Seoul Vibe (2022)

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Movie: Seoul Vibe (서울대작전)
Release Date: August 26, 2022
Runtime: 138 min.
Distributor: Netflix
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot:
A group of friends are engaged by a prosecutor to take down a powerful team trying to launder money during the 1988 Olympics.

Main Cast
Yoo Ah In – Park Dong Wook
Go Kyung Pyo – Woo Sam
Lee Kyu Hyung – Bok Nam
Park Ju Hyun – Park Yoon Hee
Ong Seung Woo – Joon Gi
Moon So Ri – Kang In Sook
Kim Sung Kyun – Director Lee
Oh Jung Se – Prosecutor Ahn

Review:
This is a fun, light action comedy flick when you have nothing to do on Friday night. I like the cast, felt like everyone was having a blast shooting though sometimes Yoo Ah In is being so serious with his acting (lighten up!). And whew! I’m glad No one died!

1988 Olympics didn’t really have much to do with the story but I loved how they styled their car ala Olympics style in the end. And the oldish music (I was listening to 80s rap just this morning!)

The Prosecutor Ahn scene was the main thing that struck me most in the movie. And surprise that the lead prosecutor isn’t a baddie (the actor normally plays the bad guy)!

This movie also felt like they tried so hard to make them look cool but the 80s vibe looks forced (did the writer grow up in the 80s or did the writer just googled the 80s?)

This movie is also too long and some parts were boring. It only gets interesting in the last part. The ending was also too unbelievable (are they trying to be F&F or Mission Impossible?)

I was expecting General Baldie to be some famous actor considering how they tried to conceal his face in the first half, so I was very disappointed when I saw who it was.

I don’t think we need a sequel.

Rating: 8/10

Jirisan (2021)

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Drama: Jirisan (지리산)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Release Date: October 23 – December 12, 2021
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:00

Plot
This drama is about the national park rangers of Jirisan.

Main Cast
Jun Ji Hyun – Seo Yi Gang
Ju Ji Hoon – Kang Hyun Jo
Sung Dong Il – Jo Dae Jin
Oh Jung Se – Jung Gu Yeong
Jo Han Chul – Park Il Hae
Joo Min Kyung – Lee Yang Sun
Go Minsi – Lee Dawon

Review
I didn’t know what I was expecting to see in Jirisan. All I know it’s a drama starring the JJH couple – Jun Ji Hyun and Joo Ji Hoon and I was sold. Thus, episode 1 was an unexpected surprise. Sexy leads? Fantastic secondary leads? Grand rescue attempts? and then what? One of the leads show up on a wheelchair and the other is in a coma? Count me in!!!

I was definitely invested in watching because I want to know what happened that snowy day. There were a lot of red herrings along the way, although halfway through I already had a guess who is the killer (he looks too guilty and there’s no other person who has a possible motive). Was I surprised by the reveal and the real reason behind the killings? Not really. But I though the fate of the killer was just right. The killer messed with the mountain, and the mountain punished him (but why took the mountain so long to punish him???). And no one even knew what the killer was doing all these years!!!

The drama may be confusing for some, as it flips back and forth in the past and in the present time. But I honestly liked it and didn’t feel confused. I thought the story telling was alright — we start with how we first met Hyun Jo and Yigang, jumped to the present, then slowly went back to the past year and we see their journey on what happened and what could have happened leading to the snowy day. And to get to the bottom of the story, the drama also went back further to 30 years ago, and linked it back to the present.

What I loved most about this drama is the episodic cases the rangers face on a daily basis. I didn’t feel bored at all. I was interested in seeing them, and how they were able to write dangers of rescuing people esp during calamities like flood, rain, heavy snow, and fires. I didn’t realize how much they risk their lives everyday for hikers (some of them stupid).

I did feel that this would have been even better if the story was more slice of life about the rangers rather than a murder mystery fantasy case.

I loved the special bond between the leads. I couldn’t quite put a name of their bond. Is this bond as partners, or best friends, or could it have been more? Yigang probably felt guilty for what happened to Hyun Jo and wanted to help finish what he started, but I also wish that they also had more romance – it could have made the reason why Yigang was so emotionally invested and the ending even more impactful. I was expecting a dramatic kissing scene atop Jirisan too bad, but we didn’t get it. I still squealed when they stared at each other across the screen.

This drama is probably the only kdrama I can remember where the main leads didn’t have a love story as I was expecting (Cmon, JJH couple sounds and looks so sexy! I also think Jun Ji Hyun doesn’t do romance or kissing scenes that much). However, the secondary couple’s love story (Guyeong and Yangsun) was so sweet and beautiful, it made up for it. Guyeong crying Yangsun’s name over and over again when she got swept away by the water was heartbreaking. Oh Jung Se is a wonderful actor. And in the last episode where Guyeong was reminiscing about their relationship and showing his promotion was just 😭😭😭. I’m sad that they never found Yangsun’s body, but I remember she said that she wanted to travel the world. So I’m just imagining that when she got swept away by the river, the water continues to flow and her body (spirit) is still traveling around the country like she wanted to.

Another character I didn’t expect to exit so early is Dawon!! I thought she was going to be the bridge between Yigang and Hyun Jo since Hyun Jo can’t talk to Yigang, so that was a big shock to me. I also feel bad that people may have forgotten about her after a year. I’m still not happy with the lottery winning girl who caused Yangsun’s accident and wanting to become a ranger. Ugh! I can’t!

I also loved the 2 buddies, Gu Yeong, Ilhae plus the rest of the team. Except for the main villain, you can see and feel the support and they give each other whenever there are issues and dangers in their rescue efforts.

I wasnt really minding the soundtracks but after the ending, I listened to each one again and bought the OST 😀. Personal favorites are Falling (Kim Jong Wan), Little Garden (Taeyeon) and Always with You (Paul Kim).

Rating: 8.75/10 (8.5 story + 0.25 for the leads)

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

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay Book Unboxing

I recently purchased the final It’s Okay to Not be Okay Children’s book called “Finding the Real Face” and Sang Tae’s Drawing Book! Check it out in my Youtube channel!

Slideshow of the book
Slideshow of the Drawing book
Full unboxing video