Hello everyone! Sincerest apologies for my lack of posts this year. I thought for sure I was more active than last year, but when looking over my blog stats…it turns out I still suck. Basically, I had a pretty similar performance to 2017 in terms of how many dramas I was able to get through. In 2019 I aim to be a bit more consistent. My hope is to review at least one drama or film per month minimum. I fail miserably at this every time I announce it, so don’t get your hopes up because I’ll feel bad if I let you all down once again. I have a few excuses (as usual) down at the very bottom of this post explaining away my mistakes and life’s problems. Despite my scattered posting schedule, my blog has grown tremendously in terms of traffic over this past year alone and I have absolutely no idea why since I am so atrocious and unfaithful to you all. It’s literally booming, so I am forever grateful to those of you who continue to read, comment, and put up with my nonsense. Cheers to you, and I promise it means the world to me!!! And of course, Happy New Year to all of my lovely followers and readers!!!! I hope 2019 becomes a year full of success and happiness for you!!! 💕🎊🎉🎀🎈🍾🍷❤️ I did not get to watch as many k-dramas as I would have liked this year, but I still thought it would be fun to summarize the shows I did get to experience.
My Mister — This drama speaks for itself. Usually my reviews are long-winded in an attempt to find closure for myself or provide it to my fellow viewers. My Mister is unique in that it gave me all the closure I sought. I wasn’t left with a long list of scenes, ideas, or problems that needed to be worked out in a wall of textual analysis. It’s rare that a drama leaves me tongue-tied, but I really feel that no words of mine could do this thoughtful production justice. This is one of those dramas that a person just needs to see for themselves in order to understand the emotional gratification it has to offer. If you’re hesitant about giving My Mister a try, I highly recommend taking a chance. I promise you it will be well worth it.
Lawless Lawyer — This action packed legal thriller may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but luckily for me, it was exactly the type of content I was looking for. With the perfect blend of comedy and excitement, Lawless Lawyer makes for an unforgettable ride. This is a show I know I’ll be able to revisit time and time again in the future. The impeccable cast alone make this drama worth the watch. Despite a few pacing blunders in the middle, this story was well developed, well filmed, and entertaining throughout. In the words of prosecutor Chun Seung Bum, “It started as revenge, but ended with justice.” I think his statement characterizes the show best. Lawless Lawyer may have started off looking like your typical “good versus evil” narrative, but for me, it became much more than a cliché revenge tale. I highly recommend giving this one a chance, even if law dramas aren’t your thing. They surely aren’t mine, but I was more than willing to make an exception this time around, and I was not disappointed.
The Fortress (2017) — The Fortress was a memorable work of art. Accomplished leads keep the film grounded and credible. Through the use of arresting cinematography and a competent soundtrack, a frigid story of desperation and strife is convincingly told. Not everyone will perceive the film’s purpose, but those who do are bound to admire it. If you are a fan of period films, Korean history, or a showcase of thoughtful directing, this is a must see. Fair warning to those who are squeamish when it comes to blood and gore: There are quite of a few scenes depicting starved and slaughtered animals, which are not suited for the faint of heart. There are also a few battle scenes, though not many, portraying injured or mutilated bodies. It wasn’t a problem for me, but most say I have an iron stomach, so I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to warning people.
Mother — Despite some minor flaws I took issue with, Mother was one of the most engrossing and expressive dramas I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a long while. A nice change of pace from the usual k-drama content, the narrative delivers and engaging plot centered upon women and the relationships drawn from motherhood. I can’t remember the last time I managed to binge watch a drama so quickly and consistently within the span of about a week or so. If you can build yourself up for an emotional watch, Mother is a drama I highly recommend, and I strongly believe that it will prove itself worthy of your time.
Masquerade (2012) — Masquerade’s strengths lie in Lee Byung Hyun and Ryoo Seung Ryong’s solid performances, paired with the copious snippets of humor scattered throughout the film. The plot is relatively contrived and shallow, not bringing too much to the table in terms of original content, but the relationships that develop between the characters are heartwarming. Though the topics explored and tropes employed here have been utilized in media before, even within the same genre, Masquerade‘s clever application of “fish out of water” comedy matched with its established cast elevate the film to higher ground, making it an entertaining watch from beginning to end, even if there were a number of lacking areas that could have been addressed.
Life on Mars — I truly felt like the odd one out when it came to Life on Mars. Many were receptive to this drama, and I’m glad that viewers were able to enjoy it. I wish I could have shared their sentiments, but honestly speaking, it was hands down, one of the most boring and disenchanting crime dramas I have ever watched. While I have immense affection and appreciation for the talented cast and their on screen chemistry, the way the story unfolded was too dry, repetitive and anti-climatic for my tastes. Many of the episodes felt too similar to each other, with only small details or cases differentiating them from one another. Not a single one of these cases moved me, let alone peaked my interest. I failed to connect with our main hero, which made tuning in every week all the more difficult. If not for my profound respect and adoration for the cast and their team shenanigans, I would have dropped the drama long before the halfway mark. I personally wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone. If you’re looking for a show with a similar premise, I would advise you to check out Tunnel instead.
Memoir of a Murderer (2017) — Memoir of a Murderer‘s strengths lie in the phenomenal cinematography, Sol Kyung Gu’s stirring performance, and the film’s ability to entertain if viewed purely as a thriller. However, watching the film in search of any hidden meaning or profound message would prove worthless, as it’s merely a hollow story with a collection of tropes and clichés that lead to nowhere. While the attempt was admirable, the film’s failure to flesh out its own message and remain consistent, ultimately leads to its underwhelming nature. In the end, the production turned out to be a contrived and convoluted mess, albeit beautifully shot and well led by Sol Kyung Gu, but not much else.
Bluebeard (2017) — Bluebeard was a train that never left the tracks. Boring from start to finish, the story disappoints in more areas than one. Apart from some stellar acting on Jo Jin Woong’s part, there’s nothing noteworthy about the overall film. I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time with this one. It’s a snooze fest with a climax that stops offensively short of epic. If you want to watch a good psychological thriller, you’ll have to look elsewhere, as you’re not going to find it here.
The Third Murder (2017) — In short, The Third Murder was underwhelming. I came for thrills, but got dialogue heavy court-related drama in return. While I enjoyed both the visual and acting prowess the film offered, the monotonous nature of the storyline was overpowering, resulting in a tedious watch. The film brings to light some philosophical questions that never get answered, and attempts to rattle audiences by failing to provide a clear account of what actually took place. Unfortunately, the story becomes so bogged down by courtroom jargon and details, that no one really gives a damn about the truth by its end.
OTHER DRAMAS I WATCHED THIS YEAR:
Cold Case Japan (2016) — Short and sweet. Perfect from start to finish; I have no complaints about this remake. To put it simply, Cold Case Japan is a must watch. Whether you like the crime genre or not, I assure you these ten episodes will leave you with a lasting impression.
Circle: Two Worlds Connected (2017) — There is so much to unpack from this drama that I’m sadly unable to get to everything I want to say. I mean…I could talk about everything, but then I’d be holding you captive here for centuries, and no one has time for that. I truly loved every single aspect of this drama. I have absolutely no complaints about the time I spent watching this one, and think it was the hidden gem of 2017. I watched in hopes for a decent sci-fi thriller, and received a brilliant twelve episodes in return. Circle kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. With its never ending plot twists and masterfully executed format utilizing dual timeframes—this is a show you won’t want to miss!
[Re-Watch] Iljimae: The Phantom Thief (2008) — The supporting cast, production value, traditional soundtrack, thoughtful cinematography, and entertaining narrative all come together to deliver a compelling and memorable watch. Iljimae may not be the perfect sageuk, but it is one that I can still find exciting and meaningful with each watch. In this case, the strengths of this drama easily outweigh any of its flaws. Even if you dislike sageuks, there is much to appreciate about this show, from its stunning visuals, to its tear-inducing comedy. I recommend giving this hearty 2008 period piece a fair chance, especially if you’re looking for something new to watch during the recent sageuk drought. And of course, if you’re a Lee Joon Gi fan and haven’t yet had the opportunity to give this one a try, now is definitely a great time to experience one of his most heartwarming and hilarious roles.
[Re-Watch] Good Doctor (2013) — As someone with a severely physically and mentally handicapped sister, I truly appreciated the message this drama had to offer. It challenged people to look beyond the stigma of handicaps and appreciate people for who they really are. It showed that handicapped people have just as much to bring to the table as the rest of us do, and in many cases, even more. There is so much they can teach us if we are willing to listen and stop ourselves from judging them without even bothering to give them a listen or find out anything about them. Good Doctor was not without flaws, but it successfully delivers a heartwarming story that is undoubtedly worth the watch. Even if you’re not a fan of medical dramas, I recommend checking this unique drama out.
THIS YEAR’S STATS:
Total Dramas Completed: 8
Lawless Lawyer, Mother, My Mister, Life on Mars, Cold Case Japan, Circle: Two Worlds Connected, Good Doctor, Iljimae: The Phantom Thief
Total Dramas Dropped: 20
[ Below I’ve highlighted a few recommendations that seemed solid despite my choice to drop them. ]
Avengers Social Club, Grand Prince, Mistress, Great Seducer, Shall We Kiss First, Money Flower, Queen of Mystery, Live, About Time, Investigation Couple, Miss Hammurabi, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, Mr. Sunshine, Your Honor, Life, Heart Surgeons, Hundred Day’s Husband, The Smile has Left Your Eyes, The Ghost Detective, The Guest
Dramas I Plan to Watch in 2019:
Kingdom, The Crowned Clown, Asadal Chronicles, [Re-Watch] Six Flying Dragons, [Re-Watch] Joseon Gunman, [Re-Watch] Arang and the Magistrate
Total Films Completed: 5
The Fortress (2017), Masquerade (2012), Memoir of a Murderer (2017), Bluebeard (2017), The Third Murder (2017)
As you can see, I did not get through many dramas this year, and about half of them were re-watches or old dramas. Part of this was because I was in a major drama slump. I went through a few mental rough patches and most times that sucks any remnants of energy I may have left, right out of me. Watching shows became exhausting rather than enjoyable, so I had to resort to revisiting old favorites. Another factor was the roller coaster ride of a year I had, full of hospitalizations and other unpredictable/mostly misfortunate events that needed to be prioritized over drama watching (no need to be concerned, everything is fine now). Furthermore, I began graduate school this August, which took away a large chunk of my drama watching time (and will continue to do so until I complete my Master’s degree). I dropped a lot of dramas because lately I feel that if I am not hooked by the second or third episode, I do not want to waste my time. There are plenty of options out there, and because my time is becoming increasingly limited, I’d rather spend it on shows that I know will satisfy me from very beginning, to very end. This way I can avoid investing my hopes and dreams into shows that take several episodes to get going, only to let me down in the end. Overall, I’m not thrilled about the meager amount of shows that I watched, but I am pleased with the high quality of the dramas that I did manage to get through this year. I experimented with some new genres I wouldn’t normally go for due to the lack of sageuks, and that turned out to be a rewarding decision (though I must admit my excitement about the seeming return of sageuks in 2019, and the fantastic lineup that looks very promising so far)!
What were your top picks for 2018? Were you disappointed by any dramas or films you watched? Feel free to comment below!