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

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lucky Romance #review


운빨로맨스

Writer -  Kim Dal nim (2014  Naver webtoon), Choi Yoon kyo
Genre -  Romance
Network -  MBC
Episodes -  16
Released -  2016,  May - Jul
Ken Dolls -  yes
Cinderella -  100% but with a twist




CAST




SYNOPSIS

Shim Bo nui, a woman of blind faith in superstitions and fortune-telling, hooks up with Je Soo ho, the CEO of a Game Development Co who is a genius and adheres to scientific and logical beliefs. The two share common ground in code and development but continue to butt heads over science vs. mysticism. ~me


REVIEW


Very glad this stopped at sixteen!

It was fun, quirky, refreshing, silly, and yet also well-written.

I came across this one by accident and am happy it turned out that way, because while it might not be up there with the greats that have been (and still are being) released, it is worth the watch because of a number of things.

Mainly, the two leads had great chemistry.

I adored them together and they looked believable together as much as they behaved like friends/lovers together.

It worked.

The supporting cast, not so much, but they did manage to lend enough clarity, spontaneity, and stress relief to make for a valid ensemble.

Super happy to see Ryoo Joon yeol again (Answer Me, 1988) and I think that Hwang Jung eum is very pretty.

Loved her hair, her face, and her sense of style, though that style proved a tad bewildering as well.



Her outfits were awesome to say the least, but then she chose to pair them with the most god-awful shoes imaginable, and constantly added pants -- which, for the life of me, I will never understand.

I mean, he handed her a gorgeous, expensive dress that was exactly her style, and when she wore it that evening for their date, she had a pair of freaking JEANS on underneath!

ugh



I'm sure it'll become a fad with all the girly chicks, and I recall its having made an attempt a few years back, too.

No.

Just . . . no.



It just makes me wonder, does she have knobby knees? Stumps for legs? Calves too fat? Cellulite already?

I couldn't understand what she wanted to hide or even why she wanted to hide at all, and for heaven's sake, yoga pants would have done the trick with far more panache.

And, while I'm on Fashion Police patrol, she is supposed to be poor and hugely in debt, with the wispy notion of making all of her outfits by hand, yet she shows up to work in Christian Louboutin heels.


She also lived in a very cool apartment that couldn't have been cheap, and it was loaded with all of the Korean drama set designer goodies one comes to expect in a story along these lines.

None of which belong to a poor waif and none of which a poor waif could afford.

And I must mention the fact that this is the first time I've ever seen a Korean drama character use a KEY to lock an apartment door.

But, enough with the confusion and on with the story.

It's about a male prodigy who owns his own Gaming Enterprise and a superstitious female who believes all the wrong in the world is directly her fault.

He's gun-shy around people, cameras, and chaos while she avoids people for the opposite reasons.

The two do share a love of Code and are good at putting together interesting and unique gaming concepts.

He is estranged from his common parents while she lost hers in an accident, and a few years later, her younger sister is also struck by a car and ends up in a coma.

Bo nui (couldn't figure out if it was Bony or Pony) has remained in her childhood apartment with the hope of bringing her sister home one day, when along comes a national hero and recent Australian Open winner, who just happens to be a kid who grew up in the same small apartment complex.

Choi Gun wook (Lee Soo hyuk) has returned to Korea from Canada to secretly search for his father when he bumps into Sim Bo nui and falls in love.





tumblr


Bo nui gives him the brush-off since she believes she'll kill him if she gets involved, but Gun wook is as persistent in love as he is at tennis.

Meanwhile, nerdy Je Soo ho (Ryoo Joon yeol) is in trouble when his latest game release is sabotaged on Press Release day.


Ryoo Joon yeol


Bo nui's good friend happens to work at ZeZe and panic-phones Bon nui to ask for her help in solving the spyware dilemma for her dashing boss.

Bo nui ends up in an animal costume to hide herself and avoid jinx'ing an already jinxed project, but her expertise is too late when Soo ho stands on stage in front of a lot of news people and flashing cameras as things go haywire.

Bo nui happens to be close enough to Soo ho to be able to reach out and take his hand, helping him off the stage.

Now Soo ho is intrigued by the pretty yet mysterious girl, but fear not, oh silly Geek boy!

Bo nui ends up working at ZeZe on a collaboration she created and ZeZe wants to produce, so for the next three months, she's contracted to work alongside Soo ho and the romance begins.

He helps her to overcome her superstitious beliefs and she helps him overcome his fear of most everything.

Her sister eventually recovers, the two lovers eventually end up in bed together (yes, they did!), and even the tennis great ends up finding his appah.

But, that doesn't mean this could have ended at episode 14, because nothing good ever lasts, right?

More angst, suffering, and tears are endured until finally everything falls into place and THEN we have our HEA.

And it was a good one.

I do have one, last curiosity question, though.

Why does Lee Soo hyuk tend to play Second Lead that will NEVER result in his getting the girl?

He's also always in a position where viewers don't WANT him to get the girl!

As far as the syndrome goes, I think he's a great catch -- but never as a second.

As for every role I've seen him star in, it would be better if this guy takes LEAD roles from here on out so we can enjoy watching his romance take shape instead of always having to watch it fizzle and die.

No way I wanted her to choose him over cutey-pie Soo ho.

Ryoo Joon yeol



IMAGES


kiss-u

great together





Sunday, July 10, 2016

Vampire Detective #review



뱀파이어 탐정

Drama -  Vampire Detective (literal title)
Genre -  Vampires, Paranormal, Romance
Writer -  Yoo Young seon
Network -  OCN
Episodes -  12
Released -  2016, Mar - Jun



CAST





PLOT

Private detective Yoon San (Lee Joon) solves various cases for his clients while also trying to uncover the mystery surrounding his becoming an elite vampire and a bigger mystery from his recent past.

REVIEW


Before I begin, let me say I haven't watched Vampire Prosecutor but probably will now.

Regardless, it was prior to episode seven that I began to wonder if I wasn't watching a sequel to an original story and hadn't yet compared this to Prosecutor.

Is it the same guy? Same premise? Same baddies? Same plot?

I had no idea, but in episode 7, the bar scene was as cryptic as it was cool.




It forced me to pause the watch in order to do some research just to appease my overly curious mind.

All it told me is that Prosecutor goes all the way back to 2011, and there is a sequel with 2, released in 2012.

Back to being confused, or else OCN plans on a Prosecutor 3.

The only other conundrum that occurred was Lee Se young's Han Gyeo wool and her hair.


Gyeo wool's grayish hair


becomes


Gyeo wool's orange hair 

becomes

Gyeo wool's bleached hair
becomes

Gyeo wool's butter hair

Can't imagine the number of times she dyed it during the course of these twelve episodes, but it must have been often.

Lee Chung ah's Yo na was cool and fit the Vamp Vampire bill almost perfectly.


Lee Chung ah as Yo na

Now, I get that I'm reporting backwards here, but this did air back in March and I'm just now getting around to watching, so I gather most of y'all have seen it and aren't too curious about its content.

But, it is about three young soldiers who are assigned a top-secret mission, working in tandem with a secret police task force to infiltrate and take down a lucrative pyramid scheme.

In the course of events, jealous Kang Tae woo weasels his way into Jung Yoo jin's life in order to get back at San.

Tae woo stumbles upon the Vampire thing and ends up becoming one himself -- a selling his soul to the devil type transaction as he still hopes to win Yoo jin's affections from San.

Yoo jin is the weak, mousy chick with no backbone who goes along with Tae woo's dastardly plan because she believes it will 'somehow' save San.

Yeah, right.

Now they are two vampires on the run, and with San working as a private detective for the retired cop who had asked for their help in the first place.

San's first case ends up making him a vampire, but an elite one who can't eat food yet is able to tolerate sunlight.

I never understood his 'elite'-ness if he wasn't able to move at the speed of light, walk through walls, cloak himself in darkness, or even hear and see like an immortal.

All San could do that was 'special' was fight hard, but there were just as many times when he got his ass whooped really bad.




San has never given up hope of finding his one true love and his hyung, which doesn't occur until the last few episodes -- when he learns the truth.

In-between that plot are a lot of minor plot twists in the form of San's being a private investigator hired to hunt down people or get to the bottom of unsolved mysteries in other people's lives.

Which was why I enjoyed this one as much as I did.

Still not a Vampire fan.

Along with watching this, I am BETA editing a Vampire Romance for someone, and also nightly reading Damion's Oracle, a vampire romance by Lizzy Ford.

I'm up to my eyeballs in Vampires and still think it is a silly premise with zero romantic aspects to redeem their value.

Blood and gore do not = romance to my mind, sorry!
It's gross and a horrible way to have to spend your eternity.
If it was me, I'd walk into the sunlight fast enough to make a zombie's head spin.


okay, so there's this 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Goodbye Mr. Black, a #review


굿바이 미스터 블랙


Writer -  Hwang Mi na (comic), Moon Hee jung
Network -  MBC
Genre -  Intrigue, Melodrama
Episodes -  20
Released -  2016, Mar - May
Cinderella -  Yes


CAST




SYNOPSIS


Cha Ji won is a Navy Special Operations UDT officer with a positive outlook and personal charm. Then a friend's betrayal throws him into numerous life or death situations. To hide his identity, Black enters into a fake marriage with Swan.   (DramaWiki w/edits)

REVIEW


It wasn't all bad.

Somewhat reminiscent of Cain & Abel in its dark, sinister plot by a jealous rival to destroy the man who has it all.

Filled with underworld dealings in weapons and drug smuggling, and power-hungry men -- the Chaebol way by Korean melodrama standards.

As for his being in Spec Ops . . . well, in the beginning, yes.

He's on assignment in Thailand and bumps into Swan, a mousy chick selling Mango juice to survive (even if she lives with a man who has amassed a small fortune).

As a child, she lived with her parents when the 2004 Tsunami killed her family and gave her amnesia, though bits and pieces of her past continue to haunt her.

While Ji won is on assignment, his best friend has made a deal with the devil to overthrow Ji won's father and take over the family business.

Things go bad in Thailand, leaving Ji won and Swan on the run from peril.

Ji won is accused of murder and goes into hiding, but a few years later he returns as Mr. Black.

In a dramatic turn of events, he startles everyone with this return while setting in motion the wheels of far more sinister dealings and plots to have him destroyed.

Swan becomes a news reporter (though it was never explained how if she wasn't properly schooled) and works alongside her handsome boss, Seo Woo jin, whose father happens to work in the upper ranks of the Family Business that Min Sun jae now runs.

Sun jae comes from humble beginnings and was always ashamed of his no-account father, wanting the opulence and prestige of the Cha chaebol way of living instead.

As he grows older, his resentment turns to bitterness and then (of course) madness.

He has taken from the Cha's, destroyed his ex-friend Ji won's life, and married Ji won's sweetheart, Yoon Ma ri.

We've seen it all before, but that doesn't mean Goodbye Mr. Black wasn't worth the 20 episodes because it wasn't as bad as it sounds.

Well, yes it was.

16 would have sufficed, and as 'smart' as Black was pointed out to be, it never quite seemed that way much of the time.

Kim Swan was hardly a femme fatale who would garner the attention of not one but two hot guys -- one a Chaebol heir and the other a self-made man.

Which brings up the Cinderella plot thingy and why I liken this to Cain & Abel.

Moon Chae won is far more appealing in reality than she was as Swan, and I didn't understand the premise behind such a flip-this-gal decision.

And while Cain (the bad guy) suffered from the brain tumor, it was Black who suffered from one in Goodbye.

And, again, Black had plenty of warning and even more chances to undergo an operation but no. He'll suffer, suffer some more, grow weaker and suffer partial paralysis because . . .

Lots and lots of aside characters with their own issues.

Too many hands in the cookie jar.

The implausible occurred at almost every turn.

And then there was this . . .




Black finally succumbs to his brain tumor and is rushed to the hospital after being whacked over the head with a 2 X 4.

And, here's what the same situation looks like over here, at a Navy hospital.




Which is why I go a little crazy every time the emergency room scene appears in a K-drama.

There is an HEA, and it is a nice one.

No chemistry between the two leads, though.

The intrigue and subsequent downfall of the bad guys was what made this a decent watch and nothing more.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Jackpot #review


The Royal Gambler / Daebak / 대박

Writer -  Kwon Soon gyu
Genre -  Sageug
Network -   SBS
Episodes -  24
Released -  2016, Mar - Jun



CAST








SYNOPSIS


The story of an unfortunate prince named Yeong soo (Dae gil), who is born of royalty but lives a peasants' life. Dae gil is the best gambler in the Joseon era. He holds deep resentment inside, but is also cool on the outside. (DramaWiki w/edits)
Lee In jwa, a deposed man of entitlement, burns with the desire to avenge his family and sets out to infiltrate the palace, raise Dae gil to be the next King, and overthrow the reigning monarch as vengeance. (me)

REVIEW


The first part of this 24-episode historical drama (based on actual events that are then embellished to the point of being fictional) was a thriller to say the least.

Lee In jwa is a ruthless, cunning, conniving man who is determined to depose the reigning king as part of a plot to avenge his massacred family in an earlier uprising when he was a boy.

He's intelligent and stealth, carefully selecting and depositing people within the palace to pose as spies for his dastardly deeds.

One of his victims is Dae gil's mother, who is sent to the palace on In jwa's instruction, and when the king takes her as his cheob, the plan bears the much anticipated fruit.

However, Dae gil arrives six months later, causing the king to be suspicious and orders the infant destroyed.

Dae gil is spared and sent, instead, to the gambling man the woman had once lived with, and it is there that Dae gil grows into a young man filled with high spirits, gambling savvy, and a thirst for justice.

The second part shows us Dae gil's desire to avenge the death of his gambling father as he embarks on the second journey of his life.

He meets with a former palace guard and spends a few years with the skilled master learning everything he needs to know about martial arts, sword play, and how to win at the game known as right vs. wrong.

Then, in the last part, we're made to suffer through a lot of intrigue, murder, and foiled attempts by both the bad and good factions surrounding the plot.

Personally, I became swept away by every gambling scene in the first few episodes and had hoped that the two, estranged brothers would remain as staunch allies in their inevitable fight for justice.

Alas, things changed -- the gambling routines stopped, the madness ensued, and I was left to wonder why it was ever important that Dae gil came from the king's loins.

And, like all great Sageuk stories, the bad guy continued to gain power, prestige, and influence despite the countless number of times someone, anyone, could have cacked his sorry ass and ended the pitiful reign of one so small-minded and blind to his own misdeeds.

It was great to see Jang Geun suk again, but he never managed to blend in with the scenery or disguise of his being a character and remained the baby-face, pretty grin Rocker that he is in reality.

Sad, too, that Kim Sung oh's Gae Jak doo was bit and that he had to die so soon.

He did a marvelous job portraying the hardened mountain man on the wrong side of the royal family who was trained as an assassin to murder the king.

Lim Ji yeon as Dam seo (Tom Sawyer, as she became known each time her name rang out in a scene) did a fine job as well, portraying the young woman who's father is loyal to the wrong side, working closely with Lee In jwa, who eventually kills him and takes Dam seo in as his own daughter.

Of course, Dam seo eventually learns the truth and has to re-examine her entire life, but the predictable occurs when she goes against everything she's come to believe as a show of . . . uh, well 
. . . I honestly don't know.

She just did a really stupid thing that is entirely expected to occur in a Sageuk.

Yeo Jin goo is pretty, and my daughter fell in love with the handsome Prince Yeong jo as soon as he appeared on screen.

Her mother spent most of the time trying to decide who had the deeper, more sexy voice, him or Dae bak.

The prince won, but only by a fraction.

Yeo Jin goo


She also thought that Dam Seo was pretty, but her mother thought otherwise and chose this woman instead:



Jeon Soo jin


Friday, July 01, 2016

Another Miss Oh


Another Oh Hae young

Romanization -  Ddo Ohhaeyoung
Aka -  Oh Hae Young Again,  Another Miss Oh,  Misunderstood
Genre -  Romance, Melodrama
Writer -  Park Hae young
Network -  tvN
Episodes -  18
Released - 2016,  May - June
Cinderella Plot -  No




CAST




PLOT


Oh Hae young is dumped by Han Tae jin on the day before their wedding. She becomes despondent and reckless in an attempt to move forward when she knows she can't.

Park Do kyung is a popular sound engineer. A year ago, he was supposed to marry Oh Hae young (Jeon Hye bin), but she did not appear at their wedding. He became desperate and sets out to destroy the man he assumes took his place.

REVIEW

The five stars isn't a mistake on my part even if this 18-episode melodrama did have its awkward, confusing, and down-right implausible moments.

It is the story that deserves the accolades, along with the acting on the part of a well-rounded and in-sync cast, and especially the soundtrack that actually fit not just the story but the mood as well.

This was one of those rare charmers that could be labeled a sleeper (if it wasn't for Eric Moon starring) that took me by surprise as it started to unfold and kept me engaged throughout.

Yes, even when things started to go astray with the private lives of a few of the aside characters, and each time the director felt the need to rehash bits and pieces along the way.

Brilliant writing and a brilliant plot made this work for me, and I do hope for a lot of others as well, because at least one someone involved in the making of this drama deserves a bit of recognition here.

I could easily and sometimes embarrassingly identify with Oh Hae young #2, but it was still a refreshing delight to see a 'real' character portrayed for a welcome change instead of Little Miss Perfect, Poor Miss Picked On, and Wow, Ain't She Something.

Oh Hae young #1 was Miss Perfect but with a unique quality to her and only slightly flawed.

I want the giggle doll!
Oh Hae young #2 spoke to me in a way very few on-screen characters ever have because she was not just honest but also true to her inner and outer selves beginning to end.

She's different and she knows it, flawed and okay with it, and overly anxious to please as much as she hopes to be pleased.

A definite INFP-T personality type (just like me).

When the story opens, she's an adult working for a Food Distributor and preparing to get married to her handsome fiancé, Han Tae jin (Lee Jae yoon) when he breaks it off and disappears.


Hae young #2 is devastated and falls into a terrible downward spiral of misery for a time before eventually shrugging it off by pretending it's okay, she's okay, everything's okay so leave me the F alone kind of existence.

Then Eric's Park Do kyung enters the picture, and he's had visions of Hae young #2 in his head for awhile now, so when he watches her pass him by on the street, he becomes determined to get to know her better.

(This isn't a spoiler)

Turns out he's to blame for Hae young's misery since he was engaged to Oh Hae young (#1) when she left him at the altar, and when his best friend, Lee Jin sang (Kim Ji suk) points out Hae young #2's fiancé in a club, both men assume he is the reason why Hae young #1 broke up with Do kyung.

So, Do kyung decides to ruin Han Tae jin and it works, so Tae jin has no choice but to break it off with Hae young #2.

Then, and for the length of this melodrama, we watch as the interesting plot unfolds, and if you think this is another stereotypical and predictable story, you'll be surprised.

The levity scenes and aside stories could be partially labeled as such, but for the most part, the main story proved to be fresh, intricately woven, and far less foreseeable than expected.

Eric's character proved difficult to warm up to or like, which is a good thing, because that is precisely who he was meant to portray as Do kyung -- the aloof, unfeeling, inhibited man who doesn't even smile when it is called for or display any emotion even while in love.

Which is also why I can't quite say whether Do kyung and Hae young were good together or possessed on-screen chemistry because in character, they both had to struggle so hard just to warm up to the idea of a relationship that it sort of detracted from that chemical romance aspect.

Yes, they looked good side-by-side, I'll give them that, and yes, the kissing scenes were amazing, but as for their deserving to be together and wanting to root for them . . . it's hard to say.

Do kyung's father makes an appearance about mid-way through, and it was great to see Lee Pil mo acting the part.


Lee Pil mo

Gosh, do I love him.  


The premise behind Do kyung's character is that he is able to foresee his own death, and while discussing the issue with a psychiatrist, Do kyung starts to learn as much about himself as he does about life in general.

Even knowing he's going to die, Do kyung struggles to change himself in order to become happy with the only woman who really matters -- Hae young #2.

For a majority of the first half, I couldn't wrap my head around the suggested need to sympathize with Do kyung after what he'd done to destroy the lives of two perfect strangers, and it never occurred to me that Tae jin, at any point in the eighteen episodes, owed anyone an apology -- except to Hae young, of course.

Tae jin continues to apologize, though, and I continued to feel sorry for him and hope that something good would happen to him and not just to Hae young.

Perhaps the writer wanted me to accept the notion that men are made to suffer far worse and for far longer than a woman?

Poppycock and horse feathers.

Poor, sweet, and totally innocent Tae jin! (ㅠㅠ)

Lastly, we have Hae young's parents to thank for a lot of the marvelous, sublime, and over-the-top funny or self-indulgent scenes.



Whenever I see Kim Mi kyung in the line-up, I know I'm in for a treat (with the bitter exception of The Heirs).

Kim Mi kyung


STILL


There was enough TYPICAL going on with this story to let me know it was, indeed, a K-Drama, but I blame the director and not the writer.

1.  U-Turns are standard fare in any K-Drama, right?

So, when the You Forgot Your Wallet scene occurs, the U-Turn should have occurred but ...

2.  Family is ultra-important and super-high on everyone's list/mind, right?

So, Tae jin has absolutely no one on his side? No one when he's overnight destroyed and business ruined within days?

Hae young doesn't hear anything through the grapevine?

His buddies haven't got a clue?

Not even an omanee to cry and carry on like it's the end of the world?

3.  Everyone in Korea drinks to excess, right?

They drink, and drink, and drink to shit-faced oblivion sometimes, and then they drink some more -- which is okay!




To hell with your health, your liver, pancreas, & kidneys, your brain cells, or even your dignity!

Right?

And yet . . .

cigarette blur

a lit cigarette is blurred because that's a BAD thing.

4.  Skinship most-often occurs outside, right?

Producers of these dramas like to bludgeon us foreigners over the head with the idea that EVERYONE in Korea is excessive in modesty and fiercely guard their personal space.

Which makes zero sense to a foreign mind if EVERY so-called intimate scene (kissing, hand-holding, arm-in-arm strolling, etc.) actually occurs out in the open, in broad daylight, or in a narrow alleyway somewhere in and around Seoul.

Which actually says Koreans are not quite as excessive in modesty or personal space as they'd like us to believe.

However, in Another Miss Oh, the two aside characters are INSIDE when they decide to give kissing a chance (and, mind you, she is 45 and he is 35) when the very next scene offers us this little bit of WTF?





Wait. Wait. is right!

You guys were just inside the house, and now you're outside?

You left the house.

To kiss?

WHY??

5.  Cars and Wind and Hair; not a good combination. Right?

Yet, in every K-Drama, while driving along a country road, a city street, or a major highway, it is inevitable that the woman (always riding shotgun) will roll down the window.

And, in every single instance where this scene occurs, the woman's hair remains perfectly still, her eyes remain wide open (because no one wears sunglasses outdoors in Korea), and she is able to carry on a conversation using her inside voice.

Never has to shout above the howling wind while scrambling to gather her silken locks in both fists, while squinting in order to see with a modicum of ease.




Must be nice.


6.  Speaking of cars, there's always one available when you need it, and even if you hadn't used it in a previous scene, right?

Continuity error or directors gaff, I can't be sure, but this happens at least twice in Another Miss Oh, where the character starts out on foot and ends up behind the wheel with zero indication of the vehicle's having been somewhere within hopping in and taking off distance.

So, why were you walking in the first place?


THE SOUNDTRACK


The OST stunned me.

The same song wasn't replayed again and again, but the same tunes did repeat throughout the eighteen episodes for a nice change of pace.

It didn't matter, though, because I really, REALLY enjoyed them all and got teary eyed listening to the last one (below).

It'd be nice to learn that the artists receive awards for their effort because MAN, was this an impressive line-up!







The one that made me cry even when the scene wasn't sad -- just a really lovely tune




SCREEN SHOTS











Eric Moon