Sunday, October 26, 2014

Movie Review - Head

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".

Drama Review - The Night Watchman's Journal

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

Drama Review - Surplus Princess / The Idle Mermaid

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".

Movie Review - The Tower

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".

Movie Review - Clash of the Families / Meet the In-Laws

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".

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Actor Spotlight - Nam Gyu Ri

Going from a singing to an acting career is anything but a smooth transition for many. Neither is it always the best decision to begin with or then turn out to be one down the road. But for many who see music as an entrance into acting, it is no doubt seen as a necessary step. For some, it works well, for some it does not. Nam Gyoo-ri is still someone whose future in acting seems uncertain, but she has chosen well so far.

Nam had her first attempt at acting, through a leading role no less, in 2008 horror movie 'Death Bell'. The rest of her film work so far has been cameos and a secondary role, as well as a main role in a segment of 2014 omnibus production 'Mad Sad Bad'. In dramas, Nam has been a bit more lucky and has landed a leading role twice, in 2011 supernatural melodrama '49 Days' and 2013 crime drama 'Heartless City'.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Nam Gyoo-ri.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Drama Review - I Do, I Do

The entertainment industry is not exactly female dominated. This is not only true in Korea, but it is true also in Korea. The romantic genre in particular might be aimed at female audiences, but it is sadly not always concerned with real issues that women face and when it comes to Korean drama, not even concerned with exploring them from a female perspective. 'I Do, I Do' breaks away from that mold and offers a romantic comedy that is a bit more in touch with its target audience.

Hwang Ji-an (Kim Seon-ah) is a career focused shoe designer. Working at a big company, she wants to make it to the top and achieve great things. Park Tae-gang (Lee Jang-woo) is a poor young man who is helping his father in creating knock offs of famous shoes. He is talented and has potential, but cannot reach for his dreams when making a living is so hard. During a very bad day, the two get drunk and end up sleeping together. Ji-an discovers she is pregnant and has to face the dilemma of choosing between her future as a designer and motherhood, which her age might not allow her to have in the future.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Drama Review] "I Do, I Do".

Actor Spotlight - Lim Soo Hyang

There are many ways for a young actress to enter show business and many paths to choose. Some go for movies, some for drama, some try to aim for romantic comedy, others go for melodrama or sageuk, which are the more popular genres in Korean drama. Some, however, will go for variety and the potential to stand out in different genres and styles of work. Lim Soo-hyang seems to be going for that taste of different things.

Lim is a rookie actress and one who is very young both in age and her career. After making her debut in a very small role in 2009 movie '4th Period Mystery', which is also her only movie to date, Lim landed a supporting role in drama 'Paradise Ranch'. She received her first leading role in 'New Tales of Gisaeng' in 2012, before being cast as the second female lead in 'I Do, I Do'. 2013 and 2014 saw Lim taking a turn for the action genre, as a supporting character and villain in 'IRIS 2' and female lead-turned-second female lead in 'Inspiring Generation'.

Full Article: [HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Lim Soo-hyang.

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