[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 16 Final 2017/01/21,
And so "Goblin" ends on a mostly pleasant note. Once Kim Sin went and died without actually dying it was pretty impossible to take any stated conflict in this drama seriously anymore, so the ensuing contortions necessary to get us the happy engaged couple of Kim Sin and Eun-tak don't bother me so much. Even the as-usual railroaded nature of the not-romance between the Grim Reaper and Sunny isn't much of an issue anymore. Nor, for that matter, do I care all that much about the rules regarding magical memory attention being rewritten yet again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 15 2017/01/21,
So the recap this time is just the Goblin's full death scene from episode thirteen. Admittedly, it looks pretty great. The fading away to light particles was a nice touch, and the acting truly heartfelt. For all the flaws "Goblin" has a complete story, the direction is pretty consistently top-notch. But there are limits to how far the occasional excellent scene can go. Aesthetic excellence notwithstanding, I'm at a bit of a loss as to why "Goblin" is reminding us of Kim Sin's death when he didn't actually die,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 14 2017/01/20,
So even though a really big point has been made about how the Goblin will die if the sword is ever pulled out, apparently by "die" what everyone actually meant was "get sent to icy purgatory for several years". This will end his suffering somehow. The logic of this rather escapes me, since being an immortal God in modern Seoul would seem to be a great deal more enjoyable than wandering the desert, and the Goblin ends up back there anyway except that no one remembers who he is,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 13 2017/01/13,
So apparently the Grim Reaper has been breaking rules this entire time regarding unnecessary memory manipulation, so it's up to the Grim Reaper investigation team to suitably punish him. As it turns out this is all just a thinly veiled excuse to allow the Grim Reaper to fill in the remaining gaps in the flashback story, although at this point we can pretty easily guess what happens. So much blood spilled, for so little apparent purpose. Kind of like how "Goblin" is with ink,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 12 2017/01/07,
In the originally broadcast form on Korean television, this episode of "Goblin" contains a helpful recap explaining the major events from the previous episode. These are some help when it comes to major plot points, like how memories of past lives can be restored by touching a Grim Reaper (?), and also how New Year's Eve festivities have been driving the major emotional events lately. This does admittedly make for a fairly romantic backdrop, limited though it may be when romance is a subordinate concern to plot. Which is once again, all this past life stuff,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 11 2017/01/06,
Watching "Goblin" is a lot like watching a dream. I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that while the transitions make sense on a scene by scene basis, every time I try to step back and figure out what's happening, I get a little lost trying to figure out how and why the characters got to where they are. The Grim Reaper and Sunny have a more intense relationship now that they don't actually know each other (?), and I'm pretty much with Sunny on how weirdly and inexplicably overbearing the Goblin is this episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 10 2016/12/31,
The Goblin can live only if Eun-tak dies, and vice-versa. Lest we get too invested in that potential plot hook, "Goblin" instead takes a huge chunk of time explaining the Goblin's back story, from when he was still Kim Sin. Interestingly, these flashbacks have almost nothing to do with Kim Sin directly, the focus instead being placed squarely on other characters whose poor decisions led to the rather unnecessary massacre we saw way back in the first episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 9 2016/12/30,
A pivot is attempted here to move "Goblin" from a generally strange comedic drama to a more serious one. The results are mixed. To be honest I sort of forgot that Eun-tak didn't know the Goblin would die if she pulled the sword out. I kind of assumed that Eun-tak knew that taking the sword out would do something serious at least. Then again the characters in "Goblin" are not that competent when it comes to speculating as to the results of their actions,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 8 2016/12/24,
The latest adventure between the Goblin and Eun-tak has resulted in massive property damage and multiple witnesses to obviously impossible superhuman feats. So naturally, the only valid response to this is...a highly elaborate and not terribly convincing cover-up, because the production team doesn't actually care about the worldbuilding except to the extent it can be used to justify wacky special effects. That's "Goblin" for you,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 7 2016/12/23,
So even though Eun-tak can see the sword for some reason she can't touch it, which leaves the plot of "Goblin" at an impasse, save for all the warm fuzzies prompted at the last cliffhanger. Once more the drama presents us with an unfortunate dilemma. Do we act annoyed because all of the magical rules seem to be made up as they go along, or do we allow ourselves to be wrapped up in the inherent prettiness of frozen snowfall?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 6 2016/12/17,
So in what context would a person ever say "Welcome to Quebec"? That's the kind of thing a person might say at the airport, greeting someone who just got into the country. But at a restaurant? And why English rather than French? Although really, I should probably just be grateful that the production team managed to find a foreign actor who could say a simple line without screwing it up somehow,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 5 2016/12/16,
So the absence of names for the lead characters finally becomes an issue. Eun-tak seems to have only just now figured out that "Goblin" is just a nickname she came up with. I'm not sure he even actually is a goblin, come to think of it. Meanwhile Sunny (played by Yoo In-na) is in the awkward position of being the Grim Reaper's love interest yet they can't have even the most rudimentary of conversations. So naturally, their scenes go nowhere, much as Eun-tak's part-time job as Sunny's sole employee at a chronically empty restaurant also go nowhere,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 4 2016/12/10,
Of all the weird unexplained elements in "Goblin", the one I most consistenly get hung up on is how director Lee Eung-bok is able to pull off such radical scene transitions without creating any tonal whiplash. One minute the Goblin is calm and cool as usual, unwilling to let on to Eun-tak that he is in the slightest bit surprised by what she does or does not know. The next minute, the Goblin is breathing heavily in front of his mortal enemy, the Grim Reaper, because girls are scary,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 3 2016/12/09,
Upon further consideration I've decided that "Goblin" really is, in fact, mostly just a drama about the Goblin and the Grim Reaper sniping at each other pettily like an old married couple for the rest of eternity. If their eternal life is punishment for some awful misdeed, I would say it is working as intended. Neither the Goblin nor the Grim Reaper have any apparent reason for existing save for to meddle in each other's lives,...More
How to train your Goblin 2016/12/09,
If you want your handsome Goblin to appear right next to you whenever you need him, go ahead and blow the fire off! Oh, and we can even do it in digital way too. Seriously, I thought this concept was so cute and brilliant. For those of you who have not watched "Goblin" yet, here's how it works,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 2 2016/12/03,
And so Eun-tak's magical journey of being the Goblin's bride takes her to the mystical far-off country of...Canada. Specifically, Quebec. That's, uh, that's a new one. Which pretty much marks my reaction to every scene transition in "Goblin"- they all encompass very strange ideas that are neither funny, dramatic, or even especially creative. While watching "Goblin" I frequently ask questions like, why does this drama exist? Who is the intended audience?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 1 2016/12/02,
Kim Sin (played by Gong Yoo) was once a mighty warrior in olden times. Then he made a series of bad decisions and became the "Goblin", a godlike being who occasionally makes friends but more typically just ends up killing bad dudes with the same generally indifferent and impersonal attitude he had toward mowing down enemies in battle. That's a good attitude to have since the first episode is filled with death to a frankly comical extent. The Grim Reaper (played by Lee Dong-wook) evidently has his work cut out for him,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Special 2 2016/04/21,
For those of you hoping for more recaps of the second OTP pairing between Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong, this second special did throw in a few of their juiciest bits. However, it mostly focused on Si-jin and Mo-yeon and on the trials that Si-jin suffered for his country and his woman,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" 2016/04/16,
The Korean drama industry is constantly looking for hits, like any business does. As pre-produced shows have not done well in the past, creating something like "Descendants of the Sun" was a risk. In this case, the risk paid off in a major way. The series is a big global hit. As a reviewer, however, my job is not to gush over success. The drama has its virtues, but it is definitely not on the meatier side of entertainment. So here is my own take on it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 16 (final) 2016/04/14,
"Descendants of the Sun" has come to an end and that fact feels a bit surreal as well as its rating of 38.8%. Not just as a viewer, but as a reviewer. Not just as a reviewer, but as an international drama fan watching the waves that this drama has made in the world of drama, and in the world itself. This drama is more than its story. It is enveloped in a hype that is currently unparalleled. In some ways, the show is well-worth its worldwide prestige. In others, it is not. Let's break down this final review into parts,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 15 2016/04/13,
In its penultimate episode, "Descendants of the Sun" tops itself with 34.8% ratings in spite of the fact that it was competing with South Korean elections. This drama suffers from too many tonal shifts, but the tone of this episode was so solid that it was a tight, emotive watching experience even though it didn't quite match the rest of the drama. Let's just get the not-so-great stuff out of the way so we can then focus on all the awesome things this episode got right,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 14 2016/04/07,
For the second time in its fourteen-episode run "Descendants of the Sun" has experienced a ratings drop. It came in at 33.0%, 0.5% decrease. Perhaps it is the fact that the glamour and excitement of the foreign country was no longer present. Perhaps it was the broaching of the sensitive North/South Korea conflict that is more tense than ever. Perhaps it was just the simple fact that the cliffhanger wasn't really a cliffhanger despite the fact that the show only has a week left (save for the bonus goodies to be offered after its run.) The strongest part of the episode was the relationships, namely the friendships,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 13 2016/04/06,
Our crew of loveable characters has landed back in Korea and served us up another ratings hike. Episode 13 earned at 33.5% on the Nielsen Korea chart and the sheer number of adorable couple moments and character beats support it. Yoo Ah-in's sardonic cameo also probably helped. Then there was the witty, zippy, and fun dialogue along with the more relaxed feeling that comes with a much needed homecoming. I just have to get this out of the way, however,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 12 2016/03/31,
"Descendants of the Sun" is a master at sparking emotion. No matter how illogical the plot may become, the emotional barometer is insanely high. This must be why Nielsen Korean is clocking this drama at 33% for episode 12, a whole 1.1% higher than last night's episode. Wow. It is the human element that "Descendants of the Sun" is really learning to master that makes is so addictive - for me and the rest of the world. Before I go any further I have to say, "Oh my gosh, the feels!",...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 11 2016/03/30,
"Descendants of the Sun" tries to pack in a lot of action by having our heroes face weapons trafficking, plagues, gun standoffs, earthquakes, kidnapping, and politics. No matter what happens, this show seems destined to best itself - and it did. It came 0.3% higher than the last episode at 31.9%. More than anything, however, it was the acting in this episode by our leads that made it worthy of that rating. Jin Goo proved his mettle as his expressed Dae-yeong's worry for Myeong-joo with previously unparalleled intensity,...More
[Raine's Drama Insights] Why "Descendants of the Sun" is a Cultural Phenomenon 2016/03/26,
"Descendants of the Sun" is a K-drama that has touched every corner of the Korean drama scene. That scene can be found all over the globe. Its presence in Asia is unprecedented while Viki's internet streaming and quick subbing has brought the drama to English-speaking audiences. The power that drives the drama is multi-faceted ranging from the money behind it, to the promotion, to the star power, to intense fan viewership and participation,...More
[HanCinema's Digest] Travel Bug Bites 2016/03/26,
See Seoul's hottest attractions with new K-bus tours, Korean dramas help boost tourism at home and away, read Soo Kim's travel retrospective about Seoul, and hit Korea's highways and byways with a road trip around the country,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 10 2016/03/24,
With the romance firmly cemented by episode 9's romantic antics and kisses, episode 10 introduces some major plot points to yank the drama back into action. Not that its ratings need more action - they're consistently on the rise. This episode clocked in at 31.6%, 1.2% higher than last night's episode. "Descendants of the Sun" is battling itself episode to episode for best ratings. Fancy choreography, intricate camerawork and a viral disease are in another tussle; one for the most exciting moment of the episode. It doesn't lose the romantic flavors of last episode, but the hot points are definitely the action,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 9 2016/03/23,
If there is one thing that can almost always bolster ratings it is a good kiss...or two! Hello 30% ratings - 30.4% to be exact. The Song-Song couple not only shared two very romantic kissing scenes (and a good roll in the hay,) but the episode was bolstered by the high-intensity romantic moments between Song-Song and Myeong-joo and Dae-yeong. There were a few small moments, those beautiful moments that showcased themselves during the thick of the earthquake, that colored this romantic episode for the better,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 8 2016/03/17,
If the last episode of "Descendants of the Sun" was about the small moments, this one was about the small windows of time that allows our characters and those around them to see the world more clearly. The world is also seeing this drama quite clearly as it shot up 0.5% to 28.8%, mere percentage points away from the big three-oh. Si-jin and Mo-yeon are developing nicely although Mo-yeon's fear of losing him to his job still tends to dominate her emotions and behavior,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 7 2016/03/16,
"Descendants of the Sun" rode atop romance and angsty separations for its first six episodes, but this episode saw a sudden turn. It began to look inward, to inspect the minutiae of humanity and the beauty found in the smallest of human connections. Perhaps the lack of intense romantic interaction is what kept the show from pushing into the 30s, but it came in at a hugely respectable 28.3%, just 0.2% less than last episode. The little moments built this episode from the ground up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 6 2016/03/10,
This is seriously baffling. "Descendants of the Sun" episode 6 blasted ratings precedents with 28.5%. The drama is most definitely not about action and is all about the romance, the Song Joong-ki stare, and the manufactured drama. I admit to welcoming the earthquake and the chaos it fosters because it pulls the drama out of its extremely romance heavy focus. What detracts from the high-budget beauty of the episode is the circular happenings between both couples,...More
[HanCinema's Drama First Look] "Descendants of the Sun" 2016/03/05,
The long awaited, fully pre-produced "Descendants of the Sun" is here and boy, has it made an entrance. With domestic and foreign ratings, sales and buzz soaring high, the drama is undoubtedly a huge success. At the same time, it is really not a story with something for everyone and has its share of issues which range from tolerable to frustrating. For those who like the type, however, this is one fun ride,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 3 2016/03/02,
After a long week of waiting, "Descendants of the Sun" has graced us with another episode that came in at an unheard of 23.4%. Again, I can't iterate enough how slick and gorgeous it is or how fantastic the actors are in their roles. Song Joong-ki, despite his pretty face, is 100% masculine and in charge of his character while Song Hye-gyo owns the drastic change in hers. Not to mention that we finally get to see the beauty of Greece that plays the role of the country Uruk where the drama takes place. Please be sure to stick around for some home grown insight about Greece from Orion, HanCinema's own Greek goddess.,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 2 2016/02/25,
If episode one of "Descendants of the Sun" was about introductions, episode two, coming in on top at 15.5%, fleshed them out and added the rest of the teams that support Si-jin and Mo-yeon. Romance was the priority, but it didn't feel like the show was beating us over the head with it. Instead, the romance that blossomed hit very real walls that were acknowledged by two adults who hold themselves to different belief systems and lifestyles. We all know that will change. The adventure is watching them learn what we already know,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Descendants of the Sun" Episode 1 2016/02/24,
It's finally here, folks! KBS's first pre-produced, star-studded drama "Descendants of the Sun". The drama dominated the charts at whopping 14.3%. It's Song Joong-ki's first drama after his mandatory military service, which is all too fitting. He as Soldier Yoo Si-jin is joined by Song Hye-kyo as war doctor Kang Mo-yeon, Jin Goo as Soldier Seo Dae-yeong, and as war doctor Yoon Myeong-joo, Kim Ji-won-I. From the trailers we knew that romance is the thread that will weave through the story, but war and it's trials and horrors will drive the plot as it brings people together and tears them apart. We've been teased for months, and now, without further ado, I bring to you my review of episode 1,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - Dreaming Man" 2014/05/25,
Joon-gil (played by Yang Jin-woo) really is a luckless man. The ending is somewhat happy, I suppose, from a certain point of view, but it's hard to ignore the general stench of failure that surrounds Joon-gil. Practically every conversation he has here is some sort of negotiation, but these tend not to be successful operations. That kind of thing is unsurprising given Joon-gil's apparent abilities.
"Drama Special - Dreaming Man" has a pretty standard concept. A man with apparent knowledge of future events has to work to keep those events from coming to pass,...More
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