Monday, April 21, 2014

Beautiful Man

I honestly don't know what to say about this drama. I liked it but at the same time I didn't like it. It didn't leave a strong impression on me and I actually got bored with it sometimes. I felt like there could have been room for more memorable scenes. I understand the majority were probably there to watch IU and Jang Geun Suk, but I looked past that and it just felt like a very cliche and slightly embarrassing drama to watch. I felt like it put too much emphasis on the fact that Jang Geun Suk's character is beautiful. It makes the love seem more like infatuation than anything else. Whenever IU's character is asked why she likes oppa, she immediately says it is because he is good looking and that doesn't seem like an extremely touching factor or strong foundation in a drama that is supposed to give me the idea that the two are going to last as a couple even after his beauty fades. 

        Ma Te is a physically attractive man and he knows it. He is unbelievably self-absorbed and thinks highly of himself. His appearance is the epitome of perfection and he might as well be considered the most beautiful man in the world. With his dashing good looks and charms, he uses it to attain wealth and success. He's likable and quite eloquent with his words when talking to women...actually, he doesn't even have to talk because the majority just drop to their knees upon seeing his heavenly face. (Is my sarcasm toward how ridiculous this drama is showing?...Oops) 
         Anyways, the story picks up and became interesting for me when his ambitions are noticed by Hong Yoo Ra. She acknowledges his ambition, potential, and ability. She decides to mentor him to success and wealth. To allow him to control his abilities to his advantage, she gives him a mission to seduce ten women who are all successful in different career fields. 
           Meanwhile, our girl lead is head over heels and infatuated with Ma Te. She's an ordinary girl called Kim Bo Tong (her name literally meaning ordinary). She begins to try to help in every way she can even if she causes problems at times. She tries to get his attention while giving him all her affection. While she was vying for Ma Te's attention and love, David Choi is doing the same for her. He loves vintage things with a passion. He also gets along well with Bo Tong. In this drama, you watch to see their relationships forming and how sincerity can move one's heart. Personally, this was more of a cute and light-hearted drama than one of those really dramatic and realistic dramas that I adore. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

In Love With Power/Beauties Without Tears

After watching a couple of dramas with really disappointing endings *ahem...Qing Shi Huang Fei....Deja Vu.* I literally began watching this thinking: This better be good. And it did not disappoint me. I actually liked this drama. Even though I felt that our second lead was kind of pitiful throughout the entire drama (since he was supposed to be the male lead if our female lead did not mess up). This was a pretty interesting drama with rivalry, competition, love, power, and revenge all mixed together. All these components make sense when we're dealing with an imperial family and living behind palace walls and being a part of the emperor's harem. None of the characters were truly evil. They all started off as very kind and naive women who hardened to a point where they became the way they did. I liked how even though the women were all getting stronger with their power and sense of competition/rivalry, you could still see their original personalities within their actions.

         Yu er is a Khorchin Mongolian princess during the reign of Huang Taiji. She has a half-sister named Hai Lan Zhu who is considered a lowly servant because her mother was one. Regardless of their obvious status difference, the sisters loved and cared for one another. Yu er was considered the lucky star because the snow that fell when she was born saved her people while Hai Lan Zhu was considered the unlucky star because the snow that fell when she was born caused famine. It was decided upon since their births and the events that followed that Yu er would be loved while Hai Lan Zhu was destined to be lower than Yu er. In the event of a small accident, Yu er was saved by a masked man wearing a pendant of a flying eagle. This was the start of her first love. 
          Huang Taiji had come to form military alliances by marrying the daughters of Mongol and Manchu clans. He married Yu er's aunt and made her his primary wife. At the wedding, she encountered both Huang Taiji and the brother of Huang Taiji, Duoergun. Both of them had the same pendants. She immediately decided it was not Duoergun because he teased her a lot. She assumed it was Huang Taiji (when in fact, it turned out it was Duoergun who saved her).
        Hai Lan Zhu also had a lover named Zhuo Lin. She was getting married to him and all was well. However, he was sent to battle and it was reported that he was most likely eaten by wild beasts after falling off a cliff. Devastated, she attempts suicide and was almost burned to death by Yu er's mother who simply wanted Hai Lan Zhu gone with the excuse of her accompanying her dead husband. To help get her mind off things, Yu er and Hai Lan Zhu head to the palace to accompany their aunt who had married the emperor (Huang Taiji.) Huang Taiji had no interest in Yu er; but when he heard that she was the lucky star and that a fortune teller said that one day she'll rule as queen, he married her and renewed the alliance with the Khorchin Mongols. 
       Meanwhile, things were not going smoothly for Hai Lan Zhu. Her mother had been killed by Yu er's mother. Her husband was still not found despite her belief that he's still alive. Her brother seeks revenge in trying to kill Yu er. She also had to contemplate if she is to marry Huang Taiji for her own safety and her brother's. Huang Taiji was developing strong feelings toward Hai Lan Zhu and favored her greatly. However, Zhuo Lin's appearance as a crazed man who suffered severe amnesia led Hai Lan Zhu to the decision to leave the palace to be by his side. Unwilling to let her go, Huang Taiji ordered to have Zhuo Lin killed. Her brother and Hai Lan Zhu immediately assumed that Yu er's mother (the Queen) had followed them and murdered Zhuo Lin. She begins to seduce Huang Taiji, taking advantage of his favoritism towards her, and ends up marrying him to begin her revenge and also to protect her brother. 
           Hai Lan Zhu was no longer the kind sister that Yu er once loved. There was a sense of coldness and rivalry between them. Hai Lan Zhu couldn't help but think that Yu er was the daughter of the woman who ruined her happiness. The favoritism and love Hai Lan Zhu got instigated jealousy among the women in the harem. The drama continues when Hai Lan Zhu discovers that the man she was married was the one that killed her one and only love. Yu Er, devastated of never being loved by a man she adored, decides to embark on a quest to place her son on the throne since she would not get Huang Taiji's affection. The entire time, Duoergun never stopped loving Yu er. He helped her constantly and pitied her for the life she had to deal with. Toward the very end, he still loved her even though they all had married and had children with other people. She admits her mistake when she chose between the two brothers in search of her hero. They had grown old and they had to deal with so much. Drama and deaths occurred in the palace, all for different reasons. The naive and sweet Yu er now knows the schemes of the palace as she watches her son's life as emperor be filled with drama. When her son decides to run away and be a monk, she takes her grandson's hand and seats him on the throne, while she sat behind the throne making all the political decisions. Yu er indeed became the queen she was predicted to be...but at such costs and plenty of drama.

Inspiring Generation

I was excited to watch this action drama with our beloved Kim Hyun Joong. Would I see a vast range of emotions and an improvement in acting? I was anticipating it. I got to say, I was pretty hooked in the beginning. It stunned me how well the director did when choosing the child actors. The actor who played the teenage Kim Hyun Joong in this drama was a smaller replica of the actor. It was all flowing beautifully and the action kept me on my toes...train jumping, bridge jumping, fist fights, and the starting sparks of young love.
*Spoilers included in the following paragraph.*
     The characters were also not so bad either. Let me just focus on Gaya, Ok Ryeon, and Jung Tae for now. Everyone adored Gaya because she was a strong character. And the girl knew how to fight without even changing her facial expression...that's pretty impressive. Though some people would say that Ok Ryeon was weak compared to Gaya, I actually liked Ok Ryeon a lot more than Gaya. She was sensible and caring throughout the drama. She was very consistent to the very end. But, I have a question for the writers of this drama and Bridal Mask (the following sentence has a spoiler). Is it necessary to have the girl die on her wedding day? It's kind of a coincidence that the situation was so similar in both action dramas (Bridal Mask and Inspiring Generation). As for Jung Tae, it started off pretty well and he did show a lot of emotion (especially at the last episode), but I felt he was very similar to Gaya. They had no facial expressions throughout the whole drama while you could see emotions in Ok Ryeon's eyes. Gaya and Jung Tae just felt so monotone and sullen to me. Maybe it is just me? Though this drama was pretty good in the beginning and at the end, I did get bored of it in the middle and wondered just how much of this expressionless acting I would have to see. I did not get attached to the characters in this drama and I would probably not rewatch this. It felt like it was dragging it out and all the action was supposed to make up for my dying interest in the drama. 

     This story takes place in China...which I couldn't help but find it confusing since the entire drama was mostly in Korean. Our story is about a young fighter named Shin Jung Tae. He works and fights in the streets during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in the 1930s. His father had disappeared from his life and his mother had passed away. Shin Jung Tae was left in charge of taking care of his sickly little sister. He does a bunch of risky jobs like jumping off of trains and fighting just to earn money for the medicine and later on, surgery. All the while, he has a close relationship with a girl named Ok Ryeon. You could see the developing love between the two. There is also Gaya who met Jung Tae as a teenager also. You could also see her admiration for our main lead. Jung Tae ends up getting caught up in the Dobinori smuggling gang which promises him the money he needs for his sister. When his sister decided to leave home in fear of being a burden to him, she is assumed to have jumped off a cliff and died.
      The teenagers grow up to be adults. Gaya, a girl of Japanese descent, has trained to become a sword fighter to avenge her parents' death with the idea that Jung Tae's father had committed the crime. Though she is out to kill Jung Tae, she still doesn't have the heart to do so because of her feelings toward him. Ok Ryeon has stayed by his side since they were children. She looks out for him in every possible way. Though she's not tough and skilled like Gaya, she's still endearing in her own ways. She aspires to be a singer and constantly sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Jung Tae is torn between Gaya and Ok Ryeon. The action builds throughout the entire drama. Jung Tae probably gets into at least one fight in every episode.
       Spoilers are going to be included from here on.
       Jung Tae ends up with Ok Ryeon. You kind of expect it since they were together for so long with growing feelings while Gaya was very distant from them and planning to murder people. I couldn't help but rage at the stupidity of Ok Ryeon's end when she drinks the poison that was supposed to be for Jung Tae. She swapped the cups so that Jung Tae wouldn't drink the poison. Could she not have just poured her drink out discreetly? They weren't even looking at her. Or she could have done it in a broad gesture. Pretend to take a sip and then say something like, "I do not drink well. But I shall empty my cup in respect." And then pour it out. I honestly just felt her death could have been so easily prevented. I also couldn't help but note that her death was awfully similar to how she died in Bridal Mask/Gaksital. Both her characters that the actress portrayed died on their wedding day and in the arms of their beloved. In both, she told them to stay by her side since she knew she was going to die. Gaya remained strong till the end even though you could see her buckling a little. Jung Tae's emotions are heightened after Ok Ryeon's death. And the best part yet, they gave him a reason to continue living by ending it with his sister appearing again. It works out but I kind of got tired in the middle of the constant fighting. A lot of people liked it, I just feel that it could have been improved in a few aspects to make me anticipate each coming episode. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Qing Shi Huang Fei/ The Glamorous Imperial Concubine

     I watched this drama with high expectations as I have seen it around but never got around to watching it. I truly thought that the beginning was fascinating and I hoped that it would stay consistent till the end. Unfortunately, to my distaste, this drama began to drag out and started having a lot of unreasonable deaths and scenes that could have been cut out. I fell in love with some of the characters but I also hated how they all kind of just died one by one. It's like one of those dramas where the writers decide to kill off a character whenever it is getting dull. And in all honesty, I started getting upset that so many people were dying pointless deaths when there could have been so much done with the plot. The bad people die but a lot of the good people died also.
        I predicted that this was going to have a similar ending to Legend of Luzhen where the girl is the only one to live at the very end. And unfortunately, my prediction was quite accurate. I felt that there were too many deaths that didn't need to happen and that they just wanted to make it sad and everything. Also, the relationships and connections she had with her two love interests were interesting as they were all different. Both men whole-heatedly loved her which made it hard for me to decide who I wanted her to be with.
The OST was pretty good. I am obsessed with Wallace Huo's song absolutely beautiful, touching, and soft. It feels like one of those soft songs that sound hauntingly gentle. I would recommend you all to check it out. I checked online for the song and I believe it is called Pass Away. The Chinese name for the song is: 倾世.
        I feel like this drama had a lot of potential. Only if the ending didn't start dragging out with an increasing number of deaths in the good people in this drama.

       Ma Fu Ya is a princess of the Chu state who had her life changed in one day. Her uncle decided to usurp the throne and overthrow her father (the emperor). He then attempted to kill her family by starting a fire. Thankfully, she manages to escape and becomes an exiled princess hunted down by her uncle. Wanting revenge and also wanting to survive, she lives her life with a new identity and in another kingdom. She begins to piece things together and also plan out her revenge. She decided to avenge her family and restore her kingdom at any cost. She was later on joined with the support of her little brother who had a similar goal in mind, restoring their kingdom.
       Ma Fu Ya ends up winning the love of two kings and had wars waged in her name. Prince of Later Shu, Meng Qi You falls in love with her and also helps her along the way. His character was slightly complicated as he tried extremely hard to deny his love for her. He also had to keep their relationship quiet at first because his younger brother, the crown prince, also favored Ma Fu Ya.
          Prince of Northern Han became her friend before all this happened and was head over heels in love with her. Knowing that she was still alive, he constantly searches for news of her and would help her at any cost. His character was also very unique. He could drop everything and make decisions that would have a negative effect on his country for her. The actor of this prince did extremely well in portraying a character in which your heart moved for because his eyes evoked pity rather than disgust in how easily swayed he is as a king for love. Both love interests were very complex with their own stories. They were jaded but also yearning for the same woman's love. Because they both had different situations but very loyal personalities, it was hard to choose between the two. She ends up choosing Meng Qi You as she began to develop feelings for him romantically while she only had thoughts of friendship with the Prince of Northern Han.
        With each death, succession struggle, battle, war, romance, and betrayal, she grows as a person and understands the people around her more. She continues on for the sake of her people, country, and love. She ends up falling in love with  Prince of Later Shu but nothing goes along smoothly. She also begins to see how people she once knew and cared for could change so quickly (like her brother).

After watching Deja Vu and hating the ending, I was unbelievably disappointed in this ending as well. Mainly because this drama was coming along so well that it made no sense that the story began to fall apart in the later episodes with a lot of scheming and dying. So knowing that she chooses Meng Qi You, the ending was of her seeing an illusion of Meng Qi You (which you can assume dies). It's kind of a promise to continue living on with the memory of him. And I think that's ridiculously stupid because he did not have to die and that the story just felt so cold and desolate at the end. I also felt bad for the downfall of the Princess of Northern Han. She ended up marrying Meng Qi You but was poisoned to be a dummy by Ma Fu Ya's brother who liked her. I felt that it was the brother's sick greed that made this story so weird and twisted toward the end. I feel that the people in this drama had too many ulterior motives and to make it dramatic, people died left and right. It could have had a lot of potential because the characters were pretty well-developed and complex but the story wasn't planned out right and it just began to dull my interest toward the end where I would just expect someone to plop dead. I wish that this drama could have not had so many deaths and tried to settle for a very peaceful but happy ending.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Deja Vu

This drama was pretty good in the beginning.I really liked the OST and the plot that they were setting up. They could do so much with the plot as long as they play it out right with good scenes and good acting.
I started off feeling ambivalent about this drama. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. Overtime, it began to get interesting and then it slowly began to drag. It made me wonder how long this plot was going to drag out and when it was going to end.
At the beginning, I could not help but feel slightly annoyed at how depressed the girl was and how she wasn't thinking anything clearly or living her life to the fullest in hopes of changing her fate. The girl is always stuck in the past (sad and all). But I try to understand her situation and it is actually is really interesting. And the OSTs...are so beautiful. There are times when the background music is a bit louder than the voices of the characters, but that's alright because if you are watching it from a source that provides the subs, then you're good to go.
The character development wasn't the best of the best since I felt many of the characters stayed rather consistent and also didn't really change after major events. However, I liked how You Xi's character changed and matured through this entire drama despite being the antagonist. From a young age, she was compared to Hai Lin since they were half-sisters. She was always doing things that she didn't want to do under her mother's watchful eye and was constantly taught how she had to fight to get the things she had. Later on in the drama, she ends up fighting for Xi Wei's love from Hai Lin and did the most ridiculous and crazy things. As it continued on, she slowly pushes them away and then realizes her wrongs and moves past it all. I just felt that it showed her grow and mature as a person and leave the mindset that she had as a child to always compete, compare, and fight.
As for the ending of this drama, I was absolutely shocked with how bad it was. At that point, the drama between Hai Lin, You Xi, Xi Wei, their fates, and the things sacrificed to go back in time were dragging out. So I expected some happy ending which made up for all the disasters that took place in this drama. But I really hated the ending because it didn't really fit into what was happening and it just felt like the writers put it there so that we'd be like, "Aw, love triumphs all," when in reality, I think the majority went: "wtf."

Provided Synopsis:
When given the chance, can a woman get the same man to fall in love with her all over again? Hai Lin (Mandy Wei) is an accomplished professional ballerina whose life is as wonderful as she could have hoped. Engaged to the love of her life, Xi Wei (How Yao), and pregnant with his child, Hai Lin looks forward to their marriage and to settled bliss. But all of her dreams end tragically one day when a terrible car accident takes Xi Wei’s life and makes her miscarry. Devastated, Hai Lin is upset enough to try to take her own life, but a wise magician appears in her life and makes her an offer she can’t refuse. The magician gives Hai Lin the chance to go back in time to relive her life with Xi Wei — but only if she agrees to give up her most cherished thing. 
        Saving her love was the most important. So she immediately went back in time to save her love from the fire in which they first met. She got her foot injured from a flying shard of glass. And with that, she sacrificed the one thing that was important to her. Ballet. And with that, her ballerina career also vanished in this new life. Xi Wei then believed that it was Hai Lin's half-sister who saved him from the fire. He starts to date You Xi but didn't really feel as strongly as You Xi did to him. Despite desperately avoiding him and living in her own personal despair, time and time again, she encounters Xi Wei and helps him in many ways with his business and life. 
        As time goes on, Xi Wei acknowledges his growing feelings for Hai Lin while another man, Director Fang, begins to fall in love with Hai Lin. Director Fang knowing that Hai Lin went back in time to save Xi Wei began to try to help her get over him and look forward to a new future. However, instead of listening to him since he was trying to help her reach the goal she wanted to, she pushed him away and demanded him to stay out of her business. And contradicting herself, she ends up running to help Xi Wei and not trying to move to a new future where their fates won't bring a downfall on one person. When she decided she could not give up on Xi Wei, Director Fang began to encourage and support her again saying that she should have the courage to love because no one knows if they are destined to be separated. 
       The two end up falling for one another again and Xi Wei breaks up with You  Xi. Unwilling, You Xi begins to compete against Hai Lin and tries to win Xi Wei back at all cost. After going through much turmoil and many situations that tested the strength of their relationship, the couple finally gets together. Now, I'm going to explain what I think the ending is interpreted to mean since it was kind of confusing. Basically, they were destined not to be together but they fought against fate and were getting married. So the magician that had done many transactions with them before, told them that in order for them to be together, more sacrifices her to be made. The two agree because of their love for one another. It turns out that in order for them to love and live peacefully, Xi Wei had to grow old. And even so, the two still loved one another for who they were and ended up getting married. A sacrifice had to be made and that was Xi Wei's youth. And since he did that, the couple finally gets to be together and they no longer worried about how Xi Wei's appearance is now of an old man. I guess it is one of those "love triumphs all and can change the fates of others" drama.