Friday, March 17, 2017

The Flowers of War (Movie)

      Directed by the well known Zhang Yi Mou, this movie is fantastic and heart wrenching as it tells a story based on the rape of Nanking. With an absolutely stunning cast, including Christian Bale, and amazing visuals, we dive into the lives of a class of schoolgirls, a group of prostitutes, a young Chinese boy, wounded soldiers, and a white man in the middle of China during a time of war. 
        John Miller, an American mortician, arrives in Nanking to help bury the head priest at the church. As he tries to get to the safety of the church, he witnesses brutal murders and has to be extremely cautious so that the Japanese do not shoot him as well. Arriving at the church, he finds out that the head priest's body was not to be found after being exploded on by a bomb. Ready to leave, John is convinced to stay by a young boy named George, an orphan who was raised by the dead priest and taught how to speak English. George asks "Father John" to help act as the priest to protect the church and to protect the young schoolgirls who have come to seek refuge in the walls of the church.
          Soon a group of flamboyant prostitutes arrive at the cathedral, beautiful and laughing, seeking refuge as well. John agrees to shelter everyone while trying to repair the run down truck in the yard to prepare for an escape. During this time, a young sniper brings his wounded comrade to the cathedral begging them to take care of him as he helps protect the church to the best of his ability for the time being. He sets traps around the entire area to distract and to target the Japanese army. As the prostitutes and the wounded soldier occupy the cellar, the young girls had no place to hide from the Japanese when a group of them came to sexually assault the girls in the cathedral. With the help of the young sniper, who died a hero in the process, many of the girls were okay despite being shaken. Some girls were not so lucky as people did die in the process. 
          After that incident, a Japanese Colonel comes to apologize on behalf of his men and says that he respects the church greatly. Thus, he offers to protect the church by placing guards everywhere and requests that the schoolgirls sing at the Japanese Army's victory celebration in return. Knowing well that they are demanding more than just the school girls to sing, John declines. However, the Colonel would not hear no for an answer as he blocks the exits with guards and head counts the 13 girls. 
          The head of the school girls, Shu Juan, knows that this would mean the end for them and convince the young girls that death by suicide will be better than going with the army. In desperation to save the girls, the leader of the prostitutes, Yu Mo, offers to take Shu Juan's place. As a result, all of the prostitutes offer to take the girls' places to protect them from suicide. With John's skills as a mortician, he helps to transform the beautiful women into innocent school girls. However, as there were only twelve prostitutes, George volunteers to go as well sticking to his duty from the dead priest to protect the girls. It was an extremely touching moment as the prostitutes gave their most prized possessions to the young school girls such as -- life savings to buy herself out of prostitution, the mission to help find her beloved cat, and things they want the young girls to keep to return to them one day. 
            During the time these prostitutes and the young school girls were under the protection of John, John falls in love with Yu Mo. Her sad past, her goals to buy herself out of prostitution, her beauty, her song, and her love to care for those around her attracted John greatly. As the two argue and flirt with one another, they also share deep moments. Sadly, the two are forced to bid goodbye to one another and end their starting love story when the Japanese soldiers arrive the next day to pick up the "13 Flowers of Nanking." John manages to sneak the girls to safety by hiding them in the truck under supplies. However, it is a haunting feeling and more depressing than relieving. Their safety had come at a cost of other people's lives. And these school girls and John would never hear from those beautiful women and George ever again...for the rest of their lives. 
             It is an amazing movie with great visuals and acting. The plot is also very interesting. I would definitely recommend that you all watch this movie. I would just like to point out that there was a scene where 2 of the prostitutes sneak out of the church to go get lyre strings and earrings from their brothel. While this may seem stupid of them to sneak out during a time of war and rape, I would like to point out that back then certain possessions meant a lot to people. For those girls, the jade earrings must have cost a lot that she couldn't bear to just lose them like that. The other girl did it for her pipa strings broke and she wanted to play for the young wounded soldier who reminded her of her brother. Thus, through this scene, you can see that these women are just like everyone else with valuable possessions that they cherish enough to risk their lives and constantly thinking of their own families back home. 
            While I enjoyed this movie greatly and expected that things would eventually turn out the way they did as the story unraveled, a lot of people questioned this movie. There was the question of: how do you determine one's life is greater than the others? Why are the lives of these girls worth more than the lives of those women? Is it because those women are not considered pure? How do you decide who lives and who dies and who deserves to live more? These are extremely good questions that got me thinking. George and the women that ended up going in the schoolgirl's place at the end did so to help these girls but after going through so much, do they deserve to go to this condemned fate when even they fear it? Why must they sacrifice their chance to live and themselves for the sake of these schoolgirls? What is the difference between them both? Although I do not have the answers to these questions and often think about it myself, I enjoyed this movie and I enjoyed seeing the courage humans have in a time of war and fear. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Page Turner

Episodes: 3
        Yoo Seul is a piano genius and the top student of an art high school. She has been extremely successful in her piano career and has won numerous contests under her mother's watchful eye. Her mother begins to invest her entire life into Yoo Seul because she saw that her daughter could achieve the dream of being a pianist that she wanted for herself when she was younger. As Yoo Seul's mother continues to push Yoo Seul to do greater and achieve more with her talent, Yoo Seul works harder and misses out on a lot of opportunities to live as a normal teenage girl just to make her mother happy. However, one day, everything changed. Yoo Seul gets into a car accident and loses her sight. Blinded, she loses faith in herself and is hurt when her mother cared more about her playing piano than about her health. She decided she was tired of piano, of pretending to like it, and that she was going to quit. It is through her rival Jin Mok and the happy-go-lucky Cha Sik that she learns to live her life the way she wants and in a way where she falls in love with piano for herself instead of for her mother. 

         This is an extremely short drama as it is only 3 episodes. It is a fast watch but very touching, comedic, and beautiful. This drama is more about finding yourself after losing yourself than anything else. The three main characters in this drama struggle with their own battles and find solace in their passion for music and for doing something they believe in. Yoo Seul lived her life playing the piano according to her mother's wishes. However, after the accident, she is able to make her own decisions to stop playing the piano, to play again, and so forth. She is able to fall in love with piano based on her own free-will instead of constantly being forced into it. At the same time, she is also given the ability to enjoy life as a high school student as she plays with Cha Sik, argues with Jin Mok, and rides on a bike for the first time in her life.
         Cha Sik was extremely likable for me because his personality was very endearing. He is a happy-go-lucky guy who is very impulsive in the things he does. However, once he sets his mind on something, he goes through with it. He starts off as an athlete on the national team for pole vaulting. After an accident, he finds out that the injuries in his spine would prevent him from being able to continue with sports. Despite being disheartened, he tried to keep up a positive image to not worry his mother. Cha Sik lost himself for a while because he didn't feel like he fit anything except for Thankfully, through his loving relationship with his mother and her constant support for him, he was able to rediscover himself in music after a white lie her mother used to get him out of his depression. He begins to put everything he has into playing the piano and becomes Yoo Seul's aid at school so that he is able to attend class and practice alongside with her.
          Jin Mok spent his entire life butting heads with Yoo Seul. He's second place in the school while Yoo Seul was first place. Constantly being torn by the idea that he was not good enough to become a world-reknown pianist, he begins to despise those better than him. After Yoo Seul's accident, he begins to actually see reality more clearly as he begins to help her more and also battle against himself. At the very end, he was able to confidently say that it didn't matter if he only became a piano teacher instead of a pianist because he still wanted to try and he still wanted to play piano. Jin Mok grew a lot as a character and finally became comfortable in his own skin as the drama went on. It was great watching him stop whining and actually figure things out and resolve his internal struggles.
         These three stories are all tied together. It was funny watching their interactions and touching to see them all fight their own battles, practice piano, and perform at competitions. I feel like this is definitely worth watching. I really enjoyed it (especially since I'm a big fan of Kim So Hyun -- watching her grow in each drama she acts in has been a wonderful experience for me over the years).

Monday, March 6, 2017


Episodes: 16
Kim Shin is an immortal goblin who meddles with human life every now and then. He is also the guardian of certain souls as well. He lives with an amnesiac grim reaper after a strange turn of events. Together, they watch over souls in different ways and also see the dead off into the afterlife while trying to piece together their own lives, past life, and fates. Kim Shin is looking for the goblin's bride who would be able to relieve him of the curse of immortality. One day, he meets Ji Eun Tak who has the ability to see ghosts and happens to be the Goblin's bride who is meant to end his misery that lasted for 900 years and let him turn to ash. However, fates and past lives and deities don't make it easy for them. As the two fall in love, they realize that one's life will lead to the other's demise. At the same time the Grim Reaper is trying to figure out what is the great sin that caused him to be a Grim Reaper and why when he meets the girl Sunny, a part of his soul aches for something he does not remember.

      This drama is absolutely amazing and it made me question my entire existence after watching it. After watching this drama I went on rants to my friends about the meaning of life, soul mates, fates, and deities. This drama is a must-watch but it may also leave you in a drama slump after because it'll feel like nothing will ever make you feel the way this drama did. But in all honesty, this drama is just worth going through the pain of feeling lost when the drama ends.
    This drama incorporated fantasy elements into reality. The characters may appear to be supernatural but it is not hard to fall in love with them, empathize with them, and learn from them because these characters all started off human. So for them, turning into supernatural beings such as a goblin or a grim reaper does not change them from who they were as humans. I didn't expect myself to fall in love with the Goblin and Grim Reaper the way I did. They were both so funny and intriguing in their own ways. Their pasts and their personal missions to discover the truth of the past and to figure out how to stop "eternal suffering" allowed them to come together. These two characters also allowed us to see the way souls work and how deities work as well. Of course, we are never fully explained what it is like since a lot is left to your own interpretation and understanding. However, they provided a great insight to the idea of humans all having four lives, oblivion is a blessing from the almighty when you move on to your next life, and so forth. They were also the link into the past/past life where this story unfolds. By seeing the past and present throughout the drama, it made it more interesting and easier to connect things as to who these people are and the significance that the past has in the present times.
          I was also in love with Ji Eun Tak and Sunny. These two girls are very different from each other but get along extremely well. They both have amazing personalities and I enjoyed watching these two as well. Ji Eun Tak is young, bright, and in want of being someone important and being loved. She treats people warmly and is extremely helpful to everyone around her. Ji Eun Tak's interactions with everyone around her and especially the Goblin was very entertaining to watch. There's something about her that makes it very hard for you to dislike her character but she's really cute. Sunny is older and owns a chicken restaurant in which Ji Eun Tak works at. She is involved with the Grim Reaper and shares an interesting past with the Grim Reaper that they later find out. She's beautiful, confident, and also extremely nonchalant to the things that are thrown at her in her life. I loved how badass she was throughout the drama, daring to curse at the deities, testing things and accepting things as they come, and forcing herself along a path she knows is best for her versus what she wants. I really liked that all the characters in this drama were either amusing to watch or extremely likable.
         I loved that there was no love triangle. The love stories are made to be both interesting in their own ways. When you look at the relationships, it is clear that the two couples are very different and that the way they love is very different as well. However, you fall in love with each love story equally. You also fall in love with each person's way of loving as well as you watch the drama. This drama made it so easy to empathize and feel for the characters. It's also great to see the couples interact with each other and help each other. It was great to see a drama with great sis-mance and an absolutely hilarious and touching love-hate bromance.
          The OST of this drama is absolutely amazing. The songs were so well-placed throughout the drama that it gave me all the feels at the right time. Now, listening to these songs, I feel extremely song feelings of nostalgia from the drama and I feel so attached to the songs and the scenes this drama was used. It's an amazing experience to watch a drama with absolutely amazing visuals and aesthetics as well as with an audio as beautiful as this one.
        I felt like this drama was perfectly planned out and extremely well-written. I would not want this drama any other way (except maybe longer because I loved it so much). I read that there were some people who were not satisfied with the ending but I can't help but disagree with that idea. I felt that the ending was perfect for a drama like this. For a drama that portrays deities as almost human and supernatural beings suffering rather than feeling blessed with their gifts, this was extremely well done to show that fate is not always kind. Your "happily ever after" may not be what you expect but it doesn't mean it isn't happy. This drama depicted life in a very interesting way and like life, this drama left you with things that you felt like you would've liked resolved even though they didn't have to be resolved, it left you feeling bittersweet, it made you think about the regrets in life. And to me, that's perfect. It had that bittersweet feeling that all goodbyes and hellos give us in life and it was happy the way life works in it's own way. Happiness will always find you in unexpected times and places and we're always willing to accept happiness with open arms.
        I also liked the idea of humans having four lives because it allowed me to analyze some of the characters. I have a theory that Sunny's happy ending for her last life--the life of Harvest made sense. When she was the Queen in her past life, she was probably in the life of watering where was growing and learning and experiencing. Then as Sunny, she was at the life of waiting for the harvest, so it made sense for her to piece things together, resolve things, and wait for the love of her life to walk to afterlife with her for the happily ever after they deserve. While I felt this entire drama connected and flowed really smoothly, I was still slightly confused when Kim Shin came back as a Goblin despite relieving himself of the eternal curse. I thought the Goblin tied with the curse but I guess not? (I'm glad he came back though haha)
       This drama definitely made it to my personal favorites list and I highly recommend it to everyone. This drama is worth it. 

Favorite episodes: 
(Every episode was amazing because they all tied in together. But here is just some that I really enjoyed watching) 

- Episode 5: This was a really cute episode and you get to see the Goblin and Grim Reaper act like little kids. They're such powerful beings yet they do not know how to use a smart phone. They also constantly try to help out Ji Eun Tak in their own ways. Bromance is a lovely thing to watch. It was also cute to see the Grim Reaper try to contact Sunny and to appear more human for her.

-All the scenes between the Grim Reaper and Sunny aka Kim Sun.

-Episode 10: I liked this episode because it provided a lot of back story about the past and how it may tie in the future.


-Episode 13: The King's backstory is so intriguing to me. As much as I love the Goblin and Ji Eun Tak together, I really love watching the Grim Reaper and Sunny interact and the way they reconnected through their past lives as well. This episode also made me cry a lot for both the Goblin, Ji Eun Tak, the Grim Reaper, and Sunny.