Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

27Mar/081

Goi Giac Mo Ve (2007)

Goi Giac Mo Ve

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance, School, Slice-of-Life
Starring: Minh Hang, Huynh Dong, Ngan Khanh, Tan Phat
Screenwriters: Hoang Anh Group
Director: Xuan Cuong
Episodes: 66
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Goi Giac Mo Ve, roughly translated in English as "Calling Dreams to Return", is a drama about the lives of the people on a small and developing island called "Long Hai". In particular, the drama follows the lives of four young high school students named Phung, Quan, Vy, and Minh. Phung is a clumsy girl, who does not excel in many things from academic to appearance, despite coming from a well-to-do family. On the other hand, Quan (the "bad boy") comes from a poor family, who always struggling with work and school. Vy is the "rose with thorns", in school she uphold the image of the popular, well like, and perfect student. She always striving to better herself and to escape her family background, no matter the cost. Finally, Minh is the richest and most popular guy in school, who seems to have a Prince Charming Complex--he likes to rescue damsels in distress and often are undecided about his romantic feelings.

One day, the lives of these four high school students along with their dreams began to change when there was talk of a plan to build a resort on the island. What will happen to the once humble and peaceful island? What will happen to the people on the island? And what will become of Phung, Quan, Vy, and Minh when they began to see there exist other worlds outside of the island that they called home?
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: It has been a while that I become excited and addicted to a Vietnamese drama. The fact that I finished this 66-episodes drama in just four days is truly a testament of how much I enjoyed watching this drama. Unlike, some of the recent Viet dramas that I seen that was heavily influenced by the "Korean wave", this drama never try to be something that it is not. I appreciate the earnest portrayal that this drama gives about the less-than-glamorous life of many people who still live in poor area in Viet Nam, especially people who live on island where the main way to make money is through fishing. Despite being a drama that mainly focuses on teens and teens' issues, it does not come off as superficial or "conjured up". There is a lot of hearts and laughters in this drama, all came very natural. From the conversations high school students have with each other to everyday conversation between parents and their kids--nothing seems force and everything seems real. I also must commend this drama for bringing up controversial issue (from teen pregnancy to sexual orientation) in a fair view and not in a preachy tone.

Another thing I love about this drama is the great actings. Minh Hang in particular was able to show me that she has grown as an actress. She definitely has finer acting skill and more confidence in the role that she played than when she was in Cai Bong Ben Chong. In short, her role as a mischievous and clumsy Phung is lovable and believable. Huynh Dong also gave me a good surprise for being very natural in his role as Quan. I love the on-screen chemistry between him and Minh Hang--as Phung started to fall for Quan so did I. The supporting cast was also well-picked for this drama, everyone managed to hold their own ground and bring to life their character whether through tears or laughters.

Needless to say, this drama has restored my interest in Viet drama. Hopefully, in the future there will be more dramas with substance like this one and not just soulless dramas with only pretty-face cast. In sum, if you're Vietnamese and you haven't watched this drama yet you're missing out on something great!

16Jan/080

The Worst Guy Ever (2007)

The Worst Guy Ever

A.K.A.: The Worst Man of My Life
Korean Title: 내 생애 최악의 남자 (Naesaengae Choeagui Namja)
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Yeom Jeong-Ah, Tak Jae-Hoon, Sin Seong-Rok, Yoon Ji-Min
Screenwriter: Kim Soo-Ah
Director: Son Hyun-Hee
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Ju-eyon and Seong-tae have been best friends ever since they first met each other 10 years ago. But in one night their 10 year friendship comes crashing to the ground after they sleep together. The comfort and security of marriage is a siren call, and the two decide to forego their ideals to spend their first day as man and wife. However, their perfect lover soon appears right in front of them: A sexy editor appears to seduce Seong-tae and an advertising director appears to tempt Ju-yeon. With a single smile they turn the newlyweds’ dream into a nightmare. Even after only a few days, they soon find themselves faced with the worst choice of their lives as they struggle to reach happiness.
Source: Korean Film

Rating: C (Fine)
Rewatch Factor: Low
Comment: I decided to watch this movie after seeing a couple of the movie posters and reading the synopsis because it looks interesting annd funny, not to mention that it has the dashing Sin Seong-rok in it. The first 15 minutes into the movie was certainly promising. However, the movie just stopped there and never did move out of the would-be-great stage and into the great stage. The plot reminds me of the drama "9 End 2 Outs", about two best friends who even though are in love with each other did not want to admit that they are. In this case, the story would be better develop as a drama than a movie because a movie is simply too short amount of a time to detail out the deep relationship between the best friends and really gets the viewers emotionally involve. There are some things in this drama that didn't sit well with me e.g. the advertising director who is madly in love with Ju-yeon enough to try to break up her marriage, yet willing to easily let her go at the end. There are certainly some humorous scenes in this movie, but then again, some of those scenes I have seen before. All in all, this is just a mediocre romantic comedy flick--you won't gain much by watching it and you will not miss much if you don't watch it.

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 2 (2006)

My Tutor Friend 2

Korean Title: 동갑내기 과외하기 레슨 2 (Gonggabnaegi Gwaoihagileseun 2)
Vietnamese Title: Anh Ban Gia Su
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama, School
Starring: Lee Chung Ah, Park Ki-Woong
Screenwriters: In Eun-Ah, Jo Joong-Hoon
Directors: Kim Ho-Jeong, Ji Gil-Wung
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Junko, a Japanese of Korean ancestry, comes to Korea to find her sweetheart. She finds lodging at a guest house that provides room and board. Unfortunately, the room that she is supposed to stay in belongs to the owner’s son, Jong-Man. On her first night in Seoul, Junko is forced to share the room with Jong-man. Junko wants to find another place, but the owner desires to keep Junko as a guest and offers Junko free Korean lessons from Jong-man. It is going to be some adventure for Junko in Seoul!
Source: Korean Film

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: "My Tutor Friend 2" follows the success of the previous movie. This sequel has similar concept and charm as the first movie, but features a brand new cast.

It is rare for a sequel movie to be greater than the first, and for me this sequel is just so. The plot in this movie is also better developed than the first and thus has more heart than the first movie. The main cast in this movie is truly wonderful, and sparks fly whenever the two appeared together on screen. As first, I couldn't determine whether I like Park Ki-Woong, but quickly I came to appreciate his fine acting ability and his portrayal as Jong-Man, a guy with tough outward exterior and a soft heart. He carried a lot of weight in this movie, and largely because of him that the movie is so enjoyable. Down to his characteristic facial expressions, he has managed to make his character came off as humorous, lovable, and genuine. Lee Chung Ah also portrayed well as a sassy yet at time clueless female protagonist. Another thing that I love about this movie is that it has a great supporting cast, from Jong-Man's two mischevious best friends down to the adorable exchange student, George. This movie is also better when you watch it a second time because you will also catch some important scenes that you missed the first time you watched it. If only, all movie sequels were like this.

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.

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.

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.

11May/0711

Hwang Jin Yi (2006)

Hwang Jin Yi

A.K.A: Hwang Jini, Dust Storm
Korean Title: 황진이 (黃眞伊) (Hwang Jin Yi)
Genre: Period, Traditional, Drama
Starring: Ha Ji Won, Kim Jae Won, Kim Young Ae, Jang Geun Suk, Wang Bit Na
Screenwriter: Yoon Sun Joo
Directors: Kim Chul Kyu
Episodes: 24
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
The story of Hwang Jin Yi, the famous 16th century Gisaeng.

This story sheds new light on the life of Joseon-era dancer, musician and poet Hwang Jin Yi, who made her art blossom even when her love was put to test. The series also depicts the tragic life of a woman who faces hardships due to her social status. The drama drew the spotlight even before its premiere because Hwang Jin Yi is portrayed by top actress Ha Ji Won. Meanwhile, Wang Bit Na portrays another prominent dancer of the same era who is jealous of Hwang Jin Yi’s artistic talent. The role of nobleman Kim Eun Ho, Hwang Jin Yi’s first love who dies because their love turns out unrealistic due to differences in their social status, is played by Jang Geun Suk, while king’s relative Byuk Kye Soo, who becomes addicted to Hwang Jin Yi but fails to win her heart, is played by Yoo Tae Jun. Actor Lee Shi Hwan portrays Yi Saeng, an ambivalent character who is neither Hwang Jin Yi’s lover nor friend. Kim Young Ae plays the role of dancing girls’ trainer, while Kim Bo Yeon portrays her rival, Mae-hyang. The role of dancer Heon-keum, Hwang Jin Yi's mother who gave birth to her as a result of her belief that love only comes once in a lifetime, is portrayed by Jun Mi Sun.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This period drama captured my attention from the first episode. The drama has similar theme as the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" and the old Japanese drama "Oshin", that is the theme about the struggle of a woman living in a world dictated by men and rising above the adversities. Hwang Jin Yi is fiction drama about the life of a famous kisaeng (gisaeng), an entertainer similar to the Japanese geisha. In the drama, Hwang Jin Yi is portrayed as not only a highly intelligent individual, but also a talented artist who if not for her sex and social status could've held high and powerful rank. The drama was very well done, from the sceneries to the elaborate costumes.

Ha Ji Won is absolutely perfect in the role of Hwang Jin Yi, playing as a strong and vulnerable seductress. Every facial expressions that Ha Ji Won showed in this drama is subtle yet precise. From her inviting glance to her alluring smirk, all was done effortlessly and naturally. I love seeing the transformation of Hwang Jin Yi from a naive and lively kisaeng to an experienced and unemotional kisaeng. Not to mention, all the dances in this drama took my breath away, especially the Baekmu's Crane Dance. Sadly, I was more interested in Hwang Jin Yi process of becoming a kisaeng and her life as an artist rather than her love life, so I was bothered that there was more attention giving to her love life in the drama. Nevertheless, this is a beautifully done drama that shouldn't be missed.

10May/070

Dal Ja’s Spring (2007)

Dal Ja's Spring

A.K.A.: The Spring of Oh Dal Ja
Korean Title: 달자의 봄 (Dal Ja ui Bom)
Vietnamese Title: Mua Xuan Cua Nang Dal Ja
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Starring: Chae Rim, Lee Min Ki, Lee Hyun Woo, Lee Hye Young, Gong Hyeong Jin
Screenwriter: Kang Eun Kyung
Episodes: 22
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Oh Dal Ja is 33 years old and she is an MD of a home shopping channel. She has a "love contract" with Kang Tae Bong, a 27 year old freelancer of a playmate enterprise. The story also revolves around Dal Ja's life with three men. Wee Sun Joo is a divorcee who is an expert on love and faces life with positive thinking.
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: This is a drama about single women living life in her 30's. The women in this drama went through several major changes in their lives and is trying to survive those changes. Dal Ja in particular, when she was young believed the purity of a woman is everything and when she reached for a career she found herself become an independent and capable woman who do not need to rely on a man or the safety of marriage. However, when she reached her 30's she discovered that she was all alone and that her "spring" has passed. "Dal Ja's Spring" is a non-serious yet smart drama about 30-something, single women struggling to live their lives while juggling love and career. Slowly, the women in the drama learn to realize that their "spring" is not over.

The drama in itself is very funny and has brought me numerous laughters. I remember I laughed so hard at several episodes that my side hurted in the morning. All in all, the drama was very well written and directed. Not to mention, it effortlessly incorporated numerous parodies in the drama. Among the many parodies that in the drama that I can recalled at the moment are: "Kill Bill", "Snow White", "Cinderella", "Hwang Jin Yi", "Titanic", "Goong", "The Bodyguard", "Rocky" and "Pretty Woman" (well, you get the idea). Chae Rim made a great come-back and really impressed me in this drama. After I saw this drama I was convinced that she should be in more comedy dramas.

In the beginning, I was willingly to rate this drama "A+", but the conflict that was thrown near the end of the drama failed to impress me. It was so typical, and the ending felt rushed. Despite the last two episodes, this has become one of my favorite Korean dramas of all time. I love the drama's underlining message to single women everywhere that marriage is not a target, but an outcome. Getting marry shouldn't be some chores that one has to do. It's a choice to get marry, and it's great if you do and it's great if you don't. If I haven't make myself clear by now, I will attempt to wrap it up in one sentence: Dal Ja's Spring is a must-watch, regardless if you're a woman or not.

6May/070

Collage of Our Days (2003)

Collage of Our Days

A.K.A.: Love Collage and Collage of Our Life
Japanese Title: 恋愛写真 (Renai Shashin, Love Photograph)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Psychological
Screenwriter: Kaoru Ogawa
Director: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Starring: Matsuda Ryuhei, Hirosue Ryoko
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Makoto (Matsuda Ryuhei), an aspiring photographer, falls in love at first sight with the bright and enigmatic Shizuru (Hirosue Ryoko) during his university days. Inspired by Makoto's photographs, Shizuru becomes interested in photography and seeks guidance from Makoto. In such a short time, her quick progress results in many maginificent photos causing Makoto to grow jealous. Soon enough, his jealousy was too much to bear when Shizuru won a prize for her photos causing their relationship to break. Before leaving, Shizuru makes a promise to him to visit her once he has fulfilled his dream of becoming a successful photographer. Three years after their separation, Makoto receives a letter from Shizuru with her photos, but days after, he learned that she was already dead for over a year. Not admitting this, Makoto set out for New York with one of Shizuru's photos in hand in order to find her...and himself.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: Love Collage, also known as Collage of Our Life, is a surprising film and it has a lot to do with its title. Despite one of its title being Love Collage, this movie is far from being one of those romantic and sappy movies about boy-meets-girl. It isn't an ordinary love story. Rather, it is more of a movie about a journey Makoto takes to find Shizuru, who represents himself in a way.

The movie is more about Makoto with his relationship with Shizuru as a backdrop. Makoto, before meeting Shizuru, is just taking photos for the sake of taking it. His photos are pretty, but lack life, just like him. Once he meets her, he is not only amazed by her beauty but her personality that is so full of life, what he's been lacking all this time. He couldn't help but be enraptured by her. Shizuru's way of taking photos is different from Makoto. She jumps into the scene with her camera and captures its life while Makoto uses his camera as a barrier and takes picture of what he sees, and not what he feels. Being around Shizuru, he realizes his flaws in photography.

With her absence, Makoto lacks the one thing that makes him feel alive: Shizuru and her photos. Her pictures affect him in such a way that he feels that he's living in a different world--her world. He yearns for that feeling again three years after their separation leaving him stranded in New York, looking for his dead ex-girlfriend. He's truly searching for himself deep down. He's searching for the one thing that makes him feel complete.

The movie is classic in the way that it presents Makoto and his journey of finding himself in an ex-girlfriend who's been dead for over a year. However, the movie loses its way near the end with the climax that has a rather maniacal feel to it that really turns me off and just ruins the pace that the movie had. The climax really strays the movie from its initial purpose. However, the movie manages to come back to its initial purpose in the ending and manages to answer the question presented in the beginning of the movie. There are some racial stereotypes that needs to be overlooked for the sake of watching this movie. Not to mention, Ryuhei's English in this movie is a bit monotonic. The acting from both Ryuhei and Ryoko is superb nonetheless and brings this movie to life.

Overall, with its flaws, this movie is still a beauty on its own if a person forgets about the out-of-place climax. The movie is less about love and more about a journey through life.