Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sunshine girl Jeon Do Yeon


I don't go gaga over Jeon Do Yeon. BUT she is ONE great actress. In all her movies, from Harmonium in My Wind, to Untold Scandal to My Mother, the Mermaid, she has not failed me.

In You are my Sunshine, together with Hwang Jeong Min, they have both made what might have been a very mediocre movie into an enjoyable one.

Many of Korean movies have the usual formulaic love story.. the funny, heart-warming, innocent first half and then followed by bring-out-your-tissues, tragically sad boy/ girl dying second half. Often, they seemed determind to make the terminally ill person look even sicker than necessary, but they still looked impossibly beautiful, accomapnied by lots of dramatic shots. (eg, the boat termianl scene in My Girl ) Sometimes they forget that more is not better and less may be right.

Thankfully, this did not happened in this case, even though death was hinted at... with AIDS. But as Seok Joon said poignantly, "We are all going to die one day."

Gist of story:
In a rural village, farmer (he has one cow), Seok Joong, would very much like to get married... but at the same time he still habours romantic thoughts about getting to the girl he love. But a life amongst cow dung, pigs and an elderly mother aren't exactly appealing for many girls.

Then one day, En Ha cycled past by him and he was electrified. Literally.

En Ha was on her way for her medical check up. During the daytime, En Ha works in a cafe, delivering coffee (and some) to men in motels. At night, she works in a girly bar, entertaining men with booze, song and her body. Definitely not your usual girl-next-door type. He woos her with flowers, cards and freshly squeezed milk, cleans the cafe signboard and orders lots of take-away coffee, so that she could rest. She resists his advances because she is not good enough for him. He persists because she is the most beautiful woman in the world and he loves her.

They got married finally... and share some beautiful moments as a couple.



This is one of the most beautiful scene in the movie, probably because of the abundant cherry blossoms in bloom and 2 persons very much in love.



Then her past catches up with her. Their lives changed. Even the village is affected.

For a person who is used to seeing all the melo K dramas and over tragic movies..... I actually cried. I cried at their steadfast love for each other despite the dramatic turn of events.

It was quite interesting to note that the director had interwoven the scene "How can love change so suddenly?" from One Fine Spring Day into the movie to emphasize their unchanging love for each other. But what I like was that this point was not brought out in a sickly sweet way.

But this movie would not have been as great if not for the brilliant performances of the 2 leads. The movie has won some prizes in various film awards and one of them is for the best couple in the 26th Blue Dragon Awards. It is not surprising as they were really great as a couple in the movie.

And Seok Joon's mother was very memorable too, if only because she was the most understanding and forgiving person in the movie. She must be quite advanced in age already but she doesn't seemed to have aged since HWRL.

The actual Korean title is You are My Destiny. But the English title is apt enough as the song was used frequently in the movie. (it was the same song we used in the MTF wth BYJ. hehehe!) I think I like the You are my Sunhine title much better.



For a review, please go to: http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm05.html#mysunshine

To purchase the movie, please go: here

You are my Sunshine opens in Singapore on 27th April.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Korean music

It used to be that I have a large collection of English cds, followed by Chinese albums.

I'm afraid my Korean music collection is now threatening to dwarf all. Out of curiosity, I listed out my Korean cds collection. I hope my husband is not reading this....

Movie and Drama ost
Autumn in My Heart
All In
Attic Cat
April Snow (3 versions)
My Boyfriend is Type B
Beautiful Days
The Classic
Dae Jang Guem
Full House
First Love
Firebird
Goong
Heaven's Tree
Have we really loved?
Hotelier (2 versions)
I'm Sorry I Love You
Ireland
Legend of 9 Tail Wolves
Last Dance is with me
Love Letter
Lovers in Paris (2 versions)
Love so Divine
My Name is Kim Sam Soon
Maluk Street
Papa/ Barefooted Youth
Sangdo! Let's go to school
Sweet 18
Stained Glass (2 versions)
Stairways to Heaven
Spring Day
Summer Scent
Sad Sonata
Untold Scandal
Windstruck
Winter Sonata (3 versions, including a Thai version???)

Singers
Brown Eyed Soul
Bon Seung & Dong Gun
Cho Sung Mo (2 albums, 1 set of 4 cd collection)
Fly to the Sky (2 albums)
Jang Dong Gun
Kim Bum Soo
Kim Jong Kook
Lee Dong Gun (2 albums)
Lee Soo Young
Lee Hyun Woo
Position
Rain
SG Wannabe
Sung Si Kyung (5 albums)
Tim (2 albums)
Tei (2 albums)
UN

Compilations sets
BYJ's dramas (1 cd)
Korean dramas (2 cds)
Korean dramas 2002 (2 cds)
First Love (5 cds)
Love Songs 1 (4 cds)
Love Songs 2 (4 cds)
Love Songs (4 cds)
Sympathy 1 (6 cds)
Sympathy 2 (6 cds)
Sympathy 2.5 (4 cds)
Sympathy 3 (6 cds)

Whew! I think I'm in a state of shock. Thank goodness they are hidden away in drawers. Shhhh......

But really, a good drama or movie needs a good ost as well. Or rather a good theme song adds to the enjoyment of the drama/ movie. If the song connects you to the movie by conveying the feelings across... and it makes you want to watch the movie, then it's done a wonderful job and indeed, half a battle is won already.

Who could forget the songs from Winter Sonata. It made Ryu famous. The songs have been translated into Chinese (by 张信哲) and I've heard a Malay version as well. At one time, my neighbour upstairs was playing it almost everyday. And I would stop whatever I was doing to listen to it. ^^ How could Winter Sonata be Winter Sonata without those beautiful songs?

Winter Sonata

Autumn in my Heart? Sad Sonata? And the famous Bo Go Ship Ta (Missing You) by Kim Bum Soo in Stairways to Heaven. I always think of that kissing scene in the skating rink whenever I hear the song.

Lovers in Paris


At one time, everyone was singing (ok, humming) the songs from Lovers in Paris. Lee Dong Gun sang 2 songs from the drama when he was in town last year. But I was really, really thrilled to hear Cho Sung Mo sing live when I attended the April Snow concert in Korea last April. His voice is incredible. Well, that explains why I have so many of his albums.

Sometimes, watching a drama may lead me to totally unexpected singers.
Kim Jung Hun
fr Asta TV, Apr, Eng ed

Kim Jung Hun was from the group UN (which spilt up last year). I've heard them sing live before in a concert 2 years ago but had forgotten about them. And then he acted in the drama, Goong (Princess Hours) recently. Which made me curious enough to buy their last album. It was fatastic.

And the mesmerizing Lee Jun Ki resulted in my purchase of Lee Soo Young's latest album. Because he was in one the mv for her song.

Lee Jun Ki from the Lee Soo Young's mv, Grace


Lee Hyun Woo, Rain and Lee Dong Gun were singers before they cross over to become actors. Both Lee Hyun Woo and Rain are accomplished singers. Lee Dong Gun is really more suited for slow songs but then again, these albums were done long ago when he was still new, so it's difficult to comment. As for Jang Dong Gun, I didn't even know he could sing, but I was obsessed with this song from his drama of long ago, Love. I searched high and low for that song and was so surprised when I found it was sung by him. But I think it would be a waste if he switch to acting.

The Korean music mv (music video) is often a mini story itself and is done really, really well. I'm often really excited to watch these mvs and recognise the many actors, actresses in them- CJW, LBH, Hyun Bin, KRW.... Even BYJ has acted in an mv. It was his one and only mv.

Farewell My Love, by Cho Sung Mo, together with Lee Na Young. Picture scanned and uploaded orginally by Style.

Unfortunately the Korean music scene is still rather lacking over here in Singapore. So I ended buying most of my cds on the net or when I'm over in Korea. It is rather strange that the Korean dramas have taken off so well but not the music scene......

Of course I still don't know what they are singing though I can pick up certain words... like Saranghaeyo..... Yorwonee....Bo go ship ta.... hahaha! So much for my Korean lessons.

Seriously though, I can't imagine life without my Korean music now. I listen to it everyday when I'm working and when I'm not working. But my knowledge still pales in comparison to Jos... who is really the expert in this area.

My current favourite?

UN's Goodbye and Best- Track 1 and 4

What would life be without music? : )

Friday, April 07, 2006

Cool Swordsmen

BYJ has not really surfaced for the last few months since his last April Snow promotion in China. It's his usual practice to disappear from public view especially when preparing for his next role. Fans like us are quite used to it. Patience is our middle name. ^^

Recently, a photo or two have appeared, showing his longish hair, creating a stir in the BYJ family.
I've always like swordsmen in wuxia movies, I grew on a stable diet of Hong Kong wuxia or swordfighting drama, so you can imagine I'm really, really excited to see what kind of image he will appear in his new drama, Tae Wang Sa Shin Ki. Come to think of it, some of my favourite Korean characters were swordsmen too..

MUSA (무사) - JUNG WOO SUNG
I first noticed and know about Jung Woo Sung in Musa. It was a joint production between Korean and China. He was the slave, Yeo Sol in the movie and didn't speak much (the strong silent type) but he really caught my eye, especially when he was fighting. He caught Princess Bu Yong's (Zhang Zi Yi) eyes too. Unfortunately, the movie was only so-so and he died saving his beloved princess. (I wouldn't have died for Zhang Zi Yi if I was him but then she is not exactly on my favourite actress list)

Of course, he's since become a little more well-known especially after A Moment to Remember with Son Yeh Jin. (Btw, the bath towel scene is a much talked about wow scene!) He definitely has a better body now too.

He's currently filming a new movie called Mid Heaven together with Kim Tae Hee.

MID HEAVEN (중천) - JUNG WOO SUNG

This is still in production and is filmed mainly in China. I believe another joint China/Korean production again. The storyline sounds rather interesting though.. about an angel guarding mid heaven and I must say Kim Tae Hee looks rather pretty .

Hmmm...but Jung Woo Sung's image seems to be the same as that in Musa.. just a little cleaner. Still, I'l like to see him in 'action' again.

Picture fr Cine21, No 546

LEGEND OF 9 TAIL WOLVES (구미호외전) - JUN JIN

Strictly speaking, this is not really a wuxia drama but more a fantasy, combining some sword fighting scenes set in modern context. But the biggest draw was the ultra cool look he had wearing those black leather clothes and weilding his sword. Jun Jin is Mu Yong, a 9 tail wolve, who is able to maintain his human form only after consuming human liver. It's not really as gross as it sounds. Anyway, he's been trained as part of a special elite force, out to weed out the bad 'wolves' in the human world. Though he really went into training because he wanted to protect Kim Tae Hee, another 9 tail wolve. Sounds far fetched? It is, but I actually found the drama rather interesting. The only draw back was that Jun Jin was not the main lead and KTH still had huge traces of her role as the evil step-sister in SWTH. I think she was much better later in Love Story in Havard.

DUELIST (쳥사) - KANG DONG WON


Ok, I really didn't understand the movie and truth to be said, I didn't like the movie. But the cinematography of the fight scenes were really beautiful and the colours strikingly vivid.

Kang Dong Won is the mysterious, 'gentle' assasin, Sad Eyes (he doesn't have a name) and Ha Ji Won is the bumbling, rough detective, who must catch him and his mastermind, who is behind a spate of counterfeit money. Kang Dong Won was mysterious and beautiful but definitely not feminine. I think any lesser 'manly' actor would not have been able to carry out this look. I thought it poetry at the way he carried himself.

Kang Dong Won is now filming the movie, Our Happy Time with Lee Na Young. Btw, LNY has joined BOF in case anyone is not aware.

This brings me to my last favourite swordsman character in a fantastic drama.

Damo (다모) - Kim Min Joon


Damo is one of the most interesting drama that I've seen, not least because all the 3 main leads, Lee Seo Jin, Ha Ji Won and Kim Min Joon plus the rest of the cast gave a brilliant performance. The storyline of Duelist about counterfeit money was taken from this drama. Ha Ji Won was at her best here and spared off very well with both leads. But it was Kim Min Joon, as the charasmatic rebel Jang Sung Baek who attracted me. I guess I just like bad boys. Yes, it has the usual long-lost brother/ sister theme but it is not your usual melodrama predictable Korean storyline. The last scene is truely one of the most tragic scenes I've seen in a drama. And oh, KMJ on horseback galloping away on the beach was absolutely...sigh....to die for.....

Kim Min Joon was last seen in the drama Lovers in Prague togther with Jeong Do Yuen.

And now, I'm wondering, how would BYJ look like? Would his hair be long and curly? Or tied up in a ponytail? I don't think it will be straight like Kang Dong Won's in Duelist.

I'm looking forward to seeing him on horseback. Not like in Untold Scandal, where it was slow trot but fast and furious. Fighting. Tough. As much as I like his gentle, melonchaly portrayal in April Snow, it would be wonderful to see traces of Chan Woo or Yo Suk again.

Damo MV

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mesmerizing Lee Jun Ki

I've been mesmerized by a very pretty young man lately. No, he's not my toy boy. Can't afford him. This boy earns more than this auntie here.

I'm talking about Li Jun Ki from the drama My Girl and the record office breaking movie, The King and the Clown.











Above: 왕의남자 The King's Men, aka The King & the Clown

Left: 바이걸 My Girl
(fr Asta TV Eng Ed, Mar 06)


I've seen and heard about Li Jun Ki since last year because of his drama and movie but dismissed him completely then. Indeed when I first saw photos of Lee Jun Ki, I kept thinking... now why and how on earth would he be popular with the ladies. He's too pretty and looks...... I'm sorry I have to use the word, "sissy". And then at the urging of my K Drama friends, I started to watch My Girl.

What can I say? At the end of the 2nd episode, after 2 fight and chase scenes, I was totally charmed by this 'pretty man'. How could anyone look so pretty emit such a manly air? If you see him in action, you will realise that the words, "sissy, soft, gentle" do not fit this man at all. There is a certain charisma about him.

My Girl was enjoyable not just because of the on-screen chemistry between Lee Dong Wook and Lee Dae Hae. But also primarily because LJK brought the character of 'Seo Jeong Woo' to life. 'Jeong Woo' has a certain 'madness', a 'don't-mess-with-me' in his eyes and actions. This is one man I wouldn't want to trifle with. And yet, those same eyes could brim with tears that would make you cry with him.

I thought the scene in the last episode when he realised that he had again missed his chance to be with Yoo Rin, in the office.... those trembling hands, the shaky voice and the teary eyes, as he tried hard to control his tears, when he said: "Why is it that I still can't see what's in front of me again?" He was truely heart broken.

But there's also much liveliness about him that's enduring. I was especially tickled by his antics when I watched the Making of Grace mv (By Lee Soo Young). And yes, I've bought Lee Soo Young's latest album. Sigh... see what a pretty young man does to me? (Actually LSY's album isn't too bad. There are quite a few songs that I like)

Of course now I'm looking forward to watching The King and the Clown, which by the way has since been watched by 1 in 4 Koreans or 12 million people. There is a hint of gay theme in it but this is nothing like Brokeback Mountain. For a review of this highly anticipated movie which is about 2 lowly clowns and a mad king during the Chosun dynasty, go to http://www.koreanfilm.org/kfilm05.html

And the chances are high that I'll be able to watch it in the cinema here. Hurrah!

Pretty, sexy, mischievous Lee Jun Ki


As I was going through this month's supply of Korean magazines, I'm afraid I succumbed to temptation and bought the April's issue of Screen just for this poster.... Sigh.....This is not good.

Poster from Screen, April issue

Monday, April 03, 2006

Kwon Sang Woo Running Wild

Seems many of the Korean actors are determind to move beyond just being known as pretty boys, so they've taken on roles that require them to err... look 'tough' and 'unflattering'. Jang Dong Gon, Kim Rae Won and Kwon Sang Woo being just 3 of them.

Gist of the story:
KSW is a tough, rough, violent (yes, violent, at the rate he keeps beating people up) but upright detective. He's had a very difficult life.. his mother is seriously ill and needs money for a surgery, his younger step-brother has just been released from jail for some traid activities. And then this younger step-brother got killed. And the next 104 minutes is about KSW running wild to avenge his brother by napping the killers.

Yoo Ji Tae is a public prosecutor, who goes strictly by the books. He's working hard to nap the head of the triad, to the point of his marriage breaking down. And the next 104 minutes is about him working together with KSW to bring down this guy at all costs. Actually, I couldn't understand why YJT would need this quick punching detective, who is not above breaking some laws on his team.

Maybe KSW does things that he, YJT would very much like to do at times but is not able to as law enforcing officer. Certainly, the last 15 minutes or so, particularly the last scene convinced me of this. Personally, I thought there was a bittersweetness in the last scene when the punishment carried out. Shall not spoil it for you all by telling you all the ending.

Now, I do like gangster movies, please don't be mistaken. But I do think there was too much fighting and beating people into unrecognisable pulp and running, just for the sake of fighting, beating people into unrecognisable pulp and running... not necessary in that order.

In any case, there isn't anything wrong with their acting. I really like YJT but the storyline could have been a little stronger....I actually like the guy who was playing the baddie too (as in I was impressed by him). There's supposed to be a mutual brotherly feeling between YJT and KSW as the movie progress, but err....I'm sorry to say it wasn't very convincing, at least not to me anyway. Unless I'm missed out something by sitting in the third row from the front.

However, I am always impressed when an artiste tries on a different role. It means he's serious about acting and doesn't mind looking 'ugly' if the role requires it.

And although I wouldn't say that KSW looks ugly in Running Wild, his unshaven face is constantly covered with scars, bandages and plasters. So if you're going to watch the movie to see the KSW that we all know in Stairways to Heaven, then you're in for a huge dissapointment. But then I'm sure all his fans already know this and will still support him, right? (Isn't that what fans are for?)

Btw, must say that KSW does fight rather well.

Running Wild opens in Singapore on 6th April.
http://www.festivefilms.com/runningwild/