[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 20 Final 2016/07/16,
With Hong-joo mostly out of the way, "Mirror of the Witch" is able to proceed without a villain. Which is to say, instead of having to fight an intractable conspiracy, Jun and Yeon-hee simply solve problems and make wishes come true. This is immensely more satisfying than the skulduggery that has categorized so much of the drama's plot until this point. In context it's not clear whether any of the potions are actually magical at all- it's more about the behavior they provoke,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 19 2016/07/15,
After Yeon-hee is predictably rescued due to a few convenient contrivances, "Mirror of the Witch" finally gets into serious material it should have been exploring a long time ago- serious self-reproachment. Progressing events finally proven to Hong-joo that her theory regarding the curse is at best rather flawed, indicating that at minimum, Hong-joo is not as smart as she thought. She still has to act, but there's a terrified sense of weakness to the villainess now that limits her powers of persuasion,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 18 2016/07/09,
Jun and Yeon-hee briefly have an enjoyable time on the run. Well, all right, being on the run by definition can't really be enjoyable, but they do have some nice flashbacks and even manage to hold hands. Daw. Alas, it doesn't take long for the plot to catch up to them again. Once separated, Yeon-hee completely loses her marbles and goes on a much welcomed rampage. And because there are still two episodes left, Jun has to talk her out of it for some incomprehensible reason,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 17 2016/07/08,
Hong-joo is in jail again, although we know from past experience that this doesn't really mean anything. "Mirror of the Witch" consistently makes a strong argument for a quick trial-less death penalty, not because Hong-joo is evil enough to warrant one, but because the drama takes place in this comic book universe where prisons are made out of cardboard and only serve to temporarily keep the villain out of the way until she's needed again in a few more issues,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 16 2016/07/02,
...So apparently "Mirror of the Witch" is a twenty episode drama? I'd been assuming it was only sixteen. Not sure whether they added four while I wasn't paying attention or if it was just wishful thinking. Considering what little there is for any of the characters to actually do anymore, I'm at a loss for what's going to happen in even the next two episodes, let alone four. Exactly how many contrivances can the drama possibly come up with to keep letting Hong-joo get away at the last minute?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 15 2016/07/01,
It suddenly occurred to me this episode that King Seonjo's decision to keep his sickness secret has never made a whole lot of sense. Like, if you're seriously morbidly ill and the regular doctor isn't cutting it, wouldn't it make more sense to start inquiring for other doctors than to just pretend the problem is going to go away on its own? King Seonjo should have been suspicious of Hong-joo from the get-go. How did she even know he was sick in the first place, let alone have any idea how to cure it?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 14 2016/06/25,
Now that the jar has been destroyed Hong-joo is forced to switch gears to her previous plan to maintain power- King Seonjo's physical illness. Which kind of begs the question of why Hong-joo ever even needed two plans in the first place. King Seonjo mostly liked Hong-joo back when he first invited her to the palace. Now he doesn't, thanks to all the politicking involved with Hong-joo's second plan. We can go back even further than that and wonder why Hong-joo needed to kill the crown prince at all since making him sick would have been a lot more efficient,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 13 2016/06/24,
A tussel over the jar containing the spirit of Yeon-hee's departed brother defines the main conflict this this around, making it fairly easy to keep track of the story. But strictly speaking the only character with any particular reason to care about what happens to the jar is Queen Dowager Sim. Hong-joo only cares because she can use the jar as emotional leverage against Queen Dowager Sim, and everyone else only cares because they can use the jar to break Hong-joo's grip on power,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 12 2016/06/18,
Predictably, Yeon-hee does not actually kill Gong-ju, although doing so would as always solve a great many more problems than keeping her alive for ill-defined ethical reasons. I always find it rather annoying when heroic characters act merciful only when it comes to the big boss. Poong-yeon surely must have killed at least a few members of Gongju's personal guard last episode. I heard slashing sounds,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 11 2016/06/17,
For all the greater logical problems I have with "Mirror of the Witch", Yum Jung-ah's performance is a high point. She consistently and convincingly manages to portray Hong-joo as a woman who can talk her way out of death by swordpoint. It's a bit of a surprise no one has realized yet that it would probably be easier to deal with whatever immediate crisis would be created by Hong-joo's death than it would be to try and solve whatever crisis Hong-joo creates next,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 10 2016/06/11,
Now that team Yeon-hee and team Poong-yeon have finally met and teamed up they can...not really do anything more complicated than what they were already doing, because their goals are still as poorly defined as ever. Ugh. I really don't like harping on these motivation issues again and again, but it really messes up the emotional impact of scenes like this when there's no immediate compelling reason for Yeon-hee and Poong-yeon to meet up again,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 9 2016/06/10,
A trip into backstory only serves to further convince me that writer Yang Hyeok-moon is obsessed with backstory to the point of almost completely forgetting that "Mirror of the Witch" even has a present ongoing story in the first place. If I try to look at the drama's plot in terms of a complicated interconnected tapestry, it kind of makes sense. If I try to answer basic questions like "what does character X want to do right now to further his or her goals" I'm at a complete loss as to what's going on,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 8 2016/06/04,
Jun leaves the custody of Yeon-hee's hideaway to find that the situation has deteriorated quite a bit in his absence. Heo-ok's ridiculous charge of Jun being the local serial killer unfortunately still has traction, since whoever is actually responsible for the murders has evidently scoped the situation and realized that Jun is a very convenient scapegoat. Considering the bigger power struggles we know are at play, Heo-ok's petty act of revenge is likely to have long-standing consequences that may well end in his own death,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 7 2016/06/04,
The reunion between Jun and Seo-ri is pretty prickly, as usual because "Mirror of the Witch" insists on restarting the plot from scratch for no reason. Fortunately in this case the dynamic is fairly interesting. We see clearly that Seo-ri and especially Yo-gwang (played by Lee Yi-kyung) are just about completely out of patience, and only bothered to save Jun's life in the first place because they are that desperate for useful information,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 6 2016/05/28,
Soon-deuk-i (played by Dohee) is, for this episode anyway, the main character of "Mirror of the Witch". She's a schemer who, in between schemes, is friend to gisaeng Man-weol (played by Lee Cho-hee), who is being stymied in her romantic efforts by a disfigured face. You might be wondering what any of this has to do with Jun's revenge plan, Yeon-hee's seclusion, Hong-joo's dark magic, or King Seonjo's physical malady. There are relating plot threads. Unfortunately they aren't very convincing ones,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 5 2016/05/27,
The prologue portion of "Mirror of the Witch" ends in expectedly gruesome fashion. Yes, that's right- apparently the first four and a half episodes were just prologue. I don't think I've ever seen a drama try so hard to undercut its own story before. At the moment it's not terribly clear why we had to spend so much time dealing with character backstory when five years later the leads are all standard archetypes,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 3 2016/05/20,
Poong-yeon (played by Kwak Si-yang) loves Yeon-hee like a brother. Consequently, Poong-yeon is far more frustrated than Yeon-hee about her seclusion, particularly because Hyeon-seo (played by Lee Sung-jae) refuses to explain in clear detail why exactly Yeon-hee requires such elaborate protection. I have a sneaking suspicion that we don't have the full story either- whatever dark magic force keeps hounding Yeon-hee is evidently beyond the power of both Hyeon-seo and Hong-joo,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mirror of the Witch" Episode 1 2016/05/13,
After the dust has settled from a generally disastrous political situation, Queen Sim (played by Jang Hee-jin) ends up having to petition for help from the sorceress Hong-joo (played by Yum Jung-ah). The price of all magical aid ends up falling squarely on the shoulders of Hae-ran (played by Jung In-sun), a willing servant of the Queen. Ultimately, brutal vengeance is promised against those who would use dark powers for the sake of betrayal- with those same dark powers that have left a lasting legacy to Hae-ran,...More
"Maids", a historical story in the Joseon times 2014/12/10, Source,
According to statistics, the middle class take up 60% of Korea.
The new JTBC drama "Maids" deal with the unofficial history of maids who were pushed back by the generation that leaned heavily on the males. The setting is based in the Joseon times with 60% of the population made up of servants and maids. The drama is the story of real people and relates to the middle class people in the world today,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Final episode 16 2013/09/17,
Nothing much actually happens this episode. That's honestly not an exaggeration. Even the drama itself seems to acknowledge that there isn't anything left for these characters to do, as the entire opening is just a replay of the final dramatic scene from the last episode, where Si-On makes peace with Hyeong-Joon's ghost (or more accurately, he makes peaces with her). From that point onward, it's just tying up loose ends.
Except there aren't really any loose ends to tie up. The gangsters are finished,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 15 2013/09/16,
There's very little action this episode as, with Geon-Woo out of commission and thus unable to solve problems with gratuitous violence, Si-On has to resort to actual detective work to start bringing the criminal conspiracy to light. It's quite funny just how little effort she has to go to to do this, compared to every other bit of progress the investigation has made, which was accomplished with the assistance of severe mortal danger.
Less amusing are the hospital scenes, which are sad if only because of the context they're placed in. After the revelation of last episode's cliffhanger, there are any number of directions the narrative could have gone, and it picks one such direction,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 14 2013/09/10,
This episode is sad. Not excessively, sentimentally so, but most of it deals with the stark reality of coming to terms with death, and there isn't really any fun way to discuss that. The usual questions still come up- I find myself wondering how Si-On gets anyone to talk to her. We're always skipping the parts of these conversations where she introduces herself to strangers. What does she say anyway? "I'm from the Lost and Found, my job is to find random people who might know who owns these random objects"?
Yes, the function of this particular branch of the police department is, as always, not totally clear,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 13 2013/09/09,
Geon-Woo, faced with a hostage situation, does exactly what he thinks should be done in a hostage situation. Immediately succumb to all demands without any guarantees that the bad guys will keep their word. I would like to note, for any would-be police officers reading this review, that this is not how you should ever deal with a hostage situation. It's fitting that Geon-Woo is only saved from his stupid mistake thanks to the intervention of the supernatural. With a little help from his fists, of course.
There haven't been many ghosts in the drama lately, but this time around we get a little more focus and explanation on Si-On's abilities,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 12 2013/09/03,
The storyline has been very steady lately. Maybe a little too steady. It's still entertaining and interesting, and has been fairly clearly storyboarded, but the charm doesn't really seem to be there anymore. Maybe it's more accurate to state that the charm has worn off. Previous episodes went really overboard in the outrageous dangerous inexplicable category, and the feeling from those moments is pretty hard to top.
Now, to be perfectly clear, watching Si-On smack gangsters around with a giant wooden board never gets old. There's a cheesy element to the action sequences that always has a great charm to it,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 11 2013/09/02,
The relationship between Geon-Woo and Detective Choi has been one of the stranger points of this drama ever since we found out about Detective Choi's hidden agenda. From that point his character has been in the peculiar position of being both kind of an antagonist, and yet the only person Geon-Woo can talk to about his personal problems, since Geon-Woo condescends to his subordinates and his other superior (Si-On) is the cause of most of these personal problems to begin with.
In this episode the awkward nature of their personal dynamic is put into full focus. Geon-Woo, reeling from the events of the last episode decides to drown his sorrows the only way he knows how,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 10 2013/08/27,
This episode isn't bad, exactly. "Who Are You - 2013" still has the good sense to contain its drastic narrative shifts in a single episode to avoid too much whiplash. So while the last one was goofy slapstick, this time around we get a much more serious episode as we learn details about the past relationship between Si-On and Hyeong-Joon, specifically hinging around the day Hyeong-Joon died, and the mystery of what's in that weird box.
The trouble is, the episode still contains what I now consider to be the main hallmark of every character- their basic incompetence,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 9 2013/08/26,
Characters who had previously taken very specific actions in regards to their love interests have apparently failed to consider what exactly step two of their plan was. Geon-Woo knew when he contrived this a-date-or-maybe-not situation that you were still going to have to go to work the next day. Apparently he really was so short-sighted that the best plan he could come up with was acting like a shy, idiot teenager.
I like how, in spite of that epic kiss, apparently Si-On and Geon-Woo still aren't in what we could reasonably call a romantic relationship. Si-On barely even registers that the event happened at all,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 8 2013/08/20,
This drama is now deliberately straddling the line trying to see just how dumb its characters can act while still being basically sympathetic and creating a genuine conflict. It's like watching a high-rise tightrope walker. Sure, the fact that the drama has made it halfway seems to imply that it can do it the whole time- yet at any given minute I'm absolutely convinced it's going to fall down several stories and completely destroy itself.
As goofy as the storylines are, they're just barely real enough that I can't fault the humor or see it as out of place,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 7 2013/08/19,
The drama takes the perplexing direction this episode of actually being really, really good. I had trouble believing it at first, but most of the writing issues have pretty much been fixed. Characters now respond to events in largely intuitive ways. The dramatic tension is genuinely effective because the threats aren't arbitrary. The villain displays genuine competence and foresight. There's real detective work. When scenes have multiple possible endings, the different choices actually make sense rather than being different variations of absurdity.
Most of the goofier story elements are still there,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 6 2013/08/13,
This episode marks a departure from the series so far, in that it's relatively normal. There's not that much in the way of ghosts, ill-conceived ill-executed murder attempts, and contrived plotting. For the most part this is just the story of what happens when Si-On and Geon-Woo go on a company retreat. It's light-hearted comedic fare, with the occassional reference to the greater ghost storyline as, uncharacteristically, the two of them stop acting combative for the sake of being combative.
I give this drama a hard time for its absurdity, and for the most part it's well-deserved. A convoluted illegal plot does show up this episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 5 2013/08/12,
There's something nearly artistic about the screenwriter's insistence on making sure that every single plot event and character in "Who Are You - 2013" connects to everything else somehow, regardless of whether it makes any kind of logical sense. It's not even an idiot plot- the story feels like a divine hand is specifically manipulating people to do weird stuff for no reason just to set up whatever's going to happen next episode. Accept that conceit, and the characters are almost behaving somewhat intelligently.
The annoying ghost this time around isn't scary, but he has an astonishingly bad sense of timing,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 4 2013/08/06,
After an extended, protracted conflict that involves fistfights, knifefights, clubfights, and gunfights, we finally discover who murdered the poor chilly ghost who's been pestering Si-On. And it turns out...that it wasn't actually much of a murder at all. Legally speaking, I don't think the villain technically broke any laws. Well, I guess there's the shady guys in suits, the skulking around at night, the dismembering of the body, and the strange fixation with the suitcase, all that stuff was probably illegal somehow. But aside from that, there wasn't any real original crime to cover up.
Seldom have I ever seen a drama where so many people expend so much effort to accomplish so little,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 3 2013/08/05,
Si-On seems to have trouble making up her mind about the best way to get rid of the annoying ghosts. One minute she decides to just do whatever it is the ghost wants her to do, even if it makes no intuitive sense in the situation and makes her look like even crazier a person than usual. The next she tries to avoid or run away from the ghost, always forgetting that, as a ghost, Si-On can be followed basically anywhere. Sometimes she asks for help only to ignore it in a huff. Si-On seems to have forgotten that she can make the ghosts leave by taking her meds. Or maybe that was just the writer, I'm not really sure.
Ghost rules also take a perplexing turn in this episode,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 2 2013/07/30,
It turns out that the evil doctor is just as loony and cartoonish as the name "evil doctor" makes him sound. Literally the minute Si-On finds out his terrible crime, the stress of pretending to be an innocent person becomes too much for him and he immediately resorts to every ridiculous stock villain cliche he can think of in order to...actually, it's really not at all clear what he was planning to accomplish by attacking Si-On. There's a monologue reciting his villainous misdeeds. I guess sometimes you really just need to do an evil monologue.
Fortunately the villain has magical plot powers that keep Si-On from just beating him immediately. The evil doctor isn't physically intimidating at all,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 1 2013/07/29,
Within the first few minutes of this episode a police officer gets on a boat and repeatedly gets lost. He gets so lost, in fact, that the gangsters chasing him can't find him even when they just had the guy surrounded. "Who Are You - 2013" is one of those shows where spatial reasoning does not apply. Characters (and ghosts) can appear basically anywhere the plot needs them to, regardless of where they are or how difficult it is for them to get there.
Normally this kind of continuity problem drives me up the wall- however, "Who Are You - 2013" is so cheesy and absurd that I can't help but laugh every time it happens,...More
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