Review Doramas

ebossert

Member: Rank 3
Queen Seondeok (2009) (Korean Drama Television Series) – In the early 7th century, this K-drama (62 episodes, 65 minutes each) revolves around the life of Queen Seon-deok of the Silla dynasty. Our protagonist is abandoned by the royal family as a baby and sent off to a distant foreign land, but eventually makes her way back to her home kingdom to find her father. The script does the following things very well: (1) the development of our leads; (2) creating memorable moments involving those leads; (3) contributing good exchanges of dialogue; and (4) crafting conflicts that are understandable from both sides. Casting is spot on, and there is dramatic impact. Sure, there is some expressionistic acting and a soap opera-ish feel at times, but this is good stuff. Bi-dam is one of my favorite characters in a K-drama ever. Strongly Recommended
 

ebossert

Member: Rank 3
I'm catching up on everything with Chae-won Moon.

The Princess’s Man (2011) (Korean Drama/Romance Television Series) – Set in the 1400s, romance develops between two people (Chae-won Moon, Si-hoo Park) who are a part of rival families that have eyes on the throne. The biggest problem with this K-drama is that it is 24 episodes long (65 minutes each) but lacks enough story to justify that length. There’s a repetition here that is unnecessary, and certain episodes pass by with virtually no progress in terms of story and little character development. Acting, production values and primary conflicts are good, but it drags like crazy. Not Recommended
 

plsletitrain

Member: Rank 5
Just started watching While You Were Sleeping (2017), a melodramatic thriller with 32 episodes. I'm still on episode 2 and crawling my way to it so I don't know if I'm able to finish this as the leads kind of need to go take acting lessons and the premise is quite too much for me to handle but I'll try.
 

ebossert

Member: Rank 3
Mr. Sunshine (2018) (Korean Drama/Romance/Thriller Television Series)

This K-drama (24 episodes, 75 minutes each) is set around the year 1900 and revolves around the Japanese occupation of Korea. There is a lot to like about his show because it focuses so much on developing its characters, story, and conflicts. The geopolitical climate is complicated, with multiple countries at play, which makes the story very interesting in its depiction of cultural fluidity. It’s fascinating to see these cultures blend together in one location due to the significant pressures on not only Korean government officials to forfeit their country’s sovereignty, but also the Korean people to abandon their own ways of life. Byung-hun Lee and Tae-ri Kim are front and center amidst a batch of excellent performances. All five of the leads do a great job, and even the supporting actors have their moments. Compelling stuff that keeps getting better as it rolls along (episode 1 is the least effective episode). Strongly Recommended
 

plsletitrain

Member: Rank 5
Just started watching While You Were Sleeping (2017), a melodramatic thriller with 32 episodes. I'm still on episode 2 and crawling my way to it so I don't know if I'm able to finish this as the leads kind of need to go take acting lessons and the premise is quite too much for me to handle but I'll try.
Wow, I didn't make it through. lol. I'm quite unreliable if you task me to watch these dramas. I think I left it at episode 11 and it was a bit uninteresting, the leads didn't have chemistry and didn't appeal to me because I have such high standards mjeyds.gif

So I now I started with My First First Love. Just finished episode 1 and so far, so bad. Miscast cast, overacting everywhere, a bit dramatic, constipated acting.......... but since I'm a sucker for bestfriends-turned-lovers storyline, I'll try to endure this one. Wish me luck.
 

clayton-12

Member: Rank 4
Has anyone seen anything of Midnight Diner, and if so, what did you think?

It's only just come across my radar, and sounds a bit like it might be up the Samurai Gourmet alley (which would be a good thing in my books). Worthwhile investing in?
 

plsletitrain

Member: Rank 5
My First First Love- Not recommended.

We all love the friends-turned-lovers story arc but this one was just blah. Ji-Soo (the guy) has this distinct voice that quite annoys me but I found out he’s a gentleman in real life so I can forget the voice. The lead girl and the other guy looks the same! I know its no surprise but you can just add hair extensions to the guy and he’ll look like the girl. The support loveteam had more chemistry than the leads dammit! I never got hooked on the richness of the story. But man it ran 16 episodes, where did all of those go? I think there has got to be some controversy surrounding the ending because it was so abrupt. Did the director think he had 6 seasons left? I don’t want to research, it doesn’t deserve lifting a finger. The ending has got to be one of the worst endings in the history of K-drama. Too contrived. I know I never said anything positive about this. lol. Not even the soundtrack, wait, was there? Story is well—a brief summary: Damsel in distress has a guy bestfriend who has been there all her life. Platonic, but now they’re grown ups, does it really just stop there? She meets a guy she falls for, so where is bestfriend in the map now? Bestfriend of course found another girl. Now that they have their own separate relationships, its time to figure out where each of them really stand in each other’s lives. I know, I think I wrote it better than the film. Watch at your own risk.

I'm grumpy these days.
 

clayton-12

Member: Rank 4
We all love the friends-turned-lovers story arc but this one was just blah
...
I'm grumpy these days.
Try Love Forecast ... that might cheer you up.
Or Very Ordinary Couple if you want to invert the arc and have a lovers-turned-friends story for a change.
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
LOVE IN THE MOONLIGHT/MOONLIGHT DRAWN BY CLOUDS (18 episodes)
I'm thinking about ordering some K-dramas to watch. Based on your review, I really want to get this one. I'm debating on whether to get the Korean box, for mega $$


OR, this set produced in Singapore for a lot cheaper:


I might just go for the Korean version, b/c I've been burnt with Taiwanese releases of K-dramas with really bad subtitles and dodgy video quality. But I've never tried a Singapore release.

Guys you should seriously start watching Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon. It really is so funny.
Gonna order this one as well:


Just started watching The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016-2017) with Ji-hyun Jun and Min-ho Lee. It's fun so far.
This one also. I know you didn't rave about it, and @plsletitrain stopped watching in the middle, but I think I'll like it.



Watching "1 Litre of Tears" and I remember why I avoided it for 10 years. I cry at least one time every damn episode. Really good stuff though.
I'm ordering this one also. The eBay link says 11 episodes/complete. Does that sound right to you?



My Wife Is Having An Affair This Week (aka Listen To Love) (2016) (Korean Romantic Comedy/Drama Television Series)
Yep; this one also.

 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Following up a bit on the above. The 1 Liter of Tears DVD set (Malaysian) has really bad subtitles. I can follow the story, but the subtitles seemed like they just translated vocabulary out of a dictionary, with no concept of context or phrasing or sentence structure. And even some of the vocabulary translations are really off. I'm on episode 9 of 11, so will weigh in again once I'm finished.

Conversely, the Legend of the Blue Sea DVD set (also Malaysian) subtitles are pretty good. Really no issues at all with the wording or structure. Very easy to follow. The only issue is that every once in a while a couple of dialog excahges don't get subtitled at all, but nothing major. I'm watching this with my wife, and we're on episode 10 of 20, so will weigh in again once I'm finished.

I'm actually neck deep in Queen Seon-Deok right now. This is a 62-episode monster but it will probably end up being one of my favorite K-dramas ever.
I need a little help here. I purchased this set:


It comes on 8 discs. I checked them all out and the picture is about what I expected (it seems most of these Malaysian sets are just downloaded from the internet) and the subtitles seem ok. HOWEVER, there seem to be 80 episodes. At least that's what the DVD menu says. Each disc has 10 episodes, and the chapter menu for disc 7 promises episodes 61-70, and the menu for disc 8 promises episodes 71-80. And I know for a fact this series only has 62 episodes. So...WTF?

I contacted the seller and sent him the screen shot of the DVD menu for disc 8. This was our exchange:

New message to: yoonko9

Ok, I finally figured out the photo thing. The box set has 8 discs, each with 10 episodes. I took a photo of Disc 8 as well as the menu screen showing episodes 71-80. Since the series only had 62 episodes, I'm not sure exactly what is going on.

I'm not complaining, and I'm not looking for a refund or return. I'll keep the DVD set either way. I'm just curious if you know why the episode number does not match. I'd rather not invest an entire month watching over 60 hours of Korean TV Drama only to find that its all messed up at the end.

Thanks,
Dave
The seller's reply:
New message from: yoonko9

Hi Dave, the box set of 8 disc are complete Asian Version which is 80 episode. The lengthy episode because is unsensored version and nothing to do with the messed up ending.
Thank You
So I know I'm not going to get an accurate answer there. I double-checked IMDb and Wikipedia, and I don't see anything about an 80-episode "uncensored" version.

Any ideas what's going on, before I commit, like, a year of my life watching this thing?
 

clayton-12

Member: Rank 4
Each disc has 10 episodes, and the chapter menu for disc 7 promises episodes 61-70, and the menu for disc 8 promises episodes 71-80. And I know for a fact this series only has 62 episodes. So...WTF?
I had a similar experience when I watched Jewel in the Palace many years ago - the series has something like 54 episodes, but the bootleg discs that were being passed around contained around 80 episodes. It turned out that the series had been recut to create shorter episodes to fit in with other countries' television programming schedules - so you get more episodes, albeit shorter ones. It did affect the flow somewhat - sometimes there would be a cliff-hanger moment half-way through an "episode" where it was obvious the episode break should be - but it didn't matter all that much.
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
I had a similar experience when I watched Jewel in the Palace many years ago - the series has something like 54 episodes, but the bootleg discs that were being passed around contained around 80 episodes. It turned out that the series had been recut to create shorter episodes to fit in with other countries' television programming schedules - so you get more episodes, albeit shorter ones. It did affect the flow somewhat - sometimes there would be a cliff-hanger moment half-way through an "episode" where it was obvious the episode break should be - but it didn't matter all that much.
Thanks for that info! Very helpful.
 

divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Following up a bit on the above. The 1 Liter of Tears DVD set (Malaysian) has really bad subtitles. I can follow the story, but the subtitles seemed like they just translated vocabulary out of a dictionary, with no concept of context or phrasing or sentence structure. And even some of the vocabulary translations are really off. I'm on episode 9 of 11, so will weigh in again once I'm finished.
1 Litre of Tears (2005). Ok; finished this last night. The main actress was very good. Perky when she needed to be perky and sad when she needed to be sad. Cute little yaeba tooth also. The drama was good but didn't hit me like it did for some others. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but I think it didn't resonate with me full-bore because it was a true story. Honestly, I did not know it was a true story until I got to the end of the first episode. Each episode ends with quotes and photos from the "real" girl. I googled the story and, yep, there was a real girl with a real diary and all that.

I think that detracted from the impact. From episode 1, you know how it's going to end. There's no surprises anywhere in this story. At least with the K-dramas, the writers can come up will all sorts of shit to throw you off base. A new love interest; an affair; a misunderstanding; a murderous stepmother; amnesia; cancer; etc. Anything can be made to be a surprise, or a manipulative way to jerk your emotions around--and that's kindof the reason I watch these things. But in Tears, there's not even any subplots. The entire story is this one girl and how she (and her family and friends) deal with her inevitable decline. Sure, there's a boyfriend of sorts, but it's all on the square. The girl is degenerating toward a pretty terrible end.

The good: As mentioned, the main actress really sells it. A very sympathetic and moving portrayal. I did feel like I connected with her and her disease. The actress playing the mother was also very good.

The not so good: The actor playing the father was pretty bad. Way overacting. Also, as I mentioned, the subtitles were the worst I've ever endured for any Asian movie. Worse than even bottom-of-the barrel old HK kung-fu movies. It's possible I would have liked this better with higher-quality subtitles.

3 stars (out of 5)
 
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divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Conversely, the Legend of the Blue Sea DVD set (also Malaysian) subtitles are pretty good. Really no issues at all with the wording or structure. Very easy to follow. The only issue is that every once in a while a couple of dialog excahges don't get subtitled at all, but nothing major. I'm watching this with my wife, and we're on episode 10 of 20, so will weigh in again once I'm finished.
Finished this one tonight. I really liked it. Ji-hyun Jun plays a mermaid whose tragic tale that originally took place during the Chosun Dynasty time (i.e., "the time when the men wear the funny hats") is being retold in the present day. It seems that all of the participants in the previous tale have been re-incarnated, and fate is repeating. The evildoers of the past are evildoers in their present incarnation. The lovers who were star-crossed then are similarly star-crossed now.

Now, I love stories of star-crossed lovers. If done well they really hit me and I don't roll my eyes during the more ridiculous parts. And let's face it, a mermaid come to land who can cry pearl tears and erase people's memories could be eye-rolling. But I bought into it. The series is 20 episodes. The first 5 or so, Jun the mermaid is really goofy as she tries to fit into landlubber life. She learns the ways of humans by watching K-dramas on TV, which leads her to believe some weird things and provides some humor. The man she loves is part of a con artist trio, which makes for interesting scenes as well.

These types of shows really do need boo-hiss-evil bad guys to root against. For a while I was thinking we weren't going to get that; at least not in the present day story. Sure, there were annoying people, and those with obviously not-so-great motives, but no one as bad as the Chosun baddies. But about episode 12 or so, the evil folks showed their true faces. For the next 5 episodes or so, the story switched almost exclusively to them and how they were working against our hero/pair. Not because she was a mermaid (no one knew, except the main fellow who finally was clued in), but based on some of the other plot elements. The mermaid plotline took a back seat for this portion, which was fine by me, as there's only so much you can do with the man/mermaid love story. And like a few other K-dramas I've seen, when the baddies get their due comeuppance, boy do they ever. The audience is NOT cheated in seeing them get what they deserve. Very cathartic!

And then the romance continues until the ... (happy? sad? bittersweet?) ending. I won't tell! (jk--it's a happy ending.)

There's a lot to like here. I love the leads, as well as the supporting cast. There's some very funny parts. One girl even thinks to herself, upon gazing at a fellow that may or may not be sweet on her (a fellow who has, shall we say, quite delicate features), "How is it that this guy can be prettier than a girl?" Ha ha. There are a few twists, as folks you think are one way might just not be what they seem. Keeps your interest.

I would have liked for the con-man plotline to have carried through more, as cons and scams are always interesting. But no real quibbles. The subtitles are excellent. The picture stuttered a bit on any action/movement shots, which was distracting but not a deal-breaker. Since most scenes were fairly static (people talking; lovers looking longingly doe-eyed at each other), the video stutter-steps were kept to a minimum. All in all, I seriously thought about 4.5 stars, but will settle on

4 stars (out of 5)
 
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divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
My Wife Is Having An Affair This Week (aka Listen To Love) (2016) (Korean Romantic Comedy/Drama Television Series)

A TV program director (Sun-kyun Lee) suspects that his wife (Ji-hyo Song) is having an affair. If you think this K-drama is going to cop-out with its premise, it does not! The script explores the psychological impact of infidelity. There’s a lot of very direct dialogue in this show, with some difficult conversations being had by many characters. ... Strongly Recommended
I finished this one tonight and I agree with @ebossert's take on the hard conversations and complexities of the marriage. That was done very well. I liked the series, but not as much as Mr. ebossert. The subplot dealing with the two younger staffers in the office I thought was very interesting, and done well. The subplot with the philandering lawyer was played for comic relief for the first 9 episodes or so (the series is only 12 episodes long). But then the lawyer subplot got really serious and really weird at the end. Enough to take me out of the show.

I think the series should have ended after about 9 episodes. The folks had made their decisions and, whether you agreed or not, were internally consistent with the characterizations so far. But the last several episodes were not only obvious filler, but unwound some of the stuff that had been compelling so far. For example, the wife/mother tries to sort out her feelings by admitting she was a bad mother, and then goes through all the things that she thinks make her a "bad mother"--things which would make her, in my eyes, mother of the year. She's a GREAT mother! Maybe you have to be Korean to understand some of the mindsets. Oh, and there was one entire episode focusing on a cyber-stalker that seemed extraneous. And then there was the revenge thriller subplot of the last few episodes. The less said about that, the better.

But back to the good stuff. The two main leads are terrific. I mean, really really terrific. The younger couple are also very good. The girl was a refreshingly straight talker--too many Koreans just stare at their feet and say "ummm" a lot in these things, but not her! She always said what was on her mind. And her would-be fella was also complex and interesting. I'd watch this again for sure--at least episodes 1-9.

3.5 / 5

Queen Seondeok (2009) (Korean Drama Television Series) – In the early 7th century, this K-drama (62 episodes, 65 minutes each) revolves around the life of Queen Seon-deok of the Silla dynasty. ... Casting is spot on, and there is dramatic impact. Sure, there is some expressionistic acting and a soap opera-ish feel at times, but this is good stuff. Bi-dam is one of my favorite characters in a K-drama ever. Strongly Recommended
Ok; on to this one next!
 
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divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Instead of the originally cut 62 1-hour episodes, I've got 80 45-minute episodes. No worries; it's all there.

From my review of the first third (full review posted in this thread: https://www.imdforums.com/threads/recently-seen-part-39-may-2020.7057/ )
I'm just loving the hell out of this. It pushes all the right buttons with me. I'm not sure where it can go from here, as it seems the main issues of who is who and who knows what and who is against whom (and why) have all been revealed and/or solved. And there's 40 episodes left! Hopefully it maintains a good course moving forward.

From my review of the second third:
This is really great stuff. The plans and schemes, and counter-schemes. Subterfuge and counter-subterfuge. Baddies acting like baddies. Good guys/gals acting all heroic. Had me on the edge of my seat. It all culminates about episode 62 or 63 (of 80), at which time the second major inflection point takes place. And a new character was introduced that seemed very promising for drama and conflict within the kingdom, positioning and vying for power.

From my review of the last third:
...oh no.... the production, the characterization, and the writing got so lame so quick. During these last episodes, I was actually rooting for the dissident nobles. At least they were fun.
But overall a wonderful experience.

4.5 stars
 
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divemaster13

Member: Rank 4
Crash Landing on You (2019-2020)

My wife started raving about this, as did the Washington Post, which listed it as a "top-10 quarantine binge recommendation," so I gave it a shot. I'm glad I did. Fun and funny, with good mix of lighthearted comedy, romance and drama/intrigue. Some clever insights into S. Korean (probably less so for N. Korean) society, and some good call-backs to other K-dramas and movies. My full show description and review are in the "Recently Seen Part 40" thread.

4 stars
 

clayton-12

Member: Rank 4
I saw the first episode of the new Chinese drama series The Bad Kids last night. I've resisted investing in serialised dramas for quite a while now, but several people were urging me to break with tradition for this one and telling me it was right up my alley, and they were damned well right.
 
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