopsis sounds bad to you, trust me, this sixteen-episode melodrama is worse.

The ratings for this were surprisingly high, and I fail to see why, but there you have it.

Still can't believe I actually watched this one, and am kicking myself as a result because I knew going in that it would be bad, and it was.




Perhaps some of you out there still like this kind of thing and don't get embarrassed by all of the "Aw, shucks!" stuff they toss in with the hope of its being labeled a 'tear-jerker' and 'stock up on the tissues' type watch.

Not me.

Selfless Love is the theme, and sentimental hogwash abounds at every turn, too.


lots and LOTS of this


But, the thought behind this story is false, misleading, and so filled with holes it isn't funny.

Regardless of it being Korea or Budapest or Wisconsin, you do not get a GO pass for organ transplant by simply being married.

Does the writer actually believe that when two strangers get married that they now magically share the same blood? Are people really this stupid?

A liver transplant means the donor is already DEAD. One cannot simply offer another their liver and expect to live -- yet, the mom would die without a new liver, and UEEs character would be donating hers -- even though she's alive (for now) and not related to the patient.

A liver transplant is surgery to replace a diseased liver with a healthy liver from another person. A whole liver may be transplanted, or just part of one. In most cases the healthy liver will come from an organ donor who has just died. Sometimes a healthy living person will donate part of their liver. ~~Johns Hopkins
Blood tests. These tests are done to help find a good donor match and assess your priority on the waiting list. They can also help improve the chances that your body won’t reject the donor liver. ~~Johns Hopkins


How magically delicious is it that Hye soo ju-ust  happens to have the right blood type for Ji hoon's omanee?

Speaking of UEE, not sure if she likes this kind of thing or if she's being type-cast, but this is the second time I've watched her in a similar situation and with similar plot and outcome.

Han Ji hoon was cute for all the right reasons, trying to be a hardass work-a-holic with zero tolerance for anything but deep down inside he's really a panda bear with a huge heart who loves his omanee enough to sacrifice himself again and again.

Then, when he meets a woman willing to enter into an illegal marriage with the sole intention of performing an illegal organ donation in order to save his omanee, Ji hoon ends up falling hard and fast for Kang Hye soo.

Only, Hye soo soon discovers she's got an inoperable brain tumor and hasn't much longer to live.

They used Beauty and the Beast in the drama, but this is still as Cinderella Plot as it gets.





The daughter was cute, and I thought that the two leads fit well together, making for a great couple despite UEE's inability to come off as anything other than stiff, unaffected, and robotic.

There were a lot of aside characters and the to-be-expected female nemesis, but none of them really mattered or added much essence to the story line.

Here's the thing . . .

I get that people have problems, and that life sucks, that some people are douchebags, and that a lot of people die early, making it seem unfair.

Trouble is, when you try and fit them all together to create a story that is labeled 'romance', I personally fail to see the romantic aspects even if the guy is over-the-top romantic in deed, gesture, and word.

This is silly, repetitious, predictable nonsense and the last time I watch anything of this caliber, too.

The only good thing about Marriage Contract was the soundtrack, which was actually pretty in some instances, never overpowering, and fit each scene nicely so the drawn out pregnant pauses and recaps and five-minute dwelling scenes weren't overly obnoxious to sit through.

The subs, however, were deplorable at all three viewing sites -- Aznv.tv, Dramanice, and Viki (which I'm presuming to be the culprit).

I'll leave you with a host of the issues in that regard, along with some of the Yeppeun.

STUPID SUBS


The 'a' conundrum





























but, I DO like that woman from the 'second' place









and all this time I thought it was a liver





















THE YEPPEUN