Posted tagged ‘kang ji-hwan’

The Little Dorama Girl – Wish List 2010

December 21, 2010

Naughty or Nice?

E.G.’s Christmas Wish List, 2010 Edition

by Ender’s Girl

Ho ho ho, everyone! *sprinkles Johnny dust all around*

Season’s greetings (and then some) from The Little Dorama Girl!

Oh… you better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m tellin’ you why:

Ender’s Girl is coming to town!

I’m making my list, and checking it twice
Don’t need to ask around who’s been naughty, who’s been nice

Ender’s Girl is coming to town!

I know who was misbehavin’
I know whose noses are fake
I know who’s acting is bad or good
(But still keep on for Johnny’s sake, tsk, tsk)

So… they better watch out
They better not cry
They better not pout (unless they’re Jin)
I’m tellin’ you why:

Ender’s Girl is coming to town!

What does E.G. wish for her favorite J- & K-stars in 2011? Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review: Hong Gil Dong (KBS, 2008)

December 14, 2009

Jazzing Up Ye Olde Sageuk

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Kang Ji-hwan, Sung Yu-ri, Jang Geun-seuk, Choi Ran, Jo Hee-bong, Kim Ri-na

In a Nutshell:
This is a re-imagining of the life of Hong Gil Dong, Korean folk hero: a man who rises from obscurity to liberate his homeland from an evil monarch and help restore the rightful king to the throne — and in so doing, becomes the very stuff of legend.

(SpoilLert: Shockingly benign!!! No spoilers AT ALL!!! Because I am wise and compassionate!!! But mainly because I do not wish to deal with the PAIN by revisiting *certain* parts of the drama! In fact, I’d much rather pretend they never happened at all!!! Yes, yes, that’s it! That must be it! There are NO spoilers, because the “events” in question never happened at all!!!! *maniacal laughter*)

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At first glance, the bare bones of the story are elements of a more traditional period drama: a low-born Hero with a Hidden Destiny! an Evil King! corruption and treachery at the highest echelons of power! secret cabals and shady netherworld dealings! high adventure and derring-do!… But don’t be fooled!!! You realize early on that this ain’t your garden-variety sageuk… How in the world can it be–with the pop-tart dance routines! the snazzy camera shots! the trendy tinted glasses! the blaring house music and heavy metal riffs! the anime-like sound effects and MTV-inspired editing! the hip (???) costumes! and let’s not forget… the FOG MACHINES!!! The opening sequence alone is straight out of some noontime variety show, replete with break-dancing extras, pounding club beats, and, well… uninspired shimmying from Sung Yu-ri, if I may say so (wow, hard to tell she used to be part of a girl band, with her stiff, Vogue-strike-a-pose “dance” moves).

The first act of Hong Gil Dong feels like a light and breezy romp in the park. I immediately took to the rollicking, madcap humor, the witty dialogue, the outrageous, tongue-in-cheek situations, and the assortment of truly nutty characters. In short, I was enjoying myself TREMENDOUSLY. Act One lays the groundwork for the whole story, and primes the viewer for the character-molding domino sequence of events to come in later episodes — by starting out with the kind of man Hong Gil Dong was before his journey from, er, Zero to Hero.

Enter, Ye Olde Wayfarer… Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Film Review: Rough Cut / Yeonghwaneun Yeonghwada (2008)

November 26, 2009

Rough Cut: One Smooth Ride, Coming Up

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:

So Ji-sub, Kang Ji-hwan, Hong Soo-hyeon, Ko Chang-seok

Directed by Jang Hoon; Screenplay by Kim Ki-duk and Ok Jin-gon / Kim Ki-duk Film, 2008

In a Nutshell:
A chance encounter between a gangster and a movie star blurs the boundaries between their very different worlds — with somewhat disturbing consequences.

(SpoilLert: No whoppers, yay.)

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I watched Rough Cut with my best friend, and it was totally worth the hypothetical dinero we would’ve shelled out had we gone and seen the film in theaters (which we obviously didn’t, because (1) we live in a different climate zone for Pete’s sake; and (2) downloading rawwwks, baybeh). But I can see why Rough Cut attracted Korean moviegoers and made a killing at the box office: it’s fast-paced and entertaining, with badass fight choreography and strong, solid (and not to mention award!!!-winning!!!) performances from Messrs. So Ji-sub (as the gangster, Gang Pae) and Kang Ji-hwan (as the movie star, Soo Ta).

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The premise is a funny little switcheroo of sorts: think “The Prince and the Pauper” meets Wife Swap meets Trading Places. You have a gangster who secretly longs to be an actor, and an actor who behaves like a gangster — fanciful, yes, but interesting. And there’s a certain droll symmetry to the characters of Gang Pae and Soo Ta: on one hand you have this moody, dispassionate gangster with a strange code of honor, and then you have this reckless, licentious movie star whose gets embroiled in the consequences of his own actions. The movie is rife with point/counterpoint metaphors and visual imagery — black outfits vs. white, underworld vs. celluloid, real vs. reel, gangsta vs. film star — to an almost exaggerated degree (but then, with characters literally named “Gangster” and “Star,” I doubt the writers were aiming for any kind of subtlety here). Obviously this style was meant to underscore the contrast between their stations in life, as well as their respective ways of dealing with the repercussions of their choices, which inevitably spiral out of control as the story progresses. And by the time the movie’s climax comes to a head, you’re left breathless and transfixed.

Click to see who likes to play in the mud. Tsk, tsk. MOAR!!! after the jump…

Drama Review: Capital Scandal (KBS, 2007)

November 16, 2009

Not Much Brain, But Plenty of S(e)oul

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Kang Ji-hwan, Han Ji-min, Ryu Jin, Han Go-eun


In a Nutshell:

A thoughtless wager among friends pits the Capital’s most notorious dandy against its most infamous prude! A gisaeng concealing a deadly past and an even deadlier cause matches wits with a detective harboring (ta-daaa!) a secret identity! This being a K-drama, paths inevitably cross. Sparks inevitably fly. Hearts are won, and then broken. Oh, and yeah, all this is happening while an underground independence movement struggles to overthrow a cruel occupation force through blood, sweat, tears, and all that jazz.

(SpoilLert: Couple of big ‘uns down the bend!!!)

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Well. Love and revolution during the Japanese annexation of Korea? The blurb was interesting enough, and oh boy was I psyched! It didn’t take me long to do the math: Kang Ji-hwan in normal clothes! (yep, paisley vests and satin bowties are NORMAL compared to those horrible Salvation Army cast-offs he wore on Hong Gil Dong) + the jivey dance routines! + the heady romanticism of a period drama! + the danger and suspense while resisting a powerful oppressor! + the general goodwill from fans the (Soompi) world over! = One vastly entertaining period rom-com!!!

I suppose the best way to enjoy Capital Scandal is to NOT take it too seriously. Despite the politically incendiary backdrop of the time (fraught with danger at every turn!!! NOT), it remains just that — a backdrop, a canvas against which Wannie (Kang Ji-hwan) and Yeo-kyung’s (Han Ji-min) love story unfolds… and soars. Forget the countless atrocities committed by the Japanese imperial government against the Joseon people from 1910-1945. Forget the indoctrination of Korean education and history using Japanese revisionist propaganda. Forget the relentless crackdown of the Japanese military on Korean freedom fighters. Forget the suppression of free speech and the rampant violation of human rights. Forget the debasement of an entire people straining under the yoke of a colonial master. None of these come to the fore in this drama.

Instead, what we have is a cartoon… with live actors! The only thing this show has in common with similar-themed movies and dramas is the Liberty!Equality!Fraternity!Death to (insert foreign power of choice)! springboard. Unlike other works touching on the same subject matter, Capital Scandal ditches the somber mood and inherent complexities of such a geopolitically sensitive setting — in favor of oversimplified, feel-good situations and a heavily bowdlerized approach to storytelling. The whole tenor of the drama is as two-dimensional as the cardboard facades and set pieces that serve as the Capital’s cityscape. The Japanese officials are portrayed as either cold-blooded automatons (well, helloooo, Choi Philip, aka The Second Coming of Yonsama!), or indulgent but impotent buffoons (well, helloooo, Dude Who Played Minister Seo on Hong Gil Dong!). Plus, the collaborator cop and subordinate of Ryu Jin (ahhh, Ryu Jin and that ratfink, what a fine pair they make! the Tool and the Stoolie! lol) is likewise shown as a sadistic weasel whose general idea of Being Badass is to perennially scrunch up his face, squint evilly, and snarl threats at his fellow Koreans — while his hair drips with cheap pomade. Puh-leeeze. This facile characterization of the “bad guys” only underscores the drama’s inability to transcend such lazy stereotypes. NOT a sign of good writing in any corner of the universe.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!