Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Best and Worst of 2017: Korean Dramas and their Couples, Genres, and Endings

I thought I would join the bandwagon a bit, with this whole "best of" end of year posts, because I might not have anything better to do (maybe) or because I wanted to just take a look at what we had to watch this year.  I remember how there was a big dry spell for a while, so looking at my list, a good percentage of the dramas I watched this year were old, or Chinese/Taiwanese.  I'm not counting those in this list (obviously, since this is for the KDs), but it shows how up and down this year has been.  We've had some really good ones, and a long spell of meh.

So I went over all the dramas, and by my rating, and other things like genre and elements in the dramas, I did a sort of awards ceremony, purely subjected to my tastes and preferences in how I enjoyed the dramas I watched this year.  In reading everyone else's posts about this sort of thing.  I agreed with most people's opinions, so hopefully this isn't anger inducing at all, haha.  So here are the winners of my best, worst, and meh, etc. lists.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

284. Bride of the Water God 하백의 신부 2017 (2017) Korean

Nam Joo Hyuk, Shin Se Kyung, Lim Ju Hwan, Krystal, Gong Myung

Drama Rating: 4/10     Neck Score: A+

I wasn't going to watch this one, because it was obviously going to be not amazing.  But I kept watching all the clips and spoilers about it, and hearing about it from others, that I thought I would give it a chance.  Plus, I was having Gong Myung withdraws after Revolutionary Love finished, so I need to see it.  Plus, as everyone said, it's got a lot of pretty in it.  That's pretty much all it had in it.  It's rare to see something so fabulously bad as this.  It wasn't just because the actors were not the best.  I've seen Nam Joo Hyuk and Shin Se Kyung do decently well before, just not in this drama.  Although neither of them were so terrible that I wanted to cry or die even (most of the time), they were both not on their form at all and left much to be desired.  Really it was a combination of bad acting, directing, and writing.  I blame the writing the most for my lack of enjoyment.  It was just so bad, I didn't feel connected to the people who should.  I didn't care about the people I should, it was all just a big mess.  A big, pretty mess.

So, my biggest problem is that I just didn't care about the plot of the drama.  It just wasn't compelling to me at all.  In fact, I was probably watching it for all the wrong reasons, because I was way more compelled by the secondary couples and antagonist than the main couple.  It probably wasn't the best idea to watch a drama for Gong Myung when he wasn't even really in the first four episodes.  But he remained one of my favorites in all the other episodes.  I also related and cared about Lim Ju Hwan's character and story way more than anyone else.  So here is a list of the things I liked and cared about:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

277. Queen for Seven Days 일의 왕비 (2017) Korean

Park Min Young, Yeon Woo Jin, Lee Dong Gun, Jang Hyun Sung, Kang Shin Il

Drama Rating: 8/10     Neck Score: A+

I don't remember why it took me forever to start this one.  But I do know why it took me forever to finish it, and neither reason was because it wasn't a great show.  I think I was swamped with dramas at the time and I had to put it in the queue, but as I had only heard good things about it, I knew I had to watch it.  I ended up just watching it alone, because we can't watch all the dramas together because then it would never happen, even though Curdy is totally in love Yeon Woo Jin.  But that didn't stop them from jumping in and watching the super dramatic parts.  They even got mad one time when I watched the next episode without them because it was the part where he was finally going to put everything on the line for her.  I think it had been too long since we'd watched a full blown romance.

So I struggled watching it in the middle probably because I was too into it and I couldn't handle it at the time.  I think I was too stressed and it was so hard at the time.  But that was why it was so good.  It was about a very controversial time in history, with another one of those brotherly struggles for the crown where no one really wins because they're family, but everyone has some reason for being sympathetic.  But those brothers were the worst as they caught our girl in the middle.  I couldn't handle that at the moment, so I had to take a really long break.  But then, as I had to take a picture for my Tiny Edition of Women Who Make Me Watch Dramas Against My Will, and it worked.  I love Park Min Young enough that I finished the drama.  I was also just ready again.  Ready for a good but hard to watch in parts drama.  I had watched enough fluff and was ready for some meat, because that is what this show is.  The real stuff.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Women Who Make Me Watch Dramas Against My Will: Tiny Edition

With several of my current favorite dramas ended or ending, I felt the need to show some love to some of my favorite actresses again with another list of women who make me watch dramas against my will, especially since some of them were starring in those ending shows.

This time the loose theme linking them all together is "tiny" because while these women are giants in their acting abilities and awesomeness, sometimes their size, age, or cuteness makes you want to just put them in your pocket and take them home.  I mean that in the best possible way.  I love these women and though they be little they are fierce and can hold their own on screen, and they deserve some love and respect.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

279. Revolutionary Love 변혁의 사랑 (2017) Korean

Choi Si Won, Kang So Ra, Gong Myung, Lee Jae Yoon

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A++

This one was a sad disappointment because it had potential in both theme and the cast of characters, but it was written so badly that it became a joke.  The one thing it did great on was character development.  It was the selling point of this drama for me, and why I kept watching.  It never got super bad.  It just got so unbearably cheesy that it was impossible.  It was super sloppy in the execution, and the love story was practically not there, which is why Curdy was constantly having second lead syndrome for Gong Myung.  Can you blame her?  I cannot.  I am in love with him too.  I might have finally started Bride of the Water God just to see more Gong Myung, because I miss him already.  It probably didn't help that Kang So Ra just didn't have romantic chemistry with Siwon and she totally did with Gong Myung.  It's like she was Siwon's noona the whole time (like she dated his hyung Leeteuk and never got over the siblings relationship, haha).  I believed that Byun Hyuk was in love with Baek Joon, but we never really knew how she felt, and I would have believed right up until the very end that she could possibly end up with Jae Hoon.  But, as I liked to point out, the opening only shows the three of them being friends, so that it what is important, right?

I really loved how Byun Hyuk started out as a worthless chaebol who always caused problems and Jae Hoon had to clean up after him, but by the end he was a revolutionary force for good.  The progression from worthless, clueless pup to a hero of reform is a fairly natural one too, so that it's a gradual thing, and he learns from each experience.  I loved that part.  But sadly, they put all the effort into the character development (which I love) that they had no idea how to wrap it up or even move the most basic plot along.  I thought they gave Jae Hoon (Gong Myung) a decent character arc as well, we got to see why he was the way he was and were given plausible reasons for him to change, and then saw him change too.  I feel like Baek Joon got the least development, because she started off pretty great and her changes were more minor, but that doesn't mean they weren't there.  She went from having no hope, but being driven by her experiences to wanting to make plans and decisions, even if they mean completely changing her focus in life.  Still decent development.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

280. Because It's My First Life 이번 생은 처음이라 (2017) Korean

Lee Min Ki, Jung So Min, Esom, Park Byung Eun, Kim Ga Eun, Kim Min Suk

Drama Rating: 9/10     Neck Score: A

I knew going in that I was probably going to like this drama, just based on the plot and the cast of characters.  I just didn't think I was going to get this obsessed with it.  This is easily a contender for the top drama of the year for me, and I'm not sure that it has any competition, I'd have to go back and do some research on it.  Maybe Defendant... but they are completely different genres, so they can both be the best, it's fine.  It was soooooo good!  It was so relatable, and hilarious, and deep, and full of the tropes that we love, but handled in a good and fresh way that made us laugh and squeal instead of roll our eyes and groan.  It helps that it had some pretty tight writing, great actors, and plenty of good chemistry.

I'm a sucker for tropes like contract marriages and forced living situations.  This has them both.  That hit it off right away too.  I also really love how it is about three friends and their lives, so we had three couples rather than the typical love triangle.  THERE WERE NO ACTUAL LOVE TRIANGLES!  Can I just say how happy I was about that?  I hate triangles of love, and that was not what this was about.  It was about learning about themselves and healing wounds, and understanding feels and most of all communication.  I loved how most of the plot was about learning how to communicate with the significant others, and with their inner feelings.  So all of the drama with the couples really came down to learning to communicate, which is both great and frustrating at times, when there is a lack of communication or understanding.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Korean Movie Night: The Unjust 부당거래 (2010) Korean

Hwang Jung Min, Ryoo Seung Bum, Yu Hae Jin, Ma Dong Seok, Cheon Ho Jin

Movie rating: 7/10      Neck score: A

I'll admit, I 100% watched this because of Hwang Jung Min and Ryoo Seung Bum.  Also a little bit for the premise.  I like twisted, gritty crime movies.  I'm not sure that by little brother liked it as much as me, but he didn't hate it either.  It's hard to like it 100% though, because it's about a bunch of bad guys.  Literally.  We have a cop who is coerced into being corrupt, part blackmail and part promise of promotion, who joins forces with a gangster, and a prosecutor who is all about bribes and saving face.  Their paths get twisted as the prosecutor accepts bribes from the business man the cop was trying to catch.  The cop, who is always passed up for promotions because he is not a police academy graduate, is offered a promotion deal if he frames someone for an unsolved serial murder case to make the police look good.  He does so with the help of a gangster, who is a direct rival of the bribing business man.  The prosecutor is on the case of the framed man, but with the meddling gangster getting after the briber, it turns into a messy power play.  The cop gets into more dirty water than he can handle, and we end up not knowing who to root for, if anyone.  The cop was being blackmailed to do it, but he ended up doing some pretty bad stuff, while the prosecutor only accepted bribes and let people go (which is bad enough), but was wholly unrepentant and selfish about it.  It it literally about a bunch of really unjust law people.  It has some harsh language and some violence, but really it wasn't too bad.  I guess the language might push it to a harsher rating, but I'm glad I'm not in charge of deciding that.  It was a good movie, but not one that leaves you feeling happy or even satisfied.  Maybe a little pissed or disgusted though.

Friday, November 24, 2017

282. Go Back Couple 고백부부 (2017) Korean

Jang Na Ra, Son Ho Jun, Heo Jeong Min, Han Bo Reum, Chang Ki Yong, Ko Bo Gyeol

Drama Rating: 8/10     Neck Score: A+

I was expecting more humor with this, with everything the ahjussi/ajhumma back in a 20 year old's body plot could bring.  I was expecting all the pain and tears that this would bring.  Seriously, every time they would do the happy family/cute baby montage with their kid Seo Jin, I would lose it.  So would they.  I'd lose it with the mom stuff too.  This was a beautiful show about family and making your marriage work.  It was less about the romance because of that.  Our couple was already in love, we were just watching them realize what it was that was keeping them from that.

Before I started this, I heard a bunch of people who said they hated Son Ho Jun's character.  I may be biased, but I never saw that.  Yeah, he was acting less smart at times.  They were a couple who were pretty much divorced, you can't expect either of them to be not petty at first when given this opportunity.  But this is a show about people who made less good choices getting a second chance so they could make the right choice.  It was about words too long unsaid, or words that should have never been said.  It was about healing and growing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

281. While You Were Sleeping 당신이 잠든 사이에 (2017) Korean

Lee Jong Suk, Bae Suzy, Lee Sang Yeob, Ko Sung Hee, Jung Hae In

Drama Rating: 7/10     Neck Score: A+

I went into this one with less expectations, because I haven't been super impressed with Suzy in the past, and I was not sold on the plot.  Still, I kept hearing good things, and I will pretty much watch anything for Lee Jong Suk, so I started it.  That probably helped me love it way more than if I had gone in with way high expectations.  I would still have liked it regardless though.  I loved that everyone has dreams, and not just Suzy.  It gave it a lot more of a dynamic.  I loved how it brought up the question of fate and can we change the future, and what consequences of that change are, good or bad.  I really loved how the romance developed and progressed as well.  It seemed a bit more organic than expected for a couple who had dreams about each other.  Especially when they would have a dream where they would progress faster, and they would not, because they would get scared or something.  It was great.  I loved the bromances, all the bromances.  The literal brothers, the cop and prosecutor, the senior and junior prosecutors.  I was actually super impressed in the lack of ridiculous love triangles.  Yeah, we did have a bitty one with Woo Tak, which was cute and sad, but I loved the friendship between all three of them more, since it stayed good.  But what I especially appreciated was how the "2nd female lead" wasn't really a thing.  She was never a thing in the whole triangle business.  I really didn't want a bitca in the mix, and she wasn't ever a problem.  It was actually kind of funny how petty and vain she was.  Then there was how the real second male lead was the bad guy, who I called Handsome Sseuregi/saekki, because Lee Sang Yeob is a very handsome man, but his character was the worst.  In fact, every time Lizabreff came in while I was watching she'd be like: "Who dat?" and I would say: "A gae saekki."  "But he's so handsome!"  "Yes, yes he is."  Plus he had the best clothes.  He did a really good job of being bad, but justifying himself thinking he was ok, but secretly loathing himself.  He was a good, complicated bad guy.  So all around I have nothing but good things to say.  I really enjoyed it, and I thought it stayed pretty consistently good too, although I'm not saying it didn't have issues and things it could have done better, it did, but it was still good and extremely watchable.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Korean Movie Night: Flu 감기 (2013) Korean

Jang Hyuk, Soo Ae, Park Min Ha, Yu Hae Jin, Ma Dong Seok, Lee Hee Joon

Movie rating: 8/10     Neck score: A

This one came highly recommended by my little brother, who had previously watched it.  He said he got so into it that he was jumping up and down and shouting at the screen, which is common practice for me while watching movies and dramas, but he doesn't typically do.  He totally has mad respect for Jang Hyuk now.  He loved the chemistry between the leads.  He really had been looking forward to showing us this movie, so we decide to have a movie night and watch it.  The problem is, if it made him shout and scream, who does it, what would it do to us, who always shout and scream.  Haha.  He was worried we didn't like it, but we did.  I loved it, but that didn't mean that I hated what was going on during some parts.

It's very shocking on the visuals, and it tries to shock you.  There are some moments that are just gross and make you feel a bit sick, physically and morally/emotionally.  We have a flu virus that is passed on airborne and there is a really gross coughing montage that was designed to make you paranoid and wear a mask always.  Then there was "The Claw" scene that was pure shock factor that was meant to horrify.  It did that well.  There were many times when we were screaming so loud and dramatically that he was worried that we hated the show.  But it was so intense!  Especially where cute little girls are concerned!  Plus medical thrillers about viruses are crazy, with the panic and selfishness.  There were so many evil, selfish idiots who were basically villians, plus mass panic.  It's just a show where the stakes are high and you get so into it that you are yelling at the bad guys and ferociously cheering the heros.  It's VERY engaging and both fun and exhaustin to watch. I do recommend it, especially of you love Jang Hyuk and/or Soo Ae.  They are both great in it.

Friday, November 10, 2017

272. Attention, Love 稍息立正我愛你 (2017) Taiwanese

Joanne Tseng, Prince Chiu, Kuo Shu Yao, Riley Wang

Drama Rating: 6/10     Neck Score: A+

I both loved and hated this one, because it was cute and fun, and it also drove me nuts.  How many excuses can they give to make a couple clearly in love not be together?  That is basically the plot of the show, a twist on Mischievous Kiss, really.  Two kids who were basically betrothed at birth meet again in high school and fall in love, then anything that could possibly keep them apart keeps them apart.  Like he's running away from his feelings the whole time because it was hard enough for him to just accept her as his best friend and family, so taking it to the next level was too much.  Then everything getting in the way in between, it was pretty unreal.  But most of the characters were so lovable that it was fine wading through all the frustrating "you like each other, why aren't you together yet?" if you just sat back and enjoyed the ride.  Mind you, for me that was difficult to do, but it made it easier.  It also had a trolling habit of making you think things were going to be much more extreme.  Like everything will be ruined next week, or they're going to finally get together, or he's going to be even more of a psychopath, etc.  None of it ever really happened, which was part good and part frustrating.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Women Who Make Me Watch Dramas Against My Will: Goddess Edition

Time for another collection of lovely ladies.  This time I grouped them by the category "Goddess."  You know when your actress just has it all and they are so awesome that this might be the only appropriate way to refer to them?  They are gorgeous, great at acting, and full of personality.  I could probably put all my ladies on this list, but the purpose of these groups was to create decent sized posts.

These are the women who the first thing you think of when trying to describe them is: She's a freaking goddess.  Hashtag woman crush for days.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Korean Movie Night: The Host 괴물 (2006) Korean

Song Kang Ho, Byun Hee Bong, Park Hae Il, Bae Doona, Go Ah Sung

Movie rating: 7/10     Neck score: A

We watched this one because besides being famous, it was the week of Halloween and we wanted to watch a scary movie... this movie is not scary.  I would not count it as horror, more of just a monster movie- a baby on the scale of Gojira (Godzilla), but the same kind.  In fact, when I found out that it was based on a real life event, when a Korean mortician working for the U.S. military dumped a bunch of formaldehyde down the drain and substantially into the Han River.  This turns it, like Gojira , into an anti-American film, as it focuses more on the effects of American involvement and attitude.  It is a political statement, not a horror movie.  I would even say that the real monsters in the movie are not the actual monster, but the U.S. Military and how they handled the situation.  The fact that they spread a mass virus hysteria because one of their soldiers died fighting the monster, while off duty, and that they would willfully turn Korean citizens into lab rats to cover their tracks just reinforces the theory.  Then there is the obvious stab with the thinly veiled reference to Agent Orange, renamed Agent Yellow, as the bio weapon used to combat the creature.

The monster itself is just not scary because this movie is old and I was super underwhelmed at the CGI.  It was meant to look like a giant mutated salamander or some other kind of amphibian, and it actually made me giggle when it first came out and went on a rampage.  But this was 2006, so try not to judge it too harshly.  I feel like the CGI budget was used up on the scenes where the monster would swing on the bridges in the sewers to travel, and climb up the the walls down to the pit where it would spit out it's victims.  It had moments of coolness, but was still an early example of CGI monsters at best... or maybe worst.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kpop Running Playlist

About a year ago I decided I hated that I sucked at running.  I didn't want running to defeat me.  So I started training for a 5k, and then later a 10k, and then I started slacking so I'm back at the 5k level... but that's ok.  I'm still doing it.  And one of the reasons that I love it now is because I've got a pretty sweet Kpop Running Playlist.  When I'm less motivated to go, I just think of the lovely music I get to listen to, and that helps motivate me.

So does the lovely fall weather that we have right now, and the early summer mornings, and the start of spring... I am a sissy, though, and I don't run outside after Christmas.... It just gets too cold.

Monday, October 23, 2017

276. Manhole 맨홀-이상한 나라의 필 (2017) Korean

Kim Jae Joong, Uee, Jung Hye Sung, Baro, Lee Sang Yi, Kang Hong Suk, Kim Min Ji, Jang Mi Kwan

Drama Rating: 6/10     Neck Score: A

I had heard so many mixed reviews of this one, I wasn't sure if I wanted to start it.  But for my love of Kitty (and Baro, Uee, and Jung Hye Sung), I started it anyway.  I loved it right away!  I loved the premise, the way that the time travelling rules were set up, and the changes that he made each time, the butterfly effect, and the resetting each time.  Sadly, it got kind of weird.  I think that due to the low ratings, they decided to just throw every weird and dramatic trope in it.  Partially, that was something they could just do as a twist with the butterfly effect twists, and I liked those, but when the fiance went from being a cheater to basically his same character in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, I think they over did it.  He might be hot, but he got way too much screen time.  I was so done with seeing his crazy face before he went out and beat people for no reason.  Anger management, dude.  I get that it was frustrating to watch a couple that obviously liked each other for 28 years go through a bunch of things because fate was obviously against them.  But that was the beauty of the plot.  It was literally about one man who defied fate.  Then it became about one man who needed to save his girl from the creeper assaulter who is one step away from kidnapping seven brides and locking them up under a junk yard while having bad hair.  Can we please get that guy a not creepy role?  I'm starting to think it's impossible.  Also, I'm not ready to see him at all for a while, because he was so annoying, so a different type of role for him, please?  Before he's ruined for forever?  So yeah, it got a but crazy at the end, but it was still enjoyable, we just made fun of it a little bit more, and moaned every time Mr. Anger Management got too much screen time.  Also, the last episode is soooooo cheesy.  Like cringing all the time.  But the pretty makes up for it.  Ovaries exploding and dying of cute.  It's all good.  No problems.  I really wish it had gotten better ratings, so that maybe it could have stayed true to it's original intent, if that was a thing.  Maybe they had that craziness in mind since the beginning, I don't know.  I do like the whole messing with time and fate thing.  It was interesting.  Still worth watching, especially if you love Kitty (Kim Jae Joong) as much as I do.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Women Who Make Me Watch Dramas Against My Will: Second Leads and "Bitcas" Edition

I am so glad that as I was deciding to do this list, that there were so many wonderful women that I love that I could produce just as many of these lists for the actresses I would watch anything for, as for the actors.  I thought I would start with the ones that I fell in love with as they played the second female leads, the bitcas, if you will.  I love girls who play strong women, who play jerks, or even crazies, and are still so lovable and even the best thing ever.

They have such acting chops that even if I hate their character, I have to also grudgingly like them because they make them so sympathetic and real all the same.  You hate them, but also hate that you hate them because you love them too.  Or you hate that you love them, since they are being so evil... It all comes down to really loving them because they are awesome and play those evil or annoying roles like a boss.  So here are some of my favorite bad girls, who aren't your sweet young things, although they could play them like a boss too, because they are amazing.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Korean Movie Night: The Grand Heist 바람과 함께 사라지다 (2012) Korean

Cha Tae Hyun, Oh Ji Ho, Min Hyo Rin, Lee Chae Young, Sung dong Il, Ko Chang Seok, Shin Jung Geun, Kim Gil Dong, Song Jong Ho, Chun Bo Geun, Kim Hyang Gi

Movie rating: 7/10     Neck score: A

Comedy + Cha Tae Hyun + Heist means it's going to be cheesy, yet great.  It was so campy, but it didn't take itself seriously, and just went with it.  So no, not historically accurate completely, but everything they did was possible with the current technology, such as phosphorous and tunnel digging, etc.  It was like Joseon Ocean's 11, literally.  It was such a formulaic and classic heist movie, from the set up to the introducing of all the specialists, to the drama of them working together and disagreeing, to the gotcha and double gotcha moments.  It was definitely a classic heist movie, which in general I like, even if it is formulaic and predictable.  You all know I would watch anything for Cha Tae Hyun, but him as the brain of the team, the Danny Ocean, while still being comedic was fun.  He was smart and also silly.  Love it.  Oh Ji Ho was naturally the stick-in-the-mud, righteous warrior (named Baek Dong Soo) who is heisting for righteous reasons, but that's fine.  If it means we can see him shirtless and doing martial arts, it's fine.  Very fine.  Then the collection of experts,  who were all very perfect for their roles.  I loved Hyung (Song Jong Ho) as the sneaky master of disguise.  His little smirk was just perfect for it.  The bomb ahjussi was my favorite.  He was practically deaf because, you know, explosions, etc.  They pulled every heisty stereotype with the characters, as the master of disguise was also an expert seducer and the transportation specialist had Mr. T written all over him (so A-Team right there).  They unabashedly whipped out the stereotypes, but it was super fun to watch.  We were just laughing the whole time.  It hit the spot, basically.  We wanted something hilarious, and this one definitely had us laughing like the whole time.  The cast was great, the humor was great, and the kitschy heist tropes were great.  I enjoyed it.  As long as you know what you are getting, it's a good, easy watch.

Monday, October 2, 2017

274. Panda and the Hedgehog 판다양과 고슴도치 (2012) Korean

Lee Dong Hae, Yoon Seung Ah, Choi Jin Hyuk, Yoo So Young

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A+

We started this one because we were in the mood for cheesy and we wanted to look at lots of pretty Dong Hae.  I didn't expect Dong Hae to actually be pretty decent at acting.  Better than some other idols I've watched dramas for.  This was a ridiculous show nevertheless.  The villain was over-the-top bad and I ended up calling him "Rat Saekki" because his was just the worst, and stupid.  I have no idea how he managed to hide from the law for so long, because they were doing so many illegal things, both he and his wife.  They were both the worst.  Really, this show would have sucked completely if it hadn't have been for the bromances.  The girl was annoying enough, with her spacey full of herself ridiculousness, that I didn't really care about the couple.  I just loved Dong Hae with Choi Jin Hyuk and Dong Hae with Halbae.  They were all so adorable.  I know they call him a hedgehog because he's supposed to be spiky on the outside to protect his gooey core, but he was just gooey the whole time.  He was a marshmallow cinnamon bun the whole time.  He barely had any bristly moments at all, and he was an adorable drunk.

Friday, September 29, 2017

275. King is Not Easy 大王不容易 (2017) Chinese

Zhang Yi Jie, Bai Lu, Zhao Yi Qin, Xu Bai Hui

Drama Rating: 6/10     Neck Score: A+

When I saw the promos for this I was excited, because it looked cute and funny. It looked fluffy.  That it was.  A body swapping Drama with the King of Zhou and his maid, who of course will fall in love.  Classic.

It started off really well.  It was rather refreshing as a body swapping drama.  It was still cheesy, but I really loved it.  I think they both did a great job of being each other, especially when she was still chasing after the hot palace guard in the king’s body, so everyone thought he was gay, and he's more jealous than worried because he's already in like with her even though he's literally only interacted with her while she was in his body.  Haha, imagine seducing your own body, haha.  Somehow it still worked, even though it was cheesy and fluffy and the king looked like a 16 year old. A cute, but scrawny one at that.

Then the last four episodes happened when it turned into some kind of an epic all the sudden.  I mean, it did have a draggy part before, when they had to resolve the 2nd couple so the king could actually get her to pay attention to him, despite him still being in her body.  But all the sudden they are fighting wars, and using every trope to fill the holes and tie up ends that didn't need to be tied.  It went full blown W on us, as worlds collided and the craziness continued to escalate.  And then, in the end, it still left us hanging.  All I wanted was a happy ending, which it kind of did, in a super open ended way.  The weird thing was that everything they did was technically possible, but highly improbable.  There were unexplored facets they didn't need to explore, but technically could because it was there, but to do it that way would be bad or at least sloppy writing.  If it was a manga adaptation, they could have done a better job, thats all I have to say.  Really, even the opening credits song was a metaphor for this show. It is fluffy and cute until the last 3o seconds which turns into a funky break down that doesn't seem to fit, much like the last 4 episodes of the show... hmmm, interesting.

So overall I loved it, but I am disappointed that the ending since istead of wrapping it up they opened a bunch of random worm cans and then left us drowning. Ok, fine whatever. I just had to go with the flow and let it happen.  I did still love the main couple, even though he was 16 and she was like 20, at least in appearances.  I also really loved the added dynamics added by the short little modern skits at the end.  I guess they could have given me some hints, since she was a graphic novelist or whatever, but still, if they were going in that direction, just make it longer. Don't surprise us that close to the end.  Nope, nope, nope.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Men Who Make Me Watch Dramas Against My Will: Ahjussi Edition

It's been a while and I've realized that I need revisit this topic of actors who I love so much I watch pretty much anything for them.  I realized that I need to pay homage to the Ahjussi in my life, because as I grow older, the oppas I like are pretty much all really ahjussi.  Am I really that close in age to 40?  Eek!

Yeah, that's the definition I'm going to use for Ahjussi- 40 and up.  Omo, do I love the ahjussi these days.  I find myself way more attracted to them, and able to connect to them, then say, those puppies in the high school dramas.  Yeah, when I do watch the high school dramas I am checking out the teacher actors, like in School 2013 or Sassy Go Go, who have some of the oppas (or donggaps) that I love.  So here is a list of "Ahjussi" actors (some of who are just barely 40) who I would watch anything for, or have watched complete nonsense for, or would just love to see in everything.  Can't they just be in everything so the quality of everything goes up?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Korean Movie Night: The Wailing 곡성 (2016) Korean

Kwak Do Wan, Hwang Jung Min, Chun Woo Hee, Jun Kunimura, Kim Hwan Hee

Movie rating: 8/10      Neck score: B

I've been meaning to watch a real Korean horror film for a while, and my boss, who love horror films recommended this one to me.  It's weird to have Korean films recommended to me when I'm the one who first recommended them to him, but that's cool.  He just likes films in general, so why not.  This one was superbly made.  The pacing is really good, which is interesting because it's a long movie and really slow paced, but at the same time, it builds well.  Well, I don't know how slow paced it can be when it starts off with death and there is plenty of death and carnage along the way.  It's not super jumpy or violent, but it is gruesome.  We mostly see the aftermath of the murders.

It's not really jumpy scary much, more like a suspense that builds up as we watch this ordinary man, a lazy cop in a remote mountain village, try to figure out what is going on as violent murders start happening around the village.  They all have the same things in common.  One family member going crazy and murdering all the rest.  They all have a horrible rash before, and they usually commit suicide after all the murders.  Also, they are very violent and bloody murders.  People start blaming the Japanese stranger, and cite having nightmares after random encounters with him.  The suspense only builds as people closer to our ordinary man begin to be affected, including his daughter.

271. Strongest Deliveryman 최강 배달꾼 (2017) Korean

Go Kyung Pyo, Chae Soo Bin, Kim Sun Ho, Go Won Hee

Drama Rating: 8/10     Neck Score: A

I'll admit it took me a couple of episodes to get into this, but maybe it's because I had just finished Golden Cross and was still stuck in snarky snarkville.  I didn't like how everyone was being mean to Kang Soo (Go Kyung Pyo) when he was literally the nicest person in the world.  But then they just didn't get it yet, and it wasn't too long before everyone loved him because he was literally the nicest person in the world.  I love the nice guy trend.  It worked really good for this one, especially when it was also a continuation of the fight corruption/evil conglomerates trend.  It seemed to start slow, but I think that was partially because they really wanted all the characters to grow, and I mean all of them.  It started all mixed up, with the two rich people liking the two poor people, or at least clinging to them as they taught them how to be people, but then everyone learned from everyone, and it was great.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Korean Movie Night: JSA Joint Security Area 공동경비구역 JSA (2000) Korean

Lee Young Ae, Lee Byung Hun, Song Kang Ho, Kim Tae Woo, Shin Ha Kyun

Movie rating: 9/10     Neck score: A

I knew going into this one, that it was going to be filled with tension and sadness.  How could a movie about the boarder between two countries, divided, and constantly on the brink of war not be?  It certainly had all of that.  It was also full of all the emotions, like every Korean movie I end up watching.  I really liked the build of this one, as it starts with the event that is being investigated, with gun shots and dead bodies, and then we slowly get flashes into the different sides of the story, until we get the full story, what really happened.  By this point we are fully invested, so it is all the more tragic and heartbreaking, and we're crying, or at least ready to at any moment.  It had a good way of catching the beauty of the little moments, so that the gravity of the big moments were all the more harsh.  This is something that's hard to find in most typical movies.  I love it when the little moments are important.

I loved how cleanly it portrayed both sides.  It didn't demonize or glorify one side over the other.  It didn't paint one bad the other good, but that the whole thing was a mess.  The higher ups on both sides were just as bad, demonstrating the stereotypes and prejudices, while the common soldier, the individual, each had a story and their own opinions.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

273. Nightmare Teacher 악몽선생 (2016) Korean

Uhm Ki Joon, Kim So Hyun, Lee Min Hyuk, Seo Shin Ae

Drama Rating: 7/10     Neck Score: A

After the lameness of Golden Cross, I needed to see my Grumpy Cat (Uhm Ki Joon) in something more worthy of his greatness.  What better than a webdrama where he is a teacher who is making his students live their nightmares so he can steal their souls and teach them life lessons?  Answer, lots of things, but this was also a good option.  It was actually not too bad for a webdrama.  It wasn't that creepy, sadly, and it was very moralistic and stuff, but I still liked it.  It was done in serial format, with a new kid with a new problem every two episodes.  Some of the mini story arcs were more relatable than others, which really helped with the quality or enjoyability of the story arc.  Lizabreff couldn't get into the story about the overachiever student who studied until he lost his memory of anything else, while I cared less about the girl who wanted to look perfect and be the prettiest so she went all Dorian Gray on us.  Although I liked the Dorian Gray part of it.  We also both struggled with the lonely, dreamer girl who dreamed herself a boy friend and a stalker.  Why would you want the stalker?  He turned out only slightly less scary than the boyfriend actually.  While her stupidity was the worst, I loved that one the best because it was probably the creepiest one.  The end was almost the creepiest, which I was excited for, but it stayed pretty tame and not horrific like I wanted.  Oh well.  It was very moralizing and we all learned a lesson.  The end.  The important part was that Uhm Ki Joon was amazing and I loved him, as he just stood there, being awesome and leading the kids to their doom... haha.  It was a good drama to appreciate him in, and that's what I needed, so it was perfect.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

K-Con LA 2017 Final Day: Wrapping Up the Trip

Is it ridiculous that most of our adventures of our last day took place outside of K-Con?  We were trying to find someplace, and our information was wrong.  That day was the huge exception, and even though we went to 3 different places, we ended up not finding what we were looking for.  But we did get a sort of tour of different parts of LA because of that.  Saw some different views and some residential areas.  It was nice, I guess.  But it meant that we got less K-Con time.

But a good thing happened after the wild goose chase we went on.  When we got to our sketchy under the parking lot parking, some girls were just leaving.  Seeing our wrist bands, they offered us their parking they had bought, because they were leaving already.  So we got free parking!  #blessings #kconersunite

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

269. Golden Cross 골든 크로스 (2014) Korean

Kim Kang Woo Lee Si Young, Uhm Ki Joon, Han Eun Jung, Jung Bo Suk

Drama Rating: 3/10     Neck Score: A+++

Let's take a guy with a normal family who has struggled a bit because they are as good as they are normal, even though they fight and stuff and don't get why they have to suffer when they are good, and then let's ruin their lives completely just to give us the premise of this show: a secret chaebol organization that steps all over normal people for their greedy, economic controlling power.  There, we have the set up for a perfectly normal revenge drama.  Prosecutor in training, who also happens to be a former Taekwondo star, whose family struggles because of his super upright, honest banker dad, losing everything when his said upright, honest dad is framed for murdering his little sister.  It's obviously set up so this prosecutor will go on a holy rampage and take this secret organization down with his smart brain and snazzy taekwondo skills.  His crush is both the villain's daughter and the prosecutor of his father's case, that's going to lead to a bit of drama, exciting!  Typical revenge melodrama, right?  Well, let's take this typically set up plot and logical progression and do the opposite of everything logical.  That equals this show.  I was so disappointed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

267. Sound of Your Heart 마음의 소리 (2016) Korean

Lee Kwang Soo, Kim Dae Myung, Jung So Min, Kim Byung Ok, Kim Mi Kyung

Drama Rating: 9/10     Neck Score: A

I was so sad when I couldn't find this anywhere, because you all know how much I love Kwang Soo.  He is my #1 actor who rivals even GD in my heart.  I had to watch him be Cho Seok, because I also am 100% in love with Sound of Your Heart and have read everything that has been translated on Line Webtoon.  Sadly that is just a fraction of what there actually is, sniff.  Basically, there is a certain laugh that I have reserved just for Sound of Your Heart.  Lizabreff knows only one thing can make me laugh like that, so she knows what I'm reading.  This show was the same.  I laughed so hard!  I think it did a good job capturing the right feeling.  Their actor choice was perfect for all of them.  Every new person introduced I was like "Yeah!  They're perfect for it!"  It was delightful.  Even before we found it on Netflix and were just watching random clips on YouTube, I was just laughing.  They did a good job.  It's a slightly different experience when the naked/bathroom humor comes in, cuz it's live action vs just the drawings.  You realize just how tall and skinny Kwang Soo is when he's streaking through the city with his bare legs and censored blur.  It was hilarious.  I loved it.  I also like how they managed to keep the webtoon feel to it, while also connecting them into a somewhat cohesive story, with some character growth and some tied in themes.  It brought it all back in for a good ending to the series, so we didn't get left hanging.  It was well done.  Highly recommended.  I want there to be more seasons.  All the seasons in the world!  More Sound of Your Heart!  More Kwang Soo!  Hurray!

262. Father is Strange 아버지가 이상해 (2017) Korean

Kim Young Chul,  Kim Hae Sook, Lee Joon,  Jung So Min, Lee Yoo Ri, Ryu Soo Young, Min Jin Woong, Lee Mi Do, Ryu Hwa Young, Ahn Hyo Seop

Drama Rating: 8/10     Neck Score: A+

I love a good 50 episode family drama, and that is exactly what this was.  So many wonderful characters that you can just grow to love, because you have all the time in the world.  I love it because you can take time to develop characters fully and let relationships build naturally.  This usually makes me way more invested in all the characters and all the relationships to the point where I'm crying and giggling at any wedding or big event near the end.  This was no exception.

The plot of this was a bit interesting, since it is focused on a family with three strong minded girls who all take after their strong minded mother, and then the one older brother who takes after the easygoing sweet father.  However there are, of course, family secrets- practically birth secrets here- when an idol turned actor shows up looking for his father who happens to be the dad of this family.  This is potentially bad because the main OTP is clearly this actor (Lee Joon) and his manager, who is the third child in the family (Jung So Min).  But they let us slowly unravel the secrets until all the crap hits the fan and it's all dramatic, and all that.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

K-Con Concert Day: Trip Day Three

The day that we're all waiting for, Saturday, the day that we'd go to all our artist engagements and eventually the concert.  We would have loved to have gone to both concert days, but that was a lot of money for groups that we had less investment in.  We're not made of money.

We like those groups, but we LOVE Vixx and Super Junior.  Let's be honest, I also love Girl's Day.  So it worked out that they were all going to be a part of the Saturday Concert.  We had to prepare well, because this day was going to be an all day thing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

270. I Order You 당신을 주문합니다 (2015) Korean

Jung Yoon Ho, Kim Ga Eun, Jang Seung Jo, Baek Jung Won, Jo Yoon Woo 

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A-

I never thought I'd live to see Yunho out acting anyone, but he was way better than our female lead in this.  He wasn't amazing or anything, but he was decent.  The show was just fluffy, but that is what we wanted.  Nothing better than a web drama when you want fluffy, because they can't afford to waste time on anything, although they still managed to do it.  We burned through the first like 12 episodes in one night, and let me tell you they were the best episodes, full of her falling in love with his face and cooking over and over, and him falling in love with the way she appreciated his food, over and over.  He was on the teasey side, which was generally cute.  He could also be a bit of a butt.  She was generally smart and nice, although she was not great at acting.  The flowerboy coworkers were the best.  It was literally The Flowerboy (who is in all the flower boy dramas) and this tall oppa that we liked.  He was smiley.  Also, her younger brother is pretty cute and awesome too.  Just saying.  The second male lead was a cutie too, I called him Diddy Kitty (like the Diddy Kong of Kitty- aka Kim Jae Joong) because he looked a lot like Kitty.  This, of course lead to much TVXQ jokes.

The last four episodes were needlessly dramatic and mopey and since we saved these for the next day, we were even less able to pay attention while the shiz hit the fan and the girl literally became the worst person in the world.  She was even worse than the last minute bitca they added.  So it ended.  Like I said, fluff.  But while it was mostly enjoyable, it had way more drama then say Wednesday at 3:30, which is a comparable web drama full of fluffy Beanie.  So, this is still good if you want a bunch of cheesy fluff and happen to like Yunho (which I not so secretly do now, how did this happen!?!?!) but be warned, it is also ridiculous and mopey in spots.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Korean Movie Night: Battleship Island 군함도 (2017) Korean

Hwang Jung Min, So Ji Sub, Song Joong Ki, Lee Jung Hyun, Kim Su An

Movie rating: 7/10     Neck score: A+

This was definitely set up as a wartime/survival/underdog movie.  We have a bunch of Koreans forced into a labor camp on a coal island off of Nagasaki.  Tricked and then forced into slave labor.  So naturally, since this is a WWII movie, the Japanese are going to be super demonized.  Just letting you know.  They're basically the worst in this.  Not just kicking the puppies, they're outright killing the puppies.  The other worst is that it's a fight to survive in this camp, so Koreans are turning on Koreans, especially the ones who kiss up to the Japanese to get favorable treatment.

So we're following a musician (Hwang Jung Min) and his band, and his daughter (Kim Su Ah), who get forced into going, along with a boatload of "drafted soldiers" and a bunch of women who were brought to "help".  They're just trying to survive, but even with their letter of recommendation, they are forced into the camp.  So Ji Sub is one of the drafted.  He's a gangster with authority issues.  He starts a fight on the boat over, and has an awesome run in with Lee Jung Hyun who is basically boss and can hold her own, which is great because she can help protect the daughter, who's like 10, but is still separated out with all the women.  They all get forced into the coal mine labor camp, forced slavery or indenture, since they force them into debt along with everything else they do to them.  Once in the camp, it's basically just survival.

It's funny because this one was a lot more action packed, but because of that it felt less harsh than the brutality that was in A Taxi Driver.  There was plenty of violence and fighting, but it was the kind we were used to?  Not all of it, just in general.  There was still plenty of shuddery violent scenes, and anxious ones, such as the bathhouse fight, which was awesome as it was scary because fighting almost naked in a bathhouse, so in and out of the bathtubs.  But that was the way to do a bathhouse fight (cough cough The K2 cough cough).  As they were coal mining all the time, there was plenty of almost naked men, which could go both ways depending on who the man was.

I always felt the most anxious for the daughter the whole time, because she was just a kid and had to face some pretty nasty stuff, but that's the reality of that time, so they weren't pulling too many punches.  It's a good thing that she was super smart along with everyone else, or there is no knowing what could have happened.  Shudder.  It was a little bit like Life is Beautiful, the Italian Holocaust movie, if you've seen that, but much more action packed and a whole lot less tear jerking, which is not to say that it isn't tear jerking, because it's a Korean movie, but nothing makes me cry like Life is Beautiful.

I kind of like how ambiguous Song Joong Ki's character is.  I'll just leave it at that.  He's special forces, but what is his mission?  Duh duh duhhhhhhh.  That's one of the things I liked about everyone.  They're all on their own side, which might be the same side, if they could figure it out, but the number one objective for everyone is survival, and then they have to figure out how and with whom, etc.  I liked it a lot.  I probably liked A Taxi Driver more, because it was more sentimental, but I did like both.  I'd recommend it just for that cool three screen deal.  I'm not a fan of 3D, so this was a much cooler alternative for me.  I felt very surrounded, which was awesome in those mine scenes.

Day Two: First Official Day of K-Con LA 2017

So starts day two of our K-Con adventure, this one is focused on exploring, since we had some flexibility.  It started later, so we got there later, and miraculously missed all the traffic.  Our hotel was farther from the convention center, but still situated so that we would miss the bad traffic if we left at the right time.

No one died while I drove in LA.  In fact, I was once again pleasantly surprised at how decently everyone was driving, not that I loved the traffic, it was just more predictable than freeway traffic where I'm from.  People know how to merge a bit better, haha.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Korean Movie Night: A Taxi Driver 택시 운전사 (2017) Korean

Song Kang Ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hae Jin, Ryu Jun Yeol, Park Hyuk Kwon

Movie rating: 9/10     Neck score: B

I guess this wasn't really a movie night, because we went to see this at 11:15am.  But I'll count it anyway.  Omo, seeing it in a theater is just another experience.  It was us and a bunch of halabeoji and halmeoni, and we were definitely feeling outnumbered.  The halabeoji sitting next to Lizabreff was probably texting his friends that he was sitting next to three weird white girls.  We also had random people talking in Korean in the middle of the movie, probably louder than they thought.

It was so good!  It made us feel all the emotions, it did such a good job of taking us back to 1980, and seeing all the different sides of the issues.  I also love that they got a German actor who could actually act, in German and English, and it was just great.  We felt all the emotions.  From sweet to sickening, to outright tears (of course).  It's funny because we saw Battleship Island as well, which is much more action packed, but the brutal police/military violence of this one was some how more horrifying.  There was no discrimination in who they beat, it was awful.

With such a heavy topic as the Gwangju massacre, it was nice that they were able to add some sweet moments, and some comedy, bringing out the humanity and the love, which of course made the awful terror and brutal violence all the worse, as well as all the sacrifices of the people for their friends and colleagues that much more touching and tear jerking.

We got to see them all grow as well.  Each of the characters has a story.  Our taxi driver Kim Man Seob (Song Kang Ho), who is just a working man trying to support his daughter, whose seen a lot and doesn't really want to get involved.  He is such a tender hearted man who is trying to be tough and mercenary, who doesn't want to rock the boat to protect himself and his family.  He ends up taking a German reporter named Peter to Gwangju, which is blocked off by the military because of rioting.  Peter knows what to expect to a certain extent, and Man Seob to a different extent, because the government is falsifying reports about the riots, but he knows his people.  They end up getting help from a local taxi driver, reporter, and college student, who of course all have stories that make us love them as well.

So there is a lot of everything.  laughter, tears, military brutality, rioting, saving, and you just feel everything right there with them, because they did a really good job of giving a face to these people, so we know who they are, what they felt, and why they did what they did.  I cried a lot and laughed a lot, and it was so, so, so, good.  I am super happy that I got this chance to be in LA when it was in theaters, so I could watch it.  Absolutely no regrets, it was awesome.  I highly recommend it.

K-Con LA 2017: Day One of the Trip

My one vacation this summer was K-Con, and though it was ridiculously expensive to go, and the most inconvenient time to go (I work at a university and the first day of school was the Monday after K-Con.  Did I also mention I'm in charge of training all the new hires?), I do no regret going at all.  I normally get super drained and traumatized after going to conventions full of people and too many people, and spending too much money.  As far as I know this was not the case this year, and I had a really good time.  From horror stories I heard from years past (2014 to be exact) this year seems pretty decently organized, and I'm glad.

Because this was a longer vacation, with four days to cover, I'm just going to give you a play by play of each day and tell you everything we did and what we ate and everything.  So here is Day One of My K-Con LA 2017 trip with Lizabreff and Curdy.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Korean Movie Night: 19 나의 19세 (2009) Korean

TOP, Seungri, Huh E Jae

Movie rating: 6/10     Neck rating: A-

We've been meaning to watch this show for ages because TOP and Seungri.  It's the typical coming of age movie with a twist, because it's about three 19 year old kids who are suspected of killing this girl.  They panic and run, and are naturally forced to come to terms with themselves and grow up.  TOP is a bit of a punk, who of course dreams of being a rapper, but is a loser in his family.  Seungri is a little rich boy who can't even talk to girls and is pushed around by his parents.  Huh E Jae was a poor girl whose mom was dying and so she dropped out if school.  They all had ties to the girl and had to come to terms with how they could have helped her, but didn't, so they weren't blameless.  It's got coming of age oozing out of it.  Seungri was so cute being an awkward kid.  Also, I loved how Big Bang promoting it is, and I could just watch TOP rapping all day, so I loved that it was super Big Bangy.  It was cheesy and dramatic, but pretty funny and fun to watch.  So good, if you like Big Bang.  PS, that minus is for TOP's bad hair.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Korean Movie Night: My Sassy Girl 엽기적인 그녀 (2001) Korean

Cha Tae Hyun, Jun Ji Hyun

Movie rating: 8/10     Neck score: A

We had another movie night, but rather than watching something new to us all, Lizabreff and I decided to show Curdy the classic My Sassy Girl.  It's probably the third or fourth time that we've both seen it, and it was interesting to see the different perspectives.  If it was funnier the second time, it definitely was the third as well.  It was also interesting to see Curdy's reactions, as a relatively new viewer.  It is a show you need to pay attention to right through to the end.  So, I will share my initial review and then add my later thoughts.

First review:

Wow, that was a really long butt scene, Cha Tae Hyun.  Just saying.  There is a reason why this show is famous.  It's good.  Like funny, ridiculous, and completely setting stereotypes for years to come.  I feel like all the tropes came from this, but since this one was first, it is better.  I love how many times it tricked us.  Like, setting it up to make you think a million years had passed when it was maybe one.  Also the irony of the punch line.  Also, Cha Tae Hyun was perfect for his role, as was Jun Ji Hyun.  They deserved to become famous from this, because they both did a good job.  Basically this is the kind of movie that leaves you grinning at the end.  Although I am glad I saw it way after I started watching K-dramas, because it was that much funnier because of that.  Lizabreff watched it way before me, when she was still a noob, and she said it was way funnier to her the second time.  But by that time it was like watching it for the first time anyway.  Because you have to understand Korean dating culture a bit, and the humor.  Also, you will see all the cameos of baby peeps you love.  PD Joo!!!!

Second Time Additions:

I pretty much stand by the first review, because seriously guys, it is a great movie.  I love how much more I am able catch the second or third time around.  The subtle clues behind her inexplicable behavior, the subtle humor in the different situations, and even just the humor in general, when you understand the dating culture, etc.  Curdy, seeing it for the first time, took everything at face value and was slightly horrified at the abuse that Cha Tae Hyun's character went through as they sort of dated.  This is nice, watching it the first time, especially if you understand more of the jokes.  It is supposed to be ridiculous, because we don't understand the motivations of the characters.  We only know what Cha Tae Hyun knows, and he thinks she is crazy with what he knows, but he still helps her and falls for her, and then when the pieces fall together it's cute.  Watching it multiple times gives you the advantage of noticing the little things that give it away, the little clues.  Anyway, it's just a really fun and great movie, and there is def totes a reason that it is a classic.  Done.  PD Joo!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

266. Ode to Joy 2 欢乐颂 2 (2017) Chinese

Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Wang Zi Wen, Yang Zi, Bridgette Qiao Xin

Drama Rating: 7/10     Neck Score: A

As a continuation of the same story, this one definitely had a darker tone.  It was especially noticeable as I started this one immediately after finishing the last season, because even the filter was much darker.  Also, it went back from the seemingly happy ending implied at the end of season one, and showed that things were much more complicated than they seemed.  People who we thought were getting along weren't yet, and people we thought got back together still had stuff to work on first.  That was confusing, but maybe if I had had a year to wait like everyone who watched them on time, then it might not have been as stark a difference.  It definitely focused on the darker, more complicated sides of everyone's issues.  I actually liked it more for that.

As always, I love how raw and imperfect everyone is.  They are so human and flawed, but that's why it is so nice to see them take care of each other and grow.  Making mistakes, making the same mistake over and over, taking responsibility for their decisions, whether good or bad.  The focus is still on the girls and their personal growth and not necessarily just their romance, although I feel like that was a larger portion of this one, since the relationships all reached new levels in this one.

Can I just say how much I love Bao?  I might have started this whole show, both seasons, because of the spoiler clips I saw of Andie and Bao, which totally explains why I was having none of Bofu... that old Mr. Wei guy who looked 50.  He just wanted to "fix" Andie, while Bao just thought Andie was the best thing ever and already too good for him.  What a difference.  I also just loved the teasing little way he wormed his way into her life and into her heart.  His sexy little dimples!  So unabashedly awesome for her.

As always, Xiao Qu was my favorite little demon, and I liked how she grew in this one.  We saw a much more vulnerable side of her in this season.  She matured a lot, and her relationship with all the girls on the 22nd floor grew a lot as well.  They were on good terms more often.  I did, of course, appreciate how her and Dr. Zhao's relationship took off, became serious, went through the wringer and ended up adorable.  It was a good arch for both of them.

I was really impressed with Ying Ying as she probably grew the most from season one to the end of this season, she really progressed from being immature and complacent, to being a strong power woman who stands up for herself in love and manages a store.  She went through a lot of rocky in between.  I'm not sure how I went from liking her IT boy, to hating him, to liking him again.  I guess I was able to understand their progression as well.

Guan Guan definitely made some improvement as well as she became a more active participant in her own life, as well as these stories.  Darn it, if I didn't relate to her the most this time around, because she was dealing with things I have to deal with daily.  She is just the cutest.

Fan, man slow clap for her.  She really took some big steps in all aspects of her life.  She made me cry the most, but she also grew the most.  Her family drama and personal drama, as always, was dramatic, but she actually progressed this time, instead of just leaning on her man.  She started improving herself and realized that she has to become independent as a person if she is going to be in a happy relationship. She started taking the power woman steps too, and I was so, so proud of her.

So much growth and so much drama.  I really love how this show, in both seasons, is about women.  Normal women who are learning to support themselves and each other.  This is about their growth and mistakes, and success too.  I love that, and I am going to miss watching my girls everyday.  Wah.  I miss them already!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

250. The Perfect Match 極品絕配 (2017) Taiwanese

Chris Wu, Ivy Shao, Ben Wu, Xiao Man, Nylon Chen

Drama Rating: 5/10     Neck Score: A+

This started out really cute and fun, but like most dramas, it got really weird half way in.  Well, actually it started out so cheesy that I couldn't even watch it at first and I had to give it a second chance.  But for Chris Wu and his amazing chin, I did.  It got better for a bit, and then it got crazy.  The typical build of a Taiwanese drama seems to be a series of short but ever increasing dramatic episodes that just build up until you don't even remember how the show started.  Each problem gets resolved quickly enough that you don't hate it too much, but each problem is more ridiculous than the last until you are just watching it to see how the crazy will end.  Fall In Love With Me is the most extreme example of this.  The Perfect Match was no where near as bad, but certainly went full circle in crazy.

**Probably too many SPOILERS ahead, but these are really just how the plot goes.  You can still watch and enjoy if you're into this kind of crazy.**

Friday, July 28, 2017

260. The Best Hit 최고의 한방 (2017) Korean

Yoon Si Yoon, Lee Se Young, Kim Min Jae, Cha Tae Hyun, Yoon Son Ha

Drama Rating: 6/10     Neck Score: A

This show had so much potential.  But it was all over the place.  I think it took too much on itself and then couldn't follow through.  There were so many wonderful characters and situations, but it ended up being just typical and slapped together at the end.  It's a lower middle on my range of disappointment vs. liking of the four dramas early summer dramas we watched together.

It was a weird but interesting premise to start off with.  It started with Ji Hoon (Kim Min Jae) narrating it, so we though his part in the plot would remain important.  In fact Yoo Hyun Jae (Yoon Si Yoon) wasn't introduced in the first few episodes, except at the very end.  There were so many plots that were supposed to be tied together, I wished they had all stayed that important.  I wanted to see way more Bo Hee and Kwang Jae.  I was always down for more Grandpa and Granddaughter stuff too.  Instead, they focused on the love triangle between father and son in a super awkward and lopsided way that was reminiscent of Reply 1988, meaning it gave Lizabreff some Jung Hwan Syndrome.  Well, I guess it was a modified second lead syndrome, because they focused so much on Ji Hoon being in love with Woo Seung while Hyun Jae was falling in love with modern technology, that she ended up shipping them too much.  It's easy to forget the three accidental kisses in one episode at the beginning because they were way too comical to be believed.  The problem was they didn't balance or pace the show well so we didn't know who to root for.  Even I (a die hard Yoon Si Yoon Fan- team Hyun Jae the whole time) would have been fine if Ji Hoon had won, because of how unbalanced the love story was.  The real OTP was Hyun Jae and his phone.  Or even just the BroTP- Hyun Jae and Kwang Jae.

There were so many plots that I wanted to see more of that just fizzled out.  Bo Hee's quest to reenter the entertainment field and her devotion to Hyun Jae (her baby daddy).  Kwang Jae's long time love for Bo Hee, which could have been a pretty funny "love triangle" since 93 Hyun Jae was pre-baby daddy Hyun Jae.  Even Ji Hoon wanting to be an idol sort of fizzled out of importance when all of the sudden it became completely and only about the main couple.  It all went down hill when Woo Seung moved out and Hyun Jae started working at Star Punch.... well not completely, it was still fun and cute.  I loved all the interactions between Hyun Jae and Young Jae.  Him always using his office, etc.  That is just when the focus really got skewed.  It seemed like they sacrificed the purity of the story to the rating gods and turned it into a blase romcom (not that Yoonie in love will ever be blase, he's the cutest thing in all creation).

I just wanted there to be way more focus on Hyun Jae and why he was there, where the money went, and why he did what he did in 93, what happened in 94, and why he disappeared and died.  They managed to cover all of that, but with way less focus and screen time than I wanted.  Kind of rushed it.  Although the meeting of 93 and 94 might have been my favorite thing ever.  Hyun Jae and Hyun Jae is a beautiful thing.  They were the same person, yet not, because they had had different experiences, separate from each other.  Was that too much of a spoiler?  It was a tiny spoiler.  I don't regret that though, because this show doesn't make that much sense the way it jumps around and forgets to update you on people and stuff.  It was almost as bad as a 50 episoder that only had 16 episodes, except it would have been way too draggy if it had been longer.... unless they suddenly wrote it better and gave plenty of time for all the story lines and characters and didn't try to confuse us as to who the OTP was, etc.

So this wasn't as gross of a disappointment as Lookout was (still angry and crying, what the heck!) for me anyway.  Maybe Lizabreff feels differently, as a Team Ji Hoon Girl, but it was definitely not all it could have been, and that's sad.  At least it was still funny and cute until the end, even if it didn't make as much sense.  You all know I would watch any show for Yoon Si Yoon no matter what anyway (literally have a post dedicated to that...)  So points for casting my Yoonie?  JK, I will also watch anything for Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Min Jae too... so great cast, interesting premise, and writing.... wth?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Korean Movie Night: Hyung, aka My Annoying Brother, 형 (2016) Korean

Jo Jung Suk, Do Kyung Soo, Park Shin Hye

Movie rating: 8/10     Neck score: A

Can I just say that the genres assigned to Korean movies are all lies?  They say it's a comedy, and then you're crying by the end.  Such liars!  Well, I guess that's why this one is labelled a comedy drama, which seems like a walking contradiction, but trust me, it does it and does it well.  The situation itself is both comedic and sad, as it is about a conman (Jo Jung Suk) who uses his younger brother's sudden blindness as an excuse to get out on parole.  To make matters worse, his younger brother (Do Kyung Soo) was a judo athlete training for the Olympics when the injury happened.  Talk about depressing right there, but then there is the conman comedic element that makes it also weirdly funny.  It's just a mix of lots of emotions.  Plus you have some of my favorite actors.  I have always had nothing but praise for both of these boys, and their brotherly chemistry is the best.  Bromance between real brothers is the best.  I love seeing families coming together.  I was super impressed with Kyung Soo's ability to act blind.  I believed it.  I also loved how they look enough alike to be half brothers.   They were just great.  Park Shin Hye was... okay.  Like usual.  I liked the pace of the story, as well as the comedy.  The timing was pretty great.  Then the emotions!  Wah!  So many emotions!  All the emotions in the world!  I think I might have felt them all!  Haha, maybe an exaggeration, but hey, I am obsessed with these boys.  Jo Jung Suk makes me feel things.  It was definitely a good one that I would recommend watching, especially if you happen to love these boys as much as I do.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

265. Ode to Joy 欢乐颂 (2016) Chinese

Liu Tao, Jiang Xin, Wang Zi Wen, Yang Zi, Bridgette Qiao Xin

Drama Rating: 7/10     Neck Score: A

I started on this late, as I saw everyone tweeting about season 2, but I had been planning on watching it since back when I watched When a Snail Falls in Love.  But it was better than I thought it would be, because it is a girl power show.  The show is about the girls and not necessarily about the romance.  It takes forever for them to introduce the men, and I love it.  It totally passes the Bechdel Test as it certainly has more than two women in it and they all talk to each other about things besides men.  Not that they don't talk about men, they certainly do that too, but that is not necessarily what the show is about.  It is about their friendships, family, struggles, growth, and also about love.

It is about five women who live on the 22nd floor of the Ode to Joy apartment building.  Three of them are roommates renting the middle apartment.  The other two own the apartments on either end.  Each comes from a very different background and each has a very different personality.  I found myself relating to Andie and Xiao Qu the most, but I still related and loved them all.  I related to Andie's logical frankness, and Xiao Qu's not caring and saying/doing whatever she wants attitude.  I see myself in Guan Guan as I overwork myself and never actually try to get in a relationship.  I'm definitely Ying Ying when she is pulling those faces and bouncing off the walls to cheer people up.  I related the least to Fan Jie, as she's a drama queen, but I still can see myself being the mother hen advice giver all the same.  And who isn't a little materialistic, huh?  Basically what I'm saying is that I loved them all and I cared about them all.

I also loved how it addressed issues that women face in general and especially in China.  Issues such as male/son favoritism, marriage over careers, materialism, and cyber bullying, as well as other general problems such as whistle blowing, becoming a full time employee, blind dates, adoption, and mental illness.  This also meant that I was going to get super angry that these situations existed and that our girls had to struggle through them.  I practically screamed every time that Fan's family was on screen.  They're the worst!

It was definitely not a perfect drama.  It is prone to be over dramatic, and the need for a narrator to tell us the inner thoughts of our girls was a bit silly.  I was a bit wary of how they talked about mental illness and how big a deal it was.  But overall I just loved it and was super excited for season two, which I started the minute I had finished season one.  That was weird.  Talk about change in tone and filters.  But if you are looking for a good girl show (not a perfect one, but still progressive) then I do recommend this one.