Sunday, October 26, 2014
Black comedy is a very tricky genre. Not only does it have to be funny and witty, but it has to be appropriately dark without becoming melodramatic. Aside from that important balance, creating sympathy for its usually eccentric characters is a very difficult task to get right. Korean cinema has hits and misses in the genre and 'Head' has some issues which keep it from being one of the great successes in it, but it is still a delightfully enjoyable film.
Sin Hong-joo (Park Ye-jin) is a gossip reporter who wants to get a break and move up in her career. One day, her brother, Hong-je (Ryoo Deok-hwan) calls her in panic, telling her he found a human head in the package he was asked to deliver. Hong-joo ignores him, but soon finds out he has been kidnapped. The ransom asked of her is to find and deliver the severed head to them. Hong-joo sets off on a race against time to save her brother and get her much wanted scoop.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "Head".
One would think it is easy to make fantasy for audiences. While other types of works need to rely on familiar concepts to hook viewers and keep the ball rolling, fantasy has the advantage of being able to wow with its world building, its creatures and the powers characters may have. 'The Night Watchman's Journal' certainly offers fantasy in volume, but it forgets one simple rule. Even fantasy needs structure and logic.
The series follows prince Rin (Jeong Il-woo), who lost his right to the throne after his father lost his mind to black magic and attempted to kill his own family. Rin's ability to see ghosts, making him a threat to his half-brother King, is one he has been trying to hide for years. When the villain responsible for his fate comes back with plans to resurrect the dragon god Rin's father vanquished, Rin must face his abilities and reassemble the Night Watchmen, a group dedicated to controlling ghosts and magic in order to protect the crown.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Night Watchman's Journal".
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Romantic comedy with fantasy elements is common in Korean drama. The fantasy elements give a twist to a type with very little deviation from its formula and they offer some dramatic conflict. 'The Idle Mermaid' (a.k.a 'Surplus Princess') aimed to be the odd one out from the start. With more of an ensemble approach and unapologetic quirkiness, it tried to be something new and fun. Despite being cut short due to bad ratings, it managed to do just that.
When a mermaid (Jo Bo-ah) recklessly drinks a potion to become human and chase after her crush, she realizes she has 100 days to make love happen before she disappears forever. Adopting the human name Kim Ha-ni, she is aided by the person she stole the potion from in settling down at a boarding house. Struggling to approach her "one and only", she must learn how to live as a human and face the problems people her age struggle with, while racing against time to find true love and survive.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid".
Disaster movies are not really a huge genre in Korea. With budget and scale being an issue for those more into the action than the human element and those focusing on the human element limiting their destruction, it is a tricky type of film to pull off. 'The Tower' is definitely in the former category of going for big visuals, big dangers, big everything. At the end of the day though, it offers more style than substance.
It is time for Christmas Eve celebrations in the new twin high-rise aiming to provide only the finest luxury living to its inhabitants. The owner wants to host a decadent grand opening, going as far as to bring in helicopters for providing fake snow. But strong winds crash the helicopters into the complex. To make matters worse, failing safety measures mean the fire is out of control. As the buildings are in danger of collapsing, firefighters arrive and begin a race against time to evacuate the survivors.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "The Tower".
As popular as the romantic comedy genre is in drama, Korean movies are not a medium that has really focused on it much. There are some nice films of course, but few and far between. When they get things absolutely spot on, however, it is a very entertaining and satisfying experience. 'Clash of the Families' takes a comedic turn at a Romeo and Juliet type of romance and its best qualities really make it one heck of a fun film.
The year is 1989. Hyeon-joon (Song Sae-byeok) is a man from Jeolla who illustrates romantic comics under a pseudonym. Da-hong (Lee Si-yeong) is a pianist from Gyeongsang. The two fall in love after having been pen pals for three years and want to get married. But their home provinces have a known rivalry. To make matters worse, Da-hong's father has a particular hate for Hyeon-Joon's origins. The couple make a plan for Hyeon-joon to learn the Seoul dialect and impress Da-hong's family before revealing his roots.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "Clash of the Families".