[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 15 2017/08/21,
So Ha-baek and So-ah have finally gone off on their big car trip, and the purpose of it was to...have So-ah dish about her emotional problems relating to feelings of abandonment by her father. This much I can actually work with. It's a legitimately sad, emotional story, and I can easily see this being the final step of intimacy to be consumnated in a romantic drama, so it's all very appropriate for the penultimate episode. There's just one problem. So-ah's parental issues have never been a part of the conflict,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 14 2017/08/15,
Now we finally have it- the story behind what horrible crime Hoo-ye committed that makes everyone hate him. Unfortunately we've been waiting so long for this moment that the revelation largely comes off as a dud, and the entire crisis mainly a result of the various supernatural nations refusing to communicate with each other for no good reason. Mostly I just continue to feel sorry for Hoo-ye, who at least has an excuse for being maladjusted, unlike most of the characters in this drama,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 12 2017/08/08,
The extended opening is Moo-ra narrating to So-ah the story of how So-ah's ancestors came to be servants of the gods. So-ah's reaction to the story mirrored my own, which is to say, she has trouble understanding how any of this is relevant to the current situation. Mostly I'm kind of in awe about how So-ah's ancestor was able to negotiate his way out of the predicament so easily. Although then again, why the guy was in danger seems a bit underexplained, considering he didn't actually do anything to warrant dealmaking in the first place,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 11 2017/08/07,
In the opening scene Hoo-ye reacts poorly to being incidentally fondled by So-ah and Ha-baek reacts poorly to Hoo-ye reacting poorly to being incidentally fondled by So-ah. This ends up defining their characters arcs for the rest of the episode, which mostly to boils down to angst. Oh no, thinks Ha-baek, I was mean and now So-ah hates me. Oh no, thinks Hoo-ye, I murdered all those people a long time ago,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 10 2017/08/01,
In a turnabout I can only describe as perplexing, not only does the amnesiac monk issue solve itself without Ha-baek's input, it also results in Ha-baek simply being given one of the artifacts. No effort appears to be required on Ha-baek's part for anything, which kind of begs the question of why he had to go the human world in the first place. The early episodes especially have the impression that Ha-baek was going to have to earn leadership by completing difficult tasks, possibly without being able to fall back on his godly abilities,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 9 2017/07/31,
So even though Hoo-ye has been built up as being this big sinister villain character because of his supernatural backstory, "Bride of the Water God 2017" promptly undercuts this by reminding us that Bi-ryeom is a genuinely malicious person (well, god, whatever) who's fine with threatening children. It really is a badly mixed message. If Moo-ra and Bi-ryeom are allowed to enrich themselves with supernatural connections, why is it so bad for Hoo-ye to do it too?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 8 2017/07/25,
So it turns out that Ha-baek's assertion that Hoo-ye is more than he seems wasn't just random jealousy apropos of nothing. The entire opening section of episode eight goes into deep backstory, wherein Ha-baek recalls an old conversation that had several important clues now relevant to the current situation. Personally, though, the millenia old flashback kind of makes me wonder- when was the last time anyone went to the human world to collect the artifacts?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 7 2017/07/24,
Even ignoring the issues with So-ah's personality, she's also an unspiring character on account of her sheer passivity. Time and again, rather than do anything constructive to assist in her goals or Ha-baek's, So-ah just gets unceremoniously tossed into life threatening danger and has to be rescued from her plight by another character with actual competence. Whether that competence is in the form of a gun, better driving skills, or literal magical powers, the effect is the same- So-ah just ends up feeling like dead weight,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 5 2017/07/17,
The more I watch of "Bride of the Water God 2017" the more baffling the worldbuilding becomes. Observe how Ha-baek, for all his general ignorance about how most of the human world works, apparently easily understands concepts like skateboarding, motor vehicles, cooking Western style food, and closed circuit television. Elsewhere, Ha-baek does not understand concepts like how it is a dumb idea to knowingly put yourself and others in a dangerous situation,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 4 2017/07/11,
It's really uncanny how the more I see of So-ah the less I like her. For a sense of perspective, the last cliffhanger featured her being thrown off the top of a building by a crazy person, and getting her life magically saved by Ha-baek. Yet rather than respond with gratitude for this heroic, if self-interested act, So-ah gets right back to the usual negotiations. How in the world can we root for a story of unconditional love when So-ah insists on attaching conditions to everything?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 3 2017/07/10,
So right away we get a hint both of why So-ah's ancestors would agree to be the human guides for the Water God and also how they're punished should they refuse. Magic powers. And there really is something demented about the way So-ah is tortured for most of this episode considering that she, herself, works in psychiatric care. Soo-ah's only hope is to ask for advice from her eccentric friend Yeom-mi (played by Choi Woo-ri) and hope for the best,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 2 2017/07/04,
For all the brisk exposition of the first episode "Bride of the Water God 2017" doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get anywhere. We have to wait until the cliffhanger to even get a decent hint that Ha-baek and So-ah are going to start working together. Until that point it's just, Ha-baek wanders around the city like an arrogant idiot, and So-ah fails to solve her financial problems. What about Ha-baek's lost magic powers? Or the artifacts? When are we going to get to that?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 1 2017/07/03,
Right away "Bride of the Water God 2017" gets the essentials out of the way by clearly explaining its high concept fantasy plot. Every so often one of the natural god kings has to obtain the necessary artifacts in order to become emperor. This time, the aspiring god king is Ha-baek (played by Nam Joo-hyuk), who tends to spend a lot of time lying around and being sexy while not actually doing anything all that useful. Things do not go well when he has to go the human world to acquire the artifacts,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 16 Final 2016/10/25,
It's rather fitting that the relationship between Jeong-seok and Ha-na ends in much the same way that it began- with the two alleged leads making little meaningful contact with each other. It's rather telling how the romantic callbacks for these two kept referring to the same small batch of scenes, many of which were only a couple of episodes ago. Their love story is one with rather little cause, which makes it difficult to celebrate,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 15 2016/10/24,
At long last "Drinking Alone" has hit the point of serious self-reflection on the part of its characters- although for me this is too little too late. The grand output of Jeong-seok and Ha-na's relationship consits of a couple of decent dates at the tail end of Jeong-seok acting like a jerk. The way he keeps talking about "quality" is, I think, supposed to be cute but all it ever does is remind me how generally mean-spirited the man is,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 14 2016/10/18,
Generally speaking "Drinking Alone", has been pretty clear that Jeong-seok is not the most likable guy on a personal level. But time and again, the typical Jeong-seok just leaves me thinking, this guy is a jerk. No one likes him, for good reason. That by the end of this episode someone has finally gotten the courage to say that to Jeong-seok's face does not change how "Drinking Alone" is mostly an exploration of how Jeong-seok is a jerk who rarely ever gets punished for his behavior,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 13 2016/10/17,
At this point "Drinking Alone" is making a deliberate concerted effort to portray its characters in about as negative a light as possible. I can think of no other reason why Jeong-seok starts off his relationship with Ha-na by being a weird control freak, engages in some weird stalking of her, and then the episode concludes as if Jeong-seok has learned a serious life lesson. To most people this is just the bare minimum standard of being a decent partner,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 12 2016/10/11,
Jeong-seok has finally come to understand that he's a pretty big jerk. This is sort of acceptable. Jeong-seok then goes straight from that realization to stalking Ha-na. This is...not really acceptable. I'm just not a big fan of sexual harassment, is the thing here, and given how Ha-na does not have access to Jeong-seok's thought process, that's pretty much the only reasonable interpretation of his behavior,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 11 2016/10/10,
...I was kind of expecting by this point in "Drinking Alone" that some effort would have been made to make Jeong-seok's character sympthetic. It wouldn't even have to be full on sympathy. I would be satisfied if he was at least making progress toward becoming a better person but if anything Jeong-seok's behavior has gotten worse. As the bathroom scene demonstrates, Jeong-seok is willing to make a greater effort to be a jerk than would be necessary to fulfill the standards of basic decency,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 10 2016/10/04,
This far in I'm honestly a little surprised at how much I don't like most of the characters in "Drinking Alone". To write that I dislike them is probably a little harsh, but all the same, I can't come up with any good reason for Jeong-seok and Ha-na to be together. Shoot, I can't think of any good reason for Jeong-seok to be together with anyone. Does he seriously need to obsess about quality every waking moment? That was never a charming personality trait in the first place, and now it's just plain annoying,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 9 2016/10/03,
Jin-i gets a good chance for positive characterization quite quickly, as she's the one who has to wrangle a distraught drunken Ha-na somewhere the younger woman can sober up. Incidentally, I'm surprised Jin-i hooked up with her boyfriend at a motel when she has such a nice apartment. I'm less surprised that Jin-i and Ha-na's silly plan leads to an equally silly and comedic situation but what can I say, I'm a sucker for decent slapstick,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 8 2016/09/27,
Jeong-seok's dinner of choice has been getting incrementally more social. The nuances are a bit hard to explain but that food he's eating at the beginning this episode is generally intended to be eaten by multiple people, and we can see this reflected in the environs of the restaurant, which is very crowded and loud. Headphones or not Jeong-seok is out of his milleu. This is all a very effective symbolic representation of his warming up to Ha-na,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 7 2016/09/26,
The main particularly interesting aspect to Jeong-seok's character is the complicated way he drinks alcohol by himself, but "Drinking Alone" keeps undermining this by making him act weirdly lovey-dovey. What's worse is that Myeong, in additiion to being really nice, apparently has some pretty amazing abs. Surprisingly enough that scene isn't just eye candy. It's also a lead-up to a fairly impressive joke,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 6 2016/09/20,
Jeong-seok continues to leave me less-as-impressed as a character. It's not that he's a bad guy, or especially unlikable. The problem is he almost never actually does anything. Jeong-seok is, by his own life's plan, excessively passive, and he's also so successful that Ha-na can't even really approach him. This makes for a terribly unsatisfying romance, especially when more immediately pressing crises come up like Ha-na's inevitable embarrassing collapse on camera,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 5 2016/09/19,
A harder turn toward serious romance this episode sours me somewhat on "Drinking Alone". It's mainly an issue of Jeong-seok being too ridiculously passive to be plausible as a romantic lead. What's more, Ha-na is such a cipher I'm actually hard-pressed to see why Jeong-seok should like her romantically at all. Now, Myeong, he has a very good reason to like Ha-na. She's his teacher. What more reason does he need?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 4 2016/09/13,
The main problem with Jeong-seok repeating his proper drinking rules all the time is that it becomes easier to see the flaws in his thinking. Jeong-seok's happiness appears to be entirely dependent on other people not showing up and annoying him. So he has to live like a hermit, except that Jeong-seok's job literally just involves talking to people and his hobby necessitates going out to public places. And even at home Myeong is hanging around being an annoying little brother,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 3 2016/09/12,
Ha-na (played by Park Ha-sun) is the obvious foil to Jeong-seok. Whereas Jeong-seok is an antisocial jerk who is nonetheless high on the respect chain in the teaching profession, Ha-na is the exact opposite. She lacks much in the way of authority or reputation, and is in point of fact not much older than the students she's supposed to be instructing. If Jeong-seok is a reminder of how our betters can be rude and snooty, Ha-na shows us that simply having a title does not necessarily make a person competent,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 2 2016/09/06,
Now that the basic shock of the premise has worn off "Drinking Alone" isn't quite as interesting as it was initially, although there are still plenty of moderately engaging bits. The production team appears to be sticking with the format of framing each episode around Jeong-seok pointedly enjoying his quiet peaceful meals. This is more a point of comparison than it is a matter of plot, because the absurdly stressful situations that pop up at work really are best dealt with via silent time alone,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drinking Alone" Episode 1 2016/09/05,
Jeong-seok (played by Ha Seok-jin) is an educational lecturer of wide repute. He despises people. And bizarre though this may seem, "Drinking Alone" does not seem terribly interested in disagreeing with him. When Jeong-seok describes how wonderfully ideal it is to spend an evening drinking by oneself, there's a real Yoon Doo-joon quality to how absolutely devoted Jeong-seok is to this idea of good food and liquor. It's just that, in stark contrast to Dae-yeong of "Let's Eat", Jeong-seok does not believe this is a sentiment that can or should be shared,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Entertainers" Episode 3 2016/04/27,
As with all of the strongest dramas, "Entertainers" has begun to put together the one thing that always grabs at hearts and convinces the viewer to invest into it. It has created a family, a band family. A group of hurting misfits band together (pun intended) for the love of music, and will most certainly learn to love each other. Even ruthless Seok-ho is starting to show his gooey center. Perhaps that is helping the climbing rating - a 7.2%. While Seok-ho endeavors to pick his life and career up off of the ground, so do Ha-neul, Kyle (Gong Myung), and Green,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Su Saek" 2016/04/16,
Yoon-seok (played by Maeng Se-chang), Sang-woo (played by Gong Myung), Won-seon (played by Lee Tae-hwan), and Ho-yeong (played by Lee Jin-sung-I) are four friends living in the squalid neighborhood of Susaek. You know, I lived in Susaek for awhile. It wasn't the most photocentric high-living neighborhood, but it wasn't a mess of official corruption and violent teenagers either. Granted, "Su Saek" takes place some fifteen years ago, so who knows, maybe the situation has improved since then,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Futureless Things" 2014/06/27,
The entirity of "Futureless Things" takes place inside a convenience store. Well, I guess there are some portions which take place just right outside the convenience store, but even these segments take on an eerie otherworldly quality. In another movie these people would look like a malicious violent army waiting for the moment to strike, standing in the dusk of twilight, staring mutely at the locked doors without wavering,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2014/06/21, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★★★ "Futureless Things": An insightful and fragmented drama that follows various part-timers at a convenient store; and in doing so comments of life, love, and contemporary Korean society. (06/26)
★★★ "Let's Dance": A documentary that follows a group of woman sharing their experiences and arguments about a 2009 incident where doctors were exposed performing surgical abortions. (06/26)
★★★★ "Winter Garden": Director Lee Ji-hyeon-I reveals the life and past of a Korean adoptee living in France and the story behind her journey. (06/26),...More
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