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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Taiyou no Uta (2006)


Country: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: life&death, romance
Cast: YUI, Tsukamoto Takashi, Asagi Kuniko, Kishitani Goro, Toyama Airi, Fuse Eri, 
Synopsis: Amane Kaoru is 16 year old girl who lives a different life from others - she sleeps on daytime and wakes up after the sun has gone down just to go out to play her guitar on streets. Actually she suffers from a rare disease called XP (xeroderma pigmentosum), which makes Sun her fatal enemy. At the same time there is a guy named Kouji who lives a care-free life, passing Kaoru's window at every dawn to go to surf. Despite having different lifestyles, the fate brings them together to give them time to change something in them.
Rating: 5/5
Belive me or not, but this movie did not make me cry and in some way it is not bad thing at all.
Kaoru is a really sweet girl who can be straightforward about her feelings, but also decent and hold back. YUI is a perfect choice for this role, because of her beautiful voice and cute appearance. I have always liked YUI's songs and they were enjoyable as a OST, but about acting - like usually singers should sing and actors act. She was not bad or anything, but just amateur. Of course, there were things that were a bit creepy - I mean, stalking a guy with a camera is not a thing that normal girls should do. I was impressed by Kaoru's strength to face her illness - she knew that her illness has no cure, but she decided to live the fullest as long as she can.
Kouji is a "baka"-guy. He is not talented nor smart, but he has a big heart and he does not think weird about people who give a sudden confession attack. I think he was actually flattered and amused by Kaoru's actions. I saw Tsukamoto Takashi in "Hungry" for the first time, but as he was a supporting actor, then he did not receive so much attention from me, but this time I was really looking at him and Gyoza! I need to see him more in dramas/movies (especially, because he has acted a lot).
I also enjoyed watching the parents, because they were the perfect example of how parents try to
make everything to protect their child, while blaming themselves for child's misfortune (I actually do not think that "misfortune is the right word in this context, but I do not find better words) . I do think that Kishitani Goro might have been the best actor in this movie for his role as father, because he was really great.
Now to the reason why it did not make me cry. It was very predictable - I knew everything that was going to happen, so things did not come as a surprise. More than that, the start was really slow. It took too much time showing the surrounding before getting into the real story, which made the story a little bit shallow and short. It is a bittersweet love story, that leaves the taste of sadness into you.


Friday, December 21, 2012

City Hunter (2011)


Country: South-Korea
Format: live-action drama in 20 episodes
Genre: action, romance
Cast: Lee Min Ho, Park Min Young, Lee Joon Hyuk, Kim Sang Joong,Yang Jin Sung,  Lee Kwang Soo, Chun Ho Jin, Choi Jung Woo, Choi Il Hwa, Choi Sang Hoon, Lee Hyo Jung, Kim Sang Ho, Jung Joon, Sung Chang Hoon, Hwang Sung Hee, Goo Ha Ra
Synopsis: In year 1983 21 Korean special agents are killed on a secret mission by their own country. But actually Lee Jin Pyo survives and killing five men assemble, who had promised to protect their solders with their lives, becomes his life-mission. He steals his best friend's 1 month old baby to include him into the bloody circle of revenge.  28 years later Lee Yoon Sung becomes a member of MIT and works in Blue House, searching for the five man assemble and their mistakes. 
Rating: 5/5
That drama made me understand why Lee Min Ho is loved by everybody and that when the original story is non-shoujo manga, then it might turn into really great Korean drama.
Lee Min Ho stars as Lee Yoon Sung - a hottie who has grown up in Triangle (Thailand) and lived in USA for 7 years and has ended up as a clean freak arrogant "flower" boy, which is common in Korean dramas. Gomen, I promised not to talk only about negative things. He acted all his fighting scenes himself (so did Park Min Young). They had a harsh martial arts practices and all fighting scenes were filmed as the last ones in 5 or 6 AM, which made them rather exhausted and sleepy, so that Lee Min Ho actually fell asleep during filming one scene were he was hit on the ground. I have read the first chapter of manga and it is difficult to compare the two characters - some people who have read the whole manga have said that actually Ryo
(his original name in manga) was much funnier and turned into complete fool and pervert around women. Of course Ryo was actually a "sweeper", but to say it easily then he was just a hitman. But back to drama, Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young have a great chemistry in the drama and most of us know they had the chemistry in real life too as it lead to MinXMin couple official relationship for half a year. As I said, I did not like that they had given him the flower boy image, but gyoza how I love the scenes were his roof flies off because of Kim Na Na. Until now, I thought that Lee Min Ho is overrated actor, but I admit that I was wrong.
Park Min Young was great in drama and she did well with her role, but I do not find her character so outstanding. I liked her as long as she was independent woman, but she disappeared from the scene after she constantly kept telling Lee Yoon Sung that her feelings belong to herself and interferes into his business. But it is so cute when she spends more time at his place than at home. Park Min Young also has mentioned that in this drama she had the most difficult and nerve-wreaking moment and it was nothing else than her almost kiss with Lee Min Ho on the sofa. You ask why? Well, I bet her heart was racing like crazy in real life.  
Kim Young Joo aka Prosecutor was played by  Lee Joon Hyuk. He was one character who tended to be a little bit annoying, but he was too great to hate. He is the perfect example of guilt, career and how people understand the most important things in their lives when it is already too late. Also he is rather naive to think that law can punish all people, even though we all know that high officials get away with everything due to bureaucracy and bribery. I think it is not a spoiler if I tell you that he turns out to be "Long Leg Ahjussi/ Daddy Long Leg" and I was so annoyed with that name, especially because they did not tell "WHY???!" From all the possible names that are able to come up with, you must choose so annoying name?
Lee Jin Pyo aka Steve Lee was definitely the scariest character, because I never knew what he would do next. He was the character who would kill everyone on his road, even when that someone turns out to be "his son", who he has raised for so many years. Even though, he was scary and his actions made everything worse, I could not hate him. It is the weirdest thing that "City Hunter" is Korean drama and they have not added 4-5 ANNOYING characters.
From other characters, I want to mention that I do not know if Goo Ha Ra (as a president daughter) was made to dance so horribly in the club or she is dancing so in real life too. It is rather funny, because as a idol she should know how to dance. From male characters.. it was a "Ikemen" paradise XD All male actors were looking rather hot, especially Sung Chang Hoon how played the part of Suk Doo Shik (Cheon Jae Man's best hitman). Most of the time I called him "Damn sexy bastard" and shivered from head to toe. 
Funny thing is that when usually Korean drama needs 6-7 episodes until the real thing starts, then "City Hunter" starts with action since the first episode and it lasts until 13th/14th, then the excitement goes down and it gets rather predictable. Most of watchers have said that the end was a BIG let down.
The end leaves many things open and unexplained. Just to mention that it reminded me "Zorro" because of his mask and how people thought of him as a savor. And of course he was not captured on any CCTV camera not that most of the places have them.. especially places like Blue House and expensive hotels. Drama has a really great OST, especially I liked the Kim Bu Kyung's "Suddenly".
For the last thing I want to say some things. Firstly, people who have actually read the manga or watched the anime, then this drama is not for you - too many changes, especially about the main character. Secondly, if you have read manga, seen anime and watch the drama too, then PLEASE(!!!!) do not insult Lee Min Ho, because he is just an actor, the scriptwriters were the ones who changed Ryo into so called "emo-gay" character (I prefer saying "Flower boy image" to "emo-gay"). I hate when people are insulting actors in things that are not included to their work - Only thing in what you can comment actors is acting! and Lee Min Ho is great actor.
I add a little video about first two episodes, so there is no big spoilers, but just to show the action side of the drama.



SPOILER-review: As I said, last 6-7 episodes were not that great. I know if it is interesting or not by the way I act - when I am starting to make ironic and sarcastic comments about drama and almost fall asleep, then it is not so exciting anymore. But it still made me cry when Prosecutor was killed. I knew he was going to die, but damn I got so angry when he really died and to tell you the truth, then I got even more angry when Lee Yoon Sung did not die in the end. Do you really think he was able to live a happy life knowing that Prosecutor and Lee Jil Pyo had died because of him, I am not telling you that he killed them, but he was a bit guilty of those deaths. I do not think that he had a happy life after that. Beside, he got gunshot near to heart.. and he was able to survive it like nothing was wrong? I am just saying my opinion that I would have liked it much more when in the end he would have died - but it is Korean drama so of course they cannot kill the main character. But all that dieing leads to another question - what did people think of the idea that "City Hunter" was killed? Yeah, you might tell things like officials said that he was trying to kill the president, but until the end City Hunter had citizens favour. Many watchers have wanted a "more romantic" end, like with a kiss scene or how Yoon Sung finally gives the ring to Na Na, but as I am really unromantic for most of the time, then I would have wanted him dead and if they had gone with the kiss-scene then I would have asked to shoot ME dead...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dragon Zakura (2005)



Country:
Japan
Format: drama in 11 episodes
Genre: school, youth
Cast: Abe Hiroshi, Yamashita Tomohisa, Nagasawa Masami, Teppei Koike, Aragaki Yui, Saeko, Nakao Akiyoshi, Hasegawa Kyoko, Yasawa Shin, David Ito, Hori Akari,
Synopsis: Ryuuzan high school is Tokyo's lowest rated school with average score 36. Sakuragi Kenji, a former race-gang member, is a poor lawyer who’s put in charge of Ryuuzan high school bankruptcy, but then he decides to save the school. He creates special advanced class for students to get them into Tokyo University.
Rating: 5/5

Sakuragi Kenji does not seem to be much, but he is so damn smart! At first I thought that he might have some kind of teacher degree too XD I would have wanted them to give the reasons why and 
how he came up with all those plans and ideas and a little bit more about his background, but I guess I must read the manga :/ I wish someone had made this kind of program for me too so that I could have had better results, but then again.. I did not need great results to get into university. Abe Hiroshi's acting was rather good. As Sakuragi did not show out any emotions and he always had on the same serious face, then I say that Abe Hiroshi acted this part really well, but the fact that he won the best actor's award for this, then he was brilliant. I wish to see his acting more and I really like that he kinda looks like half-Japanese (need to do background check on him XD) 
Ino-sensei only understands everything literary and gets caught up by sentence “for my precious students”. Even though she is rather naive, she is the only teacher who tries to think at least a bit about students. There is something cute about her, but I cannot believe how she hardly understands anything. Believe me or not, but this drama gave me the feeling that I would like to study high school subjects like maths, physics and chemistry again.. I so hope that I do not have any maths exercise near me, because I might start to solve them. Then again seeing them taking the exams reminded me the stress of them and I praise the sweet Gyoza for the fact that I do not have to take them again. Beside I put the “need of learning” into Russian as it is the only subject that needs more memorizing.. I hope I was able to memorize at least something.. ahhh.. now I think I should concentrate on learning it more..
Yuusuke was bought into the “Todai plan”. Yes – “BOUGHT” not “brought” (as for “buy-bought-bought” and not “bring-brought-brought”). He has a huge pride that does not let him accept help from others even in critical situations, that’s why he is pushed into corner to surrender. Young Yamashita Tomohisa is young. I love his hairstyle in it – bad boy with a nice smile (Actually remembered some song lyrics...). I do not know if Yamashita Tomohisa actually played the trumpet himself, because I have not heard of him playing it later.
Naomi is Yuusuke’s childhood friend, who has feelings for him. Yuusuke calls her “Nao-Boo” for unexplained reasons, so I hope that they have explained the “boo” part in manga. I like seeing 

Nagasawa Masami in good girl role that is left at background, because compared to Aragaki Yui in it, she looks way too average. She is the one who goes to special class, because she has realistic views about how her life would be after graduating Ryuuzan and that view is something that she does not want to accept. Sakuragi’s sentence “Your life will take 180 degrees turn” makes her understand that actually there is nothing wrong with trying. I think that she is the one who has the most obstacles on her way.  About Masami’s acting.. well, it is the same even now, which is sad, because I think that every actress/actor should improve with time. I give you a hint and tell you that Naomi and Yuusuke will share some cute “friendship” moments which might struck into your hearts. I almost start to hope that someone has made a fan-vid about them, but as most of the fan-videos have been torn down from Youtube, then I find it difficult to believe.. 
Aragaki Yui plays the bad girl. She looks so damn beautiful this way and I think that she suits more into this role than into “good girl” roles. At least here she is interesting and not plain. 
She is Yuusuke’s girlfriend, but their relationship seems to be more like only the title, because they do not show out that they actually are in relationship, especially Yuusuke who rather talks to Nao-Boo about important things in his life than with his actual girlfriend. She enters into special class because of Yuusuke, so until the end even Sakuragi does not understand her motives. As I told you around the corner, she is not 100% explained and that’s why Aragaki does not get as much screen time to criticize her acting, but it was more interesting than her other usual student-dramas.
Hideki, played by Koike Teppei – the funny cute dude. I adore how he gets really familiar with everybody and adds “-chan”  after their names, but I find it difficult to say anything more about him. 
I do not consider Koike Teppei as a great actor and Hideki was not so remarkable either. For me he was just a character who made the drama a bit cuter. Maki-chan is soooooo cute :D She wants to enter Todai because she thought that it is easier way to become an idol. Her friend recently became a talent (idol) and most of the time is annoying her with messages from other countries. She gave me again the “gyaru-mode”.. thank you, gyoza, that I do not have enough cute gyaru-stuff.. (ahh, doushite??! I want to be a cute girl too for a moment! Well.. must accept the fact that I am pretty and not cute :/ *egocentric-mode*) She suited together with Hideki, who was shown on the screen as much as she - aka mostly left out.
Ichiro is the character I feel most sorry for. As he has a twin brother in Shuumenkan, he is totally left beside by his family and to think that his younger twin brother almost hates him.. I do not know. I hate Jirou so much for what he does to Ichiro, even though Ichiro has sacrificed most of his life so that Jirou would succeed. As a twin, I find Jirou’s actions unacceptable. Most of the time, I wanted to kill Jirou, because even though Ichiro looked like real baka, Ichiro was so cute and sincere.  
Beside Jirou there are many annoying characters in this drama, like other teachers and parents. I think that because of people like them the education system and children studying results are bad. I remember from my school time that there were teachers who made their lessons more interesting and students had better results in them, than in lessons that were only taught by textbooks word by word. And as it is said in drama, teachers must have passion for their subject.  There is a lot to study from this drama, starting from great studying-strategies and hints on exams.  But I admit, that I do not agree to 24/7 studying and you might call me naive like Ino-sensei was, but you must enjoy your youth too, then again in Japanese society these exams and school system are very different from the ones in my country.
 
  
SPOILER-review:  I saw it coming that all of them won’t get in and that Yuusuke will decide not to go to Todai. For me it was sad to see them not getting into uni, because I know damn well how it feels when you do not see your number/name on the list. At moments like this, it is important not to give up, that’s why I liked the ending. But one thing made me think *ero-mode in brain*, if Ichiro got into Todai.. did Maki slept with him as Ichiro was also part of the “sleeping-agreement” or was the agreement valid only when Maki would have gotten into Todai too? It is just something that made me think :P