Review – Lucifer

Review – Lucifer

Recently re-watched Lucifer, one of my top 20 Korean dramas of all time, and it still holds firm in its position.  This isn’t a typical story of a cop tracking down a serial killer.  This is a morality play, in which the reasons behind the killings are the plot line.  Much like one of my other favorite shows, I Remember You, the murderer isn’t necessarily the bad guy.  Or rather, they are not the only bad guys.  The people who made them, who drove them to such extremes, are equally culpable.  In a fantastic twist, the cop hunting the killing has also committed a terrible crime in his youth – and now his dark past is coming to light as he races against time to save those who may not deserve saving.  It’s a story of revenge, a story of guilt, and a story of the personal choices that define us.  It’s a drama that asks you to ponder the hard questions, to twist around your normal definitions of right and wrong, to see multiple angles to dubious actions.

And I loved it.  I loved it just as much the second time as I did the first time I watched it.  It’s beautifully filmed and the story is expertly crafted.  It is the second installment in a “Revenge” trilogy by director Park Chan-Hong and writer Kim Ji-Woo.  The first was Resurrection, a haunting mystery, and the third was Shark, a gorgeous slow simmer show.  All three films are remarkable, unique and highly recommended.

Overall Rating – 10/10.  Where the Good Guy is Bad and the Bad Guy is Bad too.

More musings on the morality lessons, the plot, herpes, and spoilers follow:

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Review – Man from the Equator

Review – Man from the Equator

There is a certain grandiose nature (also known as being waaaay overdramatic for no reason) to these older melodramas that can’t be replicated.  Maybe it’s the standard tv (box) formatting.  Maybe it’s the lack of fancy cinematography, most of the shots are head on and there are many long cuts.  Maybe it’s the emotional music, reminiscent of soap operas from the States in the late 20th century.  There’s a roughness to the characters, a grittiness and cruelty… as well as honest and instinctual love.  This is a story about two young men who become unlikely best friends, the smartest boy in the school and the street fighter.  They are two totally different people, and though they become best friends, their values, motivations, and personalities remain independent of one another, even over time.  In a way, those are some of the best friendships.  And like most good things, they require a lot of work.  So does this drama.  Perhaps more work than it deserves…

The first part of this drama is captivating and interesting – but unfortunately the second and third part just drag and drag and drag.  Part two involves a wandering story line of love and blindness, and part three is about revenge but manages to forget that half the time and just bore us with flashbacks, unnecessarily long sequences of staring, walking, staring, pondering, staring and more staring.  I don’t think I’ve seen a show that enjoyed focusing on a character just staring pensively into the distance more Man from the Equator.  Still, I didn’t hate it I just… wanted to speed it up.

Overall Rating – 4/10.  Not Recommended For Tourists.

More plot musings and spoilers and discussion follow…

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Review – Resurrection

Review – Resurrection

Resurrection.  Also known as Rebirth.  Also known as Revenge.

The series is the first installment of the “Revenge Trilogy” by director Park Chan-Hong and writer Kim Ji-Woo.  Lucifer (or The Devil) followed in 2007, one of my personal favorites.  The series ended with Shark in 2013, which I have not yet seen.

  

 

Did you ever see the movie Open Water?  For some reason, I kept thinking of that film while watching Lucifer a few months ago.  You knew something horrible was going to happen… you knew it in your bones… you were just waiting for the sun to go down and then God help us all.  Lucifer did not disappoint.  It will drown you.  Rebirth isn’t nearly as dark as Lucifer.  Instead it reminds me more of a Kubrick film, in both plot and cinematography.  More intrigue based than the dark soul-stealing  revenge and redemption epic of Lucifer.  Though Rebirth isn’t as fulfilling, it’s a definite standout in the k-drama universe.

—— 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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