Friday Drama Review: “The Master’s Sun”

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The Hong Sisters strike again with a quirky fantasy-style romantic comedy.

 

 

 

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

master's touchThe Master’s Sun was one of the new ‘Ghost Dramas’ of the season. Tae Gong-sil suffers an accident and is left with the unwanted ability to see ghosts. Alone, and suffering from insomnia (those pesky specters just won’t leave her be!), she finds solace in an unlikely source: the loveless, money-grubbing Joo Joong-won, CEO of  a large company. For reasons unknown, his touch can dispel the ghosts that frighten the timid Tae Gong-sil. Once she discovers his unique gift, she doesn’t want to let him go. Joong-won, however, is not so happy about the company of a crazy-looking young woman, until he comes to believe in her gift, and finds that she might be useful.   Script/Acting: My Rating 8/10 Definitely less serious than Who Are You, the other ghost drama, The Master’s Sun was quirky and fun. Following the ‘new style’, early episodes stood out as mini stories, based on the problems caused by the ghosts following Tae Gong-sil around like stray cats. She reluctantly, but patiently solves the problems, and in doing so, helps develop the characters around her as well as the main plot line.  CEO Joo Joong-won has ghosts of his own: a heinous kidnapping incident when he was younger left his girlfriend dead, right before his eyes. Because of the torture he endured during the experience, he was left unable to read. But things were not all they seem… Masters_Sun_taeGong Hyo-jin (Flower Boy Ramen Shop, Pasta) was Tae Gong-shil. She was amusingly convincing as a sleep-deprived, gloomy young woman who was once considered to be someone with a bright future. In fact, her nickname “Big Sun”, came not only from her name, (태양 = sun in Korean), but her sunny personality. Her comical fixation and lack of modesty when it came to interactions with Joong-won was deliciously refreshing. masterSo_Ji_Sub_1Joo Joong-won was portrayed as an emotionally stunted, no-nonsense businessman by So Ji-sub (What Happened in Bali; I’m Sorry, I Love You). His fascinatingly deadpan presentation style was effective. His offhand “Get lost” (thematic throughout the series) combined with an arrogant hand-flip became iconic. The chemistry between the two was interesting, but not ideal. While the two actors played off each other well, romantically, they seemed mismatched.   master kang wooSeo In-guk (Love Rain, Reply 1997) returned to the screen as Kang Woo, security guard chief with a mysterious agenda. Easily one of the best characters of the drama, Kang Woo was complex character whose agenda kept the viewers guessing. His one-sided love for Tae Gong-sil was more credible than Joong-won – Tae Gong-sil pairing. His interactions with Kim Yoo-ri (Cheongdam-dong Alice, Coffee House) were one of the highlights of the drama. master funny faceKim Yoo-ri played “Little Sun” to Tae Gong-sil’s “Big Sun”. Portraying ‘top star’ Tae Yi-ryung, her character was comically jealous of the earlier version of Tae Gong-sil and reveled in Tae Gong-sil’s decline from glory. Her mission is life was to make Tae Gong-sil miserable for past percieved injustices, but she ended up falling in love with Kang Woo, instead. MAsters_Sun_Secretary_KimChoi Jung-woo put in an exemplary performance as Joong-won’s secretary Kim Gui-do. As an avid supporter of the relationship between Tae Gong-sil and Joong-won, he fills in as a father-figure to the cold man for whom he works.     master ghostCinematography: My Rating 7/10 Fun and interesting special effects were visually stimulating. The ghosts ‘morphed’ from frightening, evil characters to somewhat-less-frightening and sometimes pathetic ghouls, looking for assistance. Great use of lighting throughout added to the drama without being overwhelming.   Music: My Rating 8/10 A far more ambitious and extensive track list is available for “The Master’s Sun” than for most dramas (including instrumentals). A wonderful ballad: “Day and Night” Gummy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqnGBWAW7wQ master touchingTied for best song of the drama?: “You and I” Hong Dae-Kwang http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djTs2oIssUg “Driving Me Crazy” Hyo Rin (Sistar)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-WlBVRrkJU Best song of the drama?: “TouchLove” T Yoon Mi-rae http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5DiFqiOGJg The rock song of the drama: “Mystery” Jung Dong-Ha (Boohwal) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYLY7sgSXIQ Love this, too: “All About” Melody Day  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOwXuU949_8 “No Matter What” Seo In-guk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tDKyIn8LhA “Last One” Yoo Mi feat. Joo Suk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgvn9fW-kFM Masters_Sun_get lost(Instrumental) “Joogoon’s Song” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2yg-fQ_iQ (Instrumental) “Good Morning, Mrs. Sun” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc38PCOEUkw (Instrumental) –excellent guitar riffs – “Who Are You?” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeG1ZPFJi3I (Instrumental) “Out of the Ghost” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FydUukYp2uA (Instrumental) “Ghost Eyes” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz0Xm8K1TCw master4-00169(Instrumental) “This Is Me” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-5nMCVZ2As

Fun, fun fun!!!: (Instrumental) “Enjoy the Party” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5rasv5yz8g

Pretty piano piece: (Instrumental) “In Memories” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B9JXYg20ck (Instrumental) “Tears in Rain” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPgMF2eJwEQ Instrumental version of “Touch Love”: (Instrumental) “Candy Love” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCzMcMJY25c (Instrumental) “Love Connection” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFu96TL6nYA master hand(Instrumental) “Ghost Tango” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YT1mXLV7iM (Instrumental) “Empty Garden” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9EjO6-GaVI (Instrumental) “Keep Out” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIKsgkhtT0k Halloween music??? (Instrumental) “Dangerous Zone” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjNF2gum1zI (Instrumental) “Painful Memory” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B9JXYg20ck master grab(Instrumental) “Ghost Presents” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB8PZGf39to (Instrumental) “Love is like a picture” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HODM9TvCbsA (Instrumental) “Feather Kiss” Oh Joon-sung Sweetest of sweet melodies: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ_pCoW3f74&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “White Flower” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWA_QAKDvck&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “Ghost World” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEEsKQrdags (Instrumental) “Foolish Spy” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFtN9W1xv7c&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU master kang woo(Instrumental) “Sad Wave” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1noGDmwDiQ (Instrumental) “Water in the Sky” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_73uPq8iBQ&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU Silliness at it’s best: (Instrumental) “Like a Mosquito” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRR0ZbyYlwQ&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “Making Shadow” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0pE_Rg8Flk&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU (Instrumental) “High Jump” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RGcFsPk-Aw&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU “Lake Wave” Oh Joon-sung http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J147aeXPqeg&list=PLWtMrZbBUq2o8jKOhs_4AiOq4XJVwtyZU   Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10 The Master’s Sun was yet another drama that ended leaving me wondering ‘what the heck happened?’ The drama was progressing nicely and then, like a crash-landing, everything was rolled up, the lights were turned off, and everyone went home. Perhaps it was meant to be an enigmatic ending, but several loose ends were dropped leaving the viewer with a less than satisfactory conclusion to the series. Aside from the weak ending, The Master’s Sun was one of the dramas that held my interest throughout. I eagerly awaited new episodes and ran to my computer as soon as they became available. So Ji-sub and Seo In-guk? How could it not be pleasant viewing? 😉

Happy Drama Watching!

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Friday Drama Review: “Who Are You?” (후아유)

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Crime, romance, fantasy and action combine to create an absorbing drama with appealing characters. So what if some of them are not quite alive?…

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

Detective Yang Shi-on awakens from a six-year coma to find her memory gone and the ability to see ghosts as an unusual replacement. Her coma was caused by an accident sustained in the line of duty but, upon awakening, Shi-on is unable to recall the events surrounding her injury. So she relegates herself to the Lost and Found Division – something of a no-man’s-land for career-oriented cops, but a welcome respite for haunted, memory-deprived young woman. Besides, the objects in the Lost and Found Division seem to draw her, and have interesting stories that her unique capabilities are able to unravel.

who are you funHer partner, Cha Gun-woo, recently demoted to the Lost and Found department, is less enthusiastic about being relegated to this dead-end job and is eager to find a way out. His new partner is an ‘odd bird’ who seems to have some secret source of information that helps solve crimes, but who would believe the truth?

He becomes intrigued with her unusual crime-solving sense and, eventually trusts her ability. Gun-woo begins to fall for her mystique and charms, but, unfortunately, his rival in love is none other than her dead lover.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 7/10

The mini-story does, indeed, seem to be the flavor of the season, and Who Are You? is a drama particularly well suited to the popular approach. Short stories, based on objects brought to the Police Department’s Lost and Found Division, are told over the course of a few episodes – with ghostly interference! These stories serve as the vehicle for character development as the main plot-line slowly evolves.

Who-Are-You16So Yi-hyun (Cheongdadong Alice, You’ve Fallen for Me) was well cast as Detective Yang Shi-on. Her demeanor is suited to the somewhat melancholy and self-reflective characteristics needed for Shi-on’s character. Her portrayal of the confusion and pain surrounding her memory loss, the eventual regain, and the odd love triangle was surprisingly credible, given the incredible (and somewhat humorous) circumstances. If her chemistry with Taecyeon was less than perfect, it seemed more of a personality difference in the scripting than the acting. The authenticity of her love for Kim Jae-wook’s character (Detective Lee Hyung-joon 어빠), was heart-wrenching.

Who-Are-You10Ok Taecyeon (2PM band member), is no newcomer to the small screen, with hits like Dream High and Cinderella’s Sister under his belt. His role as Detective Cha Gun-woo was another serious role role for him, although it also afforded him opportunities to show off his silly side. The character was appealing, but he felt a bit too young for the part. His boyish looks make him more suited to younger roles. Perhaps his youthful appearance contributed to slightly off mix between the two main stars.

Who-Are-You12On the other hand, Kim Jae-wook (Mary Stayed Out All Night, Bad Guy), most definitely seems mature enough to be the love interest of Detective Yang Shi-on. Walking a precarious line between the living and the dead, Kim Jae-wook was required to play multiple personalities: the affable, loving, Detective Lee Hyung-joon of Shi-on’s memory, her 어빠 (oppa), and the stoic, sad ghost, guarding Shi-on, and leading the detectives to the criminals responsible for the crime ring that caused everyone so much pain.

tvn_Who_Are_You_bc4Veteran Kim Chang-wan (Queen of Reversals, What’s Up) has been very active lately, with supporting roles in a couple of other current dramas as well: Good Doctor and The End of the World. As Detective Choi Moon-shik, he played the field, leaving the audience wondering if he was a good guy or a bad guy. Brilliantly scripted, the actor managed to straddle the fence quite convincingly.

no young-hakNo Young-hak (Shark, 7th Grade Civil Servant) was the comic relief of the drama. Playing Im Seung-chan, a love-struck young detective, undoubtedly doomed to be a  permanent fixture in the Lost and Found Division, he nonetheless wielded his small authority with gusto. A scheming, but well-meaning, young man, Sung-chan’s character was the one that made you laugh and slap your head in frustration at the same time.

tvn_Who_Are_You_bc6Kim Ye-Won (Innocent Man, I Need Romance) was Jang Hee-bin (yes, really), the object of Sung-chan’s affections and a woman of unusual talent: she, too, can see and communicate with ghosts. Putting her talent to materialistic use, she assists ghost and human alike, and ends up entangled with Hyung-joon and Shi-on.

 

Cinematography: My Rating 8/10

Special effects were nicely not overdone. The general lighting and cinematographic effects added to the character of the drama’s mysterious flavor without giving it an overtly fantasy or science fiction feel. The sets and lighting style is reminiscent of old 1940’s Bogart movies – and with Taecyeon’s sleeves rolled up in some scenes, all he was missing was a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. 😉

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 7/10

A worthy watch, overall. If the pacing felt slow in a few places, it was for brief periods of necessary plot development that may not have been scripted as well as other scenes. Overall, the action was nicely interlaced with the drama, which was nicely mixed in with the romance, sprinkled here and there with a melodramatic moment.

My only question is, where is Ji-hoo*???

   

 Happy Drama Watching!

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*Yoon Ji-hoo: A character from the drama series “Boys Before Flowers” that has come to represent a wonderfully sweet, attentive man who has an unrequited love for a girl and who becomes her friend and/or protector. He never gets the girl.

 

Written by: Moon Ji-young (I Love Lee Tae-ri) and Ban Ki-ri

Directed by: Jo Hyun-tak (Beloved)

Sunday Drama Review – I Hear Your Voice

(너의 목소리가 들려) I Hear Your Voice

The mouth can lie, but the mind can’t.

Summary:

Park Soo-ha is a high school boy who has the unusual ability to read people’s thoughts by looking into their eyes. He develops this ability after getting into a car accident with his father at ten years old, the same accident where he witnesses his father’s brutal murder. His father’s death is originally thought to be caused by the accident until a young girl, Jang Hye-sung, comes forth as the scene’s only credible witness. She points out the killer, who then retaliates by threatening Hye-sung with a promise that he will kill again once freed from prison. Feeling gratitude and indebted to the girl, young Soo-ha vows to protect her from all danger. Eventually the two are separated, leading Soo-ha to spending his life in search of her in hopes of continuing his promise.

Characters:

Main character Park Soo-ha is played by Lee Jong-suk. Because of his traumatic past and his secret skill, the quiet Soo-ha remains distant from his peers to keep from drawing too much attention. Past experiences have shown him that people only treat him like a monster if they find out about his strange gift. Filled with an immense sense of loyalty, Soo-ha spends ten years looking for the “noona” who saved his life and brought justice to his father.

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Lee Bo-young plays Jang Hye-sung, the “heroine” of Soo-ha’s dream. She has a not-so-pleasant personality – stubborn and prideful with a prickly attitude making it difficult for her to interact with others. She was wrongfully expelled from high school, and lived a life of poverty with her single mother. As a result of the hardship, she studied diligently, eventually becoming a lawyer so that she would never have to worry about money again. Even though she is good at what she does, Hye-sung lacks passion and motivation, opting to become a public defense attorney only to gain the benefits of a government job.

I Hear Your Voice (4)Cha Gwan-woo, played by Yoon Seung-hyun, is a policemen-turned-lawyer with office practices completely opposite of Jang Hye-sung. He shows 100% dedicated to his job, trusting his clients to a fault. Friendly and polite with everyone he meets, Lawyer Cha shows the humane side of the justice system. He tries his hardest to get Hye-sung to go on the path of honesty, not just money and glory. Seo Do-yeon, played by Lee Da-hee, is the long-time enemy of Hye-sung. The two girls were once classmates until Do-yeon and her friends caused Hye-sung’s expulsion. I Hear Your Voice (6)Since Do-yeon also turned toward a career of law, the two often meet at the courtroom, battling out their own personal vendettas against each other as a prosecutor and public defense lawyer. And because she is a prosecutor, she is often skeptical towards others and their ability to tell the truth. She is very cold, ridged, and professional, resisting emotional attachment to cases with unusual circumstances.

Min Jong-gook, played by Jung Woong-in, is the antagonist of the drama, the obvious villain since he was the one who killed Soo-ha’s father. He was a simple food cart owner until boiled up anger from his wife’s unjustified death caused him to lash out at Soo-ha’s father, sequentially beginning the dramatic turn of events for Soo-ha and Hye-sung. Their futures changed the night of the accident, causing all three of their fates to become intertwined in a deranged battle of revenge. Min Jong-gook is smart and calculating; with an acting ability that convinces everyone of his innocence.

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 Themes:

Honesty:

“If you are confused whether to tell or not – telling the truth is the right answer. That’s the right thing to do.” – Lawyer Shin

“Because of 1% lie, the other 99% can become a lie.” – Jang Hye-sung

Lies and honesty are huge factors in this drama. As a lawyer, Hye-sung’s job is to determine if someone is lying or not and to defend them. And with his ability to read minds, Soo-ha becomes continuously exposed to the truth. Throughout the drama, the two are constantly thrown into situations where lies are told to cover up a painful truth. The story proves that despite how painful they can be, even the most difficult truth is always better than the exposed lie.

Revenge:

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. If we live that way, all the people in this world would become handicapped.” – Eo Choon-shim

Revenge is one of the strongest motives for wrongful action. Some kill for love or jealousy, but revenge comes from anger. Yet it may also come from a morally honorable seed – for example, the need to avenge someone you love that was hurt, deceived, or scorned. People who act in revenge seldom do so for themselves, but for someone close to them. Nonetheless, such strong sentiments toward justice can develop and form from a dark place – a place of anger and hate that takes over “pure” intention and transforms it into malice. It changes the person, making their moral compass switch routes and leading them on a path of self-destruction. Both Jong-gook and Soo-ha have reasons for revenge, as their love ones were taken from them unfairly.

 Symbols:

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Rotating Door: When stressed, Hye-sung has a habit of heading to rotating doors outside either her office or courtroom. She is often cornered with making hard decisions, ones that don’t necessarily affect her as much as the clients who would spend their lives in jail if she didn’t win their case. Overwhelmed by the pressure, she is often soothed by pushing through the rotating door over and over again, spinning in circles and causing everyone to look over at her strangely. The physical dizzying motion appropriately mirrors the dizzying thoughts going through her mind at the time. Somehow the two seem to cancel out, allowing her to focus and gather the thoughts needed to make a confident decision.

Spoilers (Do not read if you don’t want this drama spoiled for you. You have been warned!)

Things I Liked:

  • I Hear Your Voice (10)Lee Jong-suk’s acting: The acting in this drama is excellent! I can’t even find a weak link. I have, however, found my personal strongest link – Lee Jong-suk as our mind-reading Park Soo-ha. Every emotion is graphically strong. Whenever he is happy, you can see it radiate from his eyes, his smile widening so much that you can’t help but mimic the sentiment. The same occurs when he is mad, bored, tired and so forth. You can clearly feel what he is feeling. His top moments are times he freaks out whenever he fears Hye-sung is in danger.
  • Unusual Secondary Character Roles: Lawyer Cha and Prosecutor Seo are, in a sense, the typical secondary characters – the all-around ‘nice guy’ who never gets the girl and the mean rival. However, their characters soon expand from their roles, developing a lot further individually. Lawyer Cha is introduced as a naïve person, too trusting of his clients. By the end, he learns the hard way that people can lie, and they do not always have a justified reason for their illegal actions. It hardens his soul, such a discovery seemingly turning his optimism into skepticism. But because he carries such strong morals, he does the correct thing and learns from this harsh life lesson. Prosecutor Seo sticks by the rules of the law, but then eventually learns that the rules might not always be correct. There are exceptions in everyday life, and the ‘human error’ of the justice system should be taken into account.
  • Multi-genre: I tend to get fearful when I see dramas lined up with multiple genres. It is a hard task to balance them all or resist becoming stereotypical. This drama, however, does an excellent job! From the tension/suspension of Min Joon-Gook’s dangerous existence to the crime/drama element of the character’s profession, to the comedy of Hye-sung’s working environment to the tear-jerking moments of characters’ deaths, topped off with the fantasy addition of Park Soo-ha’s mind-reading, this drama is such an excitement to watch and allows itself to be viewed by a wide-ranging audience.
  • The Characters’ Backgrounds (Episode 1): Episode 1 is quite an emotional start, yet instantly draws the audience in and pipes their curiosity. It does a beautiful job of laying in the foundation, giving the back story to the main characters. It explains how they become the person they are in the present time, allowing for the drama to continue forward in their development instead of having the storyline be caught up in their past.
  • I Hear Your Voice (8)Eo Choon-shim (Hye-sung’s mother): Kim Hae-sook’s character Eo Choon-shim is easily one of my favorite ‘mothers’ in a drama series. Every time a scene comes on with Choon-shim, she commands attention with her strong personality. She is a character to be easily fond of, which makes her eventual death such a heartbreaking and sentimental moment.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Go Sung-bin and Kim Choong-gi: Now let me clear something up – I loved this pairing. Go Sung-bin, played by Kim Ga-eun, was such a strong character, and I’m glad she wasn’t written off after her major portion in the first few episodes. Kim Choong-gi, played by Park Doo-shik, was never really on my radar until halfway through the drama when I really looked at the ‘Tom and Jerry’ dynamic between him and his classmate (and crush). He behaves like a five-year-old, pulling at her figurative pigtails and teasing her like boys do toward the girl they like. She is completely oblivious to his feelings towards her because he is always picking on her and calling her names. (Note to all guys: Calling a girl ugly almost every day does not really get you on their good side.) The only issue I have with the couple is that they don’t really have a strong ending. Yes, it is inferred that eventually Choong-gi builds up the courage to confess, but it still ends the same way it began – with them acting like five-year-olds. I kind of wanted that happy typical Korean drama ending for them. Am I the only one?I Hear Your Voice (9)
  • Hye-sung’s innocence is never proven: Hye-sung was unfairly kicked out of school because she was accused of harming Do-yeon in a firework incident when they were in high school together. Even though Hye-sung receives an apology at the very end from Do-yeon, she is never really found innocent. Do-yeon’s apology is mostly centered on lying about having seen Hye-sung shoot the firework into her eye, but not about ruining her life. No, it’s not possible for them to go back in time and fix Hye-sung’s past, but at least a proper apology from Do-yeon’s parents would have sufficed for me.
  • Min Jong-gook’s Murder Sentence: Initially, Min Jong-gook is found guilty for killing Soo-ha’s father. That’s why he goes to jail, and this whole crazy adventure begins. But what has been bugging me since the beginning is why did Min Jong-gook only receive 10 years? For first-degree murder (because it was premeditated and executed in such a brutal way) and a count of first-degree attempted murder (towards Soo-ha), Min Jong-gook should have been put away in jail for at least 20-25 years and would have been issued on parole if he was released. Does this sentence make sense with the Korean judicial system, or have I been watching too much ‘Law & Order’ lately?

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Author’s Final Remarks: 9.9/10

‘I Hear Your Voice’ is one of the best dramas I have seen in a long time. It had me at the edge of my seat and sent me on a whirlwind of emotions. The storyline, the acting, and the balanced pace is executed perfectly. Soo-ha also became my favorite role with Lee Jong-suk, boosting him up even higher on my favorite actors list (making my only sadness be that Kim Woo-bin doesn’t make a surprise appearance). I highly recommend this drama to everyone, and I hope that more screenwriters take note of its success and produce high-quality works such as this one.

Friday Drama Review: “I Hear Your Voice”

 

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(Even the one in your head!)

 

I had to remind myself a number of times that this was, in fact, a fantasy drama (as a genre, I mean!) I think that as an audience we are so used to ‘reading the character’s mind’ that Soo-ha’s ability did not always appear very strange, until it was pointed out, that is.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 7/10

kidsThe story begins with a brutal murder witnessed by the son of the victim. As the murderer attempts to eliminate the young witness he realizes he is being watched by a young girl and gives chase. The girl risks her life, becoming the key witness needed to put the criminal behind bars. She also becomes a hero and life-long first love to the young boy, Park Soo-ha, now injured, orphaned and alone but mysteriously left with the ability to read other peoples thoughts.

The girl, Jang Hye-sung, disillusioned by adults she had trusted in her childhood, grows up to be a feisty, but jaded defense attorney. She and Cha Kwan-woo, an idealistic and dedicated young policeman-turned-lawyer join the public defender’s office together and in their own unique and entirely contradictory ways manage to defend suspects who have little chance of a positive outcome in the courtroom.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 9/10

I Hear Your Voice was a drama that captured attention from episode 1 and continued to keep the excitement building throughout. The series combined a great main storyline with well tied-in side stories that were expertly developed to build not only interest, but also enhance the content of the main story. The writer kept the intrigue factor cranked to the maximum setting. As one subplot wound down, another ramped up quickly to fill the gap. I liked the fact that the fantasy element, Soo-ha’s mind-reading ability, was not such an important aspect to the drama that it overshadowed everything else. In fact, even without the extrasensory perception element, the story would have been engaging.

i-hear-your-voice-ep-14-img-2Lee Bo-young (Equator Man, Athena: Goddess of Love) was a good choice for the somewhat cynical, yet morally upright and gutsy lawyer, Jang Hye-sung. The role was a studied contrast in world-weary resignation and angry indignation. Her emotional struggle with her feelings for Park Soo-ha parallel her worldly struggles: take the safe, easy, socially proscribed path represented by Lawyer Cha Kwan-soo, or succumb to the risky love – the younger man with a questionable past who tugs at her heart.

IHYV1Lee Jong-suk (School 2013, Secret Garden) is fast becoming Korea’s latest and greatest ‘noona-killer’. With his endearing pouty smile and adorable facial antics, the ladies are dropping like flies. As Park Soo-ha, Lee Jong-suk was ideal as the younger leading man. His understated acting style was well suited to this role as a man haunted by voices no one but he can hear, the studious, quiet fellow searching for the ‘noona’ who saved him. He does ‘angst’ well. He does ‘silly’ especially well since it seems to appear out of nowhere in the usually reserved Soo-ha. And oh man, can he do flippin’ out crazy.

IHYV JHA character that started off strong and faded as the drama progressed was the lawyer Cha Kwan-woo. The role was brought to life, quite appealingly, by Yoon Sang-hyun (Secret Garden, Take Care of the Young Lady). His part not only provided the secondary love interest (yes, the “Ji-hoo Role”), but his somewhat naïve personality was also a critical foil to the sardonic antics of lawyer Jang. As the drama progressed and the Park Soo-ha character began to take front seat in the romance category, lawyer Cha faded almost to oblivion. Indeed, it wasn’t until the final wrap-up episodes that he finally regained significant airtime.

IHYV 3Lee Da-hee (Birdie Buddy, Myung Wol the Spy) was Prosecutor Seo Do-yeon, the no-nonsense long-ago ‘frenemy’ of Jang Hye-sung. The sometimes antagonistic, sometimes empathetic relationship between the two women was an unusual and intriguing variation from the garden-variety friendships so common in dramas. The character of Seo Do-yeon could have easily been brushed off as an irritant, but instead, Lee Da-hee’s portrayal humanized the prickly woman.

i hear your voice bad guyThere were two interesting villains with wonderful parallels between them (delightfully illustrated in the final episode, I might add.) Min Joon-gook (Jung Woong-In) and Judge Seo Dae-seok (Jung Dong-hwan) were both men who could not admit fault in their actions. The judge, also Seo Do-yeon’s father, caused a man to be falsely imprisoned for a quarter century and felt no guilt. The other spent his life murdering those he held responsible for injustices in his life. Jung Dong-hwan, by the way, showed his acting prowess as an amazing crazed madman killer. His transformation into a charismatic gentle man that people trusted was chilling.

 

lipsCinematography: My Rating 7/10

The filming supported the story without distraction except for a minor irritant that caught my attention: whenever Soo-ha was reading Hye-sung’s mind, the cameras froze – all action stopped while the sound (and subtitles, in my case) rolled by. It felt unnatural and was disruptive to the flow. Aside from that issue, lighting and sound were well synced to the mood of the scene.

 

Music: My Rating 8/10

Theme song: “Echo” Every Single Day “Echo” Every Single Day

Love this song! “Why Did You Just Come Now?” Jung Yeop

“The Days We Were Happy” Na-rae

Nice!: “Words You Can’t Hear” Shin Seung-hun

“In My Eyes” Kim Yeon-ji”

Sweetly Lalala” Melody Day 

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 8/10

I learned many interesting tidbits about the legal system in Korea. Juries don’t have the final say-so – a judge’s opinion can outweigh what a jury decides. The rules regarding what prosecutors and defense attorneys share with one another seems not nearly as strict or tight as in the American judicial system. There are also many, many similarities with our own legal system.

Overall, the script was nicely paced and the action kept viewers interested. Originally scheduled to be 16 episodes, another 2 were added due to the popularity of the drama. The final episodes show some signs of stretching – more flashbacks than usual, extra time tying up loose ends that might normally have ended up on the cutting room floor, etc. That’s not to say those final episode are not worth viewing. They are. The endings seemed appropriate for most characters creating a sense of satisfaction and conclusion.

Happy Drama Watching!

IHYV4

Director: Park Chan-hong, Cha Young-hoon
Writer: Kim Ji-woo

Friday Drama Review: “Gu Family Book” a.k.a. “Kang Chi – The Beginning”

gu poster“If I had to choose between living 100 years alone or 100 days with someone I loved, I’d choose the 100 days.”

 

The strikingly beautiful cinematography first thing you sense: a dark, dreamy mountain-scape colored in violet and cobalt blue juxtaposed with scenes of delicately, but brightly lit traditional drummers against backdrop of amber and marmalade.

Despite personal misgivings about viewing this drama, the scene was well set for a fantasy – action – melodrama.

Storyline/Synopsis: My Rating 8/10

Dubbed the Korean “Twilight”, Gu Family Book was not actually on my watch list for a few reasons. I’m not a huge fan of Lee Seung-gi, although I did enjoy his acting in King 2 Hearts, and I never developed an interested in the Twilight saga mania that has swept the country. My concern was that it would be an over-blown, somewhat cheesy girl-loves-monster story and I was finding it hard to imagine how that could be successfully pulled off.

I gracefully admit that I was glad I broke down and watched. The drama was more than worth my time.

 

 

gu parentsThe story begins not with Kang Chi, but with his parents, Wol-ryung, an eternal, mythical being who protects the forest and Seo-hwa, the human woman with whom he falls in love. The evil, ambitious Jung Gwan-woong wrongly accuses Seo-hwa’s father of being a traitor. When she is sent to a gisaeng house, Wol-ryung witnesses her misfortunes, and despite warning from his monk friend, So-jung, he decides to act on her behalf. Ultimately, they fall in love and Wol-ryung wishes to seek the Gu Family Book in order to become human so that he may become mortal and so, live and die with his beloved.

Unfortunately, Seo-hwa discovers his true nature before the change can be made and betrays his love, causing his destruction. Seo-hwa, however, discovers she is pregnant and after giving birth to her child, entrusts him to the monk, So-jung, and is slain seeking revenge against Jung Gwan-woong.

gu dadsThe monk, sets the infant afloat on a river near well known and well-respected nobleman, Park Mu-sol. He takes the infant in, giving him the surname Choi, after his most trusted head servant, and “Kang-chi”, meaning, “abandoned in the river”. He raises Kang-chi like a son.

The real story begins when Kang-chi is a young man. Jung Gwan-woong is retired, but malevolent and politically powerful. His ambition leads him to target the wealthy Park Mu-sol, who, like so many before him, is destroyed by wrongful accusations of being a traitor. Those working to curb his power include the righteous and respected Lee Soon-shin, naval commander and Dam Pyung-joon, martial arts master and father of Dam Yeo-wool. Kang-chi’s fateful meeting with Yeo-wool not only places him at the center of a national political battle, but also sparks a tragic destiny between the two star-crossed lovers.

 

Script/Acting: My Rating 8/10

While I admit that the script was well-written, I couldn’t help but notice certain similarities to the original Star Wars trilogy: just as Luke was needed to conquer Darth Vader, so Kang-chi is said to be the only one capable of subduing the demon his father has morphed in to. Similar political scenarios. The ‘masters’ were like the Jedi, wielding swords and bamboo brooms like light-sabers. I had to laugh as even the intimate form of “Yeo-wool” sounds like “Yoda”. 😉

Gu kang chiI am also confused by the use of the term ‘gumiho’ and am surmising that it can be applied to much larger genre of creatures than female 9-tailed foxes. Lee Seung-gi  as Choi Kang-chi is no stranger to fantasy dramas. In his role in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, he played the human opposite the gumiho. In Gu Family Book, he is a half-human, half-gumiho who longs to become human. His acting skills in this drama are far superior to Gumiho, although I do like that drama as well, despite his somewhat less than charismatic performance. Kang-chi was a character with more depth than most of his previous roles.

Gu-suzyBae Suzy (member of KPop group Miss A, Dream High, Big) also received a part that was a bit more challenging and dimensional than her previous roles. As Dam Yeo-wool, she was an intelligent self-reliant young woman, often mistaken for a young man due to penchant for swordplay and masculine apparel. But she also had a nostalgic side, a protective and nurturing nature and natural sense of integrity. The character was credible and the pair, Kang-chi and Yeo-wool, authentic and charming. She was also allowed to insert some of her own quirky nature into the role.

gu jungThe main antihero was evil but not very inventive. Lee Sung-jae (Rascal Sons, Poseidon) played the character of Jung Gwan-woong convincingly, but while anticipating the next villainous deed may have been entertaining, the character did not change in tenor throughout the series.

gu ryongA much more interesting antihero was Kang-chi’s father, the struggling demon, the Darth Vader character, the pure spirit lost in evil. Choi Jin-hyuk (I Need Romance, Pasta) put in a brilliant performance as Gu Wol-ryung. Equally convincing as an uncorrupted guardian of the mountain, sweet lover of Yoon Seo-hwa and also as the malevolent, bloody thirst 1000-year demon, Choi Jin-hyuk gave a remarkable sense of emotional plausibility to a fantasy creature.

gufamilysung joonIn the ever-present “Ji-hoo”* role was Sung Joon (Lie to Me, Shut Up Flower Boy Band) as Gon. As Yeo-wool’s bodyguard and one of the best swordsmen in the country his role was to be a ‘friendly antagonist’ to Kang-chi. His role also provided some secondary comic relief in the quarrels and struggles between the two young men.

gu bongThe main source of comic relief came from a relatively minor, but really rather fun character, Bong-chul, played by Jo Jae-yoon (Full House Take 2, Hero). As a local thug, he had his share of run-ins with Kang-chi early in the series, but becomes fiercely loyal after Kang-chi saves him. His speech mannerisms and slap-stick style comedy brought much needed lightheartedness to many a dark scene.

guga16-00396There were many other compelling character in the drama: Yoo Yeon-seok as Park Tae-seo, Lee Yu-bi as Park Chung-jo, Uhm Hyo-sup as Park Mu-sol made up the Park family of the 100 Year Inn, the main setting of the drama. Jo Sung-ha as Dam Pyong-joon and Yoo Dong-geun as Naval Commander Yi Soon-shin headed up the gu admiral‘good guy squad’. Both women who played Yoon Seo-hwa were excellent: Lee Yeon-hee as the younger Seo-hwa and Yoon Se-ah as the older Seo-hwa. Kim Hee-won as So-jung, the monk and Lee Do-kyung as Gong-dal, one of the masters, were both well-played wise men that could be counted on for good advice.

 

Cinematography: My Rating 9/10

As mentioned before, the cinematography was simply beautiful. The method of creating fantasy setting without a tacky feel was delightful. Gorgeous Disney-esque landscapes brought to life with such breath-taking realism that tickets could be sold if it were a park. Choreography was also nicely done. Kudos to the make-up artists!

Music: My Rating 8/10

An extensive OST list!

“My Eden” Yisabel  http://youtu.be/kYwWM_9MQgU

“Love Hurts” Lee Sang-gon http://youtu.be/bsWw7XTVo3k

“Love Is Blowing” Lee Ji-young http://youtu.be/B0WQxiTkjuI

“Spring Rain” Baek Ji-young http://youtu.be/gMVtqqSwRj8

“Don’t Forget Me” Bae Suzy http://youtu.be/KcjGxAbeoc0

“The Last Word” Lee Seung-gi http://youtu.be/TC7rASpEJJo

“Only You” 4Men http://youtu.be/va6zcYS39wo

“Will You Be My Love Rain?” Shin Jae http://youtu.be/hCE_B2ncuUI

“Best Wishes to You” Choi Jin Hyuk http://youtu.be/wM82cRltXmE

 

Overall Charisma: My Rating 8/10

“If I had to choose between living 100 years alone or 100 days with someone I loved, I’d choose the 100 days.”

A slightly cheesy line, but it sums up the sentiment of the drama. Overall, despite my misgivings, I have to give this drama a ‘thumbs up’. The story was well written and well played out. The follow-through on the characters and the storylines was nicely accomplished. No dangling threads, but no hastily or awkwardly tied bows, either. There were very few completely nonsensical, sensationalized plot twists. Overall, a fun watch and worth the time. Definitely.

 

 Happy Drama Watching!

gu moon

 

*Yoon Ji-hoo: A character from the drama series, Boys Before Flowers, that has come to represent a wonderfully sweet, attentive man who has an unrequited love for a girl and who becomes her friend and/or protector. He never gets the girl.  😦

Director: Shin Woo Chul

Writer: Kang Eun Kyung

Friday Drama Review – “Nine: Nine Time Travels”

9-Times-Time-Travel-Poster4It’s a Fantasy. It’s a Melodrama. It’s Science Fiction. It’s Romance.

 

Director Kim Byung Soo and Screenwriters Song Jae Jung and Kim Yoon Joo, the time-travel dream team that created “Queen Inhyun’s Man” teamed up again to create another stunning drama. It’s like “The Monkey’s Paw” in drama form – a tale in which what the granting of a special power – in this case, going back in time to fix things that went awry in the past – comes with horrible consequences when hitherto unknown side effects occur as a result. Everyone knows that mucking around with timelines is a bad idea, right?

And yet, I found myself desperately wondering, from episode to episode, how and if everything was going to be set to rights.

 

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 7/10 

Park Sun Woo is a TV anchorman who has been hiding his love for fellow reporter Joo Min Young for five years. His father died years ago in a tragic fire. His mother lost her sanity. His brother wandered aimlessly for years until Sun Woo learned of his death in Tibet. Left behind in his belongings are incense sticks that when lit have a more than curious effect: they transport the individual who lights the incense back 20 years in time. After realizing what it does, Sun Woo decides to travel back and change things around a bit – save his father, bring the culprit responsible for his father’s death to justice and try to make his brother happy by allowing him to marry the girl he chose, but of whom dad disapproved.

The change is managed, but it also set in motion a future far different from the one Sun Woo had hoped for. With 8 more incense sticks, can he set things back on the right track and still keep everyone happy?

Here’s the trailer (Sorry – I couldn’t find one with English subbing!)

 

nine-4Script/Acting: My rating 8/10

Lee Jin Wook, who starred as Park Jung Woo, the main character of our story,  is one of my new favorite actors. He recently starred in “I Need Romance” (2012), “Myung Wol the Spy” (2011), and “City of Glass” (2008). His acting style is a little understated but powerful, nonetheless. His ability to convey, with a glance, emotions that are hard to script is incontestable.

HS2
Park Hyung Shik and Ze:A – Hollywood Bowl, May, 2013

Park Hyung Shik who played Park Sun Woo in his younger iteration was also quite compelling. Before I looked up the cast list I kept looking at this young man knowing I had seen him somewhere before finally realizing I had innumerable pictures of him on my hard drive from the Korea Times Music Festival at the Hollywood where he was moonlighting in his ‘second’ job as a member of Ze:A.

 

brideJoo Min Young was portrayed by actress Jo Yoon Hee.  While the character was likeable and engaging the ‘couple-hood’ of the two main leads was not as appealing. Both characters were very charismatic in their own right and I found myself cheering them on despite the fact that I just did not “ship” those two.

Jung WooJun Noh Min played the part of Park Jung Woo, Sun Woo’s brother. The character was a challenging one as he changed personalities frequently depending on the timeline involved.  His was a character that, while weak and somewhat wretched, commanded empathy from the viewers. Seo Woo Jin played the young Jung Woo. The emotional struggles of the young man were perceptively portrayed.

docAnd let’s not forget Lee Seung Joon who played Sun Woo’s best friend Dr. Han Young Hoon, a type A personality if ever there was one. Nervous, excitable, constantly worrying but always supportive and ready to give good advice, the quirky doctor added a certain amount of comic vlcsnap-2013-04-09-03h49m57s227relief with his high energy angst. His younger self, played by Lee Yi Kyung might be a familiar face to those who watched School 2013. Although he did not get a lot of screen time, his character was was the perfect foil to the young, serious Sun Woo.

 

Cinematography: My rating 9/10

Due to the fantasy nature of the drama – time travel, alternate timelines, timelines changing abruptly – special effects were definitely needed and most expertly accomplished. No cheesy, low budget sci fi effects here. Everything was tastefully and artistically filmed. The use of the incense smoke as a method of change – the ‘up in smoke’ changeovers, as it were, were creatively done and effectively used.

In episode 11 there’s a musical number with fabulous cinematography featuring creative close-ups, wonderful blurs and great lighting as Sun Woo chases around town in the rain, searching for Min Young.

The filming in the Himalayas was beyond spectacular. In fact, I very much enjoyed so many aspects of the cinematography in this drama.

 

Music: My rating 7/10

If you like ballads, this OST is one you’ll definitely enjoy! The music commissioned for this drama was poignant and beautiful.

“Nine Scents” Lee Ji Hye http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8ChD6uZpCM

My favorite: “Because It’s You” Kim Yeon Woo  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtFl3MkfSro

“Oh Please” Natthew  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8BHCz7AniQ

A close runner up: “Just a Little Bit” Urban Zakapa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-zQBV97kxY

 

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

Compelling characters, great cinematography, nice music and an intriguing storyline. The only thing that could have mucked it up would be a bad ending, but happily the ending was perfect. Enigmatic, somewhat thought-provoking. No loose ends, but no hasty, conveniently tied up knots, either. My kind of ending. Happy sigh.

For a drama that didn’t get great ratings or much attention, I was more than pleasantly surprised. This drama will go on the favorites list.

Happy Drama Watching!

sun woo9-Times-Time-Travel-Poster3

Friday Drama Review – “Vampire Prosecutor”

Suffering serious culture shock, the Soju DramaQueen segued from Classic Historical Drama last week to edgy Crime Sci-Fi Fantasy this week.

Vampire-Prosecutor3How exactly does one adequately transition from Dae Jang Geum to Vampire Prosecutor? It’s a valid question.

The two dramas could not possibly be more different. Honestly, I was really expecting to not like these dramas. In fact, I never intended to watch the second season, but lo and to my astonishment, my expectations were, well, wrong.  I watched both seasons back-to-back, not stopping for a breath.

Having refused (for many years now) to succumb to the whole “Twilight” saga thing, the overdone vampire concept does not hold much appeal for me. Remarkably well conceptualized and visually appealing, Vampire Prosecutor and Vampire Prosecutor 2 were surprises. They had the same slick, sexy sci-fi presentation that makes American dramas like “Fringe”, “Supernatural” and “Warehouse 13” appealing – just credible enough to be engaging instead of tacky, enigmatic instead of preposterous.

 

Vampire-Prosecutor-2-Poster-2Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 8/10

The format is quite unusual for a Korean drama in that each episode is somewhat standalone – in other words – each tells its own little story, quite similar to American crime dramas like “CSI”, “Criminal Minds” or “Bones”. Like the American dramas there are thematic plot lines following the main characters from episode to episode making sequential viewing preferential, but not entirely essential. The thread of mystery, the titillating back-story surrounding our Vampire Prosecutor imparted piecemeal in each episode is part of what keeps the viewer waiting for the next episode.

vampireprosecutor2The premise is simple: A prosecutor (who happens to be a vampire, albeit reluctantly) and his team of non-vampire associates solve various well-scripted crimes. The hook? Being a vampire gives Min Tae Yeon (Yeon Jung Hoon) an edge in crime-solving because tasting the blood of the victim allows him to experience the victim’s death. Painful, to be sure, but he is often able to determine the main culprit(s) instantaneously. His faithful sidekick and confidant is Detective Hwang Soon Bum (Lee Won Vampire-Prosecutor12Jong) who serves not only as an essential crime-fighting team member, but also as ‘big brother’ to the troupe. Prosecutor Yoo Jung In (Lee Young Ah) is the new member to the team and seriously wants to know what secret her boss, Prosecutor Min is hiding from her. Rounding out the team is Kim Joo Young as Choi Dong Man, the young intern eager to win approval and full-time status with his lab skills.

 

Vampire-Prosecutor-2-2Script/Acting: My rating 7/10

It’s frustratingly unclear why the detective, Hwang Soon Bum, knows about Min Tae Yeon’s dark secret from the beginning. There are a few people with inside knowledge, convenient to be sure, but the fact that we didn’t know why throughout was distracting and somewhat annoying. Some, of course, turn out to be vampires themselves!

Vampire-Prosecutor-2-5The first season featured sexy coroner Soo Hee (Kim Ye Jin). Dong Man and Soon Bum spend much time vying for the best view of her – ah – attributes. There is a priceless scene involving Soo Hee demonstrating how the killer stabbed the victim using Dong Man as a stand-in. Dong Man is miming ecstasy as she wraps her arms around him from behind.

Coming fresh off of watching “Dae Jang Geum,” I found it amusing to find references to the drama in episode 8, when it is discovered that a person they are interrogating is named Lee Young Ae. (But whose appearance is hilariously in contrast to the beautiful idol.)

vamp09-00011Vampire Prosecutor 2 had the same team minus the sexy coroner, adding in her place a grandfatherly figure, quickly beloved by the staff: Lee Kyoung Young as Jo Jyung Hyun. Vampire Prosecutor 2 also had more substantial plot lines focusing on the main characters in the traditional K-drama fashion, (definitely requiring sequential viewing) rather than the American style crime drama format of the previous season. An important character carried over from Season 1, the faceless villain vampirebad vampire, is unmasked early in Season 2 – Kwon Hyun Sang identified as “L”. As if to counteract the dastardliness of the villain, teeny tiny sweetheart Kim Ji Young was added Ji-Ae, the staff’s ‘adopted’ daughter. This pint-sized sweetie was amazingly convincing in her heart-wrenchingly tearful scenes.

Quick note 1: Vampire Prosecutor 2 Episode 6 is a direct rip-off of “Miss Congeniality” with Prosecutor Yoo made over by a flamboyant stylist so she can infiltrate a fashion show as a model. It was, however, entertaining none-the-less.

Quick note 2: A massive cliffhanger at the end of Season 2 demands a Season 3, which is apparently in OCN’s 2013 lineup, but no set dates have been confirmed.

 

Cinematography: My rating 8/10

Edgy. Visually exciting. Unique scene transitions – excellent pacing. Cool slow-mo fight scenes showing off the superhuman strength of our fanged hero. A minor distraction was that the same video clip of blood cells, internal organs, etc. was used every time Prosecutor Min ‘sampled’ a victim’s blood. What was cool the first time was old by the end. Overall, though, the cinematography was excellent.

 

Music: My rating 7/10

Great musical tracks. Fun, upbeat guitar music – against all odds!

From Teasers:

Skrillex Feat. Sirah “Bangarang”

Season 1:

Joseph Feat. Rhino – “Dont Cry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjxiNmue-go

Lee Jung – “Crazy for Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUEOt9xyLb4

Songs featured in episodes: “Camper” Albert Kick Feat. Jason Rene, “Stronger Than Me” Amy Winehouse, “Hot N Fun” N.E.R.D Feat. Nelly Furtado, “Rhythm Of Love” Plain White T’s, “Like A Dream” Midnight Boi

Season 2:

MC Sniper – “Danger” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ1mru14crM

Songs Featured in episodes:  LMFAO “Sexy and I Know It”, H.O.T. “Warrior’s Descendants”, H.O.T. “Candy”, S.E.S. “I’m Your Girl”, Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”, David Guetta Feat. Usher “Without You”

 

Overall Charisma: My rating 8/10

While thematically vampirism is certainly overused, at least it was used somewhat creatively in this series, and not as the main point of the drama. The hip cinematographic style, contemporary music and unusual format made viewing quite satisfying. The creation of good characters that viewers wanted to empathize with and pursue made the series worth following. Excellent acting added to the appeal.

Overall, my surprise at the intensity of my enthusiasm for this drama mirrors my initial surprise at the appeal of Korean dramas in general. I guess they will never fail to surprise me with unusual quality and fascination. At least, I (bloody) hope not. 😉

Happy Drama Watching!

 

Vamp2_2

Friday Drama Review: Rooftop Prince – A Winner in any Time Period

240px-RooftopPrinceGarnering a respectable share of the booty at the 2012 Korean Drama Awards, “Rooftop Prince” is a worthy prizewinner. With a remarkable capacity to successfully combine quirky comedy with gut-wrenching dramatic scenes, this drama is definitely worth watching. Released early in 2012, I’ve already watched it three (yup, three!) times through and will undoubtedly watch it again in the future.

Storyline/Synopsis: My rating 9/10

Doppelgangers abound in this combined historical/modern day drama. Crown Prince Lee Gak, while trying to solve the mysterious murder of his Crown Princess, is magically transported 300 years into the future with his three faithful subordinates. As one can well imagine, adapting suddenly to the future can bring it’s own set of –ahem- challenges. Trying to figure out why and how this will help solve a murder mystery becomes the consuming task. The following YouTube clip illustrates:

rooftop prince2Script/Acting: My rating 9/10

A marvelous cast of intriguing characters successfully buoys what could be a real Kleenex-box drama. The Crown Prince Lee Gak’s (Mickey Yoochun) three sidekicks have the comedic timing of the Three Stooges combined with the fierce loyalty of the Three Musketeers. Played by Lee Min Ho (the younger), Jung Suk Won and Choi Woo Shik, they make a hilarious job of adapting to the modern world. Han Ji Min is brilliant as Park Ha/ Bu Yong. Playing ‘straight man’ to the 4 men from the Joseon period, she was the perfect romantic lead.

Tae MooAnd then there’s Tae Mu: Evil never looked so good. 😉 Lee Tae Sung plays the role so well you almost feel sorry for the guy with so many near misses killing people, intended or not. Such a versatile actor. Hard to believe he was the goofy Mr. Bong from Mischievous Kiss! Add in a Bow-tie Dog Whisperer, Mentor to the Good Guys; Aunt Wang, perpetually dressed in tulle and other great characters and the cast has to be considered top-notch.

If I have a complaint it would be that the lines in English were usually written and/or delivered very awkwardly. I was surprised as some of the most awkward lines were delivered by obviously native-English speakers.

Cinematography: My rating 8/10

Sped-up frames, comedic cartoon animations and goofy sound effects added to the fun. The special effects were managed well. While not on the scale of high-end Sci-Fi movies, the effects did not come across as ‘cheesy’ either.

Rooftop-PrinceThe filming locations were beautiful. Lovely scenes in parks and historical locations. Great action scenes: not just fighting, but moving shots such as the truck following the bus with the mammoth beach painting…

Drama Clichés: Stopped/trapped in the middle of a busy traffic intersection. (twice) A Metaphorical Crossroads? Stomping on laundry together in a small washtub; What did I miss?

Music: My rating 8/10

The music was highlighted by the juxtaposition of two the main theme songs, a poignant song (“Hurt” sung by Ali) with a historical flavor and a catchy up-beat song, (“Happy Ending” sung by Jay Park) often played, one right after the other. The other music was also great, albeit very difficult to find. Rooftop Prince Part I is now available on iTunes and contains “After a Long Time” and “I Love You, Too”, both sung by Baek Ji Young and the above mentioned “Hurt”. The instrumental versions are also included for the nominal price of $5.94.

Overall Charisma: My rating 10/10

As I said before, I have watched this drama three times. Already. It’s charming. It’s sweet. It’s a tearjerker. It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. The characters are engaging and loveable and definitely gel well together.

Equip yourself with a glass of wine, a stash of food, a box of Kleenex (towards the end) and get ready to enjoy! You won’t want to leave the T.V. once you begin. Just a warning.

Happy Drama Watching!

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