It’s funny how Lee Hong Ki just has that “it” factor. I know plenty of folks who loved him in You’re Beautiful but I confess his character annoyed me and was rather inconsequential to the overall narrative I tuned him out to the degree I can’t even opine as to whether he acted well in that role or not. So it’s really the cracktastic Bride of the Century where I’m getting my first real Lee Hong Ki exposure and he totally reminds me of another idol boy who can act Beast‘s Yong Jun Hyung (and they actually have a smidge of a resemblance as well!). I can admit that compared to Yang Jin Sung, Hong Ki is nowhere near as expert at the craft, but his natural charisma compensates ably for any technique lackings, and the end result is a fun leading man that I can love and want to smack from time-to-time. That is probably how Doo Rim sees Kang Joo, this man-child who is a man in all things other than emotional maturity. I do love when he gives in to his kid side such as when he discovered his love for roasted sweet potatoes thanks to Doo Rim. Watching Kang Joo eat sweet potatoes will never get old, a narrative moment that really delivers on the feel good sensation of a closed off guy tasting something heartwarming. The written preview is out for episode 7, and long with the video preview, it appears Doo Rim goes back to Seoul as expected and might even have resumed her substitute princess charade again. I’m curious what reason President Ma and Yi Kyung will cook up this time to get her to agree, but ultimately we need a bit more Doo Rim-Kang Joo falling in love time before the truth all comes out and the this drama ratchets up another notch in preposterous genius storytelling. Continue reading
KBS Mon-Tues have been mostly a ratings sinkhole. In the entire last year, the only two dramas to do decently in that time slot were Good Doctor and Queen of the Office. The list of failures with big stars and big budgets lay like fallen casualty: Shark, Marry Him If You Dare, Ad Genius Lee Tae Bak, and Prime Minister and I. The currently airing melodrama Full Sun (Beyond the Clouds) with Yoon Kye Sang and Han Ji Hye is setting its own record for just how low of a ratings it can garner even vis-a-vis the other low-rated dramas out there, with yesterday’s episode dropping to 2.6% in ratings. That ouch is likely to continue for the rest of its run, which doesn’t bode well for another revenge drama about to follow it in Big Man. Starring Kang Ji Hwan. Lee Da Hee, Daniel Choi, and Jung So Min, other than wishing the two leading ladies would be switched up in their roles, everything else is a thumbs up from me for this production. Directing is the talented PD behind Flowers for My Life, Hello God, and My Fair Lady, while writing is the veteran screenwriter who did the movies Our School’s E.T., Romantic Debtors, and Officer of the Year, as well as dramas More Charming By the Day and Nonstop 2. The cast gathered for the script reading recently (pictures below) and the four leads just filmed the promotional teaser for the drama (pictured above). I’m loving Kang Ji hwan’s golden-hued hair as well as Lee Da Hee going for a long haired look since I’ve gotten tired of her short-bob for all her recent dramas. Daniel Choi is playing the antagonist and looks great as well, and I can see him pulling off both the scheming as well as giving us a sliver of sympathy for him. Big Man premieres in mid-April and let’s hope Full Sun hangs in there and maybe wins a few ratings points just so Big Man doesn’t start in a giant disadvantage going up against the tail end of Empress Ki and Gods Gift: 14 Days. Continue reading
Xiao Yao is back to being a girl in Lost You Forever, but not just any girl, she’s a Princess with bloodlines that are the most illustrious in the entire vast wilderness. Her grandfather is the Yellow Emperor and her grandmother was Empress Xi Ling Lei Zhu, the powerful daughter of one of the Four Great Clans. Xiao Yao’s mother is Xuan Yuan Ba (aka Xi Ling Heng) the only daughter of the Yellow Emperor and her actions made her the beloved Princess of Xuan Yuan, not to mention she’s got two daddies that divide up the rest of the world. Her birth father is General Qi Yo of the Sheng Nong Kingdom while and her legal father is the Grand Emperor Gao Xing Shao Hao. So marrying Xiao Yao is pretty much like punching a ticket to ruling the world. That doesn’t mean her life is suddenly sacrificed to politics and ambition, she’s way too savvy to stand for that, nor does the people around her see her as a bargaining chip. In fact, because her mother’s life was so utterly sacrificed to kingdom and country, the people who love Xiao Yao don’t want the same fate to befall her. That might even extend to her romance, as her mother’s love was so Romeo and Juliet, and sometimes dying for love isn’t as romantic as it seems.
Xiao Yao is already a pragmatic leading lady and I don’t see her falling crazy in love for any guy, or at least if she does love someone I don’t think she’ll acknowledge it or even pursue it the way her mother did. Her mother’s demon best friends the winged fox Ah Bi and the swallow Lie Yang were both right that Xiao Yao is nothing like Ah Heng, but that only makes Xiao Yao’s life really fascinating because it’s hard to predict how she thinks, feels, or will do. She’s not loyal to anything other than the people she cares about, and that limited scope purpose of her life will be butting up against her birthright that decrees she’s the top prize in a world she lives in. Xiang Liu has been MIA for awhile but he comes back in a pretty major way in this episode, as usual swanning back into Xiao Yao’s world in his devil may care attitude. Jing is a very straightforward guy to like, he wears his heart on his sleeve to Xiao Yao. Zhuan Xu plays the big brother role to perfection but Xiao Yao is so close to him she might not be able to sense his non-platonic feelings even if he hints at it. And Xiang Liu is pretty much the frustrating boyfriend who rarely says when he means simply because he can’t afford to, and in this case, even if he does Xiao Yao is clueless about it. Continue reading
These days the K-drama world really doesn’t get viewers solely on stars as much anymore. In the heyday of Hallyu, I’m sure Bae Yong Joon can star in a sageuk about a monk and viewers would tune in. These days plenty of star vehicles have tanked, but there is still the outlier success of You From the Stars to show us an A-list actress with star power and acting chops like Jeon Ji Hyun can actually bring in the audience. The upcoming MBC weekend melodrama Hotel King might not garner viewers from either the star power of Lee Da Hae and Lee Dong Wook, but they might bring in a good chunk of viewers nostalgic for their My Girl days and curious about what a reunion between then 9 years later feels like. I for one am super curious and quite pleased they chose a melodrama to do rather than a rom-com trying to recapture the effervescence of MG. MBC’s Section TV visited the set during a poster shoot and managed to sit down with the two leads and chat about this opportunity to work together again. Lee Dong Wook revealed that he called up Lee Da Hae personally to ask her to star and she said yes. LOL, that was easy, why couldn’t they have done this sooner after My Girl? In addition to the two leads, this one boasts a pretty deep cast in Lee Deok Hwa and Kim Hae Sook as the elders, Wang Ji Hye, Im Seulong, Gong Hyun Joo, Alex, and Kim Ye Won. Writing is the screenwriter who did Feast of the Gods and Golden Fish while the PD directed Just Like Today and Life is Good. Hotel King premieres the last weekend of March after Golden Rainbow wraps up and is slated for a 32-episode run. Continue reading
I said in episode 1 of Bride of the Century that leading lady Yang Jin Sung was doing a decent job playing two characters, the optimistic and caring Doo Rim and the self-absorbed and haughty Yi Kyung. That opinion really needs to be dialed up a notch after episode 6 ushered in way more Yi Kyung than I can stomach but allowed for a side-by-side comparison of the two characters. Yang Jin Sung is a very easy actress to watch, she is animated without being overly cutesy as Doo Rim, and she even manages to out-bitch the actress playing Roo Mi when she’s playing Yi Kyung. That’s some fantastic acting going on, especially when as Doo Rim she has mountains of chemistry with Lee Hong Ki as Kang Joo, whereas as Yi Kyung the air is frigid between them. She’s not exactly a budding thespian with acting skills up the wazoo, but her natural charm and decent enough grasp of character emoting helps to really elevate her two-fold performance in BotC in ways that a bigger name actress with lesser talent would have stunk up the joint. Episode 6 unexpectedly brought Yi Kyung back to the fold, allowing the story to take another turn by ending the Doo Rim charade (for now).
This narrative really enjoys taking chances rather than beating a plot line to the ground, and here Doo Rim has stopped being Yi Kyung but it doesn’t grind the drama to a halt. It allows the OTP to split up, her knowingly while he still doesn’t know, but that allows us to really measure how much each has grown attached to the other. Kang Joo is like halfway there in terms of having a personality swap, or perhaps what Doo Rim has done is turned back the clock so he’s finding the real him that has been stashed away since he was betrayed and kidnapped as a kid by his tutor. Doo Rim was the one who I wasn’t quite sure how she felt about Kang Joo, but now it’s clear he’s on her mind and perhaps the reason she wants to go back to Seoul. I’m not sure why Yi Hyun’s character is written as such a cipher still, we see his interest in Doo Rim but how it arose and what’s on his mind remains vaguely laid out. I guess it doesn’t matter since I care next to zero about him, but it would help fill in some blanks because right now he remains slightly squicky that he fell for a girl who looks just like his half-sister. Our favorite matchmaking ghost was missing in episode 5 but makes a very important return in episode 6 to both point Doo Rim back in the right direction as well as lend her helping hand to Kang Joo. Continue reading
There are some TW and C-dramas that are pre-filmed and then sit on the shelf for what feels like an eternity. Sometimes it has nothing to do with quality but more like shopping around for a network to air it. I remember one of my fave TW-dramas Sunny Happiness completing filming over a year before it aired. Last year Mike He and Ady An filmed a TW-drama together that keeps getting its named changed from Marry a Rich Guy (愿嫁金龟婿) to Upper Class Crass Girl (上流俗女) to Noble Family Cross Girl (名門俗女), and it’s apparently going to be called Counterattack of the Feisty Girl (盛女的逆袭) for the C-drama airing. Setting aside the confusing naming issue, it’s the story of a country girl who is super rich because her dad owns a successful pig farm and all she wants is to marry into upper class society and shed her reputation of being a crass nouveau riche wannabe. She gets dumped by a lousy ex-boyfriend and goes on a series of dates with rich guys that all ends up with her unleashing her fiery temper and upending tables on them (Ady playing a tempestuous type is awesome). She crosses paths with a rich snob of a chaebol heir played by Mike He, a guy trying to prove to his daddy that he’s not just a loser spendthrift son by trying to run a charity. There is a mistaken identity round where she thinks he’s her last matchmaking date hence she tries to control her temper, while he mistakes her for a famous artist that he’s purposely trying to piss off so that she will cut ties with his charity. Sparks fly, their identities are revealed, his rich parents die in a plane crash leaving him penniless, and he ends up being taken in by her family. Her dad offers him a deal – to transform her into a graceful elegant lady and help her find a great marriage – and he’ll earn a boatload of money to pay off his family debt. The OTP starts playing Pygmalion and of course they fall in love for real. The synopsis is pretty standard rom-com stuff but I LOVED the extended 20-minute long preview. Continue reading
The upcoming TW-drama You Light Up My Star is starting to look to more and more interesting, and I’m not just talking about the all-star team of Director Winnie (In Time With You, It Started With a Kiss) directing the reunion of Joe Cheng and Janine Chang from their Honey and Clover days. You Light Up My Star has been knee deep in filming for the last two months and will premiere in early April so I’m rubbing my hands together gleefully at the treat to come. There has already been some cute filming events such as Ivy Chen making a fun cameo to support her good friends Joe and Janine, as well as the two leads filming a action movie within a drama scene that involved wires and boob on back pressing. I love Joe and Janine’s comfortable camaraderie with each other, not to mention they look fantastic together, both so tall and fine-featured. This week Director Winnie arranged a splashy two thousand extra filming sequence in Taipei where he basically recreated last year’s 50th annual Golden Horse Awards, which is Taiwan’s equivalent of the Oscars. You Light Up My Star is set in the Taiwan entertainment industry and both Joe and Janine play actors in the drama. So this recreation of the Golden Horse Awards involve drama Janine and Joe attending the ceremony together, including walking splashy red carpet. Joe’s tux is a custom Saint Laurent creation while Janine is rocking a hand stitched Alice & Olivia couture gown along with tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. The Golden Horse Association worked with Director Winnie to stage the filming exactly like the ceremony was held last year, making it a first for the movie association to lend a hand to a drama production. Director Winnie isn’t done with trying to make a huge splash with this drama, and in addition to this big filming sequence, the cast also revealed that Japanese super star singer-actor Fukuyama Masaharu would be making a cameo appearance in You Light Up My Star. He was in Taiwan last week for promotional activity and to film his cameo, and the cast attended his media press conference to welcome him. Check out all the pretty pictures below. Continue reading
Okay, how shall I put this? Take a deep breath before watching the latest preview for episode 17 of In a Good Way? Yes, that is a good idea since you will forget to breathe when you watch it. Have a defibrillator handy? Also a good idea, but if you don’t own one, then I suggest having someone around that can give you chest compression to restart your stopped heart. What else do we need? If this was the Victorian era then I would turn to my handy smelling salts. The best part of IAGW previews is that it hints, it teases, it shows us what we are all dying for but never crosses the line. It’s exactly the same way the drama has developed the romance between Jia En and Liu Chuan, so slow but sooooooo dense and meaty. We all know the OTP is headed to Juifen for an outing, but Jiufen is not even an hour away from Taipei and judging from what they brought this isn’t an overnight trip. Neither is the group led by Ren Wei that is going there, he was trying to butt into was not keeping Jia En and Liu Chuan from spending the night but simply being a nuisance of a third wheel so they don’t kiss and progress their relationship on that level.
Already from the first preview to episode 17 appended at the end of episode 16, we see Liu Chuan and Jia En in a hotel room and one that has a door with a window panel on it. LOL, can we say love hotel? Each has a little devil named Tracy and Ah Qing, respectively, offering salacious suggestions despite the fact that wuri Jia En is as innocent as it gets and there is no way Liu Chuan is ready to jump her bones even if he wants to. He’s just too much of a gentleman not to mention he knows her so well and knows she’ll freak out. The new episode 17 preview shows us how Jia En and Liu Chuan end up in a hotel room, and then delicious suggestions for how they will turn in for the night. I shrieked so loud after watching this preview I might’ve shattered some glass in my neighbor’s house. Mine is reinforced, theirs night not be. How can I endure the wait for Friday after watching this nnnnnnggggg ridiculously suggestive preview? Will Liu Chuan and Jia En take a giant step forward in skinship? Or will they continue to sweetly romance each other harkening back to a more innocent era where just hugging was a major breakthrough? I don’t know but I do know episode 17 is poised to cause massive heart attacks in IAGW fans. Continue reading
Episode 5 continues to ramp up the speed and silliness in Bride of the Century, and with it I keep getting more and more entertained. Who knew crazy could be so much fun? This is a drama where I love all the delightful scheming machinations as much as I watch for the romance. It’s really hard to write antagonists and villains in such broad bitchy strokes and have it work. Usually such baddies are just exhausting to watch because they keep getting away with their evil plots while the good guys suffer, and we need to wait until the drama is all over before the just desserts are dished out. Here that is totally not the case. We have two evil mothers, Kang Joo’s mom who wants a first bride sacrifice so her son can marry Roo Mi for real as his second bride, and Yi Kyung’s mother President Ma who both covets the Taeyang Group daughter-in-law role for her Yi Kyung but also wants to punish Kang Joo’s mom for daring to make her Yi Kyung into a sacrifice. It’s two moms who are protecting and fighting for what they believe is the best for their respective kid, but completely at odds with each other. I love it! Two equal and opposing forces make it so they are plotting against each other and not against Kang Joo or Doo Rim, leaving my darling OTP to mostly keep on falling in love unexpectedly.
I also love that the ghost and fortune teller know the back story even if we don’t, and the ghost is clearly on Doo Rim’s side. Doo Rim is in good hands and I’m not worried about either of the scheming moms doing something to really harm her. Roo Mi is like a younger and less patient version of Kang Joo’s mom, and what makes her laughable is that she can’t even hide what she’s doing. Everyone knows she’s been trying to back stab and undermine Doo Rim, and even Kang Joo’s mom has to tell her to back off. Hilariously, she’s only making it harder for Kang Joo’s mom to usher in the sacrificial first marriage and thereby pave the way for Roo Mi to get Kang Joo for good. Yi Kyung’s role is much bigger than I thought and she’s really grating on me with her cackling about making Kang Joo’s mom pay. Whatever, her and her mom are no better. In this nest of horrible representatives of the female gender, we have Doo Rim with her zest for life, hard working attitude, and capacity for huge amounts of empathy. Kang Joo did his usual jumping to conclusions thing and assuming people around him are all betrayers and untrustworthy, but I’m glad he quickly realized he was wrong and I hope he continues to grow around Doo Rim. Continue reading