One of the hardest things I found to do this year was not so much finding movies to watch (okay, losing Dramacrazy was a BIG blow) but finding movies that I actually liked. Occasionally, I do movies reviews here on my blog. But every Monday, I’ve been doing a movie review for Koreandramareviews blog for Movie Monday feature. As there are a lot of younger adults who visit the site and because I review only Korean movies, it is rare that I get to watch movies from other countries (other than the USA).
This year, I’ve been a little bit more lucky in finding some of the newer movies this year. I’ve found some great movie streaming sites (like Gooddrama, Viooz, Vimeo, and even Youtube is a great source). I also had the privilege of getting movie passes to several movies this year (YEAH!). So here is my top 10 2013 movies that I viewed last year:
10. My Pavarotti
Any movie based on real life character that turns their life around is always a good movie. But it also helps to have exceptional acting. Thank goodness, the bad taste of Fashion King is now removed from my psyche for Lee Je Hoon (Jang Ho). I look forward to his return from Military Service.
Han Seok Kyu, I have seen many times and as always he excels!. Kang Sora was definitely the comic relief as the the girl who is totally infatuated with Jang Ho. Between her and the friend, each definitely had their funny moments. Overall, it was a decent movie that I would watch again for the great acting and wonderful music. No, Lee Je Hoon is definitely not singing all of the time but the voice is so wonderful, I don’t think you’ll care.
9. Friend 2
This was obviously a vehicle in which to introduce the younger generation to the earlier (and great movie Friend, 2001). This latest version in which Yoo Oh Sung reprised his role from the first movie as Joon Seok. As usual, there is a reason why I love to watch Yoo Oh Sung movies. As the gangster boss, Joon Seok, he was excellent in this role. However, who really impressed me was Kim Woo Bin. I am only a passing fan of his so he wasn’t the reason why I wanted to see this but he definitely held his own surrounded by several veteran actors and did very, very well as Sung-Hoon! I was duly impressed!
Not everyone can handle a story like this which is told in such detail. I think the last time I ever seen a movie like this that depicted the rape of a young girl was Bastard Out of Carolina, yes, I haven’t forgotten that movie which I saw over 12 years ago. But like movies of this ilk, it is the impact that it has on your psyche and way of thinking that leaves you remembering every moment: good or bad. As I sat and watched with utter disgust and dismay; a father’s total unconcern for his daughter’s safety and well-being, it made me wonder about the screenwriter. Why? His depiction of the father, the total ineptness of the police; No, wait, the total uncaring attitude of the police of a missing young girl not only stunned me but really made me look at SK Police with a jaundice eye. The acting by Jang Young Nam as the Mother was excellent! You felt her pain, joy in finding her child followed by horror once she realized what her child had gone through with every expression and words from her mouth. And the ending left only one question in my mind: What would you do in this same situation?
Even though this is only a drama special, it will definitely have a special place in your heart as the story unfolds. Most people love rain for various reasons: it causes a nice and soothing sleep, if your my daughter, you just love to stand in the rain looking skyward; if you are a farmer, you welcome the rain because it means life to your crops.
The same goes for this movie special which revolves around two people coping with a beloved one’s tragic death whereby the sight of rain has an adverse effect on them but the story still manages to soothe your soul. There is very little dialog and the acting is on par, it’s simple while still managing to convey all the right emotions. What amazed me the most is that the music isn’t actually made of songs (okay maybe one or two instrumentals…at most) but of water-related sounds and of silence, but for the movie, it makes the perfect “soundtrack”; the embodiment of rain: it’s simple yet so powerful; it will calm your soul the way the rain does.
I have watched a lot of Ha Jeong Woo. A lot! But what made this movie so different was the evolution of the story. At the beginning, I neither understood or liked reporter/radio personality Yoon Young Hwa (played wonderfully by Ha Jeong Woo). All I can say is “What a movie!” Not sure you will have seen one like it before.
The viewer will experience heart pounding, adrenalin rush, tears and an occasional laughter at the absurdity of what is happening in the story. There are so many twists and turns in this movie that will totally surprise but excite you at the same time. But what is also amazing about this movie is the ending. I wonder how many of you were yelling “Push the button?“
5. Killer Toon
AWESOME AWESOMENESS!! Heart…stop it!! This was GOOD!! No, this was GREAT!! I don’t know where to begin because I am not going to give anything away. But I must say, this is not for the faint of heart. Within the first 10 minutes, you’ll be jumping out your skin. As I was watching it, it reminded me so much of Silent Hill (no, I never finished that movie) which I ran from the room in fear.
Lee Si Young was AMAZING in this role as Ji Yoon. I already had mad respect for her but now…She will creep up as being one of my top 10 favorite actresses. Uhm Ki Joon as the Det. Ki Cheol was so brass as the cop who basically continued my negative opinion on Korean police. But his acting was definitely stellar. Give it up to Hyun Woo as Young Soo. As Ki Cheol’s partner, he handled the role well. But again, this is a movie that not everyone can watch. There is some seriously twisted and scary scenes in this. However, you really don’t know where the story is going to take you but that ending. Loved it! I still have goose bumps.
Yoo Ah In, as usually with his handsome self was tremendous as Gang Chul. He projected his love and care for his alzheimer mother, played by Kim Hae Sook in such a way to totally touch your heart. I got a special kick out of her constantly referring to her son as Yeobo and the loving way he just went a long with it and just the extra care he took out of getting her out of all the various situations that he would find her in. It really takes a special person to be able to care for a parent with this disease. I don’t think most of us could, actually.
Kim Jeong Tae (Killer Girl K; Goddess of Marriage) as the gang boss, Sang Gon; as usually, he plays bad very, very well. But let me give HIGH praise to Kim Sung Oh (Secret Garden; When A Man’s in Love) who plays Whi Gon, Sang’s brother and supposed bodyguard. As the stuttering and evil brother of Sang, I must tell you he excelled! When he was stuttering his words, I wonder how much he practiced for that because it was done so well! As a warning, this movie is far from a romance. The romance between Soo Ji (played by Jung Yu Mi) and Gang Chul was really not explored because the real romance was between mother and son.
Psychometry: The ability through touch, to experience what someone has seen, witnessed in the past; ergo the title of this movie, The Gifted Hands. Rewatch?!! You betcha! The first time I watched this, it was without English subs. This is one FANTASTIC movie! From beginning to end, I was enthralled and spell-bound by what was happening. Kim Bum, to me is the best of the F4 when it comes to acting. I have yet to see him in a role that he does not shine! And in this as Kim Joon is no exception. As Kim Joon, he showed us how tortured his existence is.
Kim Kang Woo as Yang Choon Dong was GREAT! He also brought to life the detective on the case. But let me tell you, even though the scenes are not graphic, I must warn you there is some seriously, twisted cruelty to animal scenes so Animal lovers, beware! I can’t remember if at the end of the movie, if there is a notice that no animals were hurt during the filming.
2. Brain Man
No, Hollywood COULDN’T have done this any better!! I was riveted from the beginning! Okay, I admit, I have a lot of Ikuta Toma on my PTW watch list, but I can assure you that they have now soared to the top! This movie is freaking FANTASTIC! Not for everyone though, it has blood and some seriously twisted killings. Ikuta Tomas as Ichiro Suzuki, was simply amazing. His character was not only deep, dark but at times, a little disturbing. But if the Bobsey twins, Mariko and Yuria (played by Matsuyuki Yasuko and Ohta Lina, respectively) don’t scare the bejeesus out of you, nothing will! What a great movie for a Saturday night! I highly recommend it for anyone who likes suspense, thriller, and a little psychological mind games! These two, Ichiro and Mariko, were definitely the flip side of the same coin. You watch the movie, you’ll know who I mean. And the ending? The BEST!!!
POWERFUL! EXCITING! FANTASTIC! EXTRAORDINARY! INCREDIBLE! I am really going to run out of adjectives to simply describe how wonderful this movie was. As I watched this, it made me kind of sad. Why? Because I started remembering all of the movies I used to go to with my older brother who has since passed away. He used to take me to this theater, every Saturday that showed nothing but martial art movies. I contribute him with my current fascination with Asian movies.
At first I was expecting a “Saving Private Ryan” type movie because of the title but what I got was a mix between 300, Troy and a little Spartacus; three of my favorite movies. There was one scene where one of the older brothers was fighting against the advancing Yuan army; it was right out of 300!
Admittedly, there are many characters here in the story, given the General had 7 sons so there is no way I can remember them all (this calls for a re-watch!). In addition, the women in the film were not necessarily significant except for the General’s wife ( played by Xu Fan), and the ‘Helen of Troy’-esque Princess Chai (played by Ady An).
While the opening big battle sequence involving all seven brothers was a treat, there were other scenes that were just as exciting to the cinematography student in me. Most memorable is Third Brother’s poetic and edge-of-your-seat gripping one-on-one with a rival archer amidst a field of tall grass. As the arrows ripped through the wheat and swayed with the wind, it was magnificent.
Okay, this is not a movie that would attract most but anyone who is interested in historical pieces, this is definitely a MUST-SEE!!
Places to watch:
10. My Pavarotti-Viooz.co
9. Friend 2- Not Available Yet
7. Land of Rain (Nara’s Rain)- Youtube
4. Ggang Chul Yi (Tough as Iron)-Not Available Yet
2. Brain Man- Viooz.co