Monday, October 26, 2015

Review: The Pirates (해적: 바다로 간 산적)

I don’t think it’s possible for anyone not to love The Pirates. It’s that good. Not that good in term of getting raving reviews from the pundits, but that good in a lay man term. The movie gives us the little people all that we could hope for when we watch a movie.

I’m not a fan of Kim Nam Gil (김남길) and I don’t have any particular feeling for Son Ye Jin (손예진손예진) but they both are such a joy to watch.

Jang Sa Jung (Kim Nam Gil) makes us laugh and giggle not because he is one of those stupid characters who does stupid things to make audience laugh (because his character is actually quite clever) but things happen and they make him look silly.  

It’s hard not to love a hero who has to face embarrassing things on regular basis. It’s hard not to love a hero who is heroic enough to take a band of losers under his wings.

It’s hard not to love a hero who unabashedly tries to utilize the bad deal to his advantage. How could we keep our face straight after that scene of him scratching his crotch?

Kim Nam Gil might not have the blinding looks of so many other Korean actors but there is no denying that he is a magnificent actor. I personally think that Bidam is one of the best things in Queen Soen Doek (and the reason why I couldn’t bring myself to finish that drama).

Kim Nam Gil as Jang Sa Jung is a delight to watch. I can’t stop laughing when I remember him dangling on a rope in front of a large number of King’s soldiers.

And I love the scene when he finally saw a real whale then started beating Chul Bong for misleading him into making a very wrong decision. I also love the scene when he cheekily complimented the warm sea water. How could you not love Jang Sa Jung?
Although I don’t love Yeo Wol (Son Ye Jin) as much as Jang Sa Jung but as a heroine she doesn’t disappoint. I have nothing but admiration on how her character is being written. She is a perfect bad ass.

Yoe Wol might be a woman, the only woman in the ship full of pirates but she stands out not because of her gender. She stands out because it’s obvious that she’s the alpha there.

I love how she held back and loyally followed the other alpha dog Soe Ma (their leader) despite his unfair treatment until he crossed the line by selling their own people to the government official.  

Yoe Wol looks cool and tough but this time it’s not just her appearance. I love that she could make a tough decision without being hampered by the sentimentality that plagues so many heroines in dramaland.

I love that despite showing us her tough façade the movie has cleverly shown her softer side through her relationship with the other major character in this movie. The giant whale.
When I watched that giant whale approached her I was half convinced that she would be eaten, when she was not, I wondered at the randomness of its appearance and her benevolence towards Yoe Wol. But that arch turns out to be the most beautiful arch in the movie.

Is it possible to turn this movie into a drama so that we could  enjoy this story and its leads a lot longer?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jo Hyun Jae (조현재) and Yong Pal

I’ve been trying to encourage myself to watch Yong Pal until that fateful day when we had our lunch meeting (me and my best friends). We work for different Government Institutions so it’s not easy for us to get together, it’s either one is flying overseas or the other one flies all over the country.

But, when we get together it’s inevitable for the question ‘What are you watching these days?’ to pop up because we all love Kdramas. What I didn’t think would happen was for that normally innocent conversation to kill my already limited desire to watch Yong Pal.

When the question came to ‘Is there anything worth watching?’ Yong Pal was one of the answers. I excitedly announced that my man was there. When I was asked whether he was the lead I explained that he was not and that he was the bad guy.

That’s when my friend who watched Yong Pal and said that it was good calmly said ‘He died.’

There’s no rain, no storms, no earthquakes, no bombs nothing but it felt like the earth was being snatched from under my feet. My jaw dropped to the floor. My heart stopped beating. Then I saw red.

It’s not that I really wanted to watch Yong Pal but to hear that my man was being killed just because he was the bad guy really made me furious. I was also angry at my friend for delivering the bad news just like that. Who said we shouldn’t kill the messenger?

So what if Jo Hyun Jae is the bad guy? How many people did he kill? Since when Kdramas is so obsessed with punishing the bad guys? Just look at Hello Monster (I Remember You), we have psychopaths who love to kill people with enormous body counts but end up having a peaceful life free of punishment.

What happens to the usual punishment reserve for the bad guys in Kdramas? What happens to amnesia? Look at the evil guy in Oh My Ghostess (I was glad that he died and couldn’t believe my eyes when he didn't). Why can’t they give my Jo Hyun Jae amnesia instead of killing him? Where is amnesia when we need one?

I’m so angry at Yong Pal even without watching it. A story that couldn’t even find forgiveness in itself when other stories are being so forgiving to those who deserve no forgiveness is not going to get my forgiveness.

It’s hard for me to watch Jo Hyun Jae when he isn’t the male lead. Partly because I don’t want to waste my time seeing the other guy who I don’t care about (I don’t care for Joo Won and Jin Goo, it might be a different story if the male lead is the wonderful Joo Sang Wook or the beautiful Song Seung Hun who although is far beneath Jo Hyun Jae in acting department but is equally loved by me) and partly because I want him to get the girl (the second male lead or the bad guy never gets the girl).

If Jo Hyun Jae wants to change his image by playing an evil character I’m all for it. Whatever makes him happy will make me happy. He isn’t just a pretty face. He has what it takes to play a completely different character, even a complex one.

The problem is there aren’t that many evil character for male leads. In fact there aren’t that many different characters for male leads. The worst of them are the cold indifferent ones nothing more.

I could only pray that next time Jo Hyun Jae won’t be so fixated on an evil second male lead role. I’m sure there are other twisted male lead characters out there. The one who doesn’t die and gets the girl.

*Praying he’ll get that role with one of my favourite artists i.e. Han Ye Seul (한예슬)*

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review: Oh My Ghostess

My love for Kdramas is significantly dwindling. I couldn’t find one particular drama that I really love – although not love but I really like Kill Me, Heal Me and Ji Sung is beyond awesome. Most of the recent dramas were interesting enough in the beginning but then I lost my interest in a blink of an eye.

It’s not because the quality drops by leaps since most of it happens quite early in the game but because most storylines turn into something that turns me off. The quality of the production might be substandard, the leads might have no idea how to read the lines let alone act yet I’m still going to be watching till the end as long as the story is interesting and my cup of tea.

But once the stories change direction or show their true colours that it’s not what I think it would be, it’s a good bye time.

Let’s take a look at Oh My Ghostess as an example. I like the first few episodes of this drama and this is one of the very few dramas that I actually finished. It’s fun and entertaining to watch. But do I love it? No.

I almost dropped Oh My Ghostess when it’s pretty clear that the male lead falls in love with the Ghost (Shin Sun Ae) instead of with the suppose female lead Na Bong Sun.

My aversion was not because I didn’t love Shin Sun Ae for I actually loved her more than the timid Na Bong Sun who had no personality nor charms and faded into the background. Shin Sun Ae was lively, lusty and fun to watch. It was a great shame that she was already dead and not chosen as the female lead.

My biggest bone with Oh My Ghostess is that the writer fails to make the female lead shines. Its biggest mistake is for making the dead female lead more enchanting than the living female lead. Who’ll love a female lead who is barely there?

My second bone with the show is for failing to show me that the love story that I’m watching is the kind of love story that will warm and touch my heart with its beauty. Its second biggest mistake is for completely destroying my hope that it would redeem itself in the end.

Oh My Ghostess is not the first drama about someone occupying someone else’s body, there are others like 49 Days and Who Are You.  But from romantic point of view (my point of view) Oh My Ghostess is the least romantic one.

The romance in Oh My Ghostess is its worst part. And since I’m watching every single drama for its romance, romance is where my review comes from.

Han Kang in 49 Days has to deal with a ghost too. Does he fall in love with the body where the ghost is? No, he doesn’t. Does he know for sure who he falls in love with despite having to deal with two women? Yes, he does. Does his love change because of death? No, it doesn’t.

That’s the kind of love that I love. Love that prevails against all odds.

In Oh My Ghostess the love between Kang Sun Woo and Shin Sun Ae can’t be happening because she is already dead but on the other hand he is making out with the body of the non exist Na Bong Sun.

All the romantic scenes that touch our hearts and his are the ones with Shin Sun Ae. Every skinship that makes us watch it with glee is the one with Shin Sun Ae. If Shin Sun Ae is using some random girl Kang Sun Woo would definitely fall in love with that girl.

Son Young In in Who Are You falls in love with Cha Seung Hyo despite the fact it’s the Ghost who treats her super nicely. She does wonder about his split personalities from time to time but nevertheless she doesn’t fall in love with the wrong person. She loves the jerk and not the super nice one.

Some might argue that Kang Sun Woo doesn’t fall in love with the wrong person for he loves Na Bong Sun too, well, I beg to differ. She’s been there with him long before Shin Sun Ae comes but he feels nothing for her. It’s Shin Sun Ae’s personality that attracts and moves him.

I would describe his feelings for Na Bong Sun as lukewarm. Without Shin Sun Ae they might have a chance to become friends someday. And that me being generous.

The worst parts of the story are:

Firstly, when the lead is more upset that he is being lied to instead of realizing the horror that he is actually in love and has been making out with a completely different girl from the one that he thinks he loves.
Secondly, the hand shake scene. How I hate a hand shake scene in a romcom (remembering The Prime Minister and I)!

A hand shake? Really? That’s how you end your love for a girl that has touched your heart like no other? I understand they want to shift our attention into supporting Na Bong Sun’s ship, but that’s not how to do it.

If romance is not your reason for watching a drama, you’ll like Oh My Ghostess and might not find anything wrong with it.