Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shining Inheritance

“I believe you. I like you. I want to have you.”

Also Known As: Chanranhan Yusan/ Brilliant Legacy/ Beautiful Legacy


Han Hyo Joo as Go Eun Sung
Lee Seung Ki as Sun Woo Hwan
Bae Soo Bin as Park Jun Se
Moon Chae Won as Yoo Seung Mi
Ban Hyo Jung as Jang Sook Ja
Kim Mi Sook as Baek Sung Hee
Jun In Taek as Go Pyung Joong 

The Plot:

Go Eun Sung’s life is similar to Cinderella’s. After her father died, her step-mother, Baek Sung Hee, took away all of her assets and her younger brother, Eun Woo, suddenly disappears without a trace. Despite this, Eun Sung preservers and works really hard to fulfill her dreams. When the CEO of a food company, Jang Sook Ja, suffers amnesia and can’t remember who she is Eun Sung takes her in. However, Eun Sung does not know that she is the grandmother of Sun Woo Hwan, the man who she switched bags with at the airport. How will their constant bickering lead them to realize that they care more about each other than they let on?
credits: dramawiki

After a long hiatus in watching Asian dramas (I got obsessed with variety shows and mangas) and having so many stalled dramas, I decided to watch this series and I was hooked so I actually finished it.
The plot is like a modern fairytale, and yes, definitely like Cinderella’s (which is my fave fairytale by the way). Her real mother died and her father remarried. Her stepmother appeared to be nice in front of her and her father but when her father “died”, she kicked her and her autistic brother out in the streets. She became poor and lost her brother. She met a kind grandmother who turned out to be a very rich person. However, in this fairy tale, we’ve got two princes. One is a jerk and the another is one of the kindest person I’ve ever seen graced Korean dramas.
Its underlying plot is basic and cliche even. There are some things that seemed illogical however the drama’s attack to this ordinary plot is unexpected.There were so many things happening at the same time but it didn’t gave the audience an overwhelming feeling because everything just fits. It’s like an intricate web of single events that is no matter how complex, the effect is just one.
I was pretty surprised that this series actually has 28 episodes. This is the longest Korean drama that I’ve ever watched. When I checked the number, I was actually a bit skeptic as to whether I have the patience to finish it.
However, I was already hooked during the very first episode. The car chase completely won me over. Haha.
Last thing, this is the very first subbed drama  that I’ve watched with my mom. She really doesn’t like watching dramas in their original language because she’s not used to reading subtitles. Also, whenever she watches TV, she has to be doing something else, whether it is housework or poring over some documents. But well, she watched this one, not all episodes but yeah, she tried.


Han Hyo Joo as Go Eun Sung: I love her character. Eun Sung not only has a kind heart but she actually has guts. She is not a weak female lead and definitely a refreshing break from other female leads. She knows what’s important to her and she also know how to stand up for herself.  Hyo Joo is a very fetching actress (she actually resembles Song Hye Kyo a bit) but she has definitely come a long way since her Rainbow Romance days. I first appreciated her acting in Spring Waltz where she did a pretty good job. She can definitely act. She’s good in light scenes and she will break your heart when she cries. It’s also amazing how she can have perfect chemistry with the two male leads and grandmother as well.

Lee Seung Gi as Sun Woo Hwan: I’ve always liked Lee Seung Gi as a singer. I first get to know him in the (amazing) variety show, X-Man but this is the first time I get to see him act. And he can damn act. Omo, he was really good as the jerk Hwan. He was horrible and I feel he was incorrigible. I know he is definitely gonna change later on but I was wondering how they’re gonna do that realistically and whether I’ll actually like him because he was such a douchebag. But I guess the writers did their job very well, Hwan’s transition for the better is slow yet believable. He definitely didn’t change overnight and the process made me like him more. Seung Gi and Hyo Joo definitely looked good together and I hope they’ll have projects soon.

Bae Soo Bin as Park Jun Se: He is my prince!!! How can someone be as perfect as him? He was kind, generous, gentle, and just plain lovable from head to foot. It was pretty unbelievable. However, I love the way his character didn’t change despite Eun Sung turning him down and going with Hwan. You know how nice third wheel guys in Korean dramas changed into cunning men when they get rejected by the person they really love? They will do everything to break up the two who’s destined to be with each other while conniving with the other party. Well, Jun Se didn’t turn that way and I was utmost pleased. It doesn’t mean that he loves Eun Sung less because he didn’t go after her. No, he was definitely heartbroken and disappointed indeed but his love is so pure that when he has already done everything (all good) but the girl still chose another, he decided to let her go. I feel bad for him, nice guys do finish last.
Moon Chae Won as Yoo Seung Mi: The most pitiful character of all and the most sad. Her character is very easy to hate but I can’t seem to hate her fully because she was also a victim of her mother’s wicked ways. She was very lonely from the very start. Her real father isn’t any good and her new father cannot love her completely. She wasn’t close to Eun Sung but she didn’t hate her. She envies her yes, because she also wanted the same attention from her stepfather. But I guess, because she has Hwan and he is her rock, so she didn’t mind very much. However, when her hold on Hwan gets threatened by no less than the person who has everything she wanted, it drove her to allow herself be manipulated by her mother. I think her best moment was when she stopped her mother from jumping off the building in the final ep.

Kim Mi Sook as Baek Sung Hee: I want to mention her because she gave such a terrific performance. It’s amazing how evil she really is, how cunning, how manipulative. It’s scary. She’s so good in conveying messages that will make you believe that it’s the truth. Wow, Kim Mi Sook portrayed this character close to perfection. So formidable.

The other supporting characters are definitely more than forgettable especially grandmother and Eun Sung’s father. Hwan’s family though irritating at times, did their part pretty well. I also adore the second branch workers and Hye Ri, Eun Sung’s friend. And of course, I cannot forget, Go Eun Woo, who is so good in piano and so good in playing a special child. Two thumbs up.

The Soundtrack:

I just finished the drama last night and I haven’t got a chance to look up all the songs used in this drama but a few pieces stick to mind. First is, “Crazily in Love” by Ji Sun. I swear, Ji Sun is such a good singer. She also sang some of my favorite soundtracks in other dramas. Another is “The Person who Lives in My Heart” by Yi Soo (from MC The Max). The first chords of the song sound so much like an OST from Lovers in Paris. “Love is Punishment” by K.Will is also a good insert song. And of course, since Lee Seung Gi is here and he is a singer, we will hear some of his songs. I really love “Will You Marry Me?” I get giddy whenever I hear it. Also, in the noraebang part, Manager sang Seung Gi’s first song when he was still 17, “Because You’re My Woman.” It’s pretty amazing how his voice changed. Compare “Because You’re My Woman” to “Will You Marry Me?” You’ll think that the latter is sang by a younger Seung Gi and the former is sang by an older Seung Gi but it’s actually the other way around.

The Quote:

“I believe in you. I like you. I want to have you.” This was said by Sun Woo Hwan in episode 22 at the bridge. The drama has a lot of good quotes regarding money and life but I choose this one to put at the top. I find it pretty brilliant that he first said I believe you, rather than I like you. It’s like his trust in her is not clouded by his affection for her. He’s not partial because he has feelings for her. So, whether or not he likes her, he still believes in her. 

The Ending:
Not gonna spoil the ending for you guys, but all I can say is I was satisfied though I must admit that I was left craving for more. But the whole final episode was heartwarming. 


It’s really no wonder why this drama beat Boys Over Flowers in the ratings game. Shining Inheritance is a pretty amazing drama. Their take on the typical plot is good. It has a nice combination of laughs and tears, of heartaches and triumphs. I’m happy that my comeback (sort of) review is this drama. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Recently, I discovered about a true story of a dog named Hachiko, an Akita who is known for its loyalty to his master. According to it, Hachiko’s owner is a university professor. For years, Hachiko saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. This is their routine everyday. However, one day, the professor suffered a stroke at the university and died. He never returned to the train station. And everyday, Hachiko waited at the train station for his master. This goes on for 10 years, until his death.
When he died in 1935, his body was stuffed and kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. Hachiko is considered as a hero. He symbolizes what loyalty is all about. In 1934, a statue was erected at the Shibuya Station, where he waited everyday for his master.
In 1987, a film was made based on Hachiko’s life and story. It is aptly titled,Hachiko Monogatari (Tale of Hachiko). I watched this fanmade video of the 1987 film, and even with this, I cried. It was so sad but so sweet. This is why I love dogs.

Now, a remake of the 1987 film is about to be released in the US in October, 2009. Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale stars Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Sarah Roemer. Here’s the trailer. I will definitely watch this one.

I love dogs and I love dog movies. It’s just kinda ironic that I always end up crying every time I finished a film.

*pics from Google

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

We Got Married: Ssangchu Couple

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the two most unlikely couple.


Witness as Kim Hyun Joong (of SS501, Boys Over Flowers)

ties the knot with

Hwang Bo Hye Jung (of Chakra).

Thought it was real? Well, I (as well as other JoongBo lovers) hope so.

In the Korean reality show We Got Married, popular Korean celebrities are paired up with each other to show what life would be like if they were married to each other. Kim Hyun Joong was paired up with Hwang Bo who is actually six years his senior. They were called the older/younger couple.

We Got Married, as far as I know through research, has no scripts. They only make the couples do a mission based on the prior situation arranged for them. Well, okay they have scripts in terms of production planning, like the honeymoon, house, everything that has to do with budgets. The dialogues are left to the actors. It also means that the gestures, the conversations, the actions are all spontaneous, real and almost 90% of what they would do if they were really married.  Also, since it is a reality show, the real lives of the couples are also included in the show. For example, for the JoongBo couple, we get to see the SS501 members since Hyun Joong is a part of them. Also, Hwang Bo goes to events related to her work.

The show features other couples but I will focus on Kim Hyun Joong and Hwang Bo or the Ssangchu Couple (Lettuce Couple as they were nicknamed), since they were actually the only ones that I watched in this show. And I am crazy about them.

I’ll introduce them again. 

Ssangchu Couple (Lettuce Couple)
other names: Awkward Couple, Joongbo Couple, Older/Younger Couple
Kim Hyun Joong
nicknames: Shillang(husband), Kid Groom, Hyunjoongie
Hwang Bo Hye Jung
nicknames: Hwang Buin, Buin(wife), Yeobo

The first time I’ve seen Kim Hyun Joong was when I saw the MV of Snow Prince, a song by SS501 in Arirang’s Showbiz Extra back in 2006. I immediately like their group and I started to listen to their songs. However, I wasn’t yet obsessed with them so I didn’t look them up on the internet. I was listening and liking their songs but I actually didn’t know their names.  Months after that first encounter with their group, I started to immerse myself in other idol groups and wasn’t able to listen to their new songs. Last year, the buzz of a new version of Hana Yori Dango in Korea exploded. I knew about it but I wasn’t that much eager about it then so I wasn’t following their search for casts. When finally the official poster for the drama was released I went to look at it and somehow felt that the one who would be playing the Hanazawa Rui character (which is Ji Hoo) was familiar to me. It didn’t occur to me then that he was the one from SS501 because in the poster, his hair was blond and Kim Hyun Joong’s hair was originally black. It was when I started to read some articles about the drama that I realized that he IS Kim Hyun Joong.

I didn’t like him that much in BOF. I am not going to repeat what I thought of his performance here. You can read it here in my review of BOF and here too. If it wasn’t for the fact that he resembled Bae Young Joon so much, I wouldn’t feel even a tiny bit of compassion for his character.
On the other hand, I never knew about Hwang Bo before watching this show. Her girl group debuted way back in 1999 and they disbanded in 2004.


But then accidentally, I decided to watch We Got Married (JoongBo Cuts = their couple story only). I actually don’t know how I stumbled upon it. It’s not my usual watching habit because it is a reality show. I usually go for drama series, as you might have noticed.

But this show turned out to be one of the best I have ever seen.


Kim Hyun Joong here was different. Since it is a reality show and with no scripts except for missions given to them, everything is natural. Hyun Joong showed his true personality which I found a far cry from his character in Boys Over Flowers. Apparently, he has such a complex personality. Complex in a good and funny way. He was dubbed in the show as a 4-dimensional little kid groom. His comments are witty though sometimes insensitive. His reasoning is sometimes absurd but funny. He may be blunt towards Hwang Bo at times but he remembers every detail, every word she has said and is capable of being very sweet to her. (He serenaded her and made 1000 paper cranes by hand for her.)

Hwang Bo is a bit tomboyish and was even nicknamed as a walking tool (she can open a bottle of Coke using a spoon!)  but surprisingly, her feminine side is even greater. She is a very good cook, who can do different kinds of dishes to the utter amazement of Hyun Joong. She can sew and knit. She had sewed a vest and knitted a scarf for Hyun Joong. She is caring but sensitive from time to time.

But aside from being a good housewife, Hwang Bo is also at par with Hyun Joong in terms of competitiveness. It was showed through the many games they had as a couple in the show.

From the very first time they met, they don’t seem to be a good match. She is older than him by six years. He has a seniority complex. They had a hard time adjusting. They were uncomfortable with each other. They can’t look at each other in the eye without counting 1,2,3. They were dubbed as the awkward couple.
But as time goes by (and as the show goes on), it was proven. Yes, they were not a good match. They were, however, a perfect match for each other. Somehow, even if the show is make-believe, we felt that they were right for each other.

Why? <From here onwards, I’m gonna up the fantasy (which I actually hope to become real).>

It all started three years ago (correct me if I’m mistaken coz’ some says it’s just two years ago), in a Korean variety show called X-Man (picture below). Kim Hyun Joong and Hwang Bo were both guests in the show. There were a bunch of clips. One was when they were pitted against each other. The next one, Hyun Joong was asked who he wanted to see in the team and he picked Hwang Bo. The reason was actually a tease but I, as a JoongBo lover, felt something when I saw that video clip. The other one was when Hwang Bo and Hyun Joong actually did a similar dance. When Hwang Bo was dancing, the expression in Hyun Joong’s face was priceless. After that, they were also seen in other variety shows.
That was three years ago! Who would’ve thought that they will end up in (a make-believe) marriage? When I saw that clip, I thought ‘isn’t that destiny?’. And seeing them as a married couple in WGM, with true feelings and real conversations and actions, my resolve that they were really fated for each other hardened.

These past few days, I immersed myself in their world. I was totally captivated by them. I have never seen a couple so different yet so right for each other. Knowing that it would be hard to get a copy of the show, I spent a considerable amount of time downloading their video clips and burning them in CDs. That was actually the first time I ever did that for any show. I wasn’t yet satisfied so I scoured Youtube for fanmade MVs and I downloaded them all and burned them in CDs too. I was amazed by my patience. Maybe it was because of love.

It was also because I love them that I couldn’t help but get irritated to comments posted in Youtube while I was searching for MVs of them. One commented for Hwang Bo to get away from Hyun Joong because she’s so old for him, blah blah blah. I actually replied to that comment. I said ‘to go and watch all their cuts in We Got Married, you would see how perfect they are for each other. And if you already did, and you still think that way then I don’t know what’s wrong with you!‘ Hahaha.

I also learned that it was actually because of this show and Hyun Joong’s performance in it that he was chosen to play Ji Hoo in Boys Over Flowers. Actually that was the reason why they decided to ‘divorce’. A few episodes up before their farewell and exit from the show, news came out that Hyun Joong was not quitting WGM but I guess schedules become hectic soon after that and BOF even went to film overseas. It was even clear in the show that Hyun Joong was tired all the time and he was sleeping a lot of times too. He was really pressured because of the drama. So there’s no other choice but to ‘divorce’ even if they don’t want to. (4-dimensional Shillang was replaced with a bad-acted Ji Hoo?)

The last few episodes near the farewell were hard to watch. I decided to watch them all at night instead during the afternoon because I can’t help but cry.

Last May 11, 2009, JoongBo lovers celebrated their supposed to be 1st Anniversary through posting fanmade MVs. They had this statement in some of the videos that were posted.
I also want to believe. I want it to be real.
I am going to wait until one of them marries.

I want them together for real.

Hyun Joong: 
Hello Hwang Buin!
It’s me the Star!
If you always look at me 
and make a wish,
your wish will always come true.
So, Hwang Buin, even without me,
don’t be sad.

Hwang Bo:
If you’re tired, lean on your wife.
I’ll be ready, 365 days of the year
24 hours a day…

<By the way, Hwang Bo came to Cebu for a shoot with Infinity Girls. I’ve read some accounts of the people who were lucky enough to see her and hug her. They kept saying that she is so pretty and they were all starstruck. They’ve even give her gifts. So cute. They were so damn lucky.>

*pics from Google

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Also known as “The Secret That Cannot Be Told,” Secret is singer/songwriter Jay Chou’s directorial debut.
Jay Chou is Ye Xiang Lun, a newly transferred music student majoring in piano. On his first day, while he was being toured around by Qing Yi (Alice Tzeng), he hears a beautiful melody being played that leads him to the old piano room. In there, he meets Lu Xiao Yu (Kwai Lun Mei), another piano major. But when Xiang Lun asks her what is the song she was playing, she said that it was a secret that cannot be told. Soon, they became friends and Xiao Yu falls for Xiang Lun. Due to a miscommunication, Xiao Yu sees Xiang Lun kissed another girl and she disappeared.
Jay Chou is definitely one of the hottest singers in China today. Not only that, he is also a brilliant composer. But apparently, he didn’t want to stay like that. Wanting to broaden his horizons, he delved into directing. He had experiences in directing music videos but Secret is his first time directing a film. He also co-wrote it and stars in it. Pretty good for a first timer and I must say that at the very least, it wasn’t a typical love story.
On the other hand, Jay Chou doesn’t fair very well as an actor. He has charm but it doesn’t translate well on screen. He doesn’t know how to effectively convey different emotions on his face. Two scenes where he stands out though were the piano duel scene and the last scene where he still plays the piano even when the building was being demolished.
Jay Chou also wrote some of the music for this movie and they were good. I also liked it that he was a Chopin fan (like me!) and he made a lot of tribute to this composer. I enjoyed the piano duel very much. They played Chopin’s Waltz and Black Key Etude.
Jay Chou’s leading actress is Kwai Lun Mei who I didn’t actually find that pretty at first. I thought that Alice Tzeng was a better choice. However, I realized that Alice Tzeng is perfect as the third wheel because it supplied additional tension. Kwan Lun Mei, on the other hand, proved to be a good actress. She started really plain, though mysterious, and soon after become charming and affable. When her story was revealed, we see a deeper level to her character and she started to have an effect on the audience in a very good way.
Other characters that were also a stand out in this film include Xiang Lun’s father played by Anthony Wong and Zhan Yu Hao, who is called the Prince of the Piano, who had the piano duel with Xiang Lun.
The story being shrouded in mystery is the film’s strongest point. Audience is captivated by the vagueness of the female character and it’s what would drive the people to watch until the very end.
However, there are a lot of loopholes in the film which is sad to say, glaringly obvious. Secret is built on a set of rules, but near the end, when everything is revealed, Secret disregarded these so-called rules. Credibility that was from the very start treading on a shaky ground, crumbles.
But that part is also the most poignant part of the film, and the one part that built my resolve that I actually love this film despite all its flaws. It had me crying until the end. Kwan Lun Mei was very good in here and Jay Chou started to show something different. The parts that I like include Xiao You communicating with a whiteout, Xiang Lun’s father running after Xiang Lun when he realized that it was his son that Xiao Yu had fallen in love with, and Xiang Lun playing the piano though he was already bleeding and the building was being demolished.
By and large, the movie’s cinematography was pleasing and the music was commendable (of course, most of it is classical!). Kwai Lun Mei presented the audience with a convincing performance. And, even though Jay Chou needs to polish his acting, I have high regards for all his efforts for this movie. I am actually excited to see him do another film. There’s a rumor that Secret Part 2 is in the works. And like what I twitted before when I was watching the movie, since Jay Chou can play kickass classical music, I am already his fan!
So, despite all of its conspicuous slipups, Secret managed to deliver a moving love story.

*pic from Google

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crows Zero

After watching the over dramatic Koizora, I decided to follow it up with this one. I didn’t know anything about it at first. All I know is that Oguri Shun won Best Actor for this film. MySoju described it as an action film. I have nothing against action films, in fact I like a lot of them, but they have to be well done in order for me to appreciate it. The poster didn’t help too. It was like a gangster movie.
But since I was way too choked up because of the previous movie, I went ahead and watch this film and never regretted it, not even once. It was one heck of a film. It was such a badass film and I liked it too much.
Crows Zero tells the story of Takiya Genji (Oguri Shun) who’s a newcomer to Suzuran All-Boys High School. He is there to conquer the school due to a deal he made with his father. If he conquered Suzuran, then Genji will replaced his father as the head of their yakuza group. However, he has a lot of people to defeat first, especially Tamao Serizawa (Yamada Takayuki) who was considered to be “King of A Hundred Beasts.” Serizawa is also the closest to conquering the notorious high school.
I was skeptical at first but just a few minutes into the movie and I was hooked. I honestly didn’t know the director but everyone was praising him and saying that he was such a good filmmaker and after watching Crows Zero, I have no choice but to agree a hundred percent. Takashi Miike is brilliant!
The movie is such a masterpiece. The style, the shots, the fight scenes, the pacing are spot-on. The direction is perfect and totally enthralling. The story is good, and even more is the storytelling.
Oguri Shun delivered a top-notch performance. No wonder he won a Best Actor Award. He was fantastic as Genji and his presence onscreen was remarkable that he brought the character to life. I wasn’t so into Yamada Takayuki when I saw him here because I wondered how he can be the “King of a Hundred Beasts” when he was short like that. But no, Takayuki proved how terrific he can be as Serizawa.
There wasn’t even one character to hate. All of them are interesting and their performance gave extra color to the movie. The fight sequences are done skillfully, realistic with a bit of manga trademarks. There’s also more than a tad of great dark comedy that makes the film even more fantastic.
Overall, with a good story, a great cast, fantastic acting, genius direction, amazing fight sequences, riveting storytelling, Crows Zero is a gift wrapped in a beautiful box complete with a red ribbon.
I would wholeheartedly accept a gift like this everyday.
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