Review – Hwayi: A Monster Boy

Hwayi: A Monster Boy is melodrama mixed with mayhem. It’s bloody, it’s brutal, and it’s blunt in its delivery… but it works. I enjoyed this movie so much I watched it twice.

The plot is relatively simple – a young boy is kidnapped and held hostage, but something goes wrong in the exchange. Rather than kill the boy (or, you know, return him), the group of vicious criminals known as the Daylight Robbers decide to keep the kid and raise him themselves.

Shockingly, the young boy grows up to be a solid student, a talent artist, and an overall nice guy. Sure, he’s got obvious problems… like imagining a gigantic, horrific creature stalks him, always just around the corner. He seems shy around girls, which is not surprising considering the only female influence he’s had is the shattered woman the gang keep chained to the kitchen sink. But overall, all things considered, our hostage seems to be hanging in there with his rowdy bunch of degenerate fathers.

Of course… that’s all about to spiral drastically out of control in the next hour and a half of the film, so… buckle up.

The main plot kicks off right before our young protagonist is set to go off to art school and possibly escape his “family.”  Fate lures the whole gang back to the beginning – to the boy’s parents and secret grudges and haunting connections between all the characters. It was… tragic and heartbreaking and deeply, deeply disturbing.

This movie felt like someone had condensed an entire 16 episode violent melodrama drama down into 2 episodes. Each character felt fully realized, unique, and solid in the world – and it was easy to imagine exploring each of their backstories and current lives in more detail had it been a drama series instead of a film. The twists and turns of the plot were wild but also worked easily within the narrative and world of the story. The acting was exceptional – in particular the two male leads (Kim Yun-Seok and Yeo Jin-Goo) – though even side characters charged into their scenes with the gusto and confidence of a leading role, as if each were trying to steal the entire movie.

Watch it when you want an evening of exciting, blood-soaked melodrama.

4.5/5 Stars

Review – Circle: Two Worlds

Review – Circle: Two Worlds

A well done, high concept sci fi show about memories, responsibility, and identity.   The story revolves around two twins who discover a mysterious woman in the woods when they are children.  Is she an alien?  The woman disappears from their life, only to reappear again when they are in their early twenties.  At the same time a string of questionable suicides start occurring at the Health and Science College.  Who is she?  And how is she connected to these events and the lives of the twins?  Rotating between 2017, our time, and 2037, when the country has been split into “Normal Earth,” a wasteland of pollution and dust, and “Smart Earth,” a clean environment where all the citizens are on modified mood controllers and live peacefully.

There are plenty of spectacular twists in this drama and the plot was so unconventional, I had no idea where it was taking me from episode to episode.  The acting was incredible, especially from Yeo Jin-Goo… wow, that boy has an expressive face, does he not?  Murder, mystery, secret experiments, missing persons and aliens!   Who could ask for more? (Uh, I could!  sequel, please?)

As with all mystery shows – I won’t do a lengthy review since mystery shows are best enjoyed with the full mystery unraveling as you watch.  So… do yourself a favor and check it out.

Overall Rating – 9/10.  Blue Worms Are Not Your Friends.

Review – The Moon Embracing the Sun

Review – The Moon Embracing the Sun

LAWD!  Save us all from historical dramas!  Why are they always so good?

I’ve heard about The Moon Embracing the Sun for many years but for some reason never watched it.  Scratch that – I did try, originally, but got bored around the third episode and turned it off (a mistake I almost made again the second round).  This time I firmly planted myself in front of the show and stuck with it – until the young cast went through their youthful turmoil and misfortunes and reached adulthood… only to be met with more turmoil and misfortunes.  In between all this they also found moments of happiness and true love.  It was wonderful.  I mean, it wasn’t The Princess’ Man, but it was still worth watching.

Plot in a nutshell – two young royals fall in love with the same young lady, but she only likes one of them, the one destined for the throne.  A series of unfortunate events occur and the young woman is presumed dead, the young royals both left heartbroken.  Young lady grows up with total memory loss, raised as a shaman.  Young royals grow up as well.  They all meet again.  The young lady doesn’t recognize her male admirers, but they are drawn to her like bears to honey.  The entire process of their youth repeats – with both men falling in love with her again… who will she fall in love with round two?  Will she remember her past?  What happened to her all those years ago?  Mystery and intrigue and romance abound in this historical drama.

Overall Rating – 8/10.  An Satisfying Appetizer to Prepare You For Better Historical Drama Meals.

Discussion and spoilers follow…

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