Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

15Jan/080

Jenny, Juno (2005)

Jenny, Juno

A.K.A.: Jeni Juno
Korean Title: 제니, 주노
Vietnamese Title: An Com Truoc Keng
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Park Min-Ji, Kim Hye-Sung
Screenwriter: Kim Ho-Joon
Director: Kim Ho-Joon
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
The plot centers around the relationship of a 15-year-old couple, Jenny (Park Min-ji) and Juno (Kim Hye-sung), who meet in school. When Jenny discovers that she is pregnant, she and Juno decide against having an abortion, opting for parenthood instead. They try to conceal the pregnancy from their families for as long as possible, but the truth is revealed eventually, and their parents do not approve.
Source: Wikipedia

Rating: B (Wonderful)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: Some people have commented on the similarities between this movie and the new American movie "Juno", and I certainly can understand why because throughout watching "Juno" I can't help but thought of this movie, "Jenny, Juno". However, I will refrain on commenting about the similarities between two movies and will only focus on this movie.
Prior to watching "Jenny, Juno", I have heard some criticis raised concerns about this movie portraying teen pregnancy in a sugary sweet light and not very realistic. Those are very valid concerns, and I do not disagree with them. However, I believe because this movie is sweet and does not neccessarily reflects the reality of teen pregnancy which make it so unique and entertaining to watch. I am not sure about other people, but for me I really have seen enough films about the depressing reality of teen pregnancy that it does not excite me to see another one. This movie is unlike many others movies that I have seen about teen pregnancy, in that, I still felt good after I am done watching the movie. Park Min-Ji and Kim Hye-Sung is absolutely adorable playing as the two innocent teens who have to learn to face the consequences (that they are not ready to face) for the decision they made one faithful day. This movie has a nice underlining message about taking responsibility--when it comes to accepting responsibility, anyone can do it. Overall, if you are willing to suspend reality for about 1 hour and 40-something minutes then you will certainly enjoy this movie.

6Jan/083

The Rebel (2007)

Dong Mau Anh Hung

Vietnamese Title: Dong Mau Anh Hung
Genre: Action, Drama, Romance, Martial Arts, Historical
Starring: Johnny Tri Nguyen, Ngo Thanh Van, Dustin Nguyen, Nguyen Chanh Tinh
Screenwriters: Charlie Nguyen, Johnny Tri Nguyen, Dominic Pereira
Director: Charlie Nguyen
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
1920s. Vietnam under colonial French ruling. Anti-French rebellions emerge all over the country to disrupt the foreign occupiers. In respond, the colonialist employed units of Vietnamese agents to track and destroy these rebels. The film follows the journey of LE VAN CUONG, a French cultured undercover elite. Although branded with a perfect track record, Cuong's inner conscience is troubled by the sea of Vietnamese blood he had spilled to uphold a French washed ideal. Following an assassination of a high ranking French, Cuong is assigned to seek and kill the notorious leader of the resistance. Cuong encounters VO THANH THUY, a relentless revolutionary fighter and the daughter of the rebel leader. Cuong's superior intends for him to use Thuy as a mean to get to her father but Cuong soon has feelings for her. Thuy's patriotism ignites conflicts between Cuong's consciousness and his cultured faith. Will Cuong discover his inner-self and find love or will he continue his mission? The journey unfolds...
Source: Official Website

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: A delight film that holds great promise for Vietnamese Cinema oversea. This film is written, produced, and directed by the Nguyen brothers: Charlie Nguyen and Johnny Tri Nguyen.

At first I didn't know what to expect from this movie. Sure, the trailer looks interesting enough, but can it lives up to the preview shown in the trailer? Well, for the most parts I can say that it does. The film tells the story of Vietnam around the 1920s, with the French occupied the land and oppressed the Vietnamese people and a group of Vietnamese resistance trying to return freedom back to their people. Although the plot is nothing new, the film, nevertheless, is entertaining and action-packed. The film appeared expensive and well made. From the sceneries down to the costumes that people worn in the movie, everything gives off an authentic feel. Additionally, the action scenes are well choreographed--no wires or fancy cg, just raw martial arts.

I felt that with this film Johnny Tri Nguyen has finally got "the break" that he has been hoping for after all the time that he spent as a stunt double in Hollywood and for playing minor roles in such films like Tom-Yum-Goong, Cradle 2 the Grave, etc. While his acting skill is decent, he needs to work on his Vietnamese pronunciation. In some of the scenes I can barely figure out what is it that he is trying to say, and if there is no English subtitles I'm sure that I would be lost. Lastly, I think the movie can do without the love/intimate scene between the two main characters. It felt forced and contrived. I think that is my biggest problem with not just this movie, but many of the other films I have seen e.g. The Banquet, Farewell My Concubine, etc. I am all for love scene in movie, but only when it is necessary and essential to understand the plot of the film. I do not like love scene added to a movie simply because the film is trying to follow trend or simply because the director/writer trying to be risque/daring. Overall, it is a great action-packed flick that action fans everywhere will enjoy. Even if you are not an action fan, it is a good film to watch if you want a glimpse into the past of the Vietnamese people and culture.

6Jan/080

My Tutor Friend (2003)

My Tutor Friend

Korean Title: 동갑내기 과외하기 (Donggabnaegi gwawoehagi)
Vietnamese Title: Co Ban Gia Su
Genre: Romance, Comedy, School
Starring: Kim Ha-Neul, Kwon Sang-Woo, Kim Ji-Woo, Gong Yoo
Screenwriter: Choi Soo-Wan
Director: Kim Kyeong-Hyeong
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Choi Su-Wan (Kim Ha-Neul) in her second year at a university agreed to be tutor for a rich family in order to relieve her mom's financial burden. She has troubles in the past of keeping her tutor job because she usually end up hitting her students due to frustration. However, she determined to keep her new tutor job because it will help pay for her entire semester in the university. Kim Ji-Hoon (Kwon Sang-Woo) is Su-Wan's new student. Ji-Hoon is the same age as Su-Wan, 21 years-old, but due to his continuously rebellious acts and constant fights with classmates he is in the process of repeating his third year of high school. Will Su-Wan last in her new tutor job and what new ways will Ji-Hoon find to make his new tutor leave her job?
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This movie received a lot of comparison with another famous Korean romance comedy, "My Sassy Girl", and I certainly can see the reason. For being a light-hearted movie, this movie is not strong in the plot arena. However, there is a lot of charms in the movie that continue to keep the viewers interested. Kim Ha-Neul portrayed perfectly the quirkiness and sassiness side of her character and Kwon Sang-Woo fulfilled his role as a rebellious guy with a hard-to-please personality. As for the plot, there is not much of it, that's why I do not bother to delve into the reason for the movie's lack of focus or the unnecessary/unrelated scenes presented in the movie. Take it for what it is and you will enjoy the movie more because it is simply an entertaining movie--nothing more and nothing less.

Side note: I don't know if this is just me, but it is so weird to watch this movie again and seeing Gong Yoo in a minor role. No matter how hard I tried, I cannot pictured him as the character that he played in this movie. At last, he is destined for more greater things than as a side character in this movie.

14May/072

It Started With a Kiss (2005)

It Started With a Kiss

Taiwanese Title: 惡作劇之吻 / 恶作剧之吻 / E Zuo Ju Zhi Wen
Vietnamese Title: Ngay Tho
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Joe Cheng, Ariel Lin, Jiro Wang
Screenwriter: Qi Yang Lin
Director: Qu You Ning
Episodes: 30 (DVD), 20 (TV)
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
The series was based on the Japanese shoujo manga "Itazura na kiss" (Mischievous Kiss) by Tada Kaoru.

After an earthquake destroyed Xiang Qin's house, she and her father move in with her father's college buddy, uncle Ahli. To her surprise, the kind and amicable aunt and uncle are the parents of her cold and distant schoolmate Jiang Zhi Shu, a genius with an IQ of 200 whom not too long ago rejected Xiang Qin's endless crush on him for the reason that she isn't exactly very bright. Will the close proximity give her a second chance to win the boy's heart? Or, will she break down under his cold, cold words?
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: At first this drama has a promising start, the story was interesting and most of the cast members seem appropriate for the role they played. However, some where midway of the drama I grew bored with the same old repetition of the female protagonist, Xiang Qin, getting her hopes up just to be disappointed in the end. Not to mention, I grew impatient with Xiang Qin for having no backbone and just keep getting herself hurt time after time by Jiang Zhi Shu. A lot of the scenes I felt were unnecessary and the length of drama was also a bit too long for more liking, especially for drama like this that doesn't have a complicate plot. Like I mentioned that Rannie Yang overacted her "cuteness" in "Devil Beside You", the same goes for Ariel Lin in this drama. I preferred Ariel in her silent and complentative moments than when she tried to act naive and cute. I enjoyed those moments because they felt natural and real. And even though Joe Cheng does a good job portraying as an arrogrant and insensitive genius, somehow I don't feel a strong emotional connection for his character Jiang Zhi Shu. In actuality, I adore Jiro Wang's character (Jin Yuan Feng) more than Jiang Zhi Shu. I was secretly rooting and hoping for Jin Yuan Feng to end up with Xiang Qin, even toward the very end.

However, what saved this drama from receiving a "C" rating from me was because of the drama's OSTs and the original ending. I think the music blends well into the drama and that it was well selected. Moreover, the quirky, and unique ending of this drama also makes the drama seems not so much of a waste to watch. So while I didn't enjoyed this drama as much as I originally thought, it is still a good watch for anybody who loves to watch angsty romance drama and have extra time to spare. Just remember, if you feel annoy during any of the scenes, there is always the fastforward button.

14May/071

Devil Beside You (2005)

Devil Beside You

A.K.A.: Devils Do Exist
Taiwanese Title: 惡魔在身邊
Cantonese/Mandarin Title: Ngok Mor Joi Sun Bin / Er Mo Zai Shen Bian
Vietnamese Title: Dinh Menh
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Mike He, Rannie Yang, Kingone, Ivy Fan Xia Fan
Screenwriters: Mao Xun Rong and Cao Xiao Ru
Director: Lin He Long
Episodes: 20
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
The series was based on the Japanese shoujo manga "Akuma de Souro" (Devil Does Exist) by Takanashi Mitsuba.

Qi Yue (Rainie Yang) is a carefree and kind college girl who has developed a crush on the captain of the basketball team, Yuan Yi (Kingone). With the encouragement of her best friend Qing Zi (Tsai Pei Lin), Qi Yue decides to confess her feelings. However, when she is about to hand her love letter to Yuan Yi, he walks right by her! When Qi Yue looks up, she finds herself face to face with Jiang Meng (Mike He), the school's director's son. Frightened, she drops her letter and runs off. Though Jiang Meng is known as the school's hottie, but at the same time, he also has a devilish reputation and a hobby of bullying girls. The next day, Jiang Meng then orders Qi Yue to be his slave, as he has her letter, if not, he will then reveal the letter to the entire college, unwillingly, she agreed. Qi Yue being Jiang Meng's slave was already bad, but whats more worst is that, her currently single mom is actually going to marry the currently single school directer, who is also JIang Meng's father, which makes Qi Yue and Jiang Meng siblings. Soon she discovers a soft and kind heart beneath the cold-hearted exterior of Jiang Meng. At the same time, Qi Yue starts to grow feelings for Jiang Meng. Of course, Jiang Meng returns her affections as well. But the only thing that is standing in their way is that they were both about to become siblings in name, how is it possible that they could become lovers and siblings at the same time? And what happens when an arranged marriage and an old love enters their life?
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: B+ (Very Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: "Devil Beside You" is responsible for restoring my interest in Taiwanese drama. Before this drama, I was tired of seeing the same old Taiwanese melodramas where tears is what one has for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I enjoyed watching "Devil Beside You" because of the chemistry between Rannie Yang and Mike He, and for the story as well. I haven't read the manga "Akuma de Souro" so I don't know if this drama follows directly from the manga or not, and I don't think I care to know either. This is a great drama on its own, with lots of funny as well as sweet moments. It has some angst in it, but not to the point where it's unbearable. I also like that there is some adult themes and discussions covered in this drama, making it not so cutesy and bubbly sweet.

Mike He is wonderful in this drama, he managed to show his mischievous, "bad boy" side and yet still maintain that lovable image. Additionally, Rannie Yang is adorable in this drama as the female protagonist, but perhaps a bit too adorable. At time, I felt that she overacted in some of the scenes and it doesn't felt natural, but forced and contrived. Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching this drama. In term of being a worthy to watch Taiwanese drama, I would compare seeing this drama to seeing the sunlight again after so many years of being in the dark.

11Mar/070

Jumong (2007)

Jumong

A.K.A.: The Book of Three Han: The Chapter of Jumong
Korean Title: 삼한지-주몽 편 (Samhanji-Jumong Pyeon)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Period
Starring: Song Il Gook, Han Hye Jin, Kim Seung Soo, Hu Joon Ho, Oh Yun Soo
Screenwriters: Jung Hyung Soo and Choi Wan Kyu
Director: Lee Joo Hwan
Episodes: 81
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
The story begins in 108 BC, during a time when Gojoseon succumbs to the Han nation after a treacherous battle. The time was bleak for Korea having to suffer under the Han without the voice or will to fight back. It is during this time that Jumong was born, who will be Bu Yeo's prince. However, Jumong and his mother soon falls to persecution by the Queen and the powerful advisor of the King. Through trials and tribulations, love, and friendship, Jumong transforms into a hero, as recorded in history, the first King of the King of Goguryeo. His journey to reach it is one with sacrifices and losses.

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: Jumong is one of those epic dramas that starts out great, reaches its peak, and just slowly dies down until the viewer is left bored and uninterested. Even though Jumong is based on recored history, 90% of the drama is fiction. I enjoyed the drama but there were times when I felt so frustrated at the pace the drama was going and the many fillers in it. By the time I reached 50, I wished that it would all just end. The drama shouldn't be 81 episodes long. I'm sure with some wrapping up, less fillers, and so forth can bring this drama down to at most the 50 range. The plot in its simplest form is interesting but the way it is presented in the drama just kills it. The plot is stretched to amazing proportions just to fill in episodes. Also, I really didn't like the ending at all. With 81 episodes, I thought that the ending would have a "boom" sort of impact but in actuality, it was a little squeak. The ending did not make up for my effort of watching 81 episodes. If people don't mind the talk and no action, feel free to watch it. I will warn you, this drama is all talk and little action. Overall, Jumong is a "good" drama, but it can't be any more than that.

6Jan/070

The Banquet (2006)

The Banquet

A.K.A. The Night Banquet
Chinese Title: 夜宴 (Ye Yan)
Vietnamese Title: Da Yen
Genre: Action, Drama, Period, Adventure
Starring: Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun
Screenwriters: Gangjian Qiu and Heyu Sheng
Director: Xiaogang Feng
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
The Banquet has been described as a loose adaptation of "Hamlet"; it is a tale of fate and revenge set in 10th century China. A new Emperor has usurped the throne through murder. Zhang Ziyi plays the widowed Empress, who marries the new Emperor (Ge You) only to protect herself, but also secretly plots his death with the help of the Crown Prince (Daniel Wu) and the Chief Minister (Ma Jingwu). Yet the Prince and Minister each have their own plans for the throne, and, of course, so does the Emperor. All these intrigues are brought to a climax when the Emperor calls for a lavish banquet, where the murderous plans are set in motion. According to director Feng Xiaogang: "If Hamlet is about a prince who must make a choice involving life and death, then The Banquet is about how each character must face a choice of life or death... All are motivated by desire, but as soon as they have begun their plans must grow more extreme, and they move step-by-step towards the abyss... They do not intend evil, but turn to it out of self-preservation and ever-growing ambition."
Source: HelloZiyi

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: It is an interesting movie that attempts to offer another interpretation to Shakespeare's "Hamlet". The movie starts out slow and gradually build up to the climax, the banquet. There are many memorable artistic scenes in the movie, such as the dancing sequences near the beginning and near the end. In addition, the costumes and makeups in the movie are very dramatic and beautiful. One of the negative aspects about the movie is that some scenes and dialogues seem choppy and out of place. As a result, I failed to make an emotional connection with the major characters in the movie throughout most of the movie. Nevertheless, it is still a good watch for anyone who is interested in seeing a period drama about love and betrayal.

28Dec/060

Let’s Go to the Beach (2005)

Let's Go to the Beach

A.K.A.: Summer Beach
Korean Title: 해변으로가요 (Haebyeoleuro Gayo)
Vietnamese Title: Tinh Yeu Tren Bai Bien
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Starring: Lee Wan, Lee Chung Ah, Jun-Jin, Kang Jeong-Hwa
Screenwriters: Jo Yoon Young, and Moon Hee Jung
Director: Lee Seung Ryul
Episodes: 14
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Wanting to prove to his father that he's mature and can take on important work, Jang Tae-Pung (Lee Wan) decided to leave the big city to go work at a hotel resort that his older and more serious brother Tae-Hyun (Jun-Jin) was put in charge. Reluctantly, he accepted the job as a hotel's lifeguard just to be near his first love Min Joo-Hee (Kang Jeong-Hwa). Soon, he found himself falling in love with the country place and the sassy country girl from there, Yoon So-Ra (Lee Cheong-Ah). At the same time his brother Tae-Hyun also set his eyes on So-Ra and determine to make her his own.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: B (Wonderful)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This is an enjoyable drama that takes a closer look at the life of a lifeguard. Lee Cheong-Ah is very fit to play the simple but strong-willed young woman from a countryside. And Lee Wan portrays well the role of an immature and trouble-making young man. For the most part the drama is a pleasure to watch with little annoyances. However, I didn't like that a "we-might-be-related" card being thrown in this drama near the end. Why is that two people who finally found their way to each other must have something to drive them a part again? A plus side of this drama is that it's fairly short so it doesn't appear to drag as some dramas. Overall, it is a great watch if you just ignore the melodrama twist that was thrown in near the end.

27Dec/060

The Vineyard Man (2006)

The Vineyard Man

A.K.A.: The Man in the Vineyard, The Man of the Vineyard
Korean Title: 포도밭 그사나이 (Podopat Geusanai)
Vietnamese Title: Chang Trai Vuon Nho
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Starring: Yoon Eun Hye, Oh Man-Seok, Jeong So-Yeong, Kim Jo-Seok
Screenwriter: Jo Myung Joo
Director: Park Man Young
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Yoon Eun-Hye has taken the lead role for this adaptation of the book The Vineyard Man by Kim Rang. In this romantic-comical drama, Yoon Eun-Hye plays the role Lee Ji Hyun. After 3 years of unemployment since graduation, Ji Hyun worked as a temporary designer for a clothing company, but her design was stolen by the chief designer and she was subsequently fired as nobody believed her. She had no choice but to accept her granduncle’s proposal to work on his vineyard for a year if she were to inherit it. Oh Man-Suk plays the role Jang Taek-Ki who is an honest young man working in the vineyard. The two fought like cat and dog and the city girl had a hard time adjusting to living in the country where even plumbing is a big problem. However, after many twists and turns Ji-hyun adapted to rustic life and opened up to the warmhearted residents of the village as well as ends up falling in love with Taek-Ki.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: B (Wonderful)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: At first I wasn't sure if I want to watch this drama because it appears boring, but I was wrong. This is a wonderful drama. This drama is what I called "feel-good" drama. Even with little drama, this drama still manages to be exciting and capture my complete attention. Yoon Eun-Hye is well suited for the role of a spunky girl. She has the face and talent to act in comedy type of drama. Additionally, Oh Man-Suk is the best person to play the role of a simple guy with big heart from the countryside. One of the big plus about this drama is that it have one of the most satisfying endings I have seen. If you're looking for a carefree drama that then don't skip this drama.

27Dec/060

Mr. Goodbye (2006)

Mr. Goodbye

A.K.A.: Wild Beast and the Witch, The Beast and the Witch
Korean Title: 미스터 굿바이 (Miseuteo Gutbai)
Vietnamese Title: Hen Gap Lai Anh
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Ahn Jae-Wook, Lee Bo-Yeong, Oh Yoon-Ah, Jo Dong-Hyeok
Screenwriter: Seo Sook-Hyang
Director: Hwang Ee-Kyeong
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
“Mr. Goodbye” is a story about the last love of a dying man, Hyeon-seo, who had to live in loneliness after losing his both foster parents but eventually succeeded as a hotelier. He finally finds happiness when he returns to Korea, where he learns that he has a son from a woman who loves him and finally meets his biological mother. The series also sarcastically portrays good and evil of the human world with a hotel as the background. The series also depicts how hotel concierges help hotel customers heal their spiritual wounds. The upbeat and outgoing Young-in, one of the concierges, teaches Hyeon-seo the meaning of love and fights for his love with Su-jin, a doctor.
Source: Hancinema

Rating: B+ (Very Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This drama got my attention from the very first episode. It is funny and refreshing. Ahn Jae-Wook is very suited to play the role of a successful man who is lonely and hard to please. My opinion about Lee Bo-Yeong have changed after this drama. Unlike her role in "Save the Last Dance for Me" her role in "Mr. Goodbye" is very sweet and likeable. However, I don't like the depressing ending, but what other ending can you really expect from a drama that titled "Mr. Goodbye."