Wonderful Nightmare: Second Chances

Wonderful_Nightmare-p2.jpg

I definitely love me some body swap hijinks! In Wonderful Nightmare, Yeon Woo is a charismatic and savvy attorney. She cares only for money and reputation, ignoring the poor. She had a hard life growing up and that shaped her outlook on life. She enjoys being single and doesn’t care for marrying as she thinks it will only bring her heartbreak. However, due to a mistake in processing in “heaven”, she ends up dying early through a car accident. In heaven, she is given another chance to live again if she temporarily takes the place of another woman’s life who only has one more month to live. Eager to get back to the living, Yeon Woo decides to take this offer. Her new life is her worst nightmare. She is a mousy, stay-at-home mom of two children, a cheesy lawyer husband, and part of a loud ahjumma group. At first, she can’t get use to this new life and hates how poor she is. She tries to even use her old life to get ahead in her new life. However, she is scolded by “heaven” to not slip up since she has all her old memories and abilities. Gradually, she learns the warmth of a family and even takes on the familial duties that scorned before. Her kids also manage to warm up to her and she also enjoys standing up for her husband. However, with only one month to “live” this other woman’s life, she is reluctant to let go of this new experience she now enjoys. Unfortunately, her son begins to develop blindness that we find was genetic. She had suffered through the same growing blindness as a child that required several expensive surgeries to fix. However, heaven gave her to option to return about to her own life and have the blindness never happen to the son or to stay in her current role, but with the blindness of her son continuing. Although it broke her heart to give up her new family, she chose to go back to her own life to save her child suffering from the blindness.

Wonderful Nightmare is a story about sacrifice and familial bonds. Yeon Woo starts to learn how to care for others more and that life is not just about money. She learns to make attachments and even develops a maternal instinct. Um Jung-Hwa plays an awesome charismatic character as well as the homey housewife. Child actors Shin Ae and Ji-hoon are cute as buttons while new hubby Song Seung Hoon will have you swoony over how protective he is over his wife. A excellent feel good movie that will tug at your heartstrings.

Advertisements

Fatal Intuition: Psychometric

Fatal_Intuition_poster.jpeg

I admit I watched this movie because Joo Won was the main actor and I love me some intense acting! Which I got for sure! Joo Won plays Jung Woo who lives with his sibling Eun Jin in a small seaside town. Jung Woo works menial jobs in order to support his sister going to college. His aim is to get both of them out of the rural countryside. Eun Ji is a playful and outgoing girl who is kind to everyone. She is also very pretty which makes Jung Woo very protective of her. One day, after an argument about there future, Jung Woo locks Eun Ji in the house so she won’t run away. Upset, he goes out drinking with his friends. Unfortunately, an intruder breaks into their home and ends up drowning Eun Ji in his own bleaching vat in the basement since she couldn’t escape the locked house. Jung Woo comes back and ends up filing a missing persons case when he couldn’t find where she went. Meanwhile, another girl in the town is bullied severely and cursed by everyone due to her unique ability to foresee the deaths of people she comes across. Before Eun Ji’s death, the two girls had come into contact with each other. Eun Ji was nice to her and the psychic girl Si-Eun had accidentally saw her death. Si-Eun had passed out from the force of her vision and wasn’t able to save Eun Ji. However, she did manage to let Jung Woo know where Eun Ji’s body was. Jung woo was heartbroken when he found out his sister died and swore vengeance to find who did it. He suspected the neighborhood pharmacist who had a upstanding reputation had done it. He beings chasing him down, but no one would believe that the pharmacist was the culprit. Si-Eun even tries to use her powers to help him. Little by little, we find out about the pharmacist’s sordid and bloody past. His own family had died by his hands. Even without the police helping him, Jung Woo swore he would kill the pharmacist with his own hands for what he had done.

The movie itself did not have much dialogue as it relied mostly on cinematography and the actor’s expressions. Joo Won puts on a rural dialect to play role and the chase is thrilling since the pharmacist is physically a strong fighter and able to elude Jung Woo. He is also manipulative enough to escape the police and turn the tables in his favor. Poor Si-Eun plays a sister substitute to Jung Woo’s real sister after she passed away. He becomes protective of her and they fight against society themselves to bring about vengeance and survive the ordeal. All in all, a decent movie to pass the time, but not anything to write home about.

 

Coin Locker Girl: An Eye for an Eye

Chinatown-p1.jpg

In the lieu of Hwayi, Coin Locker Girl has the same dark feel which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. Il-young, who is named Ten for short, was abandoned as a baby and stored in one of those 10cent coin lockers at the subway. As a result, she grew up with the homeless and was later kidnapped by a loan shark gang. Even as a young girl, she proved herself resilient and capable of handling her jobs. This grabbed the attention of the gang head, Woo-hee, who is known as Mother of the underground society. Ten grows up to become the right hand man of Mother, handling all sorts of dirty jobs with a dispassion and calculation that frightens many. One day, she is supposed to retrieve the debt from this father-son pair, but only encounters the son because the father had ran away. The son, Seok Hyun, shows her a kindness that she has never encountered before in her harsh upbringing. He cooks for, takes her to movies, and gives her the warmth that she craves for. At first, she tries to treat him harshly to get the money from him, but slowly becomes attached. However, their little world collapses when Mother issues the order to kill Seok Hyun because his father had completely abandoned the family and left the debt to be taken care of by the son. Ten is emotionally unable to kill Seok Hyun and instead betrays the only family she has even known. They try to run, but don’t get very far as the rest of the gang catch up. Seok Hyun is brutally murdered before her eyes aInd his organs used to make up for his debt. This completely breaks Ten apart as she is now hunted by those who she once called family. She decides to take fate and vengeance into her own hands.

Continue reading

Train to Busan: Full Loaded

Train_To_Busan-p1.jpg

For me, one of the most frightening apocalypse type events is bio warfare or a bio-accident. Disease that is hard to control coupled with it potentially having no cure or one that can’t be developed fast enough is just horrid to even think about. Train to Busan is not only an amazing horror/thriller zombie movie, but also one that portrays humanity in a time where it is survival of the fittest.

In the movie, Seok Woo is a fund manager who has a young daughter and is divorced from his wife due to him being a workaholic. In the beginning he is portrayed as a dad who is too busy with his job to spend quality time with his daughter. His daughter ends up guilt-tripping him into sending her back to her mother in Busan, a day earlier than she was supposed to go for her birthday. Fortunately, they catch the train to Busan where they just manage to avoid the imminent bio-apocalypse that is to befall the city of Seoul.

On the train, they meet Sang-hwa and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, a high school baseball team, rich but selfish CEO Yon-suk, elderly sisters In-gil and Jon-gil, and a homeless man. Just before the train departs, another wounded woman jumps into the train as well. She seems to have a wound on her leg that is infecting the rest of her body fast.

Meanwhile, Seok Woo has fallen asleep on the train, while his daughter wanders the rest of the compartments out of curiosity and the need to use the bathroom. Soon, the wounded woman succumbs to the bite and starts to seize. A stewardess comes to check on her and in the process becomes the first victim to the now zombified woman. The bite and turning is fast and relentless as one person becomes affected after another. The compartments are small and there is no where to run.

Passengers start to panic, and soon only one compartment of the train is left with no zombies in it. Hope seemed to be in the near future as the passengers are asked to get off at another city that is fortified by military. However, by the time they get there, the military has already lost to the city of zombies and have turned themselves. Their numbers are halved even more as they must run back to the train as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in the chaos, not everyone boarded the safe compartment. Our main characters are hiding in different ones and must battle through the zombie infested compartments to save their loved ones and make it to the safe head compartment. It becomes a long arduous process that shows the different sides of humanity. Every action becomes a choice of saving yourself or help for the good of a group.

Continue reading

Blind: Sees More

Blind-p4

An excellent movie that I heard many good things about and had set my expectations sky high (it was fortunately met!) Kim Ha-Neul plays a budding cop, Soo Ah, who gets into a tragic car accident that leaves her adopted brother dead and her permanently blind. Three years later, her hearing senses have adapted to her loss in vision, to the point where she is able to pick out minute details in her surroundings. She wises to stay independent with her seeing eye dog and get back into the police force, but things aren’t going well with her goals. One day, she gets into a “cab” to go home and the driver ends up hitting something while driving. Although she cannot see, she believes it was a person and that the driver had stored her in the trunk. She manages to escape from this cab and reports the incident to the police. At first they do not take her report seriously because of her blindness, but they soon realize her heightened sense are giving them serious clues to cracking the case. Enter in a rebellious young teenager who claims to have seen the vehicle and perpetrator himself, the search for the kidnapper becomes more intense. However, the kidnapper / serial killer has his eyes on the pair. He manages to bash the head of the young kid, Gi Sub, played by Yoo Seung Ho for being a witness and as a warning to back off. Fortunately, no permanent damage is done. However, his next victim is Soo Ah, who is majorly disadvantaged due to her blindness. She is almost caught by him, but her dog sacrifices his life to protect her. Unfortunately, when a break is finally made in the case, the lead detective pays with his life as he accidently discovers the culprit. The criminal then goes to find Soo Ah and Gi Sub to finish them off at the orphanage where they were hiding out. After intense battling in the dark where Soo Ah has the advantage and poor Gi-Sub gets injured several times by this killer, Soo Ah manages to gather her wits about her to beat him.

With excellent acting from both Kim Ha-Neul and Yoo Seung Ho, Blind was a very enjoyable movie. I also took a look at The Witness, which is the Chinese version starring Yang Mi and Luhan of EXO in their respective Noona- Dongsaeng roles. The Chinese version followed the Korean version almost to a tee with some minor changes due to the year difference with the production of the two movies. Blind portrayed the other heightened senses cinematically in an interesting way with shadow play. Kim Ha Neul played the blind woman very convincingly and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time with her near misses and escapes from the predator. I a definitely glad that I picked up this movie as it was a delight (in a dark way, of course!)

My Paparotti – A TENor

My_Paparotti-p2.jpg

After watching Lee Je-Hoon’s fantastic role in Signal, I became interested in his other projects. Thus, I watched, My Paparotti, which is based on the true story of Kim Ho Joong, an opera singer who moved his audience to tears through his voice and troubled upbringing. Adapted into a film, Lee Je Hoon plays Jang Ho, a teen who is part of/head of a large gang, but dreams of becoming a tenor. Every since his grandmother died, he had wanted to fulfill her wishes of him singing on stage. However with his troubled lifestyle, he had been kicked out of four schools already. Finally, a fifth school decided to accept him into their music program. He meets Teacher Sang Jin, a past tenor who had a promising opera career before a vocal cord tumor shoved him out of performance forever. Both Sang Jin and Jang Ho have prickly personalities and of course they butt heads. Sang Jin thinks of Jang Ho as the trash of society because of his gangster lifestyle. Jang Ho doesn’t respect Sang Jin as a role model or teacher. However, slowly they begin to understand each other and compromise. Sang Jin becomes like a father to Jang Ho to the point where Jang Ho is almost integrated in his family. Jang Ho’s beautiful voice is molded carefully into performance standards by his new teacher. Sang Jin even tries to make Jang Ho’s Boss let him out of the gang by offering his own foot for exchange. Jang Ho is very moved by his teacher’s efforts and feelings. Thus, he decides to give up this lifestyle and not fight any longer. We see a real change in his attitude when rather than fight his attackers who trapped him before his concours, he only defended himself and focused on rushing to the competition as soon as he could escape. Although the competition itself was finished, his teacher fought for a chance for him to sing on stage.

I am very impressed with Lee Je Hoon’s acting. He is able to convey conflicting emotions very well. Furthermore, he does a great job lip syncing the opera parts which are sung by another artist. This is the second time seeing him play a “gangster” or “rough and ready” type role, with the other being Signal. I also enjoyed the touching dynamic he had with his mentor. The way they sang the non-opera duet was quiet moving and really conveyed their dreams and hopes for one another. Overall it is a great feel good movie with comedy and warmth.

 

 

 

Commitment: Sleeper Spy

Commitment_-_Korean_Movie-p1

Commitment is a pretty good spy-betrayed-revenge movie that stars T.O.P as Myung-hoon, a North Korean sleeper spy in South Korea. Under the guise of a high school student, Myunghoon’s mission is to eliminate political competition through assassination of a different faction’s spies. After his father died for the same mission, Myung Hoon takes up this spy role to save his sister from further punishment in the labor camps. Even though Myung Hoon is very young, his skill set is very developed to the point where he eliminates older and more seasoned spies with ease. However, after political turmoil in the north tips the power scale to a different faction, his own handler betrays him. He becomes a wanted man in the South and the whole national security force is on his tail and the bag of diamond funds he stole from another faction.  Angered and confused by this turn of events as well as the impossibility of seeing his younger sister again, he decides to lay low at a friend’s house. Although he was told not to make friends, he develops a crush on a girl with the same name as his younger sister. The girl protects and helps him even though she realizes that he is a wanted North Korean spy. His sister was then brought to S Korea as bait to hand over the diamonds, but the hand off did not go as planned. Even the sister made it to safety, his friend gets captured. Myung Hoon goes on suicidal mission to rescue his dear friend, even knowing that he is outnumbered and that it would be hard to get the police force on his side.

Coming from watching TOP in IRIS, also playing a spy role, I believe he made a marked improvement. As a movie with not much dialogue, he did use his face expressively enough for me to feel his sincerity. I very much enjoyed the slick fight choreography though. Because Yoo Jung is a very capable actress, I do wish she had gotten a bigger role in the movie other than just being the little sister used as bait. A waste of talent that could have been used to a greater advantage! Otherwise a enjoyable action flick!

Shoot Me in the Heart: I Feel It!

 

tygh

Lee Min-Ki and Yeo Jin Goo, power actors, in my humble opinion. I knew it was going to be good just by looking at the actors, let alone the story. The movie, Shoot Me in the Heart, ripped all my heartstrings to threads. These two boys play Seungmin and Soomyung, patients of a psychiatric hospital (more like jail). Seungmin, who doesn’t have any psychiatric issues, is dragged to this asylum due to family inheritance conflicts. They try to put him away, out of sight, but he doesn’t go down with a fight! Every day, he tries to claw his way out of the asylum and back to his one and only passion, paragliding. However, he is slowly losing his sight without an escape in sight. Meanwhile, Soomyung is in the hospital due to PTSD when he found his mother dead in a bathtub due to suicide by a pair of scissors in her neck. He even develops a phobia of scissors and cutting his hair! These two end up rooming together and develop the most unlikely of friendships. They began to depend on each other and ground each other in this unfamiliar place. They realize what living life is about and even endure brutal treatments by the staff members. However, this does not break their spirits, and they live life even more fully than before. The main theme of the movie is the unlikely friendships and relations these two develop with others in the institute.

While it was fun watching each of their escape attempts, it is also gratingly raw how harshly they are punished each time they are caught. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but you do know that your heart is hurting for these pour souls. For me, this movie unfortunately paints a bad picture of how psychiatric institutes should be operated. From the unruly and uncaring nurses to the misuse of ECST (electric convlusive shock therapy). I for one, am for the use of ECST, but only in the proper way of treating consenting patients suffering from depression or schizophrenia. It is definitely not a tool to be used as punishment or to lobotomize “unruly” patients. Fortunately, the overarching theme of friendship in the movie makes up somewhat for this disturbing part. It shows the genuine bond these patients share with each other even in their most difficult of times. I especially enjoyed the open ending where we do get to see improvement and growth in our characters (even if it must be a heartbreaking one).

As for the actors, Lee Min Ki has a special knack for playing the wild rebellious type from Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Quick, and For the Emperor. He captures that on the brink of insanity feeling while also displaying the most genuine insights. Even with this wild nature and flights of fancy, he seems more grounded any of the other individuals. Yeo Jin Goo, this developing actor, plays his angsty broody roles really well. We see him tormented by his past and the sacrifices he makes in the future. Lucky for him and us, his bromance with Lee Min Ki really brings in the feels and lets your heart soar!

Always (오직 그대만)

Always

Jang Cheol Min/Jang Marcelino (So Ji Sub) is a man who makes a living off small jobs. When he takes the position of a security guard he meets Ha Jung Hwa (Han Hyo Joo), a beautiful blind woman. She used to watched TV soap operas with the previous security guard and keeps the same habit although he is not there anymore.

Slowly they get to know each other and Cheol Min can’t help falling for her although they have little in common. Despite being blind, Jung Hwa remains jovial and optimistic. Cheol Min on the other hand is quiet, reserved, and sometimes cold. His cold behavior hides a sad past.

Both start dating, but things get complicated when Cheol Min’s past catches up with him; he finds out that he is in part responsible for Jung Hwa’s blindness. His only option: find a way to give her back her sight even if that means going back to his old ways…

Comments

I have watched this drama more than 5 times and it never gets boring. So Ji Sub portrays the reformed bad boy who finds a meaning in life thanks to love. The Cheol Min-Jung Hwa pairing is one of those unexpected one, and I think them falling for each other is possible because she is blind. Jung Hwa’s blindness pushes her to see things with her heart. If she was able to see, she might not have been attracted by Cheol Min. Appearances can be deceiving and in this case her handicap helps her meet true love.

The drama also made me think about the past we all wish to leave behind. I feel like everyone has something that they are not necessarily proud of. The thing is can we just leave those things in the past or will they catch up to us?

The one thing that got me sort of confused is the first date between Cheol Min and Jung Hwa. I didn’t quite understand why he got annoyed by her. He got angry out of the blue and no matter how many times I played that scene I couldn’t understand. Is it because she is a sloppy eater? I mean she is blind, it’s not like she was doing it on purpose… Was it because of her hair? Well that hair style sucked but that was a one time thing… Is it because he realizes that her handicap can be too much for him to handle? I hope that one day I will be able to fully understand the scene lol.

The ending is sad but in an unusual way. It’s not what I expected but it makes sense. A different ending would have been unrealistic or the fruit of bad writing.

~ maniac Ride

The Crucible (도가니)

The_Crucible-poster

Kang In Ho is hired as a art teacher in a school for deaf children, outside of Seoul, in Mujin. He is looking for a change; his wife passed away and his daughter now lives with his mother. In Ho knows sign language and hopes to connect with the children at Ja Ae Academy. Yet, his cheerfulness and enthusiasm quickly deem as he discovers that children are reserved and seem to be scared of something.

Through multiple conversations, In Ho realizes that Principal Lee and his twin brother seem to care little about the children’s well being. It’s all about being strict and disciplining the children. Yet, there seems to be more than that. Principal Lee and his brother are not the only ones spreading terror among the children.

In Ho sees Yeon Du, one of the students, having her head shoved down a laundry machine by one of the teachers. When In Ho takes her to the hospital he finds out that she was sexually assaulted at school. Young girls are not the only victims. Young boys are also assaulted.

Other alarming signs include teachers repeatedly beating children who try to run away. Children who run away are immediately brought back by a police officer, who is bribed by the principal.

In Ho is touched by what he sees, but he is worried about losing his job. In Ho’s mother has been supportive of him and helped him follow his dreams to the point of giving up her house. The mother is also the one raising his daughter Sol, and that is even harder since Sol is asthmatic.

In Ho is helped by Seo Yoo Jin, a young activist who helps bring the story to the attention of media.

Continue reading