Jewel in the Palace – 2003

12 08 2011

I’m not really sure what made me start this.  I guess I just wanted to watch something that had a huge following and huge ratings.  This had both and after 54 episodes I can see why.  The cooking and medical stuff really interested me as well.  It gave me lots to think about and I wonder why medical professionals today don’t spend more time on the pulse.

This historical drama was just a really interesting story.  Touching and inspiring it had a ton of heart.  At times it reminded me of an American soap opera with all the eye movement and side way glances, but I loved every soapy minute.

Lee Young Ae stars as Jang Geum and she alone is worth watching.  I absolutely love her!  I knew her from the movie Lady Vengeance which is the third in the trilogy by director Park Chan-Wook.  This trilogy also includes Oldboy.  If you haven’t seen either of these films you are missing out.  Dark and violent, but they will leave an impact. 

This series is light on romance, but the romance it does have is really poignant.  Ji Jin Hee of Dong Yi, was excellent here and I loved seeing him outside of the Dong Yi role (couldn’t take him being a stupid sentimentalist anymore).

As an interesting side note, 3 of the actresses from Be Strong Geum Soon were in this.

Well, this is definitely worth watching and I would give it an 8 out of 10.  Good writing, good acting, and kept my interest over a long run.


Boys Over Flowers – 2009

17 07 2011

So what is the appeal? What made millions of us fly into a tizzy over this series? I am in the process of re-watching it and I can honestly say that it still remains a mystery. Yet I am still drawn to it and continue to wish for things about the series because you do become so invested in the characters. Lee Min Ho just draws you in, but after 3 episodes I know he hasn’t even really begun to work his magic.

I asked a friend of mine to watch it as well, so she just started and I am hoping her objective opinion will give me some new insights into this crazy crack addiction we call BOF.

Episode 4…. Now we are getting somewhere.  They say goodbye to Ji Hoo, but we get to say hello to some quality time with Jun Pyo.  WooHoooo!  Just minutes into the episode he does the beloved scene of leaning toward Jan Di at the car and telling her some unheard statement.  Oh to know what he said!! Love this and basically my feeling is that if you make it to this point in the series, buckle your seat belt because you won’t be able to stop now.

As we leave episode 4 how could it get better, oh yes, how about a romantic “save me” moment to start ep 5 followed by a scenario all women dream of… being taken first on a shopping spree than a private jet whisks you and your best friend away to a beautiful paradise.  We won’t mention the weird choice of clothing for both Joon Pyo or Jan Di… ha.

While in Caledonia we get to enjoy the beautiful scenery and I love the tension that builds between the characters.  Let’s try and erase the image of the volleyball scene.  Not only are the outfits beyond bad, but clearly this wasn’t any of the boys better sports.

Oh the betrayal – how could Jan Di or Ji Hoo do that to Jun Pyo?  I was ready to throttle them both into the ocean.

Ji Hoo and Jan Di date…. I love the expression on Hyun Joong’s face when he gets dissed on his kiss attempt.  Perfect.  Ha.

By episode 7 things are finally all working out and then Jan Di starts avoiding Jun Pyo… why?

In episode 9 we finally get the kiss we have been waiting for… Jan Di finally doesn’t turn away.  Geesh about time.

The best kiss of the entire series comes in ep 10 in the street.  I love Lee Min Ho’s walk.  Makes me want to rip off his coat.

Then we get to the modeling stuff… ugh!  I wish they would have skipped this, but whatever…

Basically, you really get caught up, but things start to unravel to some extent in the second half of the series.  Though I continued the addiction in full force, I wished for more with every episode.

And here is the biggest gripe, I hate the ending.  why… why…why… they could have just had her and him have one happy moment in the end to finish a beautiful story, but no… she slowly creeps to him on the beach.  This ridiculously handsome, wealthy man that has been waiting 4 yrs comes with ring in hand and you just smirk.  Ugh!! why couldn’t they have given me something, anything, but no.  Just this stupid scene.

Anyway, overall this is an addictive series and the best of the Jap, Taiwanese or Korean versions… I have seen both Hana Yori Dango and Meteor Garden.  Each series has its strengths.  BOF has the best male lead though HYD’s Matsumoto would be a close second, he has that same odd appeal.  My favorite female lead goes to HYD, Makino is my favorite female lead of the three by far.  She is totally adorable and by far the least annoying.  Even Meteor Garden has some fun features and I the best theme song, but of the three it gets the most slow and is more outdated.

As one of the first series I watched it definitely solidified my love of k-dramas ad despite quite a few missteps it still sits relatively high on my favorite Kdramas of all time list.

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

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……. 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.

Mother – K Movie – 2009

5 04 2011

Starring Kim Hye Ja, the Queen from Goong.  Obviously that series didn’t even scratch the surface of what Kim Hye Ja has to offer as an actress.  She is amazing in the role as the Mother a truly Oscar worthy performance.  The son, Do Joon is played by Won Bin.  Won Bin was amazing as I could never really figure out if Do Joon was slow, or just strange, or what he was.  He played the character to perfection, never breaking, never did you even see a glimmer of who the actor really is, he was completely the character to much eerie effect.  I haven’t seen Won Bin in any other series or movie, but have obviously seen the cute commercials he is in with Shin Min Ah and he is so far from this character, I never would have linked the two.  Bong Joon Ho directed the film and though I haven’t seen any of his other much tauted works he is obviously extremely talented.  Some of the imagery and the overall tone of the film were exquisite.  One scene showed two cherry tomatoes rolling around a plate that totally unsettled me.  The film is a perfect balance of credibility and a balance between the simple and the complex.  I never felt sure of myself or of anything the entire time I watched it. With incredible depth, cinematography, acting, tone… I could go on and on…  This film is a good representation of some of the most exquisite elements that seem so unique to Korean film.   Jin Goo as Jin Tae was also amazing (per norm, I love a bad boy) , and the cops, one of them was from IRIS, Yun Je Mun.

Basically I can’t believe this lost out to Thirst for the Academy Award selection.  Great film for those that like the Korean film or just enjoy great film making.

Rating:  9 out of 10.

Trailer for Mother..