♥ Three Musketeers (2014) ♥

Enjoyment: 10/10. Quality: 8/10.

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Maybe this isn’t the time for a review of The Three Musketeers (or maybe it’s the perfect time for a review of The Three Musketeers) since this projected three seasons epic seems to have landed on a one season prequel – BUT I DON’T CARE. It was still one of my absolute favourite dramas of 2014 and all hope is not lost! It hasn’t been OFFICIALLY cancelled as far as I know. It can still make a come-back! Please?

Plot: Anyone who has read the classic Dumas novel (or seen any of the numerous screen adaptations) is going to recognise both the characters and the overall plot. But for the rest of you:

Park Dal-hyang/our d’Artagnan (Jung Yong-hwa) is a poor country boy determined to pass the military examination and make it as a palace official – all for the love of a noble woman (Seo Hyun-jin) he met five years earlier when her family passed through his village. She promised to wait for him and with that in mind he sets out for the capital city and the military exams. Unfortunately things do not go as planned. After two months on the road Dal-hyang arrives in a city that was not quite what he expected, with less money than he had at the start, he encounters three strange, but capable men (our three musketeers: Crown Prince Sohyeon/Athos (Lee Jin-wook), Heo Seung-po/Porthos (Yang Dong-geun) and An Min-seo/Aramis (Jung Hae-in)), and he finds out the love of his life has not, in fact, waited for him and has been married for close to five years – to none other than the Crown Prince.

Of course the story doesn’t end here. Dal-hyang passes his exams, gets involved with the Prince and his men, keeps loving the Princess, the King is unstable, the Prince has a dark past and war is brewing.

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Dropped dramas

I tend to give out high grades to the dramas I review (with the one notable exception). That’s not because every single Korean drama is great and it’s not because I’m amazing at judging a book by its cover (or a drama by its summary). It’s because when a drama is bad (or it doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t have to be objectively bad. Though let’s face it, some dramas really are objectively bad) I’ll drop it like a hot potato (I won’t drop it like it’s hot, since that apparently is a good thing. I’ll drop it like it hurt me and I’m in pain and I want someone else to pick it up and throw it in the trash where it belongs).

(I have a second list that consists of dramas “on-hold”; dramas that I started watching but for some reason didn’t finish even though I liked them. Maybe the stars weren’t right.)

This list is obviously going to be subjective and will range from “Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember it, I might try watching it again” to “Just seeing the title hurts my soul”.

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♥ Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013) ♥

Enjoyment: 9/10. Quality: 9/10.

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Wow, if you can’t stand blood this is not the movie for you. Don’t like watching domestic abuse – not the movie for you. If you feel weird watching beloved child actors in mature (and seriously bloody) roles – this is not the movie for you. Actually, I don’t know who this movie is for. It’s bloody, gory, women are abused, children are abused, all the relationships makes me profoundly uncomfortable, it is weird seeing young Dong-soo kill people, and still I really, really liked this movie. I don’t quite know what that says about me.

Plot: Hwayi (Yeo Jin-goo) grows up with five men he calls fathers. The men are all part of a violent, murderous criminal gang but while Hwayi certainly knows his way around a gun and a lock-pick, he’s been kept mostly out of their criminal dealings. He grows up respectful and thoughtful, he makes sure to buy his pseudo-mother (Im Ji-eun) the oranges she enjoys and he hesitates at the thought of killing someone. Everything changes when Hwayi gets forcefully dragged into his fathers´ violent crimes and starts questioning where he comes from and whose son he really is. For the first time Hwayi finds himself on a different side from the family he grew up with and he’s going to need every skill his fathers’ have ever taught him if he’s going to be able to stay there.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EODuG-0Y9E

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♥ I Hear Your Voice (2013) ♥

Enjoyment: 9/10. Quality: 9/10.

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I Hear Your Voice (or I Can Hear Your Voice – I prefer the first so that’s what I’m going to refer to the drama as) is the perfect example of when the sum is greater than the parts. Parts: legal drama, noona-romance, SERIAL KILLERS, first love, AMNESIA, love triangles, TRAUMA, humour. Oh, and telepathy. Why not throw in a supernatural aspect as well, that will seamlessly blend in with everything else.

And it does! I really don’t understand how, but everything does work together and this drama ended up being my favourite in 2013 and in my top 10 of all time. I think a lot of the drama’s success (I wasn’t the only one who fell for it, ratings were on average around 20%, and more than that the last eight episodes) can be attributed to the amazing characters and the actors who played them. MVP was naturally Lee Bo-young and her Jang Hye-sung (or Lawyer Jjang as I will always think of her)  but Lee Jong-suk has received a lot of attention after this role and I think there are few that can argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

Plot: Jang Hye-sung is a cynical young lawyer in her late twenties who seemingly cares more about money than her clients – in fact, she is known for using the same 30 second defence regardless of client. Park Soo-ha is a young man in high school. He keeps to himself, not because he doesn’t like people but because he can’t help hearing their thoughts. The two meet when one of Hye-sung’s cases brings her to Soo-ha’s high school and Soo-ha immediately realises Hye-sung is the woman he has been searching for for the last ten years – the woman who bravely testified against the murderer who killed Park Soo-ha’s father. She turns out to be not quite how he remembered her but Soo-ha still decides to stick around and to protect her, and together they fight crime. And serial killers. And other love interests.

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Love triangles

While there are tropes that come and go (one year time travel is all the rage, another you see ghosts everywhere) love triangles in dramaland are eternal and unescapable. They’re as unavoidable as sand in your shoes after a beach trip or soggy socks after having been surprised by the rain.

I’m not saying you have to love them to be able to watch romantic k-dramas (in fact, I don’t, I really don’t) but you do have to accept their presence – or you’ll end up constantly disappointed. The only recent drama I remember watching without a love triangle is King [2] Hearts. In between assassinations, new kings, war and arranged marriages I don’t think I could have handled a pining second lead as well.

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A Werewolf Boy (2012)

Enjoyment: 8/10. Quality: 8/10.

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Hmm, since it’s been about thirty hours since I last slept it seems suitable I review something that I watched at the end of my last bout of insomnia. Lack of sleep tends to heighten emotions, so funny dramas seem really funny (did Flower Boy Ramen Shop actually speak directly to my funny bone, or did I spend the majority of the episodes laughing out loud because I was watching them at [2] am?) and sad dramas seem really sad (might explain why I couldn’t even read the recap of the final episode of Equator Man without crying. And I don’t even go there! I just wanted to see if it was worth watching!).

Anyway, A Werewolf Boy certainly doesn’t fall in category one. In all honesty, given that I still can’t talk about Hachi: A Dog’s Tale without tearing up, eight hours of sleep more or less probably wouldn’t have made a difference on my ability to keep my feelings on the inside. This wasn’t a case of a beautiful single tear slowly rolling down one side of my face, this was straight out ugly crying – snot and all. Less Suzy in Gu Family Book, more Joo Won in Bridal Mask (**SPOILERS** in the links, btw). I don’t know what I was thinking. I wanted to see Song Joong-ki act but Nice Guy was too much of a melodrama (so instead I chose to watch the highest grossing melodrama in Korea? The movie that according to Wikipedia “cemented Song’s image in the press as the “savior” of the melodrama genre both on the big and small screen”. Smart.).

Plot: A woman in her sixties (young Sun-yi played by Park Bo-young) living in the US is suddenly called back home by a phone call, detailing the sale of her childhood home in the South Korean countryside. She brings her young granddaughter to spend the night in the old house and as they arrive she is reminded of the short time she spent there in [1965]. She remembers the feral orphan boy (Song Joong-ki) her family took in despite his inability to speak, read or write and the close bond she came to form with him.

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Playful kiss (2010)

Enjoyment: 1/10. Quality: 1/10.

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What was this crap that I watched for 16 hours? I want my life back.

Plot: (from http://wiki.d-addicts.com, I don’t care enough to summarise the plot myself): Playful Kiss is based on the Japanese shōjo manga, Itazura Na Kiss.

Oh Ha Ni is a sweet lively and happy high school student yet she is definitely not the sharpest crayon in the box.

She has a crush on Baek Seung Jo, the smartest boy in school despite being chased loyally by Bong Joon Gu herself. When she confesses to Seung Jo through a letter, he brings it back to her, after grading it harshly and commenting that he hates stupid girls.

When Oh Ha Ni’s new house suddenly collapses her father’s friend offers for him and Ha Ni to stay with them. Unknown to Ha Ni, her father’s friend is actually Baek Seung Jo’s dad.

As they continue to live under the same roof and attend Parang University together, Ha Ni continues to show affection for Seung Jo although he seems to be more interested in the equally clever and beautiful Yoon Hae Ra.

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