Category Archives: Drama/Movie Reviews

Sakuran ;; Haken no Hinkaku

Sakuran

Mika Ninagawa's lavishly produced, broadly-scaled period epic Sakuran unfurls in 18th century Edo, the embryonic fishing village that in later years blossomed into the Japanese metropolis of Tokyo. Anna Tsuchiya stars as Kiyoha, a social-climbing courtesan who inhabits and works in a bordello of the exclusive Yoshiwara district. Exceptionally particular regarding her customers/bedmates, Kiyoha seeks liberation from the lifestyle and career that have ensconced her - but refuses to accept such emancipation at the hands of a rich man's purchase. Deliberately, yet with great assurance and conviction, Kiyoha approaches the prospect of freedom and attempts to surmount the social and cultural obstacles that stand in her way.

Mika Ninagawa is a popular Japanese photographer who is known for using bright, vibrant colours. Sakuran, I think, is her directorial debut. Sakuran is definitely a beautiful piece of art. Mika really did a good job making the set look appealing to the eyes and stayed true to herself while at it. Every scene is like a bright, beautiful painting. Is it accurate when depicting Edo historically? Probably not.

I haven’t read the manga, but I’ve put it on to my “plan to read” list after the movie! With that said, I can’t say how closely they follow the manga so I’m not sure if the characters were portrayed correctly. Kiyoha is a loud-mouthed girl who always dreams of the day where she can achieve her freedom. If you piss her off don’t be surprised when she beats you up for it because she’s sure as hell not afraid of speaking her mind. Anna Tsuchiya seems to play the role quite well and I believed her. Maybe it’s the rocker side of her showing through.

What I noticed though is that their image of a geisha in Sakuran is very different from Memoirs of a Geisha. While Sayuri in MoaG is expected to play a delicate, respectful woman full of class, Kiyoha seems to be the complete opposite. I don’t know if that’s how she’s supposed to be or if it’s Anna not playing that role. When she walks into a room do I feel like her presence and actions are brimming with class? No.

Kiyoha is often shown as short-tempered and bull-headed about thins which ends up in her getting punished.. a lot. It gets a bit confusing at some points because it’s a bit choppy. It shows a short scene and then it cuts to something else. Many times it cuts to her being punished haha!

There was one point in the movie that really confused me and I had to search google to see if anyone understood the significance of the scene. Kiyoha is shown crying when she saw her lover while outside of the okiya and proceeds to run to the river to cry by herself. I guess I’m a bit slow LOL I couldn’t understand why she cried when he smiled.. but google saved the day.

There are some sex scenes in the movie but nothing overly done. They don’t make a big scene out of them which I’m glad about. The scenes do play a role to a certain extent so it’s not just some good filler for the boys to ogle over haha.

Movie wasn’t bad, and I think it’s a pretty good one to check out if only to look at how beautiful everything looked haha. It’s a more contemporary view on an old subject.

4/5



Haken no Hinkaku

Oomae Haruko is an A+ Temp worker who never cracks a smile or minces words, and leaves work on the dot. But her cynical nature indicates she has something painful to hide. Satonaka Kensuke has just been promoted to head S&F’s new Marketing Division. Saddled with a rag-tag group of subordinates, he is struggling to lift his division off the ground. When Oomae is placed in Kensuke’s department, she finds herself doing more work than she’s ever done before.

This is a timely drama that examines the different attitudes toward temp workers and regular employees, and the ways to overcome frictions in interpersonal relationships. This follows an October report on labor conditions by the Labor Ministry, which showed that, after regulations were relaxed, the proportion of regular employees to Temps had doubled compared to that of eight years ago.

Due to an incident in the past, Oomae Haruko decided to live her life as a super temp instead of an employee that dedicates their life to one company. She’s a no-nonsense worker and stays away from making friendships with anyone she works with. Work life and personal life are to be distinctly separated.

I actually had a different drama in mind before watching it. The poster made it seem like she’s this power woman who is fashionable, adored by all, etc. The actual drama is very different from that. I wouldn’t call her fashionable – pretty sure she wears kind of the same thing every time. She’s hard to love because of her hard exterior. Of course, everyone changes their mind after when they see how competent she is. She’s like a power woman in the sense that she can do just about any job that you can think of. Her certificates need an album and don’t even fit on her resume.

The ending was pretty average. It left it off as a bit of a cliffhanger but not really one that I felt makes the viewers happy. The plot didn’t seem to have enough substance I think. Probably an okay drama to watch if you’re bored and don’t care too much about what you’re watching. Not one that would wow you.

3/5

That Fool && The Shonen Merikensack

That Fool

Goo Dong Baek is an honest and good-hearted postman. One day he encounters with Han Ji Soo, a top celebrity. However, an ordinary man gets no chance to show his feeling to this top actress who everyone loves. Six months period of time with her elapses like a midsummer night's dream. But he cannot just end up his love like a "dream". Shouting out love! His love has just begun.

Goo Dong Baek received a pair of tickets from his sister in hopes that he could score a date. Little did anyone know that the tickets would do way more for him than that. Han Ji Soo, in order to hide her relationship with a son of a prominent political figure, asks Dong Baek to pose as her boyfriend when things went awry that night. Being what seems to be the nicest man on earth, he agrees to do it for almost next to nothing!

Han Ji Soo is a top actress in South Korea who is in a relationship with Kim Kang Mo. It is kept away from the public though since he is engaged to a woman that his father picked as to further his father’s political career. She seems like a decently nice girl but when it comes to her love, she will do anything to protect him. Even if it means hurting everyone else around her and herself included. It’s kind of weird because I don’t really feel like she even loves her job? I know she places Kang Mo above all else but… I would think she would turn to acting to stop thinking about all the stressful stuff I guess.

Goo Dong Baek works at the post office and fails to be able to get the notice of the woman he likes. He is a good-natured person who tries to view everything in a good light. He doesn’t ask for much in life and can never say ‘no’ to others when they ask something of him. That was especially the case when the actress Han Ji Soo, whom he much admires, ask for him to pose as her boyfriend.

Baek Sung Hyun from Stairway to Heaven plays Han Ji Soo’s brother, Han Sung Chul. He’s hotheaded and isn’t afraid to speak his mind whenever he wants. He does, however, do it because he cares for his sister and only wish the best for his family. I don’t really mind his character nor his acting. Lee Chung Ah who plays Dong Baek’s younger sister Goo Min Ji is another story. She’s one of those characters who overacts and acts pretty childish which I’m not really fond of. Every time she appears on the screen you know some sort of comedic scene is going to go down.

The story is quite cute and probably a bit predictable but, nonetheless, enjoyable to watch. There are times where you get really frustrated with Ji Soo and just shake her and tell her to either man up or get the hell out of the relationship, but Dong Baek comes in to save the day. I don’t quite believe Kim Ah Joong’s acting when she’s enjoying herself around Dong Baek. It does seem kind of forced. Jung Min’s portrayal of Dong Baek seems to be a bit childish at times but he’s more believable when it comes to his feelings. Overall I think the whole cast did a pretty good job making this a fun, light-hearted drama to watch!

4/5


The Shonen Merikensack

Young record company talent scout Kanna Kurita (Aoi Miyazaki) finds a video clip of an abrasive punk rock band on the Internet. Although she knows nothing about punk music or even likes punk music, she feels the band could be the next big thing and bursts into Tokita’s (Yusuke Santamaria) office to tell him so. Tokita watches the video clip and orders Kanna to find the band and sign them to a contract. This starts Kanna’s quest to find the band known as “The Shonen Merikensack” (which translates into English as “The Brass Knuckle Boys”). What Kanna doesn’t know, but will find out soon enough, is that the video clip was filmed 25 years ago and the band members are now all washed up middle aged men.

I was actually surprised to see Miyazaki Aoi’s character in this movie because I’ve only ever watched her in Nana where she plays this frivolous little thing that is obsessed with love. In Sounen Merikensack she is an unsuccessful talent scout that hasn’t found one talent that has impressed her boss. She was on the verge of getting laid off when she came upon the band Brass Knuckle Boys.

Although Kanna doesn’t want to lose her job and go work for her father’s sushi restaurant, she seems to understand that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a talent scout. She actually accepts the fact that her contract wouldn’t be renewed and hands over her tag without a fight. Her only regret is that she couldn’t push her boss into signing her boyfriend, Masaru, with the company. Her boyfriend is a singer/song-writer that seems to be getting nowhere with his career so he tries to get by with odd jobs.

The Brass Knuckle Boys clip gave her a new hope in continuing to be a talent scout. That was until she realized they were all way past their prime. But if she doesn’t make it happen, what’ll happen to her contract with the company?

In the beginning I thought the movie was going to be an enjoyable comedy, but I became pretty bored halfway through. Maybe because none of the male characters were great looking? But I’ve enjoyed dramas/movies even if I didn’t feel like the male characters were good looking so I’m not sure what it was. Perhaps the plot wasn’t exciting enough and none of the characters seem to have qualities that made me like them. Either way the movie was pretty much a disappointment by the end. I don’t think I was even paying attention to what was going on after.

2/5


Liar Game 2


Liar Game 2

The naïve Kanzaki Nao and expert swindler Akiyama Shinichi have not heard anything from the LIAR GAME organization since the end of the previous game, so it seems they may have actually escaped. But Nao suddenly gets another invitation and is once again caught up in the game. This time, she has to team up with Shinichi and one of their previous rivals named Fukunaga, facing off against three more opponents in new games of deception, such as "24 Rensou Russian Roulette" and "17 Poker."

This was season two of Liar Game. Nao is thrown back into another round as she cannot bring herself to let others suffer through the giant debt people incur from the game. Shinichi had decided to sit out, but was convinced to come back to find out who is the one responsible for Liar Game.

I’m not sure why, although I do like the idea of how they got people to battle it out with their wits, I just don’t really enjoy watching Nao. Maybe because of her character. She’s overly naive for me. I usually like the more strong female types. She did show improvement in this season though by coming up with some of her own tactics.

This season they put in a formidable adversary for Shinichi. We got the clue that they’re somehow linked, but they never reveal how so until halfway through the drama. Kikuchi Rinko is always dressed in sort of a gothic lolita fashion with a cane. Not sure what’s up with the cane because it doesn’t seem like she even needs it LOL. One thing’s for sure though and that’s her goal to destroy Shinichi. She’s an interesting character.. I think she majored in psychology so she knows how to play with people’s minds and she also knows how people usually react. In that way, she seems to always be able to know how Shinichi is going to act and would be one step ahead.

You will have to watch the movie to actually knows what happens to Nao and Shinichi as they left the finals for the movie. Nice tactic to force people to watch it haha. Not something I’ll be rushing to watch any time soon though. Thought the first season was more interesting when the idea was more fresh.

3/5

Basic Love ;; Love Shuffle

Basic Love

A romantic story symphonized with the song of a triangular relationship between Ling (Elanne Kong), June (Janice Man) and Rex (Rex Ho). Ling got leukemia since she was a child; she hides the true feeling and health condition from her best friends, Rex and June. June who moved from China to HK when she was little, assists her mom to make a living hardily resulting in a self-contained character. The two girls are completely different in personality, yet they're frank with each other. June feels for Rex. Meanwhile, June seems to overlook an admirer, Hee (Xu Zheng Xi). It's graduation time, they're standing in front of the crossroad to their future, and none of them takes a step closer to change their relationship, until the day when Ling is admitted to the hospital, the long compression of emotion is broken...

I rarely like watching C-movies/dramas now but I thought I’d just try this one out. I was curious as to how Janice does at acting and people’s comments were that they cried. I was thinking that I was going to be in for a sob fest or whatever. Even from the synopsis.. I mean come on, leukemia-stricken patient and a love triangle!

It was a major letdown and I found it super boring instead. I just couldn’t feel any of the emotions the characters were feeling! Except maybe Elanne Kong’s character Ling. I can understand why she didn’t want to explore her feelings for Rex because she thinks it’s not fair to when she has a clock ticking away counting down as she gets closer to death. However, I didn’t really catch her feelings for him until June mentions it.

I was just really over Rex by the end of the movie and wish he’d just go away!! Even after he knew of June’s feelings towards him he didn’t do anything about it. I understand he might be careless about his actions because right then all his attention was focused on Ling… but come on… you can’t even just let her down gently or something???

1/5

Love Shuffle

Usami Kei is a salaryman who has risen in status due to his engagement with Mei, the wealthy daughter of his company's president. Shortly after she breaks off the engagement, a power failure leaves him stuck in the elevator of his apartment building. Trapped with him are three others living on the same floor - Airu, a trilingual interpreter, Ojiro, a model photographer, and Masato, a psychiatrist. While waiting, their conversation hits upon their love lives and the question of whether there is truly only one fated partner for everyone. As a result, they decide to try "shuffling" their relationships with each other.

Love Shuffle focuses on four couples that are in a dysfunctional relationship. In hopes of fixing things up, they decide to shuffle around their partners at the suggestion of Masato. Kei is trying to figure out why Mei broke off their engagement and wants to know how to get back in her good graces. Airu has to deal with an overly attached boyfriend that uses money to try and fix everything. Ojiro regularly sees a married woman. Masato brings his patient who is attracted to Thanatos, or death.

I really enjoyed watching this because while it does touch on some serious issues, it was quite light-hearted. Not something that will get you really depressed while watching it. It also kept the viewers intrigued wondering how the dates would go each time the couples switched relationships. These were decided by drawing cards and whoever had a matching pair, would go on a date together. Once they went around once they went around one more time to try again.

It was a little boring watching Kairi’s scenes (Masato’s patient) because she doesn’t talk! Her whole role in the drama probably only evoked like 10 lines or something. I get that she’s kind of messed up and had no interest in issues around her because of her obsession with death. It’s still a bit irritating seeing her just sitting there…chewing on ice. I felt like she was so hard to connect that towards the end I really just didn’t want to watch her anymore. I think if she somehow got across her feelings even without lots of speaking parts it would’ve won me over, but alas it did not ::^^::.

The viewers get thrown into a major plot twist halfway through the drama though. Good twist! Definitely keeps viewers on their toes for the show.

5/5