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Korean movie

54

A Man and a Woman Korean Movie Quick Review

Korean movie, Romance

A Man and a Woman Korean Movie banner

Okay… Yes, this movie is not for everyone. If you don’t like movies that touch on infidelity.. or if you get bored with indie-feel movies, just don’t watch it. If on the other hand, you love romantic, realistic, artistic, emotionally painful, well acted movies and can handle some intense emotions.. then this might be a good fit for you.

0

Poetry (2010) Korean Movie Review

Kdrama, Korean movie, Movie

Poetry Korean Movie Banner

Title: Poetry
Genre: Drama, Art House
Directed by: Lee Chang Dong

*Please note, this movie is for mature audiences. The subject matter can be disturbing and is not recommended for a young audience. The review however will not go into such details in depth, but may briefly go over some of the topics discussed.

Quick Synopsis

Yang Mija (played by Yoon Jeong Hee) is a woman in her 60’s who is raising her grandson, struggling to get by with only a part-time job as a maid. She joins a poetry class and really wishes to write a poem, but her situation gets more complicated as some details of a girl’s suicide get revealed. Oh… and she finds out she’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Not what I expected

Poetry film screencap

Do you ever watch a movie, and to your surprise it’s not at all what you expected? That’s a kind of how I felt when I watched Poetry.

Poetry, as a heads up, was really surprising. It went in places I didn’t expect it to go and often made me feel uneasy. This is part of what makes it so brilliant.

I knew the movie would be profound and introspective, but I wasn’t prepared for it being so raw and frequently uncomfortable. What I loved the most about the movie was our lead actress, Yoon Jeong Hee. Her character was unique, profound, refreshing, realistic and magnetic.

This isn’t a movie to watch because there’s a cool oppa, a hot ahjussi, a lovely agassi or pretty noona.

There’s a very good reason this film won best screenplay at the 2010 Cannes Festival.

I guess I expected a sad drama, but one that was uplifting none the less. This wasn’t what I anticipated, it wasn’t really uplifting or encouraging, but it was exceedingly introspective.

The Frustrations

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There’s so much that is out of our heroine’s control. She’s suffering from Alzheimer’s, and there’s nothing she can do about it. As her memories are fading, she’s having to deal with her troubled, mess of a grandson who shows a lack of respect.

I found the movie quite disturbing and difficult to swallow in many respects. It wasn’t until really thinking about it for quite some time after having watched it that I could begin to really appreciate it. A lot of the made me squirmish hitting areas of my brain with zaps of unease, and I’m usually extremely open to watching some bizarre things.

The movie is slow paced. It’s meant to really have you experience her situations through the way she sees and interprets it.

Bedroom scene? Wait, what?

Poetry film screencap washing

So the irony was, I picked this movie to watch something other than a romance for a change. It’s not a romantic story by any means, but there was some very shocking, and unforeseen, revealing scenes.

The Acting

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It’s amazing to me that this was Yoon Jeong Hee’s return to the screen after a 14 year hiatus. Her acting was flawless. It was like she wasn’t acting at all, but just a sweet little old lady that stumbled upon a screen and was living through emotions and searching her soul for poetic justice.

She’s an introvert. Even though she can seem quite outgoing and friendly in many ways, she’s someone who internalizes a lot of her thoughts. That seems to be part of the struggle for her to put her reflection into words in the form of a poem. I can really relate to this. We feel our emotions, but to put everything together the way we want  can be quite a challenge.

I think if you can handle a re-watch of this kind of movie it would be beneficial. I feel like I missed  a lot of nuances and probably misinterpreted some scenes.

It’s not a movie I would openly recommend. I would only recommend it to independent film lovers, who appreciate the message in a movie rather than the entertainment aspect. Also, if you do watch it, be ready to feel very uncomfortable. I came really close to shutting the movie off; not because the movie wasn’t good, but because the director was pushing me to my limit in terms of comfort zone. I have to commend him for that. That doesn’t usually happen to me.

Movie Interpretation

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The way I see this movie is this; Yoon Jeong Hee feels torn and lost. She feels things deeply due to her empathy towards others, and that could be part of the reason that she is drawn to poetry to begin with. She loves her grandson, but every fiber of the body rejects his actions (not him as a person but his actions) and this makes her truly grieve. As she tries to deal with the unfolded events, she tries to really gather in her surroundings. Without even realizing it, she starts experiencing and understanding things through the eyes of the victim. I believe the poem reveals her heart, but at the same time it captures the feelings of the girl who passed away.

There’s no real resolution in this movie. There’s no magic answer of “Oh, well, if you look at life this way instead of that way everything will be better” It’s more that, in her journey of dealing with situations, she managed to capture the emotion of it, and in that there’s some liberation.

Closing Thoughts

Poetry film screencap of leading actress

I would recommend this movie to Art House lovers, and those that like to heavily dissect slow paced, introspective movies. There’s a lot of brilliance in this movie.. but I equate it to a disturbing painting. It will cause you to feel things that perhaps you don’t want to feel; but in that it may open your mind to seeing things from a different perspective.

Quick Rating:

Rating after watching: 3.7/5

kdrama Quick review rating

After further reflection: 4.3/5

kdrama Quick review rating

 

11

Super Quick Movie and Kdrama Reviews

Japanese Movie, Kdrama, Korean movie, Movie

kdramadreamer-quick-movie-reviews

I watch more than I review these days. I must do my blog justice and give you all a peek into my drama mind.

I’m listing all the dramas and movies I’ve watched since January that I haven’t reviewed and will give you a very brief rundown on my thoughts. Perhaps at some point I’ll elaborate more on a few of these dramas. You’ll be able to tell that I’ve gone through a Jang Keun Suk phase. I pretty much watched him in everything I could fined with a couple exceptions.

Without further ado, here’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been watching.

6

A Company Man Quick Review

Korean movie, Movie, So Ji Sub

a-company-man

I watched A Company Man a little while ago and I wasn’t sure what to write about it. What I really like about this movie was the main character himself, Ji Hyung-Do. He’s a brutal killer, who’s good at what he does. Well, that’s an understatement; he’s great at it. It’s his job, and he is a great “worker” so to speak and highly revered.

15

Rabbit and Lizard (Maybe) Korean Movie Review

Jang Hyuk, Korean movie, Romance

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Some people really like a fast paced movie with an intricate plot line and complex character development. Well, if that’s what you are looking for, turn around and run away. This movie is not like that, but that doesn’t mean I think you should dismiss it. If you can enjoy a movie with an independent feel which focuses more on the simple moments, this movie may pique your interest.

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Synopsis: May (played by Sung Yu Ri) returns to Korea after 23 years to try and find her birth parents. The only clue she has to her past is the large scar on the back of her shoulder which looks like a lizard. Eunsol (played by Jang Hyuk) is a taxi driver who has little time left to live. He is suffering from a rare disease. Both characters are searching for something. They also share a connection in which they are unaware of.

There’s limited dialogue at times. This allows the viewer to zone in on the inner feelings of each of the characters. Eunsol is very ill, but he has a memory from the past in which he saw a red rabbit. Before he dies, he wants to find the rabbit. This movie has a somber tone and is very beautiful at the same time.

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Watching Ensol constantly suffer is not so fun. It’s also stressful knowing he could die at any moment. Jang Hyuk, once again, is the Master when it comes to showing pain. I love that he can show us suffering so well, but it makes me cringe seeing him like that. I sometimes forget to breathe. I must remind myself he’s only acting so I need to relax. May is equally pitiful but I mean that in a truly sympathetic way. May feels dead inside. She feels so alone.

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So, yes, some may find it slow and uneventful, but what’s important are the characters and the subtle moments they begin to share being bonded through experience.

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I really enjoyed Eunsol’s curiosity towards May. He seems to always want to be around her. She accuses him of stalking her, but he’s not a creepy stalker. Something about her draws him in. Maybe he senses May’s loneliness. Whatever the reason, I can understand where he’s coming from. He doesn’t know when he’s going to die and she seems to a source of comfort despite her often blatant rudeness.

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Final thoughts

This movie finds beauty and simplicity in the midst of two suffering individuals. They connect in a very natural way. It is well acted and has some lovely moments as simple as they may be. I fully enjoyed this movie, but you need to be in the right mood for it. Also, this sort of movie is often an acquired taste. It won’t please those that watch to be mindlessly entertained. For the insightful soul that acknowledges that despite the painful hand we may be dealt in life, some unpretentious perfect moments can emerge in midst. Those are the moments we must cherish.

My rating: 4/5

4

Peking Restaurant (1999) Movie Review

Korean movie, Movie

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I decided to watch the 1999 movie, The Great Chef (Peking Restaurant).

This movie is about a restaurant that is shut down and a young man who has it re-opened to restore it to it’s former glory with it’s legendary Jajang noodles.

What I liked about this movie

peking-restaurant

The Actor, Shin Goo

It has the Grandpa in it from the Kdrama Thank You. I love this actor. He plays the owner. His passion for his jajang is really heart warming. His acting skills are very strong as they were in Thank You, but I don’t want to elaborate too much because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who chooses to watch this movie.

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The Yummy looking Chinese Food

Mmmmmm Chinese food. I love chinese food, and food in general. I liked watching them cook in this movie. It was cool to see how they made they made the Jajang (spicy sauce), because  I really had no idea.

peking-restaurant4

My Criticisms

I found it a little boring to be honest. I don’t really know why. Maybe because there wasn’t any deep character development. The story was pretty basic. Although, it really wasn’t a bad movie, but not overly exciting either. The best part for me was watching the actor master the dishes and work hard to make the restaurant succesful.

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I thought a love story might develop, but nothing ended up happening. I think if they would have pursued that more, that maybe it would have made the movie a little better.

My Rating: 2.5/5

 

25

Watching Innocent Thing (Thorn) with no subtitles – Korean Movie “Pre” Review

Jang Hyuk, Korean movie, Movie, Romance

thorn innocent thing

As some of you may already know, the movie Innocent Thing (also known as Thorn) became available for purchase as of April 30th, 2014. It is not yet available with English subtitles, and may take some time before it is. Me, in my impatience, was plagued by curiosity and sat through the entire movie with no subtitles. No, I cannot understand or speak Korean. I’m getting better, but I won’t claim that me knowing the odd word hear and there means I understand everything. I did however begin my journey in honestly learning to speak Korean and have started seriously following audio lessons. Because I couldn’t understand everything that was said, I cannot with a clear conscience write a full review here now. I do feel I understood the story however, despite the fact and therefore I want to give you a bit of a “pre” review teaser to perk your interest and perhaps get you to give this scrumptious, but somewhat flawed (but not fataly) movie a try.

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I must warn you though, this movie has some very explicit sexual scenes and other disturbing scenes. It’s rated R for a reason. Anything that occurred in the movie, stayed true to the story and the characters, but I will not pretend that it will appeal to everyone’s tastes.

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People that will enjoy this movie the most in my opinion are

  • Jang Hyuk fans
  • People that love the obscure and twisted
  • Those that don’t mind feeling uncomfortable
  • Viewers that can handle very intimate/provocative scenes
  • Movie watchers that like to dissect/rip apart movies to find meaning but can find the good in imperfection as well as the bad

Now, for some teaser screen caps

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My Pre-subtitle critical rating: 3/5 

My Fangirl Bias rating: 4.8/5

My Jang Hyuk as Joon-Ki rating: 5/5

19

Searching for the Elephant through the eyes of a schizophrenic – Korean Movie Review

Jang Hyuk, Kdrama, Korean movie

elephant19

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live without a grasp on reality? To be able to see and experience things, thinking they are real, but not knowing if they are or not? That’s what made this movie confusing, but so mind-blowing and fascinating to me.

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Synopsis: Hyun-Woo (Jang Hyuk), Min-Suk (Jo Dong-Hyeok) and Jun-Hyuk (Lee Sang-Woo) are three childhood friends. Hyun-Woo is a sensitive suicidal pot smoking/drinking schizophrenic/manic depressive photographer who cares dearly about his friends and is desperately searching for happiness. Min-Suk is a plastic surgeon married to Hyun-Woo’s sister and is a sex addict. Jun-Hyuk has serious financial troubles and gets himself into a very “sticky” situation.

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Okay, before I continue, I must give you a warning. This movie is not for everyone. The opinions I’m about to share are my own, and I’m sure many people would disagree. This movie is weird, has a very strong sexual nature, is very raw, graphic at times, confusing, abstract, dark and  psychological. I recommend it be watched more than once, because chances are you won’t fully understand it if you only watch it once.

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Because it’s so creepy and abstract, it’s not going to have mass appeal. However, if you are drawn to the twisted, you may just love this movie as much as I did. I’ll shamelessly admit I think this movie is genius.

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I loved this movie. I really did. Getting into Hyun-Woo’s head was frightening. His reality is dark, lonely and very scary. But his heart is so beautiful. He’s a lost soul searching for purpose in life; looking for happiness and peace.

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So what’s this elephant that’s being searched for?
**Contains possible spoilers**

elephant

Well, Hyun-Woo retells the story of how he got lost at the zoo with his two friends when he was young. His mother told them that if they are lost to go to the elephants so that she can find them. But when they get to the elephant, it’s crowded, confusing and the elephant keeps moving around and they do not see the mother. They have to keep moving to stay with the elephant and it’s really hard to see among-st the crowd.

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So what does this mean? I believe it’s a metaphor. All three friends feel lost. They are searching to fill a void in their life, but they are filling the void in all the wrongs ways and never feel complete and at peace. Hyun-Woo is really the one who is most actively and frantically chasing after the elephant, but with his schizophrenic episodes, it really makes it even more difficult for him to find and yet he’s so fervent in his search. He’s really the only one who has hope in finding it.

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The most challenging part of this movie is to decipher fiction from reality. Since we see all of Hyun-Woo’s delusions, how much of it actually happened? That’s why I recommend watching this more than once if you like it somewhat the first time. The more I see it, the more I like it. Also, Drama Fan from Stuck On Hyuk wrote a review on this movie as well and she has great screen caps and gifs that you should check out.

 My rating: 4.7/5

Acting: 5/5
Coherency: 2/5 (but re-watch and it starts to make sense)
Filmography: 4/5

 

 

9

Korean Movie “The Flu” Review – Cough, Cough!

Jang Hyuk, Kdrama, Korean movie

flu-17

Imagine this; You have a tickle in your throat. The first thing you think to yourself “Oh no! I’m getting sick”. It’s an annoyance, but you never expect it to come to this. Death. Epidemic. Pandemonium. It’s a snow ball effect. Next thing you know there’s city-wide panic. People are being shot left, right and center. Children are dying. Mothers are dying. What started as the symptoms of a common cold, now has people, with their rash covered bodies, keeling over in pain, spewing out blood. But there’s hope… or so you’ve been told. But what is this smell of rotting flesh lingering in the air? Everywhere you turn someone is coughing, dying. The airborne virus is suffocating. While you’re experiencing this new found hell, the politicians are sitting, as healthy as can be, watching as the citizens are suffering. Only a few voices among-st many are trying to bring back the voice of reason. The others are looking in on this morbid situation trying to see how they can control it. To them it’s a game of Chess. They only care about protecting the pieces they believe have more value. They have no problem sacrificing the pawns.

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Synopsis: A lethal flu virus mutates inside a shipping container and causes city-wide panic as many people to die. In an attempt to isolate the problem, people of the city are put into quarantine. From there, the situation gets drastically worse with little hope of developing a vaccine.

Flu Korean movie

The main characters’ story: Kim In-Hae (played by Soo-Ae) is a doctor and single mom. Her daughter is Kim Mi-Reu (played by Park Min-Ha). Kang Ji-Koo (played by Jang Hyuk) is part of the Emergency Response Team. He first meets Kim In-Hae before the virus outbreak and saves her life.

**THIS POINT ON CONTAINS SPOILERS. Read with caution (you’ve been warned).**

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The girl comes in to contact with the carrier of the virus and ends up getting infected. To protect her daughter, In-Hae helps her daughter slip through the virus security check. Once Ji-Koo realizes that Mi-Reu has been infected, he chooses to help them while In-Hae tries to find a cure for her dying daughter.

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What I liked

I really like the story of Ji-Koo helping the mother and daughter. The daughter was really a very talented actress and she was so adorable. I forgot she was acting. She was one-hundred percent believable.

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It was really quite sad to watch her progressively get sicker and sicker. I loved though, that in this dire situation In-Hae and Ji-Koo’s sole focus was to protect the dear Mi-Reu. Ji-Koo didn’t know them for long, but I think the crisis really brought them all together. You could tell he had a really good heart. He never hesitated to help someone. Also, he had really bonded with Mi-Reu before the crisis came to a head.

I like movies where you get to see how people react in a crisis.

Slight critisms

It did tend to feel a bit exaggerated. Now, I don’t mean the acting. The acting wasn’t exaggerated. It was how the crisis was being dealt with that got crazier and crazier. The pace of the movie was so fast. I wish the camera would have lingered a little longer on the actors faces. Jang Hyuk, for example, always has amazing facial expressions. I long to watch his expressive acting, but the camera was on and off him too quickly at times. I wanted to enjoy all his facial expressions longer! I kept thinking, “Stop pulling the camera away!” Maybe this is just me being greedy though.

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If they had slowed it down just a bit, I think it would have made it all more enjoyable all around. But I do get why it was so fast paced. It was that kind of movie and it was supposed to convey shear panic.

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I really liked the two leads, and their little almost romance. I get that the situation brought the two leads closer, but I would like to have seen In-Hae develop a little bit more of a connection with Kang Ji-Koo before all hell started to break loose.

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He liked her from the start, but she had no interest it seemed.

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I mean, she does fall for him (I think), and appreciate him, but it would been nice if we could have been more convinced of her attraction towards him.

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Either way, this cute little moment was satisfying for me as he ever so slyly puts his arm around her.

Other Scenes I liked

So when they are all being checked for symptoms, the men and women are separated and they strip down to their underwear and are checked for rashes.

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One of the screens that was dividing the men and women gets knocked over and we get a good look at Ji-Koo’s body. In-Hae and Mi-Reu also get to see. Ji-Koo feels embarrassed and tries to cover up his body (don’t feel shy- you look amazing!). In-Hae looked stunned.

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Ji-Koo in return gets to see the beautiful In-Hae in her low cut tank top, and tries to stop his friend and people around from peeking at her.

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His friend really wanted to know why he couldn’t look – haha. Ji-Koo is so sweet.

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I also loved the scenes of Ji-Koo looking for and protecting Mi-Reu. I thought it was pretty impressive that he could find her buried underneath bodies. There were thousands of bodies laying in a large heap, but he somehow managed to hear her cellphone and find her. It was a bit far fetched, but hey, I’ll accept it!

the flu

Final Thoughts

Although it seemed a bit over exaggerated, I thought it was an enjoyable movie. I really like epidemic style movies. If you have a difficult time stomaching violence and illness, you may want to skip this. If you don’t mind some gross scenes, then check it out.

Also, Lady G had a guest post on Stuck on Hyuk and wrote a great Review on The Flu that you should check out. Stuck on Hyuk also has lots, and lots of other information regarding the movie. I would also highly recommend you read Gumi’s story about her encounter with Jang Hyuk when she went to go see the Flu (again). It’s a really great true story and is worth reading! It makes me smile.

Did you see this movie? What did you think?

My rating: 3/5 

 

 

8

Korean Movie Review Chihwaseon (Painted Fire) – 2002

Korean movie

painted fire

For those of you who didn’t already know, I’ve had very sporadic internet access over the last two weeks so I’ve been unable to marathon watch Kdramas the way I like to. This week I was in serious withdrawal, so I went to the library and picked up some manga to read as well as a couple of Korean movies. I desperately wanted to watch something in Korean. The Korean movie section at the library was very small and they only had older movies. I was able to find the one I’m about the review, Chihwaseon (Painted Fire), a 2002 Biopic and another movie which I will review shortly.

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Synopsis: This is a Biopic and the life of Jang Seung-up (played by Choi Min-Sik). He was a nineteenth-century Korean painter who helped bring Korean art into a new direction. He was a self taught artist who often struggled with other people’s expectations of him. Through his life he discovers his own style and truly captures the essence of beauty through his paintings.

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This is a very artistic movie and has beautiful cinematic scenes. If you are interested in art and history, I would say it’s worth checking out. I love art, so I did find it interesting. It’s also very fascinating to step into the mind of an artist – which is how this movie made me feel. The art in this movie was really beautiful. I enjoyed watching him paint. Every brush stroke had so much intention and not a single stroke was ever wasted.

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The pace of this movie is different. It’s kind of choppy, but still flows fairly well at the same time. There’s no real climax, as you might get with most movies, so some people might lose interest. What is captivating about this movie though, is the artist himself. This actor was really great. I couldn’t help but laugh at times because he was so spontaneous and had quite the temper. He also really liked women. I lost count of how many women he was with. There are some very sexy scenes in this. This movie also contains a fair amount of nudity. I actually laughed, because the cover makes the movie look like a love story, but in fact the scene from the cover is very provocative and not really romantic.

My rating: 3.5/5

painted fire

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