Category Archives: Reviews

Fated to Love You – Episode 4

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Well, we sure aren’t waisting any time with this show now are we? Episode four is complete and we’ve already had a wedding. Isn’t that something that you usually have to wait till episode 18 or 19 for if it happens at all? I mean, Emergency Couple gave us a wedding in episode 1, but that didn’t exactly turn out too well. One thing that this light speed pacing the show is taking that I can look forward to is some serious shenanigans now that all the tired and true drama tropes are out of the way.

Here’s what I’m hoping happens. Choi Freaking Jin Hyuk’s Daniel falls in love with Mi Young at some point because Jang Hyuk’s Gun goes nuts with paranoia. Jang Hyuk’s acting alone in that should be enough to satisfy any Dramaland fan, but imagine the possibilities. Oh man, the heartache as Daniel discovers he’s fallen in love with his sister. We might get to see The Hyuk cry. -_- whispers: he’s really pretty when he cries…it’s been compared to witnessing a live birth for the first time.. Personally, I hope to never witness such a thing, but I do want to see Daniel lose his control over Mi Young. Dramas just don’t do that kind of thing, bout time!

How cool was Gun when he was running through the hospital to stop Mi Young from having her surgery? That’s the Jang Hyuk I know. Those stunts were awesome and I think I might have woken up my neighbor I was LOL’ing so hard. I think of him as an action guy. Every drama or movie I’ve seen with him has been high octane and full blown testosterone fest so seeing him in a more comedic role is quite refreshing.

Big ups to a whole hour without #DonkeyFace Lawyer Min. Maybe, if were lucky that trash is on his way to another drama as a doctor, or spy…anything will make me happy as long as he’s not on this show again. Speaking of trash, Se Ra is on my No! I Don’t Like List!” I get and applaud that she had to follow her dream, but come on…the whole black swan thing is so over. Plus, she left Gun at the most inappropriate time. Use your words Ahjumma! That makeup though, made my lovely Wang Ji Won look ten years older than she should.

All in all, Fated to Love You is a hilarious and unexpected drama that I can’t wait to watch on Wednesday. Now, I’ve got to get some sleep or else I’m going to be looking like Gun in the final minutes of episode four.

Good night!

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Doctor Stranger – Episode 2

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Doctor Stranger seems to have it all. It’s got a sleek package, great acting, and a ton of fan service. Episode 2 had my heart pounding throughout the episode. When it comes to pulling on your heartstrings this show has it in spades. You can say and I’m saying it now that this show is a roller coaster of emotions. The show starts with a heart wrenching scene and builds to a thrilling chase that seems to go on forever. Their doesn’t seem to be a primary antagonist in the show, at least not one whose shown his face, but Hoon (Lee Jong Suk’s character) faces off against several North Korean officials in an attempt to return to South Korea. The first thirty minutes or so of the show were incredibly intense and thrilling. You’ve got to see this show!

The sets were beautiful and this episode was largely filmed in Hungary which offered the show a very distinct feeling. I wish we could have seen more from this location as it was very refreshing to see a drama in a location outside of Seoul. The ending put us back inside South Korea and it would seem that the majority of the show will focus on Lee Jong Suk’s exploits in finding his one true love. Park Hae Jin made an appearance in this episode and looks to be the leader or member of a very accomplished group of doctors. I’m expecting to see Lee Jong Suk and Park Hae Jin face off because I got the distinct impression that Hoon is not practicing medicine on the up and up. Perhaps the South Koreans don’t want to allow him to practice his trade in a hospital? I couldn’t really tell what the deal was with that, but I’d expect them to fully cement the character next week.

I said in my episode 1 reaction post that this was going to be good and boy oh boy does Doctor Stranger have all the makings of a very good show. I’ve been waiting all year for this show to come on the air and am super excited to have a great drama on Monday and Tuesdays to watch!

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Gap Dong – Episode 3 & 4 – Inept Police Strike Again

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Gap Dong made its return to television after a several week hiatus for episodes three and four. It’s been a while since I watched the first two episodes and had a hard time getting back into the show. I found the first week’s episodes engaging, interesting, and was excited to see where they would take the show. Originally I felt that Gap Dong would be a continuation of sorts to Memories of a Murder which explores the actual events that the Gap Dong killer is based on. The show felt thematically similar honoring the movies and had the same gritty sensibilities. After week two, a lot of that magic seems to have flown the coop.

Episode three set up some tension and put some key characters in their roles. We see that the Gap Dong killer is back, or some variation of him. At this point I’m not sure who Gap Dong is or if a copy cat is picking up his crimes or aiding him. It would seem that Lee Joon’s Tae Oh is highly likely to be taking over Gap Dong’s role, but we haven’t really seen that he’s a killer. He’s certainly creepy, but is he a killer? Is he helping the real Gap Dong? I’m not sure. There wasn’t much about the third episode I liked and hit the snooze button throughout most of the episode. Episode four was a tad bit better.

I did feel that episode four was a completely different show from the first toe episodes, but it did have some genuinely tense moments. Our lead Yoon Sang Hyun makes a tremendous amount of idiotic mistakes which drove me crazy. I need Oska to be making some better decisions because it really hurt my ability to suspend disbelief and throw myself into the story. As far as the tension in the show that was legitimate all came when Lee Joon was on screen. The dude’s facial expressions and internal monologue saved the show for me in spades. He’s owning this role and got my heart pumping repeatedly. He’s the villain I would have loved to see in God’s Gift 14 Days and never really got.

It’s possible that these episodes were heavily edited and cut down due to the Sewol Ferry Tragedy, but I’m thinking this may be the case. The show was far less gruesome and seemed to be pulling punches from one week to another. Another issue I think is behind the show is I’m not sure they know what kind of show they’re making. It seems like a crime procedural thriller, and murder mystery all rolled into one. The best shows do one of these things very well and utilize the other genres to enhance the story. I hope Gap Dong figures out quickly what kind of show it wants to be quickly. After such a long break it might be difficult for its audience to get behind the show if they don’t know what their watching,

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Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing the Sun – Episode 3 & 4

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I had heard really good things about this show. It’s a drama that people still talk about years after it’s run, similar to Boys Over Flowers that is in many top drama lists. After finishing the third and fourth episodes I can see why. There is so much happening in each episode and so many characters to fall in love with and just a few worth despising.

The thing I’m liking most about the show are the sets and costumes. The sets are super traditional and look very authentic. I’m a big fan of historical East Asian architecture and design so being able to see so much from the Joseon dynasty is a special treat. Then the costumes…oh my Buddha, these costumes. Each scene is full of bright saturated color and the casts wardrobing is just spectacular. I especially like the costumes the princes wear when they aren’t doing something official.

I think I’m starting to figure out which younger version actor matches up with their older counterpart. At first I had thought Kim Soo Hyun would take over the Prince’s role, but after these last two episodes he seems like a likely candidate for the Crown Prince. The character I’m almost certain Song Jae Rim portrays is the tall silent kid. The one with few lines, but is sure to play a larger role as time goes on.

Can I just say…

The Queen Dowager has got to go! Don’t like her, she’s a traitor and a mean woman. I want to scream, “Off with her head!”

The only thing concerning me right now is the Two Suns/Moons thing. It’s obvious who these characters are, but I have a really and feeling that one of the princes isn’t going to end up doing to well by the end of the show. Which is sad, I really like both of these guys.

Also, how cute was Prince Lee Hwon when he inadvertently told Heo Yeon he loved him?!? The subtitles I saw, on Viki, could have used a little preface because the way Lee Hwon says, “I don’t want to lose you…and the second reason…I’m in love!” as he said would, in Korean, be interpreted that Lee Hwon says he loves Heo Yeon. It’s an understood language so not every idea expressed verbally is actually said. The subtitles made the misunderstanding a but overlooked. That’s an issue I’ve had with Viki subs in the past, but it’s a small quibble for such a great job.

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Way Back Wednesdays – Bridal Mask – Episode 2

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One of the major distinctions between Bridal Mask and Inspiring Generation I had read about and now after watching it’s first two episodes most excited to see is the more nationalistic slant the show takes on the 20th century Japanese occupation of Korea.  I don’t expect the show to be unbiased or cover much of the brutality the Koreans faced up.  After the second episode this is really where the difference between the two shows shines.

Inspiring Generation certainly had its brutal moments, but they were emotionally brutal because of the connection to its characters.  With Bridal Mask there are intensely brutal and inhumane moments for no other reason than that’s how it happened.  The Japanese controlled Korea as a police state (Military Police had free reign of the country and did ad they pleased) and when Asia is looked at as a whole is rivaled only by Nazi Germany in the number of lives taken during this horrifying time in history.  Bridal Mask isn’t a historical epic, say like Roots, explored U.S. slavery.  No, but it does bring to light some of the war crimes committed and in that way is much more akin to Django.  The show is definitely serious, but has a brevity about its overall production that makes it extremely watchable. 

Now that that’s out of the way how about these actors?!?

Joo Won is completely believable as Kang To.  I like that they’ve taken this character and put him front and center.  Many Koreans went to Japan or worked with the military during the occupation with nearly a million choosing to stay in Japan as permanent residents or citizens even after World War 2 was over.  It’s an interesting choice to put in the lead, but I expect that his intentions will change as the character progresses.  How can such a pro Korean pride drama showcase a Japanese adopter and sympathizer?  I see a switch coming!

Park Ki Woong, didn’t have as much to do in this episode, but I’m digging him.  He’s a good guy and I hope hell be a strong ally for Kang To.

Kim Ok Ryeon, my oh my, have you gotten your act together.  If you think of Jin Se Yeon’s character, Mok Dan, as Kim Ok Yeon before she makes it to Shanghai in Inspiring Generation she’s a lot of fun to watch.  That’s how I’m approaching the show, in fact.

So much time occurs during Inspiring Generation that there are gaps in the storyline.  In my mind I imagine the two shows occurring at the same time in two separate locations.  Plus, I’m really liking calling Mok Dan Kim Ok Ryeon. 

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Thriller Thursdays – Two Weeks – Episode 2

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I checked out Two Weeks a couple months ago and haven’t had time to come back to it. It’s a show I heard a lot of talk about and from the first episode it’s been on my radar since then. With the lack of Wednesday – Thursday dramas not airing due to the recent tragedy in Korea and my aching back I turned the show on today and checked out episode two.

I wish I hadn’t been so busy for most of 2013. There were a lot of really great dramas last year and this one is exactly the kind of show I would have liked to watch twice a week. It’s got the thrills, adorbs child actress, and a plot line that’s straight out of the Korean revenge thriller genre that I love so much. As an added bonus Lee Joon Ki is rocking that suit and we all know I love a nice suit.

Being that I watched the first weeks episodes several months apart there was a bit of a disconnect in the show for me. Episodes one and two set up the storyline very nicely and in grissly fashion which I quite liked. Due to my real life time difference it seemed like the show spanned months rather than just a few days. Tae Sung did not have a very good day. Wow, he finds out his daughter has cancer and then gets framed for murder. To top things off he almost gets killed himself very early on. He’s not the greatest guy in the world, let’s be honest, but there’s something I like about him and I see an opportunity for redemption.

Until something catches my eye, Two Weeks is going to be my go to on Thursday nights for action and thrills.

Oh…and I can not wait for Song Jae rim to show up. I’ll be honest, my main driving force to pick the drama up during a time when there are so many great dramas out is him. I can’t get enough!

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Way Back Wednesdays – The Moon Embracing The Sun – Episode 1 – First Impressions

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Last night I checked out The Moon Embracing the Sun for a variety of issues, but mostly it’s a show I’ve wanted to watch for a very long time.

So here’s the deal with this show…as far as I can tell.

There’s a really cool prince and a very special little girl who I think will fall in love as they get older. It’s a period piece so were somewhere between 1386 and 1897 on the timeline. Were talking Joseon dynasty here which is where many, no most, of the Confucian based societal customs and structures comes from. This is the golden age, the history that Koreans look to that defines their culture. So, I was expecting beautiful sets, rustic villages, and amazingly bright clothes. What I saw was all that and more.

The show is indeed beautiful. The sets are historically accurate (it was filmed in a historical/heritage site/attraction) and give the show a sense that it could have been filmed 300 years ago. Seriously, the wardrobing is top notch, beautiful, amazing. They just don’t make clothes like that anymore!

The shows also really intense, for the first twenty minutes or so. While the Joseon Dynasty might have been the golden age, the Korean Renaissance…whatever you want to call it. It was also a highly superstitious time where politics could be easily corrupted. I’ll be honest. I did not like the first twenty minutes of the show. I was riveted and glued to my screen, but it was a difficult twenty minutes.

Once you get past the opening of the show the tone is much more relaxed and were offered up a delightful treat of color, wonderful child actors, and some characters I’m sure I’ll grow to love. This one is worth checking out.

What I didn’t get and wanted more than anything…

1. Kim Soo Hyun

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My favorite Korean actor wasn’t in the show at all. I don’t know anything about the show’s plot but it’s safe to assume that one of the awesome child actors I saw (Yeo Jin Goo, Hwa Yi: A Monster Boy…I’m looking at you!) will turn into the handsome Kim Soo Hyun with time. I love me some KSH and hope I don’t have to wait too many weeks before I get to see him on my screen again!

2. Song Jae Rim

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If you didn’t know already Song Jae Rim has become my Kdrama bias. I loooooved, like so many others, him in Inspiring Generation. I can’t wait to see him in this drama as well.

There are a few things I liked about the drama that surprised me, but more than anything it was how the show utilized the traditional Korean shaman. Those that were shown had a very large role in setting up the storyline and I’m all about SciFi and Fantasy so I quite liked the visions they received that foreshadowed events to come. A real hook line and sinker.

This is a show I’m looking forward to following. I may not have time every Wednesday to watch it, but it’s likely to be a staple for the coming months as I satiate my need for more Kim Soo Hyun and Song Jae Rim!

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Thriller Thursdays – 3 Days – Episode 11 and 12

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So, you’re saying..you’re going to go to the end?

Uhm, how do I say this…Not so sure about that.

3 Days was one of my most anticipated shows of the spring right along with Bride of the Century and God’s Gift 14 Days. One of those shows I ended up loving and the other I couldn’t stand watching. 3 Days falls so where in between. I was hoping that is enjoy the show much more with it not competing with Inspiring Generation, but after two weeks with no head to head competition that’s just not the case. I like 3 Days. It’s a good show with a great cast and a decent storyline, but something in the execution just isn’t working for me.

I think the majority of the issues with the show is in the pacing. So far the events we’ve seen have taken place just a bit over two days. That seems kinda ludicrous if you think about it as we’ve seen day turn to night and back again multiple times throughout the show. It’s possible that I’ve made a mistake and the countdown that takes place after each pivotal moment has been reset, but it doesn’t seem that way.

Another thing that has driven me crazy while watching the show is just how little can happen with two hours of fresh content week after week. Each episode remains largely the same with Park Yoo Chun kicking someone’s ass and chasing after some key piece of evidence only to have it snatched away and obliterated. That gets old fast. I started 3 Days episode 11 last Wednesday and didn’t have any urge to pick the show back up until last night, Wednesday, after I had exhausted every other show I was interested in seeing.

For what it offers, 3 Days is a good show, but it’s not one of the best. I think it’s rather mediocre, which is a shame considering how great it’s cast is and how thrilling it’s premise is. It’s going to be a show, for me, like Athena and Iris 2 that had loads of potential, but in the end turned out to be just average at best.

Any other season and I may have felt differently about the show, but this year’s dramas have been excellent and continue to be excellent. With only so many hours in the week Dramaland fans can’t watch them all and I’d have to say 3 Days is best left for a duller time when it can be left to shine.

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Missing Inspiring Generation? Check out Bridal Mask!

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So, if you’re like me the last few Wednesday nights just haven’t been the same as they used to be. Something’s missing and it’s quite obvious what it is. Inspiring Generation is off the air and you’re having serious Ahjeossi withdrawls. Song Jae Rim, Yoon Hyun Min, Uhm Tae Goo, Kim Sung Oh, Cho Dong Hyeok, and of course Kim Hyun Jung just made the mid week…inspiring. Aside from the awesome weekly double dose of man-candy I actually really liked the storyline from the show and more than catching up with another currently airing drama or soon to air drama I’d like to see more of the 1930’s and the Koreans who made such a difficult time in Joeson history such a big deal. I went out looking for a drama that was known for its action, production, and of course the time period I personally enjoy, the 1930’s. I was able to find one drama that fit the bill, Gaksital/Bridal Mask.

There are quite a few similarities between the show. Firstly, they’re both epics. Inspiring Generation ran for 24 episodes and Bridal Mask for 28. The time period and sets are also quite similar so if that’s your thing Bridal Mask will feel right at home. Both shows are very much action thrillers. IG was a bit more on the realistic side and BM much more traditional in the East Asian sense. These characters can fly and perform amazing uncanny stunts. There’s also a familiar face…one I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see.

About ten minutes into Bridal Mask who should show up but the overly whinny and always in the way Kim Ok Ryeon! She was my least favorite thing about IG, until the second to last episode…but, you know what Jin Se Yeon (the actress I’ll forever call Kim Ok Ryeon) is sooooooooo not weak and in the way. Her character Mok Dan kicks serious booty. I wish we could have seen Kim Ok Ryeon be such a bad ass. If you loved or hated Kim Ok Ryeon you should definitely check out Jin Se Yeon in Bridal Mask because she is just so cool.

As far as the differences go…

Bridal Mask doesn’t really have the production or budget as IG. The sets looks very modern (or simply don’t look aged) and are rather theatrical. There are lots of bright colors and the sets are gorgeous, they just don’t look like they were made in the 1930’s. It’s a very small issue, but one that I noticed. IG, for me, was very much about the players in the show. It knew where it took place and the politics of the time shaped the environment, but the focus was generally on the characters. I liked that aspect of the show where history can be referenced and utilized, but not the central issue at hand. Bridal Mask on the other hand feels very political. The first episode left me with a very pro-Korean, anti-Japanese, and nationalistic Korean pride as the driving force behind the show. Yes yes, I know the Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea was disastrous and insanely inhumane. I’m all for using actual history as a reference, but when it’s used in a overtly political way…well, I didn’t quite like the tone of the first episode as it went way beyond “Coreya Hwaitting!” and on a different level. One interesting perk of this though is the Korean Freedom Forces, who kicked serious butt during the occupation get to come to the forefront and that’s where we get our titular character, Gaksital. He’s like a Korean superhero if the Shadow met Jacky Chan…very cool. Aside from the tone and slight production differences the shows feel very much the same. Except for the man-candy…

The two leads of Bridal Mask appear to be Joo Won and Park Ki Woong. Two certainly handsome men, but not quite on the same level as Kim Hyun Jung and definitely not as mysterious as Song Jae Rim. They do have a close relationship and I saw a budding bromance, for sure. The cutest moment of the show, if there was one, was when the two of them are sleeping together in what appear to be Gap T-shirts circa winter 2011. Once again…production values.

Overall, I liked the show and I’m likely to throw it into my Wednesday and Thursday night rotation. With 3 Days ending in two or so weeks and my interest in following it waning considerably it would be nice to see a show at my own pace, rather than feeling like I must see said show.

Gaksital – Episode 1 8/10

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Gap Dong – Episode 2 – Lee Joon Stuns

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MBLAQ’s Lee Joon has taken some rather risky and evocative roles lately. The first acting of his I experienced was in Ninja Assasin (2009) where he had a brief cameo, but one my heart and became my MBLAQ bias…forever. Then there was IRIS 2 which was overall a major letdown, but I do remember fondly his scenes as a super spy. To end 2013 he stared in and to my knowledge aced his first leading role in Rough Play. Now, in 2014 he’s come back as a creepy psychopath in Gap Dong. I can see a complete evolution in his acting roles which has led him here and next to Rough Play this may be his best acting to date

Ok, so I was expecting Gap Dong to be a murder mystery with some thriller elements thrown in for effect. I did not expect it to play out like some of the grittiest Korean revenge thrillers and be on par with say God’s Gift 14 Days in the thrills department. Now, I don’t think it’s even remotely similar to that show except that both deal with serial killers, Gap Dong has it’s own thing going on and for me, Lee Joon steals the show. Sure, I love seeing Oska play a complicated role that features a multifaceted and troubling character. He’s going to be great, but Lee Joon is so creepy that his beautiful smile gives me the chills. The look in his eye when he finds his mark and the admiration he shows to the original Gap Dong is insane. I’m wondering if he is a psychopath, a sociopath, or something else entirely…

Now, as far as I know Tae Oh, that’s his character, hasn’t killed anyone. He’s stalked a few people and probably creeped the hell out of one poor girl, but we haven’t see him kill anyone. I don’t know why that intrigues me, but the way episode two ends left me wanting to know what the hell happened off screen and why Tae Oh does what he does with his motorcycle helmet. He knows more than he’s letting on about Oska.

Anyone out there watching Lee Joon in Gap Dong and loving him?

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