Monday, February 24, 2014

100 Asian Movies Challenge: 21st Movie

Paradise Kiss

Score: 8/10

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Top 30 Favorite Korean Movies (11-20)

The Host

       Park Gang Du  slow-witted man who runs a small snack-bar with his father. A monstrous creature emerges from the Han River, killing several people and dragging Gang Du's daughter away. He teams up with his father, his sister who is a national medalist archer and  his alcoholic unemployed brother to find his daughter before it's too late.

        I absolutely hate giant monster films. I have seen tons of Godzilla movies and I find them extremely boring, badly acted, poorly paced and the giant monsters usually receive less than 10 minutes of screen time. The Host succeeds where most the aforementioned films failed-excellent acting, solid story and the monster is featured prominently.

Punch Lady

        Ha-Eun’s husband Joo-Chang is a mixed martial arts champion who beats her daily for the smallest mistake. Ha-Eun is eventually pushed past her breaking point after her husband strikes their daughter and kills an opponent in the ring, She publicly challenges him to a duel and begins to train for the event.

             This was an amazing film, I found myself actually cheering Ha Eun as she finds the strength to leave her husband and her determination in training. I laughed, cried, and ultimately felt uplifted when watching this movie.

Chilling Romance

          Yeo Ri is a woman who has the ability to see ghosts causing her to lead a miserable and lonely existence. A magician named Jo Goo hires her for his new Horror Magic Show. She eventually reveals her ability and although Jo Goo is initially scared, he puts his fears aside as he starts to fall for Yeo Ri.

          Similar to Shaun of the Dead, Chilling Romance is a romantic comedy that successful blends horror into the mix. I became a huge fan of Lee Min Ki after watching Shut Up Flower Boy Band and he did not disappoint in this movie. I was really surprised at how great Son Ye Jin was in this, I had previously seen her in Personal Taste which is one of my least favorite Korean dramas of all time. She just showed me that the horrible writing in that drama led to her terrible character and not her acting.

Innocent Steps

           Na Young Sae is attempting to make a comeback after a he suffers an injury. He sends for a talented dancer only to receive her younger, completely untalented sister.  Chae Min knows nothing about dancing but Young Sae decides to train her for 3 months to compete in a national dance championship.

           This was a really sweet and romantic movie. The actors had great chemistry and the dancing scenes were fun to watch.

A Werewolf Boy

         Kim Suni is an elderly woman in her sixties who travels from the US to South Korea after learning that her family home is being sold.  She recalls how 47 years ago when she was a teenage girl and she first moved into the house with her mother and sister.  She had to move to the remote home due to health issues and her family is forced to rely on the wealthy landlord's son who loves her.  She discovers a feral boy living in a shed on the property who cannot speak and behaves like an animal.  She forms a friendship with the boy and tries to teach him human behavior. 

         This such a beautiful and sad film. Song Joong Ki was very impressive as the Werewolf Boy, he had to convey so much through his eyes and face because his character could not speak. I did enjoy this film but the disappointing ending ruined what could have been a masterpiece.


         Officer Yeo Kyung Jin is an ambitious young female police officer serving on the Seoul police department. One day while chasing a purse snatcher, she accidentally captures Go Myung Woo, a physics teacher who was actually trying to catch the thief. The two eventually form a relationship but their happiness is not destined to last.

         A sort of prequel to My Sassy Girl, Windstruck is every bit as funny, romantic, sad and intriguing as it's predecessor. Jin Ji Hyn has a real knack for taking on unique and interesting characters and giving them depth. 

My Tutor Friend

          Su Wan is a 21 year old college sophomore and works as a tutor. She is hired to help Ji Hoon, a young man who is the exact same as but still in high school, pass his Senior year. Jo Hoon is an immature guy who is more interested in fighting than getting out of high school and gives Su Wan a hard time. He then starts to fall for her and makes an effort to win her affections.
          This is probably one of the funniest Korean movies that I have yet to watch. I am not a fan of Kim Ha Neul and find her acting to be lacking in most of her films and dramas but she was really enjoyable in this role.


           In 1988, businessman Oh Dae Su is kidnapped the night of his young daughter's birthday and placed in solitary confinement for 15 years. Dae-su soon learns through news reports his wife has been murdered, and he is the prime suspect. With no human contact, Dae Su passes the time shadowboxing, planning revenge, and secretly attempting to tunnel out of his cell. After being released he sets out to find out who imprisoned him and why with the help of a sushi chef named Mi Do.

          Oldboy is probably one of the most popular and most well known Korean movies to international audiences. It has a great story that is suspenseful and intriguing, as well as great characters. I have read the Japanese manga on which this is based and I didn't really enjoy it, especially the ending. The film takes the central concept but makes it better but adding more twists and depth. I was truly shocked by the end and any film that manages to surprise me rates highly in my book.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

          Ryu is a deaf-mute man working in a factory to support his ailing sister, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. As Ryu is not a match, he contacts a black market organ dealer, and agrees to exchange his savings and one of his own kidneys in exchange for a matching one. The dealers disappear after taking Ryu's kidney and money, leaving him in a desperate situation. In need of money for the operation, Yeong-mi, Ryu's radical communist girlfriend, suggests kidnapping the daughter of the man who fired him. Things begin spiraling out of control after the kidnapping takes place, leading to multiple deaths.

          Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the first in the Vengeance trilogy followed by Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The story and characters were intriguing and Korea once again proves that they are at the top of their game when it comes to revenge movies.

A Bittersweet Life

          Kim Sun-woo is a high ranking enforcer for Kang , a powerful crime boss to whom he is unquestionably loyal. Kang assigns Sun-woo watch over his young mistress, Hee-soo, whom he fears is having an affair. He orders Sun Woo to kill her if she is caught.  He performs his duty but finds himself slowly falling in love with the young woman and his loyalty to his boss starts to falter.

          Lee Byung Hun is a fantastic Korean actor and I have 3 of his films in my favorite Korean films list. His engaging as a cold killer who begins to question his life after becoming emotionally attached to a woman he can't have. Although Shin Min Ah is one of my favorite actresses she didn't have a lot to do in this film, mostly she was just a normal and pretty girl making questionable decisions.

Friday, February 7, 2014

American Horror Story Coven Review

        Zoe Benson, a teenage girl, discovers that she is a witch and is sent to Miss Robichaux's Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. She meets Madison, Queenie and Nan who are also young witches in training . Cordelia Foxx is the headmistress and her mother, Fiona Goode, is the Supreme of the coven. Other characters include fellow witch Misty Day, Fiona's rival Maria Laveau who is an immortal voodoo priestess, fellow immortal slave murderer Delphine LaLaurie, a cute frat boy named Kyle who is killed and brought back to life, and the ghost a serial killer called The Axeman. The season follows the plight of Fiona who is aging and is desperately doing all she can to stay young, the young witches each vying to be the new Supreme, a love triangle, Delphine adjusting to the modern world after being buried alive for a couple hundred years, witchhunters,Fiona's volatile relationship with her daughter, and her feud with Marie. 

         The majority of what I watch consists mostly of Asian dramas but I still occasionally watch American and British tv shows. American Horror Story is a show that I have kept up with since the first season. Although I really enjoy the show and find it unique compared to the usual shows found on American cable, I have to admit that the 2nd and 3rd season still fail to live up to the high standards set by the first. Covens and witchcraft are such interesting topics that are rarely seen in television land so I was quite excited by the premise. Sadly, the third season committed the same sins as the second by containing too many elements instead of focusing on a few. The first season focused solely on the house and the events related to the house. The second season, while still enjoyable, had way too much going on and that left little time for any one element to be concentrated on-aliens, a serial killer, genetic experiments, Nazis, religion, exorcisms, mental disorders, civil rights, etc. Like I was saying before, witchcraft is such an interesting subject that the entire season could have just concentrated on the coven and witch academy. But the creators felt it necessary to throw in racism, voodoo and slavery which could have had their very own season. 

         I felt that a lot of the characters and central story lines didn't get enough screen time because of all the other elements vying for attention. The character of Kyle is a prime example, he had the potential to be a great character but because of everything else going on he became merely scenery, a toy that Madison and Zoe fought over. His character became so unimportant that he was really a unnecessary part of the show. Evan Peters is a good actor and his characters were great in the first couple of seasons but he had little to nothing to work with this time around. Kyle's relationship with Zoe was also very unconvincing. I love the Tate/Violet relationship from the first season but that couple worked because there was build up and time focused on them, in Coven Kyle and Zoe did not receive the same amount of screen time and attention. 

      Along with Kyle, I felt that Zoe and Madison were extremely poor characters. Again, this mainly had to do with the amount of screen time the characters were given leaving little room for development. Taissa Farmiga was great as Violet but only decent as Zoe. Far worse was Madison, more so due to the actress. I haven't seen Emma Roberts in much else but her acting was pretty terrible-most of her lines and actions came across as forced and insincere. This was made all the more apparent due to the otherwise amazing talent of the rest of the cast.

       Despite it's many flaws, I still enjoyed this season overall. Lange, Bates and Bassett were all wonderful and the characters (not mentioned above) were interesting. I hope that the upcoming season will choose to focus on a central theme but AHS is still a unique viewing experience that continues to fascinate with each new iteration.