Freitag, 29. April 2016

Rough Cut

영화는 영화다 (Rough Cut; also known as A Movie is a Movie) is a South Korean movie that was released on September 11th, 2008 with a runtime of 113 minutes.

Story: Gang-pae is a gangster and has risen to one of the highest positions in his gang. He's known for his violent nature but at the same time has a side appreciating arts, especially movies.
On the other hand, Jang Su-ta is a popular actor who's known for his short temper. A few days after beating up his co-starring actor he goes drinking with the director and meets Gang-pae in that bar.
While filming a fight scene a few days later Su-ta beats up another actor again and no one is willing to take the co-starring role after that. When he remembers that Gang-pae actually has been acting in a minor role in a movie before, he calls him and offers the gangster the co-starring role. Gang-pae agrees to this - as long as they are really fighting..

Cast: As for the cast there are only Gang-pae and Su-ta in the focus though there are a lot of other characters we meet from time to time. However, I think it's the best thing to focus on the two main characters.
So Ji-sub accepted the role of Gang-pae and the first thing I need to admit is that I seem to have a weak spot for So Ji-sub in suits. Besides, the gangster image totally fits him. As you might remember I really liked A Company Man, a movie I've reviewed some time ago. While the topic in this one is kind of different, the "gangster" image works well for So Ji-sub. His acting was on spot most of the time showing his soft side as well as his rather cold and serious side.
On the other side we see Kang Ji-hwan as Jang Su-ta, an arrogant actor with a somewhat violent side and he just can't hold back when it came to the movie they were filming. His violent part gets him into serious trouble and his company even gets into financial problems due to the money they have to pay to keep the reporters quiet. While fighting with Gang-pae he seems to grow as a person though and it seems like he's becoming a little more open towards Gang-pae later in the movie, almost as if the two of them became friends.

The movie in itself is strong, the cast is quite good as well and people - THIS is a gangster movie. While there were some things in the background story that seemed too much, this movie still got a 9/10 rating from me which is actually pretty good.
What I found to be rather funny about this movie in general is how they chose the names of the characters. Gang-pae in fact is the Korean word for gangster and Su-ta the Korean pronounciation of "star", and it's actually kind of funny that they did even use the names reflecting the characters that good.

After all a strong movie I'd recommend to those who enjoy exciting fights or just fans of the actors!

Oh, and at the very end - can we PLEASE talk about how everyone in this movie is watching Green Fish? I can't stop laughing about this fact.

Freitag, 22. April 2016

Liar Game

라이어게임 (Liar Game) is a Korean drama series that aired on tvN from October 20th to November 25th 2014. The series itself is based on manga.

! I do not know the manga or the Japanese version of this series so I will write this review without comparing the plot and actors. !

Story: Nam Da-jung, an innocent young woman, is asked to help an elderly woman one day. After that woman disappeared leaving her alone with a bag full of money, Da-jung takes the bag home but her conscience tells her to take the money to the police station the next day though she could pay back her debt. By returning that bag filled with money she gets pulled into a TV show called "Liar Game" hosted by Kang Do-young. Since Da-jung is too innocent to win that game and the 10 Million dollar the final winner will receive, loan shark Jo Dal-goo tells her about a smart guy he met in prison - Professor Ha Woo-jin. Since she desperately needs help, Da-jung starts looking for Woo-jin the day he gets out of prison, and though he doesn't want to help her at first, the two of them become a team. Innocent Da-jung learns about people betraying her and that, in order to win, those who betrayed her need to be punished so she finds a circle of players joining her team. But is it right for her to trust all of those people when in the last round 10 Million dollar can be won? And why of all people was she chosen for the show? Was it a plan to get Ha Woo-jin to participate in the game as well?

Cast: The first character to name is Nam Da-jung played by Kim So-eun. While I really liked Kim So-eun since Boys Over Flowers I still liked her - but not that much in this drama, her acting was alright but her character horrible. While I heard people say she's not innocent enough (compared to the Japanese version, that is - found the statement on I wonder how she could be more innocent and even more DUMB. It's not even naive anymore but sometimes I started wondering whether she was just left out when brains were given out for free. Seriously, the one thing that was horrible in this series was how stupid and naive Nam Da-jung was.
Luckily, the main antagonist Kang Do-young played by Shin Sung-rok was awesome. Talking about the actor, can we please talk about his role in You Who Came From The Stars? He was a great villain in a rather basic rom-com series but this time he was even better, maybe because of the setting. I got scared of him in front of my laptop. Kudo's to Shin Sung-rok for creeping me out though I'm still 8000km away. As a character, I enjoyed watching Kang Do-young and Ha Woo-jin caught up in their battle with Woo-jin protecting Da-jung.
Lee Sang-yoon as Ha Woo-jin is someone I've seen for the first time ever in a drama so I might not be able to tell you much about his other series and that is not necessary either. He had this kind of.. aura around him in this series that made me forget that it's actually a K-drama and as I stated above, I loved watching him and Shin Sung-rok in a dangerous battle. While I feel his acting itself was pretty good the combination of two main characters with incredibly charismatic actors made it perfect.
Of course there is a great number of actors involved mainly because of the number of participants as well as the people involved in the production of the show "Liar Game". For example we have Cha Soo-yeon as Lee Yoon-joo who is responsible for the program. At first everything's about the rating for her but she changes and suddenly finds her self under pressure to safe the TV station JVN. Choi Jin-ho as Director Jang is responsible for the pressure and he tends to manipulate what's going on to keep the show interesting.
Among the participants are Lee Si-hoo as Choi Sung-joon, Jang Seung-jo as Kim Bong-geun, Jo Jae-yun as Jo Dal-goo, Lee Cheol-min as Bulldog, Park Jae-hoon as actor Goo In-gi and Lee El as Oh Jung-ah or Jaimie, a character I never thought I would come to like as the series progresses.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack for this series wasn't too special. As far as I remember there was only Dear Cloud's "Liar" that really caught my attention and that is not much but at least that song even made it up to my list of my personal favorite OST songs of all time. But since this drama is filled with suspense I would've wished for something slightly more mysterious. I don't know if you get what I mean but bands like Nell or Hlin would've completed that soundtrack perfectly..

Overall I did enjoy this series a lot but it still only gets a 9/10 for mainly two reasons. I was really bothered by Nam Da-jung's stupid and naive behavior and I just cannot look past that fact. The other reason is indeed the soundtrack. I explained it before in the post regarding my favorite soundtracks I think and the OST can in fact save a series - or kind of destroy it. Now the music did not destroy this but it's a minus for me.
There's only a hint of romance in this series - if you want to see it like that so I think you can very well ignore it if you don't like it.
Some people said that certain aspects of the games were hard to understand without knowing the Japanese version - but I do not agree with this. Yes, I sometimes needed to rewatch a scene because I didn't really get the explanation but as soon as examples were shown it made sense.

As far as I've heard many fans of the Japanese version didn't like the Korean version and that's okay but standing for itself the series is definitely worth watching. It's interesting, suspenseful and will keep you excited if you like this kind of series.

I'll just leave you wiht some gifs you will understand after watching the series - the last one was one of my favorite scenes in the whole 12 episodes.

Freitag, 15. April 2016

An Ethics Lesson

분노의 윤리학 (An Ethics Lesson; also known as Ethics of Anger) is a South Korean movie released on February 21st 2013 with a duration of 110 minutes.

Story: Jin-ah is a popular girl desperately in need for money. That's how she got in touch with loan shark Park Myung-rok. Her neighbor Kim Jung-hoon is a police officer who's spying on her in her apartment. Her former boyfriend Han Hyun-soo who still loves her visits her apartment frequently and hears her with her lover, married Professor Kim Su-taek, one night. After fighting with her Hyun-soo kills Jin-ah and Professor Kim gets arrested. Jung-hoon, who recorded the murder, is contacted by Hyun-soo. Myung-rok meets Jung-hoon when he's trying to remove the camera and the microphones in the middle of the night. This is how the men get involved with each other, except for Professor Kim who doesn't know what's happening to him.

Cast: Lee Je-hoon as Kim Jung-hoon delivers what he's supposed to do though it does not become clear why exactly he has been spying on Jin-ah. There are signs that he had a crush on his beautiful neighbor but then again the viewer doesn't get to know this for sure. After all his acting is quite satisfying.
Kim Tae-hoon as Han Hyun-soo seems to be a good actor as well but, and this is only my opinion so don't hate me for that, he seems to be a little too old for such a passionate and at the same time sometimes just.. stupid character. Usually one would expect someone younger when it comes to really impulsive and passionate characters but then again his acting fits his character after all so that's not much of a problem at the end of the day.
Jo Jin-woong as Park Myung-rok made me crack up, for a loan shark he's quite funny but also has his options to make things go his way - or to at least try that. As a loan shark and a gangster I really had difficulties to take him seriously.
Then there's Kwak Do-won as Professor Kim Su-taek. While him cheating on his wife is definitely something about morals it doesn't make him a charming character. As for the acting, I loved the way he developed while being interrogated over days or weeks.
Lastly I need to mention his wife, Sun-hwa, played by Moon So-ri. She doesn't have many scenes so there's no development and her character appearing in the end makes it seem incredibly random like -  "oh, we could add a little bit of a wife seeking for revenge as well!" but her behavior in that one scene is interesting. It doesn't seem like it's her first time dealing with.. uhm.. sudden circumstances.

Now my personal rating? As you might have noticed I found the movie at least enjoyable but it still only gets 6/10 from me because it seriously missed the point. A movie that's supposed to be a crime and maybe even melodrama movie isn't supposed to be as hilarious as this movie is, it just seems like a whole parody of another gangster movie. If its aim was to make the audience crack up the rating would have been better but since it is supposed to be a rather serious movie (as far as I've read) it turned out quite bad.
That being said, I like the way the scenes were used. For example in two scenes, when Hyun-soo calls Jung-hoon we see what Hyun-soo is doing first and hear Jung-hoon through the phone, in the next scene it's the opposite, we see Jung-hoon. It's actually pretty nice but can turn out kind of repetitive it it's used too often.

If you're looking for a good laugh you definitely should try this movie but if you're looking for a serious gangster movie, this one is not for you.

Freitag, 8. April 2016

One Night Only

!Warning! This is a Boys Love movie - don't like it? Then ignore it.

원나잇온리 (One Night Only) is a Korean movie that was released in 2014. It consists of chapters, each about 30 minutes long, and therefore gives a hint on the lives of a few young man.

Story: The first story is called "Night Bug". Han-jae organizes meetings in a bar in Jongno for gay men with a group of others where they get drunk. He and his 'business partner' then take their money. Not long ago he met Hoon who became his bait. With Hoon longing for his love it's easy for Han-jae to control him - but maybe also to lose him.
The second story, One Night, deals with the hopes of three students from the a Southern province who want to go to Seoul to be able to date properly, at least compared to the rather small town they're living in. One day, Geun-ho almost gets into a car accident but a man, Joon, saves him. Later that day they meet in a small gay bar again and Joon takes Geun-ho to Seoul the next day. But isn't it naive to trust someone you barely know and leave with him?

Cast: The cast of this movie consists of, as far as I know, rather unknown actors, most of them acted in a few movies but only as supporting characters.
In the first part we have Jang Yoo-sang as Choi Hoon and Park Geun-rok as Han-jae. While I did like their acting Han-jae as a character seemed too cold and only opened up in the end when you feel like it's too late.
The second part evolves aroung Geun-ho played by Yoo Min-kyu and his friends Yong-woo played by Jo Bok-rae and Sang-soo played by Kim Dae-joon. And the characters have been too sassy from time to time! WHY? I actually did like the story. But come on, gay men aren't like that. At least not the majority. That's why I actually liked the sometimes really shy but cute Geun-ho, and of course Jeong Won-jo as Joon. They're acting felt much better and the behavior of the characters seemed way more natural.

Why did I rate this movie with 7/10? Well, it's worth a watch but I kept wondering why they just put both parts in one movie. Of course it's not helpful that the audience is only introduced to the characters for one night.
But we would need to analyze the reason why this movie was made at first - to show how gay men live in Korea? Simply to talk about a topic that was and still somewhat is a taboo? Some more plot or even info on why exactly they put to completely different stories together would've been nice since it didn't feel like a clear cut to me.

Freitag, 1. April 2016

Code Blue 2

コ-ド·ブル- Season 2 (Code Blue Season 2) is a Japanese medical drama series that aired from January 11th to March 22nd 2010 on Fuji TV. The series consists of 11 episodes.

Story: Once again we are following the four interns Mihoko Hiyama, Megumi Shiraishi, Kazuo Fujikawa and Kousaku Aizawa through the last year of their fellowship training. After Dr. Kuroda left the Shohoku University hospital the four of them work under Dr. Keisuke Tachibana who shares important memories with Dr. Kanna Mitsui. While this series still shows the life within the hospital and quite dramatic cases outside the hospital, it is also focused on family bonds and personal relationships.

Cast: Once again we have Tomohisa Yamashita as Kousaku Aizawa in this series, and what else can I say? I like his acting overall, and I like his character even more, especially episode 5 was pretty cute (you'll get what I mean when you know the drama).
By far another one of my favorite characters is Mihoko Hiyama played by Erika Toda. She's the one who has to encounter the biggest problem due to a mistake she made and I was just hoping for her to get through the hardships without too many problems. So her acting was quite on spot.
Yui Aragaki as Megumi Shiraishi shows an interesting development due to the experience in her field. While her father wants her to go a different path in the future she starts to take responsibility for her own life because she wants to stay in lifesaving and help patients with her knowledge.
Kazuo Fujikawa or actor Yosuke Asari shows an interesting development as well. While he's still called "the worst" (Ep. 11, figure out by whom on your own) as he has always been fighting to even be allowed to go on the helicopter, he's saving a life in the worst circumstances one can imagine but also manages to do a good job in general with his kind personality.
Luckily also flight nurse Haruka Saejima played by Manami Higa is back in this series and we hear more about her private life. Her character becomes even more warm and opens up and it's quite good to see how she's caring about the one's she loves.

Soundtrack: What can I say about this? Two songs by Mr. Children and I don't really like the band itself because of the vocals (just not my style, I don't want to argue about this) so it's only like "meh" to me.

My personal rating after all is 8.5/10 mainly because it focusses too much on family and relationship issues. Yes, that's part of everyone's life but I found myself to be rather bored by most of the scenes involving only relationships so I couldn't bring myself to give this a better rating.  It's quite nice though and reminded me of my childhood (there was a series called "Medicopter 117" airing here in Germany when I was a child and I loved it) so I really liked the topic in itself a lot.