Sunday, June 29, 2014
As far as premises go, Korean drama is not a very creative industry. Each genre has its own tropes it mostly refuses to budge from and having seen a few makes it easier to predict most. With melodrama, there are certain elements that are often there. A revenge story, a tragic romance where the woman is somehow connected to the villain's side, cartoonish antagonists, angst. 'Big Man' sounded like a terribly soapy and silly work before it started. Yet somehow, it managed to become quite the pleasant surprise.
Kim Ji-hyeok (Kang Ji-hwan) is a simple man. Having been a petty criminal in the past, he is living a small life in a marketplace with the woman he calls mother, his biological parents having abandoned him as a baby. When Kang Dong-seok (Choi Daniel), a chaebol heir with a heart condition, needs a transplant to survive, his parents create a plan to kill Ji-hyeok and take his heart, which is a perfect match.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Big Man".
Revenge dramas might be a common type, but they are also a very tricky genre to pull off well. While it is easy to pile misfortune onto the leads who will carry the aforementioned revenge out until audiences feel for them, going for more grey characters is harder. The villains are also an important element, since a lot of the dramatic tension and viewers' emotional investment relies on them keeping that feeling of injustice going. 'Golden Cross' succeeds in some aspects and fails in others, ultimately missing the mark for what could have been a great revenge story.
Kang Do-yoon (Kim Kang-woo) has a loving family of parents and a sister. He aspires to be a prosecutor and make a good living. When his sister is tricked into providing sexual favors for an important figure of the finance world named Seo Dong-ha (Jeong Bo-seok) and is murdered by him, Do-yoon's father is framed for it. As he begins to look into the case and plan his revenge for what was done to his family, Do-yoon meets the prosecutor in charge, Seo I-re (Lee Si-yeong), who also happens to be the daughter of the murderer.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Golden Cross".
An actor's image is a very important thing in South Korea and when it comes to dramas, role choices very often shape viewers' opinions about the artist. Or at the very least, the viewers' general feelings towards them. There are cases of stars who might avoid taking on roles that do not advance a cool and poised persona and comedy is not something everyone dares to touch, especially in physical comedy form.
Lee Si-yeong is someone whose image is a bit different and whose role choices have never been about how graceful she can look, but about how fun she can be. Having been active for no longer than 6 years, Lee has been in a variety of drama and movie roles, quite often within the romantic comedy genre.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Lee Si-yeong.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Sageuk or Korean period dramas come in many varieties. Those that stick to history or at least accurately portray the time period are often about a specific era, showcasing the world as it used to be during that time. 'The Joseon Shooter' brings an interesting element into the mix, by making the change between eras its theme and setting its story around an idea to represent that change. The idea being firearms.
During the mid 19th century Joseon Dynasty, Park Yoon-gang (Lee Joon-ki) is the son of the country's top swordsman. When his father and sister are killed, he is forced to abandon the blade which meant so much to him and become a gunman, using this new weapon to take revenge for the fate of his family.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Preview] "The Joseon Shooter".
Idols who go into acting often have limited choices to begin with. Smaller roles, music-related roles and other less challenging ones. Ham Eun-jeong has had a few drama and movie parts in the 9 years she has been working as an actress and having had the chance to act in different genres and roles, her skills have matured nicely due to that variety and consistency.
While Ham has taken on music-related roles in "Dream High" and 'White: The Melody of the Curse', she never fell into the trap of making that her default, even though it would have been a more comfortable setting for any idol. She has also done romantic comedy, most notable with her starring role in 'Coffee House', but has not been afraid to go more dark as well, with works like the aforementioned 'White: The Melody of the Curse' and also 'Death Bell'.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Idol Actors] Ham Eun-jeong and Yoona.
Co-written with Raine of 'Raine's Dichotomy'.
Sunday, June 15, 2014
How much effort one needs to be distinguished in any kind of professional field depends on a number of things. Qualifications, skills and also the opinions of the people who make the calls. With actors, their image is as important as their talent. For Yoon Eun-hye, being a former idol meant that she had a lot to prove to people. Having earned fame and popularity through her work, she is slowly, but steadily building a career for herself as an actress.
Yoon's career is a case of a combination leading to her success. While many become popular due to some hit series they star in, not all of them have the talent and skills to justify that and some never develop their performances enough to. The great thing about someone like Yoon Eun-hye is that she has had enough clear talent for the success of her early dramas, 'Princess Hours' and 'Coffee Prince', and the fame she got through them to be well earned.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Yoon Eun-hye.
Stardom is a tricky thing in any big industry. Depending on where it places its importance, there are different requirements for creating a star. Some actors work hard to get there, some go by popularity alone and without their skills necessarily being worth their success. But as important as all types of stars are, they would not matter without all of the supporting actors that enrich the world of each work. Jo Hee-bong is one of those actors.
Jo has not had a very long career, making his movie debut with 'Singles' in 2003 and drama debut with 'Hong Gil Dong' in 2008, but he has certainly had a packed one. For actors who mostly play secondary or supporting characters, volume is the way to make a living, with main roles and choice for them being limited. However, he has often been in the main cast, which has given him the opportunity for exposure and trying out interesting characters the writing is also focused on aside from its leads.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Jo Hee-bong.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
For most involved fans of Korean pop music (K-Pop) and Korean dramas (K-Drama), it is common knowledge that these two were and still are the biggest forces behind the 'Korean Wave' or 'Hallyu'. With K-Pop making the start in the 1990s and dramas taking off around the early 2000s, they soon became a two-member powerhouse of cultural exports for South Korea.
Due to that power, and in a an effort to enhance their marketability, these two industries often collaborate. Kpop artists and other musical artists being featured in the soundtracks for dramas is common practice, but another form of that collaboration is the casting of idols in series. In a business sense, this is good for both parties. Musical artists get to promote their image and music to drama audiences and dramas get a boost in popularity and can sell better abroad, where these artists and K-Pop in general have a big fanbase.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Idol Actors] An Introduction to Idol Actors.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
The energy and effort that an actor puts into their performances are things that show on-screen. No matter how good someone is, lack of effort will not use their talent the best it can be used. And hard work can make up for some flaws by elevating everything around them. When it comes to an energetic performance, Kang Ji-hwan is second to none.
Kang started his career from theater and musicals. This really has put its mark on his acting, which is lively and utilizes his entire body. Kang throws himself into his performances. This makes him ideal for a number of things and especially physical action and comedy. In works like 'My Girlfriend is an Agent' and 'Rough Cut', this is something which shows a lot. From slapstick comedy to taking a good punch, this energy really works for roles that are very much about being fully involved.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Kang Ji-hwan.
Try to name a few romantic comedies where the problems that keep a couple apart are based on their own issues, rather than an outside force or noble idiocy. Forget disapproving mothers in law and the leads deciding that, although no one is forcing them, they need to give up the person they like for a while, for reasons. 'A Witch's Love' would be a recent example and although shaky in its handling of the love triangle and female lead lately, a good one. 'Coffee House' is another.
The series follows a young woman's journey to her dream of becoming a writer. When Kang Seung-yeon (Ham Eun-jeong) is hired as a secretary to an eccentric and quite demanding writer named Lee Jin-soo (Kang Ji-hwan), she gets to have a shot at making her dream come true, if she manages to survive his hazing. On the other hand, Jin-soo's publishing house owner and longtime friend, Seo Eun-yeong (Park Si-yeon) is trying to keep him focused and writing. As Seung-yeon struggles to find a life for herself, she becomes aware of the connection between Jin-soo and Eun-yeong and discovers both people and their world is more complicated than she had realized.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Coffee House".