[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" 2015/06/20,
While crime shows are in general more realistic and handle more dire topics than for example fairytale romances, they do not necessarily explore their stories more deeply. Crime fluff does exist and has its own tropes that also become clichés. OCN has delivered many good dramas, but had not gone the extra mile into meaningful stories with a theme. Until 'Missing Noir M' came along. A show which elevates its genre and becomes a milestone for the channel's drama output,...More
[HanCinema's Actor Spotlight] Jo Bo-ah 2015/06/06,
Entertainment is not an easy field to work in. As a woman, it is usually even harder. Young talents do not only need a breakthrough, but also to be supported during their first steps and nurtured into something great. This benefits everyone in the future. The same is true for the entertainment of South Korea. One such young talent who has shown potential and needs the opportunities to develop it is Jo Bo-ah,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 10 Final 2015/05/30,
First, just to make it totally clear, the final case of "Missing Noir M" is just another one-off case. We get some details regarding Soo-hyeon's backstory, but it's made quite clear that we're only getting all the answers if "Missing Noir M" is renewed for a second season. I'm not sure that's happening- to be honest I'm not sure I want it to happen, because while "Missing Noir M" has certainly had its strong points, right to the end the drama seems determined to make things as depressing as possible,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 9 2015/05/23,
The cast helpfully explains what they've figured out regarding the mystery so far, and Soo-hyeon helpfully puts the clues together in such a way that we've at least got a basic narrative explaining what exactly has happened to date. In short, there wasn an incredibly elaborate scam perpetrated for the sake of extorting money from the woman who wanted to find her daughter again. This ends up going badly because, like most elaborate scams that involve large numbers of people, this one required that all the participants shut up and act predictably,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 8 2015/05/16,
Thirty years ago a mother lost her daughter. Miraculously, they were recently united, and their familial ties were confirmed on national television. Then the adult daughter disappeared again. "Missing Noir M" makes one thing clear right away- she was being chased by some sort of gang. The detectives don't see this information directly, but it's not actually much of a deduction. The continual question here is just- why?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 7 2015/05/09,
This episode didn't seem that depressing. Bear in mind I'm not sure whether this is objectively true or whether my standards have just been completely warped by the miserable tone "Missing Noir M" has been driving at lately. The opening scene appears to be underage prostitution for pity's sake, and there are murders involved. But at least we don't wallow in that too much. Even the ending, while initially annoying, did feel appropriate in long perspective,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 6 2015/05/02,
A video surfaces on the Internet of an obviously terrified woman begging for help. Obviously the question quickly arises as to whether or not the video is fake- but as far as the detectives of "Missing Noir M" are concerned, the important problem is simply to find her first and ask questions later. As usual, delving into the greater context of the case quickly manages to bring up some rather dispiriting, discouraging stories that are just, well, really grim,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 5 2015/04/25,
It's getting difficult to recommend "Missing Noir M" at this point. The issue isn't that the drama's getting bad exactly, but more than the stories are consistently really kind of dispiriting. This is even explicitly discussed at the end- technically this is once again another mostly happy ending where no one actually got hurt. Or at least, no one got hurt who didn't already mostly deserve it. Poetic justice is a pretty sorry recompense for serious loss though,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 4 2015/04/18,
This mystery's format somewhat disappointedly takes the same overall thrust as the last one. We discover, as expected, that the apparent victim in this case isn't quite so innocent as he may have initially appeared. What's more, there's a lot of lateral thinking involved here to figure out just how far this conspiracy extends, and how many characters have hidden agendas and past crimes that they're making a point of covering up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 3 2015/04/11,
No murders this time as "Missing Noir M" moves into its second case. Now, see, this is what I like about the writing in this drama. Lee Yu-jin shows excellent restraint in just making the crisis about a missing person without having to drag increasingly outrageous crimes into the equation. Certainly the set-up is intriguing enough- an abandoned car, obvious signs of furtive activity, and it all ties back to...an apparently unremarkable married salaryman?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 2 2015/04/04,
The immediate problem our intrepid detectives come up with this episode is simply a lack of suspects. It's like Soo-hyeon says- pretty much everybody in the picture is dead, so what exactly are they supposed to be investigating? As it turns out, there is one somewhat windy trail that eventually leads the team to the culprit. And as is usually the case with a well-crafted mystery, everything seems so obvious in retrospect I'm not actually sure why it took so long for the team to figure out what happened,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Missing Noir M" Episode 1 2015/03/28,
Soo-hyeon (played by Kim Kang-woo) is a US-trained investigator who's very good at math puzzles. Dae-yeong (played by Park Hee-son) is a mostly standard grizzled street cop. Together they...well, they solve mysteries more than they fight crime. The whole reason Soo-hyeon's been dragged out to the field in the first place is because he's implicated in a bizarre crime. The perpetrator of these criminal actions (played by Kang Ha-neul) is apparently interested in matching wits with Soo-hyeon. I guess because in prison he has nothing better to do,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Missing Noir M" 2015/03/21,
Fans of "Special Affairs Team TEN" will not be getting their third season yet, but those who appreciated the style of the drama will be getting a consolation piece. The production team of the aforementioned series is back with 'Missing Noir M'. The premise this time around involves missing persons, rather than the usual dead ones, and also a dynamic duo of very different characters working together and solving the presented mysteries,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" 2014/10/18,
Romantic comedy with fantasy elements is common in Korean drama. The fantasy elements give a twist to a type with very little deviation from its formula and they offer some dramatic conflict. "The Idle Mermaid" (a.k.a 'Surplus Princess') aimed to be the odd one out from the start. With more of an ensemble approach and unapologetic quirkiness, it tried to be something new and fun. Despite being cut short due to bad ratings, it managed to do just that,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 10 Final 2014/10/09,
The good news is that the drama ends about as well as expected given the circumstances. The bad news is...well, that's a pretty darning caveat on its own isn't it? There's nothing particularly awful about this episode, it's just that everything is very explicitly rushed. An entire romantic plotline is formed, developed, and resolved over the course of a single montage. Kind of the entire point of having a television romantic comedy is that we actually get to see this stuff unfold.
The drama also never revolves an essential mystery revolving Ha-ni's character- why she isn't more careful about water. I'm just saying, if my legs were going to turn into a tailfin if touched by water under any circumstances, I'd make a point of scoping out every possible situation that could somehow involve water and make sure to avoid them,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 9 2014/10/02,
The real shocker this episode has nothing to do with the story, but rather the production run. Apparently "The Idle Mermaid" is ending next week at a total of ten episodes. And no, this most certainly was not pre-planned. Up until last episode we'd been getting a countdown timer to how many days remain before Ha-ni faces her ultimate fate. That timer is absent this time. I suspect this downsizing of dramas is a corporate decision by tvN, as "Golden Tower" was also abruptly cancelled, with yesterday's episode simply being a clip show review.
All right, that's enough as far as gossip goes. How does this episode do in terms of merit? Well...somewhat ambiguously, to be honest. The retreat continues as the main characters attempt to come up with a new pitch,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 8 2014/09/25,
This episode ends with a major misunderstanding being cleared up. Well, technically two, but the first one is more important and it's essential you know right away that "The Idle Mermaid" isn't going to make its characters wallow in artificial confusion indefinitely. I actually disliked most of the episode because I thought the drama was just running around in circles stirring up conflict arbitrarily through the use of random happenstance,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 7 2014/09/18,
I hope you weren't expecting this episode to have much in the way of plot progress, because there really isn't any. We open up with Ha-ni and Si-kyeong misunderstanding each other because of Jin-ah's scheme, and for the entire runtime this is never cleared up. Technically the storyline reason for this is that Ha-ni has to go visit a special guest star. It's not clear to me whether there was supposed to any storyline significance to this meeting or if it was just killing time for the sake of jokes. All I know is that I didn't laugh.
The writing has gotten sloppy. It's obvious that we're supposed to be transitioning now to making the possibility of a romance between Ha-ni and Hyeon-myeong a serious one, but it's also just as obvious that Hyeon-myeong isn't much of a character in the first place, at least for this kind of storyline,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 6 2014/09/11,
The drama runs into some tonal problems here, as the comedy doesn't really work that well with the story as presented. For the most part "The Idle Mermaid" has been sympathetic to the plight of the unemployed, then we get an opening joke that seems to be poking fun at how lazy jobless bachelors are. This goes down especially bad because even in the same episode those very same issues of self-worth come up again as more progress is made on the permanent employment front.
The writing here is really all over the place and doesn't actually seem to be leading anywhere specific, which makes the humor difficult to properly gauge. In a drama like "Golden Tower",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 5 2014/09/04,
Si-kyeong's complete lack of clear characterization has at this point become a running gag. Pay attention to how he responds to questions or statements this episode. Pretty much every time he regards new information quizzically, like someone has just asked him to solve a mystery. It's genuinely really difficult to tell how much of the ongoing situation the guy understands, even though he's obviously smart enough to be a famous chef,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 4 2014/08/28,
I've been pretty patient about the drama's slow pacing up until now but this episode really pushes the limit. Yes, we do make a fair bit of plot progress by the end. The trouble is that in the meantime an inordinate amount of time is spent on build-ups and deliveries to plot points I honestly don't really care about. Isn't this supposed to be a romantic comedy? Ergo, there should be a lot of romantic bits mixed in with the comedy, especially given this is literally a life-and-death situation?
The most effective humor here turns to be of the platonic irrelevant variety. Try as I might, for example, it's pretty hard to picture Ahn Kil-kang as a mermaid, even when the drama goes to the trouble of showing him in full costume,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 3 2014/08/21,
Apparently the drama is still setting up the premise. Which isn't as strange as it sounds really- it's just that most adaptations of the original story just assume that we all know how everything works. It's actually very much to the credit of "The Idle Mermaid" that the question is posed- what exactly is true love anyway? Yeah we're supposed to know it when we see it, sure. That's really not much help to anyone who has no idea what the experience is like.
The question is resolved mostly convincingly by the end of the episode, mainly through the help of obvious personality changes,...More
[KDrama.com Spotlight] "The Idle Mermaid" - First Impressions 2014/08/15, Source,
TvN has decided to try something new - a new time slot that is. Rather than their usual Monday/Tuesday, Friday/Saturday primetime drama slots, their newest drama "The Idle Mermaid" is airing only once a week on Thursday evenings. Described by TvN as the Korean Little Mermaid, there was some eyebrow raising by drama fans at the rather unorthodox genre. There was even more eyebrow raising when TvN announced that members of Saturday Night Live Korea would also be joining the cast. Add heartthrob actors Song Jae-rim, Jo Bo-ah, and On Joo-wan and drama fans were intrigued,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 2 2014/08/14,
Apparently we're still stuck setting up the premise, although in all fairness this is mostly Ha-ni's fault. Ma-nyeo (played by Ahn Kil-kang) tried to warn her, and explain how exactly the magic worked, but Ha-ni just had to be a dumb impulsive teenager. I do like the Ma-nyeo character here- the sea witch gets a bad wrap in most adaptations. In the original story she just provides a service. "The Idle Mermaid" does an excellent job recognizing the fact that even if Ma-nyeon facilitated Ha-ni's bad decision making, the situation is clearly her fault, not his,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Idle Mermaid" Episode 1 2014/08/07,
The Little Mermaid fairytale was not at all romantic, Disney's protestations notwithstanding. It's a pretty bleak story about how an excessively romantic attitude regarding love is an unrewarding process that will probably backfire horribly and either result in you dying or transformed into a spirit. Yeah, it's a pretty weird story. And "The Idle Mermaid" quickly establishes itself in a similar vein by making it clear right away that our main character is not a good person (or mermaid, whatever), but rather a childish, immature teenage girl,...More
[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2014.04.11 ~ 2014.04.13 2014/04/14, "The Winter Soldier" stands his ground…
Marvel's second instalment of their "Captain America" series came out again on top this past weekend, pulling in additional 470,782 admissions (33.6%) to advance its total tally now to 3.3M. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" landed in Korea late March and has since remained the country's film of choice; an impressive feat given the continuous shuffling we've see at the box office this year. Globally, the film has amassed a monstrous $476M thus far and has been praised/enjoy by critics and fans alike,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2014/04/05, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★★ "My Boy": A brother with an impulse disorder dreams of visiting and playing with his brother in hospital while his mother struggles to pay the medical bills. (04/10)
★★★★★ "Godsend": A woman who desperately wants a child tries to convince a pregnant woman not to have an abortion and allow her to raise the child. (04/10)
★★★★ "Guardian": A former firefighter is caught between a rock and a hard place when one of his children is kidnapped and he has to capture another child in exchange. (04/10)
★★★ "Girls, Girls, Girls": Three friends approaching thirty get together at a hotel and agree on a sexy challenge they must then prove. (04/10)
★★★★ "Thorn": A popular PE teacher has to deal with a fearless student who has confessed her love for him. (04/10)
★★★★ "Broken": A single father takes the law into his own hands after discovering the identity of his daughter's murders. (04/10),...More
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