Friday, April 29, 2016
If you think your life is tough, welcome to the world of revenge dramas. "Master - God of Noodles" offers hot noodle dishes and heaps of the famous dish best served cold. The creators waste no time and give us the full backstory between our hero and villain, all the way to the awkward reunion in the present. This is one impressive, stylish and exciting premiere episode. You could cut the tension with a knife. Enter the noodle jokes.
What hit me first about "Master - God of Noodles" is the incredible presentation of the series. This is one very appealing work. From its oppressive atmosphere to its stunning visuals, vibrant representation of different eras, living arrangements, costume design, everything is just beautifully crafted. A lot of creators underestimate the importance of the art. You do not just point a camera and film, as soap operas tend to do. There is so much more to it and this drama's production shows us how it is done.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Master - God of Noodles" Episode 1
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Everyone give the flashback fairy a round of applause, because she is here and she brings a lot of backstory with her. Episode ten gives us a little look into Deul-ho's and Hae-kyeong's less than blissful life together, as well as his musical interrogation room meetings with Dae-soo. I find myself with more questions than answers, but the past is returning and maybe bringing those answers with it. Chairman Jeong's time has come yet again.
"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" knows how much to give and how much to keep, I have to hand it to its creators. I have been hoping to see a redeeming revelation for Hae-kyeong (Park Sol-mi), but they are cleverly avoiding the details of her involvement in framing Deul-ho (Park Shin-yang) and keeping Soo-bin (Heo Jeong-eun) away. On the other hand, we find out their marriage was not so great. Deul-ho was away and Hae-kyeong was ashamed of his humble origins. This is where Eun-jo (Kang So-ra) comes in.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 10
"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" can go heavy on the sugar-coating and feel-good approach at times, but I cannot blame a show for trying to give some hope and joy. The time has come for our food criminal to get her just des(s)erts in this case and Deul-ho is definitely eager to provide. Eun-jo is hanging onto her dream and desired mentor, but life is not so peachy when you are broke. Hire her already!
With one episode left until we are half way into the show, I do feel slightly disappointed over Eun-jo (Kang So-ra) having taken the back seat too long. Seeing some progress in her work with the Neighborhood Weirdos and also her current life situation is a nice change. I have been wondering how she supports herself through this and now we know she does not. It speaks volumes about her determination to become a good lawyer that she sacrifices so much for it. Deul-ho's (Park Shin-yang) own determination is tested by the reality of ungrateful clients.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 9
While the vampire side of things remains benched, we have some welcome forward movement in character development in episode five, sparked by what is probably the most interesting guest character yet. The case itself is very entertaining and nicely presented, giving us plenty of suspects and inviting us to a guessing game. Worry not, Yo-na is still around and she is very eager to have a piece of San, figuratively and very literally so.
Yoon Seol-ah (Goo Jae-yee) is really the core of this episode and one half of what sets it apart from the rest. "Vampire Detective" has been using its guest characters to reveal more about our leads and especially San (Lee Joon), but it goes deeper this time. Seol-ah's life as an actress might be worlds apart from the life of a detective, a girl with a secret and a vampire, but she shares the common pain of responsibilities she did not ask for and the consequences of she has to live with.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 5
Sunday, April 24, 2016
We have had quite an eventful week in Dramaland. KBS, SM C&C and SBS are getting into a fight while actors and the fate of a drama are caught in the middle, rumors become news only to be refuted and we have a casting which is already dividing viewers. As usual, upcoming drama goodies and my personal drama updates are included, so join me in a recap of the craziness.
Petty BTS Battles
Dramas changing channels is nothing new, but things are getting serious this time around. "Incarnation of Jealousy" switched over from KBS to SBS and all was well. Except KBS is now acting like an obsessive ex who cannot let go and is even dragging Kong Hyo-jin down with it. I have no idea who is justified here and who not, but it is a good reminder that dramas are still an industry. Foreign fans often dismiss internal and domestic happenings, but these influence our entertainment.
Full Article: [Orion's Drama News] Drama Fights and Trolling Rumors
Revenge has been taken in all manner of ways in a genre very favored by Korean drama. The basics of these premises remain very similar, something which sadly extends to their entire plots sometimes. Worry not, however, because a new type of revenge has arrived. An apron is his cape and a rolling pin his weapon. It sounds funny, but do not underestimate "Master - God of Noodles".
Moo-myeong (Cheon Jeong-myeong), which means "nameless", is a man whose father was murdered and life was ruined by Kim Gil-do (Jo Jae-hyeon). With his new anonymous identity, he plans to become a master noodle cook and take back what was stolen from him.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Master - God of Noodles"
Another case is almost done and "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" keeps doing what it does well. A lot of Deul-ho's successes rely on good people doing the right thing and bad people not taking things further, but there are lessons to be found in this idealistic view. Aside from morals and case solving, I believe one of our antagonists may be worse than I thought. Let me know if I am being oversuspicious.
Before getting to that, I am very happy to see that the drama over Deul-ho's (Park Shin-yang) and Soo-bin's (Heo Jeong-eun) cancelled meeting does not overstay its welcome. Soo-bin is a smart kid and she understands that her dad has an important job and that things with her mother and grandfather are awkward. Deul-ho is actually the one suffering, because he understands the importance of his ability to be there for her after having been absent from her life for so long. On a happier note, I love how she is his inspiration for cracking this case.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 8
Korean dramas making abrupt changes is something audiences have grown used to, but one of the latest variations of this bad habit has been radically changing a drama's presentation and tone from the cheerful to the melodramatic very early on. "Please Come Back, Mister" felt like such a refreshing change to that. The drama does a lot of things well. Unfortunately, it also makes so many big mistakes that it ultimately ruins a lot of the good it had previously managed to build.
Kim Yeong-soo (Kim In-kwon) and Han Gi-tak (Kim Soo-ro) return to our world together after dying, in the hopes of closing unfinished business regarding their deaths and protecting their loved ones. Yeong-soo returns as Lee Hae-joon (Rain) and Gi-tak as Han Hong-nan (Oh Yeon-seo). Their time is limited and actions restricted, giving them little to work with as they fumble about in their new form.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Please Come Back, Mister"
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Deul-ho finally discovers his true calling beyond the case of Michael Jeong and Eun-jo incorporates herself in our team, which is always welcoming her presence. Episode 7 marks the opening of a case not related to our main villain, at least not so far. Most importantly, Deul-ho's triumphant return faces some problems, as he struggles between his role as a father and a newfound hero for the people.
In a surprising and emotional turn of events, Deul-ho (Park Shin-yang) reunites with Soo-bin (Heo Jeong-eun), who is smart and brave like her dad. Their scenes destroyed me. "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" really knows how to present its characters in a sweet and pure manner. We also get more development for Hae-kyeong (Park Sol-mi), with the revelation that she really thinks Deul-ho did something wrong. I am still hesitant to forgive her, because she is projecting her own regret and lingering attachment to her daughter. This is unfair to Soo-bin, but at least it humanizes a former antagonist.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 7
Monday, April 18, 2016
You know, for being investigators and therefore quick-witted and curious by trade, our team are very slow to address San's condition. I understand initial denial, but his vampirism is starting to feel like a gimmick, when we are one third into this show without it having played a significant role. The episode's plot and some other parts of the main story thankfully progress much faster, however, as our villainess has come out to play.
When I saw that San's (Lee Joon) vampirism happened not in some painful flashback, but right in our present, I was very happy. I thought "Vampire Detective" would finally portray the confusion and battle with one's self as they change. It is disappointing to see that this is not the case. While we did get a little forward movement here by being shown San, Goo-hyeong (Oh Jeong-se) and doctor Hwang (Kim Gi-moo) are all perplexed and worried about San's change, the creators do not show them speaking about it much, or about anything personal at all.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 4
Sunday, April 17, 2016
I do not always pick complex subjects, but when I do, I pile them on. This week I briefly talk about disability and age gaps in upcoming dramas, although the topics deserve much more discussion than I can spare them here. You also get more promotional goodies, as we look into some dramas from the new season. I have my picks. They are many. Send help.
Weirdos for Weird Ori
Noodles I cannot eat do not sound exciting, until you drop fine teasers and stills along with the element of cooking for revenge. A show about paying taxes does not sound like the most exciting thing either, that is until you add Seo In-guk, Ma Dong-seok and Choi Soo-young in it and tell me it is from the "Bad Guys" crew. I am attracted to oddity, so I will be doing episode reviews for "Master - God of Noodles" and "38 Revenue Collection Unit".
Full Article: [Orion's Drama News] Age Gaps and Noodles
The Korean drama industry is constantly looking for hits, like any business does. As pre-produced shows have not done well in the past, creating something like "Descendants of the Sun" was a risk. In this case, the risk paid off in a major way. The series is a big global hit. As a reviewer, however, my job is not to gush over success. The drama has its virtues, but it is definitely not on the meatier side of entertainment. So here is my own take on it.
"Descendants of the Sun" portrays the struggle of its leading soldiers and doctors to do their respective jobs and stay true to their calling while falling in love. Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki), Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo), Seo Dae-yeong (Jin Goo) and Yoon Myeong-joo (Kim Ji-won-I) are assigned to a country in war where their relationships and dedication to their duties are tested.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun"
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
So many important and intense things happen in episode 6 that I actually needed a break and a glass of water before starting my work on this piece. Eun-jo has finally made her big decision about life as a lawyer and we are moving past the introduction. Ji-wook and Hae-kyeong just entered the delightful grey zone, there are wins, losses, regrets and redemption. The future of "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho"? Unknown, but I will be anticipating it with glee!
We have known Eun-jo (Kang So-ra) will join Deul-ho (Park Shin-yang), but it is so satisfying to see her walk out of Geum San with a smile. Eun-jo is great because she learns, evolves and makes decisions based on her values. I appreciate that the scenes with her mom, Se-mi (Yoon Bok-in) are not just for cuteness or for nagging Eun-jo to get herself a man and money. Instead they are a sort of an "Eun-jo Ethics Guide", where she voices her internal conflicts and hesitations, but also ideals.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 6
"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" is relentlessly pursuing the right to be quirky and sometimes downright weird, as our hero creates larger-than-life schemes to protect his client. Eun-jo's new position as his rival in a case close to her heart gives us her backstory and leads her on the path we know she will take. Last, but not least, Park Shin-yang's granny pampering quota keeps being filled and yes, it is still adorable.
Our second case seems much closer to home for both of our leads and this makes it an even more emotional journey for them. Getting to know our main characters through the development of the subplots is an efficient way of keeping the plot moving without some necessary for sympathy elements being sacrificed. Deul-ho (Park Shin-yang) is clearly emotional, chasing after a simpler past through his cases. He is also very impulsive, which is an issue I will speak about in a bit.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 5
Our vampirically fortified team continues to coincidentally land cases related to the vampire underworld and San draws closer to his past. Episode 3 finally gives us a better look at our villain and solves a big question. Why hide the obvious from us? It turns out, our villain is hidden for excitement. Get ready for that feeling, as she might be making her grand entrance in the next episode!
The latest case of "Vampire Detective" reveals a regretful thing about the show; these guest cases and guest characters are not very appealing. Regretful, but not surprising, given this does happen in crime shows a lot. On the plus side, this means we have more time to focus on our main story and leads through these related sub-plots. San's (Lee Joon) complicated feelings over Yoo-jin (Kim Yoon-hye) are interesting, but potentially self-destructive. He thinks she is a villain, but also cannot let go of his past with her.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 3
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Politics is not exactly wholesome family fun, but it is a part of our everyday lives. At the same time, it is a challenging concept in fiction. Either entirely demonized or overly sugarcoated, it is usually a tool for stories not political at heart. "Assembly" might be honest in portraying a lot of what is wrong with our current systems of power, but it is at its core a simple "what if" story. What if a good man did not get tainted or rejected by these systems?
Jin Sang-pil (Jeong Jae-yeong) is working as a welder. When he and others get into a dispute with their employer, Sang-pil loses his best friend. In order to create a better country where this does not happen, he accepts the offer to become an assemblyman. Choi In-gyeong (Song Yoon-ah) is assigned as his aide by the man who plans to use Sang-pil for his own gain, Baek Do-hyeon (Jang Hyeon-seong.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Assembly"
This season is determined to not give us a moment's rest with all the upcoming dramas and their involved names. "Entertainers" and "Romance By Luck" will be hitting us hard with their stars soon, "Deal" may get a promising lead for its less-than-promising premise and new promotional material is bombarding us almost daily. I see some tough choices between dramas in my future.
"Entertainers" and "Romance By Luck" Step Up Their Game
"Entertainers" is releasing stills and videos to get us excited for its approach, but "Romance By Luck" tosses some interesting names back. Lee Soo-hyeok has been cast as one of the leads and Lee Cheong-ah followed him shortly after. For those with little time, choosing which one to live-watch will be tricky. That is unless you are like me and the premise of "Romance By Luck" makes you want to run for the hills.
Full Article: [Orion's Drama News] Casting Spree and a Familiar Deal
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Deul-ho continues to be one crazy son of a gun and he keeps making that work to his advantage. Episode 4 concludes Byeon Ji-sik's (Kim Gi-cheon) story, but the fight against Chairman Jeong (Jeong Won-joong) is far from over. Instead a new case presents itself and while clumsily connected to all of our key characters in terms of writing, it keeps the show moving forward.
Before I move on to our new case, there is something I think is worth mentioning about the previous one. Much like Byeon Ji-sik, our cool grandma Lee Mal-sook is a character who gets some development, despite her short appearance in the show. Guest roles like "homeless man" or "dementia granny" are often stereotypes in drama, but this series reminds us that those are real people with real stories. Mal-sook is not defined by her dementia alone and her characterization and interactions with our team are wonderful.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 4
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The power of Byeon Ji-sik's words may have hit Deul-ho and Eun-jo hard, but it is surprisingly the latter, supposedly the more naive and oblivious of the two who understands what she feels and what this means to her first. Episode 3 continues with the trial, but we also get more backstory on some of our characters, including our guest father and son.
"Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" catches me by surprise in many pleasant ways. I was expecting the comedy to have died down by now, but the creators know when to insert it in a way that maintains the gravity of the story while giving viewers a much needed breather. If you are anything like me, you will need said breather, because I became teary-eyed quite a few times in this episode. The drama portrays its characters, situations, and emotions with great sensitivity and honest warmth.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho" Episode 3
Monday, April 4, 2016
Tensions rise and dangers multiply as our hero is faced with some frightening changes to his body and perception. "Vampire Detective" is progressing quite steadily, focusing on different cases and going deeper into the main story in the process. Gyeo-wool plants her roots into the team and the ever intriguing relationship between San and Goo-hyeong is looking more and more complex.
OCN's episodic format has often clashed with their dramas' main stories in the past, but it is nice to see them get better at it. Seo Seung-hee's (Choi Song-hyeon) story of love, regret and loss might be an episode and case of its own, but it is interesting to see the similarities and differences with San's (Lee Joon) own past relationship. The man carries great trauma and it affects him even in his work. It is nice to see a hero who does not pretend that he is above his emotions and flaws.
Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 2
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Spring is fun, but summer is winking at us and throwing popular pairings at our faces. We are paying attention, summer. Join me as I give you some pretty exciting casting news, more upcoming drama goodies and ramblings. Also, Jasper Cho! No, I cannot actually give him to you, but you could have your question answered by him in our upcoming exclusive interview!
Summer Casting in Full Swing
Casting directors are having a field day again and we get to join them! We have some very popular drama pairings coming this summer, starting with Kim Rae-won and Park Shin-hye in "Doctors". Then "W" and "Uncontrollably Fond" will be competing for ratings as Lee Jong-suk, Han Hyo-joo, Kim Woo-bin and Suzy will be dividing audiences. Thankfully for us foreign fans, we can watch everything without having to choose while they air.
Full Article: [Orion's Drama News] Powerhouse Pairings and Another Exclusive