Sunday, October 27, 2013

Movie Review - The Guard Post

Horror is a painful subject in Korean cinema. It is one of those genres that produces some very good and atmospheric movies, but also a lot of half-baked attempts at jump scares, muddled storytelling, idol promotion and often solely teen-pleasing graphicness. Director Kong Soo-chang's attempt at directing/writing a movie before 'The Guard Post' was 'R-Point'. Its refusal to close its story or even explain some basics of its plot was something which left a bitter taste, especially considering his talent with creating atmosphere, a constant feeling of dread and using his cast well. Thankfully, 'The Guard Post' corrects a lot of the issues found in 'R-Point'.

The film opens with the titular guard post, located at the demilitarized zone between the Koreas, just as the new shift is arriving after an alarming lack of contact from the previous group. When they find everyone slaughtered and the only survivor and obvious perpetrator in a manic state, Sergeant Major Noh Seong-gyu is called in by a friend to solve the mystery. Due to the base being where the army chief's son was stationed at, Noh only has one night to figure out what happened, before the army try to cover everything up.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "The Guard Post".

Movie Review - The Ghost Theater

Korea is no stranger to the genre of horror. But a horror musical film is not something you come across. Maybe because musicals are part of Korea's entertainment scene, musical movies have not managed to entice audiences. Film and theater offer very different experiences, after all. Jeon Gye-soo ('Love Fiction') and 'The Ghost Theater' bring horror musicals to the big screen, with enjoyable results.

The film opens with our lady protagonist, So-dan (Kim Kkobbi), looking for her senile grandmother, who kept repeating she wanted to go to Samgeori Theater and watch her movie again. When she finds out there is a job opening at that theater, So-dan signs up in hopes her grandmother will eventually turn up. She soon discovers that the owner and staff of this rundown place are a less than cheerful bunch and that the theater is also haunted.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "The Ghost Theater".

Drama Review - Coma

With horror dramas being few and far between, this is a genre that mostly goes underrepresented on television, be it due budget issues, reluctance to try horror in a different format or other reasons. Some recent attempts have been made at including horror in the plot, but those are still mainly romantic works and not pure horror series. 'Coma' is a 2006 TV-movie or mini-series created by SIO Film and brought to television by OCN. So this is more of a mix between a film and a drama. Each episode has a different director (Episodes 1 and 5 are done by Kong Soo-chang, creator of 'R-Point' and 'The Guard Post') and the series has three writers.

The premise and starting point of 'Coma' are pretty simple. An insurance agent named Yoon-yeong (Lee Se-eun) arrives at a closing hospital to do her part in wrapping up on her company's behalf, when things start taking a turn for the scary. Everyone involved looks suspicious, at best and the paranormal occurrences are certainly not helping. What makes the story of 'Coma' special is how, much like many horror works, it is much more complicated than what it first appears to be.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Coma".

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie Review - The Beast and the Beauty

Perhaps not one of the first movies one would think about when discussing romantic comedies as a genre in Korean cinema, 'The Beast and the Beauty' is better described as a whimsical comedy with romance. It is that unique style of the plot, but also presentation of the movie which separate it from more familiar types of romantic comedies.

'The Beast and the Beauty' starts with a common and always interesting topic. Self-image. Gu Dong Geon is a shy and slightly neurotic dubbing actor for monster effects, who is very insecure about his looks, something nicely mirrored in his work of always being the beastly villain. When he falls for Jang Hae Joo, a blind musician who lives confidently with her disability, his low self-esteem and panic lead him to telling a lie. He describes himself to her as having the looks of his popular high school rival, Tak Jun Ha. When Hae Joo gets a cornea transplant, he attempts to hide from her until he can get plastic surgery and be the man he thinks she deserves. That is when the real Jun Ha enters the picture, with hilarious results.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Film Review] "The Beast and the Beauty".

Kdrama Kiss Types - Part 2

Last week, we took a look at some of the types of kisses in Korean drama in '[HanCinema's Column] Kdrama Kiss Types - Part 1'. From dead fish faces to the satisfying passionate smooching, actors have different approaches to kissing and different levels of involvement. Some try, some don't, but we can't forget about the fact that how a kiss looks or is even acted does not solely rest at the hands (or rather lips) of the cast themselves.

There are actors who seem fine with kissing in one series and then won't try at all in another. Clearly, the type of kiss depends a lot on the actual creators behind the camera and writing too. Writing aside, there are some quite common ways in which some kisses are not really aided in the romance department by the directors and editors. So let us take a look at those, along with the refreshing ultimate kissing type.

The Far and Away

Have you ever been a third wheel during an outing? Your couple-friends might sometimes get a bit too close for (your) comfort, so you give them some space. The camera work in kdrama feels like a third wheel sometimes. Just as the kissing is getting interesting and mouths are about to open, it goes away and briefly stares from a distance.

If she can handle that kiss with a heart condition, we'll be just fine, camera.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Column] Kdrama Kiss Types - Part 2.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Drama Review - I Hear Your Voice

I Hear Your Voice

While the theme of the 2013 summer and autumn dramas has been ghosts ('Master's Sun', 'Who Are You - 2013' and 'Ghost Seeing Detective Cheo Yong' coming not-so-soon), "I Hear Your Voice" went for a different kind of power. The male lead, Park Soo Ha, has the power to read people's minds. After his father was murdered when he was a child, Soo Ha grew up wanting to repay a big debt to the woman who saved his own life. This woman struggling with her own lack of dreams and loss of faith in people, Jang Hye Seong, is the female lead. Their story unfolds as they are trying to escape a danger from the past while becoming closer and also influencing and being influenced by events and other characters along the way.

Helmed by director Jo Soo-won ('Cheongdam-dong Alice') and written by Park Hye-ryeon ('Dream High'), "I Hear Your Voice" is hard to categorize, as genres in Korean drama tend to come with very specific styles and tropes. A suspense drama would be the closest thing to what it actually feels like, although it never becomes too overbearing. There is romance, there are court procedures, there is action, there is comedy. What this series does well is to tell its story instead of being confined by what it is supposed to be. And it is in this story and its characters where "I Hear Your Voice" truly shines.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "I Hear Your Voice".

Kdrama Kiss Types - Part 1

When "Secret Garden" aired, the coffee shop peck was an instant hit. The 'Foam Kiss' was quickly copied by citizens and celebrities alike, mostly in the form of parody, but still highlighting the obsession over kiss types in Korean drama. From the 'Cola Kiss' in "Lie to Me" to the 'Candy Kiss' in "IRIS", themed kisses are everywhere.

But as any foreign fan of Korean dramas coming from a very different culture knows, it's often the odd and awkward way in which kisses are portrayed that gets us. Whatever the reasons behind their form, they are certainly interesting to watch. So let us take a little lighthearted look at all these whacky ways of performing kisses that are as frustrating as they are entertaining.

The Dead Fish

Have you ever fallen asleep on the bus or in the car during a long road trip? You're positioned as if awake, but the lights are out. This is the 'Dead Fish' kiss. Lips barely touching, minimum contact and you would swear either or both parties had a narcoleptic attack during the approach.

Dead Fish Kiss
He's mesmerizing, but not enough to put you to sleep.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Column] Kdrama Kiss Types - Part 1.

Drama Review - Full House

Full House Review

Depending on how big of a drama watcher you are, you might know a little or a lot about the 2004 hit series "Full House". This romantic drama starring Song Hye-kyo and Rain was quite the success during its original run, ending with ratings that reached a 42% peak with its last episode and becoming popular abroad, even resulting in a number of remakes made in other countries.

The premise of "Full House" is nothing new at this point. It is about the well covered topic of a business deal type of marriage leading to true love. Han Ji-eun (Song Hye-kyo) is an aspiring writer who lost her home and all of her possessions after being swindled by her once best friends. When Lee Young-jae (Rain), a famous actor moves into the house he does not know was sold without her permission, they come to an arrangement. She wants the house back, he wants to make the woman he has a one-sided love for jealous. Enter fake marriage.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Full House".

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Some News on My Activity

I don't write novels, but that is one funny mug.

Hello faithful and non-faithful readers. As you might have figured out if you checked my Twitter page over the last year, I have not been having a good time. As a result, I have been writing more scarcely. However, things happened and life is now better. So I am making a comeback as a blogger, but not here in my own blog.

Every week, over the next few months, I will be writing a couple of pieces for Hancinema. I am hoping to cover movie and drama reviews, opinion pieces, some humorous ones and anything else that pops up, since I am open to new ideas and news as time goes by.

Since those pieces are the property of Hancinema, I will be posting excerpts of them here, so that you can keep track of them and read them there if you want to. The movie reviews will be linked to in my movie list as well.

This does not mean I will not be doing pieces for my own blog from now on. But they will be a bit more rare for a few months and mainly the ones of personal interest, as well as the rage or kyaa filled ones, since I don't plan to start cussing or spazzing in places other than my personal blog.

So good to be back and writing again and I'll be seeing you all here and there.

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