Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

21Sep/071

Quang Le – Hai Que

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English Title: Two Homelands
Translated by: Gigi

I grew up beside the shore of Tam Giang... of salty water (1)
Those evenings of no white clouds slowly... drifted
And I drifted backwards with the life stream for months and years
I hold gratitude towards your own homeland, yet
I'm feeling homesick... for my own...

My homeland, remember those times
For days and months, life was hard
The bird cries out, "chirp chirp" every evening
Hearing its sound, so deep but lonely
A profound verse from the chanty
Lulling life with a meaningful love

I love it when summer returns, burning the trees dry
The first and second lunar months, nights grew longer
The calming yet soaking rain, along with the gentle wind
Every bed of plowed dirt, every wishes and prayers
People nourish the ground with a sense of love for life
A rice meal of happiness, in a land nourishing its people

The sparking colors beside the Tam Giang lagoon
A passing boat, the female rower let loose a chanty
Bittersweet times are always beside us
Like the small vines on a plate of betel (2)
As gentle as the meaning of a husband and wife
Never once breaking the promise

Who could leave without promising to return?
Why such deep love for two homelands?
Over here are many promises and prayers
Are you moved beyond words over there?
Your homeland of rain and sun
Is the deep-weighted love still there?
Or has it dissipated in your heart?

Over here the sky is vast
The youthful strength lengthens to the two feet
Over here are many landscapes of life
Accepting the generous heart
The rain and sun in your homeland are still deep-seated
A sense of love in this entire life
Similar to the stars of tomorrow at the ends of the sky.

(1) Tam Giang is the name of a lagoon located north of Hue in Vietnam, where three major rivers flow into it. Tam Giang translates to "Three Rivers" in English.
(2) A betel is an Asian pepper plant, it also signifies a promise of marriage in Vietnamese culture.

15Sep/071

Sakuran (2007)

Sakuran

Japanese Title: さくらん
Genre: Period, Drama
Starring: Anna Tsuchiya, Hiroki Narimiya, Yoshino Kimura, Miho Kanno, Masatoshi Nagase, Masanobu Ando
Screenwriter: Yuki Tanada
Director: Mika Ninagawa
MPAA: R

Synopsis:
Based on the manga "Sakuran" by Moyoco Anno.

A young kamuro (maid in a brothel) is sold into the red-light district Yoshiwara, and is put under the care of the current oiran of the Tamakiku-house, Shouhi, who names her Tomeki. The girl is very rebellious and does not cry when punished, is foul-mouthed and bad-mannered, and talks back and even hits the other kamuros. It is because of this that the more experienced people in the household begin to think that she will be one day a great oiran, since to be an oiran one needs not only beauty and talent, but she should also have the tenacity to maintain the position.

After that, we follow Tomeki as she becomes O-Rin, a hikkomi (or prostitute-in training), and later Kiyoha, the most beautiful girl at the Tamakiku-household. Her popularity threatens the position of Tamakiku's oiran Mikumo, which creates great tension and jealousy between the two.

But rivalry is not the main problem to overcome for young Kiyoha, but rather the appearance of young Soujiro and the impossibility of love in the love-quarters.
Source: Wikipedia

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: Sakuran is a delightful movie, meant for mature audiences only. Its story similar to "Memoirs of a Geisha" but it is less romantic in a sense. The girls in the movie are no geisha, and to put it bluntly, they are high-class prostitutes of the Red Light District. Not to mention, Kiyoha, as rebellious as she is, holds no desire for the position of oiran in the beginning. The way the story presented is clear as you are hooked into the life of Kiyoha and those around her. It's hard to explain the story without spoiling it. It's one that requires you to watch the story from beginning to end without skipping any parts. The high points of the movie are the visuals. The clothing, setting, everything is beautifully done, and you shouldn't expect less. Fans of Masanobu Ando might enjoy seeing him in this movie, as well. The ending was quite a surprise, but it is a happy one. This is one movie you shouldn't pass up.

14Sep/070

Hello! Miss (2007)

Hello! Miss

A.K.A.: Hello! Baby or Hello! My Lady
Korean Title: 헬로 애기씨
Vietnamese Title: Hello Tieu Thu
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Lee Da Hae, Lee Ji Hoon, Ha Suk Jin, Yoon Mi So
Screenwriter: Park Young Sook
Director: Lee Min Hong
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
This drama is adapted from the novel, "Kimchi Mandu".

Lee Soo Ha, 38th granddaughter of the Jae Ahn Lee clan and owner of the clan manor Hwa Ahn Dang, is trying to save the place from going bankrupt. Hwang Dong Gyu, oldest grandson of the president of TOP Group, is trying to buy Hwa Ahn Dang because his grandfather, who was once a servant at the manor, cannot rest in peace unless he spends his last days in Hwa Ahn Dang's master suite. Hwang Chan Min, Dong Gyu's playboy cousin, is his rival in business and love. Enter Seo Hwa Ran, a model who has a secret history with and a secret plan for Hwa Ahn Dang (and Chan Min), and Lee Joon Yong, Soo Ha's brother and Chan Min's friend who can't forget a girl from Hwa Ahn Dang he knew when he was a kid...
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: C+ (Satisfactory)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: If you plan to watch this drama because you think it will be on the same par as "My Girl" then I must warn you to not get your hopes up. While "Hello! Miss" shares some similarities with "My Girl", as a whole it doesn't measure up. Lee Da Hae is one of my favorite Korean actresses and I believe she is one of the talented actresses in Korea. However, her actings in this drama appears mediocre. "Hello! Miss" has an interesting storyline and the potential to be a great drama, but from the middle to the end of the drama the storyline never seem to develop any further beyond the surface. A lot of things seem rushed in this drama, and there was a lacking of chemistry between the two main characters (perhaps due to the fact that there were little romantic scenes between the two). Nevertheless, I did enjoyed watching this drama and the happy ending at the end partly make up some of the annoyances I felt at the middle of the drama. Overall, I think I would enjoy this drama more if I haven't seen "My Girl" first.

14Sep/071

Witch Yoo Hee (2007)

Witch Yoo Hee

A.K.A.: Witch Amusement or A Witch in Love
Korean Title: 마녀유희
Vietnamese Title: Ma Nu Yoo Hee
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Han Ga In, Jae Hee, Jun Hye Bin, Kim Jeong Hoon, Dennis Oh
Screenwriter: Kim Won Jin and Kim Min Jun
Director: Jun Ki Sang
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
As the director of her father's advertising company, Ma Yoo Hee (Han Ga In) is known as a witch for her ruthless, no nonsense character. After a string of failed attempts to hire a housekeeper, she (literally) runs into Chae Moo Ryong (Jae Hee), ex-medical student turned aspiring chef. As a way to work off his debt for crashing into her car, he agrees to become her housekeeper and personal love affairs coach for one month. Gladly, he gives her a makeover that attracts both her old friend Johnny Kruger (Dennis Oh) and her first love Joon Ha (Kim Jeong Hoon). Despite having a girlfriend, Sung Mi (Jun Hye Bin), Moo Ryong eventually finds himself falling for Yoo Hee.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: C (Fine)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: With an eye-candy cast this drama seems to be "a hit" at first glance, but it is just another typical Korean romantic comedy drama--nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps, due to my high expectation of "Witch Yoo Hee" from the start that leaves the drama nowhere else to go but down. I do love seeing Han Ga In takes on an untypical role as a less than lovable main character. And I admit (shamefully) that one of the reasons that I was interested in this drama from the beginning because I was hoping to catch a scene of Dennis Oh, shirtless. Despite me being highly enthusiastic in the beginning, this drama doesn't let me end the drama with the same energy. Granted, the drama was quite enjoyable while I was watching it, but there's nothing new to the drama. Everything is very typical and at time superficial. In short, if you're looking for a quick and dirty romance drama with a storyline that never seem to go anywhere below the surface then this is your drama, otherwise check out other dramas like "Dal Ja's Spring" or "Coffee Prince".

14Sep/071

Coffee Prince (2007)

Coffee Prince

A.K.A.: The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince
Korean Title: 커피프린스 1호점
Vietnamese Title: Hoang Tu Cafe or Duoc Lam Hoang Tu
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Yoon Eun Hye, Gong Yoo, Lee Sun Gyun, and Chae Jung Ahn
Screenwriter: Jang Hyun Ju and Lee Jung Ah
Director: Lee Yoon Jung
Episodes: 17
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
This drama is based from a romantic comedy manhwa by Lee Sun Mi.

The life of Go Eun Chan (Yoon Eun Hye) is not easy; she works many jobs to pay off debts and even gave up her feminine image. Choi Han Kyul (Gong Yoo) is the heir of a big food company, but his grandmother wants him to settle down, so she arranged many dates for him. After Eun Chan bumped into Han Kyul and was mistaken for a boy, Han Kyul decided to hire Eun Chan to be his gay lover in order to avoid the arranged dates. Desperately in need of money, Eun Chan had no choice but to accept. Han Kyul's grandmother also made Han Kyul in charge of a filthy coffee shop in danger of being bankrupt. Eun Chan begged to work at the coffee shop, and not long after, feelings start to spark, except, how would Han Kyul accept his "homosexuality"?
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: Very High
Comment: From the casting, the storyline, music, to the settings everything seem to fit perfectly in this drama. "Coffee Prince" is not just your typical drama that centers around a protagonist female doing gender bending--aims at teenagers like "Hana Kimi" because it is much more than that. There is much depth, honesty, and realness about this drama that attempts to uncover another side to love. Indeed, this drama is intended for young adults everywhere. Arguably, the biggest captivating feature about this drama was the dedication of all of the cast and all of the sincerity everyone had putted in this drama. "Coffee Prince" easily can become another typical--shallow teen drama if it weren't for Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye's fine actings. The onscreen chemistry between Gong Yoo and YEH is undeniable. In my opinion, one of the finest actings in the drama occur when the two main characters struggling to accept love, thus leaving my heart bursting with pain during those scenes. Not enough good things can be said about this charming drama. It is definitely one of my highlights of the year 2007.

Additionally, after you have done watching "Coffee Prince" and still experience the addiction urge to watch more "Coffee Prince" then don't pass up on watching the drama special. While the special is not any extended episode of the drama, it certainly will fill that "Coffee Prince" void inside you and you will leave with a greater appreciation of what everyone has putted in this drama.