alexandral: (The Legend - Kiha and Ho Gae hands)
Korean drama ratings list )

These are the dramas I have watched in full (there are quite few dramas I gave up on but I don't think it is quite fair for me to judge a drama without finishing it). I will appreciate any new drama recommendations.
alexandral: (GoT - anim Drogo come at me bro)

Just last Friday I was in Prague, doing many things in this gorgeous city: walking long walks along Prague's beautiful streets and parks, eating nice food, and visiting Prague Opera and Prague Zoo (which is one of the top 10 in the world).

Now I am back, and as much as I love my job it all seems like a bit of a shock. It also seems that the sub-system that I have just started doing for the Uni's new Website needs to be ready for the 1st of September which is very very soon, so I will probably have to work like mad for the next few weeks (also I am going to Scotland to visit my friend this weekend). In short - crazy times ahead and my head feels empty.

Game of Thrones

I haven't heard any casting or other GoT news and I haven't really done much of the "proper" reading of "Dance with Dragons". I skimmed very quickly once, but now I am reading very slowly. I took the book with me on holidays but I am still at the beginning of the book.

Please let me know if there have been any exciting casting news.

The only good piece of news I have seen is from Shadowlocked, here. It seems that HBO has good intentions towards "Game of Thrones" . HBO co-president Richard Pepler apparently said that "We told George we’d go as long as he kept writing" . This is a bit vague and unclear, but at least thins means we are going to have at least 5 seasons.

Photographer Amanda Killen has made some awesome pictures from the Game of Thrones season 2 filming sets. I adore the photographs of what everyone thinks are the New Gods of Westeros (The Seven: the Father, the Mother, the Warrior, the Crone, the Smith, the Maid, and the Stranger):

More pictures )

Other fannish things

I have watched few films and TV shows on the laptop whilst on holidays:

- Mentalist. I am so thankful to the show's creators for everything, especially for the great closure of Red John storyline.

- Nikita. I might and I might not continue watching this show. I have periods of interest followed by periods of non-interest.

- We went to see a classic motorbike show yesterday, so I am re-starting my "Sons of Anarchy" watch.

- Midas (Korean drama) which suffered badly from Kdrama second-half syndrome. Jang Hyuk was very hot with a short haircut and wearing sharp suits, but I was more interested in No Min Woo's character.

- Royal Family (Korean drama) which was GOOD but I didn't like the ending.

- I finally watched "Inglorious Basterds" which I liked much more than I expected to. Christoph Waltz (the Nazi Colonel Hans Landa) makes the movie and steals the focus from Brad Pitt and everyone else.

- I also watched a Canadian zombie movie "Stake Land" which was good (if you like zombie movies).

PS: How have you been? I hope everything is good!

Smile, Mom

May. 5th, 2011 12:54 pm
alexandral: (Coffee Prince - Love conquers everything)

I have been recommended this Kdrama by [ profile] millie10468 . Thank you so much! I am in a terrible drama slump at the moment: anything new seems to be unoriginal and boring. I just watched too much of any type of dramas, methinks, especially too many romance-centric dramas.

Smile mom is a female-centric family drama, one of the genres that still work for me. The first things first: as an inpatient person I am, I have checked the ending and every single OTP I liked in the very first 20 minutes of the very first episode are going to be together at the end, plus all the evil and cheating people are going to be punished. I am not hiding it under the spoiler cut because this is what one expects from a family drama.

I quickly marathoned 15 episodes of Smile mom yesterday, with the help of my fast forward button. As any other family drama (apart from Family Honor), Smie mom has it's share of incredibly annoying characters that don't seem to have any point. The ratio of annoyingly uninteresting characters is not as bad as in "Three brothers" or "Life is beautiful" (which I had to give up, no matter how much I loved Tae Sub and Kyung Soo) . But it is still considerably high, may be 40-something percent.

This is one of my "big Kdrama questions": does anyone like any of those fathers, uncles, aunties, etc? Before "Chuno", I used to think that a firm "no" was the right answer. But it appeared that in Chuno, one of the most popular characters with Korean viewers was Ji Ho. So I am not so sure anymore.

Apart from the absolutely pointless characters there is also Jo Bok Hee, one of the main four ladies. Remember the evil mother from "Cinderella's sister"? This is the same kind of role, played by the same actress, only multiplied by 100. The confusing thing is that I am not sure what the drama creators think of her, sometimes I feel as if they view her in sympathetic light. And here is where I resist: a lady that married a guy for his money, but when he lost his money (they still live comfortably, by the way) never stopped pestering him and telling him that he wasted her life? The one that sells her daughter into the entertainment business and acts as if her daughter is her doll? No, I do not have any sympathy! The phrase "die, die, you horrible person!" has never been more applicable. I know some people like to watch characters that they "love to hate", but I am not one of these people. I am too violent for that. :D I want to shake Jo Bok Hee and report her for child abuse, and I can't!

If you can cope with all of the above, or at least are prepared to fast forward, the rest is pretty good. Yoon Jung Hee, the main reason I am watching this, is lovely as Kang Shin Young (a young married woman who after divorcing her cheating husband will become a politician and a writer), even though at times I wish there was more of her. I also really like the poor actress daughter of Jo Bok Hee, Dal Rae. And the story of a female professor falling in love a much younger man is also quite good, if you like this type of story.

Anyways, this is so female centric that I am going to finish it.
alexandral: (Sita sings the blues - Wink)
Marry me Mary video
Talented vidder and altogether awesome [ profile] bop_radar made an absolutely ADORABLE fan video for absolutely adorable Korean drama "Marry me Mary": HERE. It just reminded me all the reasons why I loved this drama (which is by no means 100% perfect) more than any other rom com this year.

Game of Thrones!!!!!!!!
And also EEEEEEEEE! I am might turn into an obsessed zombie because "Game of Thrones" has began. I might not have mentioned this (because I was afraid to jinx it somehow), but I haven't been excited so much about a show or drama, or any other TV thing since "Rome", and this was 6 years ago.

Fabulous [ profile] endlessdeep (one of my absolute favourite icon makers in LJ) has a new icon community for Game of thrones. Click on the banner to see the community:

Swallow the sun
[ profile] blueocean80 and I are continuing our "Swallow the sun" watch. I have finished the episode 16 yesterday, and surprisingly, I have no idea how this is going to end. I have a gut feeling the ending is going to be on a happy or semi-happy side, but I am not too sure. The drama is definitely very good so far, but I don't know what to do with the leads. I frequently get violent urges towards Jung Woo (who has to get out of his self-inflicted manpain or else) and I don't really feel too much towards Soo Hyun. But I am absolutely mad about the secondary pairing, Jackson and Amy and I absolutely adore all the secondaries. Especially Mi Ran, who has to be my favourite secondary lady of all times. And I like the way Lee Wan plays Tae Hyuk, I like it that he is the only one who understands Jung Woo's aims. Two brothers understand each other better than anyone else?

One priceless screencap (credit: soompi) from the episode 15:

alexandral: (Default)
LJ seems to be struggling terribly again : it was out cold for the main part of GMT afternoon and now I am getting "Guru meditation" error A LOT . I will try to make it easier on the poor thing and post the collection of mainpain pictures I had on my PC some other time.

I will be short
Swallow the sun : I finished the episode 8. This is definitely going to be one of my favourites. The best thing about Choi Wan Kui's writing is that he not lazy: every single secondary charcter is beautifully drawn. One single bad thing is the main girl's character. I agree with [ profile] blueocean80: her character seems somewhat flat. I quite like her, but I don't find her interesting. Even Mi Ran (the rich girl in love with Lee Wan's character) is more interesting. I guess I am not going to become a fan of Sung Yu Ri after all. I love everyone else, though, especially Jung Woo and Jackson.

Lobbyist : I finished the episode 7. This is a drama by the same writer, but I have a totally different feeling about it. I adore Maria.

Endgame : Finished the episodes 2 and 3. I didn't like the episodes 2 and 3 as much as I did the first one. It all seemed somewhat hyperactive. But I am going to finish it: my daughter loves it.

Young Warriors : finished episode 18. I can't even express in words how much I love the brother number four. This drama is my feel good watching of the day. The drama where even evil characters are hot. Even Pan Bao, the silly and the addict is played by a hot actor.

Fringe :I am a little unsure . I am trying to tread carefully here: I love the show, but some recent developments are so over the top. I tried to explain yesterday to my friend that the destiny of our universe depends on "which girl Peter chooses" and she looked at me strangely.

The Good Wife :On the other hand, recent developments in "The Good Wife" are very interesting. Very.
alexandral: (Cindirellas sister - little girl lost)
Wow! Honestly, I haven't expected this drama to be so good. For various reasons and some of them quite objective, like the fact that the subtitles for the drama weren't released until months after the broadcast, no-one I know (apart from [ profile] dangermousie) has seen it . But the drama is very very good so far, and if it keeps this way I might transform into an insane recommender of this to anyone and everyone.

What is good? First of all, the drama has plenty of plot. I am not even sure where it is all going, let alone how it ends, and usually I can predict the ending for any Korean drama with high accuracy after the episode 4. But I am intrigued!

Then the drama has characters: so far we have a poor boy (illegitimate child, abandoned in an orphanage), a sweet girl (rich parents died in an accident that might have been a murder), a sociopath chairman who seems to have taken over the land that used to belong to girl's parents (and who wants to take over the rest of Jeju island by any means possible, including murder and blackmail) ,and the chairman's spoiled son.

Also the drama has a beautiful location. If this house is a prop, I applaud the designer. If this is a real house, I want to know where it is. Usually Korean non-period drama houses are rather strange, even the houses of people who are supposed to be affluent. I quite often tend to think : "Why Korean rich live in these horrible interiors? They have no money for anything better?" This is either due to the lack of funds or taste differences.

But Jang Min Ho's house is an absolutely gorgeous place, and at the same time it gives you an eerie feel of displacement . The place looks too empty and strangely cold, and it does not seem to belong in this time, this place, this country.

And the actors are all very good:

Ji sung (as Kim Jung Woo, the orphan boy) : I have never been a big fan of this baby-face actor, may be because I have never found much depth in his other characters. It is always nice to be wrong on the "good" side: there is plenty of depth, vulnerability and against-all-odds strength in the way he plays Kim Jung Woo.

Sung Yu Ri (as Lee Soo Hyun, the girl whose parents were killed) : She was one of the reasons it took me so long to even try to watch this drama. Her role of "stupid girl" in "Hong Gil Dong" rubbed me the wrong way, and to tell the truth, the worst way of all wrong ways. But again, it is so nice to be nicely surprised: her portrayal of Lee Soo Hyun is lovely.

Lee Wan (as Jang Tae Hyuk, spoilt rich boy) : no-one plays dark and tortured as good as Lee Wan does.

Jun Kwang Ryul (as Jang Min Ho, evil chairman): I have seen this actor playing complex (on the evil side) middle-aged characters in so many dramas recently that they all merged a little in my mind. But Jang Min Ho stands out from the rest (it must be the evil moustache :D).

There is so much pretty as well: )

PS: I am trying to stay unspoiled accidentally spoiled myself for an important piece of information, ten minutes ago. Noooooooo!
alexandral: (Chuno - Dae Gil)
My heavy obsession with "Midas" sent me off on the path of watching as many dramas written by Choi Wan Kyu as I can find. [ profile] blueocean80 and I made a pact to watch one episode of "Swallow the sun" a day and I also re-started "Lobbyist" from the beginning. I whizzed through "Lobbyist" 2 years ago, but it didn't catch my attention back then. Now it seems that my tastes have changed towards dramas that have plot (as opposed to dramas that revolve around a romantic story), so I thought to give it a try again.

I have watched the episode 1 of "Swallow the sun" and the episodes 1,2, and 3 of "Lobbyist" yesterday and am happy to report that I am loving both.

Swallow the sun:

It is hard to tell what the mains story is about yet as the episode 1 was a part of the old events. It mostly told us an old story about a girl falling in love with an escaped convict, conceiving a child , having a baby and giving the baby away. I think the girl was the main character's (Kim Jung Woo, played by Ji Sung) mother, but we will see how it all develops. The short-lived romance between Mi Yeon and the convict whose name I didn't catch was poignant and beautiful. But it makes one wonder how sane should a person be to fall in love with an escaped convict.

The interesting moment was the explanation of the drama's title "I Swallow the sun for you" - apparently this is a version of "I will get the moon and the stars for you ", meaning "I will do anything for you". I have been always wondering what that means - interesting!

The main reason to watch Swallow the sun (apart from the twisty plot): )


The first two episodes also contained Maria and Harry's back story. I thought that the part of it that was set in Korea was really strong. Maria's father discovers a Northern Korean submarine with spies on board, reports it to the authorities, but later gets the blame because the Navy doesn't want to look like idiots : "if a civilian found the submarine, where was the Navy? . Harry's father died in the military conflict with the spies, so Harry and his sister had to immigrate to USA. Maria's family was conned by an acquaintance and immigrated (illegally) to USA as well. This was the good part, but after that the story continues in the USA and becomes a little bit too over the top as well as hard to believe. I had a particular difficulty to believe that Maria's father (an illegal immigrant) was able to obtain a driving license. The level of accents both maria and Harry have is also unbelievable for someone who lived in the country for years.

Anyways, there was plenty of plot in the first three episodes and I love both Maria ( Jang Jin Young ) and Harry (Song Il Gook).

The main reason to watch Lobbyist )
alexandral: (Chuno - Dae Gil black and white)
I am so obsessed with "Midas" that I have been doing nothing this morning but intensely researching the drama's cast and creators. It appears that the writer, Choi Wan Kui, is the guy that wrote scripts for many good dramas: "IRIS", "The Kingdom of the Wind", "Lobbyist", "Jumong" ,"All in", etc. etc. I think I know now why the drama appealed to me so much: all the dramas of Choi Wan Kui are largely driven by plot and characters, none of them are of the "boy meets girl, forget the plot" variety which I seem to be getting really tired of.

Comparing "Midas" with the other dramas of Choi Wan Kui that I have seen (IRIS", "The Kingdom of the Wind", "Lobbyist", "All in"), this is a "typical" drama of his. In the main focus of the story is a strong male character that goes "to hell and back" (Jang Hyuk), but the drama also has a variety of strong and interesting supporting characters and secondary pairings.
These are good news and bad news: good news because now I can relax a little and trust Choi Wan Kui to finish this drama the way it started, with good writing and twisty plot. The bad news: there aren't too much patterns in his dramas that I can observe. It all can end tragically and it all can end well or it can end tragically for some charcaters.

Speaking of secondary characters in "Midas", I am head over the heels about No Min Woo. I will try to locate "Rock, Rock, Rock" when I am back home today, but in the meantime I am going to post his pictures:

Some more pictures of the pretty boy, mostly from Midas: )

PS: I am getting largely in the mood to watch a drama of Choi Wan Kui that I haven't seen, may be " Swallow the Sun". Is it any good?

PS 2: I am trying to stay un-spoiled for Midas. I usually like spoilers, but the plot-intense dramas like Midas (with assassinations, intrigues, etc.) are better watched without being spoiled. And today With S2 released the episode 7 subtitles!!!!!!!!!!!
alexandral: (Chuno - Dae Gil)
Usually, I am a canon OTP kind of girl. I don't know why but normally I choose the canon OTP in any show or any book instinctively, without meaning to do so. There have been few exceptions, as with any rule, but usually these exceptions are in two categories: a) the writer of the story have changed their mind half-way . Little Women is My most upsetting case of non-canon OTP; or b) For some reason my subjective aesthetic feelings kick in and I find the canon guy extremely ugly . Vampire Diaries! Stefan is well and truly ugly which can't be made better by any goodness of his character - these are two totally different things.

And just when I say that I am fed up with Kdramas, Kdrama fairy wants to take revenge and consequently I become heavily and rapidly obsessed with Kdrama Midas. And even worse, I become obsessed with non-canon OTP.

Come and meet my favourite non-canon OTP: Lee Jung Yeon ( Lee Min Jung ) and Yoo Myung Joon ( No Min Woo ):

To preface, let me explain more about "Midas". Midas, so far, is a strange beast. I start watching this expecting a mind-bending story about "mergers and acquisitions between companies", with Jang Hyuk. But in reality, this sentence doesn't describe Midas correctly: this might end as a melodrama, but so far it is a human drama about people who care for money more than anything else, and about their "closest and dearest". It revolves around the following love triangle: Kim Do Hyun (played by Jang Hyuk , gorgeous and sporting various haircuts) , his ex-fiancee Lee Jung Yeon and MONEY in the form of Do Hyun's lady boss In Hye. Among the various other elements thrown in the mix are: revenge and family drama.

The best thing about the drama so far (I have watched 6 episodes) is Lee Jung Yeon's character. Even when they had their blissful period with Do Hyun she said the following to her father: "My life is not just about Do Hyun". She is warm , she is intelligent, she is capable and she is her own person. She works as a nurse but she also studies in grad school and wants to become "a professor". She immediately picks up on the way Do Hyun starts to change after beginning to work for In Hye. At first, Jung Yeon is ready to forgive, but one thing happens after another: Do Hyun never has any time for her, then their wedding is blown because he gets in an accident which might have and might have not being arranged by someone (In Hye, i suspect), but the truth is, he was talking about work on his mobile whilst driving. Other misunderstandings arise, mostly engineered by In Hye, but it all ends when Do Hyun goes to New York and Jung Yeon and Do Hyun split. There were three particular scary things so far: In Hye calling Do Hyun "her prize horse", Do Hyun always insisting Jung Yeon should leave her work and Do Hyun hiring gangsters to beat up some people protesting on the street.

I have been shipping Do Hyun and Jung Yeon at first, but after the episode 6 I decided that they don't really suit each other. The failed wedding was sadly the best thing that happened to Jung Yeon, otherwise Do Hyun might have ended up hurting her even more.

Back to my non-canon OTP:

She: Lee Jung Yeon , a capable nurse
He: Yoo Myung Joon , a playboy brother of In Hye. There was a tragic story in their childhood: the two of them are children of the second wife (out of 4 wives with 6 kids overall) ,poorly accepted in the family. Their mother has left the family for some lover 16 years younger than her.

The best scene so far was the moment when he fell for her. Up to that, it was all fun and games for Myung Joon. But then one day he crossed the line and had the biggest telling-off of his life from Lee Jung Yeon. This changed everything: The scene in pictures )

PS: We had a time-jump in the episode 6 and I think he is about to become ill with cancer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS 2: This is a grown-up drama, with open-mouthed kissing prior to wedding and assumption that people actually have sex.
alexandral: (Powerful opponents - all i need is a her)
As much as I feel that nothing really grabs me in my favourite genre (Korean drama), I felt compelled to check "Royal family" (because Kim In Sook is pretty and I like older women/younger men romances and romances where friends become lovers) and Midas (because I love and adore Jang Hyuk ever since Chuno).

I don't have too many good things to report back:

Royal family:
1. Has a weeping-willow, wet blanket of a lady for heroine. I usually love stories about herouines in hard circumstances and suffering with dignity. But this can't be said about the lady from "Royal family". I want to give her a cheer-up talk. It seems that she is bound to get better later on, but I have already developed a knee-jerk reaction to her always sad face.

2.It looks like a drama where things will either end happily or will end in absolute misery.

3. But on the way to either of the two, there will be too much of over the top angst.

1.I like the secondary girl. I checked the episodes 5 and 6 and I still like her. She loves the hero, plus she is sane, kind and everything else. But we all know that the secondary girls never get the guys. And even more, we know that the secondary girls tend to turn evil and nagging.

2. This definitely looks like a drama where the rocks will fall and everyone will die.

3. I might watch it for the secondary girl's sake.

**sigh **.
alexandral: (Powerful opponents - hard day)
I thought I would never mention "Dream High" again, but it appears I have to. I am quite confused after the episode 16 , I will try to explain:

Spoilers )

My verdict: Although I quite like open endings, I don't like confusing ones and I appreciate it very much when the creators stand by their decisions. Consequently, my ratings are: 5/10. But not all is bad , there were some really good things in the mix. I just noticed how excellent Taecyon's cheekbones are, for example:
alexandral: (Actors - Oh Ji Ho)
Haven't seen any spoilers yet, so here is my honest prediction:

1. Sam Dong is K
2. Sam Dong and Hye Mi will be together, although not in the way of "wedding bells", but in the way "You are Beautiful" ended, where it was clear they will be together even if they are not in the same country or something like this.

Me? I suffered the classic syndrome of Kdrama Second Half with "Dream High", my interest diminished considerably in the later episodes and none of the actor performances did much for me, plus I became quite bored with Taecyon (the main reason I was interested in the drama originally) at the end. It is all probably the fault of "Forbrydelsen" (or "The Killing") , an amazingly intelligent Danish show I have become obsessed with recently. I am getting too old for teen shows. I am a completionist so I will have to finish "Dream High", but after the episode 11 "Dream High" gets 6/10 (a cute teenage drama with kpop stars) from me and I will probably never mention it again.
alexandral: (HYD - Rui - Angst/Bed)
You probably already know that I like Kdrama. I don't know what it is, but on average I make much more intense emotional connection with Asian dramas than I do with Western TV. Several times I tried to figure out why and finally decided to give in to the most logical explanation: I wasn't brought up in the West, I was brought up in Russia where strong Asian influence exists alongside with the strong Western influence. Russian TV of the times of my youth was, in it's format and content, much closer to Asian TV than to Western TV.

But I have a "problem" with Kdrama (and particular with Kdrama, this is much less present in other Asian dramas). The problem is The Curse of Kdrama Second Half. The curse can be best described using graphical representation below:

a) My interest during watching an average Kdrama: the peak of interest is usually somewhere in the middle. After that, a long fall, followed by the return of some amount of interest at the end.
b) My interest during watching an average TV of any other kind: usually steadily grows towards the end.

I often ponder on why I lose the interest after the second half. I often check Kdrama ratings: the ratings usually climb up towards the end, or stay steadily the same. Then it must be ME? There is something in Kdrama formula that doesn't agree with me in particular? This must be it.

Dream High : It is much more disappointing for something you thought was good to go pear-shaped than for something you never thought was good to continue to be bad. I did have hopes for "Dream High"; it seemed to me at first that the drama made sense and was more than just a cute drama about teen stars. It is disappointing to see that "Dream High" IS just a pretty drama about pretty stars. Never mind the scary illness (I am not fond of this story device, but I have to bear), for me it all goes wrong when the inconsistencies strike: I am a logic freak . One example from the episode 13 : 1) Hye Mi seems to be lovey-dovey with Jin Gook 2) Jin Gook has a big crisis (attacks his manager) 3) two of them don't even talk about it for days 4) even if they live in the same house and Hye Mi is assertive enough to demand explanations previously. And this is just one example of many, there is more, especially with Jason and Pil Suk. So, R.I.P. my special hopes and feelings for "Dream High". Dream High is lovely but I will finish this drama in fast-forward mode.

Marry me Mary : On the other hand, "Marry me Mary" never seemed the kind of drama that had any ambition about giving me a lesson or uplift my fighting spirits or anything of the sort. So when the Curse of Kdrama Second Half happened, it didn't affect me much. Although I enjoyed the first half of "Marry me Mary" more than the second, the fall wasn't steep and I continued to enjoy it greatly till the end. Because "Mary" was all about the chemistry between the main trio, and because it had scenes like this one: )

PS: I finished "Marry me Mary" with my perfect satisfaction , my ratings 7/10. A full extra point given for lovely songs.
alexandral: (Chinese Odyssey -Vicky - YEEEESSSS)
Oh, what am I to do! My teenage years are long gone and almost forgotten and I am a responsible mother of almost-teenage daughter! But! There seems to be such an influx of good teenage dramas lately! I am insanely obsessed with "Dream High", and it seems that the drama can’t really go too wrong after 10 episodes of sheer delight. Well, I hope "Dream High"'s creators won’t kill off Bae Yong Joon’s character in the last episode or do anything strange with the love triangle. But this is highly unlikely and I am a person of statistical probabilities, so I am not going to fret.

But even more, I am loving the slice of life drama "Marry me Mary". I have seen 3.5 episodes so far, but I can tell this drama is going to make me happy. I love it. To the point where I don’t want to marathon it: I want to savour all the lovely little details and jokes and songs and gestures. As always with the things I love, I find it hard to articulate what is so good about "Mary..". It just makes me all young and happy! I must mention that it helps a great deal when the actors in the drama are as good at acting as Moon Geun Young and Jang Geun Suk.

And of course something like the scene below is bound to make me happy: Moo Kyul kisses Mary on the forehead. She has a scar and he says that it is pretty and kisses her (like 100 drunk black kittens, to be precise)!

The whole of the scene )
alexandral: (Actors - Oh Ji Ho)
In a way, I have adored the first few episodes of the latest drama from director Kwak Jung Hwan and writer Chun Sung Il. I have a feeling that the writer and the director became very tired after their famous drama "Chuno" and decided : "No more complex dramas with complex heroes. Let's make something completely different"! And they did! The drama can be summarized easily by the picture below:

Yes, it is all about arms of steel and naked chests (also guns, bikes, cars, helicopters and other accessories). And what exactly is wrong with this? As long as the arms and chests in question are of sufficiently high quality, nothing! I welcome this with my whole heart. But the thing is, you can easily replace the watching of the drama with a collection of pictures. Let me present "Fugitive Plan B" to you: In pictures )
But you may ask "What about the plot"? Of course, no plot whatsoever, but do you really care?
alexandral: (Iljimae - Shi Hoo fighting)
One of the best things about Korean drama is that one can predict how it will end, especially "who is going to end up with whom in love triangles and quadrangles" with very very high probability. Kdrama is a kind of genre that is very highly formulaic.

Quite often the answer to the question "who is the OTP of the story" is in the titles (character listings).
My recipe: Take the character listings for a drama from DramaWiki, this is one of most accurate resources, or Soompi. Pay particular attention to the order of characters:

1. Example one: this is the order that is used most often in romantic dramas (85% of cases) : OTP (male + female) characters are listed as first and second. Pay attention to any giveaway relationship diagrams as the one in the example below (Secret Garden). In a drama like this, there is absolutely no chance for the guy that is listed as the third character to get the “main” girl. He can, however, sometimes have his own OTP (please see the rule 4 about instincts)
Pictorial evidence )

2. Example two: second most often used distribution: the first and the second character listed are of the same gender. Kdrama is not yet THAT advanced as far as the same-sex OTPs are concerned. The fact that the characters listed as the first and the second are both female or both male means that for some reason the creators consider those two are the two main characters. In a situation like this usually the second and the third character form an OTP. Examples: "Women of the sun", "Chuno", but sometimes the first and the third character form an OTP ("Stranger than Paradise").
Pictorial evidence )

3. Example 3: Family dramas. Because the characters are listed by families, it is hard to predict the OTPs. Examples: Baker King, Gloria, etc.

4. Most of all, trust your instincts. Is the girl continuously pining for some guy even though the other guy is probably a better match for her? Is she constantly bickering with a guy and "hates" him? These are clear and sure signs of OTP, and so are: accidental kisses and hugs of any kind (please observe the reaction of the person hugged – is he/she enthralled? or uncomfortable/friendly?) Some other golden rules are: families will not be broken (unless one of the marriage partners is truly horrible).

5. There are actors that break the rules. You much watch out for them, because no matter what, their character will "get the girl" at the end. I am talking about Park Shi Hoo of course, and Kim Nam Gil. These guys have that mysterious charisma that tends to blind fans and directors alike, to extent of changing intended endings

Hehe! Of course, everything is not that serious and predictable. And may be somewhere along in the future Korean directors/producers might decide to list the characters alphabetically.

Also, I wonder – do you have any good tips on kdrama ending predictions? I would love to hear more!
alexandral: (Powerful opponents - hard day)
Having finished "Secret Garden", I finally remembered what this drama reminds me of. "Lovers in Paris"! Eureka! And to my further no-surprise, these two dramas are written by the same writer (and so are "Lovers" and "Lovers in Prague"). Now then, ladies and gentlemen, I adore "Lovers" in all shape and form, these are three highly delicious "traditional" Kdramas, and "Secret Garden" does not disappoint.

In the last 5 episodes of "Secret Garden" we find out what the body swap is for. Let me tell you this story in full because it is such a good fun:

Past: Raim’s (girl) father was a fire-fighter. The father died saving JooWon (guy) out a lift of a burning building.

Present:The young ones meet and fall in love. Accidental (or not so accidental) body swap happens between the two of them and they learn to control it. Raim is a stunt woman, so one day she is injured and falls into coma. JooWon arranges another body swap because he wants to GIVE HIS LIFE FOR HERS. In the process, he disconnects her life support (it was not needed, you see), and takes her to a location far far away. In the far away location, a big thunder storm happens (rain is the catalyst for body swap) , Raim wakes up in JooWon’s body. And after that JooWon wakes up and has an amnesia. I will not tell you more because I don’t want to spoil.
Hee! This story is so outlandish that it is incredible fun. Fortunately I do not watch kdramas for the sake of believability. Besides, let me tell you, after watching an amazing Dutch show "Myth Busters" on holidays, I am very sceptical of believability of many Hollywood movies and TV shows too. Anyways, I do not watch anything just for the sake of believability. And sometimes more outlandish is better, so I watched and enjoyed several makjang, even "Temptation of an Angel".

There was a new unexpected minus in the second half:
- Raim, who seemed to be quite a fiesty lady in the first half, had taken to crying in the second.

But there was an extra plus too:
+ The second half of JooWon's cousin Oska’s story turned out to be even more awesome than the first.

Anyways, on the whole this was good fun, my ratings: 7/10. Dramas to watch if you liked this are "Lovers in Paris" (very similar, some fantasy element, but no body swap) and "Temptation of an Angel" (if you like coma stories).

My prediction: This is not the last time body swap happens in kdrama, and not the last time we are goign to see :
a) a guy imagining a girl walking next to him wherever he goes;
b) kisses happening in the middle of huge "high society" parties.

PS : my open letter to Hyun Bin : Dear Hyun Bin, please eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do not skip meals: a good doze of bacon can be good, not bad.
alexandral: (Iljimae - Shi Hoo fighting)

I am through the first half of “Secret Garden” and intend to finish this today (there is nothing I can’t do with few hours of no-sleep and fast forward button). I have pretty much made my mind up about the drama: I am really glad that I gave it a chance. For some reason, I really don’t like stories about body swap, which seems be just a very contrived method of making a movie or a book “funny”. Nonetheless, luckily “Secret Garden” is a case of confusing blurb (there seems to be so many of them nowdays!), and body swap does not feature heavily in the story.

The story in short goes like this: forget the body swap (it is just a gimmick), imagine a love story between a poor stunt woman and a rich guy with icicle-like heart (destined to melt soon), and a secondary pairing between his washed out singer cousin and his first love, a daughter of a rich family. Sounds familiar? Yes, but the main couple has incredible, rare chemistry together.

Overall, “Secret Garden” is a well-made, in many ways “traditional” Kdrama in which interactions between the main (admittedly scorchingly hot) couple become very repetitive after the first 7 episodes. I am in the episode 10 and I already want to shout: please get on with the program, already! Take me right, I don’t particular view this as a shortcoming, it is just “the way they do things” in Kdrama. There isn’t many dramas where I didn’t use my fast forward button in the second half, not many at all.

There are few things that set the drama above the average of this genre:

+ Ha Ji Won (the stunt lady Gil Ra Im) is awesome. I don’t even have enough words to describe how good she is. She hasn’t done dramas in a while , so it is so great to see her back

+ Oska, the singer cousin. And everything to do with Oska: his larger-than-life character, his love, and his gay friend. The gay friend (talented singer and songwriter) is actually in a separate category of great – isn’t it so good to see gay people presented so positively in recent Korean dramas? Kdrama seems to be way ahead of Western shows in this regard, and who would have expected it!

Among less positive things:

- Hyun Bin plays himself from “My name is Kim Sam Soon”, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Only he seems to have lost so much weight since then. The guy looks like he hasn’t had a dinner in days!

- There are few things that one just can’t find believable, no matter how hard one tries, and I don’t mean fantasy elements. For example, the horrible poverty in which Gil Ra Im lives. Ok, stunt woman is probably not the kind of profession you want your daughter to choose, but still – it doesn’t seem as the kind of profession that has extremely low wages. Plus she teaches as well. So, why she and her friend have to live in some horrible place? I don't know, her friend seems to be in full-time employment too.

Ratings: I haven't finished it yet, but most likely 7/10.
alexandral: (Cindirellas sister - little girl lost)
Like almost everyone else, it seems, I am in love with "Dream High", this season’s high-school drama that gets it right. The drama has it all: young fresh actors, musics numbers and even Taecyon. One and only possible minus is the fact that Bae Yong Joon is only in the first 4 episodes: even my 11-year old daughter thinks that he is awesome beyond belief as enigmatic director, scene-stealer, Jung Ha Myung .

For the record, after episode 6 my predictions for the ending of Dream High are:

1) I am quite sure HyeMi is going to end up with Jin Gook, after much angst and many misunderstandings.
2) I think that mysterious K is Song Sam Dong, but I am not as sure about this as I am about the pairing prediction.


As much as I like “Dream High”, the current drama episodes of which I await the most is CSI-like "Sign". I don’t even like CSI all that much, but it seems that dramas written by Kim Eun Hee ("When it's at night", "The Winter Queen", "Winter Sonata") often hit the right spot with me. It is all in the balance between dark human story, police story and love story. I tend to get a little distracted when watching dramas that are romance only. Also, this writer tends to create powerful female characters, which is always a big plus with me. Sign is no exception, and especially if you are a fan of whodunit or serial killer stories, I would really recommend to try “Sign” as well-written drama with good acting.

As far as acting goes: I think both female leads, Kim Ah Joong and Uhm Ji Won are all shades of great, and to my huge relief, the secondary lady is not "traditional Korean secondary lady full of evil bile", but an interesting multi-dimensional individual. She is my favourite so far: Uhm Ji Won, playing a prickly prosecutor Jung Woo Jin. But Kim Ah Joong is also really good as rookie pathologist Go Da Kyung.

I have always been the Park Shin Yang’s (Sign’s male lead) fan, and he hasn’t disappointed me in "Sign" , as mad professor of pathology Yoon Ji Hoon. BUT! I must confess that I am much more interested in the second lead, police investigator Choi Yi Han, played by hunky Jung Gyu Woon.

My predictions:
I think this drama is going to go the way of two separate OTPS, Go Da Kyung/ Yoon Ji Hoon and Jung Woo Jin/ Yoon Ji Hoon, at least I hope so. In the episode 4, we had both couples performing the act that spells OTP like nothing else in Korean drama: namely, piggy-backing. YAY! I love two separate OTP stories in general, and it will be particular nice to see the gorgeous Choi Yi Han getting the lady!

Non-spoilery promo pictures, a little too heavy on Jung Gyu Woon )
alexandral: (City Hall - together)
Daemul follows the first female president of South Korea and her beset friend, prosecutor Ha Do Ya . It is drama well-written and well-acted. Seo Hye Rim 's rise from a job of simple news announcer to the presidency is believable and logical. It is not Cinderella story - Seo Hye Rim's strong will manifests itself from the first scene, where it is as clear to us as it is to her future life-long friend and lover Ha Do Ya : this woman is special.

The drama had success in ratings and collected several awards: it is a combined effort of the producer of "Lovers" and "Lovers in Prague" and the director of "Hello my Teacher", who seem to be a pair fit to produce something note-worthy, but the main secret of the drama's success is , of course, the lead actress, Ko Hyun Jung. From Mishil to Seo Hye Rim, Ko Hyun Jung is the master of powerhouse-lady roles.

Although I thought Daemul to be a very good drama, for my personal , rather shallow taste, it's balance between the politics side and the love story side was shifted too much into the politics side. 24 episodes of drama relentlessly following dodgy political funds were a little too much for me, so I reached for the fast forward button few times . But! The love story side was lovely: they became friends first and supported each other through sick and thin. I don't want to spoil anyone for the ending, but let me disclose one thing: the ending is GREAT (but I would have expected so from award-heavy drama, anyways).

Few very spoilery gifs! )

ratings: 7/10


alexandral: (Default)

January 2012

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