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

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Uncontrollably Fond #review


함부로 애틋하게  /  Hambooro Aeteuthage

Writer -  Lee Kyoung hee
Genre -  Romance, Melodrama
Network -  KBS2
Episodes -  20
Released -  Jul - Sept, 2016




CAST




PLOT


Shin Joon young is an intelligent and attractive actor and singer. No Eul is a Documentaries PD who values money over justice and kisses up to those with more power than her.


REVIEW


The No Rating is no joke.

Finished watching last night and still don't know what to do with this drama today !

I've come this close to being at a complete loss before yet always managed to pull through, but not this time.

This time, I am torn between giving it a bad review and low rating and giving it a favorable review with a low rating.

Either way, it is likely that I don't want to low-rate this one despite its being completely deserving, and for a number of reasons.

It had no plot.

It left me so empty inside that I didn't know what to do or how to feel when it finally ended.

There was no romance.

None.

There were no happy or relieving moments in all 20 episodes.

None.

It is obvious (now) that my only interest in Uncontrollably Fond was that it starred Kim Woo bin, whom I am always anxious and happy to see grace a screen for any amount of time.

As I suffered in this confusing dilemma, I thought about getting rid of my star ratings system and using words or emotion to rate future dramas.

I'm also still working on the creation of a Vlog, but both are immaterial to this post.

So, let's do this instead.

The HEA -  


Because it didn't occur, but what turned out to be a shocker was my inability to shed a single tear throughout Episodes 19-20.

The Eye Candy


Because it starred Kim Woo bin.






Actually choked on my fountain Diet Coke when this scene occurred in Episode 4, and then as I had to wipe off the drool, it took awhile more to get my eyes back inside my head.

Please, towel, DO fall down!

Was it Cinderella-ish? No, because both leads stem from lowly backgrounds and then both grew to become self-sufficient; though Joon young made more of himself as a Pop Idol extraordinaire.

The Melo in Melodrama


Or, should it be the Drama in Melodrama?

Hard to say because this offered an abundance (overload) of both with hardly any relief effort on the part of the writer or director.

The Cast


Because while the story itself proved less than memorable or desirable as a 20-episode watch, the folks attempting to make it great did their best to intrigue me and make me want to root for them.

Which is the major issue, now that I think about it.

I gave up hope of seeing anyone happy after awhile because I knew NOTHING would go right or well for any of the players, which is a huge turn-off in my book.

The characters deserved something yet the writer/director gave them nothing.

The Cliché Factor


Brain Tumor, Car/Pedestrian Incidents, Chaebol shenanigans, Dishonesty disguised as Love, Catty Bitch vs Poor Chick, Insurmountable Debt, Orphaned, Getting Pregnant Early is the Devil Incarnate, Wide-Eyed Kissing, Selfish Parents.

Those are all I'm able to recall right now, but believe me there are dozens more.

And, as Fond began to unfold, I started to recall a Japanese drama, Beautiful Life, that starred Kimura Takuya as a carefree hair stylist who meets and falls in love with a wheelchair-bound free spirit.

If you haven't watched it, please do, compare the two, and see which you prefer.

Now for the fun stuff.

Not sure if this was deliberate, but Joon young asked a few questions that I felt compelled to answer.


Yes!

HELL Yes!

Um ...

I ask Myself that Same Thing almost Daily, Darling


He also liked talking to himself, ABOUT himself.

Affirmative

I wouldn't use the word Shabby to describe what you see in the Mirror

Which brings me to an eerie Korean Drama conundrum that occurs in most every drama or movie about a 'star'.


I just find it disturbing and creepy to be surrounded by a lot of artwork that centers solely on 'self'

Kind of like living in a house of mirrors, isn't it?

Everywhere you turn, no matter where you look, there you are, staring back at yourself.

Eating, cooking, relaxing on the sofa in front of the TV, taking a piss, and trying to get a good nights' sleep.

I don't get it and don't want to believe that the real stars of these dramas actually do surround themselves with . . . themselves.

And, yes, I am fully aware of the fact that a majority of the artwork comes from their adoring fans -- but not all of it, and certainly not the photography!

Second Lead Syndrome


String bean wasn't a bad second and he wasn't the greatest, either.

Im Ju hwan

It never worried me that No Eul would want him more than she would want Joon young.

But, he did play an interesting character with just as many flaws as anyone beneath his station in life.

Which brings me to the 'running theme' that I failed to capture on screen but need to mention in this post.

"Someone Like You"

Great Van Morrison tune, btw




But, for the purpose of the drama, it was meant to imply status, and that just made me laugh.

Anymore, it runs along the same lines as racism to include racist remarks like "Those People" and "Minorities"

The Star-Crossed Lovers










Pretty sure all but the last two are large enough to use as background wallpaper (at your disposal).

I liked them together.

I just didn't like the situation(s) the writer/director forced on them to make this such a dry, lifeless story and a major let-down.

And, maybe I'm wrong to want to watch a story that unfolds naturally and with a tad more realism than I'm always forced to have to endure instead.

Does anyone else yearn for a 'true' romance story to occur between their two favorite stars?

Boy meets girl, sparks fly (or not), they slowly get to know one another better when a few life curve balls come their way to liven up the plot (true romance), they work through the issues and end up in bed together.

The End.

And by romance, I mean bells & whistles, hearts & flowers, chivalry on his part, honest (soulful) affection on hers, LOTS of touchy-feely to cement their inner emotions, and mature resolve in the face of adversity in order for us, the viewer, to feel good (and justified) about rooting for them to survive.

If this had been written by me, I'd have had No Eul get pregnant as a legacy token of her TRUE LOVE for Joon young.

Loved this guy's hair!

Jung Soo kyo

And the pretty baby boy wasn't all bad, just way too baby boy for my taste.

Lee Seo won

So, that about sums up my opinion of  Uncontrollably Fond.

Better Luck Next Time, sir Kim Woo bin!

Here are a few more images (which, too, are likely to be large enough to use as a BG).















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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Zeni no Sensou #review


銭の戦争 

Drama -  War of Money
Genre -  Drama, suspense
Writer  - Park In kwon (comic), Noriko Goto
Network -  Fuji TV
Episodes -  11
Released -  Jan - Mar, 2015
Ratings -  13.4%




CAST




PLOT


Shiraishi Tomio loses everything. His money, job, and fiancé, and becomes homeless. The path he chooses is that of the moneylenders who drove him to the very bottom. 

REVIEW


Bravo on a job well done, and a well thought out cast of players for these unusual characters.

I know this isn't the first time a Japanese producer used a Korean manhwa to create live action, but hat's off to whomever decided to give this a chance because it worked.

Just too bad (as usual) that there is zero romance, zero chance of seeing any romance blossom, and zero HEA in that regard, but then it wouldn't be a Japanese drama, would it?

This time, the subs were back to being piss-poor but not entirely illegible -- just annoying enough to make me notice but not annoying enough to make it tough to watch.

Timing was the real issue here, with each episode starting out alright and then the 15-minutes-in sponsor break occurs and . . . argh!

On a personal experience basis, translating isn't the toughest job in the world and doesn't require possession of a college degree to perform, so I just don't get why or how it is that difficult for whomever to do their job AT LEAST satisfactorily.

The story itself is riveting -- even if it is done-to-death -- because of the original spin the writer took to tell the tale.

The ending surprised and didn't surprise -- just left me feeling a little empty inside.

Tomio being the good guy then the bad guy, then reverting back to the good guy before turning bad guy again occurred throughout the show, but the ending is left to ones own interpretation as to what he became next.

Despite his age and controversy, I love Kusanagi-kun and was really glad to see him playing the lead -- he's a terrific actor who lends himself well to whatever character he portrays, though it is a bit hard not to see him as opposed to a transformation.

This is not as dark a drama as you might suspect and had just as much comedic relief as it did nail-biting suspense.

The bad guy deserves credit for his portrayal of the nemesis because he really went all-out and convinced me he's evil but with a sense of humor.

Highly recommend this if you haven't watched yet.


Monday, September 05, 2016

The Mysterious Thief Yamaneko #review


怪盗 山猫  /  Kaito Yamaneko

Drama -  Mystery, crime
Original work -  Kaito Tantei Yamaneko series by Kaminaga Manabu (神永学)
Writer -  Shogo Muto
Network -  NTV
Episodes -  10
Released -  Jan - Mar, 2016
TV Ratings -  10.7%


CAST



PLOT

Based on the novel "Kaito Tantei Yamaneko Series" by Manabu Kaminaga (first published July 29, 2006 by Bungeisha).
Yamaneko (Kazuya Kamenashi) is a mysterious thief. He steals money from people and corporations doing evil. In the process, he also exposes their evil deeds. ~AsianWiki

REVIEW


Weird.

Japanese humor weird but still a fun and sometimes interesting watch that included about as much suspense as there was slapstick and pun-o-rama.

Still, it is a mystery (which I love) and kept me guessing at times (which I adore) so there is that and why I rated it higher than it actually deserves.

However, by the time the answers are revealed, I patted myself on the back for knowing ahead of time that it would turn out that way.

Yamaneko is a product of some wicked old man who used orphans for a government-backed scheme to produce spies.

When Yamaneko is old enough, he sets out on his own and becomes a vigilante of justice type Robin Hood.

He's loaded with insider trade secrets and easily works his way inside even the most secure of fortresses in order to steal back what doesn't belong.

The police are on his tail, but he also has the help of a detective, which means that all of Neko's 'crimes' end up making headlines -- with him as a hero.




It's been awhile since I last watched Kamenashi's work, and this particular drama isn't a help when it comes to gauging his skills.

However, it is with relative ease that I assume he read the comic and projected literally throughout these ten episodes.

the manga

The actors did a lot of bantering infused with pratfalls and even copied a few TV game show scenes -- all of which proved funny -- even if I am not privy to said shows.

In the final episode, he and the detective answered viewer questions, and it was a delight to hear one of them voice a concern of my own about Neko's abuse of an elderly woman.

I was shocked and then upset, but when the Q&A portion arrived, they played it well and made me laugh again.

I'm not and never will be a fan of abusive behavior, man to woman or woman to man, but Neko tended to abuse the girl he hired to help him with her hacking skills to the point of my being mildly annoyed.




I still don't like it, and I don't like it when men get in another person's face to shout more verbal abuse.

This drama was loaded with that type of behavior, so minus a star.

Now, the story itself was an interesting one and though it took its time playing out, when all is finally revealed, it made better sense why everyone behaved the way they did.

Too much shouting, too much in-your-face, and too much pent-up rage for my taste, but because it starred Kamenashi, I'm giving it more than it is actually worth and would suggest that you read the Manga first.




Saturday, September 03, 2016

Bring it on, Ghost #review


Let's Fight, Ghost

Drama −  Ssawooja Gwishina
Writer −  Im In seu (original comic), Lee Dae il
Genre −  Horror, Comedy, Mystery, Romance, Action
Network −  tvN
Episodes −  16
Release Date −  July - Aug, 2016
Cinderella −  No


CAST


Kim Sang ho                    TaecYeon                          Kim So hyun                                 Kwon Yool

PLOT


Hyun Ji (Kim So hyun) studied for most her life before she died at the age of 19. She is now a ghost and has wandered around the world for several years. She meets exorcist Park Bong pal (Taec Yeon) and the two team up to hunt the variety of ghosts haunting places and people. sometimes listen to their stories, and send them to the otherworld. ~AsiaWiki (w/edits)

REVIEW


The 3.5 stars are for concept and acting, but the drama itself left something to be desired.

I believe in ghosts and love a good ghost tale, so had there been more ghost chasing and less over-dramatization of plot that was more run-around than lead-in, this could have been brilliant.

This is YA fluff at its finest, but with an embedded mature content theme that didn't mesh as well as the production team may have wanted.

A lot like reading the synopsis of a novel that sounds REALLY intriguing, yet when you start to read the story, the grammar issues, one-dimensional characters, and an underdeveloped plot make it a real let-down.

The tension build-up of the antagonist went on too long and repeated itself too many times until I became bored.

Wanting or needing to know why something is happening on a continuous basis grows stronger by the episode, and when you're left hanging for too long, it becomes insipid.

So, this would have been blockbuster material had the director decided to sub-plot with a ghost hunt per episode while also teasing with glimpses of what is to come regarding the main focus.

And then, when the climax finally did arrive, I was left to feel extremely sorry for Kwon Yool's Joo Hye sung once that truth is revealed.

I didn't buy the shrug-it-off notion that regardless of circumstances (including demonic possession) you are ultimately responsible for your actions because that's how society sees it.

Sometimes it was easy to suspend belief w/regard to the way the ghosts were dealt with and other times it was just too much WTF for me to ignore.

I got that 'killing' the 'dead' was a big part of the story line, so there was that -- but choking a ghost to death was something I just couldn't let myself admit to as being plausible.

Sorry, but animals have a keener sense of spirit than we humans, so to give the possessed antagonist a veterinarian position was just stupid.

Ain't not dog alive gonna let a demon get anywhere near it.

Also, I'm still trying to figure out how anyone with a medical degree would blithely assign an ANIMAL DOCTOR as therapist for a human coma patient.

Jung mal yo?

No second-lead syndrome here.


 photo neosl.jpg


And, the leads were both cute respectively, but not so much as a couple.

She's cute schoolgirl, and he's alpha -- which never computes in my head -- along with the obviously vast age difference to make it feel just this side of creepy.

It appeared more like daehan oppa and yeodongsaeng (to me).

Awkward!



I really enjoyed the silly banter and slapstick that occurred between Kang Ki young's Choi Chun sang and David Lee's Kim In rang.

And every episode that included a ghost chase story.

I've seen him act before, but this time Taec Yeon's performance felt stiff and like he wasn't all that interested.

This isn't the worst thing I've seen this year, but all of the hype that surrounded it went way over my head because after 16 episodes, I'm still not sure why this was such a hit.

Well, okay, so there's Taec Yeon -- who may or may not have felt a bit under the weather much of the time?

I'm sure anyone under the age of 21 will think I'm crazy.