Tag Archives: Korean

Train to Busan, Korean movie (2016)

I guess pretty much everyone that loves movies knows that there are certain genres that have so many films in them, that it is hard to find something that stands out or is original. Take superheroes for instance. While the Marvel movies are still highly entertaining, I have to admit that the formula for these films is starting to get a little bit predictable. Supposedly the new Wonderwoman movie is a fresh wind (Yes I know this is a DC movie) and tries to do things in a different way. I will see that for myself in the coming weekend, when I will finally be able to see it in the theatre. Another moviegenre that has become highly saturated is the zombiefilm. But just when you think that you have seen everything, there comes a film that is so incredibly good, that you start to believe that luckily there is still originality left. And I am not talking about a Hollywood movie either. No, I am talking about a zombiemovie made in Korea, a country nor really known for making these kind of films. So all aboard? Then lets get started with the review shall we?

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Has nobody ever told these people that walking on the train tracks is dangerous? 

Seok-woo is a fund manager that takes his work very seriously. He is divorced and is taking care of his young daughter Soo-an. Because of his work though, he at times neglects his daughter, and for instance forgot about her singing recital. Soo-an’s birthday is coming up soon, and she wants him to take her to Busan to see her mother. At first Seok-woo declines, but feeling guilty about missing her recital, he eventually changes his mind and decides to take her anyway. Soon they board the train that is going to take the two of them to Busan. But when a strange woman enters the train at the last possible second, things take a horrible turn for the worse. The woman is infected with something that has turned her into a bloodthirsty zombie. Soon other people on the train become infected, and not before long everything slow starts to go straight to hell. For Seok-woo and his daughter Soo-an, the ride becomes a struggle for survival. Together with a few other passengers they are in for the fight of their lives…..

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Baseball practice these days is serious business. 

To say that this is just another horrormovie would be a grave injustice. Because this movie is so much more. One of the best things in this movie are it’s characters. Seok-woo played by Gong Yoo is a character who is not without it’s flaws, but that is what is making him so human. The role of his daughter, played by child actress Kim Su-an is the one that impressed me the most. For a child so young to be able to conjure up this much emotion and act so believable is a feat that few actors are able to achieve. She pulls it off though and then some. But the rest of the cast is equally good, most notably Jung Yu-mi who plays a pregnant wife, and Ma Dong-seok who plays her husband. Each and every character in this film has his or her own story, and that is why you really care about what happens to them, something that is very crucial in a movie such as this.

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I think there might be a sales event at the shopping mall, probably the reason why everybody is in a rush. 

This movie doesn’t waste any time in cranking up the tension. Right from the start the film is a rollercoaster ride, that doesn’t let up for one second. Action and horror lovers alike will get their fill, as there are plenty of scenes that will satisfy fans of both these genres. This being a zombie movie there is ofcourse some blood, but it doesn’t get incredibly gory like for instance in The Walking Dead. This movie is more about creating a tense and creepy atmosphere than spilling buckets of blood. But the main reason this movie works so well is the underlying story. It really shows what some people become if something like this were to happen for real. Some of them become brave, others cowards and still others just plain and simple very evil. And that’s what made this movie such a fascinating watch.

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Yep….getting out of there seems like a very good idea. 

As most of you that have been following my blog for a while now know, I am an enormous lover of Asian cinema, especially Korean films. Having seen quite a few of them I can honestly say that this movie is the best Korean movie that I have seen to date. With terrific and at times heartbreaking acting, a great story and equally fantastic action scenes and special effects, this movie is one you can’t afford to miss. If you love The Walking Dead, horror and action movies I highly recommend checking this movie out. Especially if you want to see a different kind of zombiefilm. It may not be the best zombiemovie ever made, but it comes pretty darn close.

I give Train to Busan a 10 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: Animecon 2017, part 2

Hello everyone, welcome to the second part of my report from Animecon 2017, which I attended this weekend. You can find the first part right Here. Without further ado let’s gets on with the second part.

The food

Ofcourse it would not be a good thing to go without food for three days, and luckily the con as well as the hotel had plenty of great things on offer. I especially enjoyed the tasty udon flavoured cup noodles. They were absolutely delicious, and I helped myself to these twice. There was a lot of variety to choose from, ranging from homemade ramen to hamburgers and vegan food. There was something tasty for everyone.

Too much stuff to buy

I knew going into this con that this would definitely not be good for my wallet. And it really wasn’t, lol. I bought way too much stuff, but it was all definitely worth it. Besides the entire manga series of Battle Angel Alita, I got a lot of Animeseries on dvd, some new, some old, but all of them pretty cool. Yes I know, as if I did not have too much stuff to watch already. I also got a great modelkit for a Mobile Suit Gundam Wing classic guntank, which will be great to put together. All in all I have really gotten soms terrific new stuff, and I could not be happier with it.

What I saw: movies

Besides anime there were also a lot of Asian movies to watch. Just as with the anime on offer I had to make a choice as to what to watch, and these three films were the ones I eventually ended up seeing.

imageTrain to Busan

This was the movie that I was looking forward to the most, and it did not disappoint. I had to stay up till three o’clock at night in order to see it, but wow was it worth it. This Korean zombie movie was a blockbuster back in it’s homeland, and it also became a huge succes worldwide. Suffice it say that for me it has been the best Korean movie that I have seen, and you can expect a review for this movie on my blog very soon.

 

 

 

imageGood Stripes!

The description for this movie said this was supposed to be a heartwarming  movie, that would leave no heart untouched. Well, I don’t know if whoever gave that description saw the same film that I did, but it was one of the most depressing movies that I have seen in quite a while. It tells the story of a couple that were about to break up, but end up staying together because the woman got pregnant. This film was really boring, and a great disappointment. Definitely wished I had avoided this one.

 

imageKen and Kazu!

The last movie I saw was Ken and Kazu! , which I highly enjoyed. This was a seriously brutal crime movie, but one that had a great storyline and some terrific acting. Ken and Kazu are lifelong friends, that make their living by drug smuggling for their boss. One day Kazu decides to start making money for himself, without their boss knowing this. This is the beginning of a violent spiral, that can only end in bloodshed. The two leadactors did a great job, and this film definitely stood out in the oversaturated Yakuza movie genre.

 

Final notes

To say that I had a great time this weekend is pretty much an understatement. I ended up seeing a lot of great films and anime, highly enjoyed all the things on offer, and the atmosphere was just terrific. My only regret was not attending any of the workshops that were organised. I decided to go for the movies and anime this year, but next year I’m probably going to turn this around and go to some of the workshops as well. My hats off to all the organisers of this con for making this such an entertaining weekend. I will leave you with a couple of pictures I took to give you an impression of this great weekend. As always thank you for reading and see you at the next post !

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Special Features Presents: Animecon 2017 Part 1

Hello everyone. As most of you that have been following my blog know, I have attended Animecon 2017 this weekend. To say that Animecon only focusses itself on anime would be selling it short. If I were to give a description for it, I would say it is more a celebration of all things Asian. Besides being able to watch a lot of anime, there are also all kinds of Asian movies to see, workshops to participate in, games to play, and a whole lot of other stuff. I have made this post to give you an impression of my weekend, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

The Hotel

Animecon took place in The Hague, which is about a two hour drive from where I live. So in order to not travel back and forth the entire weekend, I decided to stay at a hotel. Normally this would be pretty expensive, but because of the con taking place, a special discount was granted. It was one of the most luxurious hotels that I have ever stayed at, and as you can see from the pictures above, the room itself as well as the view was pretty amazing.

Busy, busy, busy….

It was a very busy weekend with a lot of people attending. Checking in at the hotel took me almost 40 minutes, and getting in to the con itself also took me just about the same time. At least everyone was in very good spirits, and I got to admire a lot of cosplayers. The weather outside was luckily very good, so I honestly did not mind the wait.

What I saw: Anime

Ofcourse with a title like Animecon one should not be surprised that there was a lot of anime on offer. With four different movie theatres playing all kinds of different shows and movies at the same time, you had to make a selection. Down below is an overview of the anime that I chose to see.

imageMagic-Kyun Renaissance Episodes 1-4

This was a pretty fun series to start off with. For some reason it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter. It tells the story of a girl called Kohana who attends The Magical Arts High School. Upon her arrival she meets a number of people there, that throughout a variety of different arts can produce sparkles, a kind of magical effect. I don’t exactly know why, but I found this series to be quite enjoyable. It was beautifully animated, the characters looked great, and the story was pretty unique.

imageChaos;Child Episodes 1-5

This series seriously creeped me out. It was too bad they only showed the first 5 episodes because I could have continued watching this the entire evening. A massive earth quake destroys the city of Shibuya. Six years later the city has been rebuilt, and the survivors continue with their lives. But then a series of mysterious deaths begin to occur that happen to coincide with a string of murders that also happened six years ago. With genuinely disturbing imagery, and a very scary atmosphere, I absolutely loved this one.

imageThe Piano Forest

The Piano Forest was a very beautiful movie, that focussed on a young boy called Shuhei who moves from Tokyo to a smaller city. Shuhei’s dream is to become the best piano player in the world, but because of that he at first doesn’t fit in with his classmates at the local school. But then he comes in contact with the young boy Kai, who lives in the Red Light District. Kai also plays the piano, but in a nearby forest on a mysterious piano that only he seems to be able to get to work. A friendship is soon formed between the unlikely pair, but one that does not come easy. Although this movie was pretty slow, the story was very engaging, and just a great watch from beginning to end.

imageBubblegum Crisis OVA 1-3

This was old school anime at it’s best. A series that was made back in the 80’s, it has influences from classic movies like Blade Runner. It tells the story of four girls who make up the Knight Sabers, who fight crime in a future city in high powered exo suits. With blasting 80’s rockmusic, a great atmosphere, and a classic animation style, this was great to see back again after all these years.

 

 

And that’s it for the first part of this report. Join me again on the second part, where I will talk about the Asian films that I have seen this weekend. Also I will be showing you some of the great food on offer as well as the new things that I bought (and trust me when I say that my wallet was pretty empty after this weekend lol). As always thank you for reading, and I hope to see you back for part 2, that will be published later today.

 

Goblin, Korean Drama series (2016)

Who wants to live forever? Ever since I first saw the movie Highlander, about the immortal Connor MacLeod, I have always been wondering about that question. Yes, there are certainly some cool things about never having to worry about dying. But on the other hand, it also brings with it a lot of pain. The one thing that would hurt me the most would be to see everyone I care about pass on, while I continue with living. So, to answer the first question I began with: not me. And with that out of the way, I will start with my review for the Korean drama series Goblin, that focuses a lot on immortality.

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You really want to mess with me? 

Goblin starts in the past where we first meet up with general Kim Shin, who continues to be succesful on the battlefield for his king. After returning from another battle where he emerged as the victor, he is betrayed by the king who is jealous of his succes. Kim Shin is killed by his own sword, on orders of the king. However, instead of dying he gets reborn as an immortal Goblin, a protector of souls. The sword he was killed with, pierces his chest, and can only be removed by the woman who will be his bride. Once that happens, he will finally be able to move on to the after life and find peace. After having lived for 939 years, he might finally have found that woman in the form of the lovely highschool student Ji Eun-tak. But Ji Eun-tak also has a very troubling past, and a secret of her own: she can see ghosts. Kim Shin, meanwhile has found a kindred spirit in an amnesiac Grim Reaper, who guides souls to the afterlife. This is the beginning of a great, tragic but also very funny adventure….

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Really, there is no need to point out something so obvious. Yes that is a sword: duh!

First off an apology is in order to the wonderful Kay from Kdramakisses. I have promised to write this review for so long that it almost seemed it would never be finished. I finally managed it, so Kay this one is for you. (And go ahead and visit Kay’s blog while you are at it, the number 1 source for Korean dramaseries). Goblin is an absolutely heartwarming series, that is almost impossible not to like. The best thing for this series are it’s characters. Ji Eun-tak, played by the wonderful Kim Go-eun, is a character that I guarantee you will fall in love with. The acting portrayed by Kim can’t even be called acting. It is so natural, that she simply convinces in every single scene. But the two male leads, Gong Yoo as Kim Shin and Lee Dong Wook as the Grim Reaper, are also one of the reasons you should watch this drama. Their comedic bickering, and warm friendship is an absolute delight to watch.

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You don’t know the joke about the Goblin and the Grim Reaper that hang out in a bar?

Goblin is a very unique series that mixes a lot of different genres together. When the series first begins, you would think this was going to be a big, bloody historical piece. But when the series moves towards the present it turns into kind of a comedic romantic drama with fantasy elements. Later on in the series, it shifts tones again, to include a few horror elements. This might put off some viewers, but I was not disturbed by it for a single moment. The humour for this show was absolutely terrific, and for someone like me, who usually doesn’t like comedy, that is telling a lot. There were a few scenes that literally gave me tears in my eyes from laughing. Don’t be fooled though this is definitely not a comedy. It is however a feel good show, even though there are also a lot of sad things that happen throughout the series.

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I forgot to mention this show includes a prequel to Titanic. 

The series runs for 16 episodes (18 if you include the two special episodes that focus on the making of the series), but not every episode was of the same quality. Especially during the middle of the series, I found the series to be a bit slow. Luckily the pace picked up again in the later episodes and it all ended in a pretty satisfactory way. Goblin became one of the most succesful Korean dramaseries ever made, passing even the recordbreaking Descendants Of The Sun, and it is hard not to see why. With a great and very unique storyline, fantastic characters, and a terrific atmosphere this series will leave you with a smile on your face once you finish it. And sometimes that is all you need.

I give Goblin a 8 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Things to look forward to in 2017 (Tv series)

As much excitement as there is in the cinema next year, there is just as much to enjoy (if not even more so) on the small screen next year. If I am being totally honest there are times when I can enjoy watching a television series more than a movie. Don’t get me wrong, I am an absolute movie addict: that will never change. But the television series that are being made in this day and age are sometimes better than a movie. For one thing it can develop characters better (as there are more episodes to explore a character’s motives). And as it takes longer, you can enjoy something even more than a movie, especially if it is a series that does things right. And with the budgets on tv series being almost as big as there big budget counterparts, the scale of certain shows is at times just off the charts. So following are 5 shows that I am looking forward to the most  for next year.

Voice (Korean drama series)

Korean drama series are fantastic. Just as in anime, there are so many series that you can choose from, ranging from romance, to historical drama, to action, there is a show out there for everyone. Voice is a series that will be released early next year, and promises to deliver a really good thriller. So far only small teasers have been released, but they already show the tense and gritty atmosphere of the series. Voice will deal with two detectives on the hunt for a brutal serial killer. The lives of the families of an emergency call center team are being threatened by this killer, and so the countdown is on to find him before it’s too late. I really enjoy movies about serial killers, and this one looks like it might take on the likes of films such as Seven and Silence of the Lambs.

 

Attack on Titan: season 2

Do I really need to explain what there is to be excited about for this one? Attack on Titan has become a juggernaut in the world of Anime and it is just simply put an amazing and exciting series. Fans have been waiting for ages for the release of season 2, and finally we now have confirmation that we will be able to see it next year in april. I usually watch shows after they have completed a full season, but I already know that I will make an exception for this one. The wait has been long enough. All I can say is that no matter his much I looking forward to this one, there is always this slight sense of unease that it might not be as good as season 1. With so many time to prepare for it though, I hope the creators have done their best to create an even better experience this time around.

 

24: Legacy

Before the Walking Dead became my number 1 alltime favorite tv series, there was 24. The realtime television series featuring Kiefer Sutherland as the hero Jack Bauer, has been a rollercoaster ride throughout it’s 9 seasons. Part of what made the show so exciting was Jack Bauer, the seemingly immortal but also very tragic anti-hero, that will always remain my favorite television character. (Not even the Walking Dead will change that). Next year 24 returns, but this time without Jack Bauer. One really has to wonder about the wisdom of that decision. Still, having seen the trailer of the new series, I do have to admit it looks good, and there are also some very good actors involved. Therefore I will give it a chance and keeping my fingers crossed that 24 will be able to live on without Jack Bauer.

 

Stranger Things: Season 2

Stranger Things was for me personally the best television series of 2016. It was a love letter to everything that I enjoyed about the 80’s. The music, the characters, the storyline, everything in this Netflix original series was just simply put: perfect. It has been a huge succes and therefore it came as no surprise the series would get a second season. With a series that was this good, one really has to wonder if they are able to maintain that high level for the second season. Whatever the case might be, I really can’t wait for this series to return. When it does I am seriously going to bingewatch it in one day. So far the only trailer that has been released for it, has in a truly original way, given us all the episode names for the second season.

 

Prisonbreak: Sequel

Prisonbreak ended it’s run after four seasons in a very satisfying way, and with what I found to be a touching and fitting end. Some people thought that the show went on too long, and getting more unbelievable with every season that followed. I personally loved it, even it’s fourth and final season. When I heard about the fact that the series would not only return, but also would feature a character who everyone believed to be dead, I could not help but wonder: How and why? Whatever the case, after having seen the first trailer for the new season, I found myself getting excited for it regardless. Prisonbreak has always been a personal favorite of mine, so hopefully this short follow up will do it justice.

So there you have it. The shows that I am looking forward to the most for next year. Are any of these shows that appear here on your list? Are there any other things you are looking forward to? Let me know in the comments section below. As always, thank you for reading!

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.

Manhole, Korean movie (2014)

When I watch a movie I pretty much don’t care in what language it is in, as long as I am able to enjoy it. Living in Holland, nearly every movie I watch is (for me) a foreign language film. I can hear the question that is popping up in your head right now: “Aren’t there any Dutch movies?”. Well, yes we do make movies, but unfortunately most of those just fail to impress me. One of the movie industries that lately does impress me a lot, is the Korean film industry. The Koreans just excel at dark revenge and action oriented movies, but another genre they are very good at is thrillers. Netflix seems to realise that the Korean movie is gaining in popularity as well, as a lot of them have recently been added to their movie database. One of those movies is Manhole.

Lately a lot of people have mysteriously gone missing in a neighbourhood in Seoul. A young 14 year old deaf girl called Soo-jung is living together with her older sister Yeon-seo. Yeon-seo always tells her sister to wait for her at home while she is out at work, but Soo-jung never listens and every day she waits for her sister at the busstop. One night Soo-jung disappears and her sister desperately tries to find her. The trail leads her to a dark sewer system, but in her search for her sister she finds more than she expects. A serial killer has turned the tunnels into his playground, and uses manholes to kindnap new victims. Will the two sisters be the next two women to fall prey to the ruthless killer?

I am currently watching a Korean dramaseries called Heartless City (a review will follow in the not too distant future) in which an actor is playing who is very, very impressive. And that is pretty much an understatement. The actors name is Jung Kyung-ho, and in this movie he is playing the pretty disturbing role of the serial killer. Though not as impressive a role as in Heartless City, he still manages to create a truly frightening character. However I was most impressed by the young actress Kim Sae-ron in this movie, who played the role of the deaf sister Soo-jung. Her performance was very convincing to say the least, and this definitely helped to lift the movie to above average. The dark and tense surroundings also helped to instill a creepy atmosphere throughout this movie. This film did occasionally have it’s flaws though. At one point there was a scene in which Yeon-seo, calls out to her deaf sister in desperation, which erm is pretty pointless really as she can’t hear (duh). However, apart from a mishap like this, I enjoyed this movie overall. It was a nice and tense thriller, with very good performances from the cast, and a dark and creepy vibe. As far as serial killer movies go, this one won’t be remembered as a classic, but it is still enjoyable enough to give it a go. If you don’t mind foreign language films or subtitles, and like movies such as Seven or Silence of the Lambs, this one is for you.

I give Manhole a 7 out of 10 score.