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Review of South Korean Movies and TV Shows

Alienoid Movie Review

Alienoid (외계+인 1부) is a Korean science fiction movie that was released in July 2022 and received great reviews by fans.

About

Chaotic situations occur when a time door opens between the late Goryeo dynasty and the present day when aliens appear. Someone wants to seize the legendary divine sword in the Goryeo period.

This is part one of two films, the second of which will be released in 2023.

The movie is 2 hours 22 minutes in duration.

AlienoidCast

I’ve not seen the main cast in other productions but many have, some for which they saw the movie in the first place.

Ryu Joon Yeol (류준열) as Mu Reuk
Instagram

Kim Tae Ri (김태리) as Yi An
We did see this actress in another SciFi film called Space Sweepers
Instagram

Kim Woo Bin (김우빈) as Thunder
Thunder is the car/computer in the film.
Instagram

Review

This film is completely bonkers, in a good way.

This film had everything in it; UFOs, time travel, drama, comedy, wuxia-style fight scenes, shape-shifting robots, flying time travelling talking car, sleeper aliens planted in human brains and plenty of CGI. There wasn’t a single boring moment in the film, something was happening every minute. With so much going on a lot of credit must go not only to the actors but everyone behind the scenes, it must have been difficult to execute.

There is a good chance that any SciFi enthusiast will love it.

The negative for me was the movie moved so quickly it was quite confusing at times. Some commented that they thought the producers tried to squeeze so much in within the time allowed. I wondered if I had just missed some key elements of the plot. If at all possible I would recommend watching it at the cinema.

Asian movies always score lower points on Internet Movie Database, so it didn’t score well there but did better on Asian review sites and I agree with the latter. Can’t wait for part 2 to come out next year. It received a “critics pick” from the New York Times. I will give this movie 4.5 out of 5.

Links

Where To Watch

As I write this I’m unaware that it’s on any of the usual online services. You can, however, check out your local cinema listings, it is playing here in Vancouver, Canada in selected theatres.

Trailer

2022-09-14T22:52:26+00:0014 September 2022|Review South Korea|

The Outlaws Movie Review

The Outlaws (범죄도시) is a Korean action movie that was released on 3rd October 2017.

About

The movie is based on real events in 2007 named the “Heuksapa Incident”. For a summary of this event please go to Korea JoongAng Daily.

The story is about a turf war between a local gang that runs Garibong-dong in Guro District, Seoul, and the Heuksapa gang from Yanbian, China. The Chinese gang use brutal methods and make a move to take over.

Cast

Ma Dong Seok (마동석) plays Ma Suk Do
He is the central character and adds much-needed comedy to the film. He is also one of the most popular actors in Korea. Known also by Don Lee, his nationality is American; before acting he was a personal trainer, he lived in Ohio, attended the Columbus State Community College then moved back to Korea. He made his Hollywood debut in Marvel’s Eternals.
Instagram

Yoon Kye Sang (윤계상) plays Jang Chen
He is an actor and singer, he started his career in 1999 with the K-pop band g.o.d. He won the Best New Actor Award in 2005.
Instagram

Review

The movie appeared to be very popular as they have released a sequel, called The Roundup, and planning a third movie.

If it hadn’t been for the entertaining Don Lee I might have given up on this movie before the halfway point.

The violence in the movie was continuous and relentless, in fact, after a while, it became a little tedious. Even the police were violent with each other at some points. The light relief came from Don Lee, very dry sense of humour, which broke up the monotony.

The story was kind of typical for a gangster movie. Lots of fights and smashing up people and places. Evidently, it was filmed in Seoul, maybe all the seedy areas that you wouldn’t see in soap operas.

The film won 12 out of 14 awards which is amazing. I notice the awards were mainly “Best Actor”, “Best New Director”, and “Best Supporting Actor”.

So, what did I think of it? It was ok. Not really my thing. More on violence than story, I would prefer the other way round. I will give it a generous 3 out of 5.

Where To See It

Prime Video (not in Canada by the looks of it). Viki and Tubi.

Trailer

2022-08-06T05:05:26+00:006 August 2022|Review South Korea|

Second Husband TV Show Review

Second Husband Korean TV Show ReviewThis is my “Second Husband” TV Show Review.

Second Husband (두번째 남편) is a South Korean daily drama that aired between 9th August 2021 thru 4 April 2022.

About

The story revolves around Bong Seon Hwa. Going through a tough childhood she was bought up by her grandmother. She fell in love with Moon Sang Hyeok and was in a common-law relationship with him. They had a baby together. He had an affair and then married the evil Yoon Jae Kyeong who started to murder people and become involved in multiple scandals.

Please visit the Official MBC Second Husband website.

Cast

There are too many cast members to mention here but I will list the top ones from my perspective.

Uhm Hyun Kyung (엄현경)
Popular actress with a good track record of shows she has appeared on. The last time I saw her was on A Man in a Veil, now she has jumped ship from KBS to MBC to be the lead actress in Second Husband. She won an MBC award for her performance in this show.
Instagram

Cha Seo Won (차서원)
A young actor from Busan appeared in numerous shows before but Second Husband is the first I have seen him in. He plays the new love interest for Seon Hwa, I understood he is dating Uhm Hyun Kyung – but just a rumour. He won an MBC award for his performance in this show.
Instagram
“Study with me” YouTube video

Oh Seung Ah (오승아)
Talented singer and actress, she plays the evil Jae Kyeong. I understand she is the main vocalist for a group called Rainbow. She has appeared in other soap-style dramas before, this is not the first time she has played an evil character.
Instagram
On “King of Masked Singer” YouTube video

Han Ki Woong (한기웅)
He has appeared in numerous TV dramas but this appears to be one of his first as the main character. He plays a more “little boy lost” character who is misled but certain people especially when there is money involved. I have seen him before in “Love to the End”. He played his part well here, a slightly downcast character even though in real life he seems very jolly.
Instagram

Ji Soo Won (지수원)
She delivered a great performance as the wife who has been trying to get revenge for 30 years, she is very popular with a long list of roles. I have not seen her in other shows.
Instagram

Kim Hee Jung (김희정)
I can’t believe how busy this actress is. I saw her play an evil character in A Man in a Veil.  She then performed in 6 other shows before going on to Second Husband. Then, is now in two other shows. I thought her role in Second Husband was a bit subdued and the character could have developed more, however, I think that was down to the director, producers and writers.  She is now in KBS soap Bravo, My Life.

Great performances by all the actors, it’s not easy being on a daily show.

Second Husband TV Show Review

The show was originally contracted for 120 episodes but since it was so popular it was extended by 30 to 150. Actually, there was a 151st episode which was just a “best moments of the show”. The show was broadcast on MBC, Monday to Friday, from 19:15 to 19:50.

It had all the elements of a typical Korean daily drama. Crazy mothers. People are supposedly dead but returning again. Revenge. Evil rich people. A gap in time between the storyline, for example – Love To The End had 6 years, A Man in a Veil had 5 years, and Second Husband had about 4 years. Cute child. Lots of Soju was consumed. Quite a few product placements, first a health supplement up to episode 120 and then a food delivery service for the rest. Pretending to be someone else. Memory loss after an accident.

The show had dramatic incidental music without words, on the whole. They had slightly different versions of that music, probably about 5 I think I counted. The album from the show was released on 16 April 2022, singles have released dates prior to that. I did note that the show and album included Trot music!
More music info here

The story kept going despite the longevity of the show, additional stories were included when it was extended. Some reviewers I noticed was complaining about the additions which made the story slow. I thought it was ok though. There were a couple of hints in the early episodes about a couple of the characters but one of them at least was done purposely to mislead or surprise the audience later.

My only criticism was the character of Seo Jun. I’m not sure if it was the actor not just getting into the role or the writers just didn’t explore his background. He seemed to be at home when he was part of the action but otherwise, the lines he was given weren’t that great.

Cha Seo Won and Uhm Hyun Kyung won the Best Actor and Actress category at the 2021 MBC Drama Awards broadcast on 30 December 2021.

I will give this a 5 out of 5, top marks. I thought this was better than A Man in a Veil. So far, this is my favourite daily melodrama.

Where Can I Watch

This can be seen on Viki.

Trailer

2022-06-23T21:01:11+00:008 June 2022|Review South Korea|

LUCA The Beginning Review

L.U.C.A. The Beginning (루카: 더 비기닝) is a South Korean TV show that was broadcast on tvN between 1 Feb and 9 Mar 2021.

About

LUCA ran for 12 episodes of just over an hour each.

Ji Oh has superpowers but whenever he uses them most of his memories go away. He is chased by a mysterious sect who want to bring him home to perform further experiments in order to duplicate and clone his species.

A younger Ji Oh had spent a day in Gu Reum’s home but the day after her parents vanished. When Gu Reum grows up and becomes a detective she is determined to find out what happened to her family.

Cast

Even though the titles are familiar I’ve not seen any of the productions the actors have starred in.

Kim Rae Won (김래원) as Ji Oh
A popular actor mainly for TV rather than film work. He will be starring in a 2022 production called “The Police Station Next to Fire Station”.

Lee Da Hee (이다희) as Gu Reum
She is a model, singer, television and film actress. She is better known for her TV performances.

Kim Sung Oh (김성오) as Lee Son
A very popular actor starring in many TV and film productions, he also directed a movie called Warikkang.

Summary – Spoilers

Other people who have reviewed this drama are more or less in agreement that after episode 8 the storyline became much worse.

A group of mad scientists made Ji Oh in a laboratory, it was linked to a religious sect that used the followers to carry the clone babies until birth. A government agency was also linked to the experiments. They wanted to create a race of superior beings with the most powerful parts from animals. With Ji Oh on the run they wanted him back, to obtain his embryos. The sect would go to any length to get him back.

There was a soap opera element to this drama going on in the background. Woman meets super being, falls in love, has his baby, and so on. Then there is the action side where Ji Oh was being chased all the time and only narrowly escaping each time. The action sequences were done well, very good special effects. There would be most likely too much violence for many people in this show. Probably the lack of action and more romance put some people off the drama, after episode 8.

The ending is another story, it was a little bizarre, but left the series on a cliffhanger about a possible return. I think I was hoping for a happy ending but giving the way the script was going it was most likely impossible. I think it’s best to put this drama to sleep at this point. I did enjoy it though.

I will rate it 7/10. That is about average compared to everyone else.

The drama is available on WeTV and Viki. I don’t know what’s on WeTV but Viki procured “behind the scenes” footage which is just as interesting to watch as the drama itself.

Trailer

2021-10-29T22:18:47+00:0029 October 2021|Review South Korea|

Escape from Mogadishu Review

Escape from Mogadishu ArticleEscape from Mogadishu (모가디슈) is a South Korean film released on 28 July 2021.

About

The movie is based on a true story. “Escape from Mogadishu” tells the story of personnel of the South and North Korean embassies attempting to escape Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

In 1991, a civil war broke out in Mogadishu. The South Korean embassy’s staff and their families became isolated. One night, a group from the North Korean embassy knocks on their door asking for help.

Cast

I haven’t heard of any of the actors in this film.

Kim Yoon Seok (김윤석) plays Han Shin Sung, the South Korean Ambassador
He has appeared in mostly movies but is also a screenwriter and director.

Heo Joon Ho (허준호) plays Rim Yong Soo, the North Korean Ambassador
It looks as though his big-screen career started in 1992, and the small screen in 1993. He has appeared in many productions. Other members of his family are well-known actors as well.

All the actors did an outstanding job with this movie.

Summary – Spoilers

This was an outstanding and memorable movie.

I have to start out by saying, even though it’s based on a true story it is more “inspired by events”. The former South Korean Ambassador talked about this period in time, read about it here.

The movie cost ₩24 billion (South Korean Won) which at today’s rate (25th October 2021) is equal to GBP £14,796,900 / USD $20,362,600. From what I understand it’s made USD $29m at the box office to date. The film was delayed by about a year due to the COVID pandemic. There is an IMAX version of the film as well. The film was shot in Morocco in the second half of 2019.

I was particularly interested in the movie because a work colleague of mine was posted to Mogadishu in the 1980s, she was a Personal Assistant with the British diplomatic service. Her life there was pretty good, she had her own three-bedroom house on the beach and staff to look after her since they were cheap to hire. Hiring staff also meant putting income into the local economy where those people may not have had a job otherwise.

There was a certain vastness about the movie, it really felt as though you were taken into a city. The devastation on the streets and children carrying guns added to the realistic representation of the movie.

This was generally about the relationship between South and North Korea. When the North Korean mission comes under attack they only have one choice but to ask the South Korean’s for assistance. Both the Ambassadors, staff and families had one thing in common, to escape the city, so the two sides called a truce and worked together to figure out how they were going to get out of the country. Both the South and North had built up a relationship through their common adversities.

Parts of the film were incredibly powerful as there were some continuing tensions but how each side protected each other to achieve their common goal. It reminded me of the Christmas truce between British and German soldiers in 1914 during the 1st World War [read more (via Imperial War Museum UK].

I’ve been unable to find out information on the side actors in this film, the ones who played the Somali people. Some of them had significant roles so it would have been nice to know who they are.

There was some CGI in the movie, although at first glance it was hard to tell. The dogs were most definitely CGI. Whether some of the town was CGI I would have no idea.

I would give this movie 9/10. It’s one of those “must-see” films that wasn’t over-hyped.

Trailer

2021-10-28T23:07:21+00:0028 October 2021|Review South Korea|

Love To The End Review

Love To The EndLove To The End (끝까지 사랑) was an extremely popular South Korean soap opera that ran between July and December 2018.

About

The story is about four main characters, as follows:

Han Ka Young
A bright and positive young lady whose parents divorced after the father became bankrupt. The father now owns another company and the mother running a small restaurant. She falls in love with Yoon Jung Han who works at a glass factory.

Yoon Jung Han
The successor to the family-owned glass factory. His father has some health issues, and the mother is a little hypersensitive.

Kang Se Na
Determined to destroy the family that ruined her “adoptive” mother’s life.

Kang Hyun Ki
The successor of a large conglomerate company the owners of which are up to no good. He falls in love with Yoon Jung Han’s sister.

Cast

Lee Young Ah (이영아) as Han Ka Young
I hadn’t seen her in any other productions. She has won several awards. Gossip columnists suggested that she was dating Kang Eun Tak around the time of this production.

Kang Eun Tak (강은탁) as Yoon Jung Han
I saw him in A Man In A Veil recently, he has starred in many soap opera type series. He will be in a 50-part series starting 25th September 2021 called A Gentlemen and a Young Lady (신사와 아가씨), first venture out of soaps in a while.
Follow him on Instagram.

Hong Soo Ah (홍수아) as Kang Se Na
An actress I hadn’t seen in any other dramas. After Love To The End she also had a main role in soap Phoenix 2020, playing Lee Ji Eun. She recorded a Chinese series called Billion Dollar Heir but some experts are saying it won’t be aired, I guess we’ll see.

Shim Ji Ho (심지호) as Kang Hyun Ki
An actor whose career started in 1999 and has appeared in many regular TV drama’s as well as soap operas. I hadn’t seen him in anything else but he is very popular. He is starring in a new soap called National Wife starting in October 2021.
Follow him on YouTube, he’s a jolly fellow who is a bit of a foodie.

Review

During the first 25% of this drama, I almost gave up on it. Everything seemed to revolve around the on/off romance between Han Ka Young and Yoon Jun Han. More off than on. However, after that was out of the way I would say the show was brilliant.

There were certain episodes that had a cliffhanger that had the viewers on edge. Episode 55 was one of them.

All the actors did a brilliant job on this show. For example, Hong Soo Ah didn’t look the part to play someone so evil but she really went to town with it. The most interesting relationship was between actor Im Jae Geun (Kang Se Na’s secretary) and Eun Hae Sung as James’s assistant K. As a side fact both Kang Eun Tak and Eun Hae Sung both speak English well.

So, this show was a welcome COVID distraction. Be patient some of the slower episodes because the drama will become more exciting. I will give it an 8.5/10.

Where To Watch

Love To The End is available on the KBS YouTube Channel, in this playlist.

Trailer

2021-09-19T23:25:29+00:0019 September 2021|Review South Korea|

Color Rush Review

Color RushColor Rush (컬러 러쉬) is a short web-based LGBTQ series from South Korea. The following contains spoilers.

About

Choi Yeon Woo cannot see any colors apart from those in greyscale, rarely people with such a condition can see color if connected to the right person. When Go Yoo Han, a classmate, takes his mask off, Yeon Woo can suddenly see color. This can not only open a whole new world for the color-blind person but can also lead to a dangerous obsession. They start to form a mutual bond between each other…!

In the meantime, Woo, along with his aunt, is trying to find his missing Mother who also has the same color-blind condition.

The story is adapted from the book 컬러 러쉬 (Color Rush) by Se Sang.

Each episode is around 15 minutes in duration, there is a compilation movie of the same name. There are rumours of a season two.

Cast

I hadn’t seen the two main actors in this series in any other productions although both have had decent careers.

Yoo Jun (유준) plays Choi Yeon Woo
He was an advertising model in 2009 and acting since 2012 in TV shows and movies.

Hur Hyun Jun (허현준) plays Go Yoo Han
His main career seems to have been in singing, modelling, and dancing. Color Rush was his first acting role, it seems he did a decent job with this character.

Review

Well, where shall we start. might be best to dissect each element.

Story

It was a good story line. The concept of how a color-blind person can cured temporarily by a certain person is more or less a medical science fiction element of the show. “Mono” in real life is short for another condition, so not to be confused with that. The story ranges from Woo not wanting to connect with Han as he is aware of the dangers a “Mono”/”Probe” relationship, to Woo learning about colors from Han, to trying to find the missing mother, and how intimate the two guys relationship is becoming. The two main characters grow as the story progresses and there are little surprises along the route.

Acting

Good performance from all the actors, I was surprised to learn it was Hur Hyun Jun’s first endeavour into that area.

Presentation

The show didn’t seem to flow as well as I had hoped, not sure if that was down to the directing or the way it was split into 8 x 15-minute chunks. There wasn’t something quite right to me, can’t pinpoint it.

Special Effects

There were some minimal special effects in the show, the moment when Choi Yeon Woo could see color, this well done.

It was worth watching but there was something missing with the how things flowed.

Where To Watch

The show is on Viki and according to some on Apple TV.

Trailer

2021-09-19T20:28:59+00:0019 September 2021|Review South Korea|

Pipeline Movie Review

Pipeline Movie PosterFor Asian movie night this week we saw Pipeline (파이프라인), a Korean movie released in May 2021 and available to view on Viki.

About

To make himself rich and pay back loan sharks Hwang Gun Woo hires a team of misfit “experts” to siphon oil from the national grid into his own storage facilities. Things go sour when he threatens the teams’ lives for not meeting his deadline and spying on them.

Cast

Seo In Guk as Kan Se Doi (aka Drill-Bit). He is the leader of the team, also known as Captain. I haven’t seen this actor in other products, but he is popular starting his career as a pop singer. He is known to have some health issues along the way including bulimia, he was told to lose weight, and Osteochondritis dissecans, a bone and cartilage condition, which made him exempt from military service.

Leo Soo Hyuk as Hwang Gun Woo, the bad guy. As well as an actor he is also a model. I haven’t seen him in any other productions.

Jung Jae Kwang as Sang Goo. He played a support role, police officer, in this movie but I mention him since we saw him in It’s OK Not To Be OK, he played patient Joo Jung Tae.

Review

I thought this was a surprisingly good movie, better than I had envisaged. I did think beforehand why they would make a pipeline seem exciting, they should have named it something else, either way it was worth the watch.

I thought the actors and storywriters did an excellent job of the cast interactions, some of its drama, and some of it very humorous. I’m sure the story was a bit farfetched and headed into an odder direction with the bad guy’s goals being that of a mad scientist towards the final 30 minutes of the movie. It was a shame they knocked off one of the team, but I guess that’s what made the bad guy so evil.

It had some special effects. The oil running through the pipes wasn’t well done. The pipeline exploding in the hills of Korea was well done.

Many of those reviewing the movie clearly watched the movie because of Seo In Guk, one said “I wouldn’t be bored with him reading the entire phone directory”.

Summary

I would give this a 7/10. Much better than anticipated, worth a watch.

Trailer

2021-09-13T21:31:59+00:0016 August 2021|Review South Korea|

A Man in a Veil Review

A Man in a VeilThis is the first South Korean soap opera I watch, A Man in a Veil, which broadcast between 2020 and 2021.

About

After an accident during childhood, Tae Poong had a learning disability and was looked after by his Mother. His life is caught in between two sisters, one who is kind-hearted and the other who is…very evil with visions of grandeur. The show consisted of 105 x 35-minute episodes.

Crew

The show has a huge cast but generally revolves around 4 characters played by the following actors:

Kang Eun Tak (강은탁) plays Lee Tae Poong / Yoo Min Hyeok
He won an award for his performance of Tae Poong which I would say was very justified. Kang Eun Tak is a doyen of South Korean soaps having been in 7 different ones with a total of 936 episodes.

Lee Shi Kang (이시강) plays Cha Seo Joon
He has previously been in another soap called Happy Sisters. Earlier in 2020, he appeared in the Taiwanese LGBTQ drama Because of You, this is where I heard of him first and followed the trail to find A Man in a Veil. He reprises his role of Yuan Jun Cheng in Because of You season 2 soon, airdate not fixed.

Uhm Hyun Kyung (엄현경) plays Han Yoo Jung
She has appeared in many TV dramas as well as 4 other soaps. She will be appearing in the upcoming soap Second Husband which starts airing in August 2021.

Lee Chae-young (이채영) plays Han Yoo Ra
She is a very popular in-demand actress too also being appearing in 5 other soaps. I see she is an upcoming movie called Tomb of the River but don’t know any details apart from that.

Review

Some spoilers ahead

I absolutely loved this show and couldn’t wait until the next episode. 105 episodes seemed a bit daunting at first but it wasn’t a trial to get through them due to the exciting script.

The pace of the first 20 episodes was exciting, a lot happened. Some side stories never developed throughout the series but contained important messages, especially about disabled people. I had never seen Kang Eun Tak in any other shows but his performance as Lee Tae Pong in these 20 episodes was extremely convincing. As I saw the actor in other shows the role of playing someone with a learning disability wasn’t a role he normally gets.

I was slightly disappointed that they knocked off a couple of characters in the first 20 episodes, from 21 the script was a much slower pace. However, as the series developed the pace sped up again. There were some “edge of the seat” moments in the final episodes with a few twists and turns. There were a couple of surprises in the final episode and I thought “she’s got what”!!

Summary

Brilliant show. I rated it 5/5, a top score is unusual for me but they deserved it.

The show can be watched on Viki but you will need a subscription. KBS TV in Korea sometimes puts in soaps on YouTube so you never know it might appear there one day.

Trailer

2021-09-13T21:33:01+00:007 July 2021|Review South Korea|

Mission Possible Review

Mission PossibleMission Possible (미션 파서블) is a Korean film that was released on 17 February 2021. It is a spy orientated comedy-drama film.

About

Yoo Da Hee is a trainee with the Chinese Ministry of State Security, she is given a mission that could cost her life. Her job is to close the net on an arms smuggling ring. She needs to reach out and pair up with a Korean counterpart but there was a mix-up and is partnered with an inexperienced private detective, Woo Soon Han, who has cases for missing dogs.

Crew

There is a strong cast in this movie:

  • Kim Young Kwang (김영광) plays Woo Soon Han.
    I haven’t seen this actor in anything else even though, from the looks of his resume, he is very much in demand.
    His character is the strongest in the film which includes slapstick to serious.
  • Lee Sun Bin (이선빈) plays Yoo Da Hee.
    I have seen her in “The Uncanny Counters” even though she only appeared in two episodes.
    I think this character seemed as though it was more in the background, I’m not sure whether that was the purpose to provide focus on the male lead.

Review

In the first few minutes I wondered what I was watching, it seemed serious and a bit difficult to follow. Then, a bit further on the comedy started to show and it got better. The best parts of the film were when the storyline moved at a high pace. Some of the gags were spaced out as such it took a while to get the gist of the joke, like a dry sense of humour. There were moments in the film when the storyline appeared to go too slow and I was getting a little bored, in other words, they should have kept a faster pace during the whole movie. There are a few surprises along the way and a complete about-face in one of the character’s storyline.

The movie felt like an introduction to a second one or maybe a TV series spin-off. We did enjoy it very much, it was like a cross between a comedy version of the US TV series Mission Impossible and Get Smart.

So, I would give the movie about a 7.5. It can be watched for rent on Viki.

Trailer

2021-09-21T02:32:56+00:0017 May 2021|Review South Korea|