Samstag, 30. Mai 2015

Genre confusion: Romance

Ah, love is in the air~

Romance can be defined as a genre wherein the plot revolves around the love between two protagonists. This genre usually has a theme that explores an issue within love, including elements like love at first sight, forbidden love, love triangles, and sacrificial love.
EVERYONE should be familiar with this. Really. It's part of almost every drama, in one way or another.
Whether the end is happy or sad is up to the writer but it should cause strong emotions.

The first drama that came to my mind is Her Lovely Heels that cut out every business stuff (that's why there's not that much screen time) which makes it almost a pure romance series. And it works with two of the elements mentioned above: love at first sight and a love triangle.

Personally I think this drama should make you smile at first because.. cute couples always make me smile and I bet I'm not the only one.

But then again I think there are people like me who are close to puke hearts or rainbows when something ends up too cheesy. Usually the romance genre gets mixed up with melodrama or comedy to make it appealing to a wider audience, and romantic comedies are usually popular among women.

Donnerstag, 28. Mai 2015

Genre confusion: Crime

The Crime genre is rather easy to define. Crime series evolve around the actions of either criminal masterminds or the detectives solving a case.. A Crime series will often revolve around the criminal himself, chronicling his rise and fall. Some Crime films will have a storyline that follows the criminal's victim, yet others follow the person in pursuit of the criminal. Most of the series on TV are about the team trying to stop the criminal.

A typical example that comes to my mind is Special Affairs Team TEN. It's like the most obvious and pure version of crime. Team TEN is trying to solve murder cases in every episode - no romance, just some basic black humor - and there are still the F-cases in the background.

Other series that come to my mind are Two Weeks and Line Walker, but also The Virus must be included - it's just not the police trying to stop a criminal but another special team.
Two Weeks and Line Walker also use a lot of other elements though - those do have elements of crime but pair it up with action and mystery as well as some comedy, melodrama and/or romance.

When it comes to crime, the viewer should be interested in who's the criminal - it has to be a story that captures ones attention and makes us almost addicted because we want to know who's the mastermind and what is actually going on. A crime series that keeps viewers excited will be a good series.

Dienstag, 26. Mai 2015

Genre confusion: Melodrama

Talking about TV series before on here, I thought that it might make sense to define the genres now. I think many people have an idea what the actual genre might mean so I'll just keep it simple and short on here talking about what specifies a genre - and what's it actually should cause a viewer.

The first post is about Melodrama. The word drama is used for every kind of TV series in Asia so usually what we would call drama in Germany has to be defined as melodrama when it comes to Asian countries.

A melodrama is a work in which the plot, which strongly appeals to emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Usually that means that the characters are simple and seem stereotyped. But since this genre existed for such a long time, many different styles exist as well.
Interesting to know is that the term actually comes from the Greek word melos, which means music, and the Late Latin word drama. So directly translated, it'd be a 'musical drama'.

When it comes to film or TV productions, usually melodrama is used as a subgenre of dramas in general, characterised by a plot that appeals to the heightened emotions of the audience. They generally depend on stereotyped character development, interaction, and highly emotional themes. Melodramatic films tend to use plots that often deal with crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, strained familial situations, tragedy, illness, neuroses, or emotional and physical hardship.

Familiar with this one? Well, a typical melodrama that'd come to my mind now is That Winter, The Wind Blows. We have a male character who has financial problems. And in the female leads' family, everything is a mess - her brother and parents died and there's her father's former assistant taking care of her but seems to play a weird game. Oh, and we do have an illness, that's why the woman is blind. And since the two main characters get involved, there's a rather difficult situation again.
Victims, couples, virtuous and heroic characters or suffering protagonists (usually heroines) in melodramas are presented with tremendous social pressures, threats, repression, fears, improbable events or difficulties with friends, community, work, lovers, or family. Seems familar once again?

Film critics sometimes use the term  to connote an unrealistic, campy tale of romance or domestic situations with stereotypical characters that would directly appeal to feminine audiences.

Directly thinking about this, many Asian dramas contain certain elements of this genre. Thinking about Line Walker we find the illness again, as well as the crisis of the main characters. I'd also say that especially the family issues, diseases and personal crisis are tropes we find over and over again in the series that are aired in Asian countries.
However, to me it seems rare to find a tv series that only contains melodrama influence since it's usually strongly connected to Romance, sometimes paired up with some dark humor.

Sonntag, 24. Mai 2015

No Regret

BOYS LOVE! Don't like it? That's fine, don't read this review then. Thank you~

후회하지 않아 (No Regret) is a South Korean Boys Love movie released in 2006.

나도 이유를 모르겠어. 그냥 니가 좋아... I don't know the reason either. I just like you...
I seriously love this line so much. It basically explains how people fall in love. It's impossible to give reasons why you start liking a person.

Story: Lee Soo-min is an orphan who wants to study at art school so he works two jobs. One night, as a driver, he picks up Song Jae-min, who's completely drunk then, and tries to bring him home safely.
The next day, while working at a factory, Soo-min meets Jae-min again. Jae-min is the boss' son and tries to help Soo-min who's close to loosing his job because of a round of layoffs. But Soo-min is too proud and ends up quitting his job. Because of his bad situation he ends up working in a hustler bar selling his body to men who pay well. Jae-min finds Soo-min and wants to stay with him for longer, even if it's about him being a customer.

Cast: Lee Young-hoon as Lee Soo-min is doing a great job in this movie, as well as Kim Nam-gil as Song Jae-min. As far as I've read, at least Lee Young-hoon still gets asked about his sexual orientation in interviews. If people seriously believe he's gay (which he denies, he himself states he's heterosexual) he did a really good job, and I agree with them! I really liked the main cast, though some scenes were weird.

After all, to me this movie is a 10/10. I did love this movie a lot.
Yes, the end is not clear at all but it somehow made me laugh.
Yes, there are some sexual scenes - and it's not bad, after some time of watching Boys Love movies I became sick and tired of holding hands and the oh-so-innocent-love. Sexuality is something normal in human life.
So did the conservative country Korea open up? A little bit, yes. BUT thinking about this movie, it was only shown in nine cinemas all over Korea. That's not that much.
Finding the locations for filming was difficult for the crew because the owners of clubs were scared they would have to close down their clubs if the address was published. And money was an issue as well, the actors basically worked for no money, and the whole team even contributed their personal cash to make this project possible (it was made with 100.000$ only, that's not much..).

Anyways, if you don't mind seeing some sexual stuff between guys, this movie might be a great option though. And I've already stated in the first part, if you don't like Boys Love this is definitely nothing you should watch.

Donnerstag, 21. Mai 2015

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring

봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄 (Spring, Summer, Fall Winter.. and Spring) is a South Korean movie that was released in 2003.

I'll just keep this review short because the movie does have some kind of story but it focusses on buddhist teachings. This movie basically shows a boy being left behing at a buddhist monastery. He's raised by the monk and it's obvious he'll take the place of that monk some day. The seasons mentioned in the title are more used like metaphors and phases in the life of a human. Spring stands for the childhood, being followed by the teenage and young adult years that are symbolized by summer. Once the year is getting older, as well as a person, fall comes and symbolizes the latter adult years. While winter symbolizes the old days. And life will end just the way a year does. "And Spring" in the title basically stands for the never ending flow of life. The monk the viewer sees aging finds a baby boy again and raises him. So everything starts again.

Basically my Korean teacher told me to watch this movie to get an impression of the different seasons in Korea, and the pictures shown in this movie are definitely worth seeing. I remember when I was watching this (it was my homework, I'd love to have more homework like this) I paused the video sometimes just to take a look at the calm and beautiful scenery.
What might appeal to many people interested in Asian cultures and especially Buddhism as well as some beautiful landscape shots is that this movie works with hardly any dialogues. I think there were like five sentences spoken in the whole movie and you don't even need to understand those since it's not that important.

Regarding the fact that there's hardly any story included, the duration of more than 100 minutes is a little bit too much in my opinion though. The story itself is rather boring and slow but thinking about the buddhist meaning behind it, it works well with this movie.

7.5/10 is my personal rating and that's mainly because of the wonderful pictures. And because it's a movie you need to think about. Sure it's obviously Asian since it evolves around Asian virtues but this is also what makes some things seem mysterious. And it's actually good if you want to relax while watching a movie but you should pay a little attention since there are hidden messages and symbols.

Montag, 18. Mai 2015

Line Walker

使徒行者 (Line Walker/ literal title Apostle Walker) is a Hong Kong drama series that aired from August 25th to October 3rd 2014 on TVB. The series consists of 31 episodes with an average duration of 45 minutes.

*Before saying anything else, I've watched the Mandarin synchronized version. Also, the version I watched was completed after 30 episodes - but the last episode was about 90 minutes long so basically.. the last two episodes were just put together.

Story: Cheuk Hoi remains suspicious over his close colleague’s mysterious death. Shortly before dying, his colleague told him that he sent out five Undercover Cops who are in great danger. But he had to delete their profiles because of dirty cops. Cheuk Hoi now has to find the UC's to safe them. The first agent he finds, Ding Siu-ka, wants to reinstate her identity and agrees to infiltrate the triad gangs. She becomes close to Sit Ka Keung, who's most commonly known for his work in the gambling field.
At the same time, the head of the triad group, Tam Foon Hei is released from prison. His assistant, Lin Ho Kan, catches Cheuk Hoi’s attention with his many tactics.
The police and the triad gang Hung Ying Society get involved in a game of cat and mouse but soon enough Cheuk and the Undercover Cops figure out that the actual paymasters aren't that easy to catch and the game is more complicated than expected.

Cast: Can you even guess how many people are in this series? I'll give a hint.. too many.
The story actually evolves around Michael Miu as Cheuk Hoi and his Undercover Cops Ding Siu Ka played by Charmaine Sheh, Raymond Lam as Sit Ka Keung and Sammy Sum as Lin Ho Kan. There are two other UC's but those don't appear that often in the drama. Those three, however, did an awesome job showing the difficulties and personal crisis they have to deal with because of no one knowing their real identity, especially Sammy Sum. His character lost everything and while he tries to fulfill his mission his emotions take over from time to time.
Sharon Chan takes part in this drama as Mok Sin Yan. I admit that at first I thought her character but once you realize why she acts the way she does you can't really end up being annoyed or anything similar anymore because in fact she is important for the story. Her story, Mok Sin Qing is played by Elena Kong. I'll tell you that she somehow gets involved with Cheuk Hoi. After all, if I think I'd have to draw a relationship map for this drama I'd have to draw it on my wall.. too many connections! But I also came to like her at some point. She turns out to be a strong person in the end.
There are.. many many more actors and characters involved in this drama, and also in the relationships, but it'd take ages to name them all. I did like most of the actors in the end since they all seemed to go well with their roles.

Music: The instrumentals are really good.. otherwise, they use.. two songs. I can't even tell you how much I started to hate one of those songs after hearing it for 50 times.. Jinny Ng's "越難越愛 (Love Is Not Easy)" is played basically all the time. Thanks.. despite for me not being a ballad person I just have the problem that a song starts to get on my nerves if I don't really like it that much and have to hear it all the time. I find the other song, "行者(Walker)" by Justin Lo and Wilfred Lau to be incredibly interesting though. I would've loved to hear this song more often just because it has a more powerful and rockish feeling to it. And it wasn't overused so this is obviously the song I prefer.

The rating this drama just got from me is 9.5/10. It's a really good one, especially during the last ten episodes you can feel there's more and more going on. It doesn't get boring, quite the opposite, it becomes more interesting. But talking about a rewatch value is difficult since crime series are usually based on the viewer not knowing what's going to happen. That is what keeps the viewers exciting. But the drama has some awesome funny moments, as well as some really dramatic scenes.
Did it make me cry? Twice, yes. That's not that often for such a long drama series but since people same I'm not emotional at all or cold as ice I think it's not a bad thing. But I think the writers also ruined some moments by using tropes (like, just giving an example of something that appears in K-Drama pretty often, incurable diseases). Come on, we've seen that too often already. It just makes me sigh and go "Not again..".
Did it make me laugh? Yes, yes, and yes. Basically every episode had one cute-funny-adorkable moment (if you don't know the word adorkable mix up "dorky" and "adorable".. it's hard to define that word but fangirls understand the lovely-idiotic mix).
And the CharRay moments (I've found this shipname online, don't blame me!) are really fun and cute to watch as well.

Am I recommending this series? Hell, yes. Just watch it, I'm pretty su
re there's something for anyone. The melodrama fans will like it, the comedy fans will love it, so will the action fans and don't get me started about crime freaks like me.

And since the last episode says "To be continued.." there's hope for maybe, just maybe, another season someday..

Freitag, 15. Mai 2015

Bungee Jumping of Their Own

Is this a Boys Love movie? Well.. partly. I'll use the tag as well. BUT it's definitely not meant to be a typical gay movie!

번지점프를 하다(Bungee Jumping of Their Own) is a South Korean movie released in 2001.

Story: Seo In-woo and In Tae-hee are two college freshmen who fall in love and start dating really fast. They're sure that it's an eternal love. But one day it seems like Tae-hee is eternally disappearing out of In-woo's life because of an accident.
Seventeen years later, In-woo still loves Tae-hee though he's married to another woman and has a daughter with her. While giving lectures he notices that one of his students reminds him of Tae-hee all the time. He comes to believe that his student, Hyun-bin, is Tae-hee's reincarnation and that their love is meant to be. The end shows both men in New Zealand.

Cast: We have Lee Byung-hun as Seo In-woo. I think he did an awesome job playing the heartbroken character and he also showed the struggle of admitting feelings that are almost forbidden. No matter what you think about Lee Byung-hun as a person, he's a really good actor. As the female lead we have Lee Eun-ju as In Tae-hee. Most of the time we see her in flashbacks but she's pretty. Her role wasn't that complicated though in my opinion. And we have Yeo Hyun-soo as Lim Hyun-bin. As a student who's still in an important phase of orientation, he seems to be confused about everything. Which is completely understandable if you ask me. It's easy enough to believe the bullied and confused student how difficult the whole situation is.

My personal rating is 7.5/10. Some parts of the movie were just a little too much of a melodrama and I found myself confused about some things. Especially the rather open ending left me wondering why in the world two people would do this.. it's not like it makes things easier.
Sure it's somewhat romantic how far the two souls go.. but it still won't change the situation that much.

Dienstag, 12. Mai 2015

Antique Bakery

Sweet Jesus, it has been ages since I've watched this movie.. I think it was back in 2010/2011 but I'm not sure anymore..

If you don't like Boys Love at all (which means gay relationships or something like a one-sided love) you probably shouldn't read this. There'll be some more reviews of Boys Love movies I've watched years ago but want to review anyways.

서양골동양과자점 앤티크 (Antique Bakery) is a Korean movie that was released in 2008.

Story: Kim Jin-hyuk has money, looks and charm but fails to find the right woman in life. So he decides to open up a cake shop and hires Min Seon-woo, a talented patissier, who had a crush on Jin-hyuk back in high school. Together with ex-boxing champion Yang Ki-bum and bodyguard Nam Soo-young they stir up the quiet neighborhood. But except for being careless and happy on the outside, each of the men has to deal with events in the past.

Cast: So at first we have Joo Ji-hoon as Kim Jin-hyuk. A flower boy nonetheless but a good actor, I liked him a lot in this movie but haven't seen him in any other series so far. Secondly, there's Kim Jae-wook as Min Seon-woo and cheers to him for doing such a great job. He had to speak French in this movie and I think acting a gay character is difficult though. But I would've loved to try some of the cakes he made, like.. seriously. Yoo Ah-in is part in this movie as Yang Ki-bum as well. That poor guy has some serious issues in this movie. But actually every character does.. I was just feeling really sorry for his character. Last in the main cast is Choi Ji-ho as Nam Soo-young. A quiet but clueless bodyguard.. he's adorable as well but tends to wear his glasses all the time though.
As for the acting, I think it was really good but then again - I don't think I've criticized too many actors so far. If what they do seems realistic, they probably deserve a 'well done'.

To me, this movie is incredibly cute and sweet. It's not too much of a Boys Love movie, so if you're not looking for such stuff, you can still watch it and maybe just skip some scenes.
My rating is 9/10 just because it's such a nice movie to watch. Rewatch value? Yes, oh yes, it's still funny after watching it a few times.

Samstag, 9. Mai 2015

IRIS: The Movie

아이리스 : 더 무비 (IRIS: The Movie) is a Korean movie that basically summarizes the first season of the Korean drama series IRIS. It was released in 2010.

Story: Two close friends, Kim Hyun-joong and Jin Sa-woo, who are actually working for the military in the beginning are brought into a secret organization called NSS. Both of them fall for the analyst Choi Seung-hee. Hyun-joong is brought into a solo mission in Hungary which makes him a culprit so that a lot of people are after him. He then tries to find out who put him in that position and stumbles upon a top secret organization called IRIS and tries to figure out what they actually want.

Cast: The cast is actually incredibly well-known nowadays. The main cast consist of Lee Byung-hun as Kim Hyun-joong. Kim Tae-hee who is known as one of the most beautiful actresses in Korea took the role of the female lead Choi Seung-hee. Jung Joon-ho acted as Jin Sa-woo. Kim Young-chul joined the cast as Baek San whose intentions are a huge mystery to the viewer at first. And please, let's not forget about T.O.P as Vick.

The story is exactly the same. The cast as well. And the OST as well.
But this movie is like.. horrible. My personal rating is 3/10. Why?
The whole plot isn't only extremely shortened - it feels like they just cut some parts together that are important in themselves, yes, but there are parts missing that explain why in the world the things happen. Plus, I've been complaining about the missing balance between the IRIS political story and the annoying love story in the drama before but in this one they just left out things that are important to understand what IRIS actually wants and why in the world the organisation exists. But they had to add a bunch of love scenes. That doesn't even make any sense!
People, I get they had to shorten the drama but it would've made more sense to leave out some unnecessary lovey-dovey stuff and to add the important facts..

Mittwoch, 6. Mai 2015

Death Note

So I bet nearly everyone knows this movie.. it was the first Japanese movie I've ever watched and really popular but I wanted to review it anyways~

デスノート (Death Note) is a Japanese movie based on a manga series. It was followed by two more movies, Death Note: The Last Name and L: Change The World. The first movie was released in 2006.

Story: A Shinigami, a God of Death, drops a Death Note in the human world where Light Yagami finds it. "The human whose name is written in this book shall die" it says. Light decides to try if it really works by using the names of released criminals - and finds out that it's true. He decides to create a new ideal world.
Meanwhile the police figures out a pattern since all the criminals die of a heart attack and there are no leads around. Detective "L" was placed in a police force to help solving the mysterious case, and he somehow gets closer to Light..

Cast: There's a bunch of people included in the cast. At first we have Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami (yes, I know that usually in Japan the last name comes first but I'll just leave it like this because I think it's easier for most people). And his opponent L is played by Kenichi Matsuyama. I have to admit that I still can't choose who I think is cooler. I have to admit that actually Light has some things that speak for him.
Then there's Asaka Seto as Naomi Misora. She also becomes an opponent of Light and she also figures out that he's kira. That becomes obvious when she brings Yu Kashii as Shiori Kashino, a girl who's pretty close to Light into the game.
Not that important in the first movie but still one of the most important characters in the whole series is Erika Toda as Misa Amane.
Of course there are many many more characters but it would take ages to list all of them on here and I think this should be enough for now.

So this movie got a 9/10 rating from me, it's probably one of my most watched movies and I seriously like it a lot. It's a great movie for fans of crime and fantasy stories as well as manga and anime fans and the duel between Light and L is awesome to watch.
Oh, and I love the Shinigami, Ryuuk. Shinigami and apples - if you know the movie/anime/manga, you'll get this. Ryuuk is such a great and funny part of this movie. And I don't think he's scary at all though he looks a little.. strange.

Sonntag, 3. Mai 2015

Death Bell

"One will die
for every incorrect answer"

고사: 피의 중간고사 (Death Bell) is a Korean horror movie that was released in 2008.

Story: The movie is set in a high school were twenty elite students take an extra class to prepare for their college entrance exams. After the heroine Kang I-na is nearly strangled and another student is throttled in the restroom, the screen in the classroom changes to to the image of the top-ranking student being caught inside a fish tank that's slowly being filled with water. A voice announces that her life depends on the exam questions he will set for them, and for every wrong answer a student will die. Head teacher Hwang Chan-wook and English teacher Choi So-yeong are trapped with the students.
The group realizes the students get killed by their ranking. But what's still a mystery is: Who's murdering the students and for what reason?

Cast: Regarding the fact this is a movie, there's a huge number of characters in this movie.
At first we have Nam Gyu-ri as Kang I-na, the heroine. We have Kim Bum as Kang Hyun, Lee Bum-soo as Hwang Chang-wook, Yoon Jung-hee as Choi So-yeong, Lee Chae-won as Uhm Ji-yang and Moon Woong-ki as Kim Hyung-jin.
Of course there are many others but I don't want to list everyone on here. Those are just the most important characters, and I have to admit they did a damn good job. I started watching this movie around 10PM in my dark room and it was actually easy to get caught be the action and the characters who were sometimes desperate to try and safe their classmates but couldn't really do anything.

My personal rating is a solid 8/10 just because there were some aspects that weren't good enough for a better score but it's good. The end is kind of surprising though because - I think I can reveal that much - the students weren't the actual target. They were innocent victims, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Did this movie really scare me? Well, I'm a scaredy cat but love horror movies - how this works out, I can't tell you either. Usually all I do is turning the light on when walking around in the house at night and since that only happens after watching horror movies or games, I think this movie managed to scare me but I couldn't help but find the ways how the students were killed rather interesting. Whoever got the ideas should probably go and see a doctor.. It's creepy.