Thursday, June 18, 2015

Masked Prosecutor / The Man in the Mask (복면검사)

The Man in the Mask or Masked Prosecutor (Bokmyon Komsa) is not what I thought it would be. I was expecting a fluffy silly drama where I only need to sit, drool and laugh at Joo Sang Wook’s (주상욱) antics. I wasn’t planning to use my brain nor did I plan to feel much emotion except for lots and lots of love for my man (FYI, besides Jo Hyun Jae, Jo Sang Wook is the only other man that has my heart).

But despite the existence of that Mask which makes it rather difficult to take the drama seriously, Masked Prosecutor turns out to be a serious crime thriller drama, albeit a romantic one with rather droll humors.

I should have guessed that a drama with a prosecutor and a police woman could never really be light hearted and silly unless if we want both of our hero and heroine to be dumb and dumber.

I appreciate how the drama chooses to take its legal issues seriously. It gives Masked Prosecutor a certain layer of darkness that fills our heart with worry whether our leads could really win over the bad guys.

However, despite the fact that Masked Prosecutor turns out to be a better drama than I imagined it would be, I’m not that enamored with the story of our leads when they were young – fortunately their scenes are being kept to the minimum with a few flash back here and there. 

Watching Masked Prosecutor reminds me of the feeling I got when I watched City Hall. I found its first five or six episodes rather taxing which resulted in me almost gave up watching City Hall entirely.

Although the first episodes of Masked Prosecutor weren’t that hard to watch I need to acclimatize. The characters take time to grow on you. Particularly Kim Son A’s (김선아) character Yu Mini. I don’t really like the young Yu Mini, but I’m slowly warming up to the grown up Yu Mini.

While Joo Sang Wook…what could I say I’m totally bias when it comes to him. He’s the reason why I’m watching this drama. My bias aside, I find his character in this drama to be richer than his previous characters e.g. in Cunning Single Lady or Birth of Beauty.

I like how despite having the kind of emotional burden that the writer dumps on his character, Joo Sang Wook manages to make Han De Chol strong, vulnerable, and endearingly cute and funny all at the same time.

I love how he keeps his pains in check. I love how he doesn’t lose sight of what’s important and doesn’t wallow in self pity. I love how even when he is drunk he doesn’t lose his sense of humor.

I love the scene when he unburdens him self to Kim Mini and says that he is very sorry to his dad. I love seeing how Kim Mini holds her breath and prepares herself to hear a big secret only to hear some nonsense about how picky Han De Chol is about girls. I wonder why the writer doesn’t give us more scenes like this?

Okay, let’s go back to the crime parts.

The main villain in this drama is Jo Sang Taek but I find Han De Chol’s mother to be even scarier despite always looking so fragile. I don’t fear her husband either but I feel that her other son Kang Hyun Woong (Uhm Ki Joon) is just as scary as her.

This combination of mother and son makes me shudder. I’m anticipating how evil they could be. But on the other hand I’m also expecting that somehow there is still goodness deep inside their hearts. That money and power are not everything to them.

Masked Prosecutor might want to say that you have to uphold the law no matter what. For a law abiding citizen will not and should never resort to vigilante act otherwise you are no different than those criminals you want to catch.

There is nothing wrong with this tenet except for the fact that the law which we are supposed to uphold isn’t that upright itself. Our law bends and sways like coconut trees when they are being blown by sea breeze. Just imagine what happens to that law when the typhoon comes.

When the law fails to deliver should we just take a deep breath and say: ‘We did our best. That’s all we can do. If we can’t punish him God will.’

When the law is being used to protect the criminals and when the heavy weight of the law is always fail to land on top of those in power, the law is pretty much useless thus there is no need to revere it. I’m 100% on Han De Chol’s side.

When you know someone is committing a crime beyond any reasonable doubt, justice has to be done. Not only to punish those criminals but most importantly justice has to be given to their victims.

The poor victims who have been victimized by the criminal should not be victimized again by the legal system. Justice has to be delivered no matter what.

I like how Han De Chol’s mask doesn’t really fool people who are close to him. So Rina finds out about it as soon as she sees him in action. Yu Mini keeps on asking him whether he is the man in the mask. While Kang Yoon Woong is finally on to his tracks.

Masked Prosecutor is getting better by each episode. I’m hoping that it’ll only get better towards the end. Seeing how the story is progressing I have faith that the show is more than capable to give us a satisfactory ending even if Yu Mini’s father is the one who killed Han De Chol’s father.

My Love Jo Hyun Jae!

There is no need  for words. The pictures speak more eloquently than thousand words.
Jo Hyun Jae's pictures from BNT International:

Jo Hyun Jae saranghae! Nomu Nomu saranghae!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Koala and Tong Hua: Lost You Forever (Chang Xiang Si/長相思)

I had no idea who Tong Hua was before Bu Bu Jing Xin (步步惊心). Even after Bu Bu Jing Xin I still have no particular feelings for her due to things that I don’t like in that story. But thanks to Koala who is being extremely generous and kind by translating Tong Hua’s works into English we who can’t read Chinese can also enjoy her books.

Translating books is not an easy job to do. It requires something extra. A lot of extra in order not to lose the humors embedded in the language, the tone used in the original books/novels and the writing style of the writer.

I don’t know how to properly express my gratitude to Koala but I’m in awe of the endeavour she takes and utterly grateful for her wonderful works. Thanks to her I can read Tong Hua’s books and found myself a new favorite writer.

Now, you might also notice that Tong Hua seems to love tragic ending which is really not my cup of tea however when she writes about love, it is so beautifully written that you can’t help but being drawn by its beauty. And when that beauty is being given a beautiful ending you can’t help but falling in love with its writer.

Although Bu Bu Jing Xin doesn’t blow me away, Da Mo Yao (大漠) completely sweeps me off my feet. I’m head over heel in love with the story. I love the OTP so much that I can’t even begin to describe how much I love them.

Xin Yue (I’d rather use her name in 风中奇缘 rather than her name in 大漠) is the most amazing female lead I’ve ever encountered in Chinese series. I love everything about her.

I love the way she thinks, I love the way she see things, I love the way she loves, I love the way she lives her life. I just really love her. But most importantly I love the male lead Wei Wu Ji or Huo Qu Bing even more.

风中奇缘 is a series that you’ll want to watch again from time to time while Da Mo Yao is a must read that will not disappoint you. Reading the translation of Da Mo Yao makes me wish that I could read Chinese.

It makes me regret why I wasted my time playing around and didn’t study. If I study hard enough and put more effort into my Chinese lesson by now I would be able to read Tong Hua’s books all by myself. If only I study hard enough and be more serious about learning languages I would also be able to watch Korean dramas without English substitle by now.

I watched Chinese series (Wuxia) since I was very little. Mandarin is not a strange language for me. I took Mandarin course for a few years. I stayed in China for a short time. Understanding and speaking a spoken Chinese isn’t that hard for me but reading is a task that I won’t be able to undertake.

I told myself a decade ago that by this time I would have mastered five languages. I would be able to speak French, Japanese, Korean and Chinese fluently. Well, obviously it’s not happening.

I took French course for years and used French outside of the classroom while I studied in Brussel. I also took Japanese course, lived with a foster family and used Japanese 24/7 while I was with them in Fukushima. Unfortunately, Instead of mastering two more languages, I’m losing my French and Japanese, the two languages that I was at least good enough at although not proficient.

Sigh. I’m digressing. I’ve been trying to control this tendency of mine to jump from one topic to another in seconds. Okay, back to Koala, Tong Hua and Lost You Forever.
After Da Mo Yao I don’t think I would ever read another book by Tong Hua. I have no intention to read Song in the Cloud (Yun Zhong Ge/雲中歌) for the obvious reason. But then Koala mentioned that 長相思 has a happy ending. Bam! That’s all it takes to lure me in.

Once I’m in, I’m enthralled and captivated by the magical world in Lost You Forever. The problem is after Chapter 38 I’m no longer sure about the happy ending that Koala said. As a title Lost You Forever sounds extremely ominous it’s more appropriate for a sad ending. 

I’m afraid that my heart is going to break by the end of the story. Because although I don’t love Wen Xiao Liu aka Xiao Yao aka Xi Ling Jiu Yao as much as I love Xin Yue in Da Mo Yao, I’ve fallen in love with Ye Shi Qi aka Tu Shan Jing or Jing. Completely, totally, and irrevocably in love with him. 

I thought I’m head over heel in love with Wei Wu Ji or Huo Qu Bing in Da Mo Yao and would never fall for other male lead, but who would have guessed that Tong Hua will create yet another man so wonderfully perfect that it’s simply impossible not to love him.

I’m not talking about the physical features because physically Jing is very far from perfect. If we want to talk about physical perfection than we should only look at Xiang Liu.

Xiang Liu aka Fang Feng Bei aka the Nine Headed Demon is the one who can make Jiu Ye (Meng Jiu/Meng Xi Mo)’s extraordinary looks pale in comparison. He is so perfect that perfection is the only word that is perfect to describe him.

Physical beauty is not the reason why I love Jing. 

He makes me love him despite his very battered and ruined body. He makes me love him despite not knowing who he is. He makes me love him just by being a very humble servant who rarely opens his mouth. 

I love his strength. Some might think that strength is all about brute force or the ability to conquer others. But enduring needs more strength than attacking or destroying things. Conquering yourself is the most difficult thing there is. Jing endures unbelievable tortures with grace and fortitude. 

The tortures might destroy his body but not the man inside. The tortures might be designed to degrade him and shred his pride to pieces but they only elevate him to a new height. The whole horrid things only serve to showcase what a man he is.

His strength is also shown in how he commits himself. His words are more precious than gold. His feelings are more solid than Mountain of Rocks. Once he commits himself it is forever.

I fully understand why Ma Zi and Chuan Zi who don’t even have a clue who he is simultaneously feel worthless and in awe when they finally have a good look at the beggar that Wen Xiao Liu has rescued. 

The beggar stands in front of them with nothing but cheap wool clothes and battered body but somehow he still looks so elegant and graceful. Even idiots like them who know nothing know that he is not just an ordinary person.

I normally have no liking for a good and kind hearted hero. They tend to be rather stupid and weak because of the goodness of their hearts. And they bore me to death with their predictability. But Jing is an exception. In his own way, he is far from boring and predictable. And did I mention about his brains?

His intelligence is beyond what people could imagine. They all know that he is a clever man but that is just like seeing the tip of the iceberg. His intelligence is such that he looks like he does nothing but jumping on others’ band wagon while in fact he is the one who provides that band wagon. 

I love seeing that it takes him only seconds – afer he has his faculty back – to figure out that Wen Xiao Liu is a woman. Not that it matters whether Wen Xiao Liu is a woman or not because he owes him his life. But the fact that she is a woman makes thing more difficult for him.

I think I fall in love with him the moment he promises himself to Wen Xiao Liu without even knowing what she looks like. My heart melts when I hear him say these words: ‘I. Am. Your Servant’ and ‘I. Listen. To You.’ When Wen Xiao Liu rejects that offer by saying that he doesn’t look like someone who follows or obeys anyone, he calmly repeats: ‘I. Listen. To you.’ 

I’m jumping onto his ship without caring if it’ll sink later. The quiet Jing makes my heart beats and aches like no other. If he is willing to die for Xiao Yao, I’m willing to break my heart for him.

When Ye Shi Qi stares at the lips and teeth mark on Wen Xiao Liu’s neck I’m the one who is hurt, I’m the one who feels uneasy. When Xiao Yao keeps Xiang Liu’s image in her mirror and keeps thinking about him by religiously making poisons I feel like I couldn’t breathe. 

Whenever Xiao Yao is together with Xiang Liu and they are seen by Jing my heart breaks. Every time Jing lets them together my heart breaks some more while at the same time it makes me love him even more. As it becomes clearer that Xiao Yao loves Xiang Liu my breaking heart bleeds for Jing. It hurts.

It hurts more particularly because unlike me who just become aware that Xiao Yao loves Xiang Liu, I think Jing has already known since a long time ago how Xiao Yao or back then Wen Xiao Liu feels about Xiang Liu. He knows from the moment he saw the mark of Xiang Liu’s lips on her neck and from her reaction when she saw him instead of Xiang Liu in her bedroom.

It’s not that I don’t like Xiang Liu, believe it or not, I kind of want her to be with him too. Xiang Liu is exactly the type of male lead that I would love in other story. But here, I love Jing too much to be able to handle the heart break. I have no doubt that Jing will let Xiao Yao go if she tells him she wants Xiang Liu instead of him. Her wish is his command since the first time they met and it will always be that way until he no longer breathes.

However, Jing can’t live without her. He tries to let her go once, twice, because he thinks he is not good enough for her. But he just can’t live without her. He needs her to live.

On the other hand although Xiang Liu also loves Xiao Yao, he can still live a happy life without her. He fully enjoys the pleasure he can get from other beautiful women and lives his wild life without being hampered by Xiao Yao’s existence.

Jing’s life and happiness are dependent on Xiao Yao’s happiness. He has given himself to Xiao Yao, so there’s no way for other woman to have him. 

Zhuan Xu doesn’t believe that Jing will keep himself chaste for Xiao Yao but what does he know? It’s Jing we are talking about. Jing who knows exactly what Xiao Yao wants from a man even without her saying it out loud.

He resists the beautiful Fang Feng Yi Yang who plots to sleep with him. He is able to keep himself pure despite the fact that she drugs him with a drug that is guaranteed to increase his libido, despite the fact that she throws her naked self at him all while using magic to make him think that she is Xiao Yao.

Jing is not like Zhuan Xu who loves Xiao Yao but is more than capable of hurting her and using her because he wants to keep her and pursues his ambition all at once. 

Jing is not Xiang Liu who just like Zhuan Xu is also capable of hurting Xiao Yao not because he wants power but because he doesn’t want anything at all. He cares for nothing and is not willing to be bothered by what it means to be in a relationship.

Xiao Yao doesn’t want much. She only wants a man who wants nothing but her. She only wants a man who loves no other woman but her. She only wants a man who will be there for her no matter what. Her biggest fear is to be abandoned and alone.

Jing learned from his mistake. 

I’m swooning when he tells Wen Xiao Liu ‘There won’t be a second time. No matter what reason, there won’t be a second time when you need me but can’t find me’. 

How could I not fall helplessly in love with him?! 

It hurts already knowing how hurt Jing is every single day Xiao Yao thinks about Xiang Liu. But it would hurt even more knowing that he won’t be together with her. Separating him from Xiao Yao is equal with giving him a death sentence, thus a sad ending.

A happy ending that would make sense and in line with the title is the death of Xiang Liu - not that I want him to die - because as the story progresses he becomes more awesome. It's just that I can't see how he can live with how the story is progressing. His death would give the book a happy ending and fits Tong Hua's style perfectly.

Xiao Yao would miss him every single day but in that every single day she will have Jing who would never let her go. She will have Jing who will always be there for her no matter what. Jing who she also loves and can’t live without. 

ps.I really can’t wait for Koala to finish her translation but at the same time I’m also fearing the end.