Posted in Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

J-Drama Review: Boku to Star no 99 Nichi

99 Days with the Superstar / 僕とスターの99日 [Boku to Star no 99 Nichi] (2011)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Masahiro Kunimoto, Tomomi Okubo
Writer: Takeda Yuki
Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kim Tae-hee
Japanese w/ English subtitles

Available to watch for free on AsianCrush (Canada & USA only)

Synopsis

A man who loves astronomy but works for a security company is hired as a bodyguard for a rising Korean actress who’s in Japan to shoot a drama for 99 days. However, she is also searching for someone from her past and proves to be more than a handful for the bodyguard. In spite of their numerous clashes and near non-stop bickering, a growing attraction between the two develops.

Review

The overall story is quite predictable. The setup is also nothing particularly original. But the characters are likeable and have funny interactions. The development of their feelings is done well with a gradual buildup of moments and small selfless gestures that bring the two closer to each other bit by bit. It’s an opposites attract scenario with the underdog and the seemingly unattainable star that actually ends up being fairly believable by romcom standards.

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Posted in *Recommended

April’s Fool’s and Coronavirus & COVID-19: the good, the bad and the predictably stupid

If there was one thing not to joke about or make pranks about on April Fool’s day, it was the Coronavirus & COVID-19. I have not scoured the internet for such April 1st shenanigans and in fact, I deliberately avoided reading anything on April 1st because of this. Here are some that I randomly encountered recently.

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Posted in Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil – movie review – Fantasia 2019

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil / 악인전  [Akinjeon] (2019)
Director & Writer: Lee Won-tae
Cast: Don Lee aka Ma Dong-seok, Kim Moo-yul, Kim Sung-kyu

Fantasia recently added a second screening on Sunday, July 28.

Synopsis

The English title pretty much states the three main characters of this story. It’s not a three way confrontation but more of a tenuous team-up of a gang boss (Don Lee) and a cocky detective (Kim Moo-yul) to track down a serial killer, who tried to kill the gang boss and didn’t succeed. The gang boss has a reputation to uphold and agrees to an uneasy alliance proposed by the detective who has been trying to convince his own superior in the police department that there is a serial killer on the loose.

Review

This movie is definitely aware of Don Lee aka Ma Dong-seok’s numerous cinema appearances as a no-nonsense nigh unbreakable brick house of a man. There’s no doubt that Lee is the star of this movie but Kim Moo-yul does pretty well to stand out himself, showing a bravado and persistence that plays off Lee’s character well. The detective is definitely a loose cannon.

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Posted in Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Miss and Mrs Cops – movie review – Fantasia 2019

Miss and Mrs Cops / 걸캅스 [gal keopseu / Girl Cops]  (2019)
Director & Writer: Jung Da-won
Cast: Ra Mi-ran, Lee Sung-kyung, Yoon Sang-hyun, Choi Soo-young

Synopsis

A mother (Ra Mi-ran) who is a former police officer and her sister in law (Lee Sung-kyung) who is a police officer team-up to unofficially investigate the case of a woman who was drugged and raped in a video that the perpetrators plan to release on a website when the video gets 30,000 likes.

Review

The is a tale of two tones. One serious and the other comedic. This movie flips between the two extremes numerous times throughout the running time. It’s not the first movie (particularly Korean) to do this but it is a balance that is tricky to get right. But some subjects are maybe not appropriate to try mixing comedy with. I’d argue spy cam rape video qualifies as such a subject.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

House of Hummingbird – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

House of Hummingbird / 벌새 [Beolsae] (2019)
Director & Writer: Kim Bora
Cast: Park Ji-hu, Kim Sae-byuk, Lee Seung-yeon, Jeong In-gi

Synopsis

During the year 1994, a teenage girl struggles with a seemingly unsympathetic family and other challenges with school and friends. She encounters problems big and small but ultimately there is happiness and love to be found in her less than ideal life. She begins to realize that those around her also struggle with their own problems.

Review

This is the first full length feature of director (Kim Bo-Ra) and what an amazing debut it is. It’s a slice of life family drama shown mainly from the perspective of the youngest daughter, Eun-hee (Park Ji-hu) who has an older sister and brother. She has to deal with her brother hitting her and friendships that seem to come and go on a whim. She meets a sympathetic cram school teacher, Young-Ji (Kim Sae-Byuk) but like many things she latches onto, it doesn’t last.

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Posted in Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

The Dude in Me – movie review – Fantasia 2019

The Dude in Me / 내안의 그놈 [Naeanui Geunom] (2019)
Director: Kang Hyo-jin
Writer: Park Dae-sung
Cast: Young Jin, Ra Mi-ran, Park Sung-woong

Synopsis

A bullied overweight teenager (Young Jin) is thought to have attempted suicide by jumping off a building. Instead of going splat on the pavement, he falls onto a 40 something year old businessman / gangster (Park Sung-woong). Both survive leaving the gangster in the a coma but when the teenager wakes up, he isn’t himself but rather has the mind of the gangster.

Review

The body swap comedy is definitely a setup that can generate laughs but it relies heavily on the acting. This is one of the better ones with lots of humor and a good central performance. It’s also accompanied by a fair number of fight scenes, which are more like one-sided beat downs administered by the gangster in the teenager’s body. The majority of the movie is the gangster in the teenager’s body. By comparison there is not much of the teenager in the gangster’s body. It only comes up closer to the end in the buildup to the climax.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Another Child – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Another Child / 미성년 [Miseongnyeon] (2019)
Director: Kim Yoon-seok
Writer: Lee Bo-ram, Kim Yoon-seok
Cast: Kim Hye-jun, Yeom Jung-a, Park Se-jin, Kim So-jin, Kim Yoon-seok

The next screening of this film is Saturday, July 20.

Synopsis

An affair between the single mother of one classmate, Yoona (Park Se-jin), and the father of another classmate, Joo-ri (Kim Hye-jun), brings conflict between the classmates. As if that wasn’t complicated enough Yoona’s mother is also pregnant. Then Joo-ri’s mother finds out about her husband’s affair and pregnancy.

Review

A setup that is ripe for melodrama and histrionics is told with nuance and grounded realism. The drama remains compelling with characters dealing with the situation in their own ways.  The high school classmates have the bulk of the screen time and show both maturity and vulnerability. The story also gives enough time to the adults who are far from all knowing and in some ways act more immature than their own kids. This is mostly a serious movie but there are also a few moments of well placed humor.

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Posted in *Recommended, Fantasia 2019, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Extreme Job – movie review – Fantasia 2019 [Recommended]

Extreme Job / 극한직업 [Geukhanjikeob] (2019)
Director: Lee Byeong-heon
Writer: Bae Se-young
Cast: Ryoo Seung-ryong, Lee Hanee, Lee Dong-hwi, Jin Seon-kyu, Gong Myoung, Shin Ha-kyu, Oh Jeong-se, Kim Eui-sung

The next screening is on Wednesday, July 31.

Synopsis

A team of cops are trying to bring down a drug ring but with little success. After staking out one of their locations, they decide to take over a fried chicken restaurant across the street. But the restaurant’s unexpected success distracts them from their police work.

Review

This is a cop comedy and action movie rolled into one deep fried chicken. It’s exaggerated with slapstick at times. This team of cops are more like bunglers in the beginning, especially the way the first case we see them handling goes awry. The ensemble cast work really well together and much of the comedy is physical. The actors really sell the physicality of their scenes.

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