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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sweet Stranger and Me (The Man Living in Our House) #review

Woorijibe Saneun Namja / 우리집에 사는 남자
Released -  Oct - Dec, 2016
Episodes -  16
Network - KBS2
Writer -  Kim Eun jung, Yoo Hyun sook (webtune),
Genre -  Family, Comedy, Romance
Original -  Based on 2015 webtoon (same name)


CAST



SYNOPSIS


Hong Na ri, a flight attendant, returns to her hometown to visit her mother's grave. There, she sees a young man. Go Nan gil introduces himself as her father. He now lives in Na ri's house and runs her mother's small dumpling restaurant.

REVIEW


This did NOT start out great and I was tempted to drop it after the first two episodes.

Jo Bo ah's Do Yeo joo and Kim Ji hoon's Jo Dong jin made me angry and had me thinking this would be another melodrama about infidelity and how simple it is for vacuous bitches to steal someone's lacking-character man.

It was also really eerie to keep seeing little Lee Eun sul all grown up as Soo Ae!

Lee Eun sul                                                                                    Soo Ae                               

Also, the annoying recaps seemed to go on and on and on . . . at the start of almost every episode, and then in the middle when one of the characters 'remembers' something...

Annoying and pointless.

Imagine trying to read a novel written this way (and yes, I've read a few, actually) where the author rewrites a scene you've just read, or that you've read a few chapters back again and again until you want to throw the book at a wall or stop reading the story or delete it from your Kindle.

The director also chose to chop up the story, which makes no sense and throws off the viewer who is trying to understand what is going on.

Wouldn't it be better to give the viewer a REASON for jumping around instead of just skipping 2 or 4 incidentals and then going back to cover them 3/4 of the way through an episode?

A lot of why are we here when we were there just a minute ago? type directing that I'm not fond of and will never grow to like or understand.

THEN they threw the creepy stepfather/daughter thing into the mix and I was like no, just... no.

And, AGAIN, this is another KDo that stars super-sexy, sexy, syrupy-voiced Lee Soo hyuk NOT as the leading man but as another second.

Another second who didn't manage to give me a moment of 2nd Lead Syndrome.

Lee Soo hyuk as Kwon Duk bong

However!

The reason I rated this as high as I did is for one reason only.

Despite all of these issues, as the story of a jilted lover who returns home to find peace and answers but instead discovers her ultimate fate, the plot became more interesting.

I stopped constantly comparing Soo Ae to little Eun sul, and the infrequent clashes between Soo Ae's Hong Na ri and her unfaithful Jo Dong jin weren't as in-your-face as I had anticipated.

The stepfather/daughter thing, though? That took some time to get over and try to ignore.

It became interesting to watch Na ri and Go Nan gil get to know one another better and slowly become drawn to one another.

I especially liked how the writer handled the infidelity issue.

Little Miss Special wasn't rewarded for her bad behavior, and Mr. Thinks-He's-Hot-Stuff ended up in a pile of remorse and regret instead of being able to strut his stuff in the hurtful aftermath.

But, that wasn't the gist of this story and it ended up being dropped entirely after only a few episodes in.

What really mattered was the little Dumpling Shop currently being run by Nan gil, a boy who grew up in an orphanage who befriended Na ri's mother and was always secretly in love with Na ri.

This is the second KDo I've watched where single men are permitted (somehow) to 'adopt' children, which is highly disturbing for an American to try and grapple.

This guy adopts tons of young boys and raises them to be gangpae for his debt collection company fronting as a lender while dipping into all kinds of illegal activities.

After Nan gil ends up behind bars, he's a changed man upon release and runs back to his 'mom', Na ri's mother, to help at the Dumpling Shack.

I can't really say anymore without giving away too much, but there is a ton of intrigue, plot development, and a very slow but strangely fulfilling romance between Nan gil and Na ri.

And like most every KDo I've ever watched, there are a ton of aside characters with their own stories and problems, and extended family members who aren't all worth bragging about and who manage to ruin things for their children.

Let's just call it 'typical' and leave it at that.

The romance was believable, but Na ri tended to behave manipulative and a little too bossy for someone her age, which was a minor let-down.

However, she did manage to possess just enough redeeming quality in her character to make me want to root for her and Nan gil.

Nan gil's badass performances were sexy, thrilling, and poetically sad, which helped to draw me to him and make me want to see him end up happy.

Lee Soo hyuk did a marvelous job portraying a high-fashion attorney against his family's fortune and bad habits who starts out wanting one thing from Na ri and then another before ending up in an altogether different place at the end.

The ending was about 30 minutes worth of recap and pregnant pauses but still managed to work itself out -- as did all of the minor characters and their issues.

I watched this in two days, which says something about the dynamic content of the story, so I think you'll find it just as interesting if you give it a chance to prove itself.


Friday, February 03, 2017

Goblin: The Lonely and Great God #review

쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비

Writer  -  Kim Eun sook
Network -   tvN
Episodes -   16
Released -   Dec, 2016 - Jan, 2017
Genre -  Fantasy, Romance, Drama



CAST




SYNOPSIS


Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is an immortal goblin and protector of souls. He lives with an amnesiac grim reaper (Lee Dong wook) who is in charge of taking deceased souls. Together, they see the dead off into the afterlife. One day Kim Shin meets a girl, Ji Eun tak (Kim Go eun), who has the ability to see ghosts. She is destined to be Kim Shin's bride and return him to ashes.

REVIEW


I liked it and didn't, it was good and it wasn't.

The story itself was marvelous.

The acting by all was superb, but I could have done without the unnecessary rehash at the beginning of just about every episode, and the usual drawn-out until it becomes stale romance that takes its agonizingly sweet time getting to the point.

The bromance was cool.


Lee Dong wook and Gong Yoo

I especially enjoyed every scene at the old mansion, when these two would argue telepathically, or when they were together with Yook Sung jae's Yoo Duk hwa.

Also enjoyed the sexiness of their dark-side tandem walks, but they were too few and too early on in the show to be thoroughly enjoyed.

As a matter of fact, the writer seemed to point it out by making fun of it a little more than 3/4 into the 16 episodes.

The romance was a bit awkward.


Kim Go eun and Gong Yoo

I really like her and think she's very pretty and a good actress.

In fact, she stole the show, especially as her younger self.

Very natural, cute/funny, and an interesting young woman start to finish.

Polished, mature, unafraid of the unknown, and determined.

Still, it was painfully obvious how much younger she is than Gong Yoo and that made it a little difficult to root for them, but not entirely.

It was entirely too clean, childish, and boring (asking a 900 year old Warrior to behave like a modern-day 19 yr old Korean (= immature girly-man) is asking a bit much).

The Second Romance was much more interesting.



Lee Dong wook and Yoo In na

Talk about a handsome couple!

These two were made for each other, on and off screen.

Get married, make babies, and thrill us on The Return of Superman, please!

The pacing needed work.

So much went into the first few episodes; enough to draw me in and keep me interested, but then it just lost steam and rehashed -- sometimes all of the previous episodes, taking up about 20 to 30 minutes of a single episode -- to make the thrill of the chase die out.

No surprises, either.

It was too predictable, and I knew who the Grim Reaper was after only a few episodes.

The writer kept harping on the fact that he had no name and no memories, which only leads the viewer to just one conclusion.

Crime and Punishment

It's always interesting to hear various viewpoints about death and the afterlife.

What I learned after watching Goblin is that Koreans seem to believe in a hell, but that only the severely abusive souls go there and with no chance for reincarnation.

One of the ghosts who followed Ji Eun tak around never had her back story told, leaving me to wonder why she was dead since all of her friends had their stories told before being sent to the other side.

I am still confused as to why it was Kim Shin's character was being 'punished' when he had suffered enough in his own lifetime to last the purported 3 to come -- even if he technically lived just one before dying -- and having never received his other 3 since he became immortal.

Becoming immortal after all that suffering makes sense, but not his having to wander aimlessly for 900 years in search of his Bride to remove the invisible sword so that he can finally rest in peace.

And, the real culprit behind the pain, suffering, loss, and eventual 'punishment' of those involved ended up becoming an immortal of sorts as well, which makes even less sense.

I understand it was meant as a tie-in to the other ghosts wandering earth because their deaths were murder or some unsolved crime, but his crimes weren't unsolved yet went unpunished for 900 years.

I don't get that.

It implies that God picks and chooses His hell victims (and everyone else goes to Heaven, apparently) which I don't buy at all.

The Hat


Lee Dong wook as the Grim Reaper

LOVED the hat!

A little on the cappello romano side, but still cool.

The Soundtrack


I didn't mind it and liked two in particular, but it wasn't spectacular yet did fit nicely with the theme of the story.

Bottom Line


Overall, I'd recommend this as a good-time watch but with a few reservations about things like consistency, a plot that lost its way, and too much build-up with zero reasoning or results.