[HanCinema's Film Review] "You Are My Vampire" 2014/06/13,
There are only two possible outcomes to "You Are My Vampire". Either Nam-geol (played by Park Jeong-sik) really is a vampire, or Gyoo-jeong (played by Choi Yoon-yeong-I) has an overactive imagination. Well, I suppose it's possible for both of these to be true. It's strange, though, that as convinced as Gyoo-jeong is that her new neighbor is a vampire, events in the local neighborhood manage to shock her to such an extreme degree,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2014/06/07, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★★★ "The Stone": Min-su, an extremely talented Go player, is recruited by a local gang boss to be his personal tutor, but matters soon become serious when the game starts to have real-world consequences. (06/12)
★★★★ "You Are My Vampire": A struggling young writer wants to pen a vampire novel and in the process finds some strange real-world inspiration to fuel her curiosity. (06/12)
★★★★ "An American Friend": A Korean-American secret agent tries to sell high-priced artwork, and as he's being chased around encounters an intriguing woman interested in making a deal. (06/12)
★★★★ "Gyeongju": A man nostalgically travels back to the city of Gyeongju and finds new adventure in old places with fresh faces. (06/12)
★★★ "For The Emperor": A disgraced baseball player losses everything and then enters a crime ring that comes cloaked in both pleasure and pain. (06/12),...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Greatest Thing in the World" Episode 2 2013/09/20,
Unfortunately, the drama has apparently decided that simply choosing to be a mother and hanging around with villainous characters is all the context needed to make Woo-Seon a likable character. Is professional rival Yoo-Ri catty and mean? Yes, but Woo-Seon deliberately lied to the production company about not having a medical condition in order to secure a stage role she cannot possibly perform. I can't worry about Yoo-Ri discovering Woo-Seon is pregnant when Yoo-Ri and the entire production company have a right to know about this,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Greatest Thing in the World" Episode 1 2013/09/19,
The first distinctive image we're treated to in this drama is of a father discovering that his teenage daughter is pregnant in a remarkably surreal absurd way, punctuated by stock music and sound effects that really hit just how stupid this guy feels for not figuring it out sooner. It's a generally serious moment that's totally wrecked by the way the drama's editing conspires to turn the whole incident into the butt end of a joke. And I have to admit, I laughed,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 16 (Final) 2013/08/04,
Here we have it folks, the end of "The Queen's Classroom". It was quite a mixed watch for me. Let's deal first with the final episode itself, then we'll delve into the drama as a whole. The last episode focused on tying up loose ends with all of the characters plot threads. And by all, I mean every single character with more than four lines. It was so much information about all of the students and teachers and parents that the episode was bogged down by details. The students explained how Ma's teaching and caring influenced them to change their lives. While the message is good, an voiced-over narrative over a visual montage would've been much more effective and much less draggy. But that's what happens when there just isn't enough plot material to span sixteen episodes,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 15 2013/08/03,
Teacher Ma Yeo-jin has fallen ill from overworking and stress and left her class in a state of confusion. The kids actually miss their teacher because they know that despite her terrifying teaching methods, Ma truly cares for them. They fight the vice-principal who is ecstatic to allow the school board to put Ma on probation for inadequate teaching. They want Ma to stay. I'm really not sure how I feel about this. I know that Ma's good intentions to make the kids strong and self-sufficient are the heart of the story. Ma sacrifices herself as the common enemy so that the kids can fight and grow because of it. But the method is so truly horrible that it just isn't worth all of the suffering,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 14 2013/07/28,
It's all about repercussions this episode. Ma Yeo-jin has decided to teach her class in a very questionable manner and despite being given many chances to change her ways, she does not change. At the behest of Na-ri's power hungry mother and the ladder climbing vice principal, the school board has sent it's most morally sound member to investigate Ma. The investigator finds her unacceptable, which is not a surprise. However, the investigation process is the heart of the episode. We've seen glimpses of humanity in Ma that become more frequent as the drama has progressed. During those moments, Ma genuinely seemed to enjoy the happiness of the children. But then she proceeded to break them down again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 13 2013/07/27,
The Wednesday episodes are much weaker than the Thursday episodes. It's frustrating to sit through the choppy pacing and plot changes of the Wednesday episodes while knowing that the Thursday episode will probably be stronger. Music was a strong point of this show. The composition fo the soundtrack is crisp. Song choice matches the mood. However, the music is starting to foreshadow emotional changes much too soon and sapping the tension scenes. Also, the habit of Korean dramas to reuse the same music for the entire drama makes timing extremely important when it comes to playing the songs. Badly timed entrances make the soundtrack sound like a broken record rather than something that enhances the drama,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 12 2013/07/21,
How does this show do it? I was so unimpressed last episode. The ending of this one had me biting my nails on edge and hankering for more. And the reason I liked it is a paradox. The cyclical storyline was and is wearying. But when the cycle is suddenly broken, it's absolute magic.
Episode 11 introduced a new character, Kim Do-jin, that is normally one a viewer would empathize with. He has severe abandonment issues that cause him to lash out as a manipulative and violent bully - a very pitiful creature,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 11 2013/07/19,
"The Queen's Classroom" episode 11 was good, but it wasn't great like the last half of episode 10. It's struggling for material and to retain the intensity and momentum it had during the first half of the drama. A new character appeared, which always brings variations in relationships and tone, but this character, Kim Do-jin (Kang Chan-hee), was misused and therefore doesn't help perpetuate the story. (Kang Chan-hee is a fabulous actor, though.) Do-jin is basically Ma Yeo-jin's mini-me. This show doesn't need a second Ma Yeo-jin and it doesn't need to have her best yet another child. Sure, he's a power-hungry boy with abandonment issues who is out for class domination; but he's still a child in need of guidance,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 10 2013/07/17,
When this show is good, it is really good. It doses out just enough suspense, horror and mind games to keep us coming back for more. Now that it's in the later stages of story development, it's finally giving us insight into Ma Yeo-jin's character, which is absolutely fascinating. Her reactions to classroom events are starting to change, especially those that involve injury and friends banding together. She probably didn't expect the children to break her down as she does them. Also, we finally see some emotional vulnerability in Ma when Ha-na sees a scar on her neck and she covers it up in a panic; or when she watches a mother with her young son and she smiles,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 8 2013/07/12,
There was a huge tone shift in episode 8. The tension that flowed through the show and made it riveting died. I kept anticipating Teacher Ma Yeo-jin's next mind-boggling move, and while her actions were surprising, they were not mind-boggling. It was a let down. On top of that, there was a lot of character exploration that, while interesting and well-acted, was very oddly put together and stilted. It was information that should've been given to the viewers in small doses during the first 7 episodes. The incident with Na-ri trying to burn down the school takes about half an episode to be resolved and from the resolution I gathered two things,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 7 2013/07/10,
It happened. Someone broke. Na-ri completely snapped and went off the deep end. It was horrifying, yet amazing. Lee Yeong-yoo as Go Na-ri carried this episode on her small, but very capable shoulders. Na-ri has been bullying Ha-na and Bo-mi in attempt to take the limelight off of herself. She stole one friend's wallet and took secret swimsuit photos of another and blamed both incidents on Ha-na. As a result, Ha-na has been wrongfully terrorized and ostracized. I've been waiting for Ha-na's name to be cleared, but I've also feared it, just as Na-ri has. If Na-ri comes clean, the animosity of the kids will turn on her. Her rich, demanding, school board mother will be disappointed. Ma will inflict some unknown punishment. Ha-na's name does get cleared near the end of the episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 6 2013/07/08,
What happens when a child is trapped in hell and has to make choices? What happens when that child knows she has made the wrong choice? What happens if she doesn't know whether or not she made the right choice? In the case of "The Queen's Classroom", the child sticks by her decision no matter the consequences. In hell, she has to give it her all or perish. To admit an error is fatal. Such is the case with Na-ri, Ha-na's former best friend and current enemy. To save herself, Na-ri leads the classroom in bullying Ha-na. She coerces Bo-mi into helping her by promising social sanctuary. The more Na-ri's conscience whispers in the back of her mind, the crueler she becomes to drown it out. It's a vicious cycle,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 5 2013/07/03,
How far can you push someone before they crack? It's a question whose boundaries are tested by The Queen's Classroom. This show pushes it's characters to their breaking points, then once they are broken, pushes them some more. It kicks them when they are down and doesn't give them any time to get up. Our heroine, Shim Ha-na, learns what it means to be loyal to a friend who is terrified. That friend, Ha-ni, who is scared of her mother, her classmates, her teacher, will betray Ha-na to save her own skin. Teacher Ma Yeo-jin tells Ha-na that her faith in friendship foolish, but Ha-na won't listen. At the end of the episode, she is locked in a gym locker and left alone. Will Ha-na continue to keep her dogged faith in her friends?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 4 2013/06/26,
"The Queen's Classroom" continued to grow even more intense this week. Kids are getting desperate and no longer want to fight an enemy as powerful as Ma Yeo-jin. There is outright betrayal and a heightened sense of animosity towards the person who keeps stirring up trouble: Ha-na. It's so interesting how self-preservation trumps sincerity and justice in this show. It's a theme not often explored in K-drama. The shows J-dorama roots are definitely showing through. This is not easy content to digest and J-dorama loves to take it on. It's good to see K-drama delve into it as well,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 3 2013/06/24,
"The Queen's Classroom" will make you think. It will make you doubt. It will make you question what you believe is right and what you believe is wrong. The lines will blur between the two.
And you'll enjoy every minute of it.
A classroom shouldn't be a battle ground, but Ma Yeo-jin's classroom is. In order to survive, the children must quickly learn to cope. They come together and break apart and then form new alliances, searching for the best way to live through the school day. Ha-na, the plucky student who stands up to Ma, encourages the children to band together against Ma's tyranny. Her honest, fervent desire to be treated right and for the kids to be friends is touching to see,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 2 2013/06/16,
"The Queen's Classroom" is absolutely riveting. It has a magnetic emotional draw that is created by a combination of excellent writing, music, directing and acting. Especially the acting, which is essential in a character-driven drama. These kids are simply amazing. Most dramas rest on the shoulders of adults, but this one rests firmly on the shoulders of a classroom of twelve-year-olds. That's quite a task for such a young cast. Their leader, Ko Hyun-jung, brings frightening life to her well-written character, the mysterious and cruel Ma Yeo-jin. Ma is darkly clever and uses that to terrorize her students. When one student, Go Na-ri (Lee Yeong-yoo), takes courage and tells her school board mother about the things happening in the classroom, the kids take hope that their school situation will improve,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 1 2013/06/14,
Going into "The Queen's Classroom", a re-make of the popular Japanese dorama, Joo no Kyoshitsu, I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I had high hopes. The cast boasts of seasoned child actors who are led by acting powerhouse, Ko Hyun-jung as the world's strictest, scariest teacher, Ma Yeo-jin. Ma Yeo-jin, queen of the classroom, is a cross between Matilda's Trunchbull and Roald Dahl's witches. I half expected Yeo-jin to pull off her wig and expose a bald head. She believes in the school of hard knocks: you get what you earn and if you don't, suck it up. On the first day of school, she gives privileges based upon test scores,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] Korean Weekend Box Office 2012.05.04 ~ 2012.05.06 2012/05/06, HanCinema's Korean Box Office Review(2012.05.04 ~ 2012.05.06)
Marvel's "The Avengers" was just released in the U.S and broke the U.S opening weekend admissions record in the process. Here in Korea the film continued to dominate proceedings with 1,430,613 admissions, placing it now as the third highest grossing film on the 2012 Korean box office with 4,001,878 total admissions. Marvel's superhero flick snatched 53.50% of the ticket sales and left the fighting for the scraps,...More
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