splash splash love (2015)

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TV Movie: Splash Splash Love (퐁당퐁당 LOVE)
Network: MBC
Episodes: 2
Release Date: December 13 – December 20, 2015
Runtime: Sundays 24:05
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Dan-Bi (Kim Seul-Gi) is a senior high school student. She has a special ability which allows her to transport to anywhere on rainy days. For her university entrance exam, Dan-Bi can’t deal with the pressure and runs off to a playground. Without knowing why, she goes into a puddle and finds herself transported to the Joseon period. There, she meets Lee Do (Yoon Doo-Joon). He is a young King of the Joseon period. Lee Do is in a difficult situation due to droughts and the spread of an epidemic.

Cast
Kim Seul-gi – Jang Dan bi / Jang Yeong sil
Yoon Doo-joon – Lee Do

 

Review

Wahh…i loved this tv movie! i wished this was an actual kdrama with 16 episodes so that i can savor the relationship between Lee do and Dan bi. What i loved most was not only the relationship between the two but also the friendship they shared. i thought they were the perfect match – to think a future king would listen to a high school student in the modern times. The movie focused on the past times and how Dan bi helped saved ancient joseon from drought using her high school math skills. if you think about it, we really have come a long way, technology is so advanced that a high school kid failing math can actually become a renowned and respected genius in Joseon. as for all time traveling shows, as much as we want them to have their happy ever after, it’s impossible so the next best thing is to see Lee Do lookalike in the modern world. I see what they did there, the guy at the bus scene was actually the lookalike but Danbi never noticed him. What could have been better? if the modern Lee Do actually had a crush on her before or will it be creepy if he was an actual descendant to Lee Do?

Kim Seulgi, as usual, is so charming and effective in her role as Danbi. And Doo joon has improved and looked so handsome.

I am too late to wish for a second season but i guess i can just rewatch this movie.

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Battleship Island (2017) movie review

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Movie: The Battleship Island (Goonhamdo / 군함도)
Director: Ryoo Seung-Wan
Release Date: July 26, 2017
Runtime: 132 min.
Genre: Period-1940 / Action / Island
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
During the Japanese colonial era, roughly 400 Korean people, who were forced onto Battleship Island to mine for coal, attempt to escape.

Lee Kang-Ok (Hwang Jung-Min) is a bandmaster at Kyungsung Hotel. He decides to go to Japan to protect his daughter, but he is drafted into Battleship Island by force, being deceived by talk to send him to Japan. On Battleship Island, he does anything to protect his daughter.

Choi Chil-Sung (So Ji-Sub) is the top fighter in Kyungsung (old name of “Seoul”). He makes troubles on Battleship Island, but he has a warm heart.

Park Moo-Young (Song Joong-Ki) belongs to the Korean Independence group. He sneaks onto Battleship Island to rescue a member of the independence group.

Movie Review: (by maandoe)

If you don’t think too much about historical accuracy or analyze the whole movie, this is an interesting movie to watch. The movie was visually stunning and seemed to look too real and authentic, like you were transported back to that time and place. The images were at times shocking and brutal, showing the harsh conditions and treatment that the Koreans in the island faced during the war against the cold and calculating Japanese. There were a lot of gruesome deaths and a lot of tears – showing the sickening and heartwrenching impact of war to everyone – from the men, women and child(ren). Some of the scenes were hard to watch but my eyes stayed glued to the screen and never got bored. The entire cast was good – not just the key characters – but even the side characters and the rest of the actors/actresses showed passion in their acting (most likely because the theme/topic felt too close to home).

So now I’m home and in front of the computer (and away from the beautiful face and tormenting eyes of So Ji Sub – lol!), how did i really find the movie? I think for the most part it was great – it had all the possible themes for a war movie – action (fighting and deaths), drama (tears, love), nationalism, a little bit romance, betrayal, good vs evil, we will survive and escape together, but there were times it was uneven. I will try not to post too much spoilers but I felt like there was a giant shift in the storyline on the third act. Before coming into the movie my expectation was that the movie was about Koreans trying to escape the island but halfway through the movie there were no plans of escaping at all. Instead I watch as Park Moo Yung (who came out of nowhere) secretly plot and plan to help Yoon escape – apologies but I’m not familiar with Korean histroy during this time – so I thought maybe they will let him escape and Yoon will change the “war” and help liberate the Koreans from the Japanese. His plan failed ( i actually like the huge twist in the story) ) as well as the rest of the story moving forward. I thought it was a pretty strong plot but when it didn’t happen, the writers, didn’t know what to do or how to move the plot along suddenly, we see Park Moo Yung change his mind (maybe because he briefly interacted with Sohee?) and started helping them get out of the island when he heard that everyone will be killed. and so the exodus (and the main act) started. I thought that was a huge shift of story that didn’t really make that much sense but it had to happen. Also, the mood/tone of the movie was uneven – at times they were happy and playing light jazz music and father/daughter bonding, at times it was brutal with all the guns, broken bones, blood, fighting. I guess the movie tried to put some lighter tone at some parts of the movie so that it doesn’t feel too heavy for the audience – most of the time it works but other times it was hard to think that they could still be happy when they were in that situation already – or maybe that’s the human spirit showing – how resilient people are.

As for the characters, there were a lot of them and I felt it was too bad that they could not give all the characters justice and chance to shine. I think definitely Hwang Jung Min was the main character and actor in this movie (even though it was mostly Song Joongki who got the most media exposure – i think they were trying to woo International audience). He had great chemistry with Kim Suan (who plays Sohee). I loved all their scenes together and I could really feel the love and partnership they have. I think their characters were more developed than the rest because we know where they worked before, how they got to the camp and why they had to get out of there (because of the kid!). Suan is a great young actress, who can cry on cue and make these cute faces that you really want her to live. But i find that her character was a little too much like her character in Train to Busan – almost the same storyline, she is running away with her father and trying not to get killed by the zombies/Japanese – same heartbreaking crying face (which i think the director was exploiting too much – especially at the last scene) to elicit sympathy from the audience. I’m a fan of Song Joongki but i thought his character (Park Moo Yung) was flat – we see him getting orders from when he was somewhere in the desert to get Yoon out but we dont know how he got into the island. He just magically appeared in one scene and stayed there for the rest of the movie. We don’t know his background (except for saying he trained with the US, etc), why he needed to be there (it seemed like he was just taking orders but didn’t really care about the rest of the people in the island). That’s why it was hard for me to root for him – i felt like he was just put in the movie as eye candy, huge draw in the box office, and to have a “hero” who helps the bumbling musician and kid and the rest of the people get out of the island. Certainly we dont expect Kang-ok to lead the team since as the movie has shown, he wasn’t a fighter – he was a musician who used his brains and connections to get ahead. He did have a heart though, which i didn’t see much from Moo Yung until the very end. Lee Jung Hyun was also underused – she was the only female lead actress but she wasn’t utilized that effectively. Yes, she did fight the Japanese men but I wish she was the force that can unite the ladies in the island – i was expecting her to become the lead captain of the comfort women who will retaliate against the Japanese and rally all the girls to fight or carry stuff, etc but most of the time her scene was with So Ji sub’s character. Which is another plot that was under developed. The chemistry and sexual tension between the two was so strong but movie didn’t capitalize much on it until the end, when they were side by side trying to keep each other alive.

And to the last character – Choi Chilsung – I thought he was a very interesting character and was actually the real hero in this movie. As soon as he came into the island, he was very tough and strong – he answered to no one. One of my favorites scenes were actually all with him – the first one was the bathroom fight with the team captain. Early on you will see why he’s the hero – on the outside you would think he is just a gangster who wants the power to lead the Koreans there, but actually i thought he would rather take the lead than to see another a**hole Korean treating them badly. At least he can keep everyone in line and protect them in case the Japanese tried to do something to them. In the second half of the movie, So Ji Sub almost became secondary to Moo Yung and Gang ok because of the plot – which i found weird because looking at the dynamics of the team, he led the team, he had the trust the loyalty of the men, but MY and GO didn’t even think of soliciting his help to accomplish their goal. When the Japanese killed a schoolgirl to setup Chilsung – he stepped up so that the other Koreans will not get harmed – i though that was another leadership quality he possessed. He took care of his men by sacrificing himself even if he did nothing wrong. and we see that it took fruit became when the whole-we-have-to-get-out-of-here plan was hatched, his men took the time to get him out of the locked room – if it were any poor leader, the men would have left him there to die. Another leadership quality and why i think he is the real hero? while MY and GO planned to leave the island with the others, he decided to stay – not because he didn’t want to leave, but because someone had to stay to fight the Japanese so they can freely escape. That’s why i feel like his character wasn’t developed too well – From the trailers and the write ups, his character was supposed to be a gangster and was meant to be the brawny but dumb guy and we dont know anything else about him. Was he famous in Seoul? was he the main gangster in Seoul? was he rich? why did he end up in the camp? if he was powerful in Seoul, he surely could have bought the Japanese and not get stuck there so why is he there? And is there really a gangster that has a heart of gold? He protected the Koreans in the island, he protected Mallyeon from getting too much raped. He stopped the fight during lunch and the bathroom. I thought his character and Mallyeon’s character should have had a bigger screentime because they were fighting for something – they were fighting for their country and they were tired of the abuses they faced. So i’m a little disappointed. the last scene where both of them were fighting til the very end. plus the cinematic no audio scene was awesome. CS was not able to keep his promises but at least he made good with one (you’ll know it when you watch the movie).

So overall, i liked the movie even though i thought the story could have been better. Will i watch it again? I probably would. I wish they can actually do a prequel of So Ji Sub’s character’s life before the movie.

the tunnel (2016)

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Movie: Tunnel (터널)
Release Date: August 10, 2016
Runtime: 126 min.
Genre: Disaster
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Lee Jung-Soo drives home for his daughter’s birthday. While driving through a tunnel that crosses through a mountain, the unthinkable happens. The tunnel collapses. When Lee Jung-Soo regains consciousness, he finds himself trapped inside his car. The car itself is buried under thousands of tons of concrete and debris. All he has inside the car are his cellphone, two bottles of water and his daughter’s birthday cake.

Review
I did not read the plot when I watched the movie – i was expecting some monsters causing the tunnel to collapse haha – but like every typical korean movie, the lead is always a family man – married with a child (think of Train to Busan) – i guess it’s supposed to evoke emotion and sympathy for the lead, which is not bad. However, the movie did not really focus on that aspect, but more on how Jongsoo survived the ordeal while waiting for the rescue team to get him out of the tunnel. This movie also makes you think – should you try to save 1 life at the expense of another or at the expense of the common good. The government was using all their resources and manpower to try to save him and losing millions every day – so is it worth saving one person’s life when they don’t even know if he’s alive or not?

What the movie failed to tackle was asking the big question – why did it collapse in the first place – the movie mentioned that most of the tunnels were not meeting the standards, and yet, there was no investigation – instead the government was angry that they could not continue with the second tunnel. hello – what if it collapses again? definitely they should stop and investigate and charge those people who mishandled the construction of the Hado Tunnel! they were lucky that there were only 2 people that got trapped. what if there were plenty? then would it now be a national disaster?

i felt for Jongsoo – he was trapped – yet I’m amazed that he was still able to help Mina – sharing his water when he barely had any and comforting her. There were times when he felt frustrated and wanted to give up – i probably would have given up earlier – you can see when the dog ate the cake, and when he found out they drilled the wrong place, and when Mina died – amazing fighting spirit he had – definitely helped that his wife was there supporting him – i know how difficult it must have been for the wife to sign the papers and basically leaving her husband trapped forever.

another plot – i was also wondering if there was any way for Jongsoo to get out. he seemed like he just waited most of the time and wasn’t that resourceful or didn’t even try to move the rocks – again maybe i expected more because when he found out that he will no longer be rescued, i thought he would finally step up and try to save himself. well, he did try but then they bombed the area, causing more rocks to fall and he barely made it inside.

The dog – how did he survive more than 30 days without food and still look so energetic?? and im surprised it took so many days before the phone battery drained, considering he was calling people and kept it switched on. the car battery – not sure how long it was supposed to stay on but the radio was a nice touch for communication when his battery died.

of course, the ending was happy – i wished there were more post-rescue meetings between Jongsoo and his rescuer – and Subin gets the puppy (i dont think it’s a puppy anymore though!). The last scene was the couple going through another tunnel – that must have been horrifying for Jongsoo – but his wife was there holding his hand. Aww.

Overall, despite the minimal action, the movie didn’t feel boring and kept me interested the whole time!

mood of the day

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Movie: Mood of the Day
Revised romanization: Keunalui Bonwigi
Hangul: 그날의 분위기
Director: Jo Kyu-Jang
Writer: Min So-Yeon, Jo Kyu-Jang
Producer: Choi Jin
Cinematographer: Yoo Eok
Release Date: January 14, 2016
Runtime: 103 min.
Genre: Romantic-Comedy
Distributor: Showbox
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
By chance, a man and a woman meet on the KTX train and spend 24 hours in the unfamiliar city of Busan, South Korea.

Main Cast
Moon Chae-won as Soo-jung
Yoo Yeon-seok as Jae-hyun
Jo Jae-yoon – Senior Kang
Kim Seul-gi – Asst Manager Hong
Park Min-woo – Kang Jin Chul

Review (Spoilers ahead!!)

I didn’t like Jaehyun. The movie tried to portray him as a “cool” playboy who is sought after by a lot of girls, but I thought he was an a..hole! I expected more smooth moves from him or at least have some cool pick-up lines for Soojung but he brazenly asked her relentlessly to sleep with him, I’m surprised Soojung didn’t just slap him and cried sexual harrassment while on the train. No, not only did she futilely brushed off his advances, she gamely followed him all over Busan just to meet Kang Jin Chul! Wow, am not sure she was really that desperate to get Jin Chul for her contract or she really was attracted to him that she was just acting as if she didn’t like him.

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then the storyline shifted from showing Jaehyun as a douchebag to suddenly becoming this super nice gentleman, great basketball player, sweet to kids, nice hyung and suddenly she started to fall for him. They don’t really have a lot in common except they were attracted and spent one day together.

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(Well, there was one scene where Jaehyun was crying and Senior Kang said, “Because you are such a show off” was probably the movie’s way of showing that he really is a nice guy with a sensitive heart, just like another scene where Jaehyun told Soojung, “I said all that because you were too pretty”.)

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Senior Kang was supposed to be like the character who would provide all the laughs but he wasn’t funny at all. I thought he was rather pathetic and Jaehyun was a jerk to just forget about him (they did go to Busan together and he just ditched him and Senior Kang was just fine with it). They should have just given Kim Seulgi a larger role and more scenes since she was way funnier. The last scene where Kang tried to same thing to AM Hong in the train and she was slapped was hilarious even if the scene was short!

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Also, they never showed in the movie if Jaehyun even knew or if Soojung was deliberately hiding from him that she was following him all over because of Kang Jin Chul, and i was expecting him to get angry that he was being used – this never happened and i’m glad it didn’t because that would have been a waste of storyline. I guess he realized she needed Kang Jin Chul when she left her presentation and he was nice enough to bring it to her and save her presentation (okay, okay, my heart is melting too – he is a nice guy).

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The scene at the restaurant was a bit sad – Jaehyun was so excited to see Soojung and happily listened to her conversation with friends then he was hurt by Soojung saying he didn’t mean anything and he was just a one night stand – I was expecting this scene because there was this line from Soojung earlier, “Someday someone is going to make you feel hurt (or something like that)” but when this happened, I also felt bad for him. It was his first time to really really like a girl and that must have been a blow for him. but hey, it was his fault for being an ass to her and he was proudly telling her it was just for fun.

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I forgot about the note he wrote until the reception lady mentioned it to Soojung – and she ran after him (i don’t know how long this was after their fight scene) but they obviously couldn’t forget each other. In the end, i’m happy she was brave enough to go after him and he was finally man enough to love her too.

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I like Soojung, even though she seems meek, but at least she knows what she wants and is also good at her job. What i dont like (which is typical of Korean movies) is for the ladies always having to go through the most embarrassing situations and make them look clumsy and then it shows the guy finds it endearing (really?!?)

The little twist in the end about what happened to Soojung getting hit by a ball was expected – i noticed Korean movies love this kinds of “destiny” storylines.

Overall, except for the first part when Jaehyun was being so full of himself, this was a nice romantic movie to watch.

 

movies

short thoughts on some asian movies i’ve watched in 2012-2013

love fiction – totally different side of ha jung woo. it got a little boring coz HJW’s character just spoke and over analysed too much!

miracle in cell no. 7 – i thought this was a funny movie — so i was surprised that it was dramatic and i even cried a little at the end (it did get cheesy) but a nice movie!

take off – a great sports movie! the stories of each character was too dramatic but other wise i loved watching their practices, their friendship and the ending when they were trying for the olympics. i was one with the crowd cheering them to win!

i am murderer – they really milked park shi hoo for the ads, im surprised and happy/sad about the twist at the end. still great movie

architecture 101 – nice korean romance movie. i wish the characters ended up together though but it’s a bittersweet ending

green days – korean animated film. some parts were boring though.

dancing queen – funny korean movie but the ending was heartfelt.

all about my wife – a husband hires his next door casanova neighbor to seduce his wife so they’ll separate. lol. it’s not a funny movie but it’s fun/sad to watch.

man from nowhere – finally watched this won bin flick. he’s just so badass! now if only somehow pays him to eat more and fill out his muscles so he wouldn’t look so gaunt!

tenchi – the movie was so long i unfortunately missed the last 10 mins because the plane was arriving in sg airport but i love epic movies like this.

jiro dreams of sushi – the sushi is so simple but it looked so yummy! i pitied the older brother who will forever be under the shadow of his dad until he dies.

the thieves – great movie! had a lot of twists and turns.

the jackal is coming – big disappointment. so bored didn’t know what was happening. the twist at the end was long time coming but still didn’t make up for the whole movie.

the viral factor – i dont like jay’s facial hair but i love the movie. lots of action and nicholas tse!

helpless – lee seon kyun will forever be “chep” to me (from the kdrama “pasta”). the story is quite creepy – imagine being in love with someone and turns out you dont really know them at all! i admire him (or he’s dumb) for loving her despite all the things she had done (murder!!). and i hope he finds someone in the future.

hotaru no hikari the movie – i love them both but sometimes i really dont know why they are together. they dont seem to have much in common. but they are so sweet. ayase is adorable and funny (her character is a little bit naive sometimes and why would you call your fiancee as boss until now?). i did try to watch season 2 but i couldn’t finish

bad girls – this is ella’s movie with mike he. ella is the tomboyish member of she and it’s sometimes annoying to see her play the same character over and over again. yes, she’s not pretty. she has a deep voice. she is tomboyish (though in real life she is married to a really handsome guy). i hope she tries her luck in other roles. i used to love mike he (in devil beside you with rainie when i was in college). i havent watched any of his films/tv in the last couple of years so i was happy to see him again. he’s not the best actor of his generation but he can still carry a film (and he really looks like a young chinese gabby concepcion!)

blind – love kim haneul! this was a great movie. i actually felt terrified for her esp in the subway scene. most of the critics loved the film except for the ending which they thought was cliched. i thought it was nice. the story and the details fitted in quite nicely.

haeundae – i felt cheated because i was expecting a twister or disaster movie but what i got was just a story about a few people living in a small town, picking up the pieces after the huge disaster a couple of years ago and having it all come back again in only the last few minutes of the film.

goodbye mom – i watched this during one of my sessions in kcc. at first i thought it would be boring (i dont like choi kang hee’s manly voice and her face looks so plasticky – one of the reasons i stopped watching protect the boss) but instead it was a gem of a movie. i was fighting back tears all through out the film. i guess i can somehow relate to her though i’ve never been a bad daughter like her.

my girlfriend is an agent – this is an old korean movie. some said it was like mr/mrs smith but it didn’t even come close! kang ji hwan is a rookie agent and how hilarious to see him scream like a girl everytime and in some parts try to be a cool guy. kim haneul like i said above is one of my favorites – she is like ha jiwon – she can do drama, comedy and action and still look kick ass! the story is interesting, though it’s funny how to govt branches dont even know that they are trailing each other. had they cooperated early, they could have catch the bad guys easily! is everything so top secret? i mean in my field of work, we do different things but we make sure we coordinate with other depts to make sure if no duplication of work.

The bullet vanishes – beautiful HD quality. I kind of guessed who is the mastermind but i wanted to know why. Great mystery and action packed movie.

speedy scandal – i love cha tae hyun. He is just so funny! This movie is hilarious with a lot of heart.

The grand heist – one of the blockbusters in korea this year. Loved the all star cast. Cha tae hyuns movies always have funny scenes and he just makes the best facial expressions. loved seeing how they planned for the heist and the bonding of the cast. Loved the cameo of song joongki at the end. did feel sad that dukmoo’s friend was not able to go to netherlands and how nice of him to take a trip there in the end. And lastly i love oh jiho!

Sorceror and White Snake – i love wu xia films and anything Jet Li. I’m not familiar with the legend though I think the movie is not accurate. The film is okay. Lots of effects though sometimes i feel the effects are cheesy on some parts. Love Jet li’s fight scenes. Not sure who is the heroine or villain in this movie but I didn’t really like white snake, she’s stubborn but i can feel her pain. And for me i think that’s the main idea of the movie. There are more than 2 sides to every story n each one has impact on the others decisions. I like the sideplot on nengren.

71 into the fire – I do not like war because nobody wins in a war. However once in a while i like to watch a well made war movie that focuses on human emotions and impact of war rather than the political reasons. I guess i have been fortunate enough not to experience war first hand. The movie is based on true events and i really admire people who will risk their lives to serve their country. i love the drama and the actors, now i just wish someone would release a read HD version of this movie, and would probably make this an even more enjoyable cinematic feast to watch.

hello ghost – i love cha tae hyun. i thought the movie was tooo long and part dragged a bit mostly because i couldn’t understand the point of the ghost.. why they were there and their odd requests. but everything was explained in the end which made me teary eyed.

you are the apple of my eye – love love love this movie. very poignant and sweet. i wish they ended up together (but then this is based on a true story of the director and his ex gf) but i still liked the ending.

school days with a pig – very interesting story. love the kids and the pig. i guess i’m old that’s why i also would have made the same decision as with the teacher.

love you you – a taiwanese (?) movie about a guy and a girl in a resort.. got a bit emo when they showed the twist about the girl’s condition but still fun movie to watch.