Good Ol’ Review: Middle School Student A Misses Huge Opportunity to Be Something Great

KBS Drama Special Youth

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
No Spoilers

Another recent teen-centric KBS Drama Special was Middle School Student A about a transfer student, Hae Joon (Kwak Dong Yun) who provokes the top student in the class after he bumps her from her #1 ranking.

The theme and unfortunate reality of young Koreans being pressured about excelling in school has been depicted in various types of stories from drama to comedy to horror. Teens feeling trapped by their parents’ expectations and the nasty competition between the students themselves, high school life in Korea appears to be pretty dramatic. And the themes are certainly not restricted to South Korea.

It is a worthy theme to explore and Middle School Student A even touches on the growing problem of suicide in Korea.

But while the drama takes a dark turn in the last third, it starts off like a typical and cliche-ridden teen romance. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: Youth is Another Excellent and Affecting KBS Drama Special

KBS Drama Special Youth

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
No Spoilers

If revenge is the most popular go-to theme in Korean drama, then the youth experience is a close 2nd. While there have been plenty of youth/high school dramas, many cute and idol-driven stories, KBS Drama Specials have been able to present darker and maybe more realistic depictions.

And the KBS Drama Special Youth (청춘) blends both themes into one dark, gritty hour. Continue reading

Hindsight Review: TV5’s Beki Boxer is One of the Best Filipino Series in Years

Beki Boxer

TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
No spoilers! Click here for my First Impression Review and click here for my Check-In Review.

I have no reservations with my proclamation in that headline. I absolutely believe TV5’s Beki Boxer is one of the best, most enjoyable and most creative scripted Filipino series, drama or comedy, in years. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: KBS’ Angel’s Revenge a Fully Satisfying Cat-and-Mouse Game

Angel's Revenge

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
LOTS OF FINALE SPOILERS!

KBS’ recently concluded Angel’s Revenge (천상 여자) is a fully satisfying drama series. As long as you commit to all 103 episodes.

That may seem daunting and this was a daily drama. But committing yourself to the entire series about a nun-in-training leaving the convent to seek revenge for the murder of her pregnant sister will help ensure that this won’t be a wasted experience. In fact, Angel’s Revenge ends as a completely worthwhile and dramatic cat and mouse game with some sweet romance and fun (and short!) detours. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

After finally watching Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land last week, I was looking forward to finally watching the Wizard-Fourze team-up movie.

Now this was my very first Kamen Rider Movie War. And damn, did I get lost. Continue reading

First Impression Review: TV5’s Jasmine an Engaging, Cinematic Experience

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first episode details.

TV5 continues its efforts to bring fresh concepts to Philippine television with their newest 1-hour weekly drama series Jasmine.

A TV5 co-production with Unitel Productions and Ace Saatchi & Saatchi, Jasmine aims to be a dramatic thriller about Jasmine (played by Jasmine Curtis-Smith) and her mysterious and possibly dangerous overzealous fan.

The first episode opens with the title character at an awards ceremony where she has just lost the Best Actress award to her TV5 rival Selina Pascual (Marvelous Alejo). While Selina is on stage accepting her award, the stage lights come crashing down on her head. Continue reading

Check-in Review: TV5’s Beki Boxer Deserves To Be a Hit

TYPE OF REVIEW : CHECK-IN REVIEW
No spoilers. For my First Impression Review, click here and for my Hindsight Review, click here.

TV5’s Beki Boxer should really be the biggest show in the Philippines today. And it is an injustice that it is not.

My first impression of Beki Boxer was that it was a “fun and hilariously charming little series” that had “plenty of heart to go along with the abundant laughs.”

And that certainly has not changed after 43 episodes. If anything, the show has only Continue reading

Hindsight Review: GMA’s Carmela and Rhodora X Dropped the Ball

TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
One spoiler, but it doesn’t really matter.

Carmela and Rhodora X premiered at the end of January. While I was lukewarm with Carmela, I saw a lot of potential in Rhodora X.

Color me not surprised that not one, but two Filipino drama series end up having disappointing runs. This is definitely nothing new with Filipino soap operas. But going into new shows, of course, you’re very hopeful. It is unfortunate, but never unexpected that they end up completely dropping their balls multiple times before they bid farewell. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land is Like Visiting with Old Friends

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
No spoilers.

It’s always great to visit with old friends. And that’s just how I felt after finally watching Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land.

While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the mindfrak that is Kamen Rider Gaim, it almost makes me appreciate the simplicity of Wizard. I enjoyed the season and getting to visit with them again with the movie reminded me why. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: Ang Kwento ni Mabuti is a Quietly Engrossing Film

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
No spoilers.

The film Ang Kwento ni Mabuti starts with an ethereal and almost supernatural teaser and cold open as we see clouds and fog seemingly engulfing veteran and multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor as she walks up a mountain, terrified and clutching a large bag.

Smash cut to the title card and then to three girls having fun chasing each other with small bamboo blowguns speaking Ilocano while Nora Aunor sets up a series of hoses that will bring water from the creek to their home down the mountain.

The contrast between the two scenes, one dark and mysterious, the other quiet and simple, will be repeated many times through the film. Continue reading

First Impression Review: TV5’s Beki Boxer Lands Both Emotional and Comical Punches

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week set-up spoilers. For my Check-In Review, click here and for my Hindsight Review, click here.

TV5 continues its quest to gain ground on the two Philippine television behemoths. A couple of months into its “vertical programming” primetime scheduling format, TV5 still has a ways to go. But in the process of introducing its radical (for Philippine television) programming strategy, the network has been able to also introduce some creative and fresh programs.

The latest is the network’s charming and fun series Beki Boxer.

Described as a comedy with heart, Beki Boxer tells the story of Rocky, a young closeted gay man who is determined to win back his family’s honor and reputation by becoming a champion boxer.

While Rocky has always been more interested in the Miss Universe pageant and Barbies than GI Joes, he’s also always looked up to his father who was once a champion boxer himself. But one fight changed that all. Suspected of throwing the fight, Rocky’s father went from local hero to laughing stock overnight. And since then, their family’s been looked down upon and insulted. Continue reading

First Impression Review: A Lot of Potential in GMA’s Rhodora X

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week spoilers.

Genuinely fresh and groundbreaking stories are hard to come by on Philippine television. But one of GMA Network’s newest dramas hopes to be one of those rarities.

Rhodora X starring Jennylyn Mercado aims to tell the story of the title character who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known previously and maybe more commonly as Multiple Personality Disorder.

Now this is definitely not the first time a Filipino soap opera has a medical condition at the center of its premise. And the dramas that have tackled such medical-related stories have been on both sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between. ABS-CBN’s Budoy about a young man with Angelman syndrome was well-intentioned on paper, but was instead pretentious and heavy handed. TV5’s Positive about a man diagnosed with AIDS balanced typical Pinoy suds with a daring and unflinching look at the effects of the disease on the main character and the people around him.

Rhodora X appears to be following more in Positive‘s footsteps by exploring the disorder and its effects in a suspense-thriller setting. At least, that’s the impression you get from the first week and the pre-show teasers. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: The Universal Appeal of tvN’s Answer Me 1994

Reply 1994

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
LOTS of spoilers.

So I am definitely late to the entire Reply/Answer Me hype, but finally managed to jump in last week. Instead of starting with 2012’s Answer Me 1997, I chose to watch the more recent Answer Me 1994 first.

One of my favorite things about Korean dramas is that their short, miniseries format allows for a wide variety of stories even if most fall into the same drama tropes. To find a few more original, risk taking or fresh concepts, the cable networks and the late night drama specials on the big three (or maybe just KBS?) are where to go.

tvN has been at the forefront of dramas that are both out of the box while still having mainstream appeal. And the Answer Me series certainly falls within that spectrum.

Another one of my favorite things about Korean dramas is when I stumble upon a drama that appears to be very Korean on the surface, yet ends up being very universal instead.

Answer Me 1994 is a perfect example. Continue reading

First Impression Review: Stunning Visuals Carry GMA’s Carmela Through First Week

TYPE OF REVIEW : FIRST IMPRESSION REVIEW
Basic first week spoilers.

GMA Network was not afraid to break new ground last year with My Husband’s Lover. And they don’t appear to be backing down from controversial topics in 2014 with Carmela, a fictionalized “ripped from the headlines” version of the sensational story of the beating of accused rapist Vhong Navarro that’s currently dominating the airwav…

Huh? No? It’s not? Oh, oops.

Well, that would’ve been a ballsy show, yeah? But really, Carmela‘s first week was a little more typical. Which is a surprise considering the series is created by much acclaimed Suzette Doctolero (My Husband’s Lover, Amaya) and has been hyped as a fresh, exciting concept.

Carmela‘s subtitle, Ang Pinakamagandang Babae sa Mundong Ibabaw (The Most Beautiful Woman on the Face of the Earth), suggests a much more interesting story even if its first week did not. Continue reading

Review: Mamoru Hosada’s Breathtaking and Emotional Wolf Children

TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
No spoilers.

The announcement of Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement surprised and saddened fans of excellent filmmaking as well as fans of Japanese animation. Many of Miyazaki’s own films and those under Studio Ghibli helped introduce Japanese animation to the world.

But even as Miyazaki has made what is likely his final film, there is still much to look forward to as a brand new generation of filmmakers look to continue the creativity and groundbreaking filmmaking Japanese animation has come to be known for. Mamoru Hosada’s Wolf Children is an excellent example. Continue reading