Stairway to Heaven – 2003

19 06 2011

I know I am going way back with this one, but it was on several other peoples Best K Drama lists.  So I dove in one warm evening, wishing I had the new episodes of Greatest Love, but whatever, I was pleasantly surprised the first episode was filled with such evil characters I couldn’t help but be a bit mesmerized.   The classic retelling of Cinderella even more so than Shining Inheritance.  The second episode really excited me because I thought Yes!  Cinderalla should have had a 2nd man in it.  A good but disconnected step brother that connected to Cinderella and one who helped to save her too.

I loved the characters all played by their young counterpart… Park Shin Hye (of YB fame) Baek Sung Hyun, and Lee Wan.  I was less excited by the adult version of the characters.  My least favorite was Choi Ji Woo as Jung Suh.  She screamed entirely toooooo much.  By the 10th episode she seriously made me want to turn it off.  As compassionate as I felt for her, I just couldn’t take her constant screaming.  Shin Hyun Joon as Tae Hwa was interesting, but he has such a unique look and feel that he didn’t seem to match the younger version I already had fallen for.  It wasn’t until the end of the series that he really came back around for me and I really liked him.  Kwon Sang Woo as Song Ju was great and seemed to match up to his youth version most closely.

I feel like I spent too much time with the childhood version of these characters, so I wanted the adult versions to match up.  I found it distracting the entire series and really frustrating, especially with Jung Suh… they can’t use Park Shin Hye who is so distinct and then replace her with a girl that doesn’t have the same look and feel.  Argh!!!

Plus this was made in 2003 so I don’t know if that is why, but the other two big huge complaints would be that….

1.  They needed to edit…. Seriously the chase or find scenes were way, way too long.  I could go to the bathroom and make a meal before someone would find someone they were looking for.  They had a flashback or 3 every episode…. argh.  I could go on and on and on.  I’ve never fastforwarded through as much of a series as I did this one.  Now that may lead you to the question, then why didn’t you just stop watching?  Well, because I did want to know how it would turn out.  Seriously the first few episodes were so good that you couldn’t just walk away from the characters, but at the same time, I kept wishinng this series was like 12 episodes rather than the torturous 20.

2.  Lots of bad technical stuff.  I counted atleast 5 times that the boom mics were visible.  Really, this is rank amateur stuff.

Overall, I can see why people liked this, and yes it is emotional, whether you want to be involved or not, I cried buckets of tears through this series.  But in the end, I wish I hadn’t started it…. way too sad, way too long, and way miscast!

Grade: D

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What Happened in Bali – 2004 & Dirty Carnival 2006

13 06 2011

Something Happened in Bali, also known as What happened in Bali stars the lead from Secret Garden Ha Ji Won.  I think I would have liked her more in Secret Garden if I had seen this series first, but maybe because I have seen her in that it helped me like her so much in this.  I loved Ha Ji Won in WHIB, she was plucky, spirited and I could relate to her attraction to both men.

This series also stars Jo In Sung, who I recently saw in Dirty Carnival or Mean Street, a movie that was really awesome BTW.   Jo In Sung made that film and in similar fashion his presence here was unspeakable.  He moves the screen with every scene he is in.  He isn’t afraid to show every emotion with skilled acting.  His charisma is like a drug and gives me the same feeling I had toward Lee Min Ho in BOFs.  Jo In Sung displays that same unbridled passion and I can’t help but swoon.

So Ji Sub plays Kang In Wook, though I’ve never seen him before, he was very, very nice to look at and hope to see him in future shows.  Kang In Wook always kept me guessing and was a much more layered character than I originally expected.  Though he often didn’t speak much, he conveyed so much through his slight facial expressions and I felt for him.

Park Ye Jin rounds out the fourth lead as Choi Young Joo and for several episodes I kept wondering where I knew her name from.  I looked up her list of films and none really rang a bell for me – yet her name seemed so familiar.  I finally made the connection that she was one of the family members on the variety show Family Outing.  She was so different here that it took me quite a while to make the connection, but seeing her in this makes seeing her in Family Outing lots more fun.  As a side note, Family Outing is a show I just continue to watch and enjoy as I know more Korean celebs it just gets funnier and funnier.

Overall this show has a slower pace, it can even get a little one note at times, but it also has some amazing chemistry and really made me feel more for the characters than I have in a long time.  I think it is entirely worth the slow moments and the gut wrenching ending.  If you haven’t seen it -watch it, if you have lets chat about it…

I really loved all four leads for different reasons and related to each one and where they were coming from.  For the longest time, I really found a charm to both lead men and wasn’t sure which way things were going to go or who would eventually couple with who.  After the first episode I thought maybe Jae Min and In Wook were going to fight over Young Joo.  It kept you guessing and the writers would just start to show a spark between two of the characters and then they would go the other way with the other two characters.  The first 10 episodes just bounced me around like a shoe in a dryer.  I mean it in a good way because as much as you hate it, you also loved the back and forth. But by the tenth episode I was craving more. Even in hindsight you realize  that Soo Jung and Jae Min were falling in love, but they didn’t really let you totally know.  Even when she was preparing dinner for Jae Min she was thinking of In Wook, but when she was with In Wook she would be drawn to Jae Min.

I don’t have too many complaints about this series, mostly superficial things mostly related to the fact I am watching this 7 years after its release.  My biggest complaint would be that they could have cut out a bit of the back and forth to develop relationships, or better put, to let the viewer enjoy the relationship with Jae Min and Soo Jung, but I know they didn’t want to reveal too much too early either.  The second big complaint would be the weird fashion choices from everyone, but a stand out was Jae Min’s fashion…. His outfits left me wondering if flares were  “in” in Korea in 2004.  In general he just had some really weird, ugly clothing… the jean sports jacket.  ugh! I also felt bad for Young Joo and they never gave her a break.  It would have been nice to see her atleast turn vengefully on Jae Min too and walk away with her pride.

What really worked in this series was the incredible acting of all the leads with a particular nod to Jo In Sung.  I also loved the heat and chemistry between Jae Min and Soo Jung, even though they really didn’t have many physical scenes, just a few kisses, man they were hot not even in the actual on screen action, but you could just feel the heat between them and the heaviness if your chest.  I was telling one of my friends what is wrong with me… Between two guys, both cute, one stoic, but kind, the other wealthy, crazy, abusive with a tendency for psychotic behavior and I am all about the crazy… jeeesh what does that say about women?  or worse yet, me??

If you want to long, hurt, or just feel …than I suggest you try this series, if you aren’t into it by the 3rd or 4th episode you can give it up, but I just loved it.  It is the first series in a long time to crack into my TOP 10 of all time best K dramas.  If you haven’t checked out my list it is in the tab for Best of … lists.  or here is the link…  https://kormerica.wordpress.com/best-of-lists/…. actually it came dangerously close to cracking the top 5.  Although I think someone is about to get bumped because I am 8 episodes in on Greatest Love and am totally loving it!!! Doh!

The ending was a little hard to swallow.  I loved the conversation between In Wook and Soo Jung, loved it, loved it, loved it, but then just boom, boom.  I just wanted to go back a few minutes and tell Jae Min to figure it out.  Of course she loved him, couldn’t he feel it too.  argh!  Heartwrenching.  I just didn’t want it to end, but I guess in the end how was it ever going to be alright between them anyway.   I leave this series, a huge fan of Jo In Sung, he just made this series for me.  I know I mentioned that he actually reminds me of my feeling toward Lee Min Ho, just a different age group and they use the same passion and intensity to draw you in. They aren’t afraid to go for unattractive to be at their most attractive. The thing I am most excited for is that he, Jo In Sung, was just released from the military and to say that I can’t wait to see him in his next project is a huge understatment!!! argh!!! can’t wait to see him in something new.  Overall grade: A-

Trailer for Dirty Carnival…





My Girlfriend is a Gumiho – 2010

30 05 2011

Aka.. My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox,  내 여자친구는 구미호or  Nae Yeojachinguneun Gumiho is the latest from the Hong Sisters.  After their last show, You’re Beautiful, I had high expectations.  That is probably terribly unfair to this cute and fun show.   This was light hearted fair and didn’t have me racing to the next episode, but I did enjoy the series and once again loved Lee Seung Gi, although he was better near the end and showed more depth both as a character and an actor.  I got a little tired of his cute good guy act and can’t wait for him to eventually take a role that really shows his acting chops.

This is the first time I’ve seen Shin Min Ah although I had heard of her from the T.O.P. girlfriend rumors awhile back.  She is very cute and though I grew to like her I wasn’t blown away by her as an actor or character.  I think she could have gone farther with the scary Gumiho stuff, but kept it all pretty tame and he big cry scene made me cringe instead of cry, but she is very cute and had some definite charm.

No Min Woo, of Pasta fame also had his second showing for me here.  It was great to see him in an expanded role and he was cute as ever. I can’t lie, he made Hyun Joong seem like an actor of depth and deep feeling, so wooden isn’t even strong enough but occasionally you could just glimpse something beneath the surface that gives me lots of hope for future roles.  I could never totally get a handle on who he was in this drama, not really a second man, not a villian.  Maybe he didn’t know either and that is why he just stood with a hollow look most of the time.  And he is much more attractive when he shakes off the perfect structure of hair and makeup and you can actually see him as a person come through.  Anyway, here’s hoping to see more of him in the future.

My favorite character was Sung Dong Il, as the director.  He was hilarious and super funny.

If you like Hong Sisters dramas, you will no doubt like this too.  It was cute and enjoyable, probably just a notch under Sungkyun Kwan Scandal for me.  It just felt like the Hong Sisters hadn’t quite thought through who these characters were and what they were bringing to the story rather than it being story driven with some cute moments and characters thrown in. Overall Grade B.





The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry – 2010

28 05 2011

It took me a really long time to finish this series, which frankly is never a good sign.  I thought it would be a light Korean version of Sex and the City or friends type genre, but it just wasn’t that fun. Basically 3 single women and a small cast of men that weren’t that impressive either.  Frankly I would take the guy from episode 1 that proposed to her.

Kim Bum of Boys Over Flowers fame starred in this and though he was likeable he didn’t do much for me.  Actually he should have, I loved his dark brooding wardrobe and style, but he just misses it for me.  He reminds me of an American Keanu Reeves, kinda rat like eyes.  His face is too tiny, I prefer a man with big broad features, more the jumong variety.

Anyway, though I know lots of people really liked this series but for me it barely registered a meh.  Plus I’m an old fashioned girl, so I wasn’t crazy about the May/December romances.

I’d give it a 4 out of 10 and tell you to skip it.





White Tower – 2007

19 03 2011

I just finished the 1st eight episodes of White Tower and was totally into this heavy medical drama.  It was at times riviting and at times a bit slow, but overall I am enjoying it!  Basically any series that has Kim Myung Min (of Beethoven Virus) and Lee Sun Gyun (of Pasta, My Sweet City, & Coffee Prince) as the leads is a winner for me.  I love both of these actors and if you have read my comments on any of the series they are in I have no trouble going on and on about them.  I have only seen Kim Myung Min in Beethoven Virus so I have a lot of respect for him after seeing him in another role and completely embodying it.  He was more dynamic in White Tower but just as commanding.  Lee Sun Gyun was more muted and this wasn’t my favorite role for him.  Even his glorious voice made little impact here.

In the first 8 episodes they complete an entire story and left me very satisfied, but just at that moment of comfort they flip the script and make my Dr. Jang the arrogant bad guy.  Noooooo, I don’t want him to be the bad guy.  Oh you writers, how could you do that and then you want to flip the script again….. argh!!!!

Overall, this was a good medical/legal drama; almost no romance, and very little humor but gritty and enthralling.  I would give this a solid B.

So here is my big complaint though!  argh!  I hated Dr. Lee’s daughter, I was annoyed by her political activism, basically a spoiled rich girl that wants to fight for the poor.  boo hooo, whatever.  She pushed that girl into the lawsuit but herself had nothing to lose if they failed, which you know initially they did and it tore up that family.  She kept pushing and kept pushing Do Young, Dr. Yeom and Nurse Yoo.  The victim should have settled, she would have won a monetary settlement and everyone else would have been spared the emotional distress of the courtroom battle.  I know – maybe it isn’t right to feel that way because her husband did die a horrible death and it was completely due to negligence, but oh I wanted to hit her and her stupid hair and tooth.  argh!

Here’s an adorable clip of KMM with his family, his son is beyond cute!





Queen of Reversals 2010

16 03 2011

I made several entries as I watched this series; so here they are all together.  Definitely big, huge spoilers included so if you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now.  

I just watched the first episode of the Queen of Reversals and I really liked it.  For a 1st episode it moved fast, drew me in and kept me interested.  Jung Jun Ho from IRIS was really cute, even though I liked him in Iris I wasn’t head over heels for him, but I liked him immediately in this series.  Kim Nam Joo the lead was interesting, I am totally intrigued by her nude color lipstick.  Looks great on her, makes me want to run out and buy a tube, but I doubt it would look good on me.  I have not seen Queen of Housewives, but will add to my list and have read that you don’t need to have seen it to enjoy this series.  Chae Jung Ahn from Coffee Prince was evil in the first episode and I already love seeing her out of the nicey nice role she played in Coffee Prince.  Though the first few episodes were hardly unpredictable and had many of the expected twists and turns… but what has made this special so far is that what can take another series a whole season takes place in an episode or two…so far I’m loving it.  About time we mention Park Shi Hoo!  I have seen him in Il Jimae and What Planet are you from.  He was a bit flat in both roles, but some excellent eye candy.  I am looking forward to seeing him in a meatier role and seeing if he has acting chops.

Okay, things slowed down for a bite, but are starting to heat back up by episode 7.  My next stop is episode 16 – okay…. so the dance routine by Park Shi Hoo, um can I just say omo…. I was equal parts embarrassed, laughing, and thoroughly attracted to him all in the same moment.  I’m still embarrassed thinking about it upon reflection now… I almost could have been okay, but the shirt rip at the end, almost did me in.. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.  Maybe this is a lost in translation thing (and don’t get me wrong, he looked hot) but wow… I’m not sure that translated well, was it supposed to be funny?  Plus I can’t stop myself, of course, he looked like Rain and danced to Usher, so I’ve decided to call him Rusher… ha, ha, ha…

Kim Chang Wan, who plays the guy with cancer is awesome!! His performance was so touching and endearing.  He was also in Il Jimae and he is also in White Tower, which I am watching now.  Just love this guy, character actor and can completely change from role to role.

Okay, so not to be so brief on such a long series, but it was really good.  I loved all the main actors, loved the supporting actors, loved the villains, loved it!  The story was cohesive and didn’t trail too far off course – yes it had some slow points and meandered near the end for awhile, (you could tell the series went on extension) they were stretching for all they could and then the last episode seemed weirdly sped up.  They jump a year and plop the whole back story of that year on you in the first few minutes.   Plus I really thought that Tae Hee and Jun Soo were going to end up together.  Not that I didn’t want her with Yong Shik, I guess it isn’t often that you see a series in Korea or America where the initial couple seem like they are going to get back together for 30 episodes and then they don’t.  But I have to say it was refreshing to see the #2 guy actually get the girl.  I guess that expectation in the back of my head made it a little hard to really be happy for Tae Hee and Yong Shik in the end.  I needed more closure earlier for Tae Hee and Jun Soo; before the very last episode would have been nice.  I was fairly confused with the first few minutes of that last episode.  And Yeo Jin should have ended up with that cop, he was cute and he spoke such good english.  They could have introduced someone new for Jun Soo.   Whatever, it was fine, everyone was happy.  That being said and despite all the good things about it, it just fell a little flat for me.  Overall it was a great cast and a good story; started out stronger than it finished.  Grade – B+
P.S. I personally thought Park Shi Hoo was great as a lead.  Totally engaging, can’t really comment on his acting because he is so stinking cute who cares.  I would gladly sign up for another 31 episodes of him ;-O  and I also want to mention that Kim Nam Joo is one lucky girl, she is married to Kim Seung Woo, the hot guy who played the North Korean in IRIS… wow, they make a blistering couple.  Anyway, I also realized that I never posted my comments on IRIS, so I am pulling those out and trying to finish them up as well.





Assorted Gems 2009

8 01 2011

 

Assorted Gems

I was reading over reviews for kdramas for the 2009 year and several had recommended Assorted Gems or Jewel Bibimbap.  I can honestly say that despite the positive reviews I was hesitant at best when I started this.  I didn’t think I would like a family drama with so many characters, it seemed a bit overwhelming at 50 episodes, and I didn’t recognize any of the actors.  But I jumped in despite myself.

 

30 episodes later, I have really enjoyed this drama.  It isn’t ground breaking, but it does have some unchartered territory for me.  Specifically using an American actor as one of the main supporting cast.  I can’t help but enjoy this money grubbing family.  That part is just hilarious.

50 episodes later, I am going to try my best to remain calm, but major spoiler alert forthcoming.

All of the actors are good looking and believable as a family.  The American Michael Blunck gets better as the series goes on, in the beginning though I cringed at all the eye closing when he spoke, but he relaxed into the role and one couldn’t help but like him.  I always laughed when he slipped into the southern California surfer voice.

Some of the story lines were left undeveloped and that is always so frustrating to me.  But equally frustrating is the storyline that won’t go away or wrap up.  Coral and his wife just sort of dropped off, Ruby’s ex-fiancée just wouldn’t go away.

By the end, I can say it was okay, but I am left frustrated… overall grade is a C-.

The good stuff

  1. Hong Yoo Jin as Lee Tae Ri, the mother of Yeong Guk (or Jade’s husband).  She moved me to tears on many occasions; she just went with it all the way.
  2. Choi Ah Jin as Seo Kkeut Soon or Jade’s husband’s little sister.  I didn’t like her in the beginning at all, but her emotional output through the scenes with her mother were so moving and her tears so heartfelt.
  3. The cute chemistry between Jade and Yeong Guk
  4. All of the parents and especially the Grandmas, they were hilarious.

The bad stuff

1.  Argh!! I was so frustrated that Ruby and Kyle never got together, really!  Beyond frustrated, even to the very end, I was waiting for Kyle to rush into their wedding and leave her fiancée once again at the altar.  For this huge disappointment the series deserves an F, not only that, but her fiancée was an idiot and the mother was a witch.  Ruby should have stuck to her guns and sent them packing, she was worth more than those two and the series didn’t do a good job of showing that she was ever really into him after the first round.

As an American, #1 was such a huge issue that I can’t even go on…. Argh!!!!! Frustrated!