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.
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.
Watching this simultaneously with Empress Ki is like watching two Ji Chang Wooks. One that is a cowardly wimp versus another one is a Jason Bourne style badass. Or in a way, we are reprising a upgraded level of Healer who has become more deadly. Wook plays Je Ha, ex-special forces soldier who seems to be on the run and working menial jobs to lay low. He meets our lead lady, Anna, in Spain where he seemed to be finishing up a mission.
Anna is the illegitimate daughter of a assemblyman who is trying to run for presidency. Anna’s mother seemed to have died through mysterious means and Anna is sequestered in this monastery to keep her out of the way or hidden. However, she is constantly trying to run away since she believes the people who have her captured are villainous. In one of her escape attempts, Je Ha manages to help her for a bit, even though he is injured. However, it was for naught when she is recaptured and he ended up returning back to Korean in order not to get involved with foreign police.
Back in Korea, we get a peek into the assemblyman, Se Joon, and his wife’s tense relationship. His wife, Yoo Jin, is not the mother of Anna, and seems to be in a contract relationship with Se Joon. Yoo Jin is the daughter of a powerful conglomerate and it seems that Se Joon is using that power to back up his candidacy. However, they don’t have a loving relationship at all and seem to be sabotaging each other. Se Joon keeps on having affairs while Yoo Jin tries to catch him at it. She is calculating and manipulative deep down and tries to keep a mask of innocence and romanticism for the public. Unfortunately, Je Ha becomes involved in their power struggle when he takes on a banner fixing job at Yoo Jin’s company. He sees things that he shouldn’t have and now is being hunted down by both parties for recruitment or worse.
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.
Even though I am still withdrawing from the excellent Signal drama, I decided to start this crime thriller to fill that void in my heart. As crime dramas go, there is always a special unit that is established to utilize one special technique or follow one type of crime. Pied Piper decides to take the crisis negotiation route. Joo Sung Chan starts out as a private negotiator for big corporate businesses that need to get out of sticky situations. Confident and famous for his abilities, Sung Chan gets paid handsomely for his services that serve the business’s interest even at expense of citizens with lower social economic status. However, one deal goes a little sideways and he loses a hostage. However, he plays it off with the media so that he and the company will not look bad. Yet, karma comes back around as the remaining sibling of the hostage decides he wants to revenge. As a result Sung Chan loses his fiance and a police officer dies in a standoff that he was unable to diffuse. To make matters more complicated, he received a mysterious phone call in the middle of the crisis. The person on the other side hummed to the tune of The Pied Piper (childhood story), and threatened him to confess his wrongdoings in order to save the person he loved. However, the situation became ultimately unsalvageable. The police officer who died was the uncle of Myung Ha, a young female officer who wishes to become as great of a negotiator as her uncle. She believed that situations could be diffused just by listening to the victim and eventually Sung Chan takes her under his wing. However, they get off to a bad start as she was ex-SWAT and believed he was a just a scammer. Later these two join forces in the police squad to diffuse more situations such as terrorism, suicides, standoffs, etc. Interestingly enough, each time they encounter a crises, they find that the Pied Piper is involved and is using these innocent people who are desperate to his own ends.
While the drama does not have many well known actors, Pied Piper still holds its own as a great crime thriller. It is interesting to see how each situation is diffused, hopefully with minimal casualties. I am also extremely curious to see who the Pied Piper is as he seems to be a mole in the police force because he is often a step before the team. I like how the female lead, Myung Ha, is physically stronger than Sung Chan and reins him when he gets out of line. It makes for a funny dynamic as Sung Chan has a silver tongue and uses that to worm himself out of sticky situations. With these two joining forces, they will be a team to be reckoned with.
P.S. Unfortunately subbing has been a little on the slow side as it was picked up pretty late by drama subbing channels.
Pluto is a movie about the academic pressure of getting into a SKY university in Korea. At this particular school, such cutthroat competition is created that it begins to turn young adults into budding psychopaths. It is a deeply dark and disturbing movie to which young adults who watched it ended up connecting with it on a basic level. The drama tells the story through the eyes of June, who is a recent transfer and genius in science. He is particularly interested in astronomy and has written a thesis on why Pluto, an outlier, should be a planet in the solar system.Even though he was in the top 1% of his last school, he is in the lower end of the class in his new school. Often he is envious of the top 10 students in his grade and how they have special privileges and classes. They pass around a notebook that seems to help improve their grades. June wants to be in this special club and Yujin, the leader of the club says he has to perform special missions in order to be one of them. They call this process Rabbit Hunting. Rabbit Hunting, at first, seems like your general high school bullying, but it has a more sinister aura to it. The missions become more dangerous, bordering on assault and sexual harassment. While Yujin tries to regulate the missions to his best ability due to his past guilt, it is the second in command who enjoys such pleasures. Unfortunately, June participates in these missions just so he can improve his grades and ranking. However, as he is engrossed in such activities, he develops characteristics of a psychopath himself. The turning point comes when Yujin becomes the victim of one of their plots and is murdered by the club. The club members try to blame it on June. June is jolted back into moral reality and ends up trying to bring justice to the group members. As the group members have rich and powerful parents, he thinks that the law force will be of no use. Thus he is taking this into his own hands and forcing the members to perform the missions that he did before. He blackmails them and threatens their life with homemade bombs (that they had originally made him concoct for a mission). On the day of the solar eclipse is when everything comes to a head and June will smite the club with his hand of justice.
I definitely enjoy psychological thrillers and this movie had a White Christmas aura about it. Are monsters born or molded by society? Clearly, the intense academic pressure has twisted these young adults so much that they are willing to do anything to beat out the other person. Yujin played by Sung Joon is the ultimate broody leader who develops somewhat of a conscious after a previous tragedy caused by the club. Sung Joon does dark and brood very well, taking his White Christmas character to the next level. Meanwhile June’s transformation is definitely interesting and frightening to watch as he goes from the timid meek boy to bringing of justice. Pluto is definitely a movie that tries to bring into focus the tribulations of young adults.
So intense. Usually for a 4-episode special, I would have just gone ahead and finished it before writing about it. However, just with the first episode and a half, I had to pause to take it all in. This short suspense thriller has hit the trifecta for me, strong acting, great soundtrack, and tight plot. In this drama, Do Eunchang and Do Shin Woo are a pair of twins who are as different as night and day. Eunchang is the lively and charming boy who does not take hits lying down. Meanwhile Shin Woo is the quiet, bookworm twin who gets bullied every single day. They share the same face to the disappointment of both, but you can clearly tell that they care deeply for each other still. Eunchang is constantly defending his brother and even beating up his bullies for him. However, Shin Woo hates himself for being so defenseless. Unfortunately one day, things go too far and Shin Woo’s bully falls off the school roof in an accident while fighting with Eunchang. Eunchang had went to his brother’s school in place of Shin Woo to teach that bully another lesson. This lands Eunchang in jail for 8 years while their mother blames everything on Shin Woo. She even requests that Shin Woo go to jail in place of the other twin as she clearly has Eunchang as her favorite son.
With his brother in jail and him in a glass prison at home, Shin Woo forces himself to study hard for the bar to make something of himself. Shin Woo becomes Chief of a police force while his twin becomes a delivery boy when he comes out of jail. Their mother had died of a drug addiction from missing the other son so much. Because of this, he is very focused on going after drug busts. Furthermore, years of suffering under the insults of a crime that his brother committed and having to endure watching his mother fall apart made Shin Woo bitter towards his twin brother. He wishes that Eunchang didn’t exist as he thinks that is all everyone ever see compounded with them having the same face. Eunchang is still the cheerful person he was before jail and understands that his brother does not want anything to do with him. Unfortunately both of them become involved with a drug ring and chaos ensues. Chief Shin Woo is trying to chase down the mob boss, but gets into a horrible car accident. Eunchang is forced to take Shin Woo’s place as Chief of the police by the mob boss in exchange for his younger brother’s life. To worsen the situation, Shin Woo does not know that Eunchange is trying to save him rather than being one of the boss’s cronies. Poor Eunchang feels so helpless in this situation. It is a complete turn around from when they were younger.
The actor who plays the younger version of the twins and the one that plays the older set are SO AMAZING. Park Hyung Shik, a relatively new idol turned actor is busting his melodrama chops to deliver such a great performance. Might I also say that ZE:A, the kpop band he was in has churned out three amazing actors so far, Park Hyung Shik, Yim Si Wang (Misaeng), and Kim Dong-Jun (Girl K). Anyways, Park Hyung Shik playing the younger set of twins is very moving in his angst and torture of being the one ignored and unwanted in the family. He strives for recognition from his family, but is always overshadowed by his older brother. Now the older set is played by Suh Joon Young is also quite wonderful and pairs really well with the younger version. His acting of both twins is so great that at one point, I really thought they were two different actors!! Not even half-way through the drama, my heart already hurts for these two brothers. I really hope I get to see them reconcile or at least be on the way to patch up their past misunderstandings and hurts. It is so clear that they care deeply for each other and have a connection no one can break.
EDIT: I finished this drama and now I feel empty. I wish it was longer! It was such a joy to watch both younger and older set of twins played by these versatile actors! I also can’t believe how underrated this special was! It is truly a gem to be discovered!
The Kdrama gods have shown their mercy. I finally found English subs for My Beautiful Bride. Another brilliant grungy OCN crime production that has me spellbound. This story follows the tragic underworld of loan sharking combined with organ harvesting. Cha Yoon Mi, a female detective, chases the Shadow leader of the organ harvesting operation and finally puts the leader Son Hak Soo away for 10 years with the help of an insider. However, the informant, who happens to be the past lover of Son Hak Soo, disappears after the man she betrayed was put into jail. Meanwhile, Kim Do Hyung, a seemingly straight-laced no nonsense (or fun) bank manager leads a nondescript life with his beautiful girlfriend, Yoon Joo-Young. Manager Kim is a very strict about managing the company’s money and isn’t the kind of guy that plays around. He is the type that would rather send a cake than take a client out for drinks and girls. He loves riding his bicycle everyday and didn’t find meaning in life until he met Joo-Young. Joo-young fell for him at first sight and hoped to get close to him. However, she turned out to be the disappeared informant of the organ harvesting operation. She wanted to start her life anew with this handsome manager. Luckily things worked out between them and they lived together for two years. He even proposed marriage at the expense of his richer household. However, she is hesitant about marrying him at first since he knows nothing of her past. One day, as he is riding home to her for dinner, she gets a mysterious phone call that sends her running. Joo-young disappears and Do Hyung has no way of finding her. She even left her wedding ring, but there were no signs of forced entry. Driven to the police station, he lists her as a missing person and attracts the attention of Yoon Mi who recognizes her past informant’s face. An investigation starts as Hak Soo is released from prison on parole. Do Hyung gets entangled with the unsavory loan shark organization as his investigates by himself. We also get to see his past military history where he was part of a special division of marines that traveled from N.Korea and back, meaning super badass fighter. Unfortunately, he gets caught by cops while chasing the leader of a loan shark group. What really astounds everyone else is that he happens to also have the frozen corpse of Hak Soo in his trunk.
I love it. Another dark goody from OCN. It seems now a days, all these badass detectives or leading fighters were part of some special division during their military service. Take Bummie from Hidden Identity for example! Not that I’m complaining! Anyways, while the three main leads are not from the famous group of actors, I find their acting pretty decent. Kim Moo Yul, plaing Do Hyung, is a new face to me. A little stiff, but that may be part of his super stiff character, and military background? With Joon Young captured, we probably won’t see too much of her unless she pops up somewhere else. Ko Sung Hee has been a hit or miss for me, but its a hit so far. As for Lee Si Young, she is looking amazing, beautiful, and even more improved since her BOF days. I very much enjoy strong female characters and she definitely shows it as the leader of the investigations. The filming is also great, juxtapositioning the main couple’s dreamy courtship and the grungy reality of debt paying. Awesome series to follow!
Check out this amazing OST !
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!
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.