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!

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.

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.

24Dec/060

Hello My Teacher (2005)

Hello My Teacher

A.K.A.: Hardtack Teacher and Star Candy, Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy
Korean Title: 건빵선생과 별사탕 (Geonbbangseonsaengkwa Byeolsatang)
Vietnamese Title: Co Giao Gang To, Co Giao va Keo Bong Gon
Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy, School
Starring: Gong Hyo-Jin, Gong Yoo, Kim Da-Hyeon, Choi Yeo-Jin
Screenwriter: Kim Jung Ah
Directors: Oh Jong Rok and Kim Hyung Sik
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Na Bori (Kong Hyo-Jin) is a 25 year old woman who desperately wants to be a teacher at a high school she was kicked out of after a misunderstanding with her teachers about injuring a group of male classmates and was kicked out. After getting her GED, she rejects other job offers from other high schools and works on becoming a teacher at her old high school to work with her high school love interest, the art teacher Ji Hyun Woo (Kim Da-Hyeon). However, the only thing that enables her to get the coveted job is by signing a contract to essentially babysit Park Tae In (Gong Yoo), a troublemaker who attends the same high school. TaeIn, a lonely youth, quickly becomes the "jjang", or "king" of the high school, and enjoys playing mean tricks on Bori. Noh Jemma (Choi Yeo-Jin) is jealous of the relationship with Bori and Tae In, and goes out of her way to get Bori kicked out...
Source: DramaWiki

Rating: B+ (Very Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This drama reminiscent of the two popular Japanese dramas "Great Teacher Onizuka" and "Gokusen". It centers around teachers and students' relationships and problems they faced at school and in their personal lives. This is not the first time Gong Hyo-Jin acted in a teacher role (the first was "Let's Go to School, Sang Doo"). I believe Gong Hyo-Jin might already found her niche in playing as the teacher. I cannot think of anyone else that is more suited for the teacher role than Gong Hyo-Jin. Gong Yoo also leaves a favorable impression of him in this drama playing as a troubled high school boy. Overall, this drama gives me what "Gokusen" cannot gives me and that is a close up on a taboo subject regarding a love between a student and his teacher, and a satisfy ending.

23Dec/060

Sang Doo! Let’s Go to School (2003)

Sang Doo! Let's Go to School

A.K.A.: Sang Doo, Let's Go to School; Let's Go to School, Sang-Doo!
Korean Title: 상두야,학교가자! (Sangdooya Hakgyo Kaja!)
Vietnamese Titles: Trai Phong Luu, Buoc Duong Cung
Genre: Melodrama, Romance, School
Starring: Rain (Bi), Gong Hyo-Jin, Lee Dong-Geon, Hong Soo-Hyeon
Screenwriter: Lee Kyung Hee
Director: Lee Hyeong-Min
Episodes: 16
MPAA: PG

Synopsis
Live life to its fullest!
23-year-old Sang Doo shows us his way to live his life to the fullest even in times of adversity. Sang Doo was put in jail for fighting with a man who tried to pick on his first love, Enhwan. Having a sick daughter, he makes money to settle the medical bills by working as a boytoy and going out with rich women.
One day, when he runs into Enhwan again, he knows deep down that she is the one he has been waiting for all his life. To approach Enhwan, Sang Doo begins to work as a custodian at the school she works in.
Source: Wikipedia

Rating: B- (Good)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: This drama has a mixture of tears and laughters. Bi and Gong Hyo-Jin are both great actor and actress. The love connection between the two main characters truly felt genuine. However, due to the organization of the storyline it can be a bit tiring watching all the "back-and-forth" love between the main characters. Near the end, the story get even more draggy and overly dramatic. Still, the drama is worth a look because of the satisfactory ending.