Thursday, May 30, 2013

[Japanese Drama] Love Generation (1997)

I actually first became interested in dramas through Japanese dramas (Manga>Anime>Japanese dramas>Korean dramas). Though I like Korean dramas a lot better, Japanese dramas are still pretty good. They have their own personality and feel.

Love Generation is a straightforward romance between Teppei and Rico. It's only 11 episodes long, but it squeezes in a office romance, first love from the past, love rectangle, fights, confessions, and what have you. There was a lot less over the top drama that is characteristic of Korean dramas (no memory loss, playboy hiers, dying love interests etc), which is what I like about Japanese dramas. They're also a little more risque surprisingly in terms of portraying "skinship".  While I enjoyed watching Teppei and Rico's relationship grow, I soon became tired of the back and forth, fighting and making up between them. Sure Teppei wasn't helping matters, but Rico's constant insecurities and immediate assumptions began grating on my nerves. (Can't anyone simply ask questions before flying off the handle?) Also, the ending was a bit unsatisfactory, wrapped up too quickly and halfheartedly. I felt cheated. Love Generation is a short, cute drama, but not one of the best. (Oh, and the stupid glass apple motif? What was that about? Don't understand what it was supposed to stand for and it's summer vacation. I don't feel like using more than 3 brain cells to figure it out.)

Give it a try here if you'd like!

"Applily" Yours,
Looney Express Reviews

Sunday, May 26, 2013

[Korean Drama] Rooftop Prince (2012)

WOW! I just finished watching Rooftop Prince and all I can say is just, WOW!

Rooftop Prince begins 300 years ago in the Joseon era of South Korea and the Crown Princess has been found dead. The Crown Prince along with his four most trusted officials vow to find the truth of her death. However, they find themselves being chased over a cliff and "falling" into the 21st century and onto the rooftop house of Bak Ha!

From there, it's a 20-episode phenomenal ride full of incredible romance, plot twists, and drama.

The Story:

Rooftop Prince has one of the most unique story-lines that I have ever seen. In all of the 50+ dramas that I've watched, none have impressed me as much as Rooftop Prince. Sure there may be other impressive dramas, as I haven't watched all that many considering, but Rooftop Prince is brillantly executed. There were several plot lines occurring at the same time and feeding into one other--the crime mystery, both past and present and the romance.

Rooftop Prince's intriguing plot also had the most brilliant twists that were almost too much to handle, as well as splendid pacing and tension and a whole lot of drama--heart-wrenching, breath-stealing drama. I mean, I just want to give the writers a big ole kiss, they were just so brilliant! Just when you think you may have gotten things figured out, the writers are like "Nuh-uh, we have more for you, there are TWENTY episodes, remember?" Then you're all like, "Oh yeah. Crap. Now what?" I never watched a drama that made my jaw drop, put my hand over my mouth and gasp "Holy Shit" as many times as this one! Especially in a Rom-Com! They're not usually so suspenseful, but this one was simply awe-inspiring.

The Characters:

I've watched quite a bit of dramas and many of the most acclaimed ones (at least in Romantic Comedy) and I do not think I can say that I have seen more superb acting anywhere other than in Rooftop Prince. Each character was absolutely believable and authentic in their portrayal of their role.

Bak Ha was an inspiring female lead. She was so beautiful and possessed an inner strength to be admired. Even more importantly is that she had a strong sense of self-respect and integrity. Her emotions were so real and pulled viewers right in. Also, her honesty regarding her feelings was really refreshing as it's a rarity in other dramas.

Your Highness/YiGak/Tae Yong was so handsome (duh. Just look at that face). His character as a Prince from the past was believable and adorable. He was also an amazing actor in emotional scenes drawing viewers in.

While Bak Ha and Tae Yong played the role of Mom and Dad, the three officers Chi San, Man Bo, Yong Sool played the role of the three kids and they were perfect secondary characters as comic and cuteness relief in the most stressful or emotional scenes. They made the drama as enjoyable as it was. Without them, I probably wouldn't have kept going.

Se Na and Tae Mu played the perfect villains. I've never been so impressed or awed by the sheer evilness of the bad characters before. The actor who played Se Na, especially impressed me. She was believable in her role from beginning to end. And they just wouldn't quit! They were involved in many of the plot twists. It was insane and entralling!

The Romance:

... was absolutely freaking perfect! Bak Ha and Tae Yong's love was so strong and real that it spanned 300 years (how can you beat that?!). They could play with and tease one another, bicker like an elderly couple, and trusted one another deeply. I loved watching their interactions on screen, especially the various scenes of loving tenderness. Perfect.

The Soundtrack (OST):

Almost has perfect as Bak Ha and Tae Yong. Each song fit its scene perfectly, or added an air of suspense or irony. The writers (or whoever is in charge of the sort of thing) made very good choices! I'm in love with Ali's song "Hurt" in particular. (See both Korean and English versions below.)

The Ending:

Watching the last episode was so stressful! I was so afraid of how it would end. Viewers weren't given as many clues as we may have liked. Until the very end the writers kept surprising us, but they didn't disappoint us and the ending was nearly perfect. Though all of the loose ends were not completely tied, it was satisfying.

Looney Verdict:

Rooftop Prince is a definite must watch. It may very be the best drama of 2012. It has the most amazing acting I've ever seen in a long time, possibly ever. It has an intriguing and attention grabbing plot with excellent pacing that keeps you hooked for all twenty episodes. The perfect mix of serious emotion and comic relief, great music, and a satisfying ending. Everything a drama addict can ask to have mixed in her drug. In short, it deserves the honor of being placed amongst my "Favorite's List" and so it shall!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not a Pretty Sight: Korean Drama Withdrawal

As you've already noticed, I've gotten back onto the Asian drama bandwagon. I hadn't watched a SINGLE drama episode since Winter Break back in January. Blasphemy!

Senior year of college is really no joke. I found a worthy adversary against my Kdrama addiction; the only thing strong enough was taking 18 credits, working 14 hours a week on campus, leading a student organization, being an active member in two other organizations, while still going out with my co-workers every payday. There simply wasn't enough time to squeeze in an episode or two.

After a few weeks, when I noticed that I hadn't watched anything in so long I was devastated (DramaFever and Viki posts on my Facebook news-feed were certainty no help).  I also began to notice myself exhibiting some peculiar behaviors.

1) I would post the most angst-ridden comments in response to any and all drama-related posts on Facebook or blogs. I would go on and on about how I missed my Lee Min Ho-baby (especially not having watched his new drama, Faith yet and how much school isn't worth it anyone. And cry, wail, sob etc.

2) I added researching new dramas to my Procrastination Regime. I would simply minimize the paper I happened to be working on and google "New Korean dramas 2013," "New Korean romantic comedies February 2013," or "best new Korean dramas." Then I would read endless reviews and episode summaries and video comments to soothe the pain.

3) I changed my desktop background to various Kdrama actors and actresses.

4) I would start organizing my "Dramas to Watch" folder in my bookmarks in order to decide which series to watch first once I find time, school ends, or I quit school (whichever happens first).

5) I began having elaborate dreams about various series I was looking forward to seeing, essentially playing how I believed the series would go based on the synopsis.

As you can see, things were getting pretty bad and I was miserable! I just wanted to find time to watch ONE, just one episode of Rooftop Prince, or Flower Boy Next Door, or Prosecutor Princess or King of Dramas, or Faith or Answer Me 1997, or Bridal Mask, or Full House 2, or The King 2 Hearts. Was that too much for a gal to ask for?

But now? Now it is time. School has finally ended and I will BINGE like I have never binged before. I will watch 8, no 12 episodes a day. I will not take the time to shower, dress, or cook. It will be just ME in my favorite strawberry printed pajamas, Life Savers Gummi Collisions, and my laptop until September. That is the life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

[JMovie] Kimi ni Todoke (2011)

Sawako is a quiet girl who resembles Sadako from the horror movie, "The Ring." Add tense facial expressions and awkward mannerisms when she's nervous and you get a girl who has all of her classmates thinking she can see ghosts. However, Kazuhaya, the most popular guy in class, falls for her on the first day of school when she helps him find the way because he had gotten lost (it's okay that he's not too smart, at least he's pretty). The movie follows Sawako as she comes into herself and opens herself up to friendship and even a little romance. Whooo!

This movie is based on a manga series of the same title. There's also an anime, which I have watched and reviewed here. I loved loved loved the anime series and loved the live action movie as well. It's just as good as the anime, just in a more condensed version.

The movie had great pacing, allowing for a nice build up of emotions and development of Sawako's relationships with herself, her friends, and Kazehaya.

Sawako's character is naive, sweet, honest, and surprisingly charming. In real life, I would find her annoying as hell, but in the movie she's oddly endearing as she opens up and forms close ties with Kazehaya, Yano, Yoshido, and Ryu. The deep relationships between the other characters (Ryu/Yoshino, Yoshino/Yano etc) are also just as important and add to the dynamic of the entire group. Plus, I simply loved how quirky they all were; such an odd bunch! (Especially the homeroom teacher, who was a hoot and a half.)

As a result, there was great comic relief among the tenderness. In addition to making you laugh, this movie makes you smile and even tear up a little (or a lot, depending on how much of a sap you are). There's just so much feeels!

The ending, oh the ending was simply perfect. It was the gushiest, most adorably heartfelt ending I've seen in a long time. In other words, it was completely squeal-worthy.

Kimi ni Todoke is a very nicely done movie that portrays the strength of friendship and connections with others in helping you come into and accepting oneself because as the oh-so-wise Dr. Suess says "Those who care, don't matter and those who matter, don't care." This movie is so sweet that I need to make an appointment with my dentist tomorrow morning!

A must watch, so get to it! I'll even provide a link:

Sweetly Yours,
Looney Express

[KMovie] Seducing Mr. Perfect (2006)

There's been a recurring theme of car crashes leading to romance in the movies I've watched lately. Min Joon has really bad taste in men. They're not particular jerks or anything, but they always dump her, placing the blame on her--she's too nice, too clingy etc etc. In short, she's a bit pathetic. Anyway. After being stood up by her boyfriend (after skipping out of work with a fake medical excuse *rolls eyes*), she crashes into the car of none other than Robin Heiden, who she discovers is her new boss. Uh-oh! To make matters even worse, Min Joon is assigned as Robin's assistant. They get close really quickly and Robin eventually begins giving Min Joon love advice. And of course they fall in love in the process.

The plot line was really cute, however the execution needed some work. Certain aspects of the story were drawn out too long, or weren't portrayed when you thought they should have been, or not given as much attention as you'd expected. The best part of this movie is how Robin spoke entirely in English while everyone else, including Min Joon, spoke in Korean. Daniel Henney (the actor who plays Robin) was raised in America and doesn't speak much Korean, so the director worked around it in a really cute way. The premise is that Robin can understand Korean pretty well, but finds it different to speak and so refuses to do so. I expected to find that aspect of the movie annoying or frustrating, but instead I thought it was SO adorable and his voice was to die for--so sexy!

Other than the pacing of the story, Robin and Min Joon's relationship developed nicely and I enjoyed watching. There was a bit of humor thrown in with some really cute, awww, scenes. Overall, Seducing Mr. Perfect is worth watching. Find it on Youtube!

Laters Gators,
Looney Express


[HK-Movie] Fighting for Love (2001)

Fighting for Love is a 2001 Hong Kong movie about office-lady Deborah, who's a loud, chain-smoking, hard ass. On her way to the hospital to visit her more normal sister, she sideswipes a man's car, taking his rear-view mirror with her! Despite the fact that his ailing mother is in the back seat and he was on his way to the hospital, Tung Choi gives chase! When he finally catches up to Deborah, he attempts to intimidate her into paying for damages by kicking her car door. But that only results in her calling the cops and a bleeding toe. And this is the beginning of a loving relationship. Really.

I don't watch too many Asian movies produced in Hong Kong, having only watched Drink Drank Drunk. I'm not even sure why I watched this one. It's pretty obscure and there's not much info about it online, but I randomly saw it on YouTube. To begin with, I was put off by the low quality of the movie in terms of the filming and washed out look, acting, cinematography etc. It's obvious that there is a far smaller budget than that of Korean movies. However, I still found the storyline and romance in Fighting for Love cute and enjoyable to watch.

Though the plot was a little underdeveloped, the pacing a tad slow, and the ending a little anti-climatic, I found the lead couple endearing and lovable. And if you've been following my blogs, you know that it's often the characters that make or break a film for me. If I love the character(s), even if the film is horrible, I can usually tolerate it.

Fighting for Love is a drama you can watch if you've nothing better to watch, but it certainly doesn't stand out as something you need to watch immediately. So, give it a try if you think it may be your cup of tea, or you currently have nothing better on your to-watch list. It's a nice, lighthearted, even sometimes funny, film.

Watch here: