Friday, November 27, 2009

Review on Korean Movie: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)

Title: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)
Genre: Drama, Action
Duration: 1 hr 58mins
Directed by: Chan Wook Park
Lee Young-ae as Lee Geum Ja
Choi Min-sik as Mr Baek
Kwon Yea-young as Jenny
Kim Shi-hu as Geun-shik

The nation was shook with the news of a young boy of 5 who was kidnapped and killed senselessly.  It was disturbing though that the alleged kidnapper is a young, beautiful woman, who looked like an angel but showed no signs of remorse for the crime she committed.  When she confessed to the crime, even the detective investigating the crime did not believe her but felt that she had a strong reason to confess to the crime she did not commit.  13 years later, she is released from prison and she immediately goes into action for the culmination of the revenge she planned for 13 years.  While inside prison, she was consumed by her plan for revenge and did everything necessary to achieve her goal even donating kidney to her inmate and killing the bull-dyke which has made a sex slave of her inmate.  She was later on dubbed as the witch which was kind hearted and everyone was more than happy to oblige to her requests including one woman who marries Mr Baek as part of Geum Ja's plan.
It would later on be revealed that her daughter was kidnapped by Mr Baek, a private school teacher, to force her to confess to the crime.  She later on discovers that her daughter, Jenny, was adopted by foreigners and was brought to Australia.  She visits her daughter in Australia and although wanting to be with her, Geum ja knows that she has to leave her behind since she still has some unfinished business to do in Seoul.  Unfortunately, Jenny wanted to go to Korea with her and convinces her adoptive parents to allow her to go with Geum Ja. 
While the mother-daughter bond becomes deeper, her plan for revenge is set to full gear.  It became evident though that Mr Baek was aware of her plans and sent two thugs to kidnap Geum Ja and attack his wife, who was a former inmate of Geum Ja.  Thereafter, Geum Ja kills both thugs and binds Mr Baek who was knocked unconscious by the drug given to him by his wife. 
The next scene shows Geum Ja eager to take her revenge yet hesitant to kill Mr Baek but then discovers the his cell phone is decorated by several children's toys including the favourite marble of the boy Geum Ja supposedly kidnapped and killed.  She was devastated by the discovery so she calls on the previous detective who handled her case$, feeling more burdened by the fact that she inadvertently aided Mr Baek because she confessed to the crime and allowed him to be free to kidnap those other kids and kill them.  The police was then led to discover the bodies of the kidnapped children who were all killed by Mr Baek.  Rummaging through his things, Geum Ja discovers that Mr Baek filmed the killing of each child he kidnaps and kept them for his record.  She then decides to involve the family of each kidnapped child and shows them the painful film of how their children pleaded and were killed. 
It brought me to tears when she showed how each child pleaded and was killed without remorse.  It showed the pain of each family as they watched their child killed before their eyes making them filled with renewed hatred.  Geum Ja then gives them the option of either turning him over to the authorities or to take the matter with their own hands.  As they were discussing each course of action, the film showed that Geum Ja has setup a speaker in the room so that Mr Baek could hear everything they were discussing in the other room.  The film also showed that although each family were filled with deep hatred initially, they also hesitated a bit when they were really confronted with the issue of exacting their vengeance but they each were able to overcome the hesitation and goes for the kill. After which a picture of everyone was taken and they buried his body together with the weapons they used to kill him.
Even after she has exacted her revenge, the movie showed that she was still filled with remorse and confusion until she meets with her daughter on the road.  She tells Jenny to live white and Jenny in turn tells her to live whiter. 
This film was unbelievably, showed genuine human emotions and forced me to meditate on the issues at hand including the morality of revenge, of forgiveness, atonement and remorse.  As each of us would like to lead a life that is white and pure, how would you be able to forgive a man who killed children without remorse and let him live another day?
I give this 9 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Review on Korean Movie: A Moment to Remember (2004)

Title: A Moment to Remember (2004)
Genre: Korean Movie
Duration: 2 hrs
Directed by: John H. Lee
Jung Woo-sung as Choi Chul Soo
Sohn Ye-jin as Su Jin
Baek Jong-hak as Young Min


Movie starts with Su Jin at the train station heartbroken after being dumped by her previous married lover.  Feeling lost and abandoned, she goes to a store to buy soda but she forgets both the soda and her wallet.  She goes back to the store but was met by Chul Soo holding a can of soda.  She grabs the soda and drinks it in front of him thinking he took her soda and then takes her leave.  He was amused by her display of courage since people usually stay wary of him having the look of a troublemaker.  Su Jin goes back again to the store remembering she did not get her wallet and the attendant gives her back her wallet and soda making her realize her earlier mistake and feeling embarrassed about it. 
Later on, she realizes that he works for her father as a foul-mouthed, bad tempered, perfectionist foreman.  She felt herself drawn to him more especially when he rescues her from the snatcher.  There isn't much of courting as they agreed to be together over a glass of liquor but Su Jin was obviously so much in love and they were both in bliss.
Chul soo had a bad past making him cynical about life, love and people.  He doesn't believe in love and marriage but changes his mind after Su Jin collapses the night he met her family.
They live a life of bliss after with hints of her illness manifesting early on.  She consults a doctor and was confirmed to have a rare disease of Alzheimer's.  She was advised to quit her job immediately since she would not be able to continue working.  She tells Chul soo she'll quit her job and will stay home to do chores.  Chul soo only discovers her illness after she prepared his lunch with two bowls of rice.  Su Jin gets disoriented while on her way to meet her ex-lover while Chul soo frantically looks for her in the street, discovering her at the batting station.  Su Jin asks for a breakup realizing that sooner, she would not even be able to recognize him and would eventually forget the feelings she has for him.
As her situation worsens, Chul Soo begins doubting her feelings for him after she calls him by her ex-lovers name and tells him that she loves him.  He then realizes that he has never told her that he loves her.
More tearjerker scenes follow...

I knew it was a mistake to watch this movie.  I knew it would be a good one but I knew I would be crying for this movie so I have been avoiding it for the last couple of months.  I just momentarily forgot that I'm not supposed to watch it and when I realized my mistake, I thought I could stop while the story was still happy but I was sucked right in.
Given that she has alzheimer's, I knew it won't be a happy ending.  There is no cure for this disease and there is no happy ending either.  It would just be a movie filled with sadness, being so young and beautiful yet her life is about to end when it's just supposed to be starting.

The actors were superb specially Jung Woo portraying the raw emotions of a man who was hunted by his past but has so much love for his wife that he was able to forgive his mother for abandoning him and making peace with his past.  He is the epitome of the dangerous, ruggedly handsome yet gentle with his lover type of guy who would never leave your side.  He was able to perfectly convey the emotions of a husband torn with the love for his wife, wanting to be with her and yet knowing she needs more than what he can offer.  I made a realization though after the movie, he is also made of pure fiction...listen girls, HE DOES NOT EXIST (hehehe).

While watching the movie, I can't help staring into Sohn Ye-Jin's doe eyes as they show only innocence and happiness until she discovers her illness then it drowns me in sadness and tears.  This movie made her so heart wrenchingly beautiful, so gentle and so innocent...almost ethereal.
I felt that the ending was good since there really isn't anything he can do for her except love her even though her memory of him has been long gone and to not doubt her feelings for him.
I won't recommend watching this movie unless you're prepared to shed some tears and share some happy moments in love. It made my head ache though from crying...LOL
I give this movie 9 out of 10 stars.

Review on Japanese Drama: Last Christmas (2004)

Title: Last Christmas
Genre: Japanese Drama
Duration: 11 episodes
Theme Song: Last Christmas and Wake me up before you Go-go!
Oda Yuji as Haruki Kenji
Yada Akiko as Aoi Yuki
Tamaki Hiroshi as Higaki Naoya
Katase Nana as Fujisawa Ritsuoko
Ihara Tsuyoshi as Shintani Goro

Aoi Yuki (Yada Akiko) believes that men are there just to serve a purpose for her and not for anything as foolish as love.  Haruki Kenji (Oda Yuji) initially thought that Yuki can actually be a snow fairy but changes his opinion quickly when he discovers that she moved in as his next door neighbour and has a throng of admirers that showers her with gifts while pretending to be all prim and proper at the office.  Discovering that she was formerly a member of a ladies gang and is dubbed as the "love killer", he tried to convince her to take his friend seriously as his friend is serious about her. 

Kenji changes his opinion though when he accidentally watches a recorded video she made for herself confessing about her terminal illness which unfortunately also caused her divorce. Perhaps feeling guilty because of his disdain at her behaviour before, he becomes extra nice to her and even went out of his way to protect her from his own friend when she decides to have a relationship with him and is led to a hotel. As time passes, he found himself wanting to do things for her and wanting to protect her more and more.  He even convinces her to confess her feelings to Higaki Noeya (Tamaki Hiroshi) as she said she was content to continue with the platonic relationship she had with Higaki fearing he would laugh at her if he knew her true feelings as they both pretended to be players.  She in return encourages him to pursue Sally (Ryo), a girl he had met in the past who's showing interest in him.  They wagered that whoever falls in love first would be treated by the loser with a round-trip ticket to Yellowknife to watch the aurora which was said to bound lovers who are able to witness it.  Yuki mustered all her courage to confess to Higaki on the eve that she convinces him to pursue his love for Fujitsu Ritsuko (Katase Nana) as she is convinced that Ritsuko also loves him but is in self-denial.  After her confession, she was finally able to let go of Higaki.  Yuki also discovers that Sally is actually married but is having marital problems.  They both were able to surpass this hurdle and they both in the end goes back to square one as they were both rejected by the parties they were interested in.
Unfortunately though, Yuki's past caught up with her and there was a nasty "expose" of her past dealings with men and her reputation at the office suffers.  The expose stated that she only got her position because of these men and not due to merit which forces her to submit her resignation. Haruki tried to convince her to stay and declared he would protect her.  Yuki dismissed his declaration and goes on with her plans.  When Haruki saw her stuffs packed outside her apartment, it forces him to take drastic actions and forces his boss,  who is also his long-time friend, to dismiss her resignation or he would also be forced to resign.  Learning this, Yuki started to see Haruki in a different light since it's the first time anyone has done this for her and it stirred her feelings for him.
When things were starting to get better, Yuki discovers though that her illness had a relapse and that she really might not make it until Christmas.  Fearing that she would be repeating history if she tells Haruki, she initially decided to keep things from him and always show a healthy, smiling Yuki to him.  Will they make it to watch the aurora at Yellowknife and spend another Christmas together or would it be her last Christmas?

This would be part of my must see dramas of all time.  It was moving, poignant, and beautiful.  The male lead wasn't a drop-dead, gorgeous guy but he was able to portray his character beautifully.  He was always kind, nice, good in everything and very considerate.  Yuki is beautiful, cheerful and courageous and gives off the facade of being able to live alone but in reality she very much wanted to be in love and to be with somebody. 
There were not too much display of affection and if anything, I would actually like to say that it's one of the major flaws in this drama. Despite that though, the story was really good, not too dramatic and both the leads approach to their characters were superb.  The chemistry between them is palpable and their eyes reflect their love for each other.
One thing though, I felt the writers were trying to avoid technicalities of her "terminal illness" and decided to just not say what the illness was which I found funny.  It made it convenient for her to have the surgery and relapse and the viewers will not be able to question the veracity of their data.
I thought this would just be another show since the start wasn't really that exciting but I found myself hooked and can't bear to fast-forward the scenes since I would like to see everything that's happening.  They could have extended the dramatic scenes when Yuki found out about her illness but I'm grateful they avoided that and   just allowed the right amount of drama and suspense.
This show made me smile, and cry and laugh and get excited and apprehensive which proves it's really one of the best drama I've seen.  One thing I love about Kenji is that he made you feel warm inside.  If you want to fall in love this Christmas, don't miss this show.

This would get 9 out of 10 stars for me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review on Taiwanese Drama: Corner with Love(2007)

Title: Corner with Love
Genre: Taiwanese Drama
Duration: 16 episodes
Theme Song: Love Courage by Lai Ya Yan
Barbie Hsu as Xin Lei
Show Luo as Qin Lang
Chen Zhi Kai as Yin Shang Dong
Lu Jia Xin as Cai Xiao Yang
Dean Fujioka as An Teng Feng

Xin Lei ( Barbie Hsu) is a wealthy, intelligent, confident and beautiful girl who has never known a day of hardship.  Her family is a business tycoon in Shanghai and she is engaged to Yin Shang Dong (Chen Zhi Kai) who is also perfect in every way.  he has only lived a life of fairytale and has never known a day of hardship as everyone tends to dote on her and treat her as a princess.  Her car accidentally crashes with Qin Lang's bike (Show Luo) on her way to meet with Shan Dong.  They met again when Xin Lei eats at the restaurant that Show Luo works at and loves the omelette he made that she asks him to teach her how to make it in order to impress the family of Shan Dong with her cooking skills.  Everything should have worked out until Xin Lei's family declared bankruptcy and her parents abandon her to escape their debtors thinking Shan Dong's family would take her of her. Unfortunately, Shan Dong also abandons her and gets engaged with another girl whose family is also wealthy.  Her parents only left her with a ticket and a house in Taiwan which Xin Lei decides to pursue since Shan Dong's family asked her to break away from Shan Dong since he was wavering and wanted to cancel the engagement with the new girl to be with Xin Lei.

Qin Lang is a frustrated artist whose father abandons his mother and him to pursue his passion for painting.  He goes to Shanghai with the hopes of pursuing his dream of becoming a renowned painter but was cheated of his money, his passport and his ticket.  Left with no money and no other choice, he worked as a cook to earn his ticket back to Taiwan, making his grandma's famous seafood fry.  He helps Xin Lei make the dish although he is annoyed at her princess complex and at the same time, he seems to be invariably drawn to her.  When Xin Lei's family declares bankruptcy and her fiancee abandons her, he found himself worrying about her and wanting to protect the princess and does everything to cheer her up.  Unfortunately, he had to go back to Taiwan to take care of his grandmother, unwillingly leaving Xin Lei behind and thinking that they would never meet again.
Coincidentally, they meet again in Taiwan and it turns out that the house that was left to Xin Lei by her parents is Qin Lang's house.  Xin Lei tried to drive Qin Lang's family out of the house which infuriated his grandmother and wanted Xin Lei out of the house since she can show no proof of ownership of the house.  Knowing that Xin Lei has nowhere else to go, Qin Lang lied to his grandmother saying that Xin Lei is his girlfriend who is now penniless and homeless and pleaded she let her stay.  The grandmother reluctantly lets her stay under the condition that she has to help with the household chores and she has to find a job and pay her rent for staying in the house.
A series of unfortunate events happen which leads Xin Lei to face up to her life's situation and learn to adapt to her new environment.  She is unable to give up her princess complex but little by little, warmed up to Qin Lang's family and the kind of life they were leading.  In the end, she would have to make a choice between staying as a princess in her castle or to lead a simpler life of a commoner for love.

The drama began interestingly but latter dragged on with unnecessary subplots and too much drama.  I started out not liking Qin Lang as I found his character too loud and unrefined compared to Shan Dong's gentlemanly image.  But Qin Lang's character grew on me as his undying devotion to Xin Lei was so evident even as they continue their incessant bickering.  I felt the drama could have been shortened and I felt that the quarrels they always have become too much for a 16-long episode drama. 
It was also difficult to watch Shan Dong's acting as he tried to show frustration and anger but the acting was so awkward I had to forward the scene.  I had to also skip a lot of the drama since I found some parts to be too painfully dragging.  At the end of the drama, I found myself unmoved as Xin Lei struggled to make her decision to abandon Qin Lang so they could get their house back. 
I shed a lot of tears for Shancai in Meteor Garden but for some reason, I just wasn't moved with her acting in this drama. Barbie's acting was just alright but I found that a lot of the other cast's acting really bad and exaggerated that it hampered me from really enjoying the show since the portrayal was so unbelievable.  It was also obvious that a lot of the parts in the drama were prolonged just so it could be longer. 
I felt they could have developed the story better and given it more twists and depth.

The drama could have ended in just 9 episodes and I don't know why it had to go on until 16 episodes.

It's a good thing that the show had some eye candies like Dean Fujioka (dreamy eyes!!!) and Chen Zhi Kai or I would not have forced myself to finish the drama. 
I am giving this drama 5 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hataraki Man/Working Man

Title: Hataraki Man
Genre: comedy, drama
Duration: 11 episodes

Kanno Miho as Matsukata Hiroko
Hayami Mokomichi as Tanaka Kunio
Yoshizawa Yuu as Yamashiro Shinji
Sawamura Ikki as Narita Kimio
Sada Mayumi as Araki Masami

This story is about a 28-year magazine editor, Matsukata Hiroko (Kanno Miho) who is so devoted to her work she can completely forget everything else.  She has devoted her life to her work and aims to become the editor-in-chief of her magazine that she usually has to forsake her boyfriend in order to get the scoop.  She becomes so absorbed in her work that her colleagues have dubbed her as the Hatakari Man and loses her femininity in order to get the job done. 
Her long-time boyfriend, Yamashiro Shinji (Yoshizawa Yuu) is a supervisor for a construction firm who dreams of being able to build bridges but instead makes condominiums for his firm.  He has always been patient and understanding towards Matsukata and always prioritized her over his job.  He struggles to understand his girlfriend and strives to be there for her when she needs him even at the expense of his job even though he knows that her work always comes first for her ...but lately, he has been wondering if she really still needs him.

Tanaka Kunio (Hayata Makomichi) is a young, dispassionate newbie who longs to work for men's fashion magazine and scorns the work done at the magazine as mere nonsensical and unimportant as they usually just deals with gossips and controversies.  He is indifferent to his work and believes that as long as he could deliver, it should be okay.  He also believes that work shouldn't govern his life as there should always be a balance between work and life which usually infuriates Hiroko as she always puts work first before her life.  However, Tanaka proves that he is more than capable to do the job if he only puts his heart into his job.  Later on, he becomes inspired by the dedication of Hiroko but still believes that his stay in the magazine is only an interim as he is still preparing to pursue his dream of becoming part of men's fashion magazine.
Together, they discover the values of life, love, work, sacrifices and facing the consequences of the choices they make.
This drama made me depressed.  I was hoping that it could show a positive light on how women can pursue their dreams and still manage to be happy with their love life.  However, this drama only proved that a successful career and love life cannot be pursued at the same time for women. 
I was hoping that Tanaka would be able to help her strike a balance between life and work but was sorely disappointed until the end.  There were hints of a budding romance but it was never pursued.  At the beginning of the series, I really wanted her to break up with her boyfriend so that her romance with Tanaka can be pursued and they can both influence each other positively.  However, towards the end of the drama, I felt that it would have been unfair if she ended up with Tanaka since she is completely devoted to her job that even when she becomes so sick, all she can think of is her work.  I began to appreciate the patience and dedication of Shinji.  He was just always there for her to listen, to encourage and to help her whenever she needs him.  Unfortunately though, Hiroko only remembers him whenever she needs him or whenever her best friend reminds her of her "obligations" towards Shinji.  More often than not, she would have to cancel on their date which they had to schedule since she is so busy. 
At the end of the series, I just wanted to shake her up and shout at her to ask what the hell is she thinking.  I think the portrayal of modern women here is so negative that it makes me want to rethink my options and my dreams as a woman.  I wanted to ask the character if she would not have regretted the choices she made if one day she discovers she is already old and alone and all she has to show for is her work.  Does it mean that women would have to set aside love and family just so they could pursue a successful career?
I guess I wanted a more humane and positive approach on women and their careers that's why I was disappointed and probably a more enthusiastic acting from Hayata Makomichi as I felt he was just a background for this drama until the end.
I give this drama 7 out of 10 stars.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Review on Japanese Drama: Sapuri/Suppli (2006)

Title: Sapuri/Suppli
Type: Japanese Drama
Duration: 11 episodes
Theme Song: You by Kat-Tun
Itoh Misaki as Fuji Minami
Kamenashi Kazuya as Ishida Yuya
Eita as Ogiwara Satoshi
Sato Koichi as Imaoka Kyotaro
Shida Mirai as Konno Natsuki

Fuji Minami (Itoh Misaki) is a 28-year old workaholic which eventually drives her boyfriend to break-up with her when she can't even find time to meet with him on the night he initially planned to propose to her.  She's one of the leading creators in the advertising agency she works at and she usually loses herself in her work that she can't find time to do anything else.
Ishida Yuya ( Kamenashi Kazuya) is a carefree 19-year old college dropout who never stays on any job for long because he can't seem to find what he likes to do the most.  He is still very much a child since he hasn't really practiced tact and propriety and finds these stuffs bothersome. But when he met Fuji, he decided to take work more seriously because he found it satisfying that people listened to his ideas when he presented them.  More and more, he finds himself working harder and wanting to improve himself so that he could be worthy of being with Fuji.
 However, Fuji was attracted to a more mature and has a very promising career, Ogiwara Satoshi (Eita).  Satoshi was initially attracted to a married woman and seems to have overlooked Fuji's feelings for him but later on realizes his mistake.
In the midst of all the love triangles that seem to expand as the story moves on, the story also showed how as little as 15seconds can alter your life through the advertisements we usually see every day.  It shows how these "creations" are made and how they struggle to go beyond themselves and the challenges they meet with each project.
I would have to say that the story was initially very promising with very attractive leads and interesting setup.  I just wished that there were more stories about the advertisement and the hardships and setbacks they meet.  I definitely liked the father-daughter story but I wish they showed more of how the father realized the bond between them and how he got used to her presence in his life.
I truly liked the refreshing way and very innocent approach Kazuya tackled his character and I felt his devotion to Fuji. Unfortunately, although I found Misaki very beautiful, I found her acting very wooden and stale, as if she was only going through the motions.  Her eyes weren't that expressive and I can't seem to sympathize with her character.  If she wasn't the lead here, I would say her acting was very forgettable.
I was kind of hoping they would show the challenges their relationship would face in their work setup or the advantages of having a May-December love affair in an environment that you need to be creative and always inspired. 
Kamenashi Kazuya and Shida Mirai kept me hooked with this drama until the end.  I somewhat enjoyed myself with this drama but I wouldn't say it's a must-see drama.
I give this show 6 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review on Japanese Drama: Great Teacher Onizuka (2007)

Title: Great Teacher  Onizuka /GTO
Type: Japanese Drama
Duration: 12 episodes
Theme Song: Poison

Sorimachi Takeshi as Eikichi Onuzuka
Mutsushima Nanako as  Fuyutsuki Azusa

Kubozura Yosuke as Kikuchi Yoshito
Kirari  as Mizuki Nanako
Ikeuchi Hiroyuki as Murai Kunio
Nakamura Aimi as Aizawa Miyabi

Synopsis: Eikichi Onizuka (Sorimachi Takeshi)is a previously delinquent student, ex-leader of a biker gang, foul-mouthed, crude, pervert but still a virgin wanted to become a teacher and to affect changes to his students. Teachers have always called him “trash”, and they always assume he’s good for nothing and not serious about anything. He wanted to be a teacher so that students like him could have a chance and to believe in themselves.  The director of the academy decided to give him a chance when he defended some students who were expelled from the school by the head teacher because he believed they were just trash.
Fuyutsuki Azusa(Matsushima Nanako) is a mild-mannered teacher, people-pleaser who dreams of becoming a stewardess and treats her profession as a teacher as nothing but an interim because she failed the entrance examination for stewardess.  She believes that Onizuka is just a crude person who does not deserve to become a teacher since he does things in the most unconventional way.
Onizuka was given the most delinquent class which scared away a few teachers but he decided to meet the challenge head on since he was a problem student before.  At first, his class hates him because they believe that he is just the same with the other teachers and would not last long.  They device a series of pranks to get rid of him including involving the PTA President in the matter.  He refuses to give-up and deals with every situation with his own method which to others may seem extreme but eventually earns the respect of his class and forces them to end their class boycott and even unites the class to protect him when everyone else called for him to resign.
I have watched many shows like this before but somehow, I really like the casting of this drama. Initially, Fuyutsuki kind of irritated me because her acting at first wasn't that good and she seemed forced in liking Onizuka.  Eventually though, she softened up and I could even say I watched her develop true feelings for Onizuka on screen which led the two to get married in real life and have kids. 

What I like most about this drama is that unlike the others, Onizuka never pretended to be anything he’s not.  He does not compromise his principles and does not believe in backing down no matter what situation he is facing.  He says what he means and means what he says although it gets him to a lot of trouble later on.  He refuses to conform to what everyone is saying a teacher should be but rather, he follows his heart.  This in turn leads him to be in hot water in more than one occasion which leads his co-teachers even more frustrated that they couldn't get rid of him.
I guess the only aspect I didn't like in this show is the character of Miyabi. Every time she's on screen, I find myself cringing because of poor acting.  She lacks the emotions and the charisma to make me sympathize with her character...I felt her acting was totally lacking in conviction which is a pity because her part could have been really good.
What made the show a success is that Takeshi was able to fit the bill of Onizuka perfectly.
I give this show a 9 out of 10 stars...a must see :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Review on Japanese Drama: PRIDE (2004)

Title: Pride
Type: Japanese Drama
Duration : 11 episodes
Theme Song: Born to Love You
Kimura Takuya as Satonaka Halu
Takeuchi Yuko as Murase Aki
Sakaguchi Kenji as Hotta Yamato
Ichikawa Somegoro as Ikegawa Tomonori
Sato Koichi as Hyodo Yuichiro

Halu ( Kimura Takuya) is the captain and the star player of an ice hockey team who has nothing on his mind but playing hockey.  He treats love as a game and believes women can't be trusted.  He also was advised by coach Anzai, that he should never love a woman to continue being an iceman.  His coach was hospitalized though and was replaced by a rival coach, Hyodo Ruichiro, who has trained overseas. Halu is not receptive to the new coach and refused to accept his criticisms. 
Aki (Takeuchi Yuko) is a naive office girl who has been patiently waiting for her architect boyfriend although he has not contacted her for the whole 2 years he was abroad.  Her friends have been urging her to forget about her boyfriend since he obviously has forgotten about her already.  They watched a hockey game and there she sees Halu for the first time.
After the game, they went to the bar to look for cute guys and end up with the hockey team players.  Aki wasn’t so enthusiastic about it and decides to go home but not before Halu sees her. He decides to go after her and asks his teammates help to beat him up. This gets the attention of Aki and amused her that he will go to that extent just to get her email address (although it’s actually to send text messages through his phone). 

With the aid of her friend, Aki reluctantly goes on a date with Halu and it became obvious that there was mutual attraction between them.  Halu was attracted to her because he sees her as the girl of the last century and Aki was drawn to him because she could feel that Halu has a lot of pain that he hides behind the facade his overflowing self-confidence.
Thereafter, they agreed to have a relationship but it will all be a game which both of them can’t be serious about the relationship. Halu will be Aki’s temporary lover until such time that her boyfriend comes back for her and then it will be bye-bye for both of them...
Review: (major spoilers!!!)
So I might be biased but I am completely lost in Takuya’s eyes specially when he gives you that devilish grin and winks (drools). His gaze is just too intense I get lost in them (hehehe). When I started this series, I didn’t expect much and thought I would just be forwarding the show as I do the others but I was really surprised it hooked me in.  Halu plays a surprisingly warm iceman.  He draws me in with the raw emotions of his character that I can’t help wanting to rush to his side and give him a warm hug.  Yuko also played her part so well that I can understand why Halu would be attracted to her kind of girl. 
I love how their love affair slowly developed that I fell in love with both characters. The only thing I didn’t like about the story was when the long-lost boyfriend came back, Aki wavered and decided to go to his side despite telling everyone she has definitely forgotten about him. But maybe that’s what a girl of the last century is like...habits are hard to break.
I didn't understand though when Aki decided to marry the ex-boyfriend and Halu decides to go to Canada to pursue a professional career in the NHL.  This despite it being obvious that they both feel strongly for each other but just have too much PRIDE to admit it to each other.  
Overall, it was a story of romance, sacrifice, friendship and PRIDE.
Until now, I can still hear the theme song playing so for that, I wilI give this show 8.5 stars out of 10. If you watch this show, you just might fall in love...beware :)