Consider me in the minority of not being a Lee Je Hoon fangirl. I can’t help it, the first time I ever laid eyes on him was in Fashion King. I had a lot of movies he was in banked but most are on the dark and gritty side and one needs to be in the mood to tackle that. Encountering an actor or actress for the first time via Fashion King is one of those surreal experiences in showing what NOT to do in acting. I know he has lots of fans and is critically acclaimed as a rising star in Chungmuro with Bleak Night, The Front Line, My Paparotti, and Architecture 101. I fully believe he’s a good and probably even great actor, but having not yet watched performances from him that impress me I’m going to have to believe the praise heaped on him but not personally buy into it. Lee Je Hoon was released from the army this week in a very low key and media-free way that also echoes his very normal and understated enlistment experience. There was basically no entertainment news about him because he was just an army soldier like any other. Lee Je Hoon is reportedly fielding a drama return via the upcoming SBS sageuk Secret Door already confirmed to star Han Seok Kyu. It is slated for a November premiere and Lee Je Hoon is still considering it but his first confirmed post-military project might end up having a filming conflict with the drama. Lee Je Hoon has accepted the leading man role in the upcoming movie Detective Hong Gil Dong, and it’s set in the 90′s and transplants the folk tale hero Hong Gil Dong into a Robin Hook detective character investigating crime in modern Seoul. I’m guessing Hong Gil Dong trades criminal thievery for a legit job as a detective? Sounds intriguing enough to me. Continue reading
With It’s Okay, It’s Love off to a promising start in quality and ratings, it’s time for SBS to confirm the follow up drama and leads so that attention gnats like me can start looking forward to the next treat. Initially SBS tentatively lined up the reverse-aging drama Mister Baek but ended up letting that drama go to MBC and picking up the drama formerly known as Song For You. Song For You has now gotten a name change to be called My Lovely Girl. The network has been courting Rain for the last month to return to television after a four year hiatus since The Fugitive: Plan B and going off to the army. The old title Song For You explains the plot plainly as a story set in the music recording industry and follows the rise of an aspiring young songstress and her love story with the music company CEO who guides her career. I’m sure folks who are watching Lovers of Music (Trot Lovers) right now are screaming “My Lovely Girl is basically if Gun Woo is the male lead and gets Chun Hee!” Rather than finding MLG a slight variation copycat on LoM, maybe it coming along so soon is great for those second lead shippers who want a chance to see their ship reach port. Initially the casting chatter indicated that SBS was considering IU for the leading lady songstress role but now the casting arrow is all pointed to one actress that I’m going to go crazy excited about if she accepts. Park Bo Young is rumored to be courted for the romantic lead opposite Rain, a role described as the younger sister of Rain’s dead first love girlfriend and he becomes the leading lady’s daddy long leg’s benefactor in developing her singing career and in the process fall in love with each other. Continue reading
The drama finally shines the spotlight firmly on the Yoon Kang-Soo In relationship in this episode of Joseon Gunman and it’s everything I wanted and more with their sorta reunion. I enjoyed the pretending to be someone else confusion and conflict but these two have always been about how much they mean to each other in the complicated world around them. As Joseon opens up and the ensuing struggles throws them curve balls and strikes, I love how the purity of the affection between them remains so sincere and resolute. This drama doesn’t need love triangles and squares as there are plenty of dangers that will make it hard for the OTP to get together anyways. What I want to see is that their feelings are conveyed to the other person and that totally happened finally. All it took was Soo In getting herself swept up in Yoon Kang’s revenge plan even as his initial strategy was to keep her out of it by pretending to be Hanjo. He ended up needing her help and it’s clear that they are tiptoeing around landmines and one wrong step mean pain whether of the emotional and/or physical sort.
I loved that the good guys got a win in this episode even if some torture was endured for the sake of a greater cause. Yoon Kang’s worry for Soo In and her stepping up to the plate in protecting her man and her dad was awesome to behold. It’s brings back all the stirring feelings from three years ago when they were there for each other even as hammer of doom was coming down. Sageuks are about larger than life situations and JG does a masterful job of balancing that with delivering lovely delicate moments in between big events. The drama also presents a very rich spectrum of antagonists to keep on bringing the conflict, and in doing so show us that it’s not always easy doing bad things. Minister Kim loses his son and his power by refusing to budge and Merchant Choi is reminded once again that even with money he’s still at the back and call of those with even more power. I do wish the business deal that keeps going from on-to-off-to-on would just stick with a decision rather than see-sawing for the narrative but overall the drama continues to be a barrel of unending awesome. Continue reading
More and more stills are coming out of MBC for Records of a Night Watchman as this fantasy sageuk barrels towards us whether we’re ready or not. If it wasn’t for Triangle getting a two-episode extension then Night Watchman would have aired next Monday. Now it has another ten days to get all it ducks/dragons/wizards/ghosts all in a row before unveiling exactly what the heck so much mix-and-match randomness is. Above is the first look at all four leads in the same frame and I must say Yunho sold me nicely on his warrior pose and aura. He plays stoic princely bodyguard and love rival, a classic second male lead who may steal viewer hearts even if he doesn’t win the girl in the end. Jung Il Woo looks like he toddled over from the set of The Moon Embraces the Sun, despite the two year gap, showing up as the dissolute prince who wastes his days away rather than be duty bound. I found Jung Il Woo’s performance in MoonSun to be one of his best despite the very limited screen time and story line he got in that drama so having him repeat it but as the male this time around is good with me.
Go Sung Hee‘s first still where she was sitting on the rooftop looked so enchanting and lovely but in daylight and up close it’s definitely wanting. Her hair is too messy and the hair potato perched on her head with the hair pin sticking out has got to go. She looks like what a stylist thinks a spirit girl from the mountains ought to look like rather than sticking her in a simple cool wool peasant dress. Seo Ye Ji is gorgeous in a young girl fresh-faced way as a rich ministerial daughter with a crush on Jung Il Woo’s character. I heard her character is decidedly not nice when her crush is rebuffed but with this story involving ghosts and mountain dragon demons a bitchy second female lead is clearly not going to be the main antagonist driver. The production also released new stills of Prince Lee Rin with his ghostly trio Greek chorus and I heard that the eunuch before he died was the one who took care of little boy prince Lee Rin which is why he’s still hovering by his side. The kid actors are also revealed in the new stills and include little prince Lee Rin showing off his supernatural skills for the other children in court. One guess it’s not going to end well for him. Continue reading
It’s love at first sight for me and It’s Okay, It’s Love. Episode 1 was everything I love about screenwriter Noh Hee Kyung‘s work without the artificial overwrought packaging of her last dramas Padam Padam: The Sound of His and Her Heartbeat and That Winter, The Wind Blows. It’s quirky and intelligent wrapped in some pretty serious dark subject matter, but presented within the normalcy of daily life happening all around these characters. The drama opens with a shocking act of violence and then quite abruptly jumps to points in the future where many questions wait to be revealed. Leads Gong Hyo Jin playing an attractive and serious psychiatrist ignites seamlessly with Jo In Sung‘s flirty and glib famous writer of murder mysteries. All roads in this drama lead to mental illness and it’s clear all the characters suffer from some form or another of mental health issues of varying degrees of seriousness.
The supporting cast is excellent with Sung Dong Il having loads of fun as a fellow psychiatrist, Kwang Soo as a guy who suffers from Tourette Syndrome, and D. O. playing a character that was immediately clear to me was more than meets the eye. I really don’t think it a spoiler for me to discuss who I think he is in this drama but I’ll save it for after the jump. The highlights are an excellent ear for music selection which starts off with the amazing first track “Best Luck” by D.O.’s EXO group mate Chen and plenty of great use of background music to liven up many scenes subtly. PD Kim Kyu Tae also returns to fine form after doing a visual stillness overkill in TWTWB and here lets his actors move with the scenes rather than pose prettily in it. The ratings for the Wed-Thurs dramas are neck and neck right now with Joseon Gunman at 11.6%, Fated to Love You with 9.7% and IOIL right behind with 9.3% I think all three dramas are excellent in their own unique ways and I wouldn’t be sad for the two that don’t end up winning the ratings race since the quality speaks for itself and will last longer than eking out ratings wins. I’m so mesmerized and fascinated with this drama already and can’t wait to get a better sense of the full set up. Continue reading
Happiness is another exciting episode of Joseon Gunman. So far this drama hasn’t had a single misstep yet for me yet as the drama progresses without surprises but delivering plenty of fantastic narrative. Yoon Kang starts reuniting one-by-one with the people from his past, first with best buddy Officer Han and now with his little sister Yeon Ha. Soon it’ll be Soo In’s turn to get confirmation that her Yoon Kang doronim isn’t dead in the least and is back awesomer than before. Yoon Kang is a male lead that needs to use equal brains and brawn to survive and watching him outwit Merchant Choi is always cathartic. I’m forever going to hold a grudge with Merchant Choi killing Commander Park and leaving his two kids orphans and traitors, and now watching him still piling on the pain for Yoon Kang and Yeon Ha. I love watching Leader Kim chew him out as a mere dog that needs to obey his master because that’s the price Merchant Choi needs to pay for doing the dirty deeds for a corrupt faction.
Episode 9 wraps up the Yeon Ha rescue nicely with a slew of well-earned reunion tears, though my gut tells me little Yeon Ha isn’t fully in the clear yet. If Yoon Kang wanted to keep her safe he should have packed her on a ship bound for Japan. Yoon Kang also turns himself from a revenging gunman with a fake traitor’s son brand to a bona fide killer after offing the sleazy minister of justice. That does not bode well for my Yoon Kang even if the minister totally had it coming. I guess he was bound to get his hands bloody in this revenge scheme and the baddies aren’t going to be that easy to apprehend and brought to justice. I loved progression of Yoon Kang and Soo In’s interactions back to him encouraging her to keep on gaining new knowledge and expertise despite being a woman in Joseon. She also spends this episode picking up on more clues about Yoon Kang’s identity and finally putting two-and-two together. This drama has plenty of shades of gray but the OTP remains the beacon of goodness even when bad people may have some decency and good people are forced to do bad things. Continue reading
There’s something slightly off whenever I watch Ji Chang Wook act, and that’s probably more him always picking characters I don’t particularly like. He’s a good actor and likely headed the Lee Jong Seok route for me wherein all he needs is one role that gets me right in the gut and I’ll be all over him. His upcoming drama actually sounds right up my alley considering I loved Big and Miss Granny and in general like the age/body swap hijink genre. Ji Chang Wook will be headlining the drama Mister Baek, which was initially going to air on SBS after It’s Okay, It’s Love but for whatever reason suddenly changed networks and the premiere date got pushed back. Mr. Baek will now be a MBC drama airing in November after My Spring Days, which itself will air after Fated to Love You on Wed-Thurs.
MBC must really love Ji Chang Wook after Empress Ki and this network change makes sense since Mr. Baek was left floundering without a time slot when SBS decided that Song For You (courting Rain and IU) would get the post It’s Okay, It’s Love airing. Mr. Baek will be about a man in his seventies who reverse-ages back to his thirties and gets his chance to do over a life that originally had him living to be rich and miserly but without anyone who cares about him. Imagine Mr. Scrooge reverse-aging instead of having the three ghosts to point out his errant ways. I’m game to give this concept another go and have a feeling Ji Chang Wook is just right to play this character as a grumpy parsimonious fish-out-of-water. He’s got two new magazine spreads out this month, one for Arena magazine that looks like a seaweed crawled on his head after a rock concert and the other a very bright and casual Sure magazine pop of color. Continue reading