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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Something About 1% #review

1% of Anything (2016)
Genre - Melodrama, Romance
Based on -  1% of Anything by Hyun Go woon
Starring -  Ha Seok jin, Jeon So min
Episodes -  16
Released -  2016
Network  -  Oksusu
Remake  -  1% of Anything (MBC, 2003)



PLOT


Jae In, a ruthless son from a wealthy family, starts seeing an elementary school teacher, whom he has never met before, for a ten-month contract engagement in order to inherit his grandfather’s assets as written on will. 'One Percent of Anything' depicts what happens throughout the fake engagement. -- Hancinema (w/edits)


REVIEW


As  cliché (a hackneyed theme) as this was, I still enjoyed the watch and thought the lead couple were adorable together.



Ha Suk jin is Lee Jae in, the 'ruthless' heir to a hotel with the really weird (and real) name Alpencia, who is determined to make it on his own yet becomes doggedly determined to follow through on a 'love' contract with a perfect stranger in order to receive his grandfather's inheritance (much more than just the silly-named hotel).

Jun So min is Kim Da hyun, that woman.

She's self-sufficient as a 3rd Grade teacher who also does a lot of volunteer work while her parents continue to set her up on blind dates with Eastern Medicine Practitioners (like her father).

Da hyun is working with her students when she hears a cry for help and goes to investigate, finding a rumpled old man lying lifeless against a berm.

She gets him to a hospital and even pays for his treatment, and the old man gives her an apple in exchange for her kindness.

Turns out he's the chaebol king.

So, the old man writes Da hyun into his will, leaving her everything, and the only way his grandson (Jae in) can get it all back is if he agrees to date Da hyun for at least six months.

Da hyun has no idea who Jae in is or what he is telling her about his wealthy grandfather, but once Jae in starts donating money to the school and orphanage, Da hyun becomes obligated to go through with the arrangement.

I had begun by watching both the 2003 original and 2016 remake simultaneously until I realized the two are practically the same story, so I gave up on the original and continued with this remake.

The only fun part about attempting that dual watch was to note how many things have changed over the years and how little has changed as well.

On the plus side, family isn't the center of a Korean woman's universe today, so while the original showed tons of family time, the remake did not.

Neither is hung up on the idea of marriage, and even though both families are desperate to get their offspring hitched, the lead couple took their time, did things their way, and managed to build a relationship in as natural a fashion as reality-based fiction can allow.

The HEA worked itself out in just as reasonable a fashion, making for a delightful ending to an otherwise mundane-topic drama.

Cinderella, wishful thinking, poor girl meets rich boy, etc.

Still, it proved to be a fun watch and was easy to get caught up in all the drama that went with a beaten-to-death story line.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Drinking Solo (Let's Drink) #review

혼술남녀



















Genre -  Romance, Comedy, Food
Writer -  Myung Soo hyun
Network -  tvN
Episodes -  16
Released -  2016,  Sept - Oct

    

CAST



PLOT


At a private institute for people preparing for their civil service exams in Noryangjin, Seoul, South Korea, the teachers, students, and staff like to drink after work, alone or otherwise. Story depicts these people and the romance between Jung suk (Ha Seok jin) and Ha na (Park Ha sun). 

REVIEW


If anyone had bet me I would like this one, I would have laughed and laughed . . . then bet them double I wouldn't.

They would also be in the money right now.

Who in the world could predict that a 16-episode K-Do about alcohol consumption would be this hilarious, this interesting, and this memorable?

From start to finish, Solo had me entertained while laughing my ass off, and I'm still amazed I'm able to admit such a thing.

5-stars because I know for a fact I'll be re-watching this time after time, too.

Key's breakout debut was pure magic.

Key as Kim Ki bum

Dude ran with this one out of the gate and straight to the finish line without a single hitch, so to say he's multi-talented is putting it mildly.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

This is about more than just drinking (or drinking solo).

The story revolves around a few educators and a few of their students at a posh Prep School for people interested in taking the Civil Service entrance exams and their various life-happens along the way.

Jin Jung suk is an elite educator making six figures and calling more shots than the guy who runs the place.

He's self-absorbed, fastidious, and boring while also being handsome in a very Ken doll kind of way and garnering a major portion of the attendance in each of his classes.

Park Ha na is the exact opposite, of course, and comes from humble beginnings, working part-time through a lesser college as a tutor who ends up becoming an educator at this Posh cram school.

So, Polly Pureheart and Mr. Stuffy don't see eye to eye and don't get along at the start, but she's interested and he's fighting it.

Meanwhile, there are three students who hang out together since they've known one another as children: the eldest student keeps failing the exam while the other two slackers continue to goof off, have fun, and dog the third guy about cutting loose from his study habits.



A 4th student is a pretty girl who has a bad attitude (shocker, eh?) who snubs all the guys who keep trying to get her attention.

Dong young lost his girlfriend and is in a slump, Kim bum comes from wealth and can't concentrate long enough to get any studying done while Gong myung is crushing on his teacher, Ha na.

But Gong myung's older brother, Jung suk, also has a thing for Ha na and so there is a love triangle that actually turns into a love rectangle that is brilliantly dissected by Dong young, who films classes as an aleubaiteu.



In a majority of the episodes, we usually start out watching as Jung suk dines alone in some bar or restaurant, and while he's repeating the same lines about why he enjoys drinking solo, we are left to drool over whatever meal it is he's about to feast on -- hence the FOOD aspect of this drama.

Made me very hungry watching this one, so be prepared.

My only complaint is that I didn't quite feel it for the two leads and their resulting relationship.

The Romance story was great, believable, and worth rooting for, but The chemistry wasn't all the way there, I don't think.

She's cute and all, but some of her facial expressions were too weird or embarrassing to ignore.

Not sure I like her.

Han Seok jin is having a banner year, and I'm not done watching Something About 1% yet, but he's doing fantastic in that one, too.

Hope I'm able to watch his 2016 Movie (Like for Likes) as well.

It has to be difficult to play duel roles, but Korean men seem to have a knack for it.

He comes off as a stuffy bitch as easily and with as much believable as he does a sweetheart who is desperate to learn in order to grow.

Key's Ki bum had to do the same thing in his role, but his was more obvious even if he spent a majority of onscreen time snarking at and belittling his secret crush (which, by the way, was a major reason why Drinking Solo was so funny).

SECOND LEAD SYNDROME


No.

But, I have to say that the 5urprise member worked his magic to make me second-guess myself a few times.

Yeah, he's worth it but...

Now, Min Jin woong's character is a different story.

As bumbling an ass as he portrayed, there was just no way I could ignore him or wish he'd stop with the ridiculous impersonations he came up with as a way to entertain his dwindling number of students.

He's just such an adorable guy, what's not to like even if he's being a huge ass?


Min Jin woong

His story was a build-up I could see coming, but when it did arrive, it wasn't difficult to shed tears and pout at the screen.

So, when the inevitable eventually does occur, it was Hurray! time for me.



Damn he's cute and was adorably so in Drinking Solo -- and is a big reason why I won't mind watching this one again.

To recap, this isn't about Solo Drinking or Drinking Solo or students wanting to pass a Civil Service Exam.

This is a story about people intertwined under the same roof who must co-exist, get along, and work things out while enjoying a refreshing cold one every now and then.

Love, Lies, Misconceptions, and Attitude that all need fixing and readjusting in order for things to work out better for them.

BRAVO on a job well done.

(do-do mani-pani cho-co-lah!) can't get the theme song out of me head!


0

Monday, November 21, 2016

Jealousy Incarnate #review

질투의 화신

Romanization -  Jiltooui Hwashin
Genre -  Romantic Comedy, Drama, Family
Writer -  Seo Sook hyang
Network -  SBS
Episodes -  24
Released  -  2016, Aug - Nov



CAST




PLOT


Depicts the fierce competition at a broadcasting station and the love between anchor Lee Hwa shin and forecaster Pyo Na ri.
Pyo Na-ri has had a crush on news anchor Lee Hwa shin for three years when things change after she meets Go Jung won, a chaebol heir and close friend of Hwa shin.


REVIEW


Loved it.

Hilarity throughout, although I found myself on a guilt-trip numerous times due to my smirking at and giggling about a subject as dead serious as breast cancer.

Hmm.

And, I wouldn't say this was Jealousy Incarnate, either, although enough of the negative emotion cropped up in these 24 episodes, the intensity and severity of them just wasn't Incarnate enough to my mind.

Na ri is your average (typical) Korean do-gooder on the set of a Seoul Broadcasting network as forecaster, and for 3 years she's carried a unilateral torch for heavyweight news anchor, Hwa shin.

For three years, Na ri kisses ass, bows down, succumbs to the whims of others, and passes herself by time and again in the name of 'nice girl' (doormat).

Everyone abuses, confuses, and refuses her until one day she ends up on an overseas assignment with her long-time crush and his best bud, handsome Chaebol heir Jung won.



Jung won treats Na ri different.

He's interested in her, he's patient with her, and he shows outward affection for her, which causes Na ri to rethink her former methods and emotions while it also manages to stir up the titled Jealousy in go-getter Hwa shin.


The three return to Seoul with 3 new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing.

It takes awhile for Hwa shin to admit to those changes while his handsome bud Jung won is moving full steam ahead with his plans to woo Na ri, and Na ri seems just as interested in starting afresh with the heir to a high-end Anchor store.

Jung won supplies the newsroom outfits, and one of the anchors is slated to become his wife (as per his mother's intentions).

But then Hwa shin becomes ill, and it is up to Na ri to help him through the situation in order to prevent the station manager from discovering the situation.



If Hwa shin is ill, he'll lose his last chance at becoming a nightly news anchor, and (this isn't a spoiler because it is overly obvious throughout the drama) Na ri will do anything to help him.

It ends up where Na ri is forced to have to choose between the two guys, and so the three decide to live together for one month in order for Na ri to make the right decision. 

Jung won is thoughtful, helpful, and flexible while Hwa shin remains stubborn, egocentric, and determined to get his way.

Na ri is overly concerned about being responsible for breaking up a long-standing friendship.


SECOND LEAD SYNDROME


As strange as it might sound, my answer is no.

Na ri and Hwa shin worked too well together, had a past together, albeit a rocky, one-sided one, but the two together equated to magic with the spell already cast and which could not be broken.

Not even by someone like Ko Gyung pyo.


Who did an impressive and relatively easy job of stealing the show and running with it for the duration, I might add.



In reality, I would say the opposite.

In reality, Na ri needs to let go of her one-sided love and work just as hard to accept Jung won, the man who (in reality) would serve a far better purpose if marriage is indeed the goal.

If you gave up on Jealousy Incarnate, I would recommend that you to go back and try again because yes, the beginning was somewhat sketchy with an inability to decide its genre (is it a melodrama, a medical drama, a comedy, or a suspense drama?)

But, once the leads return to Seoul from SE Asia, the story takes off like a jet plane, trust me.

And, yeah, there were two aside stories (one that really had no business being inserted about the high school kids) but the people involved are all related in some way, so it maybe confused the writers at one point, who knows.

No Ken dolls, not as much catty bitch as you would expect, and a decent love story that included a fair amount of actual romance to keep me interested and rooting for the right team start to finish.

A feel-good with enough comedic relief to relax the anxiety build-up in each episode.

Could have done well (maybe even better) stopping at 16, but again, I think it was worth the entire watch.

THE YEPPEUN





Saturday, November 12, 2016

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo #review

달의 연인-보보경심 려



Writer -  Tong Hua (novel), Jo Yoon young
Network -  SBS
Episodes -  20
Released -  Aug-Nov, 2016
Genre -  Historical period drama, Romance Film, Fantasy

Based on the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin by Tong Hua (originally published online in 2005 on Jinjiang Original Network). Chinese 2011 Hunan Broadcasting System (HBS) drama series Scarlet Heart.





PLOT


When a total eclipse of the sun takes place, Hae soo (IU) travels back to the Goryeo era (971). There, she falls in love with Wang So (Lee Joon gi) who makes other people tremble with fear. ~AsianWiki

CAST





REVIEW


Like it's reviews for all 20 episodes, my feelings were all over the place as well.

The reason I rated it higher than expected is because the actors (and probably director) worked extra hard to pull rabbits from hats in order to bump this thing up.

Unfortunately, it was the writing that killed it and not the acting.

Stellar casting, obvious on-set camaraderie, and a strange tale were its highlights.

Now, back to the writing.


Yeah, well...

WTF?

Not even this disclaimer worked to convince me this was in any way plausible, and the background music only made things worse.

Especially that one instance where they tossed in a rap ballad.

That's right, I said RAP ballad -- which was about as cringe-worthy a decision as subbers who like to ad-lib or use Brit speak.

Yeesh, what a mess.

Add to that the brainless decision to allow ANY of the princes to behave 21st century femme nearly had me throw in the towel.

The disclaimer aside, I think what hurt this most was the fact that the director and writer(s) chose to mess with history as opposed to going the Fantasy route and THEN sticking to more fact than fantasy.

If that makes any sense.

Time travel is fantasy, we get that.

History is history, and sure, it's interesting to put a spin on it or twist facts to coincide with theory or conjecture -- NOT rewriting it to make it feel more modern.

Things We're Not Supposed to Notice


Like, she's looking up at the stars one minute, and in the next, it begins to snow (clouds?) but the trees in the background are in lush, summer fullness.

The seasons were way off a majority of the time, which is a continuity thing and something I'm slowly giving up on the way I'm slow to give up on abhorrent subs.

IU did a good job, but the guy who really held this mess together should be awarded a Glue trophy.




The incest thing made my skin crawl even knowing it was a fact of life for royals the world over at one point in everyone's history.


The writer thought to tamp this one down by briefly and convolutedly explaining she wasn't actually anyone's daughter, but like everything else in this far-fetched bit of nonsense, it quickly fell by the wayside and she was back to claiming to be the king's only daughter and wanting desperately to become queen.

By marrying one of her 14 half-brothers.

Then there was this guy, 8th Prince Wang wook, her actual brother.


At the beginning, he's married to Hae soo's cousin, which is why Hae soo is at the palace after the strange time travel incident.

The woman dies (of course) while 8th P Wang wook is falling in love with Hae soo and vice versa.

After things fall apart for them, years pass, and overthrow conspiracies start to crop up amongst the brothers, we are forced to have to figure out and understand how this particular monarchy works.

Families being cast aside, names being wiped off the registry, etc.

If Madam Hae's family got the boot, wouldn't that mean Hae soo is in jeopardy? Yet, she remained in the palace throughout.

The only time she received punishment was after being falsely accused of murdering the king, which by ANY authority in any time period in any given nation would equate to DEATH.

And, sorry, but back in the day, if you got run through by a sword, your chances for survival ran anywhere from slim to none.



Dramatic, yes.

Believable, no.

A huge aspect of the plot surrounded our charming 4th Prince and his facial scar, which his own mother induced when he was a child.


WHY?

Why did the queen mother not like this child?

Why had she scarred him and not her other son?

Why had none of the other princes rallied 'round him?

Why was he sent to China as an abandoned heir?

How was it possible for a KING to lose power/control over a 2nd wife?

Very confusing and needed some time to flesh itself out so that us outsiders had a better handle on the situation.

I'm pretty sure the reason why brothers resort to assassination attempts is because royalty follow a strict SUCCESSION principle.

1st born automatically succeeds his father to the throne, and if something happens, 2nd born ascends, and if something happens to him, 3rd in line ascends and so on and so forth.

Picking and choosing based on astrological or otherwise signs wasn't the norm anywhere in the world's history.

A king decrees and his word is golden.

Once he's dead, sure, then all hell can break loose, but the succession rule still stands.

HOWEVER


And as mentioned earlier, because I stuck this one out for the duration, the show managed to pick itself up and work itself out to captivate me (and 2 billion others worldwide).

If you are like me and gave up, do yourself a favor and go back and try again, because believe me, you'll find it is worth a second chance.

It is so easy to maintain a stance on guys with long hair when watching a period drama!



Hot as hell :)

Second Lead Syndrome




Nope.

But, judging from the below image, I'd say IU is better off with Ha neul in reality and 4th Prince Wang so in the fantasy realm.

Lee Joon ki looks ten times more manly as the long haired brute he portrayed in Scarlet Heart than he does in reality, which is funny because of his age.

He's still a hot guy, though, 21st Century and in any Century.

Yet, 8th Prince somehow managed to maintain a Ken doll look while portraying a Prince, and in real life he's hella hot and nothing Ken doll!



Kang Ha neul and IU

The HEA


As with most Korean dramas that end the way this one did, I won't hold my breath in anticipation of a Part 2.

YES, I would love to see the modern-day version of these two having to duke it out with the other Princes -- but I don't see it happening, sadly.

Heck, I'm still waiting for Gumiho's sequel!