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

KBS Drama Special Youth

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

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

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: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum


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

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

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

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

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

Good Ol’ Review: KBS Drama Special A Taste of Curry Another Charming Story

A Taste of Curry

No spoilers.

Another KBS Drama Special, another pleasant surprise.

A Taste of Curry starring Jun Hye Bin and Hyun Woo is another great example of KBS Drama Special’s penchant to present different and engaging stories.

Yoo Mi (Jun Hye Bin) owns and runs a curry restaurant and Hongdae all by herself. She doesn’t get very many customers and she’s fine with that even though she and her mother need the money. One day, she ends up knocking out Kyung Pyo (Hyun Woo), a seemingly drunk man who has just awaken on the bench outside her restaurant. Continue reading

Good Ol’ Review: Join After School Bokbulbok For an Insanely Fun and Surprisingly Sweet Little Drama

After School Bokbulbok

Some small spoilers.

Dramas have grown a great deal in the last year with many fresh and even big stars taking part in projects being delivered to audiences in non-traditional ways.

After School Bokbulbok (or After School Lucky or Not) is one of those experimental new dramas having premiered online and on mobile devices via SK Telecom properties like Nate last September. It was recently made available on DramaFever and Hulu which is where I discovered this hilarious little gem. Continue reading

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

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

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

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: KBS’ Charming and Poignant Waiting For Love

Waiting for Love KBS

SPOILER ALERT! Full discussion of the story, but there is fair warning.

After watching two KBS Drama Specials today, I decided to catch up with the two-episode drama special (though not under the Drama Special banner) Waiting For Love.

The two-parter stars BoA, Choi Daniel and ZE:A’s Siwan in a contemporary story about love and relationships.

Before we get to the spoilerific review of the special, how about watching both episodes right here. I absolutely recommend Waiting For Love, both for the charming and emotional story and the great performances by its lead cast.

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

*Spoilers begin!* Continue reading

Review: Your Noir and Came To Me and Became a Star Are Excellent, Engrossing Examples of the KBS Drama Special

Drama Special

SPOILER ALERT! Full discussion of the two drama specials, but there is fair warning after a little intro to both.

KBS Drama Specials continue to present some of Korean television’s best and most unique stories. And two recent Drama Specials are excellent examples of that fact.

Now since my review will pretty much spoil both stories, I will say right now that both are well worth your time. And you can watch them both right now thanks to KBS World posting every Drama Special episode on their official YouTube.

The first drama is Your Noir starring 2PM’s Chansung as Hyung Joo, a new recruit in an “organized crime” gang whose boss wants to bring down a pesky prosecutor by finding clear proof of the prosecutor’s abuse of his wife. Turns out, the prosecutor’s wife (Chae Jung Ahn) is Hyung Joo’s former high school teacher who he had feelings for.

The second drama is Came To Me and Became a Star starring Kim Ji Suk and Jung So Min as two 20-somethings who are struggling to make a living and must live in a youth hostel. After getting paired up at a blind date meeting party, they start dating but hide from each other the fact that they are practically dirt poor.

*Spoilers begin now!* Continue reading

Review: Super Hero Taisen Z is Another Fan’s Dream, but This Time With a Great Story

Super Hero Taisen Z

Lots of spoilers.

Last year’s Super Hero Taisen was a complete fanwank. It was an insane and fun ride with plenty of familiar faces and lots of pretty explosions.

Having only gotten into Sentai via Shinkenger and Kamen Rider via Fourze and a little of OOO, I still thought it was an amazing movie. Maybe my lack of experience with pre-Shinkenger and pre-Fourze seasons (except the Decade X Shinkenger crosover) made me enjoy it a lot more than maybe longer or lifelong fans? I wouldn’t know where to start nitpicking.

Most of the movie made no sense and the references to past seasons went over my head. But I was able to fully enjoy Gokaiger even though I wasn’t familiar with any of the teams pre-Zyuranger and only knew of the post-Zyu teams by their Power Ranger names.

Having Mr. Joe Gibken pretty much the star of the movie helped ground it in a familiar place for me. With movies like Super Hero Taisen, I guess I go into them knowing I’m in it for the fanservice and seeing a clusterfrack of colored heroes fighting and big, gratuitous, grand explosions.

Which is why this year’s Super Hero Taisen Z felt much more cohesive, much more epic and much more awesome for me than the first. Continue reading