[Funcurve Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" 2016/01/09,
Based off of the same name manhwa series, "Scholar Who Walks the Night" falls squarely into the ever popular sageuk fusion Korean drama genre. It marries the ancient Joseon culture of the East with the blood-sucking vampires of the West to create a never-been-done-before fantasy story - a story centered around freeing the country and its people from the controls of a merciless vampire Gwi (Lee Soo-hyeok),...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" 2015/12/19,
Tortured heroes, forbidden romances and cartoonish villains are nothing new. There is a standard formula by which such stories operate by now and there is an ever faithful audience for them. This does not mean such stories need be repetitive, however, nor does it mean they need to be unentertaining. "Scholar Who Walks the Night" does not reach its end unscathed, but let us look into its efforts until that point,...More
[Funcurve Review] "Pinocchio" 2015/10/31,
"Pinocchio"'s got all the right ingredients for a promising Korean drama: a novel disorder that can naturally create conflicts, a cast of eye-candy actors who can actually act, and a classic revenge theme. At first glance, the drama seems to be centered around answering one key question that we're all dying to know: can someone with Pinocchio Syndrome (telling lies causes hiccups) live normally in a world where deception is common,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 20 Final 2015/09/10,
After the usual moping...egads what is it with "Scholar Who Walks the Night" and excessive moping? Even in the final episode it feels like hardly a minute can go by before one character starts going on about the need to make sacrifices for the greater good. And as before, this discussion is less an essential thematic need so much as it is the writing team just stalling for time because this drama doesn't actually have that much plot to get through. I do wish "Scholar Who Walks the Night" had been shorter and punchier- that's where most of its strengths are anyway,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 19 2015/09/09,
The actors in "Scholar Who Walks the Night" are really good sports. No matter how many times they discuss the exact same plot points over and over again, everyone manages to use the same level, serious tone of voice. I always appreciate it when actors are this determined to do justice to source material, regardless of whether or not the source material really deserves it. That much, at least, manages to keep the stakes high going into the final confrontation,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 18 2015/09/03,
Gwi's plan to legitimize his rule of the world is, as to be expected, fatally flawed because Gwi vastly overestimates his own intelligence. Humans aren't complete idiots. The vampires showed up at the same time the Gwi rumors got serious, and no one can vouch for Gwi having done anything, well, not unnecessarily violent and selfish. By contrast, Seong-yeol has been the beneificiary of his own advertising campaign in the form of Yang-seon's novels. So that's what it comes down to- a war of vampire public relations,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 17 2015/09/02,
Everybody's plans end up blowing up in their faces. I have to admit, this is a heck of a lot more fun than things going wrong because the characters are passively stupid. Unfortunately Cheol-joong's actions remain unhampered. This is annoying mainly because Cheol-joong isn't really any smarter than any other character. Cheol-joong's only useful asset is the inexplicable loyalty of his minions. I can see the evil vizier turning soldiers against the lawful King for a lot of reasons, but to help out the vampire that keeps snacking on them? Really?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 16 2015/08/27,
After the usual requisite moping about regarding whether Seong-yeol is terrible for being a vampire or whether he should be allowed to love or blah blah blah we finally get to some exciting action. Remember the plan that everyone has been talking about for forever, the one that we never actually get to see? Well we get to see part of it here. And goodness, is it ever relieving to finally find our good-aligned characters on the same page even if strictly speaking they don't actually know what's going on,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 15 2015/08/26,
I think Gwi's just making these evil schemes up as he goes along. Really. The guy never seems to have an actual plan. He's always being surprised and simply responds by terrorizing as many people as possible without any regard to how this is supposed to fit it to his long term designs. More often than not Gwi just expects other people to do his dirty work for him, then he doesn't even bother to check up to see if they did it correctly. One might think that an immortal invincible vampire would be a tad more patient and farsighted,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 14 2015/08/20,
Seong-yeol continues to sulk. Admittedly for better reason than usual, since Yang-seon now seems to be genuinely frightened of him, for good reason. From my end, well, maybe it's just that all the vampire-induced massacres, but I feel kind of desensitized to the problems in Seong-yeol's love life. The main plot, namely the new round of anti-Gwi plans, continue to lack much inspiration. Although interestingly Gwi's own plan isn't really all that good,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 13 2015/08/19,
The premise at the start is somewhat interesting. Everyone managed to escape from Gwi last night, but now the operating assumption is that they only have one day before Gwi manages to locate and murder them all the following night. Much as I dislike spoilers I feel compelled to point out that this alarm ends up being a false one. No one ends up preparing for Gwi all that effectively. What's more Gwi barely even seems to care about the fact that a serious attempt was made to kill him, one that might have worked better if the king's snipers were better shots,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 12 2015/08/13,
After nearly a full drama of little-to-no actual plot, this episode almost manages to overdo it. The heroes have extended conversations with each other- not just each other even, but one of the villains too, and working together they come up with a plan to finally take on Gwi. Obviously this doesn't work out too great but even so! Finally! Vampire action plots and scheming in the vampire action drama! It's been so long since there's just been a good fight, you know?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 11 2015/08/12,
Apparently the last couple of episodes weren't enough of a downbeat tone for director Lee Seong-joon. This one too, at least initially, continues to have its character mope around in general angst and depression over death. Maybe it's heartless for me to think this, but Seong-yeol and Yang-seon really need to move on. Death isn't some new surprising occurence in this drama. It's hardly fair to prioritize a couple of deaths more just because the main characters happened to know them personally,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 10 2015/08/06,
Even though Jang-seon isn't actually in jail anymore this episode of "Scholar Who Walks the Night" somehow manages to be even more lurid and depressing than the last one. Granted, after the ending of the last episode we could hardly have expected this one to be all sparkly vampires and rainbows, but even so. I can only tolerate so much abuse of the lead heroine before it just gets to be incredibly offputting. The camp elements are pretty much completely absent here,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 9 2015/08/05,
This episode is thoroughly bogged down in the "Jang-seon is in jail" storyline. While this doesn't go on forever, Jang-seon is so heavily restricted here it's a little difficult to ignore the extent to which her character is basically a damsel in distress. About the only saving grace is that this isn't her fault. If Jo-saeng hadn't been acting in such a boneheaded way this whole time they'd already all be out by now, and the general gruesomeness of the cliffhanger could have been avoided,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 8 2015/07/30,
Jo-saeng (played by Jeong Gyoo-soo) is Yang-seon's adoptive father, though he pretends to be her father by birth. He's also the main reason why the plot regarding the book hasn't gone anywhere. Jo-saeng has spent most of the runtime acting unhelpful because he's seen what vampires can do and is completely terrified at the prospect of getting involved at the storyline at all,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 7 2015/07/29,
In the aftermath of a major battle recovery is slow- well, not that slow given that Seong-yeol and Gwi are vampires, but this definitely appears to be a cycle that repeats fairly frequently. Seong-yeol is only able to outsmart Gwi enough to force another stalemate- they both live to fight another day. Which as far as Seong-yeol is concerned is a loss, because another day as a vampire is another day he has to suck blood from the living and, well, Seong-yeol doesn't like doing that,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 6 2015/07/23,
Gwi very quickly seems to forget that the reason he captured all the booksellers wasn't to spread a message of anti-literacy- Gwi's goal was in fact to get more information about Yang-seon. And he quickly gives that up to just do more obviously evil stuff that serves little apparent purpose except to force cover-ups and make people like Gwi even less than they already do. By the end of the episode Gwi isn't doing much better. He's once again easily bamboozled by Seong-yeol and manages to forget to take precautions against his most glaring weakness,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 5 2015/07/22,
Seong-ryeol does a lot of watching. Really, it seems to be his main special ability. He always has a perfect view of whatever scheme Gwi is planning at any given moment- that much would seem to be Gwi's special weakness. But for the most part Seong-ryeol has his eyes focused on Yang-seon this episode. It really does seem like a pity that Seong-ryeol has the power to read really fast but mostly just ends up waiting for people to finish doing stuff rather slowly,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 4 2015/07/16,
Poor Seong-yeol. I mean, I know it's a big genre convention that the brooding romantic vampire has to hate who he is, and regret the mistakes of the past, but still. Running into Myeong-hee does a number on Seong-yeol's brain here. It's a trauma only amplified by flashbacks which indicate that Seong-yeol didn't even really manage to knock Gwi out temporarily- at that point Gwi let Seong-yeol leave the throne room alive (or undead if you want to be technical) mainly out of pity,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 3 2015/07/15,
One of the odder quirks about "Scholar Who Walks the Night" is that the villain is kind of incompetent. Sure, he can beat the tar out of pretty much anybody in a fight- that's why Seong-yeol is walking the night instead of trying to take Gwi down in hand-to-hand combat. The problem is that Gwi's ultimate goal is largely political in nature, and he has two kinds of allies- not terribly competent henchmen, and political power players who are smarter than the overly ambitious vampire,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 2 2015/07/09,
Yang-seon (played by Lee Yoo-bi) is a cross-dressing book merchant. It quickly becomes very obvious why that is- apparently even in the Joseon era, selling books required lots of borderline perverted gamesmanship. Yang-seon is completely stoked to find any source of new book material, no matter how obviously ridiculous. No, actually, the more ridiculous the better. That's what drags the clients in- the promise of preposterous sexy stories,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 1 2015/07/08,
Seong-yeol (played by Lee Joon-gi) is a warrior scholar with a special interest in vampires. Matters take a turn for the disastrous when one such vampire by the name of Gwi (played by Lee So-hyeok) decides to make a serious effort to take over the world. The young lady Myeong-hee (played by Kim So-eun) ends up getting caught in the middle of this. Which is unfortunate, since Seong-yeol and Myeong-hee get along rather adorably together,...More
Star Focus to hold 'Korea Movie Stars Award' 2015/06/15, Source,
It is anticipated that Korea's top movie stars will show up at one location on June 15th.
To celebrate the start of Star Focus, an official magazine by The Korea Film Actors' Association and MGM Media, publisher of Star Focus, 'Korea Movie Stars Award' will be hold in Grand Ballroom of Conrad Seoul Hotel at 6 PM on June 18th,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Twenty" 2015/04/11,
I'm just gonna come out and say it- being twenty really sucked. Goodness knows culture tries to convince us that this was the greatest time of our lives, but the simple reality is that when we were twenty, we had no idea how the world really worked. And yet, we were just barely smart enough to think we had a grasp on what was going on, even if it was obvious that we did not. So it is with Chi-ho (played by Kim Woo-bin), Dong-woo (played by Junho) and Kyeong-jae (played by Kang Ha-neul). They became friends under peculiar circumstances, and these are the circumstances in which their relationships continue to awkwardly exist,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 20 2015/01/15,
The last case comes to a lightning fast conclusion- no surprises there, given that all the reporting in "Pinocchio" has been marked by sudden resolutions. Although it does help to underscore just how long it took for the final plot thread to be wrapped up. Still, if the cliffhanger represented excellent use of In-ha, the opening here makes a similar dramatic statement using Dal-po's own character traits. Simultaneously we can see how his confrontation is both revenge for the past as well as poetic justice by giving Ro-sa the chance to resolve matters in a way that doesn't destroy her family,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 18 2015/01/14,
We open up with the conversation between Dal-po and Cha-ok, emphasizing the latter's final sense of emotional frustration at having let herself get embroiled in such corruption. The end of the episode is...more or less the same thing, actually, although relatively little of the middle portions really have much to do with Cha-ok. "Pinocchio" appears to be stalling for time, given that at this point it shouldn't really take much for the storyline to resolve,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 19 2015/01/14,
The creative decision to keep Beom-jo's thought process in the dark is a bit of a questionable one here, since the cliffhanger only has emotional urgency provided you have a big emotional attachment to his character. It's been a common problem lately, "Pinocchio" spreading too much of its characters around and just being overly balanced in their exposure. Admittedly, my estimation of the cliffhanger went up a bit when I realized the significance of using In-ha to deliver the message,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 17 2015/01/08,
In-ha and Beom-ho end up deciding on confronting their parents with the evidence amassed. Beom-ho quickly tires of his ethical discussion, though it remains unclear what moral lesson he actually took from his mother's rationalizations. In-ha, by contrast, learns a significant bit of backstory along with Cha-ok's usual utilitarian arguments. The most interesting character ends up being the one about which we don't actually know very much- Dal-pyeong, In-ha's father,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 16 2015/01/07,
The first portion of the episode starts out with some romantic comedy- not any real discussion of the actual plot at all, just Dal-po and In-ha getting involved in a classic genre set-up designed for humor. Good use is made of the hiccups. Lee Jong-suk and Park Shin-hye really are cute together whenever the script calls for it. The entire bit is really more a scene of extended fanservice than anything else but a little light humor is always welcome. Especially when the situation will inevitably get worse,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 15 2015/01/01,
This episode takes the form of a mostly dry investigative procedural, as the characters take different approaches to uncover the inaccuracies in Cha-ok's reporting. By the end we've mostly arrived in a pretty neat place- the inconsistency has been uncovered. While in the short term this most likely exonerates Chan-soo, more open questions like what actually caused the fire in the first place remain open, and will probably be pursued later on,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 14 2014/12/25,
While I can appreciate the effort "Pinocchio" makes here in trying to expose corporate malfeasance, the current plot hook really only feels tangentially related to plausible journalism. Beom-jo doing a news story about his mother's company is...well, the guy really should have either been recused or not called up for the assignment at all. His very presence on the scene is a pretty harsh indictment of the journalistic integrity of his company,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 13 2014/12/24,
The situation with Chae-ok resolves a bit quicker than I was expecting. Unfortunately. The main interesting plot thread of "Pinocchio" right now is the long term situation regarding revenge via journalism. It's a pretty big step down to go from an actual possible case of ruined journalistic integrity to a rather goofy seasonal plotline regarding a Santa gone bad. And why exactly did In-ha provoke him in the first place anyway?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 12 2014/12/18,
Like the last big news story featured in "Pinocchio", this one is over in the blink of an eye. I don't know why I was expecting Jae-myeong's plan to be something more complicated- what we get instead is astonishingly simple and elegant, and captures the exact sense of narrative cohesion I was looking for. Jae-myeong and Ha-myeong fight back against journalism by turning the power of the press directly against Cha-ok. Now she's the one with a lot to answer for against a basically cruel and hostile audience,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 11 2014/12/17,
The pacing continues to be slow here. We still don't find out what Jae-myeong's plan actually is- mostly to drive up interest for the next episode, where it should be displayed in full, clear detail. For the most part this is just a negotiation- Jae-myeong tries to convince Dal-po that they need to follow through on revenge, however unpleasant the prospect may be. Well, technically he's trying to convince Ha-myeong. Therein lies the conflict. To which name does our character owe more loyalty- Dal-po or Ha-myeong?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 10 2014/12/11,
In terms of narrative structure this episode is mostly identical to the last one. There's little in the way of actual storyline movement except for the sudden surprising revelation at the end. Instead, we have character reactions to an as-yet mostly static situation. Mostly from In-ha, who is not at all happy with what her mother did to Dal-po. Although the question does come to mind- would she be as angry about this if Cha-ok had just destroyed a random family, rather than the one of someone In-ha cares about personally?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 9 2014/12/10,
Jae-myeong is a hero. But you may note that almost none of the characters we see celebrating in the early portions of the episode are happy because a young boy was saved. No, they're happy because this is a huge news story, and the entire incident was caught on camera. Even in positive moments like this "Pinocchio" revels in showing off the darker parts of news journalism. It seems to force people into thinking selfishly, even if normally they're perfectly ethical individuals,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 8 2014/12/04,
The love story in "Pinocchio" is all right. Lee Jong-suk and Park Sin-hye have good chemistry together. I kind of have to remind myself of this sometimes, because the overall story is so tangentially related to the romance that it's easy to forget. To the credit of the production team, the whole scene in the street with all the snow, and the actual argument of what the relationship of the main two characters is? Pretty spectacular looking,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 7 2014/12/03,
Incredibly, after an entire episode of intense investigation, trickery, and hypothesizing, the entire news report that the characters have been battling over is resolved within the course of just a few minutes. Such is the nature of news broadcasting. So much effort put into a short story that may reach a huge population. And yet most of those people probably won't even remember the broadcast in a few days. And as for the ones that will...well...,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 6 2014/11/27,
While Jae-myeong lurks somewhat ominously in the background, for the foreseeable future it looks like the drama's just going to be team In-ha and team Dal-po working against each other to get to the bottom of mysteries. It should be note, of course, that none of our main characters are actually detectives. So even if "Pinocchio" seems to have the appearance of a police procedural, by the end it's quite clear that their motivation is something else entirely. If we do get an explanation of what actually happened in the big scoop this week, that discovery will mostly be incidental,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 5 2014/11/26,
The cliffhanger last episode has forced a split between Dal-po and In-ha. It's a weirdly amicable split though. Yes, In-ha is pretty upset about Dal-po's ruining her dream for no apparent reason, but even then her frustrations are played for comedy rather than tragedy. The implication is that In-ha realizes her condition makes reporting impractical, and if even Dal-po agrees with that statement, then there simply isn't any hope for her dream at all,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 4 2014/11/20,
Having thoroughly established what it means to be a bad parent, this time "Pinocchio" works out what it means to be a good parent. Dal-po and In-ha may be adults, but they're still living at home, and this crazy idea of becoming reporters is a bit hard to reconcile with what their fathers expect from them. Or is it? While the turnabout here is technically surprising from the perspective of our leads, in broad perspective it's not all that difficult to see at all. Parents don't exist to be pleased by their children. They're their to help their kids out, and that's exactly what happens here,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 3 2014/11/19,
The theme this episode is how to deal with the shattering of obviously hopeless dreams. The opening doesn't even have any real tension. We know that Dal-po is dreaming, he knows that he's dreaming, but gosh, wouldn't it just be wonderful if the first two episodes were only a mere hallucination? Unfortunately that's simply not how it works. And ultimately it's In-ha that bears the brunt of that, as she convinces herself that Cha-ok really is a loving mother who's been out of contact for justifiable work reasons,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 2 2014/11/13,
Right after snapping back to the quiz show it's straight into another flashback- but don't worry, this one only goes back into recent history and deals exclusively with the adult cast, even if they're all garbed in high school uniforms. Dal-po is a bit of a lazy slob- or so it seems. Frequently this episode we get a good look at the young man's keen deductive mind. The way he's easily able to size up even faraway situations somewhat strains belief- but again, I'm willing to give "Pinocchio" leeway in this department since the contrivance matches up with the greater themes,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Pinocchio" Episode 1 2014/11/12,
Dal-po (played by Lee Jong-suk) is doing a TV quiz show in the present day. No, wait, sorry, about a decade ago. As of the first episode we still haven't made it to the actual plot yet. It's all just background, most of which takes place in another flashback, where young Dal-po (played by Nam Da-reum) experiences increasingly extreme melodramatic tragedies. At several points I wondered whether these flashbacks would have gone down better later on in the drama- that's a heck of a way to start a story out, with an extreme emphasis on overwrought desolation,...More
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