Innocent Defendant: Prison Break

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Dark crime or law dramas are again right up my alley. I find it especially interesting to see the cat and mouse game between an intelligent villain and our hero. Innocent Defendant is about Jeong Woo, a prosecutor who ends up waking up in jail with no memories of the previous four months. Jeong Woo was a successful and dogged prosecutor who was not afraid to dig deep into cases and even put himself in harms way to crack a case. However, he buried his nose too deep in a murder case committed by Cha Min Ho, the twin brother of a conglomerate heir. Cha Min Ho is a playboy twin who ended up killing a golddigger in a drunken fit. Instead of owning up to his crimes like his brother told him to, he ends up killing his twin brother to take his place. He had always been jealous of his twin, Cha Seon Ho who was the apple of his father’s eye and heir to the conglomerate. Min Ho decides to push his brother off the building and become him when Seon Ho died. He used the cover story that the brother who had fallen was actually him and that he had committed suicide out of guilt. Of course, Jeong Woo suspects something foul is at play because he thinks that Min Ho is not the type to commit suicide. Jeong Woo ends up finding out that Min Ho is actually alive and pretending, but he has no evidence to prove it. One day after his daughter’s birthday, he wakes up the next morning in a jail cell. He doesn’t remember what has happened and thinks that something is playing a trick on him. He is told that he is on death row because he had somehow killed his loving wife and daughter. They are unable to find his daughter’s “body”, and he is unable to remember what exactly has happened. Apparently he has been having these repeat losses of memory in jail for the past four months with the gaps getting larger and larger. Jeong Woo is furious and heartbroken as he cannot remember and accept what is going on.

I love a good thriller and mystery. Ji Sung is one of my favorite actors as he has one of the most expressive faces I have ever had the pleasure to watch. He definitely throws his entire being into the role. His anguish is so hard to watch. Juxtaposing him is another fantastic actor, Uhm Ki Joon. I have seen him in more villainous roles and he plays them to a “T”. The more evil his character is, the better his acting becomes. Not only does he play one character, but he plays two, or even three (if you count him pretending to be his brother). As for the female leads in the story, I have no reads on them yet except for the quick appearance of Yuri. So far, the drama seems to be an on your seat thriller that will keep me guessing as what is really going on. I hope that Jeong Woo will be able to recover some of his memories and be able to go against Min ho soon!

Solomon’s Perjury: Truth Trials

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Dark and thoughtful (with a dose of sociopathy), just the way I like them. Solomon’s Perjury is definitely reminiscent of White Christmas, the short little series a few years ago that broke out a lot of popular actors today including Kim Woo Bin, Kim Young Kwang, Lee Soo Hyuk, Sung Joon, and Hong Jong-Hyun, just to name a few. I hope that Solomon will also highlight the new generation of acting talent by featuring some not as trendy popular actors/actresses. To get to the nitty gritty, Solomon is about high school students taking a death investigation into their own hands to uncover the truth for which the parents seem to be wanting to cover up.  In the beginning of the drama, we meet So Woo, a quiet young kid who got into a fight with the school bully, Choi Woo-hyuk. Choi Woo-Hyuk nearly kills So-Woo during the fight, but everyone is to afraid to speak up. It’s beacuase Choi’s father also happened to be extremely powerful in society and whoever crossed his family ended always up squashed. With Choi’s family pressuring So Woo to admit that he instigated the fight, So Woo decided to quit school instead. However, it is hinted that So Woo has knowledge of another of the Choi family’s weaknesses and was in a shaky spot regardless. Unfortunately a few weeks later, his body is found in front of the school, buried in the snow. Two students, Seo Yeon and Joon Young are the first ones to discover the body of their classmate. While the police and school hurry to close the case as a suicide, the circumstances of his death were a little suspicious. Both Seo Yeon and Joon Young are traumatized by this event and ended up bonding over the situation. Joon Young’s life at home has also been hard due to his abusive mother and he had contemplated ending his life at one point as well. However, with Seo Yoen’s support, he decides to keep on enduring. One day, a letter is delivered to Seo Yeon’s house because her father is a detective who was on this case. The letter accused Choi Woo Hyuk and his cronies of pushing So Woo to his death, making the case now a violent homicide instead of a suicide. Of course this spurs on more rumors in the school and this opens the investigation back up to the consternation of the school and Choi family. To the students, it seemed that the adults were doing a slipshod investigation and they want to find the real truth. Fortunately, at this school, an anonymous person called the Watchman seemed to take interest in spurring the student population in opening up their own investigation.

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Fatal Intuition: Psychometric

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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.

 

Bring it On, Ghost: Supernatural Duo

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SO CUTE. Kim So Hyun hits it out of the park again with her sassy, spunky, ghosty character paired with a straight-laced ghost fighter, Taecyeon. In this drama, Taec plays Bong Pal, a college freshman who makes a living fighting ghosts. He offers a public service where his customers pay him large sums to exorcise ghosts out of certain locations. However, the catch is that he only fights the weaker ghosts. One day, Taec is called to an abandoned girl’s high school to exorcise a strong perverted ghost. The girl who called him there is Hyun-Ji, a female ghost who has been dead for 5yrs, not a human like he expected.  Hyun Ji does not seem like the other ghosts who are gray and decaying in appearance. She still mysteriously retains her youthfulness and color. However, she does not remember anything about her past or how she died. Hyun Ji is very spunky and a good fighter as well.  At first, they are constantly getting into fights with one another. However, gradually they learn to work together to fight off the stronger and more brutal ghosts. She practically follows him around everyday due to one instance where their lips touched and she was able to see bits and pieces of her past. Of course, she tries to sneak in another “kiss” as an attempt to see her past, unsuccessfully. Bong Pal, at first finds her quite annoying, but gradually becomes accustomed to her presence in his life. Together, they manage to defeat ghosts by finding their weak spots and banishing them from the places they haunt.

So Hyun always makes her sassy characters fun and relatable. It is a joy to watch her grow and develop her acting career from such a young age to the beautiful young lady she is now. While Taec at first seems a little stiff on the acting front, it ends up working well with his character. His character is a little awkward, as he plays a loner who seems almost more comfortable talking to ghosts rather than humans. To add comedic effect is the Ghost Net duo who are constantly on the search for supernatural events and more members for their club. I would be just as scared as them if I participated in such ghostly adventures. For the villainy side, we have Hye Sung. On the outside, he seems to be the popular and kind veterinarian and professor. However, we are shown his creepy blank stare and special scar on his back for a more mysterious past. I wonder how he ties into the story. So far, I have good vibes about this drama and appreciate its brisk and fun pace.

 

Vampire Detective: A New Strain

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OH OH OCN, you have lured me into watching the 7th airing drama on my list. Vampires done the right way for once! In the lieu of Vampire Prosecutor (which I will watch one day), we have vampire detectives now! Lee Joon is Yoon-San, who originally attended police academy before messing up a special undercover operations with two other new officers. One of these officers was his girlfriend, who always wore a sun pendant. However, after the three of them barely escaped from a dangerous situation, his girlfriend starts acting weirdly. She ends up shooting Yoon-San in the chest, and then blows up with the car and the third officer. I guess in one way, you can see it as her trying to save him before the car blows up. Yoon-San is mystified and heartbroken at the the turn of events. After recovering from his wound, he decides to do private investigating instead of pursuing a path in police work. He and Goo-hyung make a living investigating everything from murders to affairs. One day, Gyeo-wool visits them and demands that they help her find out why her brother is acting suspicious. They end up running into more suspicious people who have a storage of blood samples and the boss is a woman wearing a sun pendant. This piques their interest and they decide to take the case. It turns out that her brother is actually a vampire who is researching different blood strains in order to save his girlfriend. However, things come to a head as the brother and girlfriend sacrifices their lives to protect the little sister. Before the brother passes, he injects his new blood strain into Yoon-San who had leapt into the path of a bullet to save Gyeo-wool. The blood saves Yoon-San’s life as his chest wound heals. The three are left in amazement at the aftermath of such events.

Vampires can either be done very well or end up in nonsense.  Luckily, as a spinoff of Vampire Prosecutor, we know we have good writing and cinematography behind the wheel of this drama. Fortunately at the helm of this drama is Lee Joon, an idol turned actor that I very much admired due to his previous works. He has a wide range of acting, and I especially enjoy the brooding type. I am interested to seeing how his new powers manifest and how it will aid his job. Furthermore, I want to know what is up with the sun pedant woman and if it is old girlfriend. As for Goo-hyung and Gyeo-wool, the other two legs of this detective agency, they make nice support and I hope to see them develop more into their own characters. I am already loving Geyo-wool who is street smart and already a big help to their multiple escapes.

Moorim School: X-Men Style

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To be honest, I came into Moorim School with pretty low expectations. While I do enjoy my “school” dramas, the premise didn’t sound too enticing. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I am looking forward to this bag of mixed tricks. Moorim School follows students from different walks of life who end up at this special institute where academics are taught in addition to martial arts (and supernatural abilities). We are introduced to Shi-Woo, top kpop idol star, who is starting to have hearing problems that he can’t find a cause for. These episodes of ringing in his ears are debilitating and pain for him. During one of his concerts, the overhead lights malfunctioned and started to drop. However, somehow he was able to slow the dropping through a possibly mystical force that he possessed. In this confusion, Sun-A, a girl who goes to Moorim School and admires Shi-Woo manages to save him from being crushed and tells him to go find her school. While Shi-Woo’s company tries to cut Shi Woo out because of his disability, Soon-Duk (another student of Moorim), manages to entangle herself in a scandal misunderstanding. This scandal brings down Shi-Woo’s career as a singer completely. Our third main player, Chi-Ang, a young chaebol (out of wedlock) coming from China is forced to go Moorim as he had dropped out of 22 other institutes. He butts heads with Shi-Woo on his first day back as his father is the one sponsoring the concert. They are both arrogant and hate each other on site. On his way to the school, he tries to run away and manages to almost drown himself. Soon-Duk manages to save him as well and he becomes infatuated with her. Somehow as Shi-Woo and Chi-Ang again cross paths on their way to the institute, their playground brawl sends them tumbling into a seal that had kept the school hidden. One or both of them were able to unlock the seal which garners the interest of the professors at the school. However, both of these new student have a hard time adjusting to their new environment. Which of course, ultimately ending in another brawl with a surprising showcase of their own hidden martial arts skills.

Even though I really want to continue the drama, the director has to figure out where he wants to go with it. I am feeling a mixed bag of thriller, mystery, supernatural, and romcom! It feels like each character is playing in a different series right now. With Soon-Duk doing some slapstick, Chi-Ang featuring in a romcom, and Shi-Woo angsting away. Counter this all with everyone being a school drama piece. I know we are only two episodes in so hopefully the director will find some stable ground soon. What really drew me in was that nicely choreographed fight scene at the end of episode two! How mysterious that both of them are already so versed in martial arts! Their past also seem to be entangled as with their future.

Hidden Identity: Angels in a Demon’s Mask

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A thousand times yes! My special craving for crime thrillers has been fulfilled yet again. Interestingly enough, TVN takes a leaf out of OCN’s book and produces a grungy noir piece. Cha Gun Woo plays a broody detective who has suffered a lot of traumas in his career. As a man of few words, others find it hard to work with him. However, he has a warm heart and holds his friends dear. Unfortunately, on a stakeout, Gun Woo loses his partner of 6 years and falls into a deeper state of depression. He also blames himself for the death of his girlfriend a few years past when she became involved in one of his investigations. His sunbae, Tae In, is the brother of the dead girlfriend and threw himself into undercover work in a gang in order to find out who killed her. When Tae In became exposed, Gun Woo was called in to also become undercover in order to find where Tae In was being tortured. Gun Woo plays a gambler who would do anything for money and gets recruited by the gang. He becomes part of the gang’s scheme to steal the hologram for Seoul’s new printed money. Although reluctant, Gun Woo joins the team in order to repay his debt to Tae In and find his girlfriend’s killer. In a moment of moral conflict, Gun Woo had to “kill” Tae In in front of the gang in order to keep his cover as a cop. Luckily, each cop has a molar installed with medicine that will put them into a coma instead. Tae In survived the stabbing that he actually initiated so that Gun Woo would not have to pull the first move. Although Gun Woo is exposed after the hologram code is stolen, he continues to participate in the investigation team.

Color me surprised when pretty Kim Bum transforms himself into gritty Gun Woo. In the past I have always remembered him as the pretty playboy type who has the most gorgeous smile. What a change here! Barely saying a few lines each episode, he conveys all his emotions through his expressions. I never realized how expressive he could be and how well he plays the angst angle. His crew cut, mustache, and broody air really changes him completely. I also enjoy how this series has a strong female character who really kicks arse, multiple arse by herself! Although I wished he would be undercover longer as I love seeing double agent tropes, the story must move on! I feel like this is a great career move to play this variety of character for Kim Bum. Coming from the team of Bad Guys, the fighting choreography is also on point. With brilliant moves that gets my blood pumping! This is definitely my top drama to watch right now!

Missing Noir M

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Crime-related dramas seem to fall into two categories, cop squads who can’t find their own butts or genius detective with a few sidekicks. Now if the main point of the drama is romance with a side of cop, then fine, you can have your incompetent police force. However, for me, I believe a good crime drama needs these ingredients: intelligent problem solvers, interesting crime scenes, actually clever villains, and a certain dash of gray aggressiveness that says hey, the world isn’t black and white. One crime drama in the past met this formula, Bad Guys and Hannibal, and I’ve hit it again with Missing Noir M.

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Pinnochio

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Pinnochio

Okay, okay, I caved. Sometimes, I don’t know why, but I really reject watching highly popular dramas when they first come out. I think its a combination of having high expectations and fearing that they will not be met. However, most of the time, its a baseless fear, and I end up loving the dramas that everyone is crazed about. After being persuaded multiple times, I finally started Pinnochio and guess what…I love it. Lee Jong-Suk is a big plus factor, being one of my favorite actors of all time ever since School 2013. He has such an endearing quality about him while also being about to portray intense angsty characters as well.

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White Christmas

Original Title: 화이트 크리스마스 / Monster

Episodes: 8

Year: 2011

Country: South Korea

Channel: KBS 2

Theme: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Melodrama, Artistic, School

             Plot: White Christmas, an 8 episode drama, is a psychological thriller that coldly portrays the different facets of human nature and morality. At Susin High School, a private elite academy that only takes the top 1% of the students in the country, Winter Break approaches and all go home except for 7, well and a surprise 8th,  students and one proctoring teacher.

However, these aren’t just any students, all of them had received a mysterious black envelope with a chilling fragment of poetry that threatens murder. As a result, all of them stay behind that break to find out who wrote these messages to them. To introduce the core students, there is Moo Yul, the second smartest student in the school with an inferiority complex. Next, there is Young Jae, a hotheaded bully who hides his cowardice by teasing Kang Mo and Yoon Su. Kang Mo is a hearing impaired student who has a complex about his disability and uses a hearing aid. Yoon Su is a traumatized young man suffering for psychological problems that has him downing drugs to control his hallucinatory spirals. He is constantly afraid a blue “corner monster” and nicknamed the Angel because his family is rich. Jae Kyu seems like Moo Yul’s right hand man and friend, but a little socially awkward. Eun Sung, the only female to stay behind rarely smiles, seems to have frozen over and has a complicated past with Yoo Mul and an intense love/hate relationship with Young Jae. Then we have Chi Hoon who is a genius, but apathetic to his peers.

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