Chronicle of A Blood Merchant (2015)

Profile:
Movie: Chronicle of a Blood Merchant (허삼관)
Director: Ha Jung-Woo
Release Date: January 15, 2015
Runtime: 124 min.
Genre: Family / Comedy / Drama / Melodrama / Period-1950 / Period-1960
Distributor: Next Entertainment World
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Main Cast:
Ha Jung Woo – Heo Sam Kwan
Ha Ji Won – Heo Okran
Nam Da Reum – Heo Ilrak

Review:
I didn’t read the synopsis, I always thought this was a comedy but it was so much more. This was adapted from a Chinese novel by Yuhua and changed to Korean setting. Ha Jung Woo is the director and the star of the movie. It’s about a guy, Sam Kwan, who sold blood to earn money to marry the prettiest girl in town, Okran. 11 years later with 3 kids, there are rumors that the eldest son is not Sam Gwan’s biological son but is from Okran’s ex-boyfriend. The movie shows the love between father and son. Even though they were not blood related, Ilrak basically grew up with the family and have always known Sam Kwan as his dad and vice versa.

The first half was light comedy but in the middle, when Sam Kwan found out Ilrak, who is his favorite child, was not actually his, he stopped showing him fatherly affection. It was heartbreaking to see Ilrak look so confused for suddenly being the favorite eldest son to a shunned illegitimate child, whose fathers (real and step) refuse to acknowledge him.

Four major scenes (and spoilers so dont read if you want to watch) that made me cry were when Sam Kwan told Ilrak to go away and not join the family’s dumpling dinner and Ilrak went to his real father’s house, asking for dumpling but he got rejected. Eventually Sam Kwan couldn’t resist and found Ilrak crying and hiding in the alleys and brought him home. Another was when the real father was dying and Ilrak was being forced to say “Father come back, don’t leave me” as part of a ritual, but then he sees Sam Kwan watching from a window and Ilrak starts begging for Sam Gwan to come back and take him home. Sam Kwan interrupts the ritual and takes Ilrak home. Then Ilrak falls ill with the same illness as his real father, and Sam Kwan almost died going town to town selling blood to earn money for his surgery. They finally meet in Seoul and their reunion was so touching.

I can’t believe Nam Dareum was so young in this drama!! So cute and great acting, from him. He had great chemistry with Ha Jung Woo. And now in 2022, he’s grown up and serving the army.

Rating: 9/10

Assassination (2015)

Movie: Assassination (암살)
Release Date: July 22, 2015
Runtime: 139 min.
Genre: Action / Period-1930 / Best Film-Movie of the Year
Distributor: Showbox
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Main Cast:
Jun Ji Hyun – Ahn Okyun /Mitsuki
Lee Jung Jae – Captain Yeom
Ha Jung Woo – Hawaii Pistol
Cho Jin Woong – Soksapo
Choi Deok Mun – Duksam
Oh Dalsu – Younggam
Lee Kyung Hyung – Kang Inguk
Park Byung Eun – Kawaguchi
Cho Seung Woo – Kim Wonbong

Review:
It was Jun Jihyun’s birthday a few days ago so I thought of watching this old movie of hers.

The story is about a secret mission to assassinate 2 important people who favored the Japanese. And several factions try to outmaneuver each other to either prevent or succeed in the mission.

The movie is quite long at more than 2 hours but I wasn’t bored!! The story is a little complicated because there were too many characters so I had to slowly watch to understand what was going on. It had lots of action, and double crossing, and deaths, and even managed to put in a little romance. The meet-cute at Hotel Mirabeau between Okyun and Hawaii Pistol is 😍

The main lead is Jun Jihyun and the men were great support, esp Ha Jung Woo who sometimes stole the scenes. And I finally watched JJ’s famous court scene that is always reenacted in shows.

Rating: 9/10

Narco-Saints (2022)

Profile
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)

Profile
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