meganbmoore: (wbds: ji/gwang taek: fightsex)
The last few weeks haven't exactly left me feeling particularly patriotic, which might explain why I spent most of the day watching kdramas.

Sword and Petal (also being translated with interchangeable "blade," "knife," "flower" and optional "the"-s) is a sageuk drama that started airing this week. The plot is set in Goguryeo, inspired by General Yeon Gaesomun's overthrowing King Yeongnyu in 642, with the main plot focusing on Yeongnyu's daughter, So Hee, seeking revenge for her father's death, while being in love with Yeon Gaesomun's illegitimate son, Yeon Choong. It seems to be somewhat experimental, with unusual camera shots and fewer closeups than most sageuks, and various scenes have a sound effect (or no sound at all) drowning everything else out. The first episode actually has very little dialogue, relying largely on visuals and sound cues, though there's much more in the second.

The series opens with a scene set later in (or perhaps after) the series with So Hee delivering a rather bitter and vengeful speech while in an empty palace courtyard before flashing back too the main plotline, much of which seems to be presented as So Hee's memories. As such, there are scenes that might appear to be cheesy tween montages of a girl going gaga over a hunk in the market. This is because it's a woman remembering being an innocent young girl going gaga over a hunk in the market. It happens. The second episode has less cheesy gaga-ness (and really, the cheesy gaga-ness is endearing in that emotionally manipulative "you have no idea what's about to hit you, kid" way) though So Hee and Yeon Choong's scenes still have the wide-eyed naive innocent POV with "the world is about to kick you in the butt" lurking in the background. Somewhere along the way, Yeon Chung also become So Hee;s bodyguard, because your first love being the angsty lowerclass boy who is secretly the son of your father's enemy just isn't quite enough angst and they needed that one extra trope to throw in. (I almost wonder if the writers are off somewhere, sulking because they couldn't think of a way to work fakecest in.)

So far, though, we haven't reached the Vengeful Princess stage, and the plot is largely centered around Yeon Gaesomun and Jyongnyu political battles, leading up to Jyongnyu being overthrown. (I imagine that will take place next week.) While I appreciate the writers obviously making a conscious effort to make So Hee as involved in that as possible...well, there are entire dramas devoted to important men of history doing important political things in a sea of greying beards and hats, and I know where to find them if I want them. While people are rightly praising the actors for their performances, I'm here for vengeful princesses being bitter and revengey whilst inconveniently in love with their enemy's son, and am ready to get to that. Also, so far, So Hee is the only female character of any importance, and I really hope that changes soon.

So, basically, I like it even though I'm not entirely sure what to make of it at times, and am ready to get past the background and to the angst and vengeance and Doom.

Also, I've been watching and loving Gu Family Book the last week or so (up to ep 14...my only issue is that they're so committed to making the villain eeeevil that I almost expect him to start literally twirling his mustache) and keep meaning to post on it, then realizing that I could watch a whole episode in the time it'd take me to post on my love, so I guess that's waiting until I finish the series. (I have this issue a lot lately "I could comment on my fiction...OR I COULD CONSUME MORE.") I do want to comment, though, that promo pics I saw of Bae Suzy and lee Seung Ki being all cute and smiley and saucy led me to expect slightly lighter fare than what I got.
meganbmoore: (lotus lantern)
Chinese Detectives (subtitled Double Dragons of Mystery which is my favorite of possible titles for it) is a half-mystery and half-romantic comedy series set during the Mind Dynasty. Meng Tian Chu (Wallace Huo) grew up in Italy with his mother but has returned to China in search of his father. Somewhere along the way, he was abducted by pirates and escaped, but only after raiding Jack Sparrow's closet. (He was abducted by pirates, but I'm pretty sure I'm only joking about raiding Jack Sparrow's closet. IT'S AN AWFULLY SUSPICIOUSLY FAMILIAR OUTFIT.) In China, he finds his father's friend, Xia Yi Dao, on the day of his daghter, Feng Yi's (He Zhuo Yan) wedding to her childhood friend, Duan Ping (Nicky Wu).

Tian Chu is apparently a shoujo manga hero, as he falls in love with Feng Yi when she mistakes him for a thief and punches him out. Then Xia Yi Dao says the wedding has to be called off because Feng Yi and Tian Chu were engaged as infants, and he only allowedthe wedding because he thought Tian Chu was dead. Somewhere in there, Duan Ping, who represses far too much than is good for him, loses his patience with a random dude interrupting his wedding and declaring his love for his bride and also punches Tian Chu out. Shockingly Tian Chu still has all his teeth by the end of the first episode.

The romantic triangle is rather messy, but surprisingly unannoying in it's extreme shoujo-ness (Feng Yi is in love with her sweet-to-her superserious childhood friend but might be starting to like the weird "badboy" who just came to town and is engaging in odd antics to woo her. There's one episode where hald the episode is Tian Chu cooking Italian food and Feng Yi refusing to eat it because she is having nothing of the arranged marriage business.) and I'm enjoying all combinations of interactions between the three. The romcom antics are sporadically interrupted by dead bodies popping up and Duan Ping going off to officially investigate, and Tian Chu trying to solve the mystery first with less orthodox means, with Feng Yi helping one or both. The trailer I watched had me expecting a lot more proceduralish mystery solving and fewer antics, but it's had a good balance between them so far.

He Zhuo Yan was extremely good in the "spirited and mischevious, but also very clever" role she had early on in Paladins in Troubled Times (she was also very good later on, too, but her character there took a much more serious route after the first arc of that series) and Chinese Detectives is letting her do a lot more with that. Nicky Wu is apparently pretty popular right now, but this is the first thing I've seen him in. I was underwhelmed at first, but he's grown on me a lot. Wallace Huo rather surprised me because I'm used to him playing superserious and educated characters, not giant lovable yet annoying puppies who want to be detectives, so I was surprised he had this role in him.
meganbmoore: (da:dots)
Lotus Lantern (2007 version) is a fantasy wuxia drama that I enjoyed quite a bit but have little to say about, given that it's 35 episodes long. It's based on a legend about the son of a goddess and a mortal. When the hero, Chen Xiang, learns who his mother is and that she's been imprisoned by her brother, Er Lang Shen, since Chen Xiang was an infant, he sets out on a quest to rescue her. It's probably the most shounen-like drama that I've seen (beating out Warrior Baek Dong Soo, with epic speeches about friendship and nakama (not that "nakama" is actually used), lifelong friendships after a couple fights, improbably noble motivations for villainous actions, a couple forbidden romances and unrequitted crushes, and multiple literal power-ups, complete with costume redesigns at times.

It starts a bit slow (the first few episodes, while entertaining enough, are largely worth watching if you enjoy looking an Vincent Jiao and boggling at his ability to have chemistry with anyone and anything, even when it's inappropriate) but gets going when Chen Xiang starts adventuring and meeting people, but doesn't really get going until Chen Xiang gets a little older and more interesting. (The series spans somewhere between five and ten years for the characters.) towards the end I started fearing that it was going to screw over the characters (especially the female characters) and audience on a similar level as Chinese Paladin, but it mostly pulls itself back from that cliff (I dislike how the last 3rd handled Ding Xiang, one of my two favorite characters. It tried to redeem itself at the end but didn't quite). Then again, we don't really need another series in which only one character is left alive and human and he has major PTSD and is now wandering a severely depopulated fantasy ancient China with a newborn and everyone else he knows is dead, except maybe an aunt who they forgot about after 3 or so episodes. I'm not sure I buy the explanation for Er Lang Shen's actions (even though it was what I had initially thought) in the context of everything that he did, but I can go with it.

I'm not familiar with the legend it's based on and can't find out much about it online, so I'm not sure how it compares. I recognized more from Journey to the West-which features heavily (the main female character, Xiao Yu, is actually the daughter of a pair of villains from that one)-than anything else. I'd be interested in feedback from people who have seen the series and are familar with the legend.

The series has been released in the US by TaiSeng and is available for DVD rental through netflix should you have that option. I should warn, though, that it's apparently an earlier TaiSeng release (at least, I'm pretty sure the others with bad subs have been earlier? Some of their releases have very good subs.) and the subtitles, while easy to follow, are riddled with errors.
meganbmoore: (wbds: ji sun: bow)


Yes, I'm very behind. No spoilers or hints about future episodes in the comments, please.

 

spoilers note that there was absolutely no fingerlightning )spoilers note that there was absolutely no fingerlightning )
meganbmoore: (holy pearl: demon hunter)

I thought I posted on eps 3 and 4 a week or so ago, but apparently not. I rather adore this drama, though it's largely Eun Soo's reactions to everything that's going on that elevates it from "like" to "love." (Though the visuals are also really really striking.) Episodes 5 and 6 have picked up the plot and pace a lot, though I didn't have a problem with that before. Also, while I'm not as big a fan of Legend as most are, I'm getting a kick out of all the Legend actors who keep popping up. (Though, it took me a bit to remember that Choi Min Soo was in Legend, as I mostly associate him with Warrior Baek Dong Soo.)

spoilers don't think there's been enough finger lightning lately )
meganbmoore: (koshonin)

Boku to Star no 99 Nichi is a romantic comedy about Kouhei, a part-time bodyguard who gets assigned to guard a Korean superstar, Han Yoo Na, for 99 days while she's shooting a drama in Japan. Except his job isn't so much to guard her from other people but to keep her from sneaking out and getting into trouble and hunt down mysterious men from her past.

It's pretty much adorable and a good example of why i tend to prefer the jdrama/kdrama fusion romances we sometimes get over the contemporary-set kdramas most of the time. (Sageuks and fusion sageuks are another matter.) It does the romantic drama well and mixes it up with Kouhei's kooky family and coworkers and Yoo Na's costar, who has A Secret Past with Kouhei and who I was pretty sure was secretly in love with Kouhei for the first 7 or so episodes until he was fighting with Kouhei over Yoo Na. (Then I decided he was in love with both of them.) There's also and evil reporter who's out to destroy Yoo Na (apparently he just threw a dart at the pictures of various stars to target to create a scandal about as we never really get an explanation there....) a quasi-romantic subplot with Yoo Na's brother and Kouhei's niece that's very cute cute until you start wondering exactly how old they are. (The age difference is actually probably a good bit smaller than that with Kouhei and Yoo Na, but an age difference pings differently when a woman is in her late 20s and when she's in her late teens.) BTW, the guy playing Yoo Na's brother is lucky that he's cute and has an endearing stage presence-at least when interacting with people who actually can act-because he cannot act at all. I'm not sure he actually tried most of the time. (I think he's actually primarily a kpop guy, but apparently he wants to be an actor too.)

(I actually watched this some time back-before RMPW and Naniwa started-but kept forgetting to comment on it despite meaning to at least once a week.)

I've also been watching the second season of Koshonin (aka The Negotiator).  It's about like the first season, save that Usagi has been in the departmment for a while so her male coworkers aren't going out of their way to be sexist this time around, and Usagi is more at ease with her job.  Err...as at ease as you can be when your job is to negotiate with killers, kidnappers and terrorists, that is.  I will forever hate that commanding officer of hers, though.  I'd say that, in general, if you watched the first season, you'd feel roughly the same about the second.  Only the first 4 episodes have fansubs.  After that it's the engrish subs that come with the Chinese DVD releases.  Those are actually better than a lot of others but, well, still very much engrish.
meganbmoore: (arang: bedsharing)

These episodes are more like what I was expecting when the series started (not that I have any ocmplaints at all about what the first few episodes turned out to be.) A fair dose of action, humor and romance, but mostly spooky creepy gothic mystery, in line with the Liao Zhai series from a few years ago (one of which I actually haven't seen yet), the Hometown Legends anthology series, or, well, a better version of Gumino: Tale of the Fox's Child (I enjoyed that series a lot, mind you, but the first half needed to be condensed into about half as much time and the second half could have done with having an episode or two shaved off the end) only without feeling as hopeless as any of the above. It's actually kind of like City Hunter where the writers are all "let us emphasize all the Angst and Drama and Doom...err...but we don't want you to be too worried about not having a relatively happy ending, so let's not be too down on things."

spoilers )BTW, the scenes of heaven and the afterlife are seriously among the prettiest and most striking things I've seen in a TV show in years.
meganbmoore: (city hunter: but it's only ep 2!!)

I haven't watched any of the other time travel kdramas that came out earlier this year (Queen In Hyun's Man is the only one of them that I've had any interest in, but I haven't tried it out yet) and so I'm free of any time travel lethargy other kdrama fans might be having. (And this one has also been in the making for much longer than any of those.)

Set late in the Goryeo period (mid-14th century-1351, to be precise) this starts of was a manhwa-illustration style animation recounting the legend of Hwata, a Chinese surgeon, ending with his going through a portal and ascending to Heaven. Then we switch to the actual plot, in which the Goryeo prince and his new bride (from an enemy nation, because where else would she be from?) are attacked while stopped overnight at an inn. The queen is injured and the prince's advisor just happened to conveniently spot a magic portal that he assumed led to Heaven nearby. (Why was there a magic portal? WHO KNOWS. People also shoot lightning from their hands and kill cockcoaches with flute music in this show. THESE THINGS JUST CONVENIENTLY HAPPEN.) Under the assumption that it leads to Heaven (Because where else would magic portals that just randomly appear with no explanation lead?) a general, Choi Young, goes through the portal to find Hwata* or one of his apprentices, only to end up in the present. He gets directed to a medical conference by a monk who assumes he wandered off a drama set, and sees a presentation by a plastic surgeon, Eun Soo, and decides she's the doctor for him. (In multiple ways, apparently, given later semi-conscious statements.)

Before tossing her over his shoulder and carting her back to the 14th century, he decides to test her skills by...giving a security guard the same injury to make sure she can fix it. (You just went WTF. So did I. So did Eun Soo, but she thankfully has a practicality override when faced with a crisis.) THEN he took out a police squad with his lightning powers, grabbed a riot shield for a souvenir (he later uses it as a boomerang), tossed her over his shoulder, and carted the poor woman back to the 14th century.

As you can tell, the crack is mighty with this one. Very mighty indeed.

Though, with Eun Soo firmly entrenched in the past, I suspect the crack will calm down soon and the more serious political plot will take over. (I'm ok with this, though I hope it keeps some of the humor.)

So far I like it a lot (between it an Arang and the Magistrate I think I prefer it right now, though larger because of a preference for the heroine-but that's kind of like "I like ice cream and cheesecake but I like cheesecake a little more" and I am exceptionally fond of both ice cream and cheesecake). One thing I particularly like is that Eun Soo doesn't know she's travelled to the past (she's gone from "homicidal cosplayer" to "accident on a drama set and they abducted a doctor to avoid the police"** to "really bizarre abduction by strange cult" to "I DON'T CARE WHAT'S WITH THIS PORTAL JUST TAKE ME HOME!") because every thinks she's from heaven and so knows where she is and is just annoyed to be there, and the modern world is so different and alien that Choi Young just assumed heaven had giant buildings and bright lights and weird hinking metal things and people magically in tiny boxes. I'm sure she'll figure it out soon once she starts learning who the historical people are.

But I'm exceptionally fond of how her reaction isn't to shriek and hide under the table (this or utter petrification would be my reaction) or magically adjust to the new world in hours. Instead she takes up residence in Denial Land and tries sneaking away when she thinks no one is looking (this almost works)*** and bribery. I'm not sure where it's going (I have a feeling that Eun Soo is going to be able to return to the present eventually and Choi Young-a real historical figure who lives quite some time past when the drama is set-ends up reincarnated, which seems to be the usual "happy" ending for these types of things, and I don't know how I feel about that) but I like it and I like all the characters except the king and his advisor, both of whom I dislike quite intensely. (Well, I have no opinion about any of the villains yet.)

I hope the lightning powers get explained. As near as I can tell, it's some sort of physical manifestation of emotional control/reaction. Choi Young's doctor friend (from the Goryeo period, not Eun Soo) has the same ability, only apparently much more controlled and with a lot more precision, and I'm thinking Choi Young learned it from him.

*In the context of the rest of the plot, I'm guessing we'll eventually learn Hwata was also actually a modern doctor.
**When you've been forcibly abducted by an armored dude a foot taller than you who almost killed someone to test you and dragged you off to be surrounded by a couple dozen people just like him, you're allowed to come up with utterly improbable and/or ludicrous theories.
***She needs to just get Choi Young alone and wait for one of his naps. That boy is always napping, even at utterly inappropriate times.


In unrelated (mostly) news, Rich Man, Poor Woman bounced back this week after a couple of rather lacklustre episodes, though it wasn't as good as the first 4 episodes were. Too much Rich Man (and his eccentric brilliance and angst) not enough Poor Woman (and they seem to have largely forgotten her memorization and research superpowers, even though they were referenced this week.)
meganbmoore: (city hunter: na na/gun)
Note: This drama goes by both Girl K and Killer G, but I prefer Girl K.


Pros: 3 1/2 hours of a girl with weapons and a revenge narrative, who's main relationships are first with her mother, and later with the woman who trained her to be an assassin and who now serves as a conflicted surrogate mother figure. The second episode opens with Ji Young (mentor) directing Yeon Jin (vengeful assassin heroine) on a hit, and then flashes back to the last two years of Ji Young training Yeon Jin, ending with and intense swordfight training sessions that culminates in Ji Young telling Yeon Jin that it's time to go to school and Yeon Jin asking why she doesn't just kill her now instead. (Shockingly, their scenes were my favorite in the series, even though you knew it was doomed to go badly from the start.) Also, lots of Girls With Guns, and not just Yeon Jin, and people who look like they genuinely know what they're doing in the fight scenes.


Cons: It's a cable show, so there's lots of gratuitous and often uncomfortable sex and nudity, including a scene of dubious consent (between extras, not major or secondary characters) that was played for laughs. Also a lot of blood, though less than I was expecting. Definitely more blood and more explicit violence than any other kdrama I've seen, but again, less than I was bracing myself for.


In essence, Yeon Jin is a teenager whose mother made her learn martial arts so that she'd be able to defend herself. When Yeon Jin and her friends' hooliganish antics kicks off a chin of events that results in her mother's death and her being shot in the chest, she takes up an offer made by Ji Young to save her life if she becomes an assassin for the secret organization she works for, pointing out that if she joins, she'll be alive to eventually get revenge.
Yeon Jin also secretly has a properly wuxia origin that she won't know about for most of the series.


spoilers )Korea, feel free to make a sequel series about Yeon Jin's further adventures! The cop can come too. He was more fun than I'd initially expected.
meganbmoore: (gye baek: concubine + assassin maids)

The thing about Gye Baek is that it's one of those things where, while the plot itself is solid, the acting and characters far outclass the script, which often seems to be written for "This will be dramatic! Do this! It doesn't have to hold up to critical thinking! Or any analysis at all!" without always considering the plausibility, or do things like "He is the queen's personal guard yet he manages to slip away all the time to train rebels in the secret village that no one knows exists despite it only being an hour or two travel from the capital and a short jog from the temple frequented by the nobility." Now, personally, I just indulge in a few eyerolls because I like the actors and characters and think it's still a good and involving series anyway, but some would likely want to know about that going in.


Non-spoilery comment: episode 18 wraps up most of what's been going on so far and would actually be a pretty satisfactory ending for a drama for the most part, so should you want to binge, you won't run out of subs on a cliffhanger.


spoilers )
(Ok fansubbers, all the other sageuks from this season except Tree With Deep Roots are over and completely subbed. You're 18 eps behind on this one and the last episode just aired. Time to get cracking and indulge my entitlement!)
meganbmoore: (hometown legends: gumiho)

This is a 16 episode horror sageuk about Gu San Daek, a gumiho (fox demon) who is discovered by a human who she spares only on the condition that he never tells anyone about her. Later, she approaches him as a human woman and lives for 10 years as his wife, because if she lives as a human for 10 years and he keeps ther secret for just as long, she and her children become human. Naturally, the night before the 10 years are completely up, he tells their daughter, Yeon Yi, about meeting a gumiho in the mountains. Outraged, she leaves him, taking Yeon Yi with her, and he commits suicide.


Meanwhile, Yoon Soo Doo (Or was it Yoon Doo Soo? I'm too lazy to look it up, so I'll just call him Loser Yoon.) is a nobleman who has a daughter, Cho Ok, who has been ill her entire life and is constantly near death. After she's stricken with blindness, a creepy shaman who lives in a creepy cave in the mountains (Note: played by Babystealer from City Hunter. He is marvelously creepy and sinister and utterly polite.) tells him that Cho Ok can be saved if, on her 10th birthday, she eats the liver of a girl born on the same day as her, and says that he'll know the right girl because Cho Ok's blindness would be cured by her and she would be the first person she sees.


Naturally, Loser Yoon gathers up all the little girls in the region born at the same time as Cho Ok to see which one he'll murder. Also naturally, the child in question is Yeon Yi (for reasons that are not completely explained except that The Plot Says So, Gu San Daek must live as a human until Yeon Yi turns 10, which is when she'll completely come into her powers as a gumiho), and Loser Yoon takes the two into his household for "protection" as they're a homeless mother and child. And shows them such blatant favoritism that it turns the whole household against them.


This thing is stuffed full of overwrought drama and OTT emo, particularly the first half. I spent most of the first half going "This is fun, but how will they keep it going for 16 episodes?" And then I'd remember that, oh yeah, 1/3 of the scenes are Yeon Yi being lost or in some new form of Dire Peril (quite developed survival instincts, though), another 3rd is Gu San Daek running through the forest in a near panic, looking for her, and then the last 3rd is, you know, plot. There are also icky scenes of Loser Yoon romancing Gu San Daek. Which, on her side, is ok based on what she knows because as far as she knows, he's a nice man (with an unpleasant family) helping her and her daughter. On the flipside, all his niceness was just to get her to stay with him so that he could murder her daughter, and presumably comfort her after her daughter's mysterious death and keep her as a concubine. I spent several spurts deeply concerned that the writers were going to make that an Epic Romance, and being all "but if you must have a romantic plotline, what about that nice mute servant who likes her? He isn't planning to murder her daughter!" (Note: In this series, unrequited love cures muteness, makes you a master swordsman despite having no training, and gives you the ability to survive enough stab wounds to kill a dozen other men.) Actually, there is a romantic plotline between Yeon Yi and the son of the local magistrate, who's about 12-13. Apparently, while I can go with Korea's conviction that someone you knew for 3 weeks when you were 10 will be the most important relationship in your life, I don't buy it when it's a full blown Epic Love Story.


The second half still has a lot of OTT emo and overwrought emo, but it also has a lot more plot, and is when the horror elements really come into play. It also switches a lot of the conflict from Loser Yoon wangsting about how can be bear to murder a cute little girl (and that wouldn't REALLY make it wrong to marry her mother, right?) to his wife, Lady Yang, and Gu San Daek fighting for the survival of their respective daughters. I had some metanarrative issues with this and the way it pitted women against each other (not just then, but throughout), but it also emphasized that, ultimately, it's a story about mothers and daughters and their love for each other. Also, while Lady Yang was no less awful than her husband, I found her much easier to understand and could see her POV more clearly than Loser Yoon's, even if I didn't (couldn't) actually sympathize with her.
spoilers )


The four main actresses, incidentally, are particularly well cast, especially Cho Ok (probably the most difficult role in the series once we reached the second half-I don't know how, but sageuk's always have amazingly talented child actors) and Gu San Daek's. The actress's features actually made Gu San Deak's partially transformed form work much better than it usually would, though a lot of that relied on her feral expressions (though the really heavy breathing that came with the transforming made me giggle at times) and the creepy, animalistic smile that she had. Usually when you have human-like characters that aren't really human, the character just comes across as a human with extra abilities and angst, often used to make bad behavior "nature." (See: practically every vampire ever. And many a werewolf and fictional representation of a deity.) Here, the actress was convincing as a mixture of human and animal-pretending-to-be-human but still thought like an animal, and who was becoming an animal again. Of course, the actresses don't really get to show their stuff until the second half.


While I liked it in different ways at most times throughout (there was a lot of giggling early on that I'm sure wasn't the writers' intention) it's not an easy or particularly pleasant show. Like most Korean horror (well, historical horror-while I've liked the historical horror stuff that I've watched, I haven't really enjoyed any of the contemporary horror stuff except the horror bits on the Gumiho series with Han Ye Seul-I apparently like Gumiho stories because I also really liked the ones in the Hometown Legends horror anthologies) unpleasant things happen to everyone, including children, and it isn't afraid to cross almost all lines, and almost every character, including the more sympathetic ones, do or intend something awful at one time or another.
meganbmoore: (city hunter: sae hee/prosecutor)

I somehow forgot this drama existed (probably because "vampire romance" balances out "Lee Seo Jin" for me...) and then remembered this week. And since I like both leads, I have had it for who knows how long.


Anyway!


Lee Seo Jin is a semi-suicidal 350-year-old vampire named Jung Won. While vampires in this series basically live forever (unless they burn up) and need a couple pints of blood every week or so (no burning up in the sun, loss of soul, evil urges, etc.) he views himself as an evil evil monster and is always trying to starve himself to death, but always caves in and either asks his platonic life partner (being a kdrama, it's not so platonic on her end), Yi Wha, to get him lunch, or shows up half dead at her place so that she'll coax him into eating. Then cries a single emo tear. Yi Wha has been dealing with his depression for 350 years, so it's kind of hard to hold anything she does against her. Anyway, every few decades or so, Jung Won apparently runs off and falls in love with some nice young human girl, then has an "I am an unworthy monster!" attack and runs away. When his last human girlfriend is dying of cancer, she writes him a letter asking him to take care of her daughter, Ji Woo (Park Han Byul).


Yes, this is the story of a 350-year-old-vampire falling in love with his ex-girlfrined's barely-legal daughter. I am rather concerned that this actually did not squick me out in the least. Though, like his spiritual brother, Stefan Salvatore, I didn't get the feeling that he was comparing them or using her as a substitute at any point, and she's the main instigator who intiates and pushes most of their relationship so that probably accounts for a lot of it. Also, it's possible that Lee Seo Jin's dimples have supernatural powers.


Anyway, you know that one bit in Legally Blonde when Elle just got the internship and Emmett andthe skeevy professor are watching her leave and all "Do you think she just woke up one day and said "I want to be a lawyer!'?" That's Ji Woo. She sees a tattoo parlor and...decides she wants to be a tattoo artist! And is rather shameless about getting a job there, too. (She said she was kicked out of her home due to her accidental incestuous love for the brother she never knew she had and was dying of leukemia! No one believed it, but the effort was appreciated.) She decides the emo angstmuffin who says he's a distant relative needs to unbend and...invades his home and launches a one girl campaign! Much of which centers around making a picture crooked. She's also incredibly stubborn about not bonding with her father. Given that he abandoned her and her mother when her mother got cancer and reappeared 3 years later at the funeral expecting Ji Woo to forgive and forget instantly, I can't really blame her.


There's also a vampire serial killer running around. Unfortunately, it's largely disconnected from the rest of the plot for most of the series, and kind of dull. And given that it's the beta plot, it contributed to the general slowness of the series.


I basically watched expecting to laugh and see how many ways they found to provide Lee Seo Jin fanservice (Answer: Many. The man is devoted to being eye-candy, which you don't often get with actual good, charismatic actors.) and to see if they found a co-star he didn't have ridiculous amounts of chemistry with (Answer: They did not.) but aside from being on the slow side, it was actually, uhm, decent-to-good (depending on what part you’re watching at the moment) and pretty entertaining, at least until the last five minutes.


spoilers )
meganbmoore: (wbds: ji: forest)
WBDS is one of those shows I absolutely adore but tend to put off actually watching because there's only a limited amount of material. (Well, and I watched certain characters' scenes raw through the mid-20s as the episodes aired.)


spoilers )Right now, this is in the running for my favorite drama of the year, unless it takes the Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei and City Hunter route and starts really annoying me in the last third.  (And here I was basically only going to check it out because it was a fusion sageuk when it started airing...)
meganbmoore: (gye baek: concubine + assassin maids)

This post would be full of intelligent observations and commentary on a complex plot, excellent acting, and interesting characters, but Lee Seo Jin running around in various states of dress with a sword is quite distracting, and what parts of the brain aren't distracted by that are busy appreciating awesome ladies plotting to take over the country and/or get revenge.

Anyway, I have to wonder what Lee Seo Jin thought when he started getting scripts. "Wait, I have one line in my first 2 epiosdes? And I spend the rest of the time borderline catatonic and staring angrily and intently at things, and occasionally go feral? But isn't the main character supposed to have more lines? And wasn't he all cheerful and open a couple episodes ago? And then I still don't talk much after that?"

I guess spending a long time catatonic after trauma is The Thing for this season's sageuks? (And then having people whack you around thinking that you're a strapping young man so CLEARLY physical abuse will snap you out of it...) So anyway, this show seems to want to prove that Lee Seo Jin is very good at characterization even when he barely talks. It's doing a pretty good job so far. It's also very devoted to showing how good he is at manpain. (And fanservice.) And by "manpain" I mean the fun kind where you start to feel a bit guilty over enjoying a fictional character's trauma, not the annoying kind where you're all "OMG your angst is not the only thing in the world does this show have nothing else going on?"

Also, while it's not exactly a screen pairing I'd ever really considered, Lee Seo Jin and Song Ji Hyo have amazing chemistry I may now have a deep need for them to make out on my screen. Too bad this isn't a fusion sageuk, where'd there'd be a decent chance of that happening.



spoilers )
meganbmoore: (sword chess: yu er: red)
In case you forgot (which may not be too hard, as it isn't being talked about much) China recently decided that Inu Yasha needed a live action wuxia loosely based on it.

Bless you, China.

Here's what it looks like:



I'm too lazy to see if that's the same trailer I posted before.

Actually, it takes the general idea, adapts it from feudal Japan to ancient China, and runs with it. As a result, we have Kagome and Inu Yasha-Ding Yao and Wen Tian here (oder and more mature than the original versions, and Wei Tian is considerably closer to being smart than Inu Yasha, and is half-dragon instead of half dog-demon), off hunting the shards of a vase (turned into pearls that give demon enhanced powers) that can imprison demons, with some core plot points remaining the same to drive the story, but the rest is loosely adapted, or completely made up. TBH, while Ding Yao and Wen Tian having adventures hunting shards is a good central adventure aspect to keep things going, the rest is actually more interesting.

So far, it basically goes like this:

ARCHEOLOGIST: Hello! I am an archelogist who has finally found proof that a mythic city once existed! Rocks glowing red and causing spontaneous storms do not phase me!
LADY ARCHEOLOGIST: How about a 3500 year old painting of your daughter?
ARCHEOLOGIST: SAY WHAT?!?!?!
DING YAO: Said daughter here! Ever since my dad gave me this clay figurine amulet, Ive been having strange visions of ancient China. I think I'll see if those artifacts Dad found give me any ideas for my thesis. Hey, where'd this tornado come from? Wait, why am I in a forest? WAIT WHY AM I BEING ARRESTED?
WEI LIAO: Hello, I am the Grand General of the mythic kingdom. I'm also played my TAE (Yes, he has his name in all caps. Don't ask me why.) in a completely serious and dramatic role, without a hint of the oddball about me. If you've seen me in other roles, you might find this a bit disorienting. I am also the king's younger and much better looking brother. Unfortunately for the kingdom and every character in the series, he left all the brains in the family for me. Back to the plot, it's kinda illegal to trespass here, so I'm afraid you have to be executed.
DING YAO: WTF WHAT TRESPASS WHAT?
TING QIN: Hello, I am the acolyte of the head priestess. I can't help but notice this girl looks like my mistress's dead sister. I feel this is significant.
MO YIN: Priestess here! Eeh, passing resemblance. Off with her head.
THE KING: OMG NO CAN YOU NOT SHE THAT SHE IS MY LONG DEAD TRUE LOVE RETURNED TO US? YOU CANNOT KILL HER!
DING YAO: Oh, wow, thanks for saving me. What's with this pl-
THE KING: MY LOVE! YOU ARE RETURNED TO ME! LET ME GRAB OU AND KISS YOU AND HOLD YOU AND-
DING YAO: OMG WHAT GET OFF OF ME! Off off off! *thwap*
WEI LIAO, MO YIN, TING QIN and RANDOM SOLDIERS: *gasp* TREASON!
THE KING: I AM SURE IT WAS A MISUNDERSTANDING! TAKE HER TO OUR BEST ROOMS AND GIVE HER A BATH AND INVITE HER TO DINNER!
DING YAO: I wanna go home home! Oh, gardens! Oh! Antiques to take home to dad! Oh, a pretty metal bowl-HO BLEEP ITS THE KING COMING AT ME! I am armed, dude!
THE KING: I promise to behave. Maybe just a cuddle?
DING YAO: ARMED! CAN SHATTER GLASS WITH A SINGLE SCREECH IF NEEDED!
THE KING: How about if I tell you about the person we all think you are?
DING YAO: Ok, that sounds safe.
THE KING: Here is the perfectly preserved corpse of our former priestess, who you are the mirror image of. I like to come out and ogle it sometimes.
DING YAO: Well, you just keep getting creepier, don't you? So, what happened to her.
THE KING: FLASHBACK TIME! Mo Yin and Xian Yue are the earthly reincarnations of goddesses set to protect the kingdom. As soon as I saw Xian Yue, I knew it was true love forever and ever because she was pretty, and I basically stalked her and abused my power as the king to follow her everywhere until she and Mo Yin decided that she should retreat to a place where no mortal man could follow to escape me and Mo Yin took over as the head priestess. Anyway, somewhere in there, she met this half-dragon guy, Wen Tian, who betrayed her and attacked us. She imprisoned him and then died, and I have since kept her perfectly preserved corpse here in my garden so that I can gaze upon her flawless beauty whenever I want.
DING YAO: Well that's very interesting. Really, you sure did have a sucky, tragic time there. Don't mind my slowly edging away from you. It doesn't mean anything.
THE KING: BUT ALL IS WELL NOW! YOU HAVE BEEN SENT TO ME AS A REPLACEMENT! We will wed!
DING YAO: NO WE WILL NOT! Fleeing now.
THE KING: Guards! Lock her up until the wedding! I'll kill anyone who lets her escape!
WEI LIAO: Bro., I'm trying to find a diplomatic way to tell you this, BUT THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA! I mean, aside from the complete stranger showing up and looking exactly like the woman you're creepily obsessed wi-I mean, the woman you love, Mo Yin was telling me all about the bad omens she saw just before this girl showed up.
THE KING: Silly boy! Do you not know what it is to love? To feel all consuming, true love that could make you give up everything!
WEI LIAO: I WOULD NEVER ABANDON MY COUNTRY FOR THE SAKE OF ONE WOMAN!
UNIVERSE: Bite you in the butt, that will.
ANYONE WHO HAS EVER SEEN A WUXIA BEFORE: If you're lucky, you'll die dramatically in each other's arms, complete with face stroking. But not before you become super angsty and scruffy and forget how to brush your hair.
TING QIN: Hey, Boss, this is really kind of uhm, wrong. Don't you think we should help this poor girl?
MO YIN: Oh, yes, definitely best to get her out of the palace. Go rescue her.
TING QIN: You know, kiddo, I'm not actually sure I'm helping you because I think there's something up, but run while the runnings good.
DING YAO: RUNNING NOW!
MO YIN: Gosh, Wei Liao, I can 't help but feel that girl is a danger to us all. Maybe it would be best if she just kinda was never found.
WEI LIAO: I may have all the brains in the family, but that doesn't mean I'm the smartest guy around. Maybe my guards should kill her instead of bring her back if they find her? For the good of the country, I mean.
MO YIN: Ah, overwhelming patriotism. So very useful sometimes.
DING YAO: I wanna go home! EEK! DEMON!
DEMON: YUM YUM!
HU JI: Hi, hot demon lady here. Actually, I secretly plan to use and then kill you myself, but for now, I'll help.
DING YAO: Wow you're gorgeous! If you lived in modern times, you'd be more famous than Angelina Jolie and could have an extramarital affair wit Brad Pitt!
MEGAN: Believe it or not, that was as direct a quote as I could get without pulling up the episode.
HU JI: I think that was a backhanded complement. How sweet. Did I mention that I'm a demon too.
DING YAO: Oh, crap.
WEI LIAO: Despite my orders, I feel compelled to run to your rescue.
DING YAO: Thanks. Demons there, running now.
HI JU: Hey hottie, wanna have fight sex?
WEI LIAO: I-what-that-yes?
HU JI: Admit it, you can't make yourself kill me!
WEI LIAO: Are you fighting me or seducing me? This is confusing.
HU JI: Sigh, you're just too cute to kill. Later.
WEI LIAO: Hey, wait a second! Oh look, a feather from your cloak is slowly floating down to me. I'll grab it so I can stare longingly at it later on.
DING YAO: Still running from demons here! Oh look, a cave. That has a cute boy with horns imprisoned in the middle. Let me grab him and hide behind him when the demon finds me.
WEN TIAN: Whoa, long nap there. Xian Yue! Why did you betray me!? Wait, why are you hiding from this wimpy demon?
DING YAO: NOT HER ALREADY! Help please?
WEN TIAN: Well, I needed a workout. Now that I've killed her, let's get back to that betryal thing already.
DING YAO: STOP WITH THE IDENTITY CONFUSION ALREADY! Also, I'm pretty sure your precious priestess would kick your butt if you had that attitude with her.
WEN TIAN: This is all very confusing, but I may believe you now, since you appear to kinda be a wimp.
DING YAO: Well excuse me for not being combat trained from birth or having magic powers like some people!
WEI LIAO: HO BLEEP WHO LET YOU OUT Dragon Boy?
DING YAO: Uhm...me? Also, I kinda shattered the magic vase that holds demons prisoner somewhere in there.
WEI LIAO: I think I'm getting a migraine. Can we all just got back to the palace now?
THE KING: EEEW WHO LET THE MONGREL OUT?
WEN TIAN: I would kick you, but I'm trying to behave until I know WTF is going on. I'll go look at a tree and pout ubntil I'm needed.
MO YIN: I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU BROKE THE MAGIC VASE! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW?
DING YAO: I...can go after it?
THE KING: I SHALL SEND AN ARMY TO PROTECT YOU!
WEI LIAO, MO YIN, DING YAO, and TING QIN: ...
MO YIN: Maybe...a couple bodyguards? We don't exactly want to let every demon in the world know about this, you know.
THE KING: IT MUST BE THE BEST OF THE BEST! Wei Liao-
WEI LIAO: Oh hell no am I leaving you unsupervised while I traipse around the country with this girl.
DING YAO: He also wanted to cut my head off in the first episode, so I agree.
WEN TIAN: I'll go. Nothing better to do and all. Totally not figuring out how I feel about all this here. I admit to no emotions.
DING YAO: I vote him over anything the king could ever possibly think of. No offense.
MO YIN: Ting Qin, I'm sending you to secretly spy on them, just in case. check in every few days, ok?
TING QIN: While I suspect I am being used as a tool in potentially evil deeds, this is probably actually a good idea.
DING YAO and WEN TIAN: We will now go have adventures roughly along the lines of Inu Yasha and Kagome's adventures in the first few volumes of the manga, only we'll resolve some issues a lot more quickly and actually have clarifying conversations that clear the air.

While they're doing this, this is what's going on elsewhere:

ARCHEOLOGIST: BTW, I figured out what happened and am trying to figure out how to rescued my daughter from the past. The lack of indoor plumbing and deodorant must be awful.
DING YAO: IT IS! But look, the guy with horns gave me this magic flute that's great in combat!
HU JI: Did I mention I'm the Demon Lord's favorite henchwoman? Because I totally am.
DEMON LORD: Hu Ji, go wipe out that village of demon hunters over there and steal their sacred scroll, K?
HU JI: Totally done!
MU LIAN: Half dead sole survivor of slaughtered demon hunter village here. Wait, am I hallucinating a flying guy with giant black feathers on his cape?
WU DAO: Hey there, prince of the dragon race and half-brother of that annoying guy with horns glued to his head here. I hate humans, but for some reason, I feel compelled to patch this girl up. Not that she's pretty or anything.
MU LIAN: OMG YOU TOOK MY CLOTHES OFF!
WU DAO: And then put them back on! Actually, I gave you better clothes. Also, it was totally just for medical purposes!
MU LIAN: IT IS THE LAW OF MY VILLAGE THAT A WOMAN MUST KILL ANY MAN BESIDES HER HUSBAND WHO SEES HER NAKED!
WU DAO: Medical purposes! Maybe you shouldn't be trying to kill people until you're better? Also, here's some medicine. And weapons. Look, I have to go track down my brother and make speeches about how I hate humans, but I'll be back to help you when you fight demons who outnumber you 10-to-1 and trade meaningful stares with you, ok?
MU LIAN: Time to bury my WHOLE VILLAGE SINGLEHANDED, and then take off to hunt down demons.
THE KING: BTW, Wei Liao, remember when I betrothed you to a princess 17 years ago.
WEI LIAO: WTF I thought you were joking?
THE KING: I was not! Anyway, she drugged her guards and ran away on the way here, so you're off the hook.
WEI LIAO: I assure you that this means nothing to me on a personal level! I'm just going to go stare pensively at that feather now, ok?
YU DIE: Well hello there! I am a slightly lecherous, conveniently small and slender young man incapable of resisting a damsel in distress, and prone to acts of chivalry every five minutes. Unfortunately, I basically have no real fighting skills. I shall attach myself to the first badass girl I meet!
MU LIAN: Why me?
YU DIE: But it will be fun! Oh look, a damsel in distress!
MU LIAN: FYI, damsels in distress who lead you off alone into the forest tend to be demons. Anyway, you're weird, and I'm off.
YU DIE: But I wanted us to be partners and travel the world together having adventures! Oh look, a damsel in distress!
MU LIAN: What are you, a demon magnet? I JUST WARNED YOU ABOUT THIS!
YU DIE: I can't help myself. Also, did I mention that the lechery is just an act and that I'm secretly a crossdressing runaway princess?
MU LIAN: Oh, in that case, we can totally be BFF and spend our lives having adventures together.
YU DIE: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
RANDOM DEMONESS: For reasons that don't completely make sense in this version, I must steal Xian Yue's body.
WEI LIAO and TING QIN: We were just having drinks and noticed commotion and HO BOY THE CORPSE IS GONE AND THE GUARDS ARE UNCONSCIOUS. This will be bad.
THE KING: NOOO THE CORPSE IS GONE MY LIFE IS OVER! KILL ALL THE GUARDS!
WEI LIAO: But...that's 24 men...
THE KING: KILL THEM ALL!
WEI LIAO: Uhm, bro, I'm trying to be diplomatic about this, but that's the kind of thing that leads to rebellion and you probably shouldn't-
THE KING: OMG BACKTALK! FIFTY LASHES FOR YOU!
WEI LIAO: You do realize that all your generals and soldiers like me better, right? Actually, I'm not sure anyone likes you except for Mo Yin and I. And I'm obligated by genetics.
MO YIN: Oh, crap, major damage control time. Ting Qin, take this medicine to Wei Liao and say it's from the king. Hopefully it'll offset the couple dozen officials that are about to beg him to rebel.
WEI LIAO: It's a sweet gesture and all, but I can see right through it.
THE KING: I am drunk at my true love's empty pedestal. How will I survive! For years I have subsisted on nothing but ogling the beautiful, perfectly preserved corpse of my beloved!
MO YIN: You know, maybe this is for the-
THE KING: I CANNOT SURVIVE WITHOUT GAZING AT HER PERFECT BEAUTY! I know! We shall gather all the finest jade in the kingdom and create a perfect jade replica for me to ogle every day!
MO YIN: But that's...kinda maybe a REALLY BAD way to use the country's resources and your people won't-
THE KING: DO IT! Do it do it do it!
MO YIN: Look, writers, why couldn't you have me in love with the other brother instead?

For the record, if you are only reading this post because of LIVE ACTION INU YASHA, I feel I should mention that except for the time travel (which is actually kinda popular lately) this is all pretty standard wuxia so far.

So, pretty fun. I admit, I think the overall idea actually is very well suited to wuxia, though it certainly isn't particularly faithful. My main issue so far is the fact that while the king is portrayed as obsessive, I think we're still meant to view him as sympathetic, and that's just not happening. There are things in the official description and potential plot developments hinted at in the credits that I'm leery of, but i'll see how they play out before complaining about them.

Also, while there are ceratinly more women in the core cast than in the manga version, I can't help but notice some less-than-pleasing alterations to the families. In the manga, Kagome lives with her mother, who packs her lunches to share with her friends while she has adventures in feudal Japan. It's been a while since I read or watched any of Inu Yasha, but I'm not sure her father was ever mentioned. Ding Yao has a father who wnts to rescue her, and dead motherangst. Actually, most characters seem to have dead mother angst, come to think of it. The big one, though, is how the close and loving relationship between Kikyo and Kaede is...significantly less so with Xian Yue and Mo Yin. The series descriptions hold that Mo Yin is evil and responsible for Xian Yue's death, though so far, she's...less than nice and was envious of Xian Yue, but is largely sympathetic (andthe most interesting character so far) and hasn't shown herself to be evil yet.

Meanwhile, Wen Tian has already admitted that he actually loves Wu Dao and wants Wu Dao to accept him and let him help Wu Dao lead to dragons to ascendancy, and Wu Dao...is still anti-crossbreeds and anti-human, but far less stringent on both counts. Mind you, I actuslly approve of this IN GENERAL, but not so much when i compare it to the changes with female relatives.

Anyway, fun and cracky so far. Hopefully the subs won't be too slow.
meganbmoore: (wbds: ji sun: bow)
You know, I really wish Warrior Baek Dong Soo didn’t use Chuno‘s music so much. I mean, it’s changed a bit (and it is quite good music) but that and the cast overlap just beg you to compasre the two, and there are some basic similarities in the plots.

I have to admit, though, while Chuno is the better series, I’m way more excited about WBDS eps than I was about Chuno, despite how much I like it. WBDS caters to a lot more of my narrative kinks and while there are only a few more women (not that they were lacking in Chuno) the women are more directly involved in the main plots, and have major plot points revolve around them. And they interact more, especially the last few episodes.

I admit, though, that I started composing my breakup letter when it looked like we might be headed to a double fridging to fuel a male rivalry, but we happily didn’t do that at all.

And the Worst Day Ever Award goes to... )
meganbmoore: (wbds: ji/gwang taek: fightsex)
This series is still kind of ridiculously awesome (with some of the best fight scenes I've seen in a kdrama) and absurdly addictive
Again: Why doesn't everything have a 20+ year long as-yet-unresolved doomed romance between a hero and an assassin? )
meganbmoore: (it's not gratuitous! honest!)
Gye Baek is a new sageuk about a 7th century Korean general, starring Lee Seo Jin.  He looks like this:

 

For whatever reason, he was actually introduced in a feild, pensively fiddling with a flower.  This was one of the first shot of him:

 

That is some seriously detailed armor.

The first 15 minutes were basically men shouting cxhallenges and a big battle.  The drama is lucky that (1) while wuxias trounce them in terms of individual fighting (though Warrior Baek Dong Soo is doing its best to prove me wrong) sageuks have amazing battle scenes, and (2) Lee Seo Jin has a very firm grip on my hormones.

Anyway, after that, Gye Baek continues the trend of this years sageuks having awesome origin/childhood sequences where you'd almost just as soon spend the whole time on that.  (I'm sure Princess' Man would join in the awesome backstory fun if it had that part.)


This is Gye Baek's father, Mu Jin:



Even without the intro section, you know he's going to be related to Lee Seo Jin because he has a shirtless scene involving water about 10 minutes after he shows up:



Here is Gye Baek's mom, laughing over Mu Jin being gullible to her teasing:



more pics and commentary )
Really, the backstory plot so far is pretty much Hye Won and Tae Ha's plot in Chuno, if Hye Won was 9 months pregnant while they were on the run, the crown prince was old enough to make speeches about how HE CANNOT FLEE! HE MUST STAY AND PROVE HIS LOYALTY!, and the so-far main antagonist was a concubine who's smarter, more cunning, and more ruthless than the rest of the castr combines, and had a private squad of assassins maids.

I'm sure everyone but Sa Taek Bi will be dead by, like, episode 5, and then I'll have to wait for Gye Baek to grow up into Lee Seo Jin.

I don't really know much of what to expect from the drama?  All I really know about the historical Gye Baek is that his defeat led to the end of the Baekje reign, and all a quick look around really tells me is that a popular theory is that he killed his wife and kids to boost his soldiers' morale.  (Drama, feel free not to go that route.  Please.)

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