Tag Archives: Drama

Heartless City, Korean Drama Series (2013)

It has been quite a while since I have last reviewed a Korean Drama series, or K-Drama if you prefer. For those of you that have yet to experience the world of Korean Drama series let me offer a small introduction. A K-Drama series usually has around 20 episodes (although longer shows do exist) and can revolve around a great variety of subjects. The advantage is that the story usually is concluded by the end of the show, and with the current climate of so many series getting the axe, I think that is a good thing. Korean Drama series, just like Anime to make a comparison, cover a wide range of topics ranging from romance, historical, comedy and crime to name a few. There are so many shows to choose from, that it can sometimes be very hard to make a choice. A great place to start is the blog Kdrama Kisses (which you can find Here). It offers a wide range of reviews, news and all kinds of other great stuff from the world of Korean Drama series. Well, I think that is enough of an introduction, on with the review!

Heartless City is a crime drama about the shady world of drugs. A special police unit is formed to catch an infamous drug Kingpin called Scale and shut down his drug empire. This unit under the command of the driven cop Ji Hyung-min, has plans to place an undercover cop into Scale’s operation. Pretty much against his wishes, but realising she is the best cop for the job Hyung-min’s girlfriend, Lee Kyung-mi, is chosen for this very dangerous assignment. Just when the operation is about to start a  mysterious new player appears. Only known as Doctor’s Son, it soon becomes clear that Scale might not be the most important criminal after all. Who is Doctor’s Son, and what is his endgame? Unfortunately Ji Hyung-min will have to go through many hardships and dangers to uncover that truth. And in the end that truth might end up to be more than he would ever want to know….

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Wow, just simply wow! That pretty much sums up how I feel about this utterly fantastic series. To start with I am completely in awe of the amazing acting capabilities of Jung Kyung-ho (pictured above) who plays the dangerous Doctor’s Son. This guy is simply amazing, and I have become an instant fan of this great actor. He alone is almost the sole reason you should watch this show. But that would be selling it short, because the series itself is also just absolutely astounding. Having watched a lot of tv series, I usually see certain twists coming before they are shown. However, trust me when I say that this series has developments that will leave you staring at the screen, while your jaw lies silently on the floor. I can not go on without spoiling things, and as I pretty much always try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, I am not going to do that. All I can say is that if you like crime drama series, with some truly fantastic acting in it, watch this show. It will leave you breathless until the final episode (and probably after it ends you will still be gasping for breath). You can watch Heartless City for free at the legal Asian drama website Viki (which also provides subtitles in a lot of different languages, including English ofcourse).

I give Heartless City a 10 out of 10 score.

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Veronica Guerin, Irish/Uk/American movie (2003)

Looking back over the past few decades, there have been a lot of movies that feature some strong female performances, and that were based on true life stories. Two movies that spring to mind in that category are Gorillas in the Mist, and the other is Erin Brockovich. Both of those movies, although based on entirely different stories, do have one thing in common: a woman that is not afraid to expose the truth, not even if it means dying for it. Sigourney Weaver and Julia Roberts both delivered incredibly strong  roles, and truly carried these movies. Needless to say I love movies like that, because it shows how far a person is willing to go to stand up for what they believe in. A little bit lesser known, but no less powerful movie is Veronica Guerin.

Kate Blanchett plays the lead role of the Irish journalist Veronica Guerin. At one point in her life Veronica is tired of the simple articles she is writing, and decides to focus on a story that does matter. The movie takes place in the early nineties, a time where Ireland is experiencing a high crimerate, especially with drugs. Drugdealers are commonplace at that time, and pretty much control whole residential areas. Veronica decides to do something about it, and tries to expose the men in charge through her articles. However, at that point a dangerous new player appears, and he definitely is not happy with the things that Guerin is writing. Not before long, Veronica is in fear for her life, but despite that, she continues her crusade against drugs. A decision she might come to regret…

If there is one thing that I could name that makes this movie worth the watch, it is Kate Blanchett’s role. Ofcourse she has always been a very accomplished actress, but I especially liked her in this movie. She did get a Golden Globe for her performance, but was sadly overlooked by the Oscars, and did not even receive a nomination. As for the movie itself, directed by Joel Schumacher, it tells a very gripping story. It does so in a pretty brutal fashion, and does not shy away from violence. Some of the scenes are not for the fainthearted, but do serve to make clear how high the stakes are. As this is based on a true story, it only makes the aftermath of this movie more powerful. Despite everything, it makes it clear that one (wo)man can really make a difference. All in all this is a very good movie, and I highly recommend it.

I give Veronica Guerin a 9 out of 10 score.

Eden of the East Movie 1: The King of Eden & Eden of the East Movie 2: Paradise Lost, Japanese (Animated) Movies (2009/2010)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite tv show get’s cancelled or ends, and you are left with a lot of unanswered questions? It is something that happens very frequently and I think it is pretty much an insult to the fans of a show. At least resolve a storyline, and give fans closure. Last week I saw a briljant Anime series called Eden of the East (you can find my review of it here). I liked it very much, but at the end everything was left pretty much wide open. Luckily the story was continued in two movies, that resolve the story and should end the series on a satisfying not. The question is, do the movies succeed in that mission? I usually review movies one at a time, but since these two movies are pretty much one continuing story, I have decided to review them together.

The first movie, The King of Eden, kicks off about six months after the final events of the Anime series. Saki Morimo is back in the United States, where she is desperately trying to find Akira Takizawa. Is he still alive? Meanwhile the game continues between the remaining Selecao. The enigmatic Mister Outside, continues to be every bit as mysterious and is still pulling the strings behind the curtain. Will the game end in a positive way for Japan, and is the future of the country assured? And even more importantly, what will that future be, and who will be the Selecao that wins the game? The answers to this question, and many others, are given in movie 2, Paradise Lost.

So….are these movies as good as the Anime series? I unfortunately have to answer that question with a no. Let’s start with the positive things first though. The animation, especially in the second movie is very good, and even though it is not very different from what you were used to in the Anime series, I still found it to be better. The music is once again provided by Kenji Kawai, and I keep saying it, this man is just simply amazing. And now for the bad things. The movies do provide an answer to every remaining question, but the time it takes to reach the conclusion, is just too long. Where the series had a lot of humour and exciting stuff that took place, what we get here, is a very bleak and political story, that at certain points was just way too longwinded. At times I really felt my mind wander off, something that never happened during the Anime. I think it would have been better to make a second series of 11 episodes, where there would have been more room to add in some comedy and tension. Maybe my expectations were just too high, as I loved the Anime so very much. Still, even though the movies are not as strong as the Anime, they are a definite “must watch” for the fans of the show. It was still great to see all the familiar faces of the Anime again, and the storyline does get wrapped up in a very nice and satisfying way. Also, stick around for the after credits scene at the end of the second movie.

I give Eden of the East movies 1&2 a 7 out of 10 score.

Creed, American Movie (2015)

I have never liked sports. I was never good at it, I did not have the stamina for it, and basically I never cared for it either. Yes, I know that sports can be good for your health and stuff, but why do something if you don’t like it. As such, I never watch sports on television either. After a weekend when I get to work and people start talking about this great soccer match they saw, I basically zone out. That being said, Hollywood has produced it’s fair share of sports movies, and I honestly have to admit that I occasionally do like watching those. Especially when it features some great actors, or a storyline that I can relate to. Last year the movie Creed was released, which is a spin-off movie, from the popular Rocky series. When people first heard about this project, it was pretty much predicted that this movie would be a total bust. However, not only did this film prove them all wrong, it pretty much served as one of the best  performances of Sylvester Stallone’s career.

Creed tells the story of the son of Apollo Creed, the longtime rival and former friend of Rocky. Adonis spent his youth living in foster homes, and pretty much going down a dark road, until he was picked up by Apollo’s wife Mary Anne. As Adonis grows older, he feels the urge to start proving himself in the boxing ring, against Mary Anne’s wishes. As Apollo had died in the ring, Mary Anne was scared the same thing might happen to his son. However headstrong as Adonis is, he leaves for Philidelphia to go and search for Rocky and have him train him. When he meets up with Rocky and asks him to help him become a better boxer, at first Rocky wants nothing to do with it. Balboa has left that part of his life behind him, and is fine with it. Eventually though, he relents and accepts Adonis as a student. As the opportunity arises for young Creed to go head to head against the world’s number one fighter, it is almost like a dream that has come true. Adonis has to get ready for the fight that may very well define his career. Rocky however, has a very different fight on his hand, one that might eventually cost him his life…..

There are some people out there that claim that Stallone can’t act. Well, in this movie not only does he prove he can, he got nominated for an Oscar because of it. Unfortunately he did not win it, but his portrayal of Rocky in this movie, is pretty much the heart and soul of this film. Don’t discount the role of young Michael B. Jordan though, as he also lands a very impressive performance. The movie takes a while to build up some momentum, but that does give it time, to provide a good background story and create a bond with the character of Adonis. This movie teaches us that no matter how hopeless a situation might be, you should never give up the fight. Some might call that pretty cheesy, but I don’t know I kind of like that message, and it is usually the truth. This movie is pretty much a love letter to all the Rocky fans out there, and gives us one final chapter in the life of that beloved character. It is a great film, and no matter how much you hate sports, it is hard not to cheer when Adonis get’s in the ring. One round at a time….

I give Creed a 9 out of 10 score.

The Finest Hours, American movie (2016)

About 19 years ago a movie was released that was based on a true story that happened out at sea. The movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, chronicled the events of a huge passenger liner that eventually sunk after it hit an iceberg. I am ofcourse talking about Titanic, a movie that went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters to date, and received a total of 11 Oscars. It has also been the only movie that I have seen 9 times in the cinema. Movies about disasters and men versus the sea have always fascinated me. Hollywood keeps making them, and I guess that is because a lot of people love watching them. This year we had another one based on a true story, called the Finest Hours. Is it any good? Well let’s find out shall we?

It is 1952. The young coast guard officer Bernie Webber, played by Chris Pine, is about to meet the girl of his dreams, Miriam. Pretty unsure of himself it turns out he was worried for nothing, as Miriam definitely is interested in him as well. Months later, the two make plans to get married. As Bernie always keeps following the rules, he heads of to his commanding officer at coastguard headquarters, to ask permission to get married, as per regulations. Meanwhile out at sea, a great storm is brewing and the oil tanker Pendleton finds itself right in the middle of it. Then disaster hits, and the great ship breaks in two. The stern keeps floating, and on it are roughly thirty men that find themselves trapped on the sinking ship. Bernie receives orders to head out to sea to pull of a daring rescue attempt. With the storm getting worse by the minute, it seems that the rescue is doomed to become a suicide mission…..

The Finest Hours is what I would like to call a good old fashioned disaster movie. Sure, it doesn’t tread any new grounds, but it does deliver an entertaining movie experience. The acting in this movie is very solid. I really liked Chris Pine’s performance. His character is a bit of a shy and somewhat unassuming person, and that is what I loved about it. It’s cool that someone like that can pull off a rescue such as this. Also noteworthy are Casey Affleck who is always a very solid actor, and Holliday Grainger who played Miriam. The special effects in this movie are pretty awesome as well, and make you feel as if you are right down in the middle of the storm. One could argue that there are some moments in the movie, where the tension drops a bit, and there are definitely some typical disaster movie cliches in here. But honestly , overall I really enjoyed it, and I highly recommend it to people who like movies such as The Perfect Storm and Titanic.

I give the Finest Hours a 8 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: “To rewatch, or not to rewatch….?”

As a movie buff probably everyone has movies that have made a lasting impression. You might even have seen the movie a second time, just because you liked it so much. But how many of you have actually watched a movie so often, that you lost track of the number of times that you have seen it? So many times in fact, that you almost know every line of the movie by heart?  I am one of those persons that can rewatch a movie many, many times. I have a couple of them, that I have really rewatched so often that I actually can’t tell how many times that I have seen them anymore. I thought it would make a fun feature to share my personal list, so here they come in no particular order.

1. Duel ( 1971)

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The oldest movie in my list, this was a tv movie directed by the (at the time) pretty much unknown director, Steven Spielberg. The premise is pretty simple. An ordinary salesman, David Mann, one day passes an old dieseltruck with his car on the highway. The driver of the truck turns out to be a dangerous psychopath, and what begins as something relatively innocent, soon turns into a high stakes game of cat and mouse between David and the truckdriver. Even though this movie is now 45 years old, it still hasn’t lost it’s power and is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen in my life.

2. Aliens (1986)

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Who says that a sequel to a movie can’t be good, probably has never seen Aliens. This movie is a must see for every sci-fi horrorfan out there. The sequel to the classic Ridley Scott movie Alien, truly raises the stakes when Lt. Ripley is forced back into action against the Aliens. When all contact has been lost with a colony on planet LV 426, Ripley travels together with a squad of marines to find out what has happened. Arriving on the planet the horror is even worse than they imagined. This movie directed by James Cameron, is my alltime favorite sci-fi horrormovie. A true classic, with special effects that are still impressive today, it has a tension and power that few movies have achieved. And ofcourse actress Sigourney Weaver is awesome in the role of Ellen Ripley

3. Heat (1995)

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What can I say about this one? Starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, it is the ultimate cops and robbers movie. Both actors are amazing in their roles, but also the supporting cast most notably Val Kilmer and a very young Natalie Portman raise this movie to an incredible level. Pacino plays lt.Vincent Hanna, who is intent on catching master criminal Neil McCauley played by De Niro. What makes the movie so great is the characters. Every character, no matter how small their role, has his or her own storyline. Even though this movie lasts nearly 3 hours, you get sucked into it, never getting bored for one bit. In fact when the credits roll, you wish the movie could go on for a couple of more hours. Great stuff and a movie I pretty much rewatch again every two years or so.

4. The Terminator (1984)

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This list would not be complete without adding the iconic sci-fi action movie, The Terminator. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role that made him famous, this movie spawned numerous sequels. Yes, Terminator 2 has better special effects and I have watched that one to death as well, but I still think the original movie has the best story and has more tension. Sarah Connor has been marked for death by an unstoppable killing machine from the future. Her only hope lies with a lone resistance fighter from the future, Kyle Reese, who has travelled back in time to save her. With fantastic action sequences, great oneliners (I’ll be back….duh), this movie has it all.

5. The Star Wars saga (1976-present)

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As you may have noticed I did not mention Star Wars as a movie, but rather the entire saga. Yes I am also a Star Wars fan, there is no denying that, and as such I have watched every movie more times than I can count (except for maybe the last one, but that is only because it came out last year). If I really have to tell what these movies are about, than I suggest that maybe it is time to not call yourself a movie lover anymore. Just kidding ofcourse. Seriously though, these movies truly are the best science fiction has to offer, and with Disney taking over, we now have a movie to look forward to every year. My only hope is that this doesn’t mean that it will impact the quality of them.

Honorable Mentions

When I started this list I almost made a top ten, but the post would become a little bit too long if I did that. I did want to mention two more movies though:

1. Rambo (First Blood) (1982)

Sylvester Stalone in "Rambo: First Blood"

Ah, the classic action movies of the 80’s…who doesn’t love them? This movie starring a young Sylvester Stallone in the role of Vietnam veteran John Rambo, is for me the best action movie of the roaring 80’s. Spawning three sequels, the original movie will always remain the best one by far.

2.  Runaway Train (1985)

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This movie is more than the simple premise of a train going out of control and running amock. It is a story about what drives a man, and how much he is willing to do in order to achieve freedom. Earning both Eric Roberts and Jon Voight an Oscar nomination, it is a fantastic movie with awesome performances.

Final Thoughts

And that is my list. (Which honestly is far from complete, but I had to draw a line somewhere). As I was writing this post a couple of other movies already made their presence known to me in my mind, so there are many other ones that do not appear on this list. So….how many of you actually rewatch movies? Is it something you do yourself? Or do you think people are crazy to just rewatch a movie one time. Do you have any movies that you have rewatched and have actually lost track of the total number of times that you saw them? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading…and until the next post!

 

Goodbye mr.Black, Korean Drama Series (2016)

They say revenge is a dish that is best served cold. Don’t know if that is true, but I can honestly say that I love a good revenge story. Be it in a movie, a tv series or a novel, I think there is just something fascinating about someone exacting revenge on people who did him or her wrong in some way. And if there is one country who is a true master at crafting movies or tv series around revenge it is South Korea. I have seen plenty of Korean Drama series that deal with revenge in some way or another. This year we can add yet another show to that list: Goodbye mr. Black. Is it any good though?

Goodbye mr. Black is loosely (very loosely) based on the famous novel The count of Monte Christo. The hero of the story is a guy called Cha Ji Won who is a soldier that has been trained in a special unit, together with his adoptive brother Min Seon Jae. The latter is very jealous of Cha Ji Won, feeling that he has always stood in his shadow.  When his adoptive father gets killed in Thailand, Seon Jae knows who is responsible, but he keeps quiet about it. And with good reason it seems, as he has been offered a very lucrative position by the killers, as the head of a company. Cha Ji Won travelling to Thailand is later framed for another murder by Min Seon Jae. Fleeing for his life in a daring escape, it looks like Cha Ji Won gets killed in the attempt. However Cha Ji Won has devised a cunning revenge plot, and under the assumed name of mr.Black, reappears a couple of years later. Together with the help of a mysterious girl whom he calls Swan, mr.Black prepares the first steps of his plan. Swan has become very important to him, and his feelings for her grow daily. Unfortunately though, his escape attempt has not left him completely unscathed, and time might be running out for him. Will he be able to complete his revenge against Min Seon Jae, and the murderers of his father?

This series starts with a lot of action. The first two episodes seem almost out of place in comparison to the rest of this series. Goodbye mr. Black is not a bad show, but I do feel that they took too long to tell the story. If they would have cut a few episodes, I think we would have had a much better tv series. As it is now, the story just gets dragged out, and this sometimes was the cause of some pretty boring episodes. The humour in this show, was at times truly cringeworthy. Acting wise however we had a few very good actors, most noteworthy of these being Kim Kang Woo, who did a more than decent job portraying the evil Min Seon Jae. This definitely is not going down as one of my alltime favorite K-drama series, but it was a decent watch, and every storyline did get wrapped up very nicely in the end.

As such I give Goodbye mr. Black a 7 out of 10 score.

Descendants Of The Sun, Korean Drama Series (2016)

Okay, let’s talk some numbers people. What would you say about a tv series that had a 38.8% nationwide viewership rating? How about 2.3 billion views on an online video platform in China. Say what? This is surely a new version of Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead right? Well, no. We are talking about a Korean drama series that swept Asia by storm. It is the highest rated dramaseries that has ever been aired in Korea. Usually with a series that has created this much buzz the question becomes, is this series worthy of the hype? In the case of Descendants of the Sun, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

So what is the series about? Descendants of the Sun tells the story of the soldier Yoo Si Yin. In the beginning of the series, he and his friend and fellow soldier Seo Dae Young catch a thief who becomes injured and is taken to the hospital. Soon after, Dae Young finds out his cellphone has been taken by the thief. Both he and Si Yin travel to the hospital where the thief was taken, and meet the feisty doctor Kang Mo Yeon. At first Yoo Si Yin and her do not see eye to eye on things, to put it mildly. But as is so often the case, that is the start of a whirlwind romance. With Mo Yeon being a doctor, and Si Yin a soldier, they both have a very conflicting lifestyle. And that is the cause of a lot of complications between them as Yoo Si Yin continually gets the call for some kind of dangerous mission. Deciding she can’t take it anymore, the doctor ends the relationship. Two years after that, as fate would have it, they both end up in the country of Urk. She still in her role as doctor, and he as the captain of a special forces unit. With danger lurking from every side, the flames of love begin to rekindle between the two of them. But whether or not their relationship will be able to withstand all the hostilities Urk has to offer, remains to be seen.

This series has so much good things going for it, it is hard to know where to start. First and foremost is the enormous chemistry between the two main characters. That is the heart of this show, and the two leads could not have been cast any better. This series has something for everyone. There is a lot of action, and some truly exciting episodes that will have you on the edge of your seat. But there is also a lot to laugh. There were some genuinely funny scenes that had me bursting out with laughter. And finally there is the heartache, as there are a few events that are truly sad. This show has the word addictive written all over it, and I can truly understand why this has been such a massive succes. Don’t think this is just some kind of cheesy romantic love story. Give this show a try if you haven’t already, it is well worth your time.

I give Descendants of the Sun a 9 out of 10 score.