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

Squid Game (2021)

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Drama: Squid Game (오징어 게임)
Network: Netflix
Episodes: 9
Release Date: September 17, 2021
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
Players compete in dangerous children games for a chance to win billions of money.

Main Cast
Lee Jung Jae – Sung Gihun
Park Hae Soo – Cho Sangwoo
Jung Ho Yeon – Kang Saebyuk
Wi Ha Joon – Hwang Junho
Heo Sung Tae – Jang Deok Soo
Oh Young Soo – Oh Il Nam
Kim Joo Ryung – Han Min Nyeo
Tripati Anupam – Ali
Lee Byung Hun – Host

Review
Much have been said about this drama so I’m not going to dissect and analyze the drama in detail. I loved the six games and how each game levelled up the intensity and danger. I had no clue what the story was all about since I was able to avoid spoilers when this first came out. So when the first game started, the red light green light and shots were fired, I was as shocked as the contestants!! I think this was the perfect game to start it all. I felt as tense as everyone and was praying that they all get to the finish line safely! I honestly probably would have died in the first game! 😅

The second game, honeycomb was a little boring. I remember shouting at my TV, just lick the honeycomb so it will melt! I was so surprised when Gihun did exactly that!! By then I knew I couldn’t trust Sangwoo! He didn’t even bother to tell his neighbor/friend or help him even when he knew what the game was! A lot of people hated the thug but I actually liked him haha! (or maybe because I’ve watched Heo Sung Tae in variety shows and I know he is the exact opposite of his villain characters).

The third game, tug of war, was probably my favorite. It reminded me of when we used to play this game in high school! and the minute I saw they will be playing the game at such high place, really just amped the brutality of the drama.

Fourth game the marbles, had me crying. They’ve somehow built a bond the past few days. and knowing one of them had to die so the other can live was a tough pill to swallow. Sangwoo totally betrayed Ali (though I think Ali was too naive), even Gihun ending up betraying the old man to live. Saebyuk only came out alive because the other girl sacrificed herself. I was so stressed every single game, but knowing that the main leads won’t die until the very end made me a little less stressed.

And that’s the downside of this drama. I thought that the main lead mostly passed the levels because of luck or through someone else. Green light, Ali held him up. Honeycomb he barely made it. Tug of War, they were saved by the old man and Sangwoo. Marbles, he didn’t know it back then but the old man saved him. Glass bridge, yup, Sangwoo again. I honestly thought Sangwoo if we were to judge the perfomance of each other, Sangwoo deserved the money. He was strategic but he’s not the lead so in the end he lost against the “morally nice” guy.

Also Saebyuk, the actress became instantly famous for this role and I’m scratching my head why. Her character didn’t do anything memorable either. She barely spoke a word, had the same look on her face the entire time. Like Gihun, she also was lucky the whole time and made it to the last game because of Gihun and Sangwoo. But I’m not hating on the actress, it’s the character I’m wondering why is popular.

I wasn’t sure what was the message the writer wants to tell us. At one point I thought the lesson of the show was to learn to share and not be too greedy. Or find a way to work together and get out alive not kill each other and they will all get the money. But I was wrong both times since I realized there could only be one winner.

I was so disappointed at Gihun! After all the blood sweat and tears, Gihun sat on the money for a year and didn’t use them because he felt guilty and morally wrong to spend the money that killed lots of people! Hello!! He should have kept his promise to the people who had to die for him to live. At least pay off Sangwoo’s debts, give money to the mother, and get Saebyeok’s brother out of the orphanage. Live a better life. Go see his daughter and be a good father. Use the money for a good cause. Create a foundation that will help people like him so they won’t be desperate enough to join this dangerous game.

Another disappointment was the reveal of the main guy. I was already suspicious of him since there was a scene where the VIPs arrived and the host said the owner can’t join because he is busy and even though we only see the owner’s back, you can definitely see the white hair peeking from his mask. But his final conversation with Gihun in the abandoned tower was weird. His explanation didn’t make sense. Why go through all of that and kill hundreds of people every time just for the fun of it? So that he can feel something? BS.

Other things that were not explained and maybe a prequel like what they did with Kingdom Ashin of the North would be good. Like how did Inho become the host? And I didn’t realize that Inho was older than Junho. All throughout the drama, I was wondering who the host was. I thought the english was so familiar but I couldn’t remember the actor. So when I saw it was Lee Byung Hun, it was a facepalm moment to me!! Speaking of Junho, I thought he was there to save the day, like he will collaborate with Gihun and crack the case. Turns out, he had a separate story that didn’t feel connected with the rest. How was he able to go around the house without getting caught and without eating, showering, pooping, peeing and survive? And the whole organ transplant thing was another plot that wasn’t explored. And the VIPS were cringy and horrendous.

Overall, this was fantastic drama except for the final episode.

Rating: 8/10

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