Review – Love in the Moonlight / Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

Review – Love in the Moonlight

So, I finished Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, or Love in the Moonlight, not too long ago and have been wondering what, exactly, I had to say about it.  It was nothing special, to be perfectly honest.  This drama offered no new ground to the pantheon of K-Dramas, yet it still managed to be enjoyable, settling into well worn territory… like coming home and putting on your favorite t-shirt even though it’s faded and has holes in it and probably smells a little suspicious if you get too close.  Love in the Moonlight is your usual tropes thrown together in a historical romance with a light melodrama.  It’s the safe bet.  The meal you’ve ordered before and know you like.

I liked the first half best, that was more focused on the romance, than the second half, that was more focused on the politics.  The young actors were beautiful and charming, the seasoned actors were outstanding as always.  Costumes, sets, writing, all well done.  They added a lot of modern humor in, which made it fun and playful.  The lead female looked like an alien, albeit a pretty alien.  I’m not kidding.  She was straight from a Steven Spielberg movie – and yet it was cool, like her Western alien friend Amanda Seyfried.  The black-clad guard was clearly the poster child for perfected jaw sculpting… just startlingly handsome.  That wig was working for him, too.  Usually the wig doesn’t help improve the looks of our male historical characters, but Kwak Dong-Yeon lucked out.  He has NEVER looked better, and probably never will.  The rival to the Crown Prince was also handsome and generic and overall the entire production was very easy on the eyes.

But it was the Crown Prince that owned the show.  To be honest, I don’t know if I would have stuck around for the entire drama if it weren’t for Park Bo-Gum.   Is it the capped teeth that make his smirk so cute or what?  Park Bo-Gum took a rather tired plotline of a clueless dude falling in love with a girl in drag and made it adorable all over again – by being impossibly adorable.  Geesh, he was a cutie.

Overall Rating – 8/10 – Like A Fluffy Bunny, Pretty Worthless But Oh So Cute!

Review – Empress Ki (Sageuks, Not Sanity!)

Review – Empress Ki (Sageuks, Not Sanity!)

I feel like the most important thing everyone should know before committing 51 hours of your life to a historical drama is this… you will never get so torn up over whether or not two people will be in the same room together as you will in these slow burn historical romances.  Just intensely looking at each other in silence turns into the most erotic of experiences.  Holding hands? Gasp!  Someone bring the fire extinguisher because you’re gonna be BURNING UP!

I know it sounds ridiculous.  It really defies reason, in this day and age, that we can revert back to grade school romance so quickly, no matter how old we are… but such is the power of the historical drama.  Such is the power of Empress Ki.  There is literally a scene where two grown men are fighting over who is going to covertly hold a woman’s hand in a dark room and the stakes have never been higher!  Who will win?  Which hand will she hold?!  I imagine a bookie is literally taking bets from an excited audience at this point (“$15 on the Emperor!” – “Put me down for $100 on Wang Yu!”) – cause it’s like… what… episode 17 and it’s hard to explain but by then you’re just INTO IT and you’re ready to scream “Chuna!” and “Kill Me!” and the spell has been cast.  You are committed to these characters and their stories and this love triangle is EVERYTHING – it’s not just about two men and a woman, it’s about two countries fighting for power and you know this woman is going to be key… but it’s also about love and you kinda want her to lean left, no right, no left, no right!  Curses!  They’re both so awesome!   And deep down you know you’ll probably sit through 51 hours of this show and never even get any tongue, cause if Queen Seondeok taught us anything, it’s that you’re going to have to take those chapters to the fan fiction forums.  Does that stop you from chewing your nails off as the intensity between these people increases?  Hell no!  Cause… we’ve got mega intense hand holding happening here!  And who knows what might be next… there could be a dramatic rescue scene or some heartbreaking sacrifice or… a hug… oh my god, they might hug!  THERE COULD BE HUGGING!!!  And that might as well be uncensored porn, because that’s how rewired your brain has become watching these shows.  I say this without irony.  This really happens.

And while watching something this long… you may be tempted to start skimming.  DO NOT DO THIS.  You can skim all you want the second time you watch it, but the first time it is vital that you watch it – every scene – just as it is.  The pacing is important.  The details are important.  The people are important.  And yeah… it’s freakin’ crazy long.  So take a break if you need to – watch another drama and come back to it.  You do not have to binge Empress Ki.  I watched about 32 episodes of this before I had to stop – and then I didn’t return for a while. When I did return, the last chunk of eps flew by with babies, deaths, madness and intrigue.  I’m glad I took a break, though – cause even with the break, that’s still a heck of a lot of time to spend with one show.  After a while, you kinda start to get wonky.  But hey… I don’t need sanity, I need Sageuks!

Empress Ki is bound to live on for some time as one of the great historical dramas… and it is well deserved.  The character development alone is worth the price of admission.  The amazing acting, the incredible sets, the drool inducing costumes… it was a work of art.

Empress Ki is divided into two sections – PRE CONCUBINE Eps 1-24 and POST CONCUBINE eps 25-51.  Both sections are cool.  There are also “two houses” in this play… and two men, both the heads of each, vying for the same women.

I felt like my grandmother was in the room lecturing on me on the importance of finding a man who “needs me” over a man who “wants me.”  According to grandmother, a woman who is needed is never taken for granted and will always live a happier life.  I’m not sure if that’s true – but this show was definitely the perfect example of a man who Needs You and a man who Wants You.  The Emperor needed her.  And the King wanted her.  Let’s face it, though… it feels nice to have either type of love… and to have both, well… that’s kinda the plot.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  To Be Needed Is To Be Loved.

More musings… and SPOILERS

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That’s Gay! – K-Dramas, Putting the Q in LGBTQ

Let’s face it – there are a lot of gay-questioning dramas out there.  Okay, sure, they’re not implicitly gay;  Only recently have dramas crossed the purebred gay border, though their feature films have definitely made some expeditions to gay town in the past few years.  But it doesn’t matter if they’re gay or just questioning.  We love it!  Whether it’s one sided or misdirected, for comedy or for drama, for love or for money… K-Dramas are sprinkled with the gay rainbow.  And no one can deny it.

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Korean dramas often depict variations in sexuality, sex roles, sexual attraction, and sexual fluidity.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition to their seemingly strict gender assignments and homophobia… and/or perhaps a direct result of them.  Because the rules are there, it’s more fun to break them.

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Gender Bending is popular in Taiwan too.

Off the top of my head – there are three excellent examples of LGB with a large emphasis on Q in K-World.  Cross-dressing is the biggest culprit in these same sex shenanigans – and, if we’re honest, the reason these dramas are so frequently made. It’s not all LGB with Q, of course.  There are plenty of examples of the T within various shows as well but as of yet not as the lead romance.  And even an A show now.

Let’s run through the questioning dramas together…

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Review – You’re Beautiful (aka, You’re Beautiful, Jang Keun-Suk)

Review – You’re Beautiful (aka, You’re Beautiful, Jang Keun-Suk)

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You’re Beautiful was one of the first Korean Dramas I watched, many moons ago.  Around 2010, to be exact.  It was on Netflix and I had just finished watching Queen Seon Duk…. which actually shared two of the famous K-drama tropes, “cross-dressing” and “male harem.”  In other words, in both dramas there were women disguised as men surrounded by lots and lots of beautiful men.  I was still deeply, madly in love with the character Bidam (who remains one of my all time favorite characters in any show, worldwide – read about him in this review) and not sure anyone could distract me from daydreaming… and then Hwang Tae-Kyeong showed up with two ponytails and I was lost again.

The Plot, Short Version:  Young lady disguises herself as her twin brother and joins a famous rock band full of adorable, handsome boys.

You’re Beautiful – Overall Rating 9/10.  Being Jealous of Jang Keun-Suk’s Hair for Sixteen Hours.

Seriously, this show is all about Hwang Tae-Keyong’s gorgeous hair and awesome hair styles… that hairdresser deserves an Emmy.

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READ MORE….

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Review – Scholar Who Walks The Night

Review – Scholar Who Walks the Night

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Supernatural historical dramas are some of my favorites.  Even though I have yet to see one with a really solid plot, I always enjoy them.  You would think that a drama about trying to overthrow an ancient vampire who lives in an underground lair beneath the royal palace and secretly controls the Joseon monarch would be fantastic.  Eh.

Okay, maybe the plot was a little boring sometimes.  I mean, how many secret diaries does it take to kill a vampire, am I right?  But did that spoil my enjoyment of this show?  Nope.  Still loved it.  Why?  Cause vampires, that’s why!  Who doesn’t love a good vampire story?  Throw in a pretty girl disguised as a boy (love that trope!) and some romance and I’m hooked.  Add an incredibly sexy evil vampire as the bad guy… and I’ll pop my popcorn and settle in for a long binge watch.

Overall Rating – 8/10.  Dark Shadows of the Joseon Era.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Review – Queen Seon Duk

Review – Queen Seon Duk

THE GREAT QUEEN SEON DUK

If this show wasn’t so long, it might be the greatest thing to ever come out of South Korea.  Of course, if it wasn’t so long it might not be so darned epic and unforgettable.  Curse you, conundrums!  This show can be effectively divided into two sections:  Pre-Queen and Post-Queen.  Half of the show depicts the young life of Deokman and her struggle to raise herself to royal status.  The second half is what happens when she gets it.

In my opinion, everyone should watch this show.  Wait til you have the flu and a few days off work, if you must.  But watch it.  The “Mishil” music is still played in current dramas as a gag reference all the time.  It’s a staple of K-World.

Overall Rating:  10/10 – near perfection period-piece epic with romance, action, betrayal, friendship, rivalry, political intrigue, and unforgettable characters – it’s a massive commitment of time that will ultimately leave you deeply satisfied and possibly traumatized for life.

Now come cozy up beside me and let’s talk about why this show completely rocks my socks, shall we?

———————— MASSIVE SPOILERS & RATINGS FOLLOW ————————–

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