The Villainess opens with one of the most exciting, intense action sequences I have ever seen. Entirely from the protagonists point of view, you rush through a multi story building on a killing spree – seeing what she sees. I guess they mounted a camera to the stunt double’s head but geesh is it intense! Like a live action video game – with guns and blades and blood splatter everywhere. And, honestly, as deeply unrealistic as a video game… but why knit pick? Who cares if the bad guys cue up to fight her? Who cares if randomly none of them have guns when she’s brandishing a knives? It’s so awesome – just enjoy it. Enjoy it for the fun, furious murder ballad it is.
The Villainess is one of those rare movies where I was pretty sure I was going to love it before I even started watching it. Why? Because it’s loosely based on one of my favorite stories of all time: La Femme Nikita! It all started with French film Nikita by Luc Besson, which was excellent. America remade it, with the film The Point of No Return, which was also excellent. The Canadians did us all a favor and created an unbelievably sexy, sinister television series out of it – called La Femme Nikita. Oh Peta Wilson… you will forever be my first serious girl-crush. America followed suit, again, and made their own tv show several years later called Nikita… which I didn’t watch, for some reason, probably out of loyalty to Peta Wilson… but I hear it was pretty good too.
The premise is simple. A young criminal girl is caught up in the seedy underworld and ends up caught by the police. She will surely be sentenced to life in prison or death for her transgressions. A shady government organization sees potential in her and offers her an option – work for us and live… or serve out your sentence. She gets a makeover, learns to pass as a classy lady, and the next thing you know she’s off on assassination assignments and living under an assumed identity. In all stories, her handler is obsessed with her. There’s betrayal and secrets and amazing action sequences. And that’s Nikita.
The Villainess is a new Nikita. And she’s a worthy addition to the cannon.
Review – White Christmas (A Tribute to 90’s Angst)
In 2011, they gathered together all the young stars who could tear down a house with their acting abilities and threw them in a short, creepy drama together called White Christmas. They set the entire thing to late 20th century indie music… Primal Scream, Massive Attack, The Pixies, Alice in Chains, Velvet Underground… like a stolen mixed tape from my formative years. The plot is simple – seven students receive a threatening, confusing anonymous letter saying they’re all cursed and someone will die over the Christmas break. So they all stay behind, as the rest of their peers leave for the holidays. These stragglers linger in a huge empty school building isolated on top of a snowy mountain… desperate to discover what role they have to play in this mystery.
And at its heart, the show is a mystery. But it’s also an examination into a high pressure school system. It’s social commentary. It’s a therapy session. It’s an exploration of natural violence. It’s a story about people… and how they hurt and heal each other. And it is DARK, people.
I’ve had it in my que for months… saving it. Now that summer is coming to an end, I finally treated myself to dessert. And it was exceptionally tasty. Only eight episodes long but jam packed with mesmerizing performances, plot twists, and a startlingly original story. It’s on Viki – go watch it now! (and please when you’re watching it take note of all the bizarre conceptual 90’s-style photoshop artwork all over the walls in every room… cause… wow… so eerie… remember the doll heads?)
Overall Rating – 10/10. REDRUM! REDRUM!!!
Discussion of characters and SPOILERS follow….
Review – In Need of Romance 3
The more I think about this show, the more I dislike it. I will admit being biased, as I don’t care for Kim So-Yeon. She’s one of my least favorite actresses in K-World. She’s like Seth Rogan… krytonite to my viewing experience. So, I should have known better going in… but I thought, Sung Joon might save it… or Namgung Min. Nope.
The plot is basically about a young girl who was a nanny for a rich boy all through her childhood, watching this kid from infancy until he was about 10 or so. For him it was all sunshine and roses, but for her it was hell. Time jump about 17 years and she’s grown up to be a bitchy, successful producer of a home shopping network and he has grown up to be a naive, successful musician. They have a ten second romance before his identity is revealed, and then they basically switch roles from their childhoods – with him acting as the caregiver and her as the busied dependent coming in and out without appreciating him. And, you know, they slowly fall in love. I guess. You’ve also got all the coworkers at the home shopping network going through their own romances – none of which are very noteworthy. They’re so cliche and one note, they’re basically wallpaper.
One of my pet peeves is tedious voice overs – especially when they’re trying to be poetic or introspective and it doesn’t seem to match the character at all. This show was stock full of annoying voice overs of our two main character musing about life and love and blah, blah, blah. Just, show NOT tell, please. If you couldn’t get that message across in the drama, then it’s lazy writing to try to throw it on top as a voice over. Yuck. The voice overs were like those contrite memes with inspirational sayings. Also, the dialogue was a mess. There were too many instances of a character saying something that sounded way too measured and preachy for sporadic conversation. What, did they memorize this speech before hand? It felt so unnatural. Our male lead calmly lecturing our female lead about her emotional state… “maybe you’re just a person who doesn’t recognize your own feelings” was ridiculous. People don’t talk like that. Even therapists don’t talk like that. The whole show was like this. Groan inducing.
What the show DID have going for it was open mouth kissing. And quite a bit of it. And bed scenes (mainly “after” where there’s a dude without a shirt and the girl mysteriously sleeps in pajamas). It was quite frank with its sexual tone. If only I cared about whether any of them ever got laid, ever again in their lives. But I didn’t. I basically just enjoyed the eye candy and fast-forwarded through massive chunks of the eps towards the end. Honestly, I should have just watched some kiss compilation videos on youtube… saved myself from the constant eye rolling.
Overall Rating – 4/10. French Kissing Does Not Make Up For Bad Writing.
Review – Discovery of Romance
This romantic drama featured the reunion of actors Jung Yoo Mi with Eric Moon. I love these two together. They were fantastic in Que Sera Sera. And they were good in this drama as well. Sung Joon is also in this show, and he’s another of my favorites. But I’m just gonna stop you now before you get excited by the quality line up of actors…
It just wasn’t that good.
Discovery of Romance is love triangle plotline, but with a bit more weight on each side for once. Eric Moon’s character is the former lover of Jung Yoo Mi’s character. They were together five long years before breaking up. Now she’s with Sung Joon’s character, in a strong, healthy relationship. That is… until her old lover turns up again and wants to try again.
Despite loving all the actors and the exploration of the complexity of relationships, I didn’t think too much of this drama. I finished it, though I confess I started to skim towards the end.
Overall Rating – 5/10. When The Heart Is Involved, Honestly Is Easier In Theory Than In Practice.