Tag Archives: Korean

Kingdom Season 1, Korean drama series (2019)

Zombies. I can hear fatique all around when people hear that word nowadays. The zombie genre is quite honestly dead. (Oh come on, I had to use that pun at least once right?) Seriously though, it’s hard to find something original in that genre these days. Pretty much everything has been done to it, that can be done to it, and it takes as much effort to bring this genre back to life as it does to bring back a corpse. Okay, okay I’ll stop with the puns, I didn’t know you would get mad, jeezzz. But then again, as with everything there are always exceptions. The Walking Dead for instance is having a very strong comeback this season, and it seems there is still a lot of life in it despite the departure of Andrew Lincoln. For those of you that have been keeping tabs on it, two weeks or so ago, there was a shocking episode that many have called the best episode since the show started. I don’t know about that, but I do know it was good. Especially with the shock factor.

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I have heard some men become obsessed with women, but this is taking it to a new level. 

Now, when you see the title of this post, I can already hear you wondering why on Earth am I talking about zombies when I am about to review a Korean drama? Because really there must be some kind of error. A mix up of sorts. Erm….no there isn’t. The Korean drama Kingdom is a historical piece set in Korea’s Joseon period. And it features….zombies. When it comes to original ideas, I have to say the setting alone is enough to convince you that this is really something that hasn’t been done before. It’s also one of the show’s greatest strengths. Beautiful cinematography, exquisite costumes, and incredible sets bring the historical setting to the small screen in a very big way. In fact it’s done so well, one would almost forget that this is a tv series and not some kind of big budget movie. This is all good and well, but looks alone are of course not enough to make something fun to watch. No, for that you also need a decent story and characters that one can identify with. So what does Kingdom do on that front?

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In medieval times this was how they held a marathon. 

In Kingdom the story focusses on Yi-Chang a man who is next in line for the throne. With strange notices cropping up all over the country claiming that the King is dead, and the crown prince should be crowned immediately as the new King, that moment might be coming sooner than Yi-Chang had expected. But is the King really dead? One night Yi-Chang decides to investigate, and enters the palace in search of his father. But instead of the King, he encounters a dark shadow behind a curtain that looks like a terrifying monster. Fleeing the palace and accompanied by his trusty personal guard Moo-Young he sets out on a journey to find out the truth about what’s going on. Sinister forces are at work though, and an evil mastermind is behind a conspiracy to overthrow the throne, and bring darkness to the country. A horrible plague is slowly taking hold of the populace, and as more and more people become infected Yi-Chang becomes ever more desperate to find a solution to all of it. However that is by no means an easy feat…..

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Medical care has come a long way since then….

Kingdom takes the zombie genre in a new and fresh direction. It’s a story that isn’t only about flesh eating monsters, but also has many other things going for it like conspiracies at the royal court and politics. While this last bit might sound boring, I can assure you it isn’t. Having no real knowledge of Korea’s ancient history it’s nice to see some of the customs that were involved back in those days. While of course this is a totally fictional account, the historical aspects of it all certainly look very convincing. What’s also nice is the fact that the zombies in this show aren’t acting in the way that those shambling corpses usually do. They have their own set of unique rules, and at times even seem to share traits with one of those other legendary monsters: the vampires. This of course being a zombie show there is some blood and gore in it, but it comes nowhere close to the level of for instance the Walking Dead.

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Green Arrow’s ancient precursor: The Blue Arrow

It’s on the character department that the show doesn’t shine so bright. Most of them are (so far at least) pretty bland. Actor Ju Ji-hoon brings to life the crown prince, and while he does a decent job of it, I would have liked it if his character just had a little bit more background. His guard played by Kim Sang-ho was honestly my favorite. He acts pretty much as the comedic relief in what otherwise would have been a pretty dark show. There are many others introduced as well, most notably the physician Seo-Bi and the show’s bad guy minister Cho Hak-ju but all of them just fail to leave a very lasting impression. This doesn’t mean that this ruins the show though. With this being the first season of the series that sadly only lasts six episodes, this pretty much feels like the characters have now been set up on the board and the real game is about to begin. Kingdom is a really interesting and fun series to watch, especially if you are a fan of for instance Train to Busan , still my favorite zombie movie to date. It’s a unique take on the genre, that many feel like it might be walking towards it’s own death. Okay, that was really the last one.

I give Kingdom a 8 out of 10 score.

 

 

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Lawless Lawyer, Korean drama series (2018)

There is very thin line between justice and revenge. What many people might consider justice, might just barely scratch the surface for some of the victims of a crime. Or even worse: what if the crime isn’t punished at all, and the perpetrator that committed it walks free? I think history has plenty of examples for that. One only has to look at the O.J. Simpson trial to see what I mean. Good thing though that eventually the law cought up with that guy. However it’s when things like that happen, that you start to wonder if the law sometimes is enough. What would you do if you were the victim of a crime and find out that justice isn’t being served? I’m not talking about something petty, like a purse being stolen (although that can be annoying as well of course). No I am talking about the big crimes: murder, rape, etc. I consider myself a pretty peace loving guy, but if someone close to me got hurt, and I find out who has caused it…Well let’s just say that Bill Bixby in the classic tv-series of the Hulk said it correctly: You would not like me when I’m angry! After seeing Lawless Lawyer though, I think you will find out that you can hand out revenge in an even better way: by the law itself!

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Some people just don’t know how to eat their food properly. 

Meet Bong Sang-pil. He is confident, charming and a very convincing lawyer who has a succes rate that others can only dream of. His methods however are quite unorthodox to say the least. Having returned to his hometown of Gisung after several years, he has started up his own lawfirm Lawless Lawyers. He is not alone as he has surrounded himself with a number of colourful characters that are going to help him pursue justice. But Bong Sang-pil has something else on the agenda as well. When he was a young child his mother was murdered before his eyes by the ruthless criminal Ahn Oh-joo. Bong Sang-pil barely managed to escape, and has since then grown up under the care of his uncle who runs a gang. Now, the young lawyer wants only one thing: revenge! He eventually meets up with the female lawyer Ha Jae-yi who has recenly been dismissed from court because she punched a judge in the face. Together this unlikely pair is going to bring the law to Gisung. But there are ties from the past between the two of them, that will soon rise to the surface. It becomes clear that Ahn Oh-joo might not be the only criminal in town, as there is someone with an even higher authority that will become the real target of Bong Sang-pil’s revenge…if he can survive long enough to bring that person to justice that is…..

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Awwwwwwww ❤️❤️❤️

Sometimes you just have to watch one minute of something and you get the feeling that it’s going to be a series that will be more than worth the watch. Lawless Lawyer is just that kind of show. From the very first scene this Korean Drama series just brings a freshness with it and it hardly ever loses your attention during it’s 16 episode run. This is not just another legal drama. One of the things that I always love about K-dramas is the fact that they can turn the atmosphere of the show around in a heartbeat. When this series first starts you might think this is a comedy. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. While there is some seriously funny stuff in here as well (not the least of which is the sometimes totally crazy music that accompanies it), Lawless Lawyer is above all a terrific revenge thriller with some wonderful plot twists and an absolutely amazing cast. There are so many different things in here one would almost think it’s too much. Humor, Action, Romance, Sadness, Thrills…all of these elements are combined to give you an absolutely exhilarating experience.

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Are you serious about this? Isn’t this a little bit too much credit? 

But the one thing that really kicks this drama into overdrive is the cast. Bong Sang-pil played by Lee Joon-gi is one of those characters that you will fall instantly in love with. From the very first moment he appears he wins you over with his charm. He can play any kind of emotion and just lights up the screen with his amazing performance. And that also more than covers his physical abilities which you will see in the many fight sequences this drama contains. Another thing that works exceptionally well is his on screen chemistry with his female counterpart Ha Jae-yi, played by actress Seo Ye-ji. Here we have a woman who is not only incredibly beautiful but also displays a cold and determined confidence in her abilities. She is certainly not one to be taken lightly, and is one of the strongest female roles that I have seen in quite a while. When Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi are together it is just a delight to see them play off each other, and their romance that develops later on is all the better for it.

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One of the things you will wonder about int his show is how many suits this guy owns. 

However…the best performance and the one that makes this drama a must watch is on the parts of one of the villains, namely Ahn Oh-joo. The actor that brings this vile, but utterly delicious creature to life is Choi Min-soo. I recently sent a tweet out on Twitter claiming that if there was ever going to be an Oscar category for best villain in a Korean drama, he would win it without even having to blink. Ahn Oh-joo is just one of those thugs that you can’t help but smile at every time he enters a scene. I’m not kidding when I say that my jaw eventually began to hurt from being permanently stuck in grin mode. Ahn Oh-joo is despicable, loathsome and truly one of the lowest lifeforms you will ever encounter. And despite all that you will love him. Words alone can not really get my point across, so for a change I have included a scene with him below to let you see what I mean. I hope you will enjoy it. It’s a great confrontation between him and Bong Sang-pil, and it ends in a cliffhanger so that’s the perfect excuse to start watching this.

Now I have purposefully not said anything about who the true villain is in this review, as that would be spoiling stuff. Which is also a bit of a shame as that role is an equally impressive part and now I can’t really talk about it. Suffice it to say that developing hatred for that person is the first emotion that will rise to the surface when you see it (erm for the role that is, I’m sure that in real life the one who plays the part is a charmer). So after all that positivity are there also any negatives to the series? Well, some of the humor is at times very slapstick and there are some small scenes that make you cringe a bit. Also a few of the later episodes do tend to drag the story out longer then it needs to. But these are very minor things as above all this is a solidly entertaining dramaseries, that you will binge through in no time. One can only hope that maybe one day Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi will return fighting the good fight. I for one would not mind it at all if there were to be a second season for this.

I give Lawless Lawyer a 9 out of 10 score.

Tunnel, Korean drama series (2017)

People have always held a kind of  morbid fascination when it comes to serial killers. One has to wonder why on Earth that is. There is nothing romantic about it. In fact when you look at all the serial killers from the past and present all you see is a lot of sadness and pain. Especially for the families of the victims of these often loathsome individuals. What drives one to become one? Some of them are just born that way, and have an evil inside them from a very young age. But it also happens that something triggers it. Choosing the wrong friends, an abusive childhood, a traumatic experience, all of these might be the cause of turning someone into a murderous psychopath. But they also say that each and every one of us has a dark side. Which brings me back to my original question, why are we so obsessed with them. Is it because of that inner darkness that we all have inside and that we have to satisfy it in some way? You think I am overreacting? Well, look at the sheer amount of movies and books about serial killers. Got you there didn’t I? Getting creeped out already by this post? Am I getting under your skin? Insert evil grin. No worries…this introduction only served to set the tone for the thrilling Korean drama series Tunnel. Which of course features a serial killer, and time travel. Say what?!?

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Why are you looking at me with such a dumb face?

It is the year 1986 when we meet up with Park Gwang Ho a police detective who is always very determined, enthusiastic and takes his job very seriously. One a day a horrific series of killings shakes up his police district. Women are found dead, having been strangled with their own stockings, and strange dots are left behind on their ankles. Purely by chance the detective stumbles on the culprit and gives chase on foot. Eventually the killer and Park Gwang Ho end up in a tunnel where a fight between them begins. Unfortunately the killer gets the upper hand and strikes our hero on the head leaving him unconscious. When he wakes up and exits the tunnel, he gets the shock of his life. Apparently Park Gwang Ho has been transported thirty years into the future leaving him stranded in the year 2016. Determined to find his way back home and to his wife he left behind, he assumes the identity of a police detective who carries the same name as himself. Together with a new (and in the beginning very reluctant) partner named Kim Sun Jae, and a beautiful but mysterious criminal profiler and psychology professor Shin Jae Yi, he tries to fit into this new and unfamiliar world. But when it seems the murders that he tried to stop 30 years ago are starting up again, things become very grim indeed. The serial killer is still at large and will stop at nothing to continue with his killing spree……

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Who are you calling a cold fish?!?!

Time travel and a serial killer blended into one single series? That is pretty much a match made in heaven. While this 16 episode series wasn’t perfect, it was very enjoyable and I bingewatched the hell out of it finishing it in about 3 days. One of the best things in this Korean drama is once again it’s characters. The three leads had a very good chemistry between them, which helped make this series a cut above the rest. Actor Choi Jin-huyk brings to life the hero time travelling cop and he just had a vibrant energy to his role that worked very well. He seems to be able to handle a wide range of emotions, from heartbreak to comedy, and he is able to switch between them in the blink of an eye. His future partner played by actor Yoon Hyun-min is more serious, but the chemistry between both actors is terrific. I really enjoyed some of their comedic banter that hardly ever failed to bring a smile to my face and a lot of their scenes together were certainly the highlight of this series. And then there was actress Lee Yoo-young who played the role of Shin Jae Yi. She was a bit of a cold fish at the start of this series, and I did not really know what to make of her. But when the series progressed her character began to grow, and at the end I really ended up liking her very much. She was very heroic and a verbal exchange between her and the killer in one of the show’s final episodes gave me goosebumps. She played that scene so incredibly well and lifelike.

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This guy had such a fun role (yeah I know he looks like he doesn’t have much humor)

Speaking of the role of the killer, and I am not going to mention the actor’s name in fear of spoilers, I can only say one thing: WOW! What a loathsome, terrifying and incredibly evil monster did this actor give birth too. It is an incredible performance and out of the many serial killer roles that I have seen in my life, he certainly is in the top three. That’s for sure. Over the course of the 16 episodes that this series has, we get a story that has some nice shocks and tension, some comedy (mainly because of a few side characters that I haven’t named here, but really help to relieve some of the darker aspects of the show), and heartbreak as well. That said, there were also some moments during the middle of the drama where I felt it began to feel a bit slow. But luckily those moment did not carry on and the final episodes really made you forget those moments very quickly. Another element that I was a bit dissappointed by was the use of the timetravel aspect of this series. I had expected it to be used more, with maybe some clever jumps in between the timelines, but sadly that did not really happen.

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See? I rest my case 🙂

Still, this Korean drama was a wonderful show. Even though it had some dark events happening in it, it never became too depressing. Most serial killing movies/series always seem to go to for the shocks or the horror, and while there were certainly scenes like that in it, there was also enough room for other more lighthearted things which was very refreshing. Tunnel is well worth checking out and also a series that for me at least seems like a good one to watch if you have never entered the world of the Korean dramas before. With memorable characters, a great, gripping and often tense story, this drama will leave a lasting impression in your mind. Well, that wasn’t too bad was it? I know the beginning of this review might have creeped you out, but hey it had to be done. Even I have a dark side…..

I give Tunnel a 8 out of 10 score.

 

The Villainess, Korean Movie (2017)

There is a particular type of film in the action genre that I am very fond of: the revenge movie. I always love it when someone loses everything and then turns into a complete psycho, hellbent on getting revenge on his or her tormentors. Usually that makes for a very entertaining, albeit often bloody, movie experience. As with any film genre there is always a risk that there are too many movies that are being made and as such it becomes either predictable or very boring. The South Korean movie industry certainly is no stranger to this particular type of film. In the past, movies such as Old Boy, I Saw the Devil and A Company Man have all been received very well (while at the same time causing quite a stir because of the often extreme violence depicted in those movies). No matter how you look at it, I have always thought that the Koreans are masters of the genre, and I always look forward to a new entry into the ranks. Last year The Villainess was released, that supposedly infused the revenge movie with a new and fresh take on it. Having just seen the film, I have mixed feelings about it, but more on that later.

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Some people take the “till death do us part thing” way to literally.

The Villainess can best be described as South Korea’s take on La Femme Nikita. It focusses on a woman named Sook-hee who is a highly trained assassin. As a young girl she lost her father to an unknown assailant and witnessed him being killed while hiding under her bed. The face of the killer is unknown to her, but she does hear him whistle an eerie tune. Years later Sook-hee is captured by South Korea’s intelligence agency and given a new identity and name: Yeon-soo. While she is being trained by them, she gives birth to her daughter Eun-hye. Yeon-soo is offered the deal to work for the intelligence agency, and after 10 years she will gain her freedom for herself and her daughter. Having very little choice she accepts. But the shadow of her father’s death always looms over her. Eventually the past creeps up on her as it usually tends to do in these matters. With people gunning for her at every turn, the life expectancy of the skilled assassin becomes ever shorter. But Yeon-soo will not go down without a fight…

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When the airconditioning of your car doesn’t work this is a great alternative.

The opening sequence of this film puts you smack down right in the middle of the action. Without even knowing exactly what is going on, we see a fight sequence from a first person view as Sook-hee hacks, shoots and punches her way through a group of men in a warehouse. It is chaotic, bloody, brutal, but honestly a truly terrific way of setting the tone for this film. Where this film excels at is it’s uniquely choreographed fight sequences. The camera angles in some of the scenes are really one of a kind, and at times it feels almost as if you are the one that is delivering all of the violence. And there is a word that also describes this film very well: violence. This movie is not for the faint of heart. It doesn’t shy away from showing arteries being ruptured, limbs being cut off, and blood spraying in every direction. The Villainess is a brutal movie but as usual this does suit the theme of the film. If it’s action you want, this film brings it and then some. Be especially on the look out for a highspeed motorcycle chase that I found to be one of the best scenes of the film.

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What do you mean you forgot the bread to feed the ducks? Go home and get it!

The hero of the film (if you can call her that of course) is being played by actress Kim Ok-vin and she does it well. Or to phrase it better: she knows how to kick some ass. A film like this stands or falls with a good lead, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. In the fight sequences she shines the most as she is able to hold her own against the men that are trying to take her life. And she manages to do so with guns, knives and her bare hands. It all feels natural and realistic and you could almost believe she is an assassin in real life. Her character hasn’t got much depth to it, but admittedly the bond with her young daughter is what gives this otherwise very bleak movie at least a little bit of sunshine. This movie pretty much centers around her, and that’s why the supporting cast, such as it is, doesn’t really get a chance to show what they are made of. That is certainly one of the weak points of the film.

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If looks could kill, I would be dead right now.

Another one is the story itself. At times it’s very confusing to follow what exactly is going on. The film uses a lot of flashback scenes, which is not a bad thing in itself, but at times it seems to insert them almost randomly. Not only that but sometimes you get one right after another and in a totally different time frame. That took me out of the film quite a few times and left me looking at the screen in bewilderment. While the action in movies like this is usually the most important, I do have to say that in revengethrillers especially it’s nice to have at least some kind of motive for the main character. In that this film partially succeeded but it could have been handled better. With all of it’s flaws I still recommend seeing this movie if you like these type of films. The action sequences alone make it a very worthwhile watch, as in this it really does try to do something totally different than what we are used to seeing. Don’t expect to much from it, and you will have a great time. Especially if you like to see a strong woman beat the crap out of a bunch of men.

I give the Villainess a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Solomon’s Perjury, Korean Drama Series (2016)

We live in an age where social media plays a very important part in people’s lives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever else is out there, nearly everyone seems to have at least one of these, and more often than not, even more than one. It never fails to surprise me how easily some of the younger generation give highly personal glimpses in their day to day routines. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to play a judge here, as I always believe everyone has the right to decide what they wish to share on their own. But it’s the dangers that go along with it, that sometimes really scare me. What if something that you share falls into the wrong hands? Or even worse is used against you in a horrible way? And how about how easily some people’s opinions might be influenced by the power of a certain statement. I don’t think this social behaviour is any more apparent then in high school. Nearly every kid wants to be accepted by the popular ones, and as such belong to the group they hang out with. And usually they pretty much determine what happens in class. These underlying themes form the basics of the Korean dramaseries, Solomon’s Perjury.

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Nothing to see here, we are just hanging out.

On a cold winter morning in December, the lifeless body of highschool student Lee So-woo is found by one of his fellow classmates in front of school. The school and the police are convinced that he took his own life. But then a student comes forward claiming to have been a witness to his murder. The school is in an uproar and wants nothing to do with it, quickly dismissing the claim. Especially seeing as the suspect for the murder, the school bully Choi Woo-hyuk, is the son of a man that has always been very supportive of the school. But not everyone is so easily swayed. Go Seo-yon, the class president, wants to find out exactly what has happened to Lee So-woo and devises an ingenious plan to get to the bottom of things: a schooltrial. She takes on the role of prosecutor and together with a couple of other students she will stop at nothing to make sure justice will be served. But then a young man called Han Ji-hoon, who attends another school, steps up to act as the defense attorney for Choi. Just who is he? And why does he want to defend someone who has been causing so much pain to others? The answers to these questions, and many others, are about to be revealed……

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What are you looking at me for? 

I’m going to be honest: this one hit close to home. In a big way. It brought back some pretty unpleasant memories from my own days as a highschool student. Having been on the receiving end of bullying for a lot of years, I know what it can do to someone’s state of mind. And how much you at certain points would love to take revenge on the people that caused you pain. I am not a hateful person, and always try at least to see the good in people. But there have certainly been points during my schooldays where I wished some very unpleasant things would happen to my tormentors. And that’s what I really liked about this show, as it not only looked at bullying, but also what might drive someone to become a bully. And is it really fair to blame everything on that person? As such this is not an easy series to watch, as it not only deals with that, but also with the equally tough subject of suicide. But why did I continue watching it then? Because it never becomes too heavy and it really is an incredibly good series with some stunning performances.

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Yep, that is a broken window. Looking at their faces it’s almost as if they have never seen one before. 

The storyline for this is quite unique. The idea of a schooltrial is something I have never seen before and you would think that this might just be very laughable. It’s not. It’s every bit as compelling as a real courtroom drama, and the story has some very nice twists and turns. It soon becomes much more than just finding out whether or not Lee So-woo has committed suicide or not. There is a lot more to the story, but of course I’m not going to head into spoiler territory so I will just leave it at that. The acting in this drama is quite impressive, and besides a few moments of overacting by some of the supporting cast, really is one of the other reasons that this series works so well. Kim Hyun-soo plays the role of Go Seo-yon and really is the driving force of this show. She is both charming and very serious at the same time, and is utterly convincing as the prosecutor. She is one of those characters that is determined to find out the truth, and will never give up no matter what.

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Yep that is a door. Wow, these people really haven’t seen anything have they?

But equally impressive is Jang Dong-yoon who plays Han Ji-hoon. As an audience you know more about him than the other characters in the series, but at the same time you don’t quite know exactly what drives him. And it was really interesting to see when the reveal came to see what his real motives were at the end. Overall this show impressed the hell out of me. The overall themes and the way they were executed made this a very compelling watch. Let me be clear that this is not an action series. It really is a legal drama, and while there are certainly some tense moments, this series is more of slow burner. It is driven by the incredible verbal exchanges by the two main leads, and there are moments in the show that you don’t exactly know who to root for. As you want both of them to win. Be aware that the themes in the show can be tough to watch, especially if like me, you might have had similar experiences. But in the end it’s presented in such a great way that I am truly glad that I have watched it. This concludes my review for the third drama for my Korean Dramas theme month. If you want to watch this show you can watch it for free on the legal streaming website Viki.

I give Solomon’s Perjury a 9 out of 10 score.

Black, Korean Dramaseries (2017)

There is a question that many people wonder about. What happens when we die? Will we simply cease to exist? Will we somehow be reborn, enter Heaven or maybe even Hell? No matter what you believe in, I don’t think it’s a question that we will ever get an answer to until the moment arrives. Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am pretty happy to postpone that moment for as long as I can. It’s not that I fear death, but I am pretty happy with living right now thank you very much. But we all check out at some point, that’s pretty much the only certainty we have in life. (Oh yeah, and taxes but I always tend to forget that one for some reason). Well, I can hear you thinking right now: “This is a very cheerful subject:NOT! I’m going to move on and check out something else”. Well, if you do you are going to miss out on a review for the best Korean drama series that I have seen so far in my life. So please bare with me just a little bit longer okay?

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My name is Black…..erm, no that’s it, just Black. 

 

In Black we meet up with Kang Ha-ram a young woman who has always had a very special ability ever since she was a child. When she looks at people she sometimes sees dark shadows forming behind them. These shadows are always the signs that the death of that person is very near. Ha-ram hasn’t been happy with this power at all, and the only way she can avoid it, is by wearing sunglasses. One day she crosses paths with police officer Han Moo-gang who she is stunned to recognise as a boy from her childhood, one was always very kind to her. She has not seen him in almost 20 years, but it appears that he has really changed. He doesn’t seem at all like the kindhearted young boy who she remembers, but instead has turned into a very coldhearted insensitive man. And she would be right, as Moo-gang has not only changed but is now possessed by a Grim Reaper. But this is not the only problem that Ha-rang is going to face. When a body is found, certain events are set in motion that will uncover a very dark secret and conspiracy that has been buried for a very long time. And certain people will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from rising to the surface…..even it means killing everyone in their path.

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Some people just hate missing the bus. 

Okay, let me make one thing clear, and this is very, very important. Do not, I repeat not drop this show after watching the first two episodes. I almost did this, and am eternally grateful that I did not. When this series starts you will be very confused. What exactly is this series trying to be? Is it a police drama, a supernatural mystery, or, and this is what I feared the most, a slapstick comedy? The first two episodes were a mess and the “comedy” was so cringeworthy that I very nearly gave up. But man, am I glad that I did not. Black is a show that by the time you start with episode 3 is almost impossible to turn off. The story it tells is tense, gripping, emotional and will have you in tears, on the edge of your seat, as well as laughing all at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster ride that will never let up. The best element in this series is how it draws you the viewer into the storyline trying to figure out how all the puzzlepieces fit together. And just when you think you have figured it all out, it throws another twist at you, and you have to start from scratch again.

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Sometimes you just want to sit down on the sidewalk. I always do that every day. 

There is a huge cast of actors, and as such it’s impossible to cover them all. I will instead focus on the two leads, but suffice it to say that every single actor involved in this series is great. No matter how small their parts were. And no, that is not me just saying so, just to get this over and done with in a quick way. Actor Song Seung-heon plays the part of the Grim Reaper possessed cop Moo-gang. His acting is superb and I love the way how his character evolved throughout the series. He can tackle basically everything, from actionscenes, to anger, to comedy to drama, everything he does is believable. His precense just lights up the screen everywhere he appears. But his chemistry with lead actress Go Ara, who plays the role of Ha-ram is also a huge part of what makes this series work so well. And speaking of her, you will completely fall in love with the character she portrays. Ha-ram is a feisty woman, who always has some very snappy comebacks, but is also very caring and emotional at the same time. This series is really her story, and that’s why it is important to have an actress who can carry that part. Go Ara really gets the job done, and then some.

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The new generation of Pokemon balls had also found it’s way into the afterlife. 

Black is a series that blends many elements together and that’s why it can be enjoyed by a pretty large number of people. Even though the show has supernatural elements, it never let’s these elements take the upper hand. Above all this is a solid and very cleverly written murder mystery, with a touch of action and suspense and the occasional humor thrown into the mix. And of course there is also some romance, but this only adds to the strength of the series instead of diminishing it. So in case you haven’t yet noticed, I absolutely loved this show. The only reason I haven’t given it the perfect 10/10 score is that the first two episodes just felt out of place. And seriously, I was very close to dropping it, something I almost never do. But the rest of this Korean drama series is so fantastic, that I have all but forgotten about that. If you have yet to watch your first K-drama series, this might be the one to start with. I guarantee that you will not regret this. So, this concludes my review for the second series for the Korean Drama theme month. What’s up next you ask? I haven’t yet quite decided, but rest assured there is one more series review to come. Thank you for reading!

I give Black a 9 out of 10 score.

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.

 

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!

 

Special Features Presents: And now…the end is near!

Don’t worry, I am not going to be closing down my blog. This is just the final post that I am going to be writing. For this year that is. Everyone has been saying it: “Wow, has this year flown by”. And it certainly has. For me this year has had it’s ups and downs. More downs than ups if I am going to be honest, but I don’t want to write my final post of the year as a depressive one. In short I want to make this a cool and fun post to celebrate the end of this year. And what better way to do that, than in showing you all my favorite things that I read, watched and played in 2017. But before I start on that I also want to say that this first full year of blogging has been amazing. I have seen my blog grow in ways that I really did not expect. I have met an awful lot of new bloggers along the way, and some of them have turned into a couple of really amazing friends. Combined with the people I already knew I can really say that I could not live without my blog anymore. It’s become a part of me, and I want to thank each and every one of you that has ever read a post, left a comment or a like. You really are all amazing, and I hope the new year is going to bring you all only fun and good things. And now, let’s kick off this end of year post shall we?

Favorite movie of the year: Bladerunner 2049

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If someone would have told me a few years ago that Blade Runner 2049 would end up as my favorite movie of the year I would have flat out laughed out loud. As I really thought that this sequel to such a classic science fiction masterpiece would be doomed to fail. But I was proven wrong. This beautiful movie had everything in it. It expanded the story of the original film, and combined with breathtaking visual effects, some solid acting and a brilliant score this one is simply the reason why I love movies so much. I can’t wait to own this one on dvd, to watch it over and over again. My absolute number one film for this year.

Favorite anime of the year: Your Lie in April

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One of absolute highlights of 2017 was the watch-a-long with Weekend Otaku for the breathtaking animeseries Your lie in April. I know this one was released in 2014,  but for me it was the first time I saw it this year. What can I say about this beautiful show that has not already been said? It’s an emotional roller coaster that this show takes you on, but it’s one well worth taking. You would be wise to stock up on numerous boxes of tissues because I guarantee that you are going to cry multiple times. But this is a show that is simply put: perfect. I had never thought I would like a slice of life show as much as I ended up enjoying this one. It’s still my number one alltime anime series to date.

Favorite Korean Drama of the year: Goblin

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On the front of Korean dramas I have had a very disappointing year. As in: I saw way too few of them (Sorry about that Kay). I plan to really watch more of these next year, as there are quite a number of them that I still want to see. My favorite pick for this year was really easy though. Goblin was an amazing drama with high production values, a beautiful and heartwarming story but best of all were the characters. They really made this series into an incredible fun watch. I’m not one that usually likes comedies, but the humor in this drama was just hilarious. I really had to laugh at so many scenes. But this certainly wasn’t a comedy as there were also many exciting, tearful but also quite horrifying scenes. If you have never seen a K-drama before this might be a very good place to start.

Favorite Tv Series of the Year: Stranger Things 2

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When a first season for a series is highly succesful and a second season gets announced, fans look forward to it, but obviously are very anxious for it at the same time. What if it sucks? Stranger Things is a show that proves that a second season can be just as good, if not at times even better than the first one. While overall I did think the first season was just a tiny bit better, this second season was just a blast from start to finish. The entire 80’s vibe, the wonderful characters (both old and new), and the storyline combine to make this a show that you can’t stop watching until you have finished it. It was an absolutely amazing watch, and I am already looking forward to next year where season 3 will hopefully give us that same experience again. Stranger Things is simply put: awesome!

Favorite Book of the Year: Sisters of Battle

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Ugh, as with Korean Dramaseries, reading books this year has really been underwhelming. I have such a huge pile of books that I still need to read, and because of the wonderful Dani ,Kim and Didi my Good Reads to read list has completely exploded. (Thanks for that girls 😢 Just kidding, you know I love you 😊). And now there are the wonderful Lashaan and Trang that also keep adding books to this seemingly never ending list. But I did read some books this year, and my favorite was also one that I finished quite recently the Sisters of Battle Omnibus. This one was just a blast to read from start to finish. Great characters, explosive battlescenes and just a terrific science fiction setting are just a couple of the things that made this novel so much fun. But the girlpower is what gave this book it’s real edge. This was a pageturner and a book that I could hardly put down.

Favorite Boardgame of the Year: Eldritch Horror

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When it comes to boardgames it simply doesn’t get any better than this. Eldritch Horror is a fantastic horror/fantasy boardgame that I gave a well deserved perfect score. It’s a joy to play, even when playing it solo, because of the great narrative components it contains. You will find yourself racing across the world trying to prevent an ancient evil from awakening. In the meantime you will experience all sorts of adventures that are always different whenever you play this game. If you love reading books or watching adventure movies, this is a game you should definitely consider adding to your collection. Trust me when I say that you will not be disappointed by this in any way.

Final thoughts

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Well people: that’s it. Time for me to call it a day. At least for this year that is. I hope you will all enjoy the upcoming final day of the year. If you are going to be using fireworks please make sure you aren’t going to blow any of your hands off. I do want to see each and everyone of you back safely next year. Speaking of next year, I will continue to write about the things I love the most, but I do want to bring a little bit more structure into my blog, as it has sometimes been going all over the place. I have also been thinking of a few new features I want to add, but that is a story for later. As always thank you for reading this and for your amazing support the past few months. See you all next year! 😀😀

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.