[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 12 2016/11/20,
No sooner than Geum-joo passes her first exam and is well on her road to being a lawyer than she is given the huge challenge of defending Bok-geo, investigating Min-ah's case, and learning the huge difference between being a brilliant woman behind the scenes and one who stands up in a court room. Although the legal aspect of the show is exciting, it is also somewhat contrived,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 13 2016/11/20,
The battle between Golden Tree and Oh Sung escalates to new highs. Hye-joo completely crosses over to the dark side, Bok-geo is convicted, and Geum-joo is forced to choose between her career and safety and defending those she has sworn to protect. More intriguing than Geum-joo this episode is Hye-joo, who has completely fallen off the deep end with the pressures put on her by Oh Sung,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 10 2016/11/06,
This drama is hard to truly understand because on one hand, it celebrates Geum-joo as an independent, fierce, smart woman. On the other, Beok-geo acts like a self-entitled man as he pushes her around every episode - and she likes it. The only times he is nice to her is when she's asleep. Otherwise he's picking on her in a most juvenile fashion. This does not, in any way, support the fact that women deserved to be treated as people and not as objects to be played with. Aside from this, the rest of the episode centers around an overly simplistic chaebol family feud that is not interesting in the least. The one thing that Beok-geo does that redeems him is that he supports Geum-joo as she studies for her test,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 9 2016/10/27,
Episode 10 of "Woman with a Suitcase" has been pre-empted because of baseball season so we only get episode 9 this week. However, it's a powerful episode where we see Geum-joo grasping at a second chance in life. The case that landed her in jail and reset her life to be more difficult resurfaces and gives her chances she never thought she'd see again. The first chance she takes is trying to mend the relationship with her sister,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 8 2016/10/23,
Episode 8 of "Woman with a Suitcase" bravely tackled a very difficult subject: homosexuality. It treated the character in the episode with respect and touched upon the issue in an honest way. Of course, as a drama on a public station it couldn't challenge societal precepts, but I'm glad that the social commentary was made. The backdrop for the episode was the case of the week, which focused on a murder revolving around the homosexual relationship of a prominent citizen,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 7 2016/10/19, "Woman with a Suitcase" is losing it's steam the more it goes along. The root of the problem is the lack of chemistry between the leads and the looseness with which the main intrigue is treated. There is so much potential buried within the premise, but after seven episodes the show still hasn't found its stride. The biggest lack is the relationship between Bok-geo and Geum-joo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 6 2016/10/18,
The Golden Tree legal family is starting to learn to work as a team and the only person who feels removed is Bok-geo. His jealousy over Geum-joo's attentions and his secrecy about his old case have inserted a wall between him and the others. That's okay, though. We got enough wonderful material coursing through the veins of this show to take us a long way. One aspect of the show I am not enjoying, although I do love it for the most part, is the very dominant Bok-geo flirtation with Geum-joo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 5 2016/10/16,
Working in the legal profession has always been important to Geum-joo. She's good at it, and she finds it fulfilling. But events as of late have made her question her work's role in her life and how it fits in. Mix that together with Bok-geo's burgeoning feelings for her and his secrets, and with Seok-woo's likability and we have one entertaining show. Seok-woo has joined Golden Tree and the romantic triangle is starting to heat up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 4 2016/10/07, "Woman with a Suitcase" is moving right along. Nothing loses steam as the episodes plow forward. Characters' backgrounds have bits and pieces revealed. Those same characters grow, however painfully. The case of the episode is interesting and full of fun twists and moral dilemmas that everyone tackles in different ways. What a refreshingly mature and fun drama this is. Perhaps the only downside to the drama is Bok-geo's very dominant personality and his penchant for abusing his legal powers over Geum-joo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 3 2016/10/05,
There is something that is so wonderfully introspective and real about "Woman with a Suitcase". It is rooted in the fact that Geum-joo is a delightful human being, a powerhouse paralegal, and confident, but also a little closed off to the opinions of others because she's lost sight of her sense of justice. It is Seok-woo who reminds her of the humanity inherent in the law and Bok-geo who gives her the means with which to practice it. These elements come together to form a great drama. In this episode, Geum-joo is in fine form,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 2 2016/10/03, "Woman with a Suitcase" wastes no time in moving past introductions and getting to the heart of the show: the alliances and the battles that Geum-joo has to forge and wage along her long road up. Ma-seok gets more than a few minutes of screen time and we see Geum-joo's telltale smarts and tenacity carry her through her transition back into the real world. After serving a year of jail time, Geum-joo comes back to divorce papers, no home, and no money,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Woman with a Suitcase" Episode 1 2016/10/02, "Woman with a Suitcase" is the story of a woman who has it all: brains, beauty, knowledge, tenacity, and a keen intuition. All she's missing is the society's seal of approval the test results to catapult her into a position of respect. This first episode is her story and how she, her sister, and those around her deal in the very tricky business of the law and the people who seek to manipulate to their will. Kwon Eum-mi (Gapdong) is no stranger to penning procedurals or mystery, and has set up quite the story,...More
[Guest Review] "Musa" 2016/09/03,
"Musa" is one of the most expensive productions in the history of Korean cinema (it was the most expensive when it first screened, in 2001) and one of those films that turned the global audience towards the country. Based on historical facts, with an attention to detail that even resulted in each protagonist using his tribe's language, and featuring a great cast of Korean actors plus Zhang Ziyi, "Musa" is a truly impressive film,...More
[Orion's Drama News] All the Dramas 2016/07/30,
My partner in not-crime, Lisa is busy over at KCON and I am here feeling lonely with a plethora of drama news. So I figure, what better therapy to loneliness is there than to share them all with you? I usually focus on specific noteworthy happenings and news, but today I switch it up. I feature three upcoming dramas and their news before piling on even more drama-ness with the usual upcoming drama goodies section. Let me pamper you,...More
"My Love Eun-dong" Joo Jin-mo 2015/05/03, Source, JTBC drama "My Love Eun-dong" released stills of the ever so innocent lover Joo Jin-mo.
He is wearing a black shirt with a white jacket and sits smiling at a press conference. He looks like the top star that he is in the drama. His handsome features target the female audience and is about to say something shocking in front of all the press,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review + Video] "Real Fiction": Inert experiment or deep drama? 2014/10/25,
"Real Fiction" (2000) is a gritty experimental film of sorts, arguably embryonic entertainment that purposefully tinkers with the art of filmmaking with debatable results. The film was reportedly shot in 200 minutes (cut to 84) and contains an interesting mix of formal framing and dirtied handheld footage. It may not be entirely convincing in both plot and purpose, but this compact and nihilistic nugget is still worth watching to see what happens when Kim Ki-duk (alongside Kang Cheol-woo) throws caution to the wind,...More
[HanCinema's Hall of Fame Review] "Friends 2": Return to Ruin? 2014/06/14, In the Spotlight this Week:Kwak Gyeong-taek's "Friends 2"...
As the credits rolled on Kwak Gyeong-taek's "Friends 2" I was, perhaps unjustifiably, reminded of a quote by Orson Welles, that "if you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story". Now while Kwak's 2001 blockbuster "Friend" can't be accused of having ended 'happily', the film itself was indeed a great story well told; one that immediately elevated itself into the history books as a modern Korean classic. But it was its story that ended happily, in record-breaking royalties, and proclaimed Kwak as an attuned talent with a flair for character-driven drama and tragedy-but a film that perhaps should've been allowed to rest in piece, not pieces,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "A Better Tomorrow" + Giveaway 2014/05/02,
Kim Hyeok (played by Joo Jin-mo) is a North Korean defectee who is now a police detective working in South Korea but also does arms deals on the side. Yeong-choon (played by Song Seung-heon) is just an arms dealer, though he's metaphorically Kim Hyeok's brother. Kim Hyeok's actual brother is Kim Cheol, who doesn't want anything to do with criminal enterprises at all. Also he's the one who starts the movie out in North Korea. Well I guess depends on how you define flashbacks.
"A Better Tomorrow" is a remake of a Hong Kong action film, and I can't help but wonder if director Song Hae-seong was working under the assumption that the viewer already basically knows who all the characters are,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 50 2014/04/30,
The extension has made "Empress Qi" struggle for material. It has introduced a new character and is playing out a scheme that should've been given much more time. What this penultimate episode has done is fleshed out the emotional ranges of Wang Yoo and Seung-nyang, both of whom have been tightly bound for the majority of the show's run. There has been a new plot twist as of late. Golta, Ta-hwan's trusted eunuch, is the head of an illegal financial operation that works selfishly and often against the betterment of the Yuan people. Golta is interested in power and money, and intends to use Ta-hwan (via slow poisoning) as a mean to an end,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 49 2014/04/28,
There was a very strange tone shift in "Empress Qi" 's penultimate episode. While the episode was heavy in subject matter, there was an incongruent levity in the comportments of the main characters. Seung-nyang seems to have rid herself of the hunger for power she'd acquired and makes amends with Ta-hwan, smiling and getting along as though she'd never kept secrets from him. The change in her demeanor was so sudden and strange that it may belie ulterior motives. Her intentions as a leader of the Yuan people was always to help the commoners, but her way of achieving it involved deception. It required her to make difficult decision, to take lives, to lie to Ta-hwan. Because of that, it is just plain bizarre to see her laughing and smiling with Ta-hwan as if nothing had happened. They never addressed her deceptions,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 48 2014/04/28,
Power games are in heated play as key players are removed from the board. "Empress Qi" is almost ready to crown Seung-nyang empress. It is busy setting up, but it still allowed time for one of the most poignant moments of the series - Tal Tal's decision to turn again Bayan. It's Tal Tal and Seung-nyang's friendship has always been a highlight of the drama,...More
"Empress Qi", Day 1 to today with Ha Ji-won 2014/04/28, Source,
A roughneck, a mother, an empress. These are some of the faces shown by actress Ha Ji-won in the last 7 months. She has become the kind of actress who can change her face to however the situation needs. All issues about her acting have been wiped off in this drama. Acting is the only thing that makes sense to her.
MBC drama "Empress Qi" ends on the fifty-first episode. Ki Seung-nyang (Ha Ji-won) stands on the top of authority as she becomes the lawful empress of Emperor Ta Hwan (Ji Chang-wook). However, it's not over until it really is. Enemies are always after their necks,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 47 2014/04/24,
Power corrupts. It quietly slips into the most steadfast of hearts and makes them yearn for more. Not one character in "Empress Qi" has been untouched by power's temptations and they, and the nations they affect, are suffering because of it. Ta-hwan believes that power will bring the acceptance and love he's always desired,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 46 2014/04/20, "Empress Qi" is throwing everything it has at us, but it fails to be truly compelling. There are tears, and death, and convoluted political plots, but none of those things carry any weight. The buildup towards the events in this episode was sorely lacking and made the biggest reveal seem anticlimactic. This drama has struggled with uneven development since the beginning. Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo's romance was choppily pieced together. The same can be said for Yon Feisu's strange relationship with Wang Yoo. While her romantic feelings were made obvious, his connection to her seemed to end with business. That is, until the show kills Yon Feisu off (in a scene that was absurdly forced and overly dramatic) and has Wang Yoo weep platonic tears for a woman he never seemed to care about before,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 45 2014/04/16, "Empress Qi" is pulling out all the stops as it nears the end of its run. It flails it's arms as it grabs for some logical purchase, but finds none. Characters grapple with stability, who they want to be and what they've become. The biggest issue lies with Ta-hwan,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 44 2014/04/09,
Episode 44 of "Empress Qi" was very inconsistent. It focused on Ta-hwan and his fears of inadequacy. Those fears make him easily manipulated by everyone. While this is a solid focus, the execution was messy. Empress Hudu only appears once in the entire episode despite the fact that she's supposed to be a power hungry woman who will do anything to attain it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 43 2014/04/06,
The difference in story quality between the Monday and Tuesday episodes is startling. Monday episodes tend to be awkward and hackneyed while Tuesday episodes infuse "Empress Qi" with energy. The development of young prince Maha brought this episode to life. The young actor is exceptionally strong as the revenge-filled youth who is confused by his strange connection with Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo, the two people he was raised to despise - his real parents,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 42 2014/04/06, "Empress Qi" is fishing for material and for ratings. This episode included yet another person going insane and a completely jarring time jump. The show is now going for shock value rather than for quality. The few issues that were begun earlier in the drama played out smoothly, but anything introduced in recent episodes developed haphazardly,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 40 2014/03/31, "Empress Qi" is adept at throwing in plot twists and maneuvering characters and their desires into places that will have the most dramatic impact. What it lacks is the ability to fully develop characters and make their sincerity clear. Seung-nyang is in a difficult place. Her loyalties are divided between her child, her caring for Ta-hwan, and her Goryeo heritage,...More
[Spoiler] "Empress Qi" Ha Ji-won cries at Yoo In-young's words 2014/03/25, Source,
On the forty-first episode of the MBC drama "Empress Qi", Ki Seung-nyang (Ha Ji-won) recalled the past when she heard that Yeon Bi-su (Yoo In-young) had been in love with Wang Yoo (Joo Jin-mo).
Ki Seung-nyang met with Yeon Bi-su to talk about the secret funds, as Yeon Bi-su said, "Is Wang Yoo just the helper? I adore him". Ki Seung-nyang hesitated before saying, "I am the empress of this country, don't you think that question of yours is rude?" Yeon Bi-su replied, "You are hurting him still. He hasn't forgotten you. I can't stand his pain - that's why I'm telling you",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 38 2014/03/23,
On the heels of change is opportunity and when there is opportunity there is greed. In the wake of El Temur's death, only his memory, wealth and power are left for the living to fight over. This is when differences in goals come to light and allies divide to become foes. Seung-nyang has been clever, powerful, and at the head of the pack because she was the leader of a revolution everyone supported,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 37 2014/03/15,
The end of a major enemy in "Empress Qi" has arrived. The journey and the battle to achieve this end were both epic and full of excitement. It made this episode a fun watch, but in retrospect, there was a lot of waiting around for pieces to line up. What I mean by that is that too many plot threads took such a long time to unravel and climax that it made this final battle with El Temur and his allies stale in hindsight,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 36 2014/03/13,
Political tensions have finally peaked and "Empress Qi" is on the brink of war. The good guys have mustered enough strength to combat the tenacious El Temur and his minions. There are still quite a few questions left to answer going into this war that will remain after the battle ensues. What of Seung-nyang's first born,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 35 2014/03/11,
The mythological elements continue as "Empress Qi" focuses on Shamanism to further the story, which is an awkward turn because those elements are unclear. What saves the episode from being awkward is the focus on relationships: father to child, mother to child, leader to men, man to woman. It looked at many relationships that had been left undefined and examined how they have changed over the past thirty-five episodes.
The biggest relationship looked at was that of father to son. Ta-hwan feels nothing for Maha, the son he supposedly had through Tanasiri and the son who is supposedly El Temur's bloodline,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 34 2014/03/10, "Empress Qi" has decided to take the mythical route and the move was jarring and strange. It feels like a ploy for ratings rather than genuine plot stuffs. This shift comes along with newly defined relationships between Seung-nyang and Ta-hwan, and Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo, both of which are developed very well. As for the mythology, it's used to show just how far Tanisiri is willing to go for revenge and power. It paints her desperation for Ta-hwan's love and her crown's power in a very stark, terrifying light,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 33 2014/03/05, "Empress Qi" is at its strongest on Tuesdays. Episode 33 was exciting, grand, and chock full of great material. It came together as a piece of art, a well-wrought story, and was one of the most entertaining episodes to date. The characters see a lot of growth because they are vulnerable physically and emotionally. Wang Yoo finally makes a mistake, which forces him to make choice that is not readily understood - it made him incredibly intriguing in the way that he was only in the earliest episodes,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 32 2014/03/04, "Empress Qi" is going strong and that strength is due to the show's ability to draw interest. It puts each character through innumerable highs and lows each week and keeps the action rolling. Whether or not this action follows a logical progression is dependent on the situation. Sometimes situations are contrived for the shock factor rather than to logically fit into the story, but they are all eventually integrated into the overall texture. This episode addressed a few issues that have been on the backburner, which amped up the excitement level,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 31 2014/02/26, "Empress Qi" was much more exciting this episode because of an increased pace and because of constant power shifts. This power tug-of-war that breathes much needed life into the storyline. It has given the actors more material to work with because the drama gears towards being very plot heavy and skimps on the character development. The only good character development seen is with Tanisiri and Ta-hwan because they show the most weakness and are therefore easiest to change. Tanisiri has stronger constitution, but she has been prone to hysterics as of late,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 30 2014/02/22,
It's difficult to try and forcefully change a tide, but that's what Seung-nyang, Wang Yoo, Ta-hwan and their team of trusty sidekicks are attempting to do. El Temur, Tanisiri and their band of nasty friends are fighting back, making the power struggle huge, but a stagnating affair. While the politics are growing a bit stale, there are a few markedly wonderful performances by the actors,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 29 2014/02/18,
Political tides are changing in the Yuan palace and the star crossed couple is on the cusp of being reunited because of it. The fun of "Empress Qi" now rests solely with the action and the continued beauty of the show (the scenery, the costumes). Character growth has stagnated. Ta-hwan and Tanisiri are the most interesting characters because they are the most flawed and struggle against themselves and the odds to persevere. First we have Ta-hwan who's love for Seung-nyang drives him and keeping him fighting for his own strength. Everything he learns about her changes him and forces him to reckon with himself,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 28 2014/02/13,
Even episodes in "Empress Qi" tend to be much stronger than their odd counterparts, as though the odds are just set up while the evens get to have all of the glory. That glory is found mostly in action and suspense rather than organic storytelling. This episode found Seung-nyang making calculated moves against Tanisiri who has been impulsive because of her jealousy of Seung-nyang and the other consorts. Jealousy as a writing tool is wearisome in the odd episodes, like yesterday's, and much more engaging in today's even episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 27 2014/02/10, "Empress Qi" fluctuates in quality from week to week. Whenever it starts a new idea, it's strong, smartly-paced and is full of wonderful character development. As each new idea wears on, it becomes ragged, belabored and quickly dulled. This is purely a writing issue. There needs to be some follow-through on the writing. Focus can't be only drawn to novelty of change. It makes "Empress Qi" only enjoy true development in its characters and many interweaving plot threads,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 26 2014/02/01,
Power games are the bulk of this episode of "Empress Qi". Seung-nyang has become a consort and has to establish her place in the palace. Her opponent is Tanisiri who has political power and the backing of her father, El Temur. Under her are greedy and ambitious maids. The war waged between the two women has no rules: it is dirty, bloody, and someone is bound to get hurt. With stakes like those "Empress Qi" is a show worth watching,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 25 2014/02/01, "Empress Qi" has gone back to what it does best: focusing on smaller events and milking them for the most plot and character development that can possibly be had. At its halfway mark, that is exactly what this drama needed to do. This show does not do well with change or with overly dramatic elements. It's grandeur is best shown in the quieter moments. This episode saw Seung-nyang competing amongst eleven other women to become Ta-hwan's consort, which gets her where she needs to be to become the titular "Empress Qi",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 24 2014/01/27,
Big decisions have been made and characters that were flat have filled out some. "Empress Qi" has finally shown us how it will put Seung-nyang on the path to becoming The Iron Empress. It is a bit incongruous with logic, but I'll go with it.
This was the episode that saw Seung-nyang facing her painful past, the loss of her loved ones, and making a decision about her future. She teams up with Bayan and Tal Tal. I haven't mentioned much of Tal Tal because he was merely Bayan's smart sidekick until now. Jin Yi-han plays the quiet, wary man who hasn't really had much of a role to play in the drama until now,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 23 2014/01/27, "Empress Qi" is a beautiful show and that is its biggest draw. The people are beautiful. The sets are glorious. The costumes are grandiose. The music is grand. What it is starting to lose, however, is logic. Time frames don't make sense, such as the length of time Lady Park and Seung-nyang were pregnant. Park was long overdue and Seung-nyang was definitely not even close nine months when she delivered. But the pregnancies were paralleled to forward the plotline and to allow for further plot mechanizations,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 22 2014/01/22,
Death makes it mark in this episode of "Empress Qi". It reminds the main characters of their own mortality and how quickly the tides may change. It is countered by life and what it fosters in people: hope. The two opposite forces battle as fiercely as the players of the political game do to win the upper hand. The women deal with pregnancy and the hope it brings. It clearly defines social status within the palace and the moods of Tanisiri, the dowager empress and those surrounding them depend heavily upon it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 21 2014/01/21, "Empress Qi" has always been about power plays and who the characters know and who they can influence. Ta-hwan is starting to really learn what it takes to play the game and while he has gone from being a primarily reactionary character to an instigator, the other main characters have fallen into trying to fight the tide. Shifting loyalties of those in power comprise the strongest part of the political tide. The dowager empress is a big component of that and she shows how women gather, keep and use power in the Goryeo period,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 20 2014/01/15,
As if the plot wasn't already thick enough, the plot of "Empress Qi" thickens even further as more schemers are added with hidden agendas fueled by greed. Old schemers become more ambitious and our main players struggle to stay on top. This episode dealt with the attempt to poison El Temur and the aftermath, which is a very complicated, tangled web of misinformation and shifting alliances. Most of the characters believe him to have passed and the resulting chaos is a well-written and filmed chorus of power-hungry people trying to achieve more power,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 19 2014/01/14,
The tides of fate are shifting again in "Empress Qi" and this time Ta-hwan actually has a hand in all of the change instead of merely being a frightened puppet. He's finally coming to stand against Wang Yoo and his political opponents using his own strength and it makes for a much more interesting game. Love is the motivation for Ta-hwan's newfound bravery. He had plenty of reasons to act in the past: the murder of his father, the state of the imperial family. But it is his love for Seung-nyang that is the catalyst for him to step up and take charge,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 18 2014/01/02,
What makes "Empress Qi" such a fantastic drama is the fact that despite its weaknesses, the overly quality of the show allows we viewers to bypass those weaknesses and simply enjoy the show. As a reviewer, I have a few things to nitpick, but that's all those things are: nitpicky details.
The first nitpicky detail that jumped out was the fact that El Temur, resident antagonist is losing his scary edge. He was a good villain because he was brilliant and he flaunted that brilliance and his immense power in the face of his enemies (our good guys!),...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 17 2013/12/30,
My wishes were fulfilled in this episode. The love entanglements are further knotted, Ta-hwan grows up a scoach, and the political game now hinges on a very delicate balance of power.
Seventeen episodes in, Ta-hwan has finally decided to step up to the plate. He may be inexperienced and weak, but he has the motivation and wherewithal to fiercely battle El Temur for power. It took a lot of hardship and suffering to break through his insecurity, but Ta-hwan has decided to be no one's pawn; not El Temur's; not the dowager empress',...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 16 2013/12/29, "Empress Qi" saw a huge jump in character development while the plot's progression slowed considerably. It isn't a bad thing through, to minimize one element to highlight another. Suspicions were cast on on major characters last episode and now those suspicions are being developed, allowing characters to learn and grow under duress.
The conflicts in the story have gone from political and physical, to purely political. Battles are fought in the palace rather than over the Silk Road using intelligence and intrigue rather than strategy and swords,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 15 2013/12/28, "Empress Qi" is finally bringing the main love contenders together with the major political storylines under one very expensive palatial roof. There are childish antics of men in love and cutthroat political dealings all in one hour and both are melded in a way that is singularly appealing.
Because Ji Chang-wook plays Ta-hwan with such finesse, he can make Ta-hwan a very immature emperor who spends his time obsessing over Seung-nyang rather than fighting to put power behind his crown,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 14 2013/12/17, "Empress Qi" has all of its major pieces on the playing board and it's moving through the plot, romantic development and character development at a nice clip. It is easy to engage in all of the story elements, even the politics, which normally tend to be too heavy-handed in dramas. The players of "Empress Qi" have been moved to Ta-hwan's palace and both romance and politics sizzle. El Temur, the show's major villain, has been foiled by the dowager empress and Seung-nyang and must seek out other methods to retain his political power,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 13 2013/12/16, "Empress Qi" focuses on its romances in earnest, which shines light on one of its most glaring weaknesses: Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo's love. In fact, it is love and its guiding presence in the lives of the main characters that moves to the forefront this episode. Love means different things to each character in this show. For Seung-nyang and Wang Yoo, love is their tether to sanity as they try to survive in exile,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 12 2013/12/10,
The battles inside and outside of Ta-hwan's palace rage on and both come to a head. This means "Empress Qi" is on the brink of another plot shift that will show us what these characters are made of and send them along the next stage of their fifty episode journey. Inside the palace, dealings are foul between Empress Tanisiri, the empress dowager and the poor concubine who had the misfortune of getting pregnant. Seung-nyang is at the center of Tanisiri's plans and struggles to stop them without losing her life or losing Tanisiri's trust,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 11 2013/12/10,
The parallels in "Empress Qi" are clever, fun to follow and enhance the rest of the drama. The big parallel this episode was the political battle between the royal Yuan women and the physical battle on the Silk Road between Wang Yoo, Bayan and the Turks. The battle over the Silk Road allows Wang Yoo and his men to shine and prove their mettle. It also allows for some great character development to happen,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 10 2013/12/04, "Empress Qi" continues to amaze with its physical beauty and the seemingly effortless way that it pieces all the story elements together. There is never a dull moment in this show because the characters are constantly pushed into action and towards realization. What is wonderful about it is that none of the events or behavior in the show seem contrived or badly timed,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 9 2013/12/01, "Empress Qi" has begun to explore the changes that will bring our characters to fulfill their destinies that were shown in the first scenes of the drama. What is beautiful about this episode is that this explorations happen alongside significant plot movement. Ha Ji-won as Seung-nyang was particularly poignant because she is so devastated by everything that has happened that she only sees one thing: revenge. It blinds her to everything else,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 8 2013/11/26,
Although this episode mainly focused on re-establishing the characters in their new environs, it did so without the clunky awkwardness of most dramas. All characters, major and minor, are in a state of flux due to shifting political situations and tensions. Even those in power must contend with the restrictions of the existing political structures. The beauty of "Empress Qi" is how clearly it depicts such complex ideas while still keeping an air of mystery about how things will happen,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Friends 2" 2013/11/22,
The film opens with up with a bit from the original "Friend". As if the title weren't enough, "Friends 2" makes a point of insisting that it is part of a legacy. But this isn't some sort of happy triumphant return to the silver screen for a storied franchise. "Friends 2" seems utterly determined to remind its audience that if there was any hope or sense of recovery from the end of the first movie, this is information that has long since fallen by the wayside. It's especially unknown for the new generation of gangsters who appear here.
This is the main problem with the film as a whole, though, is that it spends so much time in flashback providing context for everything that there's little in the present day storyline to grab onto,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 6 2013/11/19,
Ta-hwan had a chance to act like a leader (rather than a coward) in this episode despite the fact that his decisions were less than favorable. The Catch-22 presented to him was one that affected not only his life, but the lives of everyone in Yuan and Goryeo. Seung-nyang, Wang Yoo and the other major players are left to deal with the brutal fallout,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 4 2013/11/09,
This episode was very wisely planned. The story of "Empress Qi" is long and complex. Developing the overarching plot, weaving smaller plot threads into it and developing the huge number of characters necessary is and will continue to be very difficult. But this episode was clever. It focused most of the major development around one situation: the safety of the Yuan prince Ta-hwan on a Goryeo Island. This is a very wise strategic move so early in the drama,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2013/11/09, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★★★ "Friends 2": A young gangster unknowingly befriends his father's killer but starts to suspect the connection.(11/14)
★★★★ "Dead End": A shamed producer heads out to film ginseng diggers but gets more than he bargained for.(11/14)
★★★ "Ingtoogi": After getting humiliated online, Tae-goo learns to fight in order to get revenge in the real world. (11/14)
★★ "Black Gospel": Korea's only gospel choir heads to Harlem to see if they have what it takes. (11/14)
★★★★ "Red Vacance Black Wedding 2": An obsessed creep refuses to take a hint when his love interest turns him down. (11/14)
★★★★ "The Five": A woman goes to extreme measures to enact revenge against her family's killer. (11/14)
★★★ "Beautiful Child": A story about a Korean missionary who charges through the rupture of natives and white people. (11/14)
★★★ "Kid Cast Away 2013": A young girl gets stranded on a South Pacific Island with her dog, but the two are not alone for long. (11/14),...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 3 2013/11/07,
This show is stunningly beautiful. The special effects and the fight scene choreography are finely done and match the lavish costumes, shoot locations and sets. Despite the show's grandeur, the stakes and the characters still feel very real. Another strong point of the show is that the introductions to the world and the characters don't feel like introductions. Rather, it seems like the viewer was made privy to a private world. This quality was especially important for this episode because there was a lot of character development and backstory,...More
Ha Ji-won on a sad but beautiful journey 2013/11/05, Source,
Actress Ha Ji-won posted a picture of making a scene for the drama "Empress Qi". She posted saying, "It's been a while. I am time travelling right now. It's sad yet so beautiful. I'm glad that I have the people around me on this one".
The picture is of Ha Ji-won's co-actors in the middle of the shoot. The boom mic from the top hovered behind them as they were shooting a sad scene,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Empress Qi" Episode 2 2013/11/03,
All major players are on the board now with the formal introduction of the banished Yuan prince, Ta-hwan. An array of important Yuan figures appear such as the General El Temur and the General Bayan to eliminate Ta-hwan and seize complete control over Goryeo. Wang Yoo is crowned king over his uncle and it is his responsibility to deal with this strife,...More
[HanCinema's Hall of Fame Review] "200 Pounds Beauty" 2013/09/21, In the Spotlight this Week: "200 Pounds Beauty" (2006) by Kim Yong-hwa
Earlier this year Korea put out its first 3D tech-tank with "Mr. Go", an expensive experiment that was truly fantastical but still failed to capture the imagination of the Korean public. The film recovered just over a third of its $22.5 million price tag, and some might ask why such a gorilla was even allowed out of its cage in the first place. In 2011 Kim also help produced "My Way", another apparent cash cow that failed to come in for the slaughter. So while big-budget blockbusters may not appear to be Kim's forte, he did managed to find the right stuffing in his comedies "Take Off" (2008) and "200 Pounds Beauty" (2006),...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "200 Pounds Beauty" 2012/12/07,
A horribly fat woman, dreaming of a job in the entertainment industry, gets plastic surgery so that she can try to get her shot at the big time. There were ample fat jokes throughout the movie's extended first act. It sounds like a pretty bad recipe for disaster. And yet, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that "200 Pounds Beauty" is lacking in the one essential element that makes fat jokes so crass. It's not especially mean. At least to the fat person.
Make no mistake- Han-na is definitely the butt of many jokes while she's still in fat form. But they have surprisingly little to do with her being fat. Han-na is an extremely clumsy woman. Usually when she engages in a bit of physical comedy, it's against rather obvious advice being given to her by another character. These are accidents that would have happened even if she wasn't fat- though obviously her added girth doesn't help matters,...More
Art and Culture 2012/03/15, Source,
It's almost the end of the week, and here to help you make to best use of your free time is our arts and culture reporter Michelle Kim, who's going to share with us some intriguing events taking place around the city. Hello Michelle.
[Reporter : Michelle Kim] Hello Conn-young.
So what do you have for us today
[Reporter : ] Well I will be starting off with an exhibition that portrays popular culture and modern sensitivities. The art works are very modern and sophisticated. Take a look,...More
Kim So-yeon: 'I Seem to have Begun Acting 18 Years Since Debut' 2012/03/09, Source,
Actress Kim So-yeon (32), who has made a comeback after a fifteen-year break with the movie "Gabi", said, "I want to play different characters such as a femme fatale, comic character and character who will experience sad love. I have had too long of a break up to now (laugh)". Asked about the characters that she wants to play, she answered with lightning speed as if she had been waiting for movies for a long time. She will appear in "Gabi" after her long break,...More
"Gabi" to feature 80 different Russian, Japanese and Korean costumes 2012/03/07, Source,
The upcoming movie "Gabi" has released several stills featuring its costumes.
To express the unique moment of the Korean royal family seeking refuge at the Russian legation, "Gabi" underwent extensive historical research during production. The characters of the time were revived by referencing portraits from the "New Art Times" as well as pictures from landscape paintings and several books,...More
Joo Jin-mo to release digital single this week 2011/09/07, Source,
Korean actor Joo Jin-mo will release a digital single this week, according to his agency JM Company on Wednesday.
JM announced in a press release that Joo's rendition of "Like Rain, Like Music", by late singer Kim Hyun-sik, will be unveiled online along with its music video on September 9,...More
[20 KOREAN FILMS TO LOOK OUT FOR SECOND HALF OF 2011] "Gabi" 2011/07/02, Source,
Intelligence Chase over Coffee "Gabi" Directed by Jang Yoon-hyeon
By RA Jegy
It's the end of 19th century, and Gojong, King of Josoen flees to the Russian legation to save himself from foreign threats. The king comes into contact with western culture during his stay there, and tastes coffee for the first time in his life. After he returns to the palace, Gojong continues to enjoy coffee, while an assassination attempt takes place to kill the king by poisoning his coffee to prevent him from establishing the Korean Empire,...More
The best combination of a couple? 2011/04/17, Source,
This year started off with human drama ("Late Blossom") or comedy dramas ("Suicidal Forecast"). It's not easy to see a heart trembling mellow flick. Which couple from the mellow flicks that are due this later half of this year, are audiences looking forward to see the most?
■ "Always" Se Ji-sub and Han Hyo-joo,...More
Bride of May Yoo Sun, who's the groom? 2011/03/27, Source,
Actress Yoo Sun is becoming the 'bride of May' and who the husband may be is in question.
Yoo Sun will ring wedding bells in Sheraton Grand Walker Hill Hotel on May 4th, with boyfriend of ten years. He is three years older than her and is a distinguished looking businessman. He is a resource who has been working in the entertainment and advertisement for a long time.,...More
Kim So-yeon comes back to movie screens with "Gabi" 2011/03/21, Source,
Actress Kim So-yeon is at the verge of returning to movie screens in six years.
She is adjusting her casting as the lead actress in the movie "Gabi" (Produced by Ocean Film). This movie is based on an original by Kim Tak-hwan and is a mystery case surrounding the very first baristas in the Chosun times. It's about a woman who used to serve coffee to the Emperor Gojong, who enjoyed drinking coffee.,...More
"A Better Tomorrow" shines over "Troubleshooter" 2010/09/19, Source,
Movie poster for "A Better Tomorrow" [CJ Entertainment]
Korean action movie "A Better Tomorrow" bowed into the No. 1 spot on the local box office over the weekend, outshining previous winner "Trapped" during the fourth week of September.
According to the Korean Box Office System (KOBIS) on Monday, "A Better Tomorrow", which opened in theaters on September 16, placed in first with,...More
Joo Jin-mo thinks Zhang Ziyi liked him 2010/09/16, Source,
Actor Joo Jin-mo on MBC talk show "Golden Fishery" [MBC]
Actor Joo Jin-mo has said that he felt that top Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi liked him when the two were co-stars for Korean film "Musa" almost ten years ago.
Joo made the remark on a pre-recorded session of MBC talk show "Golden Fishery - Knee Drop Guru" which went on air Wednesday, starting his explanation with "If I had known Zhang Ziyi would turn out like this... why did I",...More
Jo Han-seon will "miss baby daughter a lot" in military 2010/09/09, Source,
Korean actor Jo Han-seon speaks to reporters at the Nonsan training camp in the South Chungcheong Province of South Korea on September 9, 2010. [Lee Ki-bum/Asia Economic Daily]
Korean actor Jo Han-seon, who entered the Korean military today as part of fulfilling the country's mandatory two-year services, has said he will greatly miss his baby daughter.
"I couldn't bring a picture of my daughter because we aren't allowed to bring in any personal possessions into the camp", he said during an interview with reporters ahead of entering the Nonsan training earlier today,...More
John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow, 1986" showed the world what Hong Kong noir was all about, and the Korean remake of the 1986 classic is now awaiting release on Chuseok next month, wit,...More
Jo Han-seon to enter military next month 2010/08/11, Source, Jo Han-seon [Asia Economic Daily]
Actor Jo Han-seon will enter the army next month as part of fulfilling the country's two-year mandatory military service.
Starting September 9, the 29-year-old actor is expected to undergo four weeks of basic training at Nonsan training camp in South Chungcheong Province and then work as a public service worker for his remaining period of service,...More
[INTERVIEW and PHOTOS] Actor and model Choi Ji-ho 2010/06/08, Source, Interview with actor and model Choi Ji-ho
Actor/Model Choi Ji-ho [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
My name is Choi Ji-ho. I was born on November 25, 1980. I am 30 years old. I'm not really concerned with age because my goal in life is to live in an immature way. I think it’s just best to just go with the flow without making any mistakes. I majored in taekwondo at Yongin University but I started doing sports when I was in middle school because it was the only way to get into college without studying. Once I was accepted I told my parents, 'Since I made it into a university, I'm going to do whatever I want'. The movie "Antique" shows how I hang out in my everyday life. I felt very comfortable because I was already close with actors Joo Ji-hoon and Kim Jae-wook. The only difference was that there was a camera while we were hanging out,...More
Foreign films lead weekend 2009/01/24, Source, The Lunar New Year's holiday is traditionally a big season for Korean filmmakers. This year, however, only one Korean movie opens up to confront the onslaught of foreign rivals, reflecting the protracted slump of the domestic film industry.
One of the best ways to enjoy the festivity of the year-end would be watching a great movie with friends and family with buckets full of popcorn. Here are some of the movies, both local and from Hollywood, that will catch the eyes of movie-lovers during the holida,...More
Action movies show the human body twisting in unimaginable ways and engage the audience in the art of primal combat. Here come two films, one about the making of an unconventional action movie, and the other which documents the stuntmen who help make such films pos,...More
Body Exposure of Actors – how much? 2008/04/10, Source, The exposure of actresses in Korean movies has been a hot issue. Everyone wondered how much women expose themselves and if they acted without fear according to their role.
Now, the interest is to the exposure of actors. As much as the female body is beautiful, the male body is too. In promotions,...More
Most Korean dramas start airing after the shooting of first a few episodes. Thus the general practice has been that production gets busier and busier, with the dramas eventually rushing to the end with obviously lower quality than before.
Of the musicals scheduled to be staged this year, more than 30 percent are based on or related to movies. There are already many Korean adaptations of Broadway musicals based on Hollywood films. But what,...More
The New Year will be another one full of drama, as broadcasters prepare unique stories to grab audiences' attention. Korean dramas have always been at the forefront of domestic entertainment, for if a certain drama gains popularity, the actors ride,...More
Korean filmmakers bet on large-scale projects 2008/01/03, Source, Many local movie productions suffered setbacks last year, due to increased costs and the strengthened position of Hollywood blockbusters. In 2008, leading filmmakers are betting on large-scale projects to turn things around for the embattled local film industry.
Soppy love story among Busan gangs 2007/12/31, Source, I confess I would have cried a river if I'd seen "Sarang ('A Love')" when I was fifteen. That was how old I was when I saw "The Bodyguard" starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I embarrassed my,...More
Some fans send presents and letters to their favorite stars, shouting their names and wishing they could get a closer look at them. But little they may know about the special meanings to the names of their favorite stars hold.
Some Romances Stay the Same 2007/09/18, Source, As men still cling to their fantasies of a "pure, innocent, and fragile woman with long straight hair", even in the 21st century, so do women harbor dreams of their ideal man, even despite the "Pet Bo,...More
Which is more important, outside appearance or inside nature, when people "choose" their lover? Could the person's sincerity be transm,...More
Too Much? The Top Advertising Earners Revealed 2007/02/09, Source, Advertising has developed beyond a mere means to sell more products into essential cultural content that can have a powerful impact on the way the public see the world. Among professionals, actors are particularly in love with advertising and the steady income it can provide -- not to mention the st,...More
Beauty? 2006/12/14, Source, In Korea where looks are everything, a good look is power. You don't want to affirm it but are unable to deny it either. Women are aware that those who vociferously advocate inner beauty do not have t,...More
'200 Pound Beauty' holds heavyweight lessons 2006/12/07, Source, The predominant fashion cult of postmodern Korea is built on an extremely slim yet temptingly sensuous body. Therein lies a dilemma: If you are too skinny, you are likely to be just skinny, not voluptuous.
To fix the dilemma, you need a great surgeon - a plastic surgeon, that is, who can suck out,...More
Director Kim explores inner beauty 2006/09/20, Source, About 70 extras were waiting anxiously in the hall of Catch Light, a posh club in the trendy Hongdae district around 4 p.m. on Monday. While lighting crew worked on ceiling equipment, assistant directors scurried around, throwing orders here and there, and reporters tried to hide their boredom upsta,...More
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