[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Masked Prosecutor" Episode 9 2015/07/08,
After the midway point of "Masked Prosecutor" Min-hee began to fill out as a character. In this episode especially she shows significant growth as her past comes to haunt her and she loses the composure for which she has been known. Alongside her walks Dae-cheol and his sidekick Ho-sik propels him into realization: he must use the mask for justice and not for revenge. I've been hoping to see Dae-cheol to learn to be powerful as a prosecutor, but the show wants him to fight on the side of justice rather than use the mask for personal reasons,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Preview] "Masked Prosecutor" 2015/05/16,
It is no secret that Korean drama favors the melodramatic over the cheerful and that stories outside a certain premise pool do not often end up well. However, hope is a strong emotion and whenever a show comes along that looks fun and upbeat, many begin the same circle of excitement and trepidation. "Masked Prosecutor" could go very wrong in many ways, but it might also inject some much needed lightness into the medium,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - The Wind Blows to the Hope" 2015/03/20,
The opening is stylish enough. The scene is a prison bus, and the inmates are clearly up to no good. We can see them messing around furtively with their hands, and then all chaos breaks loose. Director Kim Yong-soon-I sets up a marvelous single shot camera take, where we somehow pan around the entire bus, getting only vague snippets of the action until in one, final explosive moment, victory is achieved via a loud popping sound,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 18 (final) 2014/11/20, "Blade Man" has ended happily. All issues were resolved. All couples ended up together. Some of these occurrences were satisfying and well-earned. Some were explained away by exposition. The entire episode was jumpy and strangely timed. And yet, as "Blade Man" has always managed to do, the final episode ended on a feel-good note.
At the drama's start, "Blade Man" was quirky, fast-paced, fun, and full of relevant and interesting issues to be solved,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 17 2014/11/17,
The penultimate episode of "Blade Man" is about letting go: letting go of obligation, guilt, false notions of nobility. It deals well with the personal demons of Hong-bin, Se-dong, and Tae-hee, but neglects the mysticism (again) and the issues with Hong-bin's family (again). The neglected elements come from bad road mapping, bad planning. There isn't too much information or too many plot threads in "Blade Man" - they just weren't all woven into the fabric of the drama early enough. Let's get Madam Yoon out of the way,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 16 2014/11/13, "Blade Man" has shifted focus from Hong-bin's trials and tribulations to the ripple effect that Tae-hee's appearance has caused in the lives of everyone in the show. Her death had casted a quiet pall over everyone's lives and that in and of itself was effective motivation for character growth. Bringing her back to life has skewed the plot. Despite the new plot direction, the effect of Tae-hee's appearance has forced changes in some of the characters, most notably Se-dong,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 15 2014/11/05, "Blade Man" is a strange mixture of moving and perplexing. It is the moving aspect that keeps it an engaging show, while the perplexing aspect has me wondering what the writer is thinking. So many plot points are dropped and picked up at random that there is very little consistency in the storyline. What is consistent is the emotional development of Hong-bin, Daddy Joo, and Se-dong. Hong-bin spends most of the episode hunting down Tae-hee, but while he does we see that he really has grown,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 14 2014/11/03,
This episode focused on the return of the supposedly dead ex-girlfriend and her tragic health problems. She pretended to be dead to spare her son, Chang, and Hong-bin from the pain of living with a very sick person. Now that she's been discovered, our cast of characters has to deal with her.
I'm trying not to be too cynical about the very cliche move of bringing back a dead lover (Tae-hee) who made the noble decision to spare her loved ones pain, but it is very difficult,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 13 2014/10/29,
This episode of "Blade Man" was a cross between solid character development and a wretched attempt to include all K-drama tropes into one show. "Blade Man" has a way of creating moments that reach out and pull my heart strings. And then it has ways of banishing those moments instantaneously. Let's start with the bad,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 12 2014/10/28,
I don't know what to make of "Blade Man" anymore. It's focus keeps wavering and it picks up and drops plot threads seemingly at random. What happened to Hong Bin's powers? Why do they not appear for whole episodes at a time? Why do his powers only manifest in part? What is up with Madame Yoon and why does she not feel scarier? All of these questions stem from one core problem: a distinct lack of follow-through,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 11 2014/10/23, "Blade Man" is inconsistent. It can't decide which direction it wants to take with its plot and its tone and its character development. Perhaps it is due to the long periods of ineffective on-camera brooding. Or perhaps it is the constant time skips that gloss over all of the juicy writing points, leaving them to be explained after the fact in a way that feels more like reading a teleprompter than watching drama. However, where "Blade Man" excels is in the little moments of connection between characters, like the beautiful ones between Chang and Hong-bin. After many episodes of Chang longing for his father's attention, he finally asks - and he is obliged,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 10 2014/10/20,
There was so much staring, waiting, and soulful music this episode of "Blade Man" that it should've been a music video rather than an episode of K-drama. So little happened that most of the episode seemed like an attempt to fill the time slot. The lack of action and the abundance of face shots and moody lighting was probably an attempt to create a contemplative mood. But it backfired and made the episode drag instead. There were a few important elements that were explored, but they could've been handled differently,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 9 2014/10/13, "Blade Man" is more about the changes in Hong-bin than it is about the relationship between him and Se-dong. While Hong-bin is an intriguing character, the show really needs to round itself out to be fully cohesive. It's currently jumpier than a Mexican jumping bean and just as spastic. Fun, but spastic.
Hong-bin is the primary pusher in "Blade Man",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 8 2014/10/12,
The focus of "Blade Man" seems to center around Hong-bin's focus. He is mostly concerned with Se-dong and the drama most often shows his interactions with her. Only when his attention is forced from his obsessive crush does "Blade Man" focus on another aspect of Hong-bin's life: his family. This episode focused on revealing the home life Hong-bin grew up in,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 7 2014/10/06, "Blade Man" is at its best when it works on human relationships and at its weakest when it tries to integrate story elements and politics. The relationship between Hong-bin and Se-dong, and Hong-bin and his family is strong and relatable. Madame Yoon and her personal agenda is wearying and unengaging. The stark contrast in the show's strengths and weaknesses mirrors the abrupt changes between scenes, which is surprising as the transitions between scenes were so strong in the earliest episodes.
The strongest part of today's episode was the solid connection between Hong-bin and Se-dong,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 6 2014/09/30,
It's time for Hong-bin to actively pursue the mystery behind his blackouts and it's about time. If the strange transformations went unexplained very much longer it would have damaged the strength of the plot. Luckily, Hong-bin is intelligent and his secretary is bad at keeping secrets. Hong-bin's horrified reaction to discovering that he transforms when he's angry is quite understandable,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 5 2014/09/29, "Blade Man" is still cute as ever, but this episode came to almost a complete standstill in terms of plot development. Some background on Hong-bin and Tae-hee's relationship as well as on Hong-bin's selfish, conniving father made its way to the fore, but it was surrounded by fluff and a good bit of overacting.
The point of all the fluff was most definitely to bring Hong-bin and Se-dong closer, to use her kindness as the instigator for change in the gruff, literally prickly man,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Blade Man" Episode 4 2014/09/24, "Blade Man" is settling into a groove that balancing plot development with the show's love of long emotional beats and reveals. Hong-bin's anger-fueled blades are as much of a mystery to him as they are to the viewers. This episode sheds a bit more light on them as Hong-bin becomes more and more fascinated with Se-dong, her fierce attitude, and her ability to make everyone around her smile. The most engaging part of "Blade Man" is the relationship between Hong-bin, Se-dong, and Chang,...More
[HanCinema's Column] Unconventional Korean Dramas 2014/02/01,
Being a movie fan making a jump to dramas can be a daunting experience. The two are very different in many ways. From budget to tropes, from acting to directing, they are worlds apart. While there are genres even Korean films do not often touch, Korean drama is much more limited in its diversity. Sageuk, melodrama, dailies, romantic comedies, the types and formats of series are limited,...More
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