Happiness (2021)

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Drama: Happiness (해피니스)
Network: tvN, TVING
Episodes: 12
Release Date: November 5 – December 11, 2021
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 22:40

Plot
The drama is about a new apartment that is locked down after a resident gets infected by a disease. Will the residents survive or will they succumb to the disease?

Main Cast
Han Hyo Joo – Yoon Sae Beom
Park Hyung Sik – Jung Yi Hyun
Jo Woo Jin – Han Tae Seok

Review
I love zombies! This time, they’re not called zombies but they have a mad person disease. They’re not exactly sure what makes the people infected, other than taking Next pills and biting other people.

The first episode made the show very interesting but the next couple of episodes were boring. I was watching them just walk around do nothing while on lockdown and then most good happenes in the last 10 minutes that will get you go hit “next episode”. The pace picks up after ep 8 and it’s just a wild ride from then on.

I like the main leads, Yihyun and Saebeom as a team, I think they complemented each other. Like Yihyun say, good cop, bad cop. I did like Yihyun more than Sae Beom, because Sae Beom was reckless and would have been infected earlier without Yihyun protecting her. I love that when one is down, the other is strong. Many times, they were able to fight off the infected people and the residents because they worked together. I also loved their friends to lovers story, although it took a long time for Sae Beom to realize her feelings for Yihyun, and I love that scene where she was able to calm him down and hugged him.

I cant decide who is the worse neighbor. Is it the doctor or the resident rep? I wish they got infected but i think jail is better punishment for them. They were so terrible, like an exaggerated version of all the possible evil in the world. One week lockdown and they went crazy, stealing food and water, even turning to murder. I mean, after 2 years of covid, I think humans are way better than how it was portrayed in the drama. There are more good people than bad people as we can see now with the pandemic still ongoing.

The drama is saying if you’re good you won’t suffer a terrible fate. Like the old couple who stayed at home, the siblings who supported each other, the son who realized the importance of family, and the wife who got cheated on. Too bad for 15th floor guy and cleaning lady, they didn’t deserve to die, but that’s also saying there are some collateral damage. They greedy ones got their own punishment — the lawyer lost his wife, the girl lost the money, and the serial killer who was killed.

Han Tae Seok had his own story, trying to find a cure and keeping Korea safe. I just wish he didn’t have to lie, he could have gotten cooperation if he had been more honest. I also wasn’t sure if he’s good guy or not, but I understand he had to do what he did to save the world.

The ending felt rushed. There was no explanation what happened one year later. Did they find the cure? Why did Sae Beom had the antibodies? Who else had them?

Rating: 8.5/10

Along With The Gods: Last 49 Days (2018)

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Movie: Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days (신과함께-인과 연)
Release Date: August 1, 2018
Runtime: 141 min.
Genre: Fantasy / Drama / Afterlife
Distributor: Lotte Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
The sequel to the smash hit continues from the first movie but this time revealing the stories of the 3 guardians.

Main Cast
Ha Jung Woo – Gangrim
Ju Ji Hoon – Hae Won Maek
Kim Hyang Gi – Duk Choon
Lee Jung Jae – King Yeomra
Ma Dong Seok – House God
Kim Dong Wook – Kim Su Hong
Do Kyung Soo – Won Il Byung
Lee Joon Hyuk – First Lt Park

Review
The theme of the sequel is about forgiveness. This time it’s Kim Su Hong’s turn to go through the trial. But turns out this movie is more about the story of the 3 guardians — who are they, where did they come from and how they became guardians — and not really about Suhong’s. Just like Suhong, I felt like the trial was just a convenient excuse to go through the final judgment and reveal all the twists (which were a lot!)

In the first movie, Gangrim was in Seoul and the other 2 were with Jahong. Now it’s the other way around. The 2 were in Seoul trying to find out what happened to them while Gangrim was obsessed with winning Suhong’s case. In Seoul, the storyteller was the Housegod, while Suhong was the person prodding Gangrim to tell his story. The action/effects in the underworld wasn’t as extensive as the first movie, the 2 biggest scenes were when they were at sea and the weird scene with the dinosaurs (someone’s a fan of Jurassic Park!). In Seoul, the story about the Housegod and the old man and the kid weren’t as compelling as the first movie’s story about Suhong’s death.

Suhong’s character was a little annoying so I didn’t really care much about his case. Or maybe it was because he didn’t really have a story to tell. He was just coming along with Gangrim and waiting for his trial. He didn’t really had to do anything. But I loved how perceptive he was in catching Gangrim’s real motive. Although I already predicted halfway through the story that the 3 guardians will somehow have an illfated relationship with each other, it was still shocking to find out how what it was and why they ended up being guardians. It’s almost like Goblin kdrama’s backstory without the romance. Ha Jung Woo again was amazing, Ju Ji Hoon was funny and Kim Hyang Gi was precious. Lee Jung Jae as the king was added an interesting concept.

The final reveal about Gangrim’s father was the last twist I didnt expect!! If only Gangrim knew all along!! I loved what he said:

Did the thousand years of regret feel like hell?

No. The fact that I cannot beg for his forgiveness and that I cannot be forgiven. That has been my worst hell.

This second one had more stories than the first so the scenes flipflopped from the underworld, to Seoul, to Gangrim’s story and to Hae Won Maek and Duk Choon’s story. A little long but still enjoyed every scene. Not sure if they will ever make part 3, because they wrapped up everyone’s story, but I wouldnt mind seeing the 3 guardians again!

Rating: 8.5/10

Along With The Gods: Two Worlds (2017)

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Movie: Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (신과함께-죄와 벌)
Release Date: December 20, 2017
Runtime: 139 min.
Distributor: Lotte Entertainment
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
This is about a fireman who died saving someone from the fire and was guided by the 3 guardians. If he is able to pass the 7 levels in 49 days then he will be reincarnated.

Main Cast
Cha Tae Hyun – Kim Ja Hong
Ha Jung Woo – Gang Rim
Ju Ji Hoon – Hae Won Maek
Kim Hyang Gi – Duk Choon
Kim Dong Wook – Kim Su Hong
Do Kyung Soo – Won Il Byung
Lee Joon Hyuk – First Lt Park
Ye Soo Jung – Kim Ja Hong’s mom

Review:
I already watched this in 2017 and rewatched it today. Mainly because I’m been binge watchinging Ha Jung Woo’s movies and also watching Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Dong Wook’s current dramas (Police University and You Are My Spring).

I loved the action and the effects. I was bawling the first time I watched this but this time around I only cried at the last level. Some of the situations maybe dramatic and emotional but it made me think and reflect about my own life. If I died and had to go through the same levels will I pass or fail?

Sometimes I feel like the levels were unfair. It’s hard to judge a person because of 1 incident in the past or when you were younger, it’s not as if Ja hong was a repeat offender. Let’s face it, every human has lied, stolen, felt greedy and jealous, had evil thoughts at some point in our lives. That doesn’t make us evil and go straight to hell, that’s what makes us human in the first place. If everyone was perfect then we will all be robots and the world will be paradise. But then what’s the point of living if it gets too boring?

i also loved the cameos of top movie stars acting as the gods in each level. This movie also had some light and funny moments, mostly from Ju Ji Hoon’s character, who reminded me of his Hyena character. I super love Ha Jung Woo, he just looks so cool the entire time with his long black coat and those eyes and voice 🥰

Now i’m off to watch the sequel. I’m looking forward to Kim Su Hong’s story (although not sure what other story there is if we already know what happened to him?)

Rating: 9/10

Hot Stove League (2020)

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Drama: Hot Stove League (스토브리그)
Network: SBS
Episodes: 16
Release Date: December 13, 2019 – February 14, 2020
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 22:00

Plot
A fledging baseball team hires a team manager who is not afraid to shake things up to make some changes. Will he be able to convince the team to succeed or will the team end up being disbanded?

Main Cast
Namgoong Min – Baek Seung Soo
Park Eun Bin – Lee Se Young
Oh Jung Se – Kwon Kyung Min
Jo Byeong Gyu – Han Jae Hee
Lee Joon Hyuk – Go Se Hyeok
Hong Ki Joon – Jang Jin Woo
Jo Han Sun – Lim Dong Gyu
Ha Do Kwon – Kang Doo Ki

Review
I think almost everything that Namgoong Min touches turns to gold. And I’m so happy he finally won a Daesang for his fantastic performance as Baek Seung Soo. Actually, the entire cast was amazing!!

I started watching on a Sunday, kept hitting “next episode” until i realized i was almost done with the show!

How much I loved this drama? Let me count the ways. First, as I said above, amazing performance not just of Namgoong Min but from everyone – the management, the head office, and the players. Each episode focused one 1 to 2 persons’ stories and how Baek was able to help and resolve the problem.

I only have basic knowledge of baseball so didn’t really understand the stats, but it didn’t really matter because the whole point is more on how a manager was able to successful transform a low performing team to a champion. It’s not just how he worked, but how he influenced the people around him to become better versions of themselves.

You can pick up some tips on how to manage difficult people and how to deal with difficult negotiations, Baek Seung Soo is so good at it, i wonder why he is not a hot commodity. I guess they are uneasy with his unorthodox thinking.

I especially loved the episodes about Gil Chang Ju. You can really feel that he loved his wife so much that he had to do what he can for her, and he felt terrible for letting down the people. I would have advised him to do the same thing – play for one season and go to the army like everyone else and come back better and stronger.

I also loved the story about Baek’s brother and cried for Seung Soo. The burden Seung Soo was have felt – feeling guilty for his brother injury, feeling devastated for his wife’s miscarriage, and taking care of his parents. He never shared his pain with others and he stopped smiling. I really hoped that he would finally find a team that would actually want him and stay, but I guess he really is a drifter, off to go where no man wants to go and just kicking ass.

I also loved Lim Dong gyu’s redemption. Episodes 1-2 made him look like such a jerk but underneath it all, he also had his dreams. I think he learned his lesson when Seung Soo kicked him out of the team. But it also felt right when he came back because he is always a Dreams player.

The only episode I didn’t like was episode 15, i thought it was too much, like they had one more episode to fill but they dont know what else to do so they just made the WTF decision to trade Kang Duki and make the manager look like a tool. I also didn’t like Kwong Min, even though he was getting hit and humiliated by his cousin and his uncle, I didn’t feel sorry for him. And him suddenly changing his mind and agreeing to sell the team wasn’t too convincing.

Episode 16 was too simple for a finale. I wish we saw more efforts from Seungsoo to look for a buyer all throughout the show. The ending was easily resolved with just 1 company agreeing to buy the team after just 2 meetings. To think Director spent years looking for a buyer to no avail.

One thing I wanted to say, If the plan was to disband the team from the very start, it didn’t really make sense to bring a new GM and approve of all his changes. It then feels like all his (and everyone’s) efforts will just be a waste of time and the best players will all end up team-less (which is awful!). I wish the objective was very clear from episode 1 – if he can’t fix the team before the season then they will disband. Baek did so many changes that there’s actually a big chance to win the next season, and yet the company still went ahead and killed the team. Other than that, everything else was terrific. I wished there an epilogue or a special episode where we actually see them play during the season. I would have wanted to cheer for them even if it’s just imaginary. LOL.

Rating: 9/10