Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Top, Middling, and Bottom: Dramas Review 2011


I don't profess to have watched many dramas, especially this year, as my patience and interest levels often led to abandoning ship early or never starting those with poor reviews. Despite that, I wanted to do a final recap for the year, synthesizing the separate experiences into a cohesive view.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Padam Padam: Episodes 1-4 Thoughts


I literally couldn't stop crying while watching this. Jung Woo Sung has gained me as a fan. He's still too much of an ahjusshi for me to love, but his nuanced, mutely tragic performance as Yang Kang Chil is just mesmerizing. I also adored Han Ji Min in Cain and Abel, although she looks so different here that I almost find it hard to believe it's the same actress. While she's a bit stiff, she has terrific chemistry with Jung Woo Sung and looks lovely in all the shots.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Me Too, Flower: Episodes 8-9 Thoughts


Why does this drama take so long to sub? It's been almost a week and I haven't seen 10 still. This review was meant to encapsulate that, but I got tired of waiting so here's 8-9 instead.

MBC better not shorten this, even by one episode. This is a gem of a show, right up there with The Princess' Man as one of the best dramas I've seen this year. It's genuine, complex, and so beautifully acted that even 16 episodes doesn't feel enough.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In Time with You: Final Review


Somewhere in the lengthy Ding Li Wei drama this show kind of lost me. I still followed it, but less and less eagerly as the plotline dragged out and the heroine made me want to smack her almost every other minute. Upon reaching the end, I found it to be nice and happy, but also a bit empty and montage-like.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Me Too, Flower: Episodes 5-7 Thoughts


Me Too, Flower remains by far my favorite drama right now, as the acting is fantastic, the romance a perfect mesh of humor and heat, and the characters almost all beautifully written. However, it also puts me in two states of minds. Certain parts are so nicely constructed, original, and funny that I can't step away, but others are overloaded with cliche angst and noble idiocy, making me want to slap the screen. Episodes 5-7 really encompass that. The purse-losing storyline was boring, unnecessary, and such a filler piece in 5. But then 6 came along, and we got some awesome development in the relationship between our leads, with the perfect mix of sizzle, sadness, and progression.

Me Too, Flower: Episodes 1-4 Thoughts


Unexpectedly, Me Too, Flower has rapidly risen into my favorite airing drama. I can't say that I love any of the characters yet, but I'm growing fond of each of them and am definitely invested in their development and road to self-happiness. They're each so quirky yet complex, with lives that are at one moment hilarious and the next heart-breaking. Lee Jia and Yoon Shi Yoon are excellent in their roles, and I'm eager to see how the story proceeds.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Movies I want to see: Winter 2011


Seems like a lot of films, especially family ones, are debuting for the holidays. While The Muppets was a sore disappointment (not that I expected much - just like with Moneyball I was unwillingly pulled into it), I'm hoping that some of the others prove far superior.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Muppets


Supremely cheesy, childish, predictable, cliche movie. I think if I were ten I might have enjoyed this, but at this age, not even childhood nostalgia can take this movie out of the gutter of un-enjoyableness. It literally made me cringe on multiple occasions out of embarrassment on its behalf. It's like watching a friend do something terribly stupid and unnecessary. Painful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Material Queen: Final Episode (and final rant)

Yeah, I had that WTF expression too

It took two weeks of MQ rest and assurances that 22 really was the final episode for me to finally give in and watch it. It's one of those things where I figured I'd already made it through the worst, so might as well watch the happy ending unfold.

I'm not sure what to say about it (aside from the upcoming rant, that is). I mean, with a show as awful as MQ became, I had very low expectations. But even those managed to be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Office Girls: Partway Thoughts


I know this will definitely put me in the minority again on a show, but I'm really not that excited by or impressed with Office Girls. I'll caveat that by stating I've only watched through episode 7, but really, if a drama doesn't get me after 7 hours, I think the odds of it making a 360 are pretty slim.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Boku to Star no 99 Nichi: Episodes 1-3 Impressions

I watched this during a lag over the weekend, mainly out of curiosity and partly because there isn't much else I'm interested in starting/continuing right now. Overall, I'm satisfied but not addicted. It's a fun drama for if you have time to kill, but is definitely not very high-quality in either acting or story. Kim Tae-Hee is gorgeous and very winning as Han Yuna, and I suspect most people are watching just for her. As they should, since this is the least she's ever annoyed me in a role (I'm probably in the minority, but personally thought she was irritatingly whiny in My Princess). As Han Yuna though, Kim is effervescent and cheerful without being an excessive crybaby.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Time with You: Post-Episode 8 Thoughts


Looking on other blogs, it seems ITWY has inspired two very distinct groups of followers - the one that loves You Qing for how realistic she is, and the one that hates her characterization for its selfishness and inconsistency.

I don't lean particularly strongly towards either, as I can recognize and agree with points from both. However, the past two episodes are definitely pushing me towards the "dislike" group. I can understand and respect much of her behavior up through episodes 5-6. She's upright because she has strong views and secret insecurities, she's obnoxious to Maggie because the latter is a whiny, annoying little 5-year-old who's separating her from her best friend, and she takes advantage of Da Ren's patience and kindness because he allows and even passively encourages her to do so.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Material Queen: Almost-Final Review


Good god, will this drama ever end???!!! I started writing this review under the impression that it would end at 20 (which is already stretching it). Only, to find out at the end of last week that nope, there would be a 21. And having just finished 21, guess what? Still no ending!!!! Omg kill this story already. It's drowning way beyond repair and to keep it any longer is pure suffering, both for it and for the poor audience members that feel forced to finish it. 

Honestly, I've never been so pissed off by an extension before. Don't advertise something as 20 episodes, then out of the blue give us a string of unqualified story-draggers (and detractors) to prolong the angst, pain and stupidity. So, so, soooo idiotic, every controversy plays out as if it had been written by a 10-year-old. Everything is predictable, nothing is original, and characters have no inner depth except for a secret mean streak.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cirque du Soleil: Totem show, San Francisco


So this isn't really a movie or drama, but I figured it fell close enough. This past Tuesday I went to see the Cirque du Soleil show in SF, by AT&T park. It was entertaining, and the first ever of their shows for me. I wasn't wowed, but I thought the costumes, music, and acrobatics paired beautifully. While I've seen the Beijing Acrobats do even more amazing stuff, this was designed more as an entertainment show for all ages rather than simply an acrobatics display. They've got clownish acts paired with more dangerous, high level shows. My favorite was a segment involving six girls riding 10-foot-high unicycles tossing and catching bowls with one foot. It was quite thrilling to watch.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Time with You: Halfway Review


Episode 6 has just aired out of the planned 13, so I feel confident enough to do a midpoint review.

ITWY, which has a Chinese title that translates to "I might not love you," is an introspective look into the lives of two best friends who have just hit their 30s, Chen You Qing (Ariel Lin) and Li Da Ren (Bolin Chen). These are two people who through years of acquaintance and competitive conflict have built up a remarkably close but purely platonic relationship, much to the confusion of those around them. Their journey builds off the question of whether a man and a woman can really be "just friends."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moneyball


This was one of those movies that I didn't have any interest in initially and had no idea what the story was about, aside from baseball. It exceeded expectations, but only slightly. Probably not something that I'd willingly go into again, and frankly in the muddling middle as far as inspiring sports movies go.


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Princess' Man: Final Half Review


As a warning, this review contains spoilers, so don't read unless you've finished the whole drama.

The second half of TPM definitely built upon the greatness of the first half, with excellent dramatic moments, a multitude of tear-inducing scenes, and continued great performances from the actors. In the end, I was left with sympathy rather than hatred for King Su Yang, our part-villain but part-victim of his own greed, which is fairly surprising and owed largely to the brilliant performance by the actor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Material Queen: In-Progress Review


Material Queen has aired 14 of its planned 20 episodes so far, and this is probably the show that I've had the most conflicted reaction to. I love the heroine but hate the male lead, the plot is predictable yet oddly addicting, and it makes me so frustrated that I want to keep watching.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Princess' Man: Halfway Review

So far I've seen through episode 12 of The Princess' Man, and Park Shi-hoo has again displayed his magic, making it officially 3 for 3 of his recent dramas that has enthralled me completely.

Truthfully, the story is pretty slow and almost forgettable up until episodes 8-9, when all the stakes are kicked up and the drama delivers on its "tragic lovers" premise. Now I can see why it'd be nearly impossible for our heroine and hero to get together. In fact, I see no way out of this mess for them and am really excited to watch the story continue to unfold despite the tragic foreshadowing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Seriously awesome. I have almost nothing negative to say against it, other than the total bastardization of Tom Felton in this movie. The story covers all the important arcs of set-up, development, and final uprising in perfect length, without any section feeling either too lengthy or too abrupt.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Help



So I saw this last weekend, and frankly was a bit disappointed. Normally I love teary, inspirational stories (Remember the Titans happens to be one of my fave movies ever). But this? There's genuine heart-wrenching movies and then there's stories told for the sake of wrestling a few cheap tears out of the audience. This definitely came across as the latter type.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor


So as all of you probably figured, I'm a huge Park Shi Hoo fan, and for valid reasons, as I've rarely seen a better actor with a more scene-stealing, charming on-screen persona than the one he exudes. And unlike other actors who have maybe one compelling role and then a bunch of mediocre, dry pieces (Joe Cheng, along with pretty much all other kdrama male leads), PSH is incredibly consistent. That's why despite two attempts to sidekick him into a second-lead role, his charisma wins over fans and he edges right up over the initial male lead.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dream High


Although I feel a bit too grown-up now for high school dramas, I thought I'd give Dream High a try due to the heavily positive reviews online, and because the cast was interesting (I enjoyed Taecyeon in Cinderella's Sister as well as Ham Eun Jung in Coffee House). I ultimately feel that it wasn't my sort of drama, but I can appreciate certain aspects about it. The music is pretty good and very addicting (I like the Dream High theme song), the characters are very pretty if not all convincing, and the story breaks out of the kdrama norm in several respects, notably via the female lead's unlikeable personality at the beginning and the departure from the first-love-is-forever type of storyline.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Deal with the Elderly in Asian Shows

Frankly, it's really annoying how most Asian dramas, and especially Korean ones, portray elderly and older generation characters. They're always super-meddling in a negative way, they have sudden life-threatening health conditions from the most menial arguments, and they're an oxymoronic mixture of super powerful (holding authority over the family's finances, status, and their kids' lives) with childishly feeble (again the frail-as-a-feather health and excessively self-pitying attitude towards life).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oki's Movie

Last weekend I saw Oki's Movie during its showing at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. I'd heard of it before, as it stars two well-known Korean actors- Jung Yumi and Lee Seon-kyun, the latter of whom I'd seen in dramas. I went in without expectations and found it to be an overall rich, thought-provoking 80 mins. Below are my general impressions of the film:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jade Palace Lock Heart / Gong


It's been years since I watched a Chinese drama in its entirety. Out of all the major Asian dramas, Chinese ones are in my opinion the most poorly produced in terms of plot, characters, and aesthetics (I'm ethnically Chinese, so don't take this personally). Not only are the topics fairly dry and limited- most involving the imperial age or communist war, but the acting is also exaggerated and the voices nearly always dubbed. In fact, even for Gong, the things I dislike vastly outnumber the things I like. The only reason I watched it was because the main actors had good chemistry and because of my long-lasting affinity for Hana Yori Dango.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunny Happiness


This drama is the first TW one I've watched in a while. Generally they're either so cheesy, fake, or badly acted that I can't sit through more than the first episode, but Sunny Happiness showed enough strength, especially in its first half, to inspire me to near-addiction levels. Sadly, this tapered off once the typical drama mechanisms of noble idiocy, useless time-filler scenes, and annoying second leads came in.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Queen of Reversals



Having just finished it a week ago, this drama remains fresh on my mind. It contains the major elements of a strong drama for me:

1. Relatable heroine
2. Unconventional set-up
3. Perfect ending

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Purpose of this Blog



Although started for the purposes of longer, dedicated reviews on less published shows, this blog has since become something of a pan-entertainment vehicle in which I share my thoughts on both airing and aired items. As a long-time drama enthusiast, I personally enjoy reading about not only the Korean drama scene, but also about the current hot shows both here in the States and across Asia. My goal is to touch upon not only the latest TV series or movie, but also on music and books that you may be curious about. Be forewarned that I do get quite heated about shows / topics, both ones I love and ones I'm not so fond of. It's all for personal fun though, and please feel free to chime in with your thoughts through comments!

You can also reach me at jinsightreviews@gmail.com for any questions. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

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