Narco-Saints (2022)

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Drama: Narco-Saints / Suriname (수리남)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 6
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Country: South Korea

Plot:
A businessman who goes to Suriname to import skate to Korea ends up helping the NIS on a mission to capture an evasive druglord.

Main Cast
Ha Jung Woo – Kang Ingu
Hwang Jung Min – Pastor Jeon Yohan
Park Hae Soo – Choi Changho
Yoo Yeon Suk – David Julio Park
Jo Woo Jin – Byun Kitae

Review
This drama feels like an extended movie. Turns out it was supposed to be a movie, but they decided to make it into a short drama. To be honest, the story is nothing new, but it was an intense 6 episodes of anticipation and thrill. There were lots of double crossing, guns, gore, and drugs. Surprisingly, no nudity except for 1 short scene. The stellar cast of Ha Jung Woo, Hwang Jung Min, Park Hae Soo, Yoo Yeon Suk and Jo Woo Jin made the story more larger than life than the usual drug movies/drama.

I love that Ingu as the ML is very smart and capable, quick thinker, calm even when lying, and plays well with the big guys, even outsmarting both drug lords and NIS. HJW made Ingu work very well, and any other actor may not have made Ingu sympathetic. I love that there’s always this doubt if he is really working with NIS or getting tempted by Yohan or if he has his own agenda. That final fight scene with the pastor was a long time coming and felt satisfied seeing him punch and strangle the pastor after ruining his life. (And HJW looked so hot holding the gun lol) Ingu has been very calm and biding his time ever since he got out of prison, so seeing Ingu finally snapped and fight — I was also thinking, that is HJW that I love!! Ingu may not be as buff as the others but he made up for it with his judo moves, smart strategies and fancy suits.

Pastor was so magnetic and powerful. And weaselly enough to not get caught over the years, but he didnt seem as smart as I expected him to be. He was easily played or maybe he trusted Ingu too much and thought they could really be partners. I loved how sick it was for Pastor to create a church, get the blind believers to follow him, feed them drugs and make them dependent on him.

Byun was bad ass and it was obvious he was going to be the secret agent. That fight with the bodyguard was fantastic. Poor David and Chen Zhen.

There’s a lot of conversations so some found the episodes boring but I loved them (or maybe I was so mesmerized with HJW every time he’s onscreen) — yes, I’m completely obsessed with HJW.

Some thoughts on the ending (spoiler alert):
I wonder what happened to the girl and the rest of the cult. I wish there was a short resolution to them. Were they also arrested? Was the girl able to go back to her family?

At first, I thought the ending would be Ingu taking over the coca farm – that would have been fun for a season 2. He is so smart, he can probably do better than Yohan, but I don’t want Ingu to fight with Changho or get arrested and die. But still, I was okay with the ending since they neatly closed the drama with Ingu finally back and reunited with his family. I laughed when Ingu told his wife, “wow you got prettier!” and the wife responded with, “why did you get uglier?” HAHAHA. Ingu learned to treasure what he has and not get too greedy. And also, don’t trust the government. Like seriously, Ingu risked his life to help NIS, but NIS didn’t pay him cash like they promised. Also, interesting thing about the baseball. Yohan really did trust him and wanted him to be his partner.

Here’s fun promotion /game from the cast in case you want to get to them more:

Rating: 8.75/10 (9 less 0.25 for the unresolved cult)

The Handmaiden (2016)

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Movie: The Handmaid /Lady (아가씨)
World Premiere: May, 2016 (Cannes Film Festival)
Release Date: June 1, 2016
Runtime: 144 min.
Genre: Thriller / Period-1930 / Erotic / Award Winning
Distributor: CJ Entertainment

Main Cast:
Cho Jin Woong – Uncle Kouzuki
Ha Jung Woo – Count Fujiwara
Kim Min Hee – Lady Hideko
Kim Tae Ri – Sook Hee

Review:
Mesmerizing! I finally watched this critically acclaimed movie and I loved it!

It’s 2 hours and 25 mins long but I didn’t even realized the time. Everything looked so beautiful. The story is about a fake count hiring a handmaiden to help him marry the lady and steal all her money. But turns out who is really scamming who?

There are three parts, told from different perspectives but of the same narrative, so it was interesting to realize what each character was thinking of. I honestly was so surprised after part I! I totally didn’t expect it! But i feel like I’ve seen another movie similar to this or maybe a book but I can’t remember which one. (I have never read Fingersmith). There are a lot of sexy and some torture scenes so don’t watch with your parents or if you can’t stomach these kinds of scenes.

This is Kim Taeri’s first ever role and she was phenomenal. Actually all the 4 leads were so good. And there were also some funny moments. Count’s reactions are mostly funny (Ha Jung Woo is always unintentionally funny). Even when Lady Hideko tried to hang herself and Sookhee was holding her made me chuckle.

I didnt like what happened to the count, i thought he deserved the money as much as the ladies deserved their freedom. Or maybe i’m just biased because it’s Ha Jung Woo 🤗

Rating: 9.5/10

1987: When The Day Comes (2017)

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Movie: 1987: When The Day Comes
Release Date: December 27, 2017
Runtime: 129 min.
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Country: South Korea

Main Cast
Kim Yun Seok – Park Cheo Won
Ha Jung Woo – Prosecutor Choi
Park Hee Seon – Jo Han Kyung
Lee Hee Joon – Yoon Sang Sam
Kim Tae Ri – Yeon Hee
Kang Dong Won – Lee Han Yeol
Yoo Hae Jin – Han Byeong Yong

Review:
This movie is based on actual events called June Democratic Uprising in Korea which happened in 1987.

It all started when a college student was tortured and killed by anti-communist group and they tried to conceal his death.

I love how the director was able to tell the story through different people, starting from the prosecutor who demanded autopsy, to jail guard who passed on info to the opposition, the reporter who tried to reveal the truth to the public, and to the students who bravely rallied against the government.

Not for the faint hearted. It’s moving, horrifying and inspiring. The extra romance between the two college students slightly felt out of place but the end made up for it.

Rating: 8.5

The Closet (2020)

Movie: The Closet (클로젯)
Release Date: February 5, 2020
Distributor: CJ Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Cast
Kim Nam Gil – Kyung Hoon
Ha Jung Woo – Sang Won
Heo Yool – In Na
Shin Hyun Bin – Seung Hee
Kim Shi Ah – Myung Jin
Park Sung Woong – Myung Jin’s dad

Review:
Since it’s October, though I’d watch a few horror or suspense movies this month. And this is my 5th HJW movie this year.

The Closet is about a father and daughter who moves to a new house after a traumatic accident. Yup moving to an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere is always a good idea. LOL.

So one day the child disappeared while the father was out in Seoul working. While searching for her daughter he meets a modern exorcist who tells him that a lot of kids who lived in the house have disappeared for years and he will help find his daughter.

The movie is only 1 hour and 39 mins and I think that’s why the movie felt emotionally incomplete. We know what happened during the accident but we didn’t see enough reasons why there was a strained relationship between the father and daughter, enough for the ghost to take her to her special world. It just felt like both were grieving and the father didn’t know how to cope and raise his child alone. The daughter seemed sad but i didn’t think she hated her father.

There weren’t a lot of scary scenes, the ghost of the darkness are probably the scariest but the rest were just enough creepiness. We also didn’t get enough background of the exorcist and his shaman mother. So far i’ve seen KNG play a fiery priest, now an exorcist and i think his new drama is also about exorcism.

The reason for the ghost was heartbreaking and it felt like they could have explored the main social message in the epilogue better to have a deeper impact to the people watching.

Rating: 8/10