[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 20 Final 2016/11/01,
At long last, Soo has left the palace. From there she...hangs out at a new house for awhile, enjoys some flashbacks, and then dies while King Gwangjong sulks like a grumpy teenager. Hilariously bad communication brings everything to an unnecessarily tragic end. Last-minute revelations end up affecting pretty much nothing, since the extended epilogue is just more flashbacks set to sad music. In short, this is about everything we could have reasonably expected from the finale of "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 19 2016/10/31,
Soo is really upset at King Gwangjong for killing people, apparently having forgotten that King Gwangjong was killing people all the time even back when he was still Prince So. One flashback even goes to the trouble of reminding us that Soo herself was at one point fairly freaked out about Prince So's stone cold demeanor. What's more, apparently everyone's high opinion of Soo's random utterances were enough to permanently poison the well against Prince So and make all this bad stuff inevitable. Somehow,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 18 2016/10/25,
Apparently Goryeo is still in chaos even as Prince So has fully stepped in to his role as King Gwangjong. Yet rather than explore the potentially interesting political crisis "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" instead devotes most of its runtime to the slow, agonizing death of two of its minor characters. Why does it take so long for anyone to die in this drama? I wouldn't generally mind this so much except that, as was the case with Prince Eun and Soon-deok, neither of these characters was all that well-developed in the first place,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 17 2016/10/24,
It's the end for King Jeongjong, as the former Prince Yo melts down over...his mom I guess? I'm really not being sarcastic when I discuss how the elder brother has just straight up stolen his younger brother's character arc. It's kind of hard to feel sorry for King Jeongjong, though, when up until now he's just done explicitly evil stuff in pursuit of the throne and it's only now all of a sudden that the guy's starting to question why this was such a big priority,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 16 2016/10/18,
The last we saw of Prince Eun and Soon-deok they were in a no-win certain-to-die situation. This has not improved as Soo's prophecy predictably comes to pass, and for the rest of the runtime everyone just mopes around about this all upset. While I liked Prince Eun and Soon-deok well enough, it's a little off-putting how in death they are apparently far more important as characters than they ever were in life. I'm still a little lost as to how they ended up becoming the lynchpin to Prince Yo's final ascension to power as King Jeongjong,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 15 2016/10/11,
Now that he's become King Jengjong, the royalist formerly known as Prince Yo immediately makes a point of taking out all potential threats to his rule. Which in all fairness sounds pretty reasonable. Consider that the last two kings fell victim to assassination attempts largely because they weren't paying careful attention to immediate domestic threats. Granted that threat was Prince Yo himself, but even so, he's clearly not a very popular guy right now,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 14 2016/10/10,
At least a year has passed since the previous episode of "Scarlet Heat: Ryeo", as it is now the second year in the reign of King Hyejong (played by Kim San-ho). I never felt much need to discuss King Hyejong back when he was just the crown prince, and unfortunately, his new regal title is of no help in making the character any more important. King Hyejong has a few scenes of pointless paranoia, makes a very bizarre demand of Prince So, then inevitably falls victim to the machinations of Prince Yo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 13 2016/10/04,
A wide-angle camera shot better explains the cliffhanger for the last episode and...apparently Woo-hee was nowhere near King Taejo? What's more, the monarch had other more immediately pressing problems in the whole "staying alive" department, so that leaves Woo-hee's entire storyline as being completely pointless with no pay-off. Even so, other characters have to devote energy to saving Woo-hee, because Soo likes her, even though we don't actually know how or why Woo-hee and Soo are friends,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 12 2016/10/03,
Last episode's actions were so intense that apparently the entire cast needed to take a yearlong break. It's times like this I wish "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" was more clear about how much time has progressed in general. Of course Prince So and Prince Wook are still pining for Soo, but all the same, when nearly every character action in "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" is a careful calculation based on a long-term plan, how Soo fits into that is pretty essential information,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 11 2016/09/27,
Prince So's solution to the assassination plot against his brother was, as we see recapped at the beginning of this episode, rather needlessly dangerous. It was only through sheer force of will that Prince So was able to prevent an immediate crisis from breaking out. The actions of the other actors in the carnival of Goryeo politics render that sacrifice meaningless anyway, even if for another day, Prince So is able to save his brother. But is this really a sustainable plan?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 10 2016/09/26,
There's some good use of close-ups here as we can see Prince So's make-up is slowly wearing off. It's a good metaphor- Prince So is somewhat less vicious with Soo's influence, and it's unmistakable how the more we see of the scar, the more it seems like Prince So is turning back to rage and hatred. Even Prince So himself is surprisingly cognizant of just how scary he is, and how this can be off-putting to Soo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 9 2016/09/20,
As usual Prince So doesn't have that much screentime. But continuing the trend from last episode, "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" very effectively manages to drive up the tension by making nearly everything the other characters do be a reaction to Prince So. While poor Prince So himself is fairly oblivious to most of what's going on, it's very easy to see what brings on his bad moods. Even when Prince So does good, people are too terrified over his very existence to act all that grateful,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 8 2016/09/19,
The soundtrack in "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" is really anachronistic, to the point it even manages to overshadow Soo. I'm not saying everything has to be traditional Korean musical instruments all the time. It's just a little off-putting when we're watching a traditional Goryeo ritual with everyone acting like standard characters in a classical costume drama, but then a modern pop song shows up and all of a sudden the immersion is ruined,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 7 2016/09/13,
Soo begins her adjustment to palace life under the harsh eye of Lady Oh (played by Woo Hee-jin). It's hard to feel sorry for Soo because while aspects of her new life are obviously unpleasant, they're also fairly unremarkable considering this is Goryeo. You know, none of the other maids get to have pick me ups in the form of handsome princes chasing them around every few scenes. Although I'll admit getting mad at Soo for giving immediate medical attention to the man angrily demanding immediate medical attention was kind of silly,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 6 2016/09/12,
I'm having trouble grasping how much time has progressed in "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo". Last episode had all this beautiful winter scenery and yet this episode there's...none? Does that mean that Soo has been in Goryeo for several months? Because it sure doesn't feel like it's been that long. Mainly this is a consequence of the story having slowed to a crawl, as politics take a backseat to everything revolving around Soo for no good reason,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 5 2016/09/06,
Lady Hae (played by Park Si-eun) is Prince Wook's wife. She doesn't really do anything, I just thought it was worth acknowledging her existence since it puts Prince Wook in a fairly unusual situation as second lead. Normally we feel sorry for him getting the short end of the stick in a love triangle, since he's always such a nice guy, but hey! When Soo inevitably breaks Prince Woo's heart, he still has his wife, and she's really nice too,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 4 2016/09/05,
Empress Yoon (played by Park Ji-yeong) is the closest thing Prince So has to a parental figure. Unlucky for him, she's a huge jerk. After his murderous rampage last episode I never thought I'd feel sorry for Prince So but, well, this episode does a surprisingly good job humanizing the guy. We can see that his generally vile behavior is, twisted though it may seem, really just a desperate if inevitably doomed to fail effort on his part to gain some level of normal emotional satisfaction,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 3 2016/08/30,
At first, it seems like it's finally starting to dawn on Soo that Goryeo is a pretty vicious world. Then the danger passes and she's mostly back to her normal happy-go-lucky self, even if the neck scar is a constant reminder as to what will happen if she steps out of line again. The attitude is actually rather oddly appropriate- everyone else in Goryeo has to deal with the prospect of death on a constant basis, but if they worried about that twenty four seven there'd be no time for sexy bath parties,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 2 2016/08/30,
The pacing in "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" really is top notch. While I still psychologically recognize the obvious discordance between the political powerplay scenes and Soo's vastly more simplistic interpretation of plot, the tones are quite well balanced. We go from one to the other without any real sense of whiplash. Prince So is an uncommunicative jerk with his brothers, and he's also an uncommunicative jerk with Soo. But in both cases Prince So is also the main guy who's all about getting things done even if it means his hands get dirty in the process,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" Episode 1 2016/08/29,
Soo (played by IU) is a woman in the modern world with relationship problems. She also quickly gets into the unfortunate situation of being in close proximity to a child who cannot swim yet somehow manages to make his way into improbably deep water without anyone noticing. From there, Soo is plunged into the Goryeo era, where the King's many children, in addition to having sexy baths together, also engage in major political plots. Prince Wook (played by Kang Ha-neul) is the clear heir apparent while Prince So (played by Lee Joon-ki) has a chronically bad attitude due to childhood trauma,...More
[Orion's Drama News] Politics and Iffy Pairings 2016/08/13, "The K2" brings love for the country, the country's daughter and the country's power to our screens soon and "Scarlet Heart: Ryeo" is ruthlessly piling on the pretty with its new posters. "The Man In My House" is looking for leads to romance each other as newly met daughter and step dad, because Dramaland loves making us all daunted and confused. More goodies follow all of this and I close with my failure to marathon like I used to. Dramas, that is,...More
Song Ji-hyo shows off slim waist and ab on runway
2016/05/04, Source, Song Ji-hyo showed off her slim waist on runway in a Chinese fashion show.
Designer fashion brand, Katiacho has announced a fashion variety show integrated with hallyu stars and fashion & beauty industry, 'Very Korean', which is sponsored by Kore Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and KOFICE, was held in BIFT Park in Beijing, China successfully,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Alice: Boy from Wonderland" 2015/07/25,
Hye-joong (played by Jeong So-min) suffers from debilitating nightmares. So debilitating, she has to take long breaks from graduate coursework, and that's just not the kind of thing that can easily be explained to an impatient professor. It's not like she can get a doctor's note either, because the doctors say Hye-joong is perfectly healthy. It's just, some people inexplicably go into comas for several days at a time, only waking up to briefly be terrorized by an inability to separate reality from delusion. What else is there to do except go find a shaman?,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Enemies In-Law" 2015/05/09,
The plot is typical star-crossed lovers stuff. First, Cheol-soo (played by Hong Jong-hyeon) is the son of two supervillains. Well they're not really supervillains but Dal-sik (played by Sin Jeong-geun) and Yeong-mi (played by Park Eun-hye) have crime-committing abilities so superpowered they might as well be. Luckily "Enemies In-Law" is a comedy, so I don't need to do anything as ridiculous as criticize this movie for featuring a small army of crime dogs- that is, dogs that commit crimes, not dogs that solve crimes,...More
[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.05.01 ~ 2015.05.03 2015/05/04, Marvel's might continues while newcomers stake their claim… There was some serious jostling for position going on at the box office this past weekend. Last weekend Marvel's latest "Avengers" film entered the fray and (righteously) dominated proceedings by capturing a mammoth 90% of the box office pie. And while this left little else for the rest of the pack to pounce on, a week later we find a string of new entries trying to make a move on Marvel's monster,...More
Hong Jong-hyeon's shy smile 2015/04/28, Source, Hong Jong-hyeon along with Korea's entertainment magazine "Asta TV" May issue has unveiled his fairy tale like pictorial.
He pulled off all the styles prepared under the natural and comfortable style concept, taking advantage of his deep eyes and shy smiles,...More
Another scandal surrounding "We Just Got Married" 2015/02/10, Source, It seemed all calm when suddenly MBC TV show "We Just Got Married" caused another fuss, unwelcome to both the viewers and the cast. The thin line between imaginary and real life presented by the show has finally snapped. Despite the fact that Oh Yeon-seo went through hell in 2013 with Lee Jang-woo while she was on the show with Lee Joon, it's happened again and the sincerity of the show is being questioned.
Yoo-ra from Girl's Day and Song Jae-rim, Hong Jong-hyeon and Kim So-eun, After School member Nana and Son Ho-joon have all been mentioned as people involved in the scandals. Hong Jong-hyeon put out a statement right away and moved on. However, Kim So-eun was spotted with Son Ho-joon and had to go back and forth impreciseness and denial. When the media wouldn't live it down, producer Seon Hye-yoon stepped forward and said, "I have checked with her in person that they are just friends". Kim So-eun's management only then came forward to say, "They are just friends",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Why I'm Getting Married" 2014/12/21,
Ji-won (played by Park Hee-bon) is faced with a frequent conundrum- why is she getting married anyway? Her relationship with Seung-wook (played by Song Jong-ho) is hard to place. They're already living together, and they actually kind of already act like a cranky married couple, too. In early scenes we seem them having petty fights with the kind of self-confidence you only really get from a long-term relationship. Anybody else would to be too scared of running into a break-up. But is that a real relationship? Ji-won doesn't really know,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "One Step More to the Sea" 2013/11/22,
I really admire the men in "One Step More to the Sea". Granted, they're not the main characters, but there's a persistence in their actions, a genuine desire for intimacy that breaks a lot of stereotypes about ideal masculinity. They're these kind figures with a surprising sense of restraint that makes for some inviting romantic subplots absent all the discomforting baggage common in genre films about love.
The main storyline in this film has a similar kind of easy, soft feeling that does a lot to relax the nerves,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Final Episode 16 2013/07/16,
Well, it turns out that final plot arc was exactly as stupid and discomforting as I was expecting it to be. How and why the writer could have possibly thought a plot involving fistfights, stabbing, and bombs would be an appropriate ending to this drama I have no idea. It's like a character from a completely different show decided to just show up and do all the evil cliches he could think of at once. The nicest thing I can say about this storyline is that it only lasted one-and-a-half episodes.
Unfortunately these were still one-and-a-half episodes that could have been used to do something much more interesting,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 15 2013/07/15,
The final act of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is definitely utilizing all the information and setting that's been established so far. Unfortunately it's doing so in a rather uninspiring way. I felt uncomfortable when I saw last week's cliffhanger. This drama has dealt with lots of interesting tropes in imaginative ways, but kidnapping? That's not even a trope that's particularly popular in romances. And where it does show up, the unfortunate implications far outweigh any decent drama.
I've been watching this drama as a romantic comedy. I can't imagine that anyone else has been doing differently, simply because of the premise. The strengths of the drama are its honest emotional conversations and build-ups,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" 2013/07/09,
This episode takes a surprisingly direct and pointed attack against the Cyrano Agency's mission. The last episode felt like it was reminding us of everything we'd learned. This one made the argument as to why the Cyrano Agency is, and only ever should be, a fantasy. The contrast with the rest of the series is striking, but rather appropriate. Having the bird's eye view of the audience, it's easy to forget how this can feel for the targets. The very fact that they are best described as targets implies a certain level of contempt for them.
Take the main manipulation setpiece of this episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 13 2013/07/08,
The final stretch of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is determined to take every convoluted aspect of the series to date and extend it to the most outrageous limits. The Cyrano Agency's final job looks to be an exceptionally complex meta-game of characters pretending to be doing one thing, when in fact they're doing another thing. But everybody knows that everbody else could be doing one thing while pretending to be doing another thing, because this entire series is about the use of complicated meta-acting narratives. So all anyone actually knows is that everyone has an agenda, and even if they can guess the end they might not be able to guess the method,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 12 2013/07/02,
The nursing home subplot ends up going a better direction than I was expecting, as we have less emphasis this time on the wacky adventures and more on exactly what's making life so difficult for this couple. I'm still not entirely sure how well this subplot as a whole dovetails with the larger plot of the agency. We're not exactly at the point where we can accuse the love story between Byeong-Hoon and Min-Yeong of being damaged by past trauma, but that point may be coming soon.
Outside of the love manipulation plot, a lot of the story feels out of focus here,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 11 2013/07/01,
I came away from this episode feeling a little indifferent. It's not bad, really. The characters are all true-to-form, there's some few good gags staggered throughout, and the current love manipulation scheme proceeds at a reasonable clip. It all just felt sort of empty. What I've really liked about "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" is the way it's been taking very specific situations and relating them to broader, more abstract experiences. There's very little of that here, as this episode is about coming back into love after trauma.
There isn't anything wrong with this kind of plot. I was a big fan of "Love 911", a movie last year which covered a lot of the same ground,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 10 2013/06/25,
If the last episode was about the negative consequences fear has on love, this one is about the problems involved with courage. Nearly every character seems to have taken a cue from spooky girl's plot arc and started acting deliberately with more initiative. It's definitely a change for the better, from a narrative standpoint anyway. It forces character whose roles have so far been unclear into acting in a more dynamic, interesting way instead of the usual sneaking around.
Like Ah-Rang (played by Jo Yoon-woo). I'm actually not totally sure what he even did on this drama before he started videotaping stuff at random,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 9 2013/06/24,
After the horror-tinged ending to the last episode, it's appropriate that "Love Manipulation Cyrano" now moves on to an entire episode fueled by fear. It's not a scary fear, though. Despite appearances to the contrary the spooky girl (played by Jeong Yu-mi) is not actually haunted or dangerous in any way. It just seems like that because her crippling shyness has shut her off from the rest of the world- especially the men.
The most appropriate, and immediately recognizable bit of Jeong Yu-mi's performance are her perfectly placed bangs which always obscure half of her face,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 8 2013/06/18,
Well, it's finally happened. I've gotten tired of the goofy antics of "Love Manipulation: Cyrano". Perhaps it's just because the current storyline didn't go the way I was expecting it to. After numerous hints indicating that the current client's request was unreasonable and childish, it ends on a near-storybook note with no real hitches. What's worse, this time, the rmanipulation was, to me, distinctly implausible and suspicious in that it was so obviously manipulative.
Let's take the setpiece of the last episode. The reason it worked so well (as demonstrated by the shopgirl's perplexed expression) is because the scheme didn't feel like manipulation,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 7 2013/06/17,
Everything about this drama is needlessly complicated. It probably seems like I write this every review, but that's because every week the writing manages to find another way to top itself. We find out what those mysterious men covered in black were doing spying on the restaurant- and the answer is simultaneously really stupid and strangely appropriate. At times I have to wonder whether this drama is really love manipulation so much as it is love espionage,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 6 2013/06/11,
It's back to goofiness here, as Byeong-Hoon soon finds himself embroiled in a new love manipulation that seems beneath his dignity. Personally, I'm inclined to agree. The new client is a pretty big dork. I know love can pop up in the strangest places, but this woman's only apparent reaction to him is "thinly veiled hostility". And here we have him lighting up like a puppy dog when she so much as responds to his weak attempts at conversation.
Still, a job's a job, and for a love target this cranky, a very direct contact is going to be necessary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 5 2013/06/10,
If the fourth episode was about the way first love entangles people, this episode is about recovery. I'm honestly impressed at how quickly Byeong-Hoon is able to pull himself together and salvage a plan that had just about been completely shot. The appearance of his first love Yoon I-Seol last episode seemed to spell out a possible crisis situation- but surprisingly, it actually improves his reasoning by helping him figure out exactly what first love means to an adult, and how it needs to be sculpted appropriately for a teen,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 4 2013/06/04,
The episode starts out with some clever grounding- funny how, with just the slightest emphasis of focus, character actions that seemed to indicate one emotion were actually about something else. The high school arc continues to surprise me with just how on-point it is. For all the zany antics of school uniforms, idols, and too-smart kids, it's painfully obvious that none of the teenagers have any idea what any of the rest of them are thinking. The main "attractive" element of each individual member of the love triangle is an aura of mystery which doesn't actually exist.
The Cyrano Agency members also get some interesting grounding,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 3 2013/06/03,
The first successful pairing of the show is established with a very unlikely revelation that clearly establishes love as a two-way street. This may not sound like much, but recall that one of the big draws to "Cyrano Agency" was how it presented relationships as being essentially two-sided, even though the Cyrano set-up normally only shows us one side. A very passionate, implausible side to be sure, but such is the nature of storytelling,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Love Manipulation: Cyrano" Episode 2 2013/05/28,
The second episode slows down a bit as the action descends into cat-related hijinx. Unfortunately, this really isn't as interesting as it may sound. Even by the standards of the first episode it's difficult to sort out the importance of the cat in the overall scheme, and the chase scene that results just doesn't ring with quite the same urgency as the elaborate subway plot of the first episode. Or the more direct and effective cloak-and-dagger skulking about in this one,...More
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