Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

28Nov/080

Suddenly I Wanna Cry (2008)

Bong Dung Muon Khoc

Vietnamese Title: Bong Dung Muon Khoc
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Tang Thanh Ha, Luong Manh Hai, Thanh Thuy, Nguyen Van Hung, Hieu Hien
Screenwriter: Vu Ngoc Dang
Director: Vu Ngoc Dang
Episodes: 35
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Life is unexpected. There are events that suddenly occur, and because of them our life is forever changed. The surprises that life brought for us, good or bad, bewildered us. In that moment of bewilderment, we suddenly started to cry...

This is a story about two people whose life begins to take a drastic change after an encounter one faithful night. Bao Nam is a 21 year-old and good-looking guy. His favorite past times include partying, spending his parents' money, and more partying. One night while Bao Nam was drunk he got into trouble with a local gang and was rescued by Truc. Truc is an 18 year-old, generous, and strong-willed girl who makes a living by selling used book on the street. Truc loves to be surround by books even though she is illiterate. Her dream is to save enough money so that she can open a small bookstore. Later, she was given a chance to realize her dream when Bao Nam's parents asked to make a deal with her--to teach their son how to become a decent and responsible human being in exchange for money to open a small bookstore...
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: This is the second drama that was written and directed by Vu Ngoc Dang, the first one being "Tuyet Nhiet Doi" or "Tropical Snow". Like the first one, this one also focus around an old premise in Asian dramas, poor girl meets rich guy. Despite the overused premise, the drama itself is highly entertaining to watch, and this is all attributed to the great script writing and directing of Vu Ngoc Dang. I appreciated that this drama has content that can easily enjoy by people of any age, and that there is a lot of substances behind all the glam. It speaks a lot when my dad who hasn't show much interest in watching drama became glued to the the television screen when watching this drama. It all thanks to the many well thought-out comedic moments that were written in every episode, which make it seems like less of a drama and more of a sitcom. I also appreciated the fact that this drama is keeping an honest portrayal in featuring many facets of life in the current Viet Nam; not trying to include something that is unrelated or unrealistic to the Vietnamese culture for the sake of trend. Last but not least, I appreciated that the female protagonist in this drama like in "Tuyet Nhiet Doi" while poor is not your typical damsel-in-distress, and that she doesn't simply wait for "prince charming" to rescue her, she instead rescued him first.

The cast selection was also excellent in this drama. Every actors and actresses seems to play an important role and has significant contributions to the success of this drama, especially the two leads. I saw tremendous improvements in Tang Thanh Ha's acting ability from the drama "Huong Phu Sa" to this. I knew she has big star potentials when I was watching "Huong Phu Sa", and I believed that her acting ability will improve with time and practice. She didn't disappointed me. In this drama, I can see that she is able to act with more ease and naturalness. There is not one moment while I was watching that I separated out Tang Thanh Ha and her character that she played. As far as I know, they are one. The same goes for Luong Manh Hai, he is very charismatic onscreen and his acting became more natural and less forced.

All in all, this is a wonderful drama for any age. If you're a fan of Vu Ngoc Dang, Tang Thanh Ha, or Luong Manh Hai then you definitely don't want to pass this drama by. Like the title of this drama, you will suddenly find yourself in tears while watching this drama, whether it is due to overwhelming happiness or sadness.

16Jan/082

9 End 2 Outs (2007)

9 End 2 Outs

A.K.A.: 2 Outs in the 9th Inning
Korean Title: 환상의 커플 (9 Hoimal 2 Awoot)
Vietnamese Title: 9 Cong 2
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Lee Jung Jin, Soo Ae, Lee Tae Sung, Hwang Ji Hyun, Lee Sang Woo
Screenwriter: Yeo Ji Na
Director: Han Chul Soo
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
In life and in baseball, you need comebacks!

A poet once said that the party is over at 30 but “Two Outs, Bottom of the Ninth” counters that with the mantra that the party starts at the age of 30. Hong Nan Hee (Soo Ae) has never hit a home run in life, not to mention a single as she reaches 30. She thought she worked hard to get ahead in life but all she has are some small savings in her bank account and a mother nagging her to get married. But she has one thing to be happy about in her life. Her current boyfriend is Jung Joo (Lee Tae Sung), a talented baseball pitcher who is aiming to play in the big leagues in America and eight years her junior. But her mother disapproves of her daughter’s crazy choice.

One day, a childhood friend of Nan Hee appears in her life. And he’s Hyung Tae (Lee Jung Jin). Hyung Tae thinks he got over Nan Hee but is that really true? As a friend tells Hyung-tae that life begins at the bottom of the ninth with two outs, we’ll see how the game of life unfolds.
Source: Hancinema

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This is one of the underrated dramas in 2007. At first, I almost passed it by because from looking at the promotion pictures I thought this is a drama about baseball. I didn't know that baseball is only a theme to compare the lives of the people in the movie. I think I must have been getting old because more and more I found myself in love with watching dramas about 30-something-years-old people. Needless to say, I really found myself immediately addicted to this drama after the very first episode. From watching this drama, I came to realize what a talented and versatile actress Soo Ae really is. Previously, I only know her through more serious roles in dramas such as Love Letter, Sea God, etc. and like with Chae Rim, I didn't think that she can be funny or can act in romantic comedy drama. However, this drama has helped me changed my mind. Her chemistry with Lee Jung Jin is also undeniable--you knew that the characters that they played have something for each other whenever they appeared together in this drama.

Lee Jung Jin is also very believable in the role of a guy who is torn between the feeling he has for his best friend and the feeling he thinks he still has for his ex. My heart ached whenever I saw Hyung Tae takes a quick glance at Nan Hee because there was love in his eyes and the pain of bearing an unspoken love. This drama is not only about the two best friends who have to risk losing the deep bond of friendship and learn to admit their love for each other, but it is also about the people in their 30s--their lives, ambitions, and regrets. Really, you don't need to be in your 30s to appreciate this drama because there will come a time when we all need/hope for one great comeback in our life, and this drama brings a hopeful light that it can will happen.

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.

8Jan/080

Couple of Fantasy (2006)

Couple of Fantasy

A.K.A.: Fantastic Couple, Fantasy Couple, Couple or Trouble
Korean Title: 환상의 커플 (Hwansangeui Keopeul)
Vietnamese Title: Doi Tinh Nhan Tuyet Hao
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Han Ye Seul, Oh Ji Ho, Kim Sung Min, Park Han Byul
Original Screenwriter: Leslie Dixon
Adapted By: Hong Jung Eun and Hong Mi Ran
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
This series is based on the 1987 American movie Overboard. Anna Jo (Han Ye Seul) is a rude, feisty, and audacious American-bred heiress who can never be satisfied. She returns to Korea only to continue being a controlling wife to her already cowardly husband, Billy Park (Kim Sung Min). When her yacht gets stuck for repairs, she hires local handyman Jang Chul Soo (Oh Ji Ho) to fix her shower, but when they have a heated spat over her dissatisfaction and non payment, she pushes him overboard and dunks his tools into the ocean right along with him. Later, after a quarrel with Billy that threatens to end their marriage, she herself gets drunkenly pitched overboard and falls victim to a bad case of amnesia.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: This is a surprisingly wonderful drama about two people from opposite world--the two people that you would think if the fate of the world rest on the two of them get together and procreate, we all would be doomed. While the story about romance blossoming from an amnesia incident is a very cliché story in Korean drama, this drama nevertheless managed to make this story fun, upbeat, and refreshing. Han Ye Seul fulfilled her character role perfectly in this drama as the snobby and hard-to-please heiress, Anna Jo, and later as the woman who has amnesia. At first, I wasn't convinced whether Ye Seul can pull off this role because she has such a stiff look and strong face, but thankfully all of her strong features all work to her benefit in this drama. Also, both Oh Ji Ho and Kim Sung Mi surprised me greatly in this drama for their great comedic actings in this drama. I have watched a lot of dramas before with Oh Ji Ho and Kim Sung Mi in a more serious role and I didn't think it was going to work when they were casted in this drama, but they proved me wrong.

I especially enjoy the many hilarious scenes that occurred when Kim Kwang-Gyoo and Kim Sung Mi appeared together on screen. All in all, I really love most of the supporting cast in this drama, those people is one of the important reasons why this drama is so fun to watch. From past experiences of watching Korean dramas, I was expecting something major and tragic to pop up from this drama like cancer or another case of amnesia that will separated the main couple apart until some years later. Thankfully, none of that ever happened and the drama has managed to keep me smiling toward the very end. In the end, I came away from watching the drama with some nice messages about the meaning of love and human relationship with each other.

In short, I love this lighthearted drama and I regretted that I didn't watch this drama earlier. So don't let that happen to you! Lastly, this drama has peaked my interest for the movie "Overboard". I need to hunt down that movie and see how it fare with the drama--my expectations are high now that I watched the drama.

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".

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.

10May/070

1 Litre of Tears (2005)

1 Litre of Tears

A.K.A.: Ichi Rittoru no Namida, One Litre of Tears, A Diary with Tears
Japanese Title: 1リットルの涙 (1 Litre no Namida)
Genre: School, Romance, Health
Starring: Sawajiri Erika, Nishikido Ryo
Screenwriter: Egashira Michiru, Oshima Satomi, Yokota Rie
Director: Murakami Masanori
Episodes: 11
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
This beautifully moving drama is based on the real-life struggles of a 15-year-old girl named Aya who suffered from an incurable disease, but lived life to the fullest until her death at 25. The script is based on the diary Aya kept writing until she could no longer hold a pen. The book that later followed entitled “One Litre of Tears" has sold over 1.1 million copies in Japan alone.

Aya's only wish was “to live." By carefully depicting Aya's earnest desire to live, and the love of her family, friends, and lover, the drama, “One Litre of Tears" wishes to deliver her simple but strong message: “Just being alive is such a lovely and wonderful thing."
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: If you're looking for a drama that makes you cry until you can't cry any more than this is your drama. This drama isn't a superficial drama with a melodramatic storyline, this drama is based on a true story of a girl who suffered from spinocerebellar degeneration. One of the things I like about the drama is that everything in the drama seems authentic and nothing feels forced or contrived. The cast was well-picked. Everyone has something important to contribute to the drama, from the loving parents to the innocent little sister. Although the real Aya doesn't have a memorable love story like the Aya in the drama, nevertheless it was a good decision on the writer and the director part to include a love story because it is the love story that further drives the emotional factor of the drama and tugs at the viewers' heartstring.

I admitted that I know very little about spinocerebellar degeneration prior to this drama, and I have learned quite a great deal about the disease afterward because the drama not only serves as a source of information it also motivates me to do my own research about the disease. I know I haven't cried a litre of tears after I watched this drama, but I came pretty close. So please give this drama a chance and don't skip on this heartfelt drama that glorifies the beauty of the human spirits.

10May/0711

Nodame Cantabile (2006)

Nodame Cantabile

Japanese Title: のだめカンタービレ (Nodame Cantabile)
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Music
Starring: Ueno Juri, Tamaki Hiroshi, Eita
Screenwriter: Etou Rin
Directors: Takeuchi Hideki and Kawamura Yasuhiro
Episodes: 11
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Based on the hit comic book by Tomoko Ninomiya, this is a fun-filled quirky romantic story of 2 very opposite people.

Megumi Noda, or “Nodame” is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox when it is filled with delicacies.

Shinichi Chiaki, is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. An arrogant multi-lingual perfectionist who once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy, he feels mired in Japan because of a childhood phobia.

They meet by accident. Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Because of Nodame, Chiaki transfers into the Conductor Division, leads a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people's musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: One wouldn't expect great storyline develop around a music drama, but that is just what "Nodame Cantabile" is all about. It was a well written and well directed drama with a cast that shines on-screen. This drama is in the category of its own regarding the sense of quirkiness and humor. I can say that I have laughed whole heartily while I was watching it, and missed it terribly after I finished it. Ueno Juri is a delight to watch in the role as the lovable girl who marches to the beat of her own drum, Nodame. And Tamaki Hiroshi is magnetic as well as convincing in the role of a genius musician (Did you know that the man doesn't know any music notes prior to filming this drama? Amazing!). Additionally, I love Tamaki Hiroshi's little facial expressions throughout the drama; they are absolutely hilarious! Not enough good things can be said about this drama because it's one of those dramas where one don't have to analyze anything and just enjoys it for what it is. I definitely recommend this drama to any music lovers out there, and if you're not a music lovers you will become one after watching this drama.

6May/070

My Father’s Ocean, My Sky (2006)

Chichi no Umi, Boku no Sora

Japanese Title: 父の海、僕の空 (Chichi no Umi, Boku no Sora)
Genre: Drama, Family
Starring: Takizawa Hideaki, Takahashi Keiko, Yamazaki Tsutomu, Abe Asami, Miyazaki Aoi
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Kyouhei (Takizawa Hideaki), living in Tokyo, is working day-by-day to support himself and his dream of becoming a musician. Upon quitting his job, he resorts to selling his prized eletric guitar so that he could pay his rent or risk getting kicked out. In a fit, he returns home and on the way, he receives a phone call from his father whom he had an argument with before leaving him. He decides against going home and meets Susumi, his father's friend, on the way back. She notifies him that his father is suffering from cancer and might not be able to live long. As a result, he decides to give up his dream of becoming a musician and faces his father once more.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This Japanese movie is a rarity in its attempt to describe the relationship between a father a son as well as the hardships in reaching one's dream. Kyouhei leaves home to reach for his dream but he gets lost along the way and because of his pride, he couldn't return home to his father. However, he uses his father's sickness as an excuse to temporarily retire from his dream and to face the problems he had been trying to run away from. This is something that anyone, not just men, can relate to when watching this movie. Kyouhei goes through a major character development upon returning home from a kid to a full-fledged adult. What I love best about this movie is the changes that Kyouhei goes through and the things he learned from his father. Though his father is no composer, his father strives to write a song for his late wife, something that touches Kyouhei's heart and everybody hearts as well. At first, I didn't like Kyouhei much because of his attitude, but as he changed I slowly liked him more and more. The emotions depicted in this movie is such a tear-jerker that I couldn't help but cry when it got near the ending. There's something that anyone can learn from this movie, so it's definitely not something to miss.