Ruler: Master of the Mask

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My dream team casting has come into fruition! I have always wanted to see Yoo Seung Ho and Kim So-Hyun as the main leads in a drama. I have watched them grow up from being child actors in dramas to the amazing young actors that they are today. Despite their age, they sometimes out-act older actors! In Ruler, Seung Ho plays a young crown prince who has lived life in anonymity due to the price on his life. The King, his father, had made a deal with a powerful group called the Pyunsoo in order to access the throne and have a peaceful rule. However, the price of such rule was to privatize the water system in Joseon and give them sole power over it. This deal was terrible to the commoners because the water would grow to outrageous prices during drought. Furthermore the corrupt Pyunsoo group decided to divert water wells as well which jacked up water prices even more till the point people were dying because of the lack of water. The group hoped to make the new crown prince a puppet as well. Thus,Crown Prince Lee lived most of his life under a mask to protect his identity. However whoever saw his face would be immediately killed. Once naïve young man, he soon discovers the state his people are in during a venture outside of the kingdom. He is heartbroken that his safety was the cause of such poverty and illness in the commoner’s lives. After accidently becoming involved in a brawl, a young Ga-Eun saves him. She is the daughter of a town official and is very interested in medicine. These two develop a tentative friendship, but without Ga-Eun knowing his true birthright. The Crown prince, knowing that the public did not know his face had ventured out without his mask on, masquerading as a messenger boy. Meanwhile, another young man who is also called Lee Sun, becomes acquainted with the Crown Prince. He is Ga-Eun’s friend and a peasant, but he is eager to learn and educate himself. After a terrible situation where both Lee Sun’s and Ga-Eun’s fathers are killed because of the Pyunsoo group, Crown Prince Lee Sun suffers a mental and heart breakdown. He is both angry and aggrieved that the king and him are so powerless against the Pyunsoo group. Therefore, he decides he wants to spy in Pyunsoo group with the peasant Lee Sun as masquerading as him, the Crown Prince in the palace. These three form a tight friendship, but with poor Ga-Eun not knowing the Crown Prince’s real identity. Furthermore, during this time, Hwa Goon, the Pyunsoo’s leader’s granddaughter, had fallen in love with the Crown Prince after he saved her life when she trespassed in the palace. While she is often terrifyingly manipulative, her soft spot for the Crown Prince puts her at odds with her grandfather.

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Blind: Sees More

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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!)

Remember: War of the Son

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To me, Alzheimer’s is one of the scariest diseases out there. It is untreatable and the most you can do is slow down it’s progression as you gradually lose your own identity and bodily functions. To be honest, that was one of the reasons why I didn’t start this drama when it first came out. However, the raving reviews about the script and acting really pushed me to try it. Remember tells the story of a son’s battle to give back his father’s innocence after he was falsely accused of murder. After tragic accident in his childhood that took away half his family, Jin Woo lives a happy life with his father, Seo Jae-Hyuk. He has a special condition called hyperthymesia which allows him to recall everything he has seen in perfect detail. However, the irony is that his father has early onset Alzheimer and is slowly losing his memories, even though he does not know it himself. On the other end of the spectrum we have Nam Gyu-man, a special kind of crazy chaebol who has a violent temper and is set to inherit Ilho Group from his father. After a night of crazy partying, he assaults a women and ends up killing her. In an effort to cover up this situation, he bribes prosecutors, to cops, to doctors, and even to housekeepers to pin this murder on Jin Woo’s father who happened to find the body first when he was wandering aimlessly. Jin Woo manages to convince a famous lawyer, Dong-ho to be his attorney and it had looked like they were going to win. However, Gyu-man grabbed Dong-ho’s weakness and even bends the attorney to his will. Thus, Jin Woo’s father suffers in jail for the next four years as Jin Woo takes the fast track into becoming a lawyer himself. While his father is slowly losing himself and not even remembering his own son at times, Jin Woo prepares for a retrial by trying to convince the past people who were bribed to confess. However, all is for naught as Gyu-man’s power is so far-reaching. Unfortunately Jin Woo’s father ends up passing away. This not only does not deter Jin Woo from his aim to clear his father’s name, but now he is even more galvanized to put away all the people responsible.

Wow, can I just say A+++ for all the actors in this drama. Yoo Seung-Ho practically cries his eyes out every single episode as he is beaten down again and again by the powerful. This drama definitely makes you feel furious and helpless at the same time as you spit nails at the corrupt people in each field. You think, how can they smile and eat while knowing that they put an innocent man in jail? Like WTF? It made me sick for sure. However, I know we have to reach the nadir of Jin Woo’s life to make his comeback and revenge all the more satisfying. I also really enjoy Attorney Dong Ho’s role here. He is a grey character who tries to be good morally, and one of the only people on the other side who has a conscience for all the bad things he has done. And damn, can I say that Namgung Min is perfect for the villain? Ever since Girl Who Sees Smells, where he played the psychopath as well, he took it to a new level of crazy here. It is disturbing and awesome to see how twisted he is…and interesting to see him cower in front of his father. I really enjoy this intense melo drama so far and am definitely rooting for Jin Woo’s revenge.

PS. As Alzheimer’s is genetic….we all know how this is going end no?