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A Thoroughly Entertaining Sageuk
King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang is one of the most entertaining dramas I have seen in a long time. It could it even be used as a framework for how to create an entertaining drama. It has great acting, great pacing, great writing, great chemistry between actors and great costumes. Even though King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang did not have the most ravish sets nor a high budget-it was able to do more than most fancy sageuks have done in the past.
I was most impressed with the acting in this drama. It was well cast with some veteran sageuk actors and newcomers to the genre. The lead actress Hyeon-jin Seo and actress Woo Seo were spectacular and nuanced in their performance. The most soulful performances were by the veteran actors Jae-ryong Lee as King Moo Ryung and Tae-young Yoon as Koo-Chun.
King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang had great pacing. The episodes were about 30 minutes each. The story did not drag on as some other dramas of this genre-the wars were short and the torture scenes were brief. The light comedic scenes also made the show very enjoyable to watch. A viewer would never become bored if other dramas of this genre added some light comedy as well.
Great writing was also very much present in King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang. It used many literary foils effectively. It's quite obvious that kind-hearted Seol-Nan is the protagonist and her sister Seol-Hee is the evil foil. As for the two princes who were switched, here is the other obvious literary foil. The upright yet dashing Prince Myung Nong's foil is Prince Jin-Moo who is charming but devilish.
Great chemistry between Seol-Nan and Myung Nong was another bonus to this drama. They had one of the best romances in Korean dramas. Scenes between Seol-Nan and Myung Nong were funny, sweet and sad at the same time. Koo-Chun's love for Chae-Hwa was also very tender and heartfelt.
Typical with Some Stars Sprinkled In
This is a typical mainstream Korean movie with some big stars sprinkled in. Jung Woo Sung and Jo Insung play their characters with competence but with little depth and soul. It is admirable that the writer and the director approached the subject of corruption and politics in South Korea. However, what you have here is just a paper cut out. Not one character is this film is an authentic human being. It's the big stars wearing expensive suits and slicking their hair back and looking their best.
Geimui yeowang (2006)
Great Acting Triumphs over Soapy Plot
Queen of the Game is your standard old school Korean late night drama of the late 2000's. It has your similar Korean drama characters: rich girl, rich dad, suave guy, female rival and mean crazy mother in law. What stands out is the acting of Jin-mo Ju. Although it's ripe with clichés the acting of the lead actor Jin-mo Ju is so versatile through the entire show that it's worth watching. The show begins with Jin Mo Ju sweeping Lee Bo-young off her feet with his charisma. The tone of this show seems to change with every three episodes. In the end there is a bit of a Christian morale behind it. However, I 'm glad this show didn't end tragically too many Korean dramas end tragically. Overall, it was a fun drama to watch even though there were the usual revenge plots, the car wrecks and the unplanned pregnancy and the alcohol addictions. And there's even an organ transplant and memory loss, a moocher older lazy brother, jail scenes, drunk scenes, a noisy house keeper, a loss of wealth and so on and so forth and so forth...On a side note, Han Jin Hee who plays the rich dad and his crying scenes were the best-so bad so good type of good!
Mianhada, saranghanda (2004)
Soulful Performance by So Ji Sub
A soulful performance by the lead actor So Ji Sub makes this series worth watching. This could have been your average Korean melodrama however, the sincere, soulful and heartfelt performance by So Ji Sub elevates this melodrama to the highest degree. "Sorry, I Love You" is a journey of a young man who transforms from a minor vengeful petty thief into a decent caring human being. So Ji Sub's transformation throughout the series is quite remarkable, he displays great sadness and longing for love and acceptance. Lim Su-jeong who plays the unlikely love interest also gives a tender and genuine performance.
Overall, the series has a rather karmic and dark message about "whatever comes around goes around". Su-jeong's father ends up suffering the most for giving up the twin babies and keeping the secret from the lead character's mother. It's not your average K-Drama the message of the drama is at the very end of the series. Great story writing and great acting by So Ji Sub makes this series one of the best K-Dramas. It's definitely worth watching.
Byeol-e-seo on geu-dae (2013)
terrible casting choices + unfunny incoherent mess of a shallow show
"You Who Came the Stars" is one of the most overrated shows in the history of television. Gianna Jun lacks the humor and comedic timing to be truly funny. This show is meant to be a romantic comedy with lots of quirks with some Scifi thrown in. Kim Soo Hyun the other star is a good actor and Gianna Jun can be good too it's just that when pairing two people who are almost a decade apart who lack chemistry the end result is not romantic and it's not comedic. The end result is you're seeing a show where writers are forcing a ridiculous plot down your throat. A big budget was thrown in here with plenty of overseas marketing, the wardrobe looks glamorous and yes the condo looks great but what the show really needs is for the actors to be funny and sweet and romantic in what is supposed to be a romantic comedy. Moreover, the plot is a rambling confusing mess with some time travel thrown in with a pubescent looking wise alien who falls for a bimbo of a movie star. This is just a great example of a shallow, dispensable, glossy, commercial looking entertainment with no soul with high incessant high budget marketing.
Breathtaking Jin Mo Ju
This movie is all Jin Mo Ju. He is absolutely fantastic in this film. The story is about a country boy named Inho who falls in love with a girl in school. He does everything in his power to protect his girl Mijoo. He ends up going to prison for protecting Mijoo. Then Mijoo stops responding to his letters at the request of Inho's mother. Later, Inho gets out of prison and works for a crime boss named Mr. Yoo. Then one day, Mr. Yoo introduces Inho to his new mistress Mijoo.
Overall, the story is simple and straight forward. However, the most notable part of the film is Ju Jin Mo's sadness in the last ten minutes of the film. You will never see an actor look more devastated on screen and the final scene where Jin Mo Ju screams is just as heartbreaking. Jin Mo Ju is one of the most naturally gifted actors working today.
That Winter, the Wind Blows (2013)
The Pinnacle of Jo Insung's Career
That Winter, the Wind Blows is the pinnacle of Jo Insung's career. He made an impressive comeback as Oh Soo the conman who falls in love with the blind heiress. Jo Insung had a 5 year absence, his previous work had been in the film "A Frozen Flower" where he was criticized for his bland acting; however he comes alive here with sensitivity and luminescence. It was as if the part was written for him. He makes it entirely his own and has great chemistry with the lead actress the lovely ethereal Song Hye Go. Jo Insung's crying scenes were particularly wonderful and genuine especially the scene where Oh Soo talks about his background.
That Winter, the Wind Blows is about redemption and forgiveness. At times the story seems to lag on and nothing seems to happen, however the gorgeous production, wonderful setting, cinematography and great acting makes it all worthy.
Ki Hwanghoo (2013)
Empress Ki is a fictionalized account of Yuan Dynasty's Goryeo born Empress Gi/Qi. The best part of the show was the acting. The two main leads Ha Ji Won (Empress Ki) and Joo Jin Mo (Wang Yu) were wonderful as well as the other cast members. However, it is Joo Jin Mo who steals the show in every scene with his strong delivery and intense eyes. Other noticeable performances came from Jeon Kuk-Hwan (El Temur), Jin Yi-Han (Tal Tal) and Baek Jin-Hee (Danashiri). The first 40 episodes were fast paced, dramatic and humorous with great action sequence. But the last 11 episodes were rushed, low budget, illogical and laughable, but I still give this show a 9 out of 10 because of the earlier episodes. The worst part of this show comes from the last four episodes where every major character dies one cruel and unnecessary death from another. Was it really necessary to kill off Maha, Yon Feisu and Wang Yu in such ridiculous manner? And why would Kolta and the Empress Dowager betray the Emperor Togon? And yet, the worst part was when Emperor Togon becomes an alcoholic and loses his mind and has hallucinations and his judgment becomes greatly impaired. The show is still worth watching because of the acting, however, the actors deserved a better script in the end. Maybe the show would have been better off if they ended it with 40 episodes. There is no point of continuing a show if the intention is to rush for an ending. It just seems too obvious that they had an obligation for 51 episodes.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Actions Speak Louder than Words
The Kids are alright is a light romantic comedy. It was an enjoyable movie that features very good veteran actors and two young up and coming actors. The story revolves around the two lesbian characters-the couple played by Julianne Moore and Anette Bening. While every subplot and plot and characters were enjoyable, there was a major flaw to this film. It is that actions speak louder than words. The movie tries to convince you with words that the character played by Julianne Moore is gay but we see her character falling in bed with Mark Ruffalo's character over and over. She also seems to like him and her body language in the scenes reveal her sexual attraction to the Mark Ruffalo character. Yet, through words and explanations at the end Julianne Moore's character reveals that she in fact is still a lesbian and still loves the Anette Bening character. I don't think this is what the director intended but the final product reveals that the Julianne Moore character should just be honest with herself and call herself a bisexual.
Contrived and Pointless
Incendies starts with twins a brother and a sister receiving a letter from their late mother. The letter sends them on a mission to find the truth about their backgrounds. The main problem with this film is the purpose of the letter. Why does the mother send them on this mission? The truth revealed is cruel and shocking? The mother has died after finding out the truth, now she wants her children to go on a mission to find the truth rather than reveal to them the truth through the letter. One could argue that the mother wanted to reveal the truth and reveal the horror and the pointlessness of the Middle East conflict. But the journey is contrived and feels as though the screenwriter just wanted to use the incest as shock value.