Tag Archives: Crime

Stranger, Korean Drama series (2017)

Okay, I’m going to start this review with a small confession. No worries, it really isn’t anything as shocking along the lines of ” I am really a serial killer”. But, here it comes nonetheless: I can be a really emotional guy. When there is injustice I can become really annoyed, and sometimes even very angry. But on the other side of the spectrum I can also cry at things that happen in a movie, or even at certain very personal blog posts. But really don’t hold that against me, okay? Emotions, or lack thereof, can tell a lot about a person. It pretty much defines what makes a person tick, at least that is what I think in my humble opinion. I have always wondered what would happen if I would possess no kind of emotion whatsoever. Let’s just take a few seconds and try to grasp what that means. You would not know when to laugh at a joke. When someone close to you dies, you would shed no tears. Even though there are certain moments in your life you maybe would have loved to lose a few emotions, I for one would never want to lose any of them. Because it would completely change my personality. And that, in a roundabout way brings me to this Korean drama.

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Get used to it: that expression on the face of the guy is pretty much the only one he knows. 

Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok underwent a brain surgery as a child. This surgery has now caused him to lack any kind of emotion. He is a cold, calculated and very rational guy, that is very good at his job. His lack of empathy and social skills however, make it extremely hard for him to sometimes interact with other people. One day while investigating a new case, he finds the person he is looking into dead in his house. When the police arrives at the scene Shi-Mok doesn’t communicate with any of them, but instead focusses on finding the killer. This suspicious behaviour at first makes him a suspect. Police inspector Han Yeo-Jin is the one who is assigned the task of solving the case, and soon finds out that Hwang is innocent of the crime. Eventually the two of them team up to find the real killer. But when they find the alleged murderer, it soon becomes very clear that there is more to the case then both of them realise. A cesspool of corruption has been opened, one that is so deep that it goes to the highest levels of the justice department. Dark and dirty secrets are about to be revealed, and some people will stop at nothing to keep them buried….

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Run Forrest, run…..

Having just finished this Korean drama I have to say it has left me behind with mixed feelings. I certainly would not call this series bad, but there are certain things that I also didn’t like and that at the end kept me from really enjoying this to the fullest. As far as the story goes I have to say that it is incredibly complex containing many layers, and one could argue that it contains too many layers. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, with elements of corporate espionage, corruption and even soap opera thrown into the mix, Stranger has at times trouble in deciding what it wants to be. There were some truly intense and incredibly powerful moments in the show that really put a smile on my face. Some twists and turns where certainly unexpected, and added to the fun of watching this series. But then there were also episodes that were, for lack of a better word, rather dull, and just seemed to drag on and on. The story as mentioned is incredibly complex and because of it’s complexity there were moments where I lost track of things.

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Look at my fist: I have got your emotions right here! 

This last fact was only made even worse because of the huge number of characters that this drama contains. I usually don’t like shows or novels that contain such a huge cast of names that it becomes hard to remember who a certain person was. But despite that fact it’s the acting in this series that really is one of it’s strongest points. Hwang Shi-Mok, played by Cho Seung-Woo is a character that is hard to grow attached to. Because of his lack of emotions he walks around the series with pretty much the same expression on his face at every scene. At first this becomes very tedious, but then I started to realise what a brilliant job the actor is really doing. It is incredibly hard to just not respond emotionally to people that are laughing or crying. I came to really enjoy Shi-Mok’s awkwardness, especially around police detective Han Yeo-Jin. She was played by actress Bae Doo-Na and became my favorite character of the series. The complete opposite of Shi-Mok, she is a feisty and tenacious woman, who tries her best to solve the case but at the same time shows empathy when she needs to. And she is also in for a joke or two, often at the expense of her partner.

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Please don’t look at me that way: I won’t laugh anyway. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the music that supports this drama. It certainly ranks as the best background music I have heard in any Korean drama series to date, and helps bring the atmosphere of this series to life. In the end I can say that I do recommend the show. Even though there are certainly moments in it’s 16 episode run that really are pretty boring, there also enough things in it that balance the score in the end. The difficult and complex script, does eventually pay off, and the acting in the series alone is certainly worth watching it for. While there are definitely better dramas out there, it’s a good series if you are just willing to invest some time and patience in it. If you have become interested in the show after reading this, you can watch the series on Netflix. This concludes the first post for my theme month of Korean dramas. Thanks as always for reading and see you at the next post!

I give Stranger a 7 out of 10 score.

 

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January’s Theme: Korean Dramas

Hello everyone. This is going to be a short post to announce the first theme of this year. As I mentioned in my plans for the upcoming year, each month will have a certain theme that will get a little bit more coverage than all the other things. That’s not to say, I won’t be writing reviews for movies, anime etc, but the theme of the month will just get a few more posts than the others. And as you can see in the big bold letters above this text, January’s theme is going to be Korean Dramas.

What exactly is a Korean drama?

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Well don’t keep us in suspense tell us already!

As not everyone might be familiar with these let me explain just a little bit about them. Korean drama shows are pretty much the same as a regular tv series, except for the fact that they usually run for a single season (with a few exceptions). That means they are selfcontained stories that unfold in one season and then end. The great thing about that is the fact that you don’t run a risk that a show might get cancelled in the middle of a cliffhanger. Korean dramas have quite a large number of topics, such as crime, romance, period pieces, and these days they even have a few series that have sci-fi elements in them. If this has gotten your interest you might want to check out the website Viki that will let you watch these legally for free (with of course a few commercials thrown into the mix). Another great source for news and recommendations is the truly awesome blog Kdramakisses run by the amazingly kind Kay.

What will I be reviewing?

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What do you mean you are not going to tell us?

No, that’s exactly right, I am not going to tell you yet which shows I will be watching. Yes I know, I am evil like that. But I have to keep up a little bit of suspense right? I plan on watching three shows however, so keep your eyes out for the reviews that will start to make an appearance later on in this month. Thank you for reading, and see you all at the next post!

 

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Prison Break: Event Series (Season 5), American tv series (2017)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television series gets cancelled? It’s bad enough when something like that happens, but it’s even worse when it ends on a bad note. There have certainly been quite a few examples of tv series that were incredible but wrapped up with an absolutely horrible ending. I still remember the end of Dexter and how that really made me wonder how on Earth the creators of that series managed to completely ruin an otherwise brilliant show. Luckily there are also tv series that do end on a high note, and manage to give closure to the fans that have been following it. Prison Break was a televisionshow that ran for four seasons during a time that I always like to call “The Reign of the Big Three”. Yes, I know that sounds quite dramatic. The “Big Three” that I am talking about are three television series that really made an impact on the world of the small screen, 24, Lost and the aforementioned Prison Break. The final episode of that show aired just about seven years ago. It ended the series in a pretty satisfactory way, and I was quite happy with it myself.

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Never bring a gun to a fistfight…or was that the other way around? 

Lately there has been a renewed interest in resurrecting old television properties with small new seasons. The X-files and 24 already had a go at this, and this year it was Prison Break’s turn to continue the show with a 9 episode event series. This fifth season picks up the story seven years after Michael Scofield’s death. His brother Lincoln Burrows has tried his best to make a living, but has fallen back into some of his past criminal behaviour. One day when he arrives back at his home, he sees an old familiar face sitting on his porch: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Apparently he has just been released from prison, but he brings with him a message that is kind of hard to believe. Bagwell shows Burrows a picture of Michael sitting inside a prison in Yemen, alive and well. Lincoln at first thinks this is all a trick. But soon certain events are starting to happen that are beginning to make him doubt. Reaching out to Michael’s former wife Sara, who is now remarried, he says he is going to Yemen to find out the truth once and for all. But why has Michael not reached out to them once in all those years? And is Michael still the same man he was or has he turned into someone who is all but unrecognisable……

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Let’s see you break out of this one…I dare you. 

 

So the question I guess that is very valid to ask for this fifth season is: Do we really need this? As I mentioned before I was quite happy with the way the show ended. It gave closure to all the storylines and characters and nothing was left untouched. When you do something like this, you of course run the risk of ruining things. But before I get into that, let’s first start with the positives. It was awesome to spent some time again with all the old familiar faces. Fan favorites T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note all returned for this, and played in a few critical events. However the main focus was on Michael, Lincoln and Sara, and that was a good thing. It’s almost as if they never left, and it was great to see the actors play again and reprise the roles of these beloved characters. The cast is joined by a couple of new characters as well, of which the most interesting one is Whip. There is a revelation about him later on in the season which I certainly did not see coming. He is a great character and played very well by actor Augustus Prew.

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Looking at this picture it’s kind of hard to tell if this is Prison Break or the Walking Dead.

Another thing that was very positive was that this season takes us all over the world. Most of the time is spent in Yemen and these were definitely the best episodes. They don’t call this series Prison Break for nothing, and of course a jailbreak is again part of the story. But the location itself adds a pretty cool element, and gives it a bit more flavour. The problem I had with this event series is that it all started very well, but then something just went wrong. The first couple of episodes were full of action, had a lot of tension, and some nice twists and turns. But by the time the series hits episode 7 it all started to drag a little bit. It’s almost as if the money ran out, and the writers were told they had to finish it all. As such we end up with a really rushed finale that just did not leave a lasting impression and left me feeling a bit hollow. It again brings me back to my original question, did we really need this?

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Please tell me that we are not doing another season after this one. 

It’s a tough question to answer. I can honestly say that this certainly wasn’t a bad season. For fans of the series, there was enough in it to certainly make it a worthwhile watch. It was nice to see most of the original cast returning for this, and in the beginning it recaptured a lot of the magic of what made the show so awesome in the first place. But the wrap up for this event series did leave a lot to be desired. If this season would not have been made, I would not have felt left out in any way whatsoever. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not you should watch this. If you are a fan I guess you will enjoy it, I won’t lie to you there. To give you a little bit of an impression for this season I’m going to leave you with the trailer.

I give Prison Break Event Series a 7 out of 10 score.

Lethal Weapon Season 1, American tv series (2017)

One has to wonder why things that were already good in the first place, have to be remade, rebooted or whatever else kind of term you want to put on it. Television seems to all of a sudden have a disturbing fascination with creating new shows that are either based on older ones, or Hollywood blockbuster movies. And the track record isn’t very good. Let’s see: Minority Report, cancelled after 1 season. Rush Hour, cancelled after 1 season. Training Day, cancelled after 1 season. Blade, cancelled after….well, you get the idea. Why, oh why do they continue to try? Almost every time fans of the original property don’t accept a new version of their beloved franchise. You see how I did that? I very carefully changed my tune slightly by adding the word almost. Because there are exceptions to the rule. When I first heard that they were going to make a tv version of Lethal Weapon I was horrified. That film, and it’s sequels rank amongst my alltime favorite action movies. I was already condemning the series before I even saw it, thinking this was just going to be another stupid remake attempt prone to become yet another epic fail. But…..I was wrong.

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Come on….you are making it too easy, how can you miss? 

Lethal Weapon the tv series is keeping a lot of the story elements from the original movie intact, while at the same time adding a few new ones. Detective Martin Riggs has become pretty much a loose canon after the death of his wife and his unborn child in a car accident. Riggs grabs the bottle whenever he can, and while on the job he pretty much doesn’t care whether he lives or dies. One day he get’s a new partner one Roger Murtaugh, who is almost the complete opposite of him. Roger has a loving family, that is very supportive of him, and is just a by the book cop. He just came back to the force after having had an open heart surgery. At first the partnership is going terrible, which should not really come as a big surprise. Eventually though, the two cops are gaining a mutual respect for each other, and slowly develop a friendship. Although that friendship definitely has quite a few ups and downs. The first season sees the two handle a lot of different cases throughout it’s 18 episode run. Most of the stories are selfcontained, although there are a couple of developments that carry over from episode to episode.

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I guess some people just desperately want a parking space.

Well, as I said above, I was quite wrong about this one. When the first few clips of the series started showing on YouTube my curiosity got the better of me. My initial skeptical response, soon began to evaporate. It actually looked quite good. And even better, the series began to gather some very positive feedback as well. At present the series has been renewed for a second season of 22 episodes, that has just started airing. So why does this series work, while so many other shows based on existing properties failed? One of the main reasons for this I think is that the series doesn’t try to be an exact copycat. In no way are the actors involved trying to duplicate what Mel Gibson and Danny Glover tried to do. The Riggs from the television series, played by actor Clayne Crawford, is at it’s heart the same character. But Clayne is no Mel Gibson, and it seems both the creators of the series and Crawford himself know that fact. He plays Riggs, but brings his own style to him and it works, well most of the time. At some points in the series Crawford overacts just a little bit, but luckily not to the point where it starts to become annoying.

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Now…I’m sorry, but he does have a point, you are bald. 

The other part of the duo, Roger Murtaugh, is played by Damon Wayans. As with Riggs, the tv version of Murtaugh is also a somewhat different character. He is a little bit more quiet and doesn’t always get as worked up over things as Danny Glover did in the movie version. But for a buddy cop show like this to work, there needs to be chemistry between the two leads. And on that front the show definitely succeeds. We get lots of comedic banter between Riggs and Murtaugh, and that creates some of the best moments in the series. And that is another things the creators seemed to realise. The original movies worked because of the great and memorable characters, and their interaction with each other. And that is also the heart of this show. In between the comedy and action, there are enough moments to further develop the characters with quite a number of heartfelt scenes. Most of the supporting cast also add their own weight to the table.

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No idea what they are staring at, but it appears to be something very cute. 

Worthy of note is Jordana Brewster, who most people should recognise from the Fast and the Furious franchise. She plays the psychiatrist Maureen Cahill, who is assigned to Riggs to help him deal with his inner demons. Some of the sessions between them are very entertaining and give a welcome reprieve from the action. So let’s talk about the action. This being a tv series, it of course doesn’t have as big a budget as a Hollywood blockbuster. Still, they did manage to include quite a number of spectacular stunts, car chases and gun battles that will give all you adrenaline junkies out there enough bang for your bucks. With 18 episodes in this first season are all of them of the same quality? No, but then again I don’t think that anyone can name a tv series that does have this. But honestly I also haven’t seen a single episode where I got bored or that was just horrible in some way.

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Don’t worry I will go call a tow truck.

So, with almost everything that is based on something people are going to compare. That might not be entirely fair, but it’s common practice. Is this series as good as the original movies? No, it is not. But those were very big shoes to fill in the first place. What we do have here, is a very fun series that gives a great homage to the classic movies. Fans of the franchise will find enough things in it to make them smile, unless you are an absolute die hard fan that isn’t open for seeing different actors portray the beloved original characters. Lethal Weapon the tv series has been an enjoyable ride so far, and I hope the second season is going to maintain this level of quality. I for one would love to see this series go on for at least a couple of more seasons. I’m going to leave you with a trailer of the show, that was released just before the first episode started airing. It wil give you a nice impression of the series.

I give Lethal Weapon Season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features presents: First full length The Punisher tv series trailer

Netflix has been expanding their list of Marvel tv series quite steadily. It all started with Daredevil back in 2015, and since then they have rounded out their universe with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the most recent one The Defenders. In season 2 of Daredevil a character was introduced that made an enormous impression on pretty much everyone. That character was Frank Castle aka The Punisher. Played by Jon Bernthal, who most people probably recognise as Shane from the Walking Dead, he single handedly created the best live action Punisher to date. It was pretty much inevitable that he would get his own series. In fact there were so many people that wanted this to happen, that it would have been weird if they would not have listened to the fans.

And listen they did as the first season of The Punisher will be making it’s debut later this year. Today the first full length trailer for the series was released, and I can honestly say that I was completely blown away by this. In fact I dare say that this is without a doubt the best trailer that I have seen for the entire year. The trailer is accompanied by the terrific song One by Metallica, and to say more about it is to spoil your fun. I have included the trailer for your viewing pleasure down below. Enjoy it, and please let me know what you think about it in the comments section. I would love to hear your thoughts about this one.

Bad Guys, Korean Drama Series (2014)

I love watching Korean dramaseries, but for some reason I am always running behind with reviews for these. It usually takes me a bit of time to finish them too, and that is not because I don’t enjoy them. On the contrary I absolutely love them, but as always there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only watch one thing at a time. For people who might be unfamiliair with Korean dramas let me give a small introduction for you. (I have done this before so feel free to skip this part and continue to read the next paragraph). Still here? Okay then. Korean dramaseries are tv series that usually contain around 20 episodes and cover a wide range of topics. Romance, historical period pieces, crime, even science fiction is entering the range of titles on offer. The great thing is that these are selfcontained stories, so there is never the risk of a series getting cancelled and leaving unfinished threads. Although there are a few exceptions of dramas getting a second season if it is succesful. One of these is the 2014 crimedrama Bad Guys.

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Well, I did warn you that this series could get bloody right?

In Bad Guys we meet up with detective Oh Gu-tak who has a nickname: Mad Dog. He certainly seems to live up to his reputation as he doesn’t shy away from using pretty excessive measures to catch criminals. But you can’t really blame him as years back his only daughter was murdered by a brutal serial killer. Since then he has been living with guilt and certainly isn’t the same man that he used to be. When a series of new murders take place in his district, Oh Gu-tak comes up with an unorthodox plan to capture the killer. He enlists the help of three dangerous criminals that are currently residing in prison. One is a psychopath and serial killer himself, the other a former mob boss, and the final member of Oh Gu-tak’s new crimefighting squad is a hired hit-man that never made a mistake, but eventually turned himself in. The person who eventually ends up catching the criminal, will get his sentence reduced. Things are not as easy as it seems though. Everyone has a very hard time getting along, but there also seems to be a tie that connects these four people together. A tie rooted in a very dark past and that might have very dire consequences…..

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He did not get the nickname Mad Dog for nothing.

This crimedrama is a very dark and bloody show, and honestly that is how I like them. Where the series at first starts off as a show that seems to focus itself on catching a different criminal in each episode, we soon get a storyline that branches out and carries on throughout the course of the series. The plot is very clever and it’s nice to continually try to find new pieces of the story and figure out what is going on.  It also contains quite a bit of action, featuring carchases and impressive fight scenes that have a blockbuster movie quality to them. This being a crime story it contains some very dark material at times, and there are a few brutal scenes, but it never goes too far or becomes to explicit to watch.

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I am not kidding, this guy wears this expression the entire series. Even his hair seems to agree with him.

The real highlight of this show however are the actors. The level of performances that are given in this show are really off the charts, and truly worth the watch. Detective Oh Gu-tak is played by Kim Sang-joong and he is very impressive to say the least. This is the first time I have seem him in a show or movie, but the way he portrays this quite frankly frightening character is astonishing. His grief and trauma over the death of his daughter really come to the fore in his performance and makes him so fascinating to watch. Ma Dong-seok who people might recognise from Train to Busan, plays the former mobster Pak Un-seol. His character provides some of the much needed comic relief in what is otherwise a very dark series. He gives another solid performance and certainly became one of my favorite characters of the show.

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You would almost think that this guy is a vampire…..

The most human character and the one with the highest level of charisma is the hired hit-man Jung Tae-soo. He is pretty much the only one that really struggles with the deeds that he has done, and his background story is the one that got to me the most. Ofcourse I am not going to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that it’s pretty touching. The last member of the band of misfits is psychopath Lee Jung-moon, played by Park Hae-jin. Quite frankly this guy gave me the creeps. His continually stoic expression throughout the series seriously was unnerving, but it was a terrific and very chilling role. We also have a female police detective called Yoo Mi-young played by Kang Ye-won. Quite frankly she is the only one that I did not really like in this series. I found her character to be pretty boring and not really fitting the rest of the high caliber acting that was done in this series.

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This is the Korean version of Spanish bullfighting.

This 11 episode series was a delight to watch. With the exception of a few moments in later episodes, this was a well paced series that had a really interesting plot, solid performances and a great atmosphere. Bad Guys is getting a second season, but sadly with an entirely different cast of characters. Which I think is a real shame as the cast for this show was simply put amazing. If you like crime dramas or serial killer stories and have yet to experience your first Korean dramaseries, this might be your perfect way to start. If you are looking for a way to watch this drama legally and for free you can check out the website Viki. This series together with scores of others can be found there in high quality, and there is a drama on that site for everyone.

I give Bad Guys a 8 out of 10 score.

Lethal Weapon 2, American movie (1989)

We all know what happens when a movie is succesful at the box office. When it brings on buckets full of money, the studios look for ways to increase that money. And than the word appears that movielovers both hate and love at the same time : sequel. Throughout movie history the sequel to a succesful movie has mostly got a track record of being a lesser product than the original. Luckily though, the sequel these days does seem to be improving to what it usually was in the old days: a cheap way to make more money. But there were certainly noteworthy exceptions. One thing that the 80’s did right was produce an incredible amount of highly entertaining action franchises. Rambo, Die Hard and ofcourse one of my personal favorites the Lethal Weapon series. I already did a review of part 1, which you can find here. Two years later the sequel saw the light of day, and it was every bit as fun as the original movie, if not more so.

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Hmm, you think we can eat this?

Lethal Weapon 2 starts off in the middle of a high speed pursuit. Our favorite crimefighting heroes Riggs and Murtaugh are hot on the tail of a suspect when the car chase ends abruptly with a crash. Inside the trunk of the car they were chasing, an enormous amount of gold Krugerrands is found. This soon leads them to a South African consul general called Arjen Rudd. Riggs is almost certain that this man is tied to a couple of highly illegal dealings, but because Rudd enjoys diplomatic immunity, they are not allowed to pursue the matter any further. What’s worse is that they get a new assignment and that is to protect a valuable federal witness called Leo Getz. This would not be so bad were it not for the fact that Getz is truly driving them completely crazy. But when an attempt is made on Leo’s life, Riggs and Murtaugh discover that the case of Getz might also be linked to the case they were ordered to stand down from. And when colleagues of them start to die, the two of them will have to pull out all the stops in order to solve the case, but also to escape with their lives still intact.

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Sorry miss, I am going to have to confiscate your groceries.

Man, oh man, oh man. What a joy it was to see this movie back again. I might have seen it way too many times already, but it just never get’s old. I was grinning like an idiot all throughout the film and still had to laugh at all the jokes this movie has on offer. Right from the very first opening scene this movie comes out guns blazing. I don’t care about the fact that we certainly have had a couple of great and memorable action movies in recent years: 80’s action just has a certain charm and atmosphere to it, that will never be recaptured on screen. And the action in this one just never let’s up. Highspeed car chases, gunbattles, fist fights, the action lover certainly get’s his or her fix in this film. And all this is mixed with a brilliant comedic blend, that takes the edge of some of the darker moments in the movie.

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No need to argue about this…..I am going to appear in the next two parts as well.

But once again it is the actors that make these movies, and praise most definitely goes out to both Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The comedic banter between these two is even better than it was in the first film, and you can really tell that the both of them had a blast making this sequel. Another very welcome addition to the cast is Joe Pesci who plays the role of Leo Getz. It is not often that you get a character that is so obnoxious, but endearing at the same time. Some of the best moments from this film occur when he is around, and it’s a great thing that his character returned for parts 3 and 4. The villain Arjen Rudd is portrayed by actor Joss Ackland, and he manages to create a character that you will truly grow to hate throughout this movie. He is a really evil man, who does some loathsome things, and certainly is a handful for Riggs and Murtaugh to take down. Ackland’s acting is superb, and only adds more depth to the sinister character that Rudd is.

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Come on man you spent enough time on the toilet now, let me get you off.

The story of this movie ofcourse takes a backseat and pretty much serves only to propel the action and comedy forward. And it succeeds in doing that in a good way, while providing enough twists and turns to keep you entertained until the end of the film. Lethal Weapon 2 is a prime example of how a sequel can definitely work. It’s a great follow up to the original movie, and if you liked that one you don’t even have to think twice about watching this. It’s one of the greatest 80’s action flicks that has been made in that era, and still provides a fantastic experience even though the film is now nearing it’s 30 year anniversary. This movie definitely still isn’t too old for this sh*t.

I give Lethal Weapon 2 a 9 out of 10 score.

A Company Man, Korean movie (2012)

Yes everyone I am back, and my vacation has finally started. In the coming days, I will try and catch up with some of the posts I have missed out on, as well as write some reviews of my own. And what better way to kick off a vacation from work, with a movie about work. Well, sort of. Don’t get me wrong I don’t hate my job or anything like that, but it is not my lifelong ambition either so to speak. And I guess the same can be said for most people that have a day job. If you happen to be one of those lucky few that are an exception to this rule, congratulations on that great achievement. But before this post is turning into a job interview let me start by telling you what this movie is about.

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Just another day at the office. 

In A Company Man, we are introduced to Heyong-do, a man who seems to love his job. Wearing a suit and tie, he always turns up in time for his work at the seemingly normal company he is employed by. But the company is a front for an entirely different kind of business namely that of assassinations. Heyong-do is one of the hitmen, and one of the company’s best. Never before has he failed a mission, and it looks like he has no conscience whatsoever. But then he meets up with the single mother of one of his co-workers, and falls in love. This is the beginning of the end for him. Because of his intense feelings he really wants to change his ways, and quit being the stonecold assassin that he has been all his life. When he begins to spare certain people that he was supposed to kill, the company wants to get rid of him. But not by laying him off. No they have a much more permanent solution in mind….

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Hitman by day, houseman by night…gotta keep those shirts clean. 

This is one of those great Korean actionthrillers that I really love to watch. Although actionthriller seems to be too harsh a word for it. There certainly is action, I won’t deny that, but at the heart of it is also a pretty heartbreaking drama, and a truly great story to boot. A movie such as this stands or falls with the performance of it’s lead actor, and luckily the casting for this one was perfect. So Ji-sub portrays the role of Heyong-do in a terrific way. His natural charm makes sure that you instantly care for this character, even despite the horrific job he is carrying out. Both in the drama and action scenes So manages to deliver a believable role, and he is one of the best reasons for watching this film. But actress Lee Mi-yeon, who plays his love interest also does a great job. Their on screen chemistry works very well, and in scenes that could normally have turned into something very mushy, they both manage to avoid that altogether.

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So…tell me, what makes a good cup of tea? 

For the actionlovers out there this film offers just enough to satisfy. As mentioned even though you can classify this as an action thriller it isn’t the overall theme of the movie. So do not expect an action sequence every minute, as you will be really disappointed. The movie is shot and directed beautifully with a terrific final shoot out scene, that is one of the highlights of this movie. I have tried to find some things that I did not like about this film, but I honestly could not find them. This is just a solid Korean movie, that is truly worth seeing. With great performances by the cast, and a story that provides enough drama and action, I highly recommend this movie. So, as Heyong-do mentions at one point in the film: “The work day is over ” . And so is this review.

I give A Company Man a 9 out of 10 score.

Robocop, American movie (1987)

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now, know that I am a massive 80’s fan. And if you are a new reader, welcome, and I guess you now know this too. One of the things I really enjoyed in the 80’s were the enormous amount of iconic science fiction movies that were made. It gave us so many great characters, like for instance The Terminator and Predator , that one would almost forget that we are talking about movies that were made more than 30 years ago. But even so, all of these have withstood the test of time very well, and are still highly enjoyable to watch. Another character that stems from that great era is a cop. And we are not talking about an ordinary cop, we are talking about Robocop, the future of law enforcement.

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What? He’s just getting some gas for his car, nothing to see here. 

Robocop takes place in the near future in the city of Detroit. It is not the Detroid we know today, but a cesspool of a city, ruled by criminals and where cops are pretty much outnumbered. To get a grip on the criminal elements, the mayor of the city has turned to the powerful mega company Omni Consumer Products, or OCP for short. The vice-president of the company, a man named Dick Jones, has just presented his new tool against crime, a robotic droid called ED-209. Unfortunately the first test of this thing is unsuccessful to put it mildly. Meanwhile a new cop has just arrived at Detroid police headquarters, a man named Alex Murphy. After being introduced to his new partner, the feisty Ann Lewis, the two of them hit the streets. Hot on the trail of a group of criminals led by the ruthless Boddicker, they get caught in an ambush, where Murphy is killed. Not long after this horrible event, OCP introduces their new weapon against crime: Robocop. Soon crime in the city takes a hit, as Robocop begins his mission of justice. But Ann sees an uncanny resemblance to her old partner Murphy in the cyborg. And as succesful as Robocop seems to be, there are some things that even he can’t fight…..

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Don’t mean to interrupt, but there is something behind you. 

Robocop is another one of those classic movie characters that I was talking about earlier. Portrayed by actor Peter Weller, he has brought this character to life in a very impressive way. The Robocop suit he wore, was very uncomfortable, and to top things off, the only thing you could see of his face was his mouth. Despite that fact, he still manages to give away a stunning performance, and brings a humanity to his role that most actors can only dream off. The other actor worthy of note is Kurtwood Smith, who most people might know from That 70’s show. Here he plays the role of the evil Clarence Boddicker, a man that you will really grow to hate during this film. And that is all because of the great acting of Smith, as he truly excells in portraying this hated character. Ronny Cox in the role of Dick Jones, and Nancy Allen as Ann Lewis provide great supporting characters. All in all the acting on display only adds to the enjoyment of this movie.

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Trust me when I say that you will grow to hate this man. 

Now I am not going to lie to you here, Robocop is a brutal movie. There is some very graphic violence in this film, a trademark in most of director Paul Verhoeven’s movies. It does work in this film however, even though some people might really frown upon it. The story of the film is full of criticism upon the corporate America of the 80’s. One of the ways this is done is through the showing of a couple of hilarious commercials throughout the movie, and a few television newscasts. So besides this working as a great science fiction action movie, it is also a well thought out story, full of small jabs at the American way of life of the 80’s. The special effects for the movie were state of the art at the time, but do look a bit dated now, especially the stop motion scenes involving the ED-209 droid. But this really is a minor issue, as the movie is still well worth the watch.

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Imagine showing up to work like this. 

Robocop went on to become part of movie history. It spawned two sequels, an animated and live action tv series, and a remake of the original film. Now the remake was not received very well at the time, but I certainly did not think it was a bad film. I might do a review for that one in the near future. The 1987 version however, is still the best one, and a movie that I highly recommend. Besides great performances, it has a meaningful storyline, and some great action sequences. If you are easily offended by gore and ultraviolence though, I think it is best to avoid seeing this movie. Otherwise there might be trouble, to quote a Robocop phrase.

I give Robocop a 9 out of 10 score.